Monday, January 13, 2014

What I learnt from a photoshoot.....

I'm a chick.

I LOVE pretty things.
And I write a vintage blog all about pretty things from times gone by.
So it will come as no surprise when I tell you that I recently embarked upon a jaunt into vintage fashion shoot land. I have a wardrobe bursting with wonderful clothing and accessories accumulated from a life time of vintage collecting (I know, I really am soooo lucky), my best friend is a fashion photographer (Brooke Orchard Photography) and I think all my girlfriends are as beautiful as they come. I simply HAD to dabble in life as a stylist at least once in my life.
The experience was wonderful. It was one of those occasions where you just KNOW this is something you have to do, and because I was feeling lead to create this project, I was relaxed, organised but unstressed, and I knew that everything would come together.

Isn't that the best feeling in the world?

I have undertaken many projects that should have been a breeze, but because I felt obligated, because I was not experiencing the flow, the 'rightness', the heart guidance of the project - because it was HAVE to rather than need or want to - the projects were fraught with stress, hiccups, and lack of pleasure, beautiful projects though they were.

My foray into a photographic fashion shoot, however, was not that. It was wonderful, and I think, for now, I am a bit hooked !
That said, I wasn't all that brilliant at it. It was, after all, my first time. I saw the images in my head, I collected all the models, the clothing, I sourced the venues and the props. I had everything together. But when the day came, I realised I suck at giving direction.

Brooke, my poor photographer friend ended up doubling as hair and make up artist - I knew the look I wanted, and could put it together on my face and hair in my sleep, but I floundered when it came to transforming my contemporary friends into 1960's Bridget Bardot's. Thank goodness I had Brooke to fall back on! And when we were out on location, I know I should have been instructing my friends to 'Stand this way" "Look here" "Smile" "Use this prop", but I didn't. Again, I left interpretation to Brooke and my models.
It wasn't because I didn't have ideas. I wasn't because I didn't know what I wanted. It was because I gave in to the feeling of incapability alongside my best friend who is an old hand (a brilliant old hand I might add) at this. Who was I to presume to know how to direct? To help my girlfriends - most of whom had never modelled for anything save their wedding photographs - draw out the best, most character filled expressions and poses that told a story? I am a writer/town planner/social media marketer/landscape gardener (I have dabbled in a lot of things!) but a stylist I have never been. So I depended upon Brooke to take the reigns.
That evening, after a massive day and a hot one to boot, relaxing drink in hand, I noticed a quote on my fridge. It made me smile. The Four Agreements.
Don Miguel Ruiz wrote the book "The Four Agreements - a practical guide to personal freedom" in 1997, and it has been enlightening people ever since. I have the brief summary of each agreement on my fridge, and it was agreement three that was really leaping out post fashion shoot.

"Don't make assumptions: find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can change your whole life."
Yes. That was it. I reflected on my day and realised what I was lacking was the courage to express what I really wanted. I let others take the lead, albeit a little reluctantly I think - they were all counting on me to guide them, and I didn't quite rise to the challenge as well as I could have...this time.
Don't we all do this at times though? In our marriages, our workplaces, our friendships, in a million different little ways.

We don't tell our partner we like this or that in the bedroom - we make the assumption that they should know what we like.

We don't ask our children what their favourite meals are, and then get frustrated and angry every night as they fail - AGAIN - to eat the food we have slaved over.

We don't tell our friends we really hate horror movies, and then sit through 'Paranormal Activity - The Marked Ones' scared out of our brain and lamenting the waste of time, money and friendship 'quality time' the experience brought.

We harbour our crazy unrequited loves in our hearts, letting them eat away at our self worth instead of laying it on the line, grieving (or maybe celebrating!) and moving on.

We stew in silence as our work colleagues are praised for work that we did.

We fail to step up with guidance and instruction at a fashion shoot.

My goodness friends, none of this is 'wrong'! But it certainly isn't the best way to live our lives.
Don Miguel Ruiz was one hundred percent correct when he said this agreement can change your life. If applied early enough it could save a marriage. It could change your love life. It could deepen your relationship with your children. It could get you the job of your dreams, or a promotion at work. Don't wait for others to question you about what you want or how you feel - that often never happens, and believe me, you can waste YEARS of your life waiting for it to. For your husband to come to his senses and start showing an interest in YOU and what you would like to do for a holiday. What you enjoy in the bedroom. What you would like to do together outside the bedroom. How you feel about the relationship.
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama.
You can change your life.
As you can see, we DID capture some amazing images the day of our photo shoot. And despite my lack of directional confidence, the day was thrilling - fun, happy, worthwhile. New friendships were formed. New lessons learnt. New talents unleashed. We did great.
Next time I will know so much more. Next time I will have knowledge and guidance to share. Next time I will speak up, be heard, create more confidently.
And everyone on our photo shoot expeditions in the future can only benefit from that.


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