Yesterday I got to be part of a very cool photo shoot. I saw the posting last minute that this choreographer was looking for dancers for a shoot, so I sent along my headshot and resume. I've never been one to enjoy taking dance pictures (I'm much more a mover than a poser...as I've said I was not blessed with ballet legs and feet!) but I thought this might be a good opportunity to get some practice without much pressure. I didn't know anyone involved (somehow that always relieves a little stress for me, haha) and I didn't know exactly what the photos would be used for. But they wrote back asking me to be a part of it.
We were supposed to meet early yesterday morning at this seemingly random place in lower midtown. Very early, for an insomniac on a Sunday morning. As my alarm went off I nearly chickened out. There was no pay involved and they only asked me last minute so they wouldn't miss me, I thought. My fears of being super uncomfortable in front of a camera resurfaced, convincing me that I'd only embarrass myself. Buuut...since I couldn't get back to sleep anyway (clearly my new prescription is not helping) I got up the guts to go. What did I have to lose?
Well! I get to the place early and go in. A few other dancer-types are sitting around, groggily holding coffee and looking at their phones. One was asleep in the chair I passed to sit down. Soon more faces trickled in and many of them seemed to already know each other. The choreographer arrived and came over to introduce himself. Then we sat. And waited. And waited. And waited...
I've been to many professional photo shoots - dance related and not - over recent years thanks to my many magazine internships (but rarely am I the one in front of the camera!). If there's one thing I've learned from them it's that these things take time - lots and lots of time to get one single shot right. So I was not surprised to learn early that it would be a long day.
We were waiting for the hair, makeup, and stylist people to arrive. The hair lady arrived first and set up her station with multiple curling irons and varied sizes of hairspray bottles. She calls the first girl over to get started.
"Are you ready to look vampire-ish?"
Uh, what? I take another sip of my coffee, eavesdropping on the interaction.
Somehow I missed the memo that the concept for the whole shoot was that we were supposed to be vampires...or, well, vampire-esque. Not actual vampires with the teeth and capes and stuff, but all dark and scary still.
Ask anyone. I'm about the farthest person EVER from a vampire. Haha! I don't watch scary movies, I didn't read the "Twilight" books, I don't appear scary or intimidating in any way!
I shrunk into my seat as I realized she wasn't kidding. Well I can't leave now, I thought. Just do it! It's an experience...I've become really good at talking myself into things I don't really want to do, haha. So I took a leap and went through with it, my head spinning with curiosity and premature embarrassment: now I wouldn't even have the pretty technique of ballet to hide behind in the photos, I had to be scary and grimy.
I went along with it and...I have to admit it was really fun! Life is good when you find you can still surprise yourself. The whole thing was HUGELY out of character for me, but I think it was good to push myself out of my comfort zone in so many ways all at once. I certainly won't be as nervous next time!
After much waiting it was my turn to visit the hair lady. I've decided that hair people are officially the coolest people ever, haha. I remember one hair lady that worked on a shoot I did at Quick & Simple and she had so many juicy stories about the celebrities she's worked on. This hair lady (I'll get official names with the final photos, I hope! Sorry...lots of folks were involved...) was super cool, too. She spent about half an hour curling my hair. And I mean CURLING! I have naturally wavy/curly-ish hair, but she gave me some serious curls. They put my little Nutcracker party girl banana curls of years ago to shame!
The next stop was the stylist, who unloaded bags and bags of dark clothing on the big table. Everyone else involved, even the other dancers, seemed to already know what the theme of the day was. Some brought black, vampire-ish clothes to possibly use, but needless to say I was unprepared. The stylist guy had many options for me. First he handed me this slinky silvery-black short dress with a black corset thing to wear over it. I tried it on but he (and I!) didn't care for it. Next I tried this pair of puffy black shorts (that in real life I would never be caught dead in) but luckily they were, uh, too big. Finally he settled on this sparkly silvery-black turtle neck dress, with the black corset from earlier on top, with my own black tights. Later he added a belt and one black fingerless glove with a chunky silver bracelet.
I looked crazy.
Haha! Well, crazy compared to my normal, casual, "I love pink" self. It's amazing how different clothing defines you, and I really realized that when I found myself in this crazy dark outfit I would NEVER really wear, haha.
As if the hair and clothes weren't enough, I still had to get to the makeup lady. She came late as well, so there was a lot of standing around waiting through this whole process. I stretched a little bit, watched the others get their hair/styling/makeup done, and thought how amusing my life was at that very moment. In between the waiting some of the others worked through poses they wanted to try in the shoot - crazy lifts and balances with multiple girls hanging off a single guy. Luckily there were some good dancers involved!
Eventually I had my turn with the makeup artist, who made all of us indeed look more like vampires. My skin is already pale enough, but she made me just a little whiter and gave me super heavy eye liner. The whole get-up was...scary! I guess that was the point but...yeah, not me!
Finally it was time for the shoot. We went down this narrow hallway past the quiet kitchen for the place we were using, through a dark doorway and down a long flight of stairs to the basement. The place was spooky enough in itself. We were in a corner of the dark basement full of dust and dirt. Oh, did I mention I had pointe shoes on?
Yeah. Those shoes are done now...caked with gross basement goop, haha.
Anyways, some of the other dancers went first so I got to see what it was I should be doing. Another surprise - it wasn't much dancing. More like crawling, lifting, intertwining, reaching, and balancing each other. We did many group shots, all the while trying to look, um, vampire-ly. It took me a while to kind of get into it, but everyone was fun to work with and helpful. We were all in the same boat I guess.
It was not easy, and it was not comfortable, but I'm really glad I did it! In the end I really did have fun with it - although I probably look TOTALLY ridiculous in the photos. I suppose that's the point. Maybe you won't be able to recognize me, haha. Once I get them I'll post a few...maybe. Depending on how they come! But it was definitely an experience - one that reminds me why I love my life, and why I have to laugh at it.