Okay, I’m here at my cafe and ready to write. The weather outside is bizarrely fine considering it’s still March, and I’m dressed in an outfit that my husband would 100% hate (I look like a neon pink hippie). So, the time has come to relive yesterday in the written form, and it involves owl eyes, bright yellow dresses, and throwing flowers in the air.
Doesn’t that sounds quite idyllic. Actually it was a photo shoot in Toronto (not exactly idyllic, but still good fun) for the Look Good Feel Better 20th anniversary magazine, Lives Affected by Cancer. As mentioned, I’ve written an article for the issue that dips into the impact of cancer and treatment on a couple’s love life, which is huge, freaking huge, and ripples out into everything, then ripples back in upon itself . . . like some freaking never ending cycle of crabbiness and – !!!! A man in the cafe just unleashed a hurricane from his mouth – Where was I? Oh, it’s a difficult situation that hardly ever gets discussed. So we’re discussing it.
And it’s a tricky concept to photograph as well. But wisely the art direction choose to work with the idea of flowers and lightness – and hey, how brilliant? While sex is SEX (Wohoo!), it’s also sweetness, gentleness and romance. Flowers are very appropriate.
So yesterday morning I go up way too early and joined the art director (I so want to say his name, but lately I’m not really sure if I’m able. Am I able?) as we took a cab across Toronto and arrived at the studio. We initially arrived at the wrong studio, a few buildings down and only realized this upon knocking on the wrong apartment door, which sheds some light on how tired we felt.
But eventually we made it.
Unlike the first photo shoot for Glow, this place had a completely different vibe. Firstly, it was empty except for the photographer and her assistant. Secondly, it was a huge space. Big windows and 30 foot ceilings, white painted everything and pillars so large I couldn’t wrap my arms around them. Why, why, why don’t they make these buildings anymore? It was magnificent.
People began to trickle in. And in. And in. Seems to me these photo shoots are highly complex – not to mention the editing and planning of a magazine. The magazine designer was explaining how much work went into the project, and it sounds nearly endless. No wonder every little job needs to be considered, and it’s incredible to watch them integrate their roles like clockwork.
So we stared with makeup and a lovely man helped me look natural, fresh and beautiful. He took the curlers to my lashes and gave them a good pinching (during which I was frozen – mannequin like), then added mascara and a tiny bit of shadow at the edges of my eyes. Sexy! Yet sweet. Way more make emphasis than I’d ever dare to use, but the result was striking.
And then came the dress. Think of something from the 1960s that a woman would wear to lunch out with the girls . . . think lemon drops and traces of white flowers . . . think about Jackie Onassis and Audrey Hepburn. That was my dress. (It was too large so they clipped it at the back, and I wore my hiking socks since they weren’t photographing my full body. Ridiculous yet comfortable.) The makeup artist (and he was certainly an artist) touched up my lips with a bit of pink that popped against the yellow.
And then the shooting began. Goodness me. I am NOT a model – it makes me wonder, why is it easy to look interesting and friendly in front of the mirror at home, but when people are watching and the camera pops, and someone says “Happy! Be happy” . . . why is it suddenly so darn awkward?
But I did my best. The previous Glow shoot photographer had me saying, “Ha ha ha!” so I tried it here : “Ha ha ha!” And then other people started saying “Ha ha ha!” along with me . . . we were all standing there saying, “Ha ha ha!” and it was quite surreal.
Surreal, but fun. The makeup artist came over and fixed my hair constantly, thank goodness for that because often times he’d give me little tips on how to move or what to do with my legs which was really helpful.
Along the theme of flowers, I threw petals into the air, picked at a bouquet, and smelled the chrysanthemums. It was all very light and fun. Really fun, despite my nerves.
And then there was the video. Talk about uncomfortable! You see, during the shoot not everyone came round to watch – just the photographer, the prop stylist, the clothing stylist, the assistant, the makeup artist and the designer. There were a ton of other people hanging around too. But with the video EVERYONE had to watch.
Basically this video is going to be shown around the web and at events. It’s about Look Good Feel Better and Facing Cancer Together – my particular bit was mostly about blogging and the online community. (Hello community!)
Therefore, the light switches were flipped off and spot lights were turned onto my face (“Good lighting” assured the makeup artist, which somehow made me feel comforted – not that lighting worries had ever entered my mind . . . but nevertheless, I felt better.) and everyone had to be quiet. No mobiles. No moving. No talking. No light (except for the spotlight.)
So basically it was impossible to not watch the filming. However, while the idea intimidated me, the actual execution was alright. When bright lights get shot into your eyes, the watching crowd disappears. Hopefully I was coherent – sometimes I’d use the wrong word and catch myself about ten seconds later, way after the sentence had passed by and couldn’t be corrected. But whatever. It was the real, second-guessing, me, and I reckon that translates okay onto film. (Or at least, I hope!)
The truly remarkable thing about this photo shoot was how smoothly it ran. With so many people criss-crossing one another, and so many aspects of the production collected in one room – it’s a miracle of good planning and professionalism that the project ran so smoothly. I’m truly impressed with each person in that room and the role they played.
Despite being nervous – totally nervous – about getting my photo taken . . . it was great to be in such a capable crowd, and supported 100% by their kindness and vision for this magazine. The upcoming issue of Lives Affected by Cancer will be hitting stands (as an insert in fashion magazines – how exciting) come next August. Judging by the way things went yesterday, it’s going to be an outstanding issue.
Sometimes you get lucky, eh, and get to be part of something great. Yesterday was something great, and I know Look Good Feel Better and Facing Cancer Together are programs that certainly deserve greatness.
So keep an eye on those newsstands. But don’t let this weather trick you, it’s not August yet.
P.S. I met Michael Carrera – blogger at Facing Cancer Together and personal trainer extraordinaire. But you know what, I’ll write more about that later, because I feel quite strongly about the usefulness of getting a physical trainer post chemotherapy, and it deserves a separate post.