My Photo Shoot

By Ferida Wolff

I usually think of myself as an ordinary person. I am a mom with grown children, a wife with a supportive husband and a doting grandmother. I also am a writer. I let my words be my public face.

When a local newspaper decided to feature me in an article and wanted a photograph, I got nervous. I never think I look good in photos. But the paper was insistent and told me they would send a professional photographer. So the other day, he showed up, and I suddenly found myself in an alternative world.

The photographer first scoped out several possible settings for “the shoot.” Already I was in media-land. He set up his tripod in my dining room/library. He told me to look right at the camera. I gave him my best picture face, which consists of tolerant eyes and a bemused smile. After he politely snapped a few of those shots he said I should just be natural. Well, there was nothing natural about my being the object of a photo shoot. The whole thing amused me, and I ended up laughing.

“Wonderful!” he said and snapped a dozen more shots. “Now turn your head a little to the left.”

I did and received an enthusiastic response.

“That’s beautiful!” Snap, snap, snap. “Let’s have you put your hands casually on the table.”

“I feel like a model,” I said self-consciously as I did what he asked.

All I could think of was the TV images of fashion models at work, posing, turning, moving like marionettes, while someone kept praising them. I had a sudden urge to put my hand on my hip and strut through the house.

“You are a model,” the photographer said. “My model. Now, look slightly up and off to the left.”

I did and caught a glimpse of a cobweb I hoped he wouldn’t spot through his camera lens.

“Yes, that’s perfect!” he said. “I like it.” Snappity, snap, snap.

I liked it, too. Not my pose but having someone in my house taking photos as I smiled, constantly approving of me. Certainly a far cry from how I usually spent a morning – doing laundry, making phone calls, revising manuscripts over and over again. I wondered why models always had that bored look. I was feeling really perky.

Okay, okay, by this time I should have been rolling my eyes. I knew that it was his job to say nice things to his photographic subject. It didn’t matter who was in front of him; he could have been cooing to a baby or a cockatoo but as I was the only one present, I accepted it personally.

“Step over there to the end of the table,” my personal photographer said.

As I did, I questioned if the glass table would create too much glare but he said he had an idea using the reflection in the photo. It sounded so artistic to me.

For a half hour I moved this way and that, turning my head as requested. I tried to keep from laughing too much and seeming unsophisticated, which I was. But he said he loved it when I laughed and told me I had a terrific smile. Of course, I smiled even harder.

For the last few shots, he aligned me between the glass table and the window. Then he came over and showed me what he had just taken. I gasped. The light was on my face and the rest of me was in shadow. I was reflected in the table and simultaneously in the window behind. It was nothing like I had seen before. I was overtaken by a Greta Garbo moment.

“It’s so dramatic,” I said.

“You’re a dramatic woman,” he said.

Ah, the perfect comeback.

“Thank you,” I managed to say.

I was gobbling this up. Yet, I wondered if there was some kernel of truth in all this. Maybe I was a tad dramatic and beautiful and perfect in spite of how I ordinarily thought of myself.

He packed up his equipment at the end of the session, shook my hand and thanked me. Then he left for another shoot, no doubt to flatter the next subject. I closed the door – dramatically – and walked back inside. I noticed that my walk was a little sassier than before. I was energized, well, pumped actually. I had to do something to get back to normal. I charged upstairs and booted up my computer. What got me into the newspaper and prompted the photo shoot now brought me back to the world I usually inhabit. Words, one after the other, flowed from my fingers, heart and brain, reminding me of who I am and, with the tiniest tweak of amusement, the beautiful woman I might also be.

About this writer

  • Ferida Wolff Ferida Wolff is author of 17 books for children and three essay books for adults. A frequent contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, she also writes for newspapers and magazines, online at www.grandparents.com and is a columnist for www.seniorwomen.com. Her website is www.feridawolff.com, and her newest book is Missed Perceptions: Challenge Your Thoughts Change Your Thinking (Pranava Books 2009).

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2 Responses to “My Photo Shoot”

  1. Rose Ann says:

    Enjoyed this self discovery article– beautifully written. I would like to hire that photographer:)

  2. Ferida, I’m a writer, too, and went through the photo shoot experience myself last fall since I needed professional photos for my website, business cards, one-sheet, etc. I felt pretty silly, too, but sure am thankful for the great results professional photographers can give us! :)

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