Photo shoot tips

OK, so I’ve been lazy and haven’t blogged for a while. But here I am with a bumper edition!

Tuesday was the shoot for Grazia that caused all the telephone panic last week. It’s for an edition guest-edited by Sadie Frost, out on 5th Jan. There, got the plug in. Now we can relax.

I’ve done many, many photo shoots for everything from the Mail to Marie Claire to the local rag, and I’ve learned a few things. The only thing I’ve learned that matters, should you ever be called upon to pose for such a thing, is to BE YOURSELF and BE COMFORTABLE.

The thing is, everyone on a shoot has their own agenda: the photographer has to make sure the pictures aren’t blurred; the make-up artist has to make the models look better than they did when they stepped off the bus; the lighting guy makes sure it’s light, the stylist makes sure you look like you have some style and the editor talks into a mobile all day, shouts at people and drinks too much coffee.

This shoot is no different, except that I have my eldest daughter in tow because it’s a piece about mothers and daughters. She is beside herself with excitment, but keeps it remarkably well hidden. She’s great like that.

On arrival at the shoot, at a house in North London that I think we can safely call outrageously enormous, we are told things are running approximately 2 hours late (this is normal) and we can just hang out and make ourselves at home. For me, this means having a good nose. Which I do. And then I feel sad, because everything is so beautiful and expensive.

The time finally comes for hair and make-up. This is the best bit. The make-up artist gives me a 2-minute pick-me-up facial – apparently I look like I need it –  and I almost fall asleep in her soothing hands. She then makes me look better than I’ve looked since last time a professional got their foundation-covered hands on me. It takes 2 inches of slap, but the result is good. Hair involves sitting in rollers for half an hour, which is fine, and then comes the tricky bit: wardrobe.

Here’s the thing: every time you go on a shoot, they ask you to bring 3 changes of clothes. Being a dutiful person, I oblige, and cycle to the train station carrying a big bag of clothes that I’ve carefully selected. I might as well not bother: the stylist’s agenda for the shoot is always to get you to wear as many of the clothes lent by designers as possible. So your own clothes are pointless.

This may sound to you like Heaven on Earth – a massive designer wardrobe to play around with?? Yes please!! But no. No thank you. Because what happens is this: you end up looking and feeling like a plonker. Put it this way, unless you’re Cheryl Cole, it’s unlikley that you spend most of your time in designer gear and high heels. So when you DO wear a designer dress and heels you feel…well, you feel not like you. Which, unless you’re a model, is about the worst thing to feel when you’re having your photo taken.

But the stylist, who is lovely incidentally, is determined, and tries me out in an Alice Temperley dress to start with. It’s beautiful and fits like a glove. I feel like a danish pastry.
Next we try a bright green Alexander McQueen number, teamed with a shoulder-padded pearl-encrusted jacket which probably costs more than my last holiday. I feel like Elton John.

OK, this isn’t working. How about skinny jeans and a jacket? Good! I like skinny jeans and jackets. Oh, hello, but not THAT jacket. THAT jacket would look conservative on Joan Collins. How about this one? No, too plain. But I AM plain. Yes, but the shoot can’t be plain. We need….va va voom! Well, can’t you just get Thierry Henry to do it then?

In the end I am allowed to wear my own jeans (yay!) and my own boots (yay!) and a very very very gorgeous leather jacket by someone I can’t remember. I just know I can’t afford it. I feel good, I look good, the shoot goes well, and Emily, bless her, steals the show in her own, cheap, funky H&M gear. The stylist is cross with me, but I don’t care. I know that I did the right thing to insist on wearing something ‘normal’ and ‘liz’-ish. If people want to see a picture of me, they might as well see a picture of me, not me dressed like a cake.

So if you ever do a photo shoot, please please remember to be yourself and NOT give in to the wishes of a stylist if her suggestions make you feel like you’re in a pantomine. It’ll show all over your face and you’ll regret it, as I have a hundred times. Please remember also not to leave all the clothes you so kindly brought with you, at the shoot. Ooops. I hope the post is working well these days.

Remember folks – 5th Jan, Grazia. Then you can judge the choice of clothing for yourselves ; -)


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