Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Why The Pretty Didn't Feel So Pretty

Super-wordy-mostly-pictureless post ahead!  But first... Scram, Mr. C.  Oh, and don't forget to enter the giveaway!  You have until 8 pm (EST) tonight!

I had my big photo shoot on Saturday.  Luckily, Mr. C had to work a rotation in the hospital, so he had to leave the house well before I did.  I hadn't really devised a plan to explain where I was going.  Like I said before, apparently a year hadn't given me enough time to think these things through.

I showered and blew dry my hair straight.  I didn't put anything on my face, other than my normal Proactiv routine, as I knew my make up was going to be done, so it was best to arrive clean-faced.  I packed a bag with a few outfits I had prepared, and I left with ample time, because it was raining and the MTA likes to mess with train schedules over weekends in the summer (why do they do this?  it seems like the least logical time of the week/year...but that is a separate rant for a separate day). 

Before heading out

When I arrived, I was five minutes early and feeling really, really nervous.  A friend laughed when I told her what my plans for the day were, and said if I had told her ahead of time, she would have come over and made me breakfast cocktails before I went.  That probably would have calmed my nerves, and right around then, I was wishing that had happened. 

Luckily, the makeup artist was great at chatting me up and keeping me distracted.  She asked what look I was going for, and I told her I wanted enough makeup to be fun, but nothing over the top.  Mr. C isn't really into that look, and really, this shoot was for him (even though the old competitive dancer in me was begging for ridiculous eyeshadow and bright lips).  She told me that I should be a little more dramatic with at least my eyeshadow, "after all this is a boudoir shoot!" and I told her that made sense, and we could go a wee bit dramatic with the eyes.

When she was done, I headed to the bathroom to check out her work and pee before heading to the studio.  I was...feeling only ok about the makeup.  It was heavy.  The eyes were a little out of control.  But she told me it needed to be darker for the photographs, and plus a little heavy to make it that "more dramatic look I was going for."  Right, that look I was going for.

All made up

I figured it wasn't all that bad, and headed in to be photographed.  When I was let in the room, I realized another girl was still finishing her shoot.  I felt terrible they had let me in!  I tried to keep my back to her, so that she wouldn't feel uncomfortable.  The assistant for the shoot asked me to pull out the outfits I had brought, and she would choose which ones looked best.  I thought this was odd, but considering I liked everything I had brought, I decided to go with it.

She selected a black corset number (one that I already owned) and told me we would hopefully have time for the white "Sexy Little Bride" number I had brought as well.  I changed into the black outfit, pulled a robe over myself, and was introduced to the photographer, a man.  I was pretty surprised that they had a man doing the shoot, without allowing anyone to state their preferences.  There are definitely times when I would like to have a choice of a man over a woman (the lady doctor, boudoir shoot, maybe hair salon?), and this situation was high on my list.  But, with no choice, I headed over to be photographed.

Now, part of my problem with this whole set-up was that it felt like a factory.  I was shuffled in, the last girl reviewed her photos and was shuffled out.  While I was changing, they let the next girl in, and I heard her get the same speech I did at the beginning.  It wasn't very personal (obviously, they didn't even ask if I would be comfortable with a male photographer) and it was very cheesy. 

Part of the cheese-factor came from the props.  I've seen lots of fun boudoir shoots with props, and had even considered bringing some of my own.  But had I done that, I would have worked in fun, personal props that meant something to Mr. C and I.  Instead, I was photographed with a feather boa, a beaded curtain, lace gloves (that didn't even fit my arms!), and a silk sheet.  Very..."stereotypical" and "cheesy" boudoir shoot props.  If I had picked them for myself (hey, I was wearing thigh-highs.  That could definitely qualify as "cheesy" too...but I chose those).

When I started my shoot, I was told to kneel and play with my hair.  I. Hated. This.  And "play with your hair" is probably this guys go to move.  He literally was telling me to throw my hair around for the entire hour or so we were shooting.  Then, his assistant, in an attempt to get rid of my frizz (um, what do you expect when I'm whipping my hair all over the place?) used some hairspray on my roots.  I immediately sensed this would lead to disaster, but for some unknown reason (ok, totally known, I was basically shaking with nerves), I told her it was fine.  When I was checking out the proofs - yup, my hair looks totally greasy and nasty.  And that was within the first 2 minutes of the shoot.  So 99.9% of the shots, I have greasy and nasty hair.

No one did much to help calm my nerves or make me feel more comfortable (even after the photographer turned his camera to me to show me my "beautiful" smile, and I told him that is my anxious and uncomfortable smile, not natural looking at all), other than offering me a sip of champagne to gulp.  It took the first 40 minutes of the shoot to get comfortable.  After that, I told myself that I had spent my hard earned dollars on this, I wanted the pictures to come out great, and I didn't really care what these people thought.  You can totally see that shift in my attitude in the photos.  So, great, that left me with about 13 quality photos.  And even those, something is off.  I'm no photography expert, but whether it was the lighting, the lens, or the angle of the shots, they just don't...thrill me. 

Reviewing the photos, I felt my heart sink shot after shot.  This definitely was not what I had hoped for!  I wanted to come out of that shoot feeling like I could do anything!  That it didn't matter what size I was, how frizzy my hair got, but I would feel that I was beautiful.  Instead, I felt fat.  Un-photogenic.  But mostly, stupid.  The poses looked ridiculous (legit, some awesome Glamour Style shots in there, if this was 1981).  The angles weren't flattering.  The "angelic" look the photographer said he obtained looked like he hadn't cleaned off his lens.   

I'm not sure how many photos were taken in all.  I did find that there were probably about 20-25 photos I felt confident that I could use to make Mr. C a book as part of his wedding gift.  And maybe a few more that I could mess around with and maybe make a little better (Photoshop tutorial, anyone?).  So I bought the right to the digital images.  Part of me is really worried I'm going to regret that money spent.  But I needed something to prove this had happened (other then the two 8x10s included as part of the package).  I needed something to make the initial money worth it.  I wanted to walk away with more than disappointment.

I'm still waiting on the low-resolution files, and then I can request a few touch-ups, and my two 8x10s, then in about two weeks I'll have the high-resolution files.  I don't think I'll be posting anything on here to share (sorry!  I don't want pictures of me in my under-roos to pop up on the Internet somewhere), but maybe I'll password protect a few images to share if anyone is really interested.

The best part about all this was when I got home.  Mr. C was there already!  Dammit!  I wasn't expecting him there, and was still wearing my "stage" makeup.  Mr. C looked up from his studying, said hi, and then did a double take.  I covered by saying I had been a Sephora trying to look into buying wedding makeup, and this is what the woman had done for "natural."  I told him she said it was justified, because I needed things to be more defined for the photographer.  About 20 minutes later, he leaned over to me, and very quietly and cautiously, he said, "Beez [his nickname for me], please don't wear your makeup like that for the wedding.  You don't even look like yourself."  I kissed that boy on his nose, and told him not to worry, he wouldn't see my makeup like this on our wedding day...haha, or would he???  (Get it, cause I'll give him the album with the boudoir photos...Get it???  IT'S HILARIOUS). 

Is there anything to be learned from this situation?  Can I look at it as I did my evening of DIY fail?

I think I can...Here were my thoughts coming away:
1) SPEAK UP FOR YOURSELF.  Seriously, you are paying the money, they are working for you, tell the people what you want.
2) Work on that self-confidence, lady.
3) Invest your money into someone/something that is worth it (mmm, this was totally a lesson from my DIY fail too.  Dammit.)
4) And seriously, seriously, seriously, speak up for yourself.

Have you ever tried something new/different/crazy/daring and had it be a flop?  What lesson did you take away?


  1. OMG your post made me laugh..all your referrences to the chessyness! I am sooooo sorry it was not all that you expected but I give you a TON of credit for going and doing that ALL by yourself!!! I hope the pics come out somewhat good! I am sure Mr. C will adore that you even tried to do this for him!

  2. my heart sank for you! i wanted to cry just reading it. i'm so sorry you spent your money only to be disappointed. i'm no professional photog, but i am good with makeup and if i lived by you i'd totally help you do a shoot in a place you felt comfortable. either way though, i bet your honey will love your pictures because it's YOU ;)

  3. Ah man I was hoping you would have a spectacular experience. I'm sorry it was less than stellar. Oftentimes when I'm in situations that don't turn out as well as I'd like I just try to be in the moment and take away whatever lessons I can. I think you totally did that so kudos to you for even going through with this and learning from it. You rock girl!!!

  4. I'm so sorry to hear about this experience :( I prob. would have been sooo uncomfortable too in this situation. I'm sure the pictures are better than you think...but looking at them right then and there as you're feeling vulnerable, I'm sure didn't help. I'm sure your fiance will love it, and you def. walked away with a few valuable lessons...we all go through stuff like that at some point.

  5. Thank you guys for your kind words! Being a little bit further away from the experience, its more funny to me now than anything else. What else can you do, right??