Celebrity for an Hour
Celebrity for an Hour (Or Four)
Two weeks ago, as you may recall, I was told I needed a new jacket photo, pronto. Worse yet, it needed to be "edgy," because my new series has a different flavor from the last one. For a girl who's worn pearls and written about polo luncheons for the last ten years, "edgy" required some translation.
A local writer friend, the lovely and talented Lila Shaara, (explore her bio---she's a hoot, not to mention edgier than I will ever be) gave me a tip on a great local (my agent was threatening to make me go to New York for the full, terrifying treatment) photographer, so I hurriedly emailed him late on a Friday night.
You may say that a photographer who answers his email at 11pm on the weekend is either a serial killer or a guy who lives in the basement of his mother's house and conducts his social life on the internet. But Archie (that's what I'll call him because . . . well, that's his name) turned out to be more the workaholic type, but in a good way. He's kind of an artist who can't drag himself away from his projects.
When I blurted out that I didn't know what edgy meant, plus I needed to look ten years younger and a lot of pounds lighter, he immediately interpreted my dithering and strongly suggested I hire a stylist.
With visions of my checkbook draining faster than my bathtub, I contacted the top stylist on his list and braced myself for a diva act. Patty (also her real name) was working late on a local movie set and had appointments to do a commercial and a fashion shoot the next day (who knew that kind of thing is happening in Pittsburgh??) but she thought she could fit me into her schedule. From her website, I noted she's a former model, so I figured I was in for an experience with a smug beauty who might barely hold back her dismay at working on a 50-something author who spends waaay too much time sitting at a desk instead of running laps around movie sets and getting facials.
Boy, was I wrong. Patty turned out to be a sweetheart---any girl's new best friend--with tales of working on celebrities (no dirt, though, darnit--she's a pro) while she dabbed my face and exclaimed about my beautiful eyes. We gossiped and shared stories about taking care of elderly relatives (Patty, if you're reading this---I hope your dad is doing great!) while Archie set up the lights in his studio and joked around with us.
His studio, by the way, is located in a former industrial part of the city in an old ice factory that's been beautifully converted into chic lofts, glam galleries and funky artist studios. His space is crammed with props (even the ubiquitous feather boa flung over a lampshade) and lights, screens and computer equipment. (Does anybody print paper photos anymore? Or have we all gone digital?) The whole neighborhood was way cooler than the parts of the city I usually frequent. (Who am I kidding? The only places I frequent are the uncool grocery story, the geriatric gym and the totally un-edgy Red Robin restaurant, because I'm a writer, for Pete's sake, and I just stay home.) The seemingly deserted steel mill located across the back alley turned out to be the robotics lab for a local university. And every corner had either a coffee shop, a hip-looking bar or a gallery on it. Who knew?
Patty applied my makeup for about an hour, which I realize now was time spent calming me down as much as prettying up my cheekbones. I had brought a suitcase full of clothes, but both Patty and Archie encouraged me to try a few shots wearing the white shirt I'd come in. (I do not wear the white shirt because it's chic. I wear it because it's easy.) Archie put on some music and went to work. He adjusted lights, coached me on where to tuck my chin and snapped a few photos, and then a few more. Meanwhile, Patty ducked in to adjust my shirt, spritz a little spray on my hair or blot my upper lip when it got a little moist under the lights.
Here's Patty. Isn't she lovely? I'm looking like a doofus, but that didn't last:
I had a lovely time. And I was so glad I'd put myself in the hands of professionals who knew what edgy meant and made it happen. Money well spent, and less than the last photographer I used. Plus, know what? I actually felt edgy at the end!
Of course, my mother prefers the shot where I'm smiling, but that's not edgy, Mom.
And the publishing types like the super "touched up" one.
Everybody will see the rest of the photos when my new website goes up in a few weeks.