I'll admit, the idea of dressing up and posing in front of the camera had been quite fascinating - All the lights and all the eyes on you! But let me remind you, not everything is as fancy as it seems 🙂
I received a message from a friend in December, where he informed me about a probable opportunity of modeling for a friend of hers, Vineetha. At the time, I was (or better I still am) in an experimental phase of my life, and I was trying almost everything that I had ever fascinated. So considering it an opportunity with a no-gain no-loss situation, I said yes. And that's when the process began!
The First Call With The Designer
Have you ever heard of "friends on the first call"? That is what happened with Vineetha(founder of Vinnhi) and I. We gelled instantaneously and were comfortable talking about the work, requirements, and expectations more freely.
We were in different cities at the time, so we had to coordinate and get minimal things ready for the shoot beforehand. We had a few initial conversations on the phone, where Vineetha told me about her work, her vision for the brand Vinnhi, and her plans for the shoot. Both of us were new to this domain, so we tried to discuss as many details of the process as we knew.
A Day Before the Shoot
I reached Pune from Bangalore a day before the shoot had to start. I met Vineetha and the photographer, wherein we discussed each look in brief, that included hairstyle and make-up, and location of the shoot for each saree. We also looked at a few sample pictures of other models for motivation. Vineetha also showed me the beautiful sarees that she had designed before I left.
PS: If it is your first catalog shoot, make yourself comfortable with the designer, and any other person who is involved in the process- photographer, make-up artist, business manager, etc. It reduces the pressure of posing in front of strangers at the time of the shoot.
First Day of the Shoot
Nervous and Excited- just like on the day of a school exam!
A day of trying out something completely new, but appealing. I was looking forward to the day because I didn't know what to expect.
We planned to start the shoot by 10 am, so I reached Vineetha's place an hour before that to be able to get ready (dressing-up, make-up, and hair-do) in time.
The weird thing at the time for me was putting a lovely piece of saree and getting adorned with jewelry and make-up (however light they were) early in the morning.
And so it began..
I felt a little self-conscious as I walked out all dressed-up in front of the photographer and his team. But since I was now friends with Vineetha and her husband, their presence comforted me a bit.
After a few minutes of testing light, focus, and angle, the photographer started clicking pictures. The discomfort was clearly showing on my face - with the photographer pushing me to get rid of my tensed expressions.
The first photo session was a pretty uncomfortable experience, with the photographer instructing me to smile, but smile less, not look directly at the camera, but look somewhere, act thoughtful, but be natural, choose better expressions, pose this way, and again change, and change, and again and smile again!
It was all so overwhelming for me in the beginning that it was hard to focus on the shoot and not be stressed.
I was so tensed and worried about not being good enough. I wanted to stop right there and call the whole thing off. But Vineetha, who was blindly relying on me, I did not want to leave her hanging in the air and not fulfill what I promised. I am so glad, Vineetha and her husband were cheering me and just being kind, that I could overcome this feeling.
With each costume taking at least an hour, by the time we finished the first half of the shoot, it was 2:00 pm. It had been almost 4 hours since we were changing, posing, ideating, and clicking. The whole process was very exhausting, but I was now more comfortable in front of the camera and the people around me.
If your dress is comfortable, you'll feel more at ease during the shoot. I myself was able to pose freely and express better in the sarees and blouses I was more comfortable wearing.
The second part of the shoot after the lunch-break went more smoothly, although it was a little challenging to get in flow after the meal since I felt more sleepy and tired then.
By the end of the shoot, we were happy about the success of the first day but too exhausted to have a full-fledged retrospective discussion. So, we relaxed for a bit and then separated.
The day was mentally tiring, although I did not use much of brains apart from listening to everyone and focussing on being confident and posing better. It was physically tiring too because we were standing for the most part of the shoot - quickly rushing and changing.
There were 5 dress changes in a matter of 7 hours!
Second Day of the Shoot
Because of the experience that we gained on the day before, we were more light-minded and were able to start the second day a little earlier than the last one. But the challenge that day was modeling in public places.
I remember the first video I shot in a park in Bangalore. I was recording the introduction and the conclusion for this video. Even shooting this very basic video in public was a challenge for me. And now here I was, all dressed-up, posing in a public park at 10 in the morning, with a giant camera setup following me.
PS: It was one of the most awkward moments for me!
Again I gradually got more comfortable with shooting outside and was able to care less about the people passing by. The best part throughout these uncomfortable moments was the support from Vineetha, her husband, and our mutual friend.
The sarees were also more comfortable than the last day, and I could easily dance and jump around these(in short, just be me).
Your confidence will reflect in the pictures.
We had planned to shoot pictures in the next saree outdoors as well, and it was funny how we rushed to a mall to quickly change.
Everyone, especially Vineetha, pampered me throughout the shoot - I was assisted for the most basic chores as well, that included carrying items like a phone, or a handbag!
I am not used to people helping me around, and it was difficult for me to fit in a character where even when a Pallu (the loose end of a saree) falls, I'll have someone rushing towards me to correct it.
But mind you, it was not all pampering. It was also following commands and instructions, especially when you are in front of the camera (at least when you are a beginner and a novice).
As the shoot was nearing its end, I was happy to have stayed strong despite many uncomfortable moments. I was glad that I could deliver what I promised.
The pictures came out nice, and Vineetha is doing well in her business.
Now at least I know what it feels like to be a model. It was an unexplored fantasy, and I am glad I gave modeling a try but ultimately decided to not pursue it.
How could you make your first modeling experience better?
Here are a few concluding points that I can share from my personal experience to prepare you for your first assignment.
- Know what to expect.
- Be open to suggestions.
- Get comfortable with the photography team, because they'll be the ones to guide you throughout, about the poses, angles, expressions, etc.
- Share/exchange your ideas with the team early on, so that you spend less time experimenting and trying, and more time on getting the work done.
- Stay happy and engage in whatever cheers you up because that will reflect on your face when you are getting clicked.
- And remember the more comfortable and stress-free you are, the better the whole presentation will be.