A couple of months ago I received an email via my Contact Me page from a features writer at Woman and Home. They were researching a piece on ‘new beginnings’ and had seen my blog – would I be interested in chatting to them? A few emails and phone calls later and I had agreed to be interviewed and photographed for the January edition of the magazine.
Eeek! I was not too worried about the interview part of the equation but the photograph…that was another matter. I am well known amongst family and friends for being fantastically un-photogenic. Many have accepted the challenge of capturing a decent photo of me but few (very few, OK, none) have succeeded. The chicken and egg result of this scenario is that when faced with any kind of lens I undergo some sort of gurning/rigor mortis transformation. Not a good look.
So, whilst this was a fantastic opportunity to promote the blog, it also gave me the chance to stop being such a wuss and face my photographic demons head on. YOLO, as Teens 1 and 2 would say.
The day for the photoshoot was duly scheduled for three weeks later. An emergency pre-photo list was required.
- Lose a stone
- Have Botox
- Grow four inches
- Discover art of looking like a relaxed human being in front of a camera
This was clearly on of my more ambitious lists and when it became obvious that it may not be possible to achieve all (or any) of the points I decided to adopt a faux casual laissez faire attitude to the day; an altogether much more relaxing approach if not quite as constructive.
The day of reckoning arrived and I headed to London on the early train. I was met at Waterloo by a taxi and had a lovely journey across to Fulham where the shoot was taking place. It was a crisp, bright autumn day and London was at its most beautiful – every shade of golden brown on the trees, sun glinting off the river. Why did I never notice any of that stuff when I lived there?! Maybe because my journeys were conducted underground not over ground in black cab luxury I guess. It was like driving through a Richard Curtis movie, if the cab driver had turned out to be Hugh Grant I wouldn’t have been surprised.
We reached our destination and I stood at the door. Deep breath, shoulders back, best foot forward. I needn’t have worried though, the Woman and Home team couldn’t have been more friendly. There was a small army in situ from photographer to stylist to hair and make up and everything in between. There were also three others like me, there to be photographed for the January issue of the magazine. I was the last to arrive and the others were in various stages of readiness – full make up here, rollered hair there. As the photographer went to work on her first subject I was taken downstairs to find an outfit.
Down in the basement the Stylist reigned supreme and her two assistants darted around nervously plucking hangers from the rails, grabbing shoes from the rack. The Stylist eyed me up and down and thrust trousers, tops, jackets and shoes at me in varying combinations – occasionally calling the Picture Director down to get her opinion. It was like playing at dressing up in someone else’s wardrobe, great fun. An outfit was decided on, plenty of sequins and the most amazing gold glittery shoes. There were no mirrors so I had no idea how I looked but I knew I was in safe hands and that the team were working to a master plan. Make up was next, wonderful smoky eyes and false eyelashes, followed by hair which was styled and sprayed into a big and beautiful ‘do’. A bite of lunch and it was my turn to face the camera. The photographer and her assistant were friendly and laid back, obviously well used to getting the best out of clueless twits like me. That said – they definitely had their work cut out! I spent a lot of time swaying and flicking, smiling and laughing. I was the last subject of the day so the whole team were there giving words of encouragement and cheering me on, and not once did I feel like a total wally. For someone with such severe photograph-a-phobia (yes, I did just make that up), this was a huge achievement. As the session came to an end I realised that – shock horror – I had actually enjoyed it. I had no idea if they had managed to get a halfway decent photo of me but it didn’t matter – I was Cindy Crawford, I was Helen Mirren, my inner A-lister had been unleashed and it felt fantastic.
When the finished article landed on my doormat it was confirmed, the friendly and helpful gang from the photoshoot were not actually mere mortals, but miracle workers put on this earth to transform the drab and dreary into sparkly glamour pusses for the day. I was like the human version of a black and white film that had been colourised and re-released. If only I had the full team in my house to get me ready every morning…