Good morning mein schnauzers! (I don’t really speak German, although I HAVE seen Cabaret a bunch of times. Plus I stole the line from the occasionally NSFW Mr Peenee anyhow.)
Today’s blog post is going to be Law and Order style: Ripped from today’s headlines.
Except by “Today’s” I mean “Yesterday and quite late the night before” and “headlines” I mean “conversation I was having with an aerialist cum chef pal of mine who may or may not also breathe fire.”
Whether one might learn to be photogenic.
Listen, I’m not going to lie: I take a hell of a picture. In person I look like an extremely posh cartoon frog and I’m at peace with that, but on camera? I’m Myrna freakin’ Loy.
See, the things that make people beautiful to look at in real life don’t necessarily translate onto film, so there is absolutely no use hating bad photos of yourself. You DON’T really look like an off-Broadway musical revue staring Lady Bunny as The Elephant Man. It’s just a bad photo.
BUT you can hedge your bets by learning how to fake being photogenic.
How? Easy. Learn how to work your light.
You do this two ways: through makeup (easy) and through posing (easier).
Most people who wear makeup focus on their eyes and lips and don’t pay much attention to their skin. This, particularly when it comes to photographs, is a mistake. Even if you want to go for “the natural look” for a photo, a little foundation or powder will even out the way light bounces off your face, making for a much smoother look.
For the look above -which was taken last night after an evening out celebrating the newest acquisition of the Château Gâteau Collection of Enormous Sparkly Things: a vintage Kenneth Jay Lane necklace the size of a sheep– I’m actually wearing relatively little on my lips and eyes.
The lips are just a generic tinted lipbalm and for the eyes I simply took my trusty MAC 217 brush and blended Paradise Pearl pure pigment from Coastal Scents over the lid, ran a bit of Milani’s Mediterranean Blue eye pencil along the waterline and along the outer corner of my eye and topped it with a lick of Rimmel Sexy Curves mascara. I just cleaned up and shaped my brows using an old brown pencil whose make and model have been lost in the mists of memory.
What I did spend a lot of time on was the highlighting and contouring of my face. For those of us who are fat of face or otherwise not blessed with an aquiline nose, cheekbones so high and sharp people try to commit suicide off them and the generally accepted number of chins (i.e., one) highlighting and contouring the face can be a godsend.
The painfully lovely and exceedingly talented Chapman sisters can teach you this and pretty much everything else you’d ever wanted to know about l’art du maquillage (I say that in French because it sounds nice, the sisters themselves are from Norwich) through their wonderfully accessible tutorials.
Of course it doesn’t hurt that Sam Chapman might actually be the most gorgeous woman to ever have lived and if Crystal Renn ever got a look at her she’d be cowering in her technically-plus-size Martin Margiela boots. I highly commend these videos to anyone with even an sprinkling of interest in makeup. If you’re an old hand, they’ll be inspiring and if you’re new to the wonderful world of better living through eyeliner it’s a great place to start.
So we’ve got the makeup down, right? Now on to posing.
Any small success I had as a photographer’s/artist’s model (my plus-size fashion career was as short as my too-short-for-fashion neck) was because I knew how to literally put myself in the best light.
Part of that is just being aware of your face and how the light hits it. You know when it’s nice outside and you turn up your face to get just that perfect sweet spot of sun? That’s a really natural example of finding your key light.
Killer bone structure notwithstanding, Dietrich wasn’t a great beauty (and let’s not even talk about the tragedy that is Jean Harlow’s wighat)
but she knew how to play to her light when a camera –moving or still– was on her.
Vivien Leigh and Elizabeth Taylor worked lights well too, but they had the disadvantage of being actually breathtakingly beautiful, too, so it’s not as useful from an academic perspective.
A silly “key light” finding exercise, is to set up a spotlight in your house (yes, this can be a flashlight or a can light on a music stand on your commode) and practice just moving your face around in the light.
Odds are you’ll find some positions where the light just feels better, feels right.
That will get you in the habit of paying attention to the light, so the next time someone wants to snap your photo and you have a second to pose, just lengthen your neck, find your light and you’ll be surprised how much better your photos turn out.
Now someone go find me that charming Mister DeMille.