You’re surely an avid blog reader. I can tell because you’re here. You also must have wondered what the creative process of blog writing looks like. I could tell you about writing some other time. This time, let me share with you some insights about taking photos to illustrate blogs.
When I decided to launch this website so that I could post my short stories (about everything and nothing), my idea was to illustrate each story with an appropriate photo.
For all of you who are interested, here’s a demystified overview of a typical creative photo shoot. More specifically, the one I’m about to describe took place on a beautiful sunny Friday in April.
Photo shooting may turn into quite an adventure, even if you’re an experienced poser working with a good team.
The weather forecast for Friday was promising. I quickly gathered my team and we agree on the time and places.
On the evening before the photo shoot, I rummaged through my closet and picked the clothes and shoes that seemed presentable. I forgot to choose the jewelry, but never mind. Who would notice, right?
Come morning, I put my stuff into the car (together with the hangers, like guest workers going on holiday) and I rush to make it on time for my appointment with the hair-stylist. I’ve already announced that I’d be accompanied by a make-up artist and a photographer, to make sure they’re prepared for the invasion.
When I arrive, I meet my hair-stylist who is sitting on the stairs, waiting for a co-worker who has the key to the salon. She was late…
The co-worker has only just appeared when a black limo with tinted windows pulls over. A security guy comes out first, followed by a famous politician. She needs a hairdo before she faces the (un)happy constituents. She casually informs us that she’ll have breakfast first, so I hastily sit on the styling chair.
The politician returns with her breakfast – a glass of smoothie she is now drinking with an ecstatic expression on her face. Ashamed, I put the greasy pastry I’d just bought at the baker’s behind my back (At least, now I know why I’ll never be famous and successful!)
Eventually, my hairdo is done – a bunch of curls ready, as for an #IWokeUpLikeThis picture. My make-up artist turns up with a crate (yeah, a crate) full of makeup. Obviously, the so-called natural daytime look requires at least half an hour of serious work. Under the politician’s watchful, but benevolent eye, my makeup artist turns me into a top model who has suddenly discovered a knack for writing. Meanwhile, the photographer leaves to get a breakfast (he’s definitely not after a smoothie; he prefers my fatty pastry, shame on him too!).
The politician says goodbye and leaves us. She probably thinks I’m a celebrity. The salon owner arrives too. She’s looking at us, amused.
The trio consisting of an aspiring author / a young and successful photographer / a talented makeup artist gets to work.
We decide to sit in a coffee shop nearby to take one of those popular photos where a girl’s holding a cup of coffee, smiling charmingly #butfirstcoffee. But: the light is to bright and I blink every time, so it’s not gonna happen. I drink up my coffee and we move on.
Thankfully, there’s another beautiful bar in the next street, hidden in half-shadow. The staff allow us to take photos and they don’t make me buy another cup.
“It would be great if a good-looking guy was at your side.” As soon as the photographer utters these prophetic words, an old man walking with a stick appears behind me… and gets snapped by the camera. OK, so what, we’ll share the frame for all eternity. What else could be done to make the photos look a little livelier? A group of people at the next table is looking at us, smirking. I try to call out to their dog. It approaches me without much interest. Posing would be fine, I guess, only if I had some food to lure it. Alas, I have nothing. The dog leaves. A young Roma girl spots us. She starts talking to the photographer and tries to nick some of his equipment.
We change the location again. Where shall I change? I go to the restroom carrying my dress. I feign spontaneity while the bartender gives me a suspicious look.
On high heels, I try to walk down a cobbled street. One of my expensive shoes is already leaving a painful blister on my toe.
I stand in the middle of a busy street and try to look natural and proud, like I’m really very tough and there’s no way I can be trampled on. Behind me, a small trash hauler appears, carrying junk collected on city streets. The photo shoot now turns into a scene from Kusturica’s film. People from the hauler wave at us, the photographer tries to make another shot. They ask for some money. “God will pay you”, we reply.
It’s getting hot in the sun.
In search of some shade and refreshments, we reach the ever so popular Dorcol Platz. And lo and behold, finally we spot a good place to make a few good photos. An RV is parked in the front-yard, so I go check my makeup in the rearview mirror. The bar manager rushes out and asks us if we have announced the photo shoot and which magazine we work for. We try to look important, but basically refuse to answer.
The makeup artist goes to her next assignment. Looking for inspiration, I change again (at a friend’s place this time) and propose to the young successful photographer a walk to a trendy riverside bar. Everybody’s now at the riverbank. A cultural shock awaits us. It’s only midday (a business day, to make things worse), and we already encounter a bunch of dressed-up girls – their hairdos and makeup wouldn’t put even the British Vogue to shame. What they’re wearing is worth what an average employee makes in a year. In a dress I bought for my last birthday, I feel like Cinderella (before the fairy appeared with the pumpkin). The photographer is trying to comfort me, saying it’s nothing compared to the parade of kitsch he has seen so far in his career.
We retreat, overpowered by the enemy. We make a brief stop to take a photo of a vespa parked on the pavement. The owner doesn’t seem to be around, so I jump on it and venture a broad smile. The passers-by must be making acid comments, like “That’s what happens to you when you don’t have a mirror.“
A few days later, I went back to the hair salon from the beginning of the story. The curious owner asked me if the photo shoot had gone well and what it was all about. “Stories about everything and nothing? Really? Well, that’s nice, I guess.” I felt silly for not having thought of a glamorous story beforehand, but sadly, a while ago I’d decided to stick to the truth no matter what and hope for the best.
I could tell you more about this and some previous photo shoots, but I’d rather stop here before I embarrass myself too much. Next time you see a blogger in a photo sitting in a coffee shop like a sphinx before her laptop or walking briskly across the street to face her bright future, remember me and the trash hauler.
(photo credit: Sever Zolak)