Overthinking so you don't have to.
Since I’ve got free time this week, I’m helping imotion with their booth tomorrow (today) at Santana Row’s Mommy and Me and Daddies Too. (I should probably get to bed instead of writing at TWO TWENTY-ONE IN THE MORNING but I digress…) If you ever need portraits done, check out their studio in Los Gatos. They do pretty awesome non-cheesy family portraits – without the tacky backgrounds and glory of walking through the mall in fussy clothes.
Among the family testimonials on their website, you might notice a single individual photo shoot subject. Oui, c’est moi. After I got my swanky package of pics, Annie asked me to draft up a story for them, the edited version of which you can find at the link. But since I do everything real big, here’s the full version – UNRATED AND UNCUT! (Read: I went way over their 200 word limit.)
…That’s my longboard that I’m holding in front of my nose, in case you were wondering. Also, to be perfectly upfront and honest, no, I have not actually hung the photos up in my apartment, but they sure are pretty!
I like jumps and I like hiding. Conversely, I also like dressing up and goofing off. Longboarding is a part of my daily commute, but I am also known to trek to San Francisco’s downtown shopping centers after work – hopefully just to windowshop and not to spend.
With all these stratified interests, I was at a loss as to how to to pull them together for a single hour wedged between a screen and a zoom lens. Here I had this great opportunity for camera lenses to be focused solely on me, and I didn’t even know what to do with myself!
Luckily, the professionals stepped in and made the process easy and comfortable – They made it personal. Annie asked me to send her photos that I love of myself, so I immediately directed her to an image of myself from an old hip-hop photo shoot. It was one of those MySpace photos that sparked a flurry of comments. I expressed to Annie how much I missed having fun stuff like that. She immediately spouted off ideas just from seeing this one profile pic – “What’s your favorite color?” “What’s your favorite part of dancing?” “What do people comment about most with your dance style?”
Suddenly things just started flowing. I told her I like fuchsia (after looking up the spelling). I love jumping. I’m most known for my versatility. (At the time I was dancing on three different companies flipping from modern to hip-hop to Pilipino in between practices.)
Much to my excitement, Annie said I could do it all!
I switched up four outfits in the 60 minutes I had in the studio. First I decided to push the limits and kick off with a version of my anti-self. I wore what I called my “Stepford Wives” outfit. Strands of pearls, a country clubbish sundress and 4″ heels. The kicker came out when Annie urged me to bring in my Gravity 42″ longboard. (His name is Baxter.)
Raise your hand if you’ve ridden on a longboard wearing limited release Kenneth Cole slingbacks. Exactly.
Then came the “casual clothing.” To me, the most important piece of my outfit was the shoes. I’m a huge fan of Puma (unreasonably so), and I simply HAD to wear my 2006 men’s gold Puma First Rounds. Like any friend who knows me, Annie made it a point to showcase my sneakers – In an unconventional way, of course – I got to whip out my B-girl freezes! The way that Annie framed me, friends say I look like I’m breaking out of the picture frame. Plus, she made my Pumas look really good.
Feeling like I was ready to take on Flashdance, I changed into comfy black clothes and warmed up for the peak of my shoot. It’s very easy to underestimate how much energy one needs to jump for 20 minutes straight. We were re-enacting every favorite leap and bound I could ever recall from 18+ years of dancing. It was great, exhausting fun. We tried multiple permutations with the jumps – different angles, color gel filters on the lights (fuchsia), close-ups… My feet were getting quite the workout.
The real result, though, has been tested on the walls of my Berkeley apartment. At first I felt somewhat ashamed at the thought of plastering photos of myself all over my walls – Doesn’t that sound vain? But friends who have visited have squealed in delight at my portraits.
I get a lot of “Is that YOU? I recognize the hair!” or even “Wait, you’re wearing that shirt right now!” I used to feel bashful when people came over, but they’ve convinced me that it is perfectly acceptable – expected, even – to showcase yourself when you’re being yourself.
“If I could jump like that, I would. It looks like something out of a magazine!”
It isn’t – It’s something out of a photo shoot with photographers who were all about my comfort level, but more importantly, who were also about playing off of my personality.
Don’t tell them, but I secretly hope to give my close friends imotion photo sessions when their birthdays arrive. It’s totally worth it to have skilled professionals capture the memories of you as you are now. No pretense. Just a fun atmosphere with great “eyes” to match.