The Utter Pain of Being Photographed

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Tyra Banks, you were right. I take back all the times I laughed at you and rolled my eyes at what I thought was a ridiculous notion. I stand corrected.

Modeling is hard work.

In an effort to secure a real, professional author photo (for the new memoir I co-wrote, Dwarf … and hopefully, more books to come!) I enlisted Brenna Britton, a very talented photographer and photo editor from PEOPLE.

On a cold Saturday afternoon in January, we set out to Central Park, Brenna with her fancy camera, me with lingering regrets that I didn’t down a cocktail (or four) in an attempt to calm my photo-taking nerves.

I hate taking pictures. All I can think about is everything I don’t like about the way I look being magnified on camera (a thoroughly unique insecurity for a woman, I know) while the photographer–no matter how talented or professional–snaps away. And believe me, Brenna is both of those things.

So I did my best to suck it up, smile, and ignore my inner critic. Some lessons learned …

1. A good blowout pays for itself

Endless thanks to Charlie (who is not a guy, as I suspected, but a girl — cute!) at the Scott J Aveda salon on Columbus Avenue. When I first got my photos back from Brenna, I literally said out loud: “I have Barbie hair!” A friend commented on Facebook that I should be in a Pantene commercial with this mane. I’d like to think that’s where I’m heading in this photo …

Of course, this was far from the end of our day together. Brenna actually got several similarly-decent pics with a funny little trick.


2. Flip hair, laugh at self, repeat

After it became abundantly clear that I only have one “look” (think of happy things, head turned slightly, try to keep eyes open), Brenna employed her patented “New York Girl, Walking” method. On the bridle path in Central Park, I would walk ahead of her until she announced, “OK!” Then, I’d whip my head around, tossing my hair in the process (Tyra would sneer and call it amateurish or commercial, but screw you, T, I’m modelin’!) and look into her camera. It felt so ridiculous that I would laugh at myself, bringing out a real smile in the process.

3. The concept of having a “good side” is very real

As you’ll notice, the trio of photos that I’ll allow for public consumption all feature the same body language … and the same side of my face. The other side, and <shudder> head-on photos just didn’t cut it for this self-conscious gal. See, Tyra, I learned about my angles!

Just a New York girl, walking. Oh, hey, a camera!


Thanks, Brenna — can’t wait to drop one of these bad boys in the book!

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