Thursday, September 3, 2009
Once upon a time, photo shoots weren't for mere mortals. Photo shoots were reserved for rock stars, models, and celebrities. Normal people didn't have photo shoots. Photo shoot? You'd have to be some kind of movie star to have a photo shoot.
Six months ago I met a photographer named Carlos. In Los Angeles, photographers make a living off head shots - every actor, wannabe actor, or person who thinks he's an actor needs head shots.
Or so I thought until the advent of online dating and facebook. Suddenly, I needed good photos.
That's when I met Carlos. He's a Peruvian photographer who used to run his own ad agency in Peru. Unfortunately for Carlos, he had the misfortune to spend more revenue then he generated, and his ad agency failed. They seized his assets, froze his accounts, destroyed his credit.
So he did what most people in other countries do when they need to start over. He turned his sights on the United States. Normally, the U.S. consulate would never let someone like Carlos through. A broke immigrant with no family in the U.S. and nothing to come back to? Forget it.
Carlos, however, does not look nor act like an immigrant. He's bilingual, fashionable, and hip. When he interviewed with the consulate, he wore a sports jacket and timberland shoes.
So they let gave him a ten year work visa. The bilingual, fashionable and hip can come to America anytime.
For anyone who wants to see his work, check out www.studiodecarlos.com. The man does know his way around the camera.
Carlos read some of my work, and was so taken by it he offered me a deal. I write a short story about his life, and in return he gives me a complimentary photo shoot.
The first day I had to try on a series of clothes. Fortunately, Carlos has an entire wardrobe of men's wear. Jean jackets and coats, formal and informal shirts, belts, cuff links, ties. He has enough clothes to start his own outlet store. He has converted an entire garage into a small studio, complete with backdrops, massive strobe lights, mirrors, and reflectors.
This isn't just some guy armed with a digital camera.
I interviewed him and we set up a day for the shoot.
"Come back on Thursday at four o'clock. The lighting is good then."
"Can't we do it earlier? I'm leaving town the next morning."
Carlos is adamant. "No, I want to shoot you in natural light. Natural light his the best light to shoot in, and I prefer late afternoon. Be sure to bring one pair of jeans, one pair of black pants. It doesn't matter if they fit, the camera only cares about the top of your body."
A week later I show up with one pair of jeans and one pair of black pants. Carlos has me put on a ruffled white shirt and black coat. He then begins to straighten it, looking to remove any wrinkles, attempting to get it to fall down along my body. He then pulls out a pair of golden light reflectors, they look like sun blockers, the kind that one would put in their car to reflect heat.
He asks me to sit in a chair and tells me to look at the camera. He begins to snap away, telling me to relax. Everything he takes is "great, wonderful, good." "Look sexy, that's it. Oohhh, that is so sexy. I love it. The women are going to love it. Yes, more of that. Look into the camera, own the camera. You are sooo hot right now."
"Should I give you blue steel?" I ask.
"Yes, Zoolander! I love it! Give me blue steel."
I shoot him a look attempting to do my best impression of Ben Stiller trying to look hot. I brush my hands through my hair and throw back my head.
"Yes, yes, yes! Now we are having fun." Carlos stops and gets on the ground, asks me to mimic a half dozen positions. Elbows on the floor, hands behind my back, laying on my side, chin out, chin up, face side to side. It is extremely awkward. Snap! Snap! Snap!
Carlos decides it is time for a change of wardrobe. He gives me a blue jacket and tells me to leave the top unbuttoned. "Oh yes, this is going to be sooo hot!"
We walk across the street to a neighbors house and he has me lean up in the corner of a vermillion wall. "Place your hands behind you and look like you are trapped." Snap! "Yes, this is good. Rich Varga found this spot and invented that look."
The neighbors small dog comes out to stare at us. After a dozen photos it lays down and goes to sleep.
I'm ready to go to sleep. After 90 minutes, I'm exhausted. Looking into a camera and trying to look sexy, relaxed, and confident is not as easy as it sounds.
Modeling is hard.
Seven hundred photos later, Carlos is done. He promises to take the best 30 photos and have them to me by next week.
A few days later he'll call with a problem. "Brian, I need you to come look at these photos. There are so many good ones I can't decide."
Damn, I knew I was hot.