Hollywood Photographs

One of the scenes in the new novel is in a photo studio when agent, Franklin Moss, arranges for publicity shots for “Lena Scott” (Abra). She feels shy in the beginning, but after a few glasses of champagne quickly gets into the swing of being a model and playing to the camera.  She will find out that stills are different than acting in front of a camera crew, director, make-up artists, and a cast of other workers necessary in making a motion picture.  She remains camera-shy, but learns to play her role well in a fantasy world that chews people up and spits them out.

I have never been comfortable in front of a camera.  As a child, I would stick out my tongue every time my mom or dad tried to get a picture.  My mother would become downright annoyed with me.  “Wait until you grow up and all we have are pictures of you making faces.”   I tried to behave.  Even when I did smile, I couldn’t be anyone else but who I was: a plain girl with a big nose and permed hair (the kind that comes from a box at the drugstore).  I went on a search-and-destroy-mission for all school photographs, including high school and college yearbooks.

Over the years, I’ve done numerous television interviews, and enjoyed the experience by forgetting the lights and cameras and concentrating on having a conversation with the host or hostess or panel.   

Having stills have never been easy.  It comes with the job of being a writer.  You have to have pictures taken for promotion.  They might end up on a book. Groan. So, I went.  I sat.  I smiled. And then I scoured the contact sheets for “the best” picture.  I didn’t even think about, let alone know, I could “have my face done”.   And my hair was just – well – my hair.  What can you do with baby fine hair other than cut it short and hope that gives it body?

All that fear-of-photo changed a few years ago when I asked a young Christian lady (married with children) who had done professional photography (still does) if she would do some promotional shots for me.  She had done photo shoots in Hollywood.  She said she’d be delighted and we set up a time for me to come to the family’s ranch.  She told me to bring several changes of colorful clothes, and makeup.  This lady knew what she was doing and didn’t mind giving me the much-needed instructions.  And then, what a blast, we tromped all over the place and she took pictures of me among camellia bushes, half-climbing an apple tree, relaxing in a white wicker chair, leaning against an old painted wagon, and sitting in front of an antique door (which her sweet husband held while I “posed” – and the thing weighed a ton!)  She talked about “hair light” and “eye light” and other tech stuff that I didn’t understand until I saw the pictures.  I smiled.   Elaina Burdo’s photos of me are the ones featured on the website. 

We had another photo shoot recently, and I brought Rick along.  He hates having his photograph taken even more than I ever did (though he doesn’t stick out his tongue – he glowers).   Photographers get very nervous around him.  Elaina got him laughing.  Again, we trooped all over the place with two of her children who helped out holding screens — and asked tech questions.  They’re already winning awards for photography at the fair because their mom is teaching them about light and color and angles.   She had me and Rick snuggling on brick steps leading into a white shed. She told him to whisper something to me, and he did – but I’m not telling you what.  All I will say is she captured the moment.  And I smiled. 

With the right photographer, getting the shot can be a whole lot of fun!