From my little experience, I believe that photo shoots are some very private moments between a photographer and the model. They are rare opportunities to showcase our personality. As a super introvert and full of insecurities person I used to think that modeling required some narcissism, that models are all self-confident and secure about who and what they are. That you have to believe in how exceptionally beautiful and special you are. Now I think differently, I believe that we don’t have to be perfection to face the camera. I believe that my few modeling experiences helped me to realize my own beauty when I couldn’t see it before. Shoots are for me that moment you get to show a new you, that doesn’t have to be different from your everyday you, but come to complete you and the vision you have of yourself. To me, what makes one person brave and strong, it is this ability to explore and expose yourself to someone you don’t know. You get to choose what aspect of yourself you want that person to know at that particular moment, in that unfamiliar place.
The very first time I let a professional photographer shoot me, it was at the London Fashion week 2015. I newly moved in London, I was still freaking out about completing my university course here. I had this friend from France that wanted to go to the Fashion week, and of course I didn’t. She asked me all the week long to go with her, and I just refused. I refused because all these fashion things looked strange to me. And the real question was “What will I wear ?” because I’ve never been to any real big fashion event before, and from what I used to see on pictures, I had nothing of a fashionista in my wardrobe. Still, that friend kept insisting, and I accepted to go with her the next day. When I woke up, my main issue was what I’d wear. I really had no clue. I wanted to fit in, to be fashionable enough to be melt with the crowd, but not to much to be stared at. Yup I’m that complicated. I opened all of my three suitcases (because I hadn’t even unpacked yet at the moment, uh). I desperately looked for the perfect outfit, I wanted to make a statement but not loud. I like standing out of the crowd. I like doing things differently and I do it all the time, but despite what I face might show, I’m always freaking out in the inside, wondering what people think of it. I’ve integrated the fact I can absolutely do and be what I want, but there’s still a long way to go until I do it without any care of others opinion. Anyway, I automatically picked up my African print dress, and then my Inner-judge woke up. “you already wore this dress like a million time, looks like you only have one good outfit, always the same one on every picture. Plus this is not original at all, the black girl popping up with her African dress. Nope.” I had no other choice than forgetting about this option, so I went for that bright yellow trousers. And damn, I had no top to match with it; Forget about that one as well. After that, a body-con dress got rejected because to avoid any fugitive belly fat, then a skirt matched with basically my entire tops/jumpers collection. I ended up wearing this outfit on the 2nd picture. I bought that white dress few days earlier, at H&M, for £6 or £7. The blazer was the warmer thing that matched the dress, the yellow bag was my favorite and the stilettos, well, they were the only one I could handle.
So after all that, I took a shower, put on the dress, some lipstick and ran for the tube, like a regular Cinderella. Okay I don’t want to be over dramatic, but it really felt like that with those people staring at me. And the thing is, when strangers stare at you silently, you have no idea if it is good or not. They were just STARING. So I freaked out, while I was on the way to find my friend, i started regretting my outfit choice and criticizing my entire person. Like I suddenly became way too self-conscious, hating my haircut, my double chin, my boobs giggling because I did not put a bra, my legs that looked so fat. I even hated my favorite yellow bag for not matching with anything else. I think back at it realize how powerful a look can be. That depending on how we moderate the way we look at people, we can either make them feel admired or just like crap (I’m definitely working on the looks I give now !). The minute before I was happy dressing up with the things that make me joyful and a second later I was hating all of me.
Anyway, we went to the city center. We were standing on the sidewalk, looking totally lost. In my opinion, it looked like a carnival, we saw some outfits that I’m pretty sure that nobody walks out like that in normal life. Some stuff were just too much, it was a real street show. And that is what I didn’t know yet. Fashion weeks are not only about shows on the runway, the best part maybe is in the streets. We discovered great designers and artists that just came to showcase their own work in the streets. This experienced took a real magical turn, when people started picturing me. It started with some Asian guys, they just walked by, stopped, photographed us and keep going. I was actually like “girls, there is some guys taking pictures”. My two friends with whom I was, just turned slightly, facing me, leaving me right in front of the guys. I stayed immobilized, not looking at them, I had no idea what to do. It was funny though. Then one Black photographer came up to me, asking if he can take some pictures. Second shock. I said yes, thinking he’ll just take one shot and let me go, but he made me walk around that street corner, looking for the right lighting and back ground. The more he looked serious while searching for the perfect angle, the more it stressed me out. So when he was finally ready, my big smile was gone, I faked one for the picture, because at that moment there way too many people staring at me and I was crazily uncomfortable. So that was my first experience with a professional photographer, other than the one taking the annual school picture.