By Amy MacKinnon
The day started at 5:00 am when I met my dearest friend at Boston's South Station and we took the Acela to New York. We chatted the entire trip, making the four hours pass in a blur. We arrived to a deluge of rain and thousands of other writers converging on the city to attend AWP. But we weren't there for a conference. No, finally, finally, after several wayward attempts, I had hopefully found the photographer who would take my author portrait.
In defense of the other three photographers who tried to capture a suitable image for my jacket, I haven't the face for pictures. There are no neat lines and lovely angles for the light to hug. No interesting crags or scars. It's a fine face, but it's not what anyone has ever referred to as photogenic. When my husband and children viewed each of the earlier attempts, they either laughed aloud or shook their heads and walked away in silence. Again, it was the face, not the photographers. Still, I had high hopes that the fourth photographer I contacted would solve my problem.
From the first time we spoke, the photog assumed command of the situation and I was happy to cede it. She told me what clothes to bring (nearly an entire wardrobe), the colors and designs. She instructed me to have my split ends trimmed and nails manicured. When I told her I had put on a little weight sitting here at my desk, she suggested I eat only lettuce and water until the day of the shoot. I laughed, she did not. I instantly adored her.
My friend and I arrived at the photographer's loft on time (I despise tardiness in anyone, especially myself, and I suspected the photographer would not suffer such foolishness gladly). She instantly dug into my clothes and jewelry, quickly rifling through my plain tops and chunky necklaces. Clearly, it was mostly wrong; I think I may have disappointed her. My friend, a petite thing, offered some of her blouses and jewelry, but her style is eclectic, i.e. effortlessly hip on her, desperate on me. The photographer decided a basic black turtleneck would be best.
Next, she introduced me to her preferred make-up artist, Pamela Jenrette. Ever meet someone and instantly fall into easy conversation? She sat me in her chair, plugged in her curlers, and chatted while she applied my make-up. *!So much fun!* At the end of it, I actually felt pretty. I highly recommend her services. She's good.
Lights, camera, action, and the next four hours flew by while my friend waited (quietly!) in the wings. The photog is a perfectionist and I was more than willing to do exactly as she said. Hold the pose for five minutes while she judged the Polaroid? No problem. Contort my body into an unnatural pose until my back spasmed? Happily. Withstand a barrage of flashes that eventually ignited a migraine? Yes, yes, yes! I trusted her artistry completely.
I was right to do so. For the second time, there exists an image of me I like (the first is of me two weeks overdue with my third child while my other two play nearby; I was ginormous!). It's the one my friend would have picked too. Personally, I think Sigrid Estrada is a genius.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
By Amy MacKinnon