So today, I was standing in front of camera, trying not to look like an idiot.
And let me tell you, it’s hard.
“Look more relaxed,” they said.
Then they said: “Now look more confident.”
Then they said: “Why are you so tense?”
Then they said: “Try it without smiling.”
Then they said: “But not so serious”
Then they said: “Point your shoulders in that direction, and point your nose in that direction, but pretend you’re looking at me, but making conversation with someone else.”
So all of a sudden, you’re standing in a white room, with eleven people looking at you, while you point your shoulders in one direction, and your chin in another, and your mouth in a third direction, and your eyes at the camera (but not directly at the camera).
And all of this without looking tense.
You know why I’m fucking tense? Because my body and mind and adolescent brain are more contorted than they are in yoga class, when Pradeesh puts my ankles behind my neck and whispers stuff about breeeeaaathing in my ears.
Of course, I didn’t have the balls to say that out loud, because I’m a newcomer to the modelling world.
* * *
For some reason, standing in front of camera brings back this whole weird wave of adolescent emotions.
It’s completely irrational. Whenever I look in the mirror, I’m pleased with what I see. The acne is gone, the facial hair is under control, the ears are the right size, and the nose seems like it belongs to me.
And I know that I wouldn’t be standing in front of a camera, getting paid to stand there, if someone didn’t think my appearance would make their product look attractive to some people.
Listen – I’m comfortable in my own skin. It’s just that when there’ssomething riding on how I look, I feel that the skin belongs to Danny DeVito. And being comfortable in Danny DeVito’s skin isnot something I’m good at.
The serious, smouldering look? It just doesn’t work for me. I tried it once. I even posted an image on Instagram. Allison called it a “vacant stare,” and I think she was right (she’s right about most things).
So I canceled the serious, smouldering look, and just smiled.
And enjoyed the moment, and tried to appreciate all of the people – the professional, focused, confident, effortlessly cool people – invested in the success of the image. The ones who’d chosen and styled and hair-and-makeup-ed and photographed me.
Thanks Vidhi, Sonam, Taras, and Opium Eyewear. I’ll be better next time.
* * * *
PS: Something that just occurred to me – I’m wearing my grandfather’s old watch in one of the photos. Nothing fancy. A battered old Seiko.
My Ajoba would never have approved of all of this – I mean, he wouldn’t have objected, but he’d have found it superfluous. He devoted his life to the Great Search, to answering the Big Questions. He looked for ways to live with truth, wisdom, and meaning. I don’t think modelling sunglasses ever fitted into that search.
But I guess that watch represents him, and also family, and also,me. The real me. And I think it’s cool that I managed to project a piece of my self, my deepest, most inalienable self, in those two images.
Weird, that the most natural part of the images were an object. Not, you know, me.
But hey, it’s a start.