The One with the Photo Shoot

When I was a kid, I thought one of the perks of being an adult meant that I would never have to do anything I didn’t want to do. Bye-bye cauliflower. Hello Pop-Tarts for dinner. (Aside: have you heard about the new peanut butter Pop Tarts? Thank you to the genius who came up with this concoction.)  Sadly, I was misinformed. I submit my recent photo shoot as exhibit A.

I was content to use the little alien guy as my gravatar forever. Or, when necessary, photos of Reggie.  I mean, he’s pretty cute and quite formal in his ready-made tuxedo. But it was strongly suggested by some wise people that an actual photo of me might be more professional. It might instill a vote of confidence if someone wanted to hire me for editing services or buy one of my books. This presented a problem because, as I scrolled through my photos, I didn’t have a single one I wanted to make public. Pictures of me inevitably resemble a cross between Quasimodo and Frankenstein. Naturally candids are the worst, but even in posed snaps my eyebrows seem to have a mind of their own.

I decided to try a home-grown effort by setting up the self timer on my camera. Let’s just say that every shot looked like the worst passport photo imaginable. I realized I needed to call in a professional. Someone who knew fancy things like aperture and f-stop and white balance to have a chance at a decent photo. Some people might think: how fun! I am not one of those people. The thought of an hour or two as the center of attention, worrying if I had lipstick on my teeth, filled me with dread. It makes the kid in me stamp her feet and throw a bit of a whiny tantrum, but this was the part where I had to choose to step into the arena and dare greatly.

Before the big day I tried taking some tips from Zoolander. He says that the most important thing to remember is that it’s a mistake to think it’s all in the eyes when it’s really about the forehead. I experimented with different brow furrows in the mirror, though they made me appear to be in a perpetual state of surprise. He also suggested that I become one with the camera by showing a range of emotions such as “hyena” and “armadillo,” but for some reason I resembled The Joker. So I worked on copying his Ferrari Look and his pièce de résistance Blue Steel, but as you can see from this clip, neither were for novices like me.

So I took to the web for some advice: Just be natural. This is the least helpful tip, and it was on every site. Um, how is anything about this natural? A giant lens about six inches from my nose amidst gaggles of people in Chelsea Market, while trying not to sweat through my clothes and praying against all laws of humidity that my hair doesn’t end up looking like a giant Brillo pad. (Photographers love natural light. I tried to explain: Outdoors + summer = Albert Einstein hair, but they all thought I was exaggerating.) None of this is an average day for me.

Overall it was not a warm and fuzzy experience. That had nothing to do with the photographer and everything to do with me and the situation. Though she did say that she would do some touch-ups to the final images in Photoshop, but when I got these photos I didn’t look like Jennifer Aniston at all! I’m not the best judge of the results since I can’t be even a little bit objective.  So I’m going to put myself out there again and leave it to all of you wonderful folks. Which one do you like best?

Option 1

Option 1

Option 2

Option 2

Option 3

Option 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you had to face your fears and do something you really didn’t want to do? 

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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41 comments

  1. What a fun post! I know what you mean about the quest for the professional headshot. It’s stressful.

    They are all nice photos of you, but option 2 is my favorite – the composition is simple, elegant. The soft lighting gives you a radiance.

    Nice smile in option 1! That dark background lends a contrasting lurkerish vibe somehow.

    The background in option 3 is busy, busy.

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    1. You are so right about the background in option 3. It is far too busy.
      I have to say that this experience gave me a new appreciation for what models and actors do. It’s not as easy as it looks. 😛

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  2. I hate taking photos. My natural pose is silly grin, eyes closed, arms back, and act like I’m launching off a sky jump. I feel your pain

    As for the photos, I like option 2 the best. And hello!

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  3. I’ve got to go with #2 as well.

    #1 is very good of you, but it looks like you’re coming out of a very dark basement. It makes me want to say “Hey Jackie, what’s down there?” or maybe “no, don’t go down there!”

    Perhaps I’ve over thought.

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    1. Ha! That’s like a bad scary movie where you’re begging the person, “Whatever you do, don’t open the basement door!” But they always open the basement door, don’t they? 🙂

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  4. I face my fears every day when I step into the subway station as I wonder if today’s the day I’ll be the unlucky sap who draws the short straw and has the ugly encounter with the straphangar from Hell … Onto your head shots: I’m with the majority, I go with # 2 for the same reason that makes # 1 second choice; # 1’s background is too dark. Also, having met you, I am in that privileged position of knowing what you actually do look like. The photographer managed to coax out “the real you” i.e., you do look like your natural self. Good thing you studied that Zoolander clip to reach that Zen state of normalcy. Or did you have one of those deep penetrating near spine breaking massages in Chinatown as preparation?

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    1. Malnda tried. I felt bad for her, but I’d warned her. At one point she said, “So just smile naturally.” I said that I was and she replied, “Well how about a little less natural then?”

      If I could have just mastered Zoolander’s Blue Steel look, I think things would have turned out much better for me.

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  5. Definitely number 2! You look so warm and inviting in that one–which of course you really are. I love that photo.

    I know I’ve been away forever. However, I’ve been deep into my memoir–which is a good thing, right?

    Another issue, I need help with a querry letter and book proposal. Just wondering what your fees are. My querry letter is nearly finished, I hope. But the proposal overwhelms me. I’d love to send you my RADICALLY revised first chapter, as well. I may give you a call or Skype you one of these days soon. I need to talk about this whole book thing!

    Sara and I think of you SO often! We have our residency visas as of last week and are supposed to be getting our national id cards today. Sara leaves Tuesday to return to Lexington and oversee the packing of our container. Hope you are still considering a visit!!!!

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

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  6. I like them all! I think #2 represents You the best. I like the softness of #1. And the arrow in #3 literally says “Pick me” for your next literary venture 🙂

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  7. Hi Jackie,
    Definitely number 2 – you don’t look like the picture I painted in my head, possibly lovelier :-)!

    I just published a post about facing my fears and doing something I didn’t think I could! A caricature! Turns out that things aren’t nearly as bad as we make them out to be, are they?!

    PS, downloaded your subway chronicles on my kindle, looking forward to reading this weekend!

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  8. I can relate–being on the other side of the camera is torture for me! But you have nothing to fret about because you are lovely! All the shots are good, but I too like the second one best.

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  9. Well you are simply gorgeous, and I love all of them, but think #1 is best. You’ve got a sort of Rembrandt thing going on, with the darkness of the background blending with your dark hair, and your face standing out against it, softened and gold hued. Lovely!

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    1. Rembrandt! Now I hadn’t thought of that before. Usually pictures of me resemble a Picasso. 🙂
      I do like the softness of #1.
      Thank you for your very kind words! Hope you have a great weekend.

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  10. Oh wow, what lovely photos! I too pictured you differently – I don’t really know why, but I thought you had long hair. You’re lovely, jacquelin! And I think all the photos are great – my favourite is #1 though.
    Hope you’re having a great weekend
    Sunshine xx

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    1. You are far too kind, Sunshine! I used to have long hair back in my school days, but then I ended up wearing it up in a clip most of the time. So I decided to cut it shorter and make it more manageable. I do like the softness in photo 1. Have a lovely (and cool) weekend.

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  11. I would go with 2 as well. You look lovely.
    I work with fashion models regularly and most are just lovely young girls who happen to have been blessed with good looks. They are just like everyone else, they can read and write and they eat (I have seen them)….for Lameadventures

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    1. I have a whole new respect for the work models do. Before this, I thought — how hard could it be to smile at a camera for a while? Well to get that one shot it might take hours. It’s hard to be “on” and engaged for that long. At one point I thought my face had frozen into a fiendish smirk.
      I didn’t know that you worked with professional models. That must be quite interesting!

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  12. I think I’m similarly photogenically challenged as you 🙂 . My boss has always been very sad about photos taken about him. But some years ago a photographer came into our institute and made really fantastic pics about everyone. His trick was that he engaged in long conversations with his subjects and after a while, they forget to “behave themselves”. He showed a lot of smiling, cheerful staff members and everybody looked really natural.
    I think you could try to apply this method in such a way that you ask a professional photographer to take photos in situations where you feel most comfortable, for example, at your desk, when you sit in front of your computer or sit on a sofa with a good book in your hand and speak about the book and so on. Or, you could invite your friends for an afternoon and/or evening; everybody would take along his/her camera for a special event. You could make photos of each other under diverse mottos: the most joyful pic, the most elegant pic, the most cheerful pic, the strangest pic, the most poetic pic, etc. etc.
    I think the atmosphere is more important than professional lightning or the f-numbers… My uncle makes brilliant portraits with a simple camera by using the automatic settings.

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    1. It’s a very talented photographer who can draw out his or her subjects to reveal their true essence.
      I found everything you said to be true: it’s so important to find a comfortable location where you can be yourself. The camera picks up any tension and it definitely shows in the results!

      But you don’t have to worry about that with your subjects! 🙂

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  13. Boy can I relate. I do not like to be the center of attention or to be photographed because I never like the way I look. I hate that I feel that way, by the way. That said, YOUR photos are all lovely. I think you might have already picked… but I’d probably go with number 1. Because many avatars need to be face only and it seems that one would be the easiest to crop into “just a face.” Otherwise, I don’t think you can go far wrong. (p.s. It’s so very nice to see *you*, Jackie! Not that I don’t love Reggie’s face, but it’s nice to put a face with the name and writing!)

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    1. I’m so there with you, Julia. I can be so critical of every little detail (that hair is out of place, that part of my shirt is wrinkled). If the photo was of a friend, I’d never be so judgmental.
      Thank you for the lovely sentiments. It’s really heartwarming to have such kind thoughts sent my way!

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    1. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a mountain of anxiety before, during and after this whole experience.
      BTW – I love your avatar photo! You might be able to use it and avoid the dreaded photo shoot.
      I hope your revisions are coming along well!

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  14. I like Option 1 the best…Option 2 has a black window frame (too harsh) and I really like the colors in Option one.

    I am lucky to have an in-house professional photographer in my husband, so he has taken all my headshots (blog, website, book jackets.) I don’t mind being photographed, (was once on a magazine cover, which was actually fun), but it’s not easy to get a good/flattering picture. We all have good/better/less good bits! I am very self-conscious about how lined my neck is, so I am almost always wearing a scarf or muffler or turtleneck. I also have to be careful not to squint when I smile or laugh, so I end up looking too serious — just so you can see my eyes.

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    1. Thank you for weighing in. I like the softness of option 1 also. Isn’t it funny what we’re self-conscious about? I’m overly sensitive about my smile. Sometimes I smile too wide. Add a red nose and I’d look like a clown. That’s another reason I like option 1 — my smile isn’t taking over my face.

      Like

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