Behind the Photo Shoot, AKA 50 Shades of Awkward


I am  bummed that February is almost over. I can no longer dress up in my red jacket, leopard scarf and snake-skin boots and hang out near the checkout isles of grocery stores, waiting to be recognized for being in a magazine. Don’t laugh, I actually did consider this just because I was so excited to be in Main Line Today magazine. Shameless self promotion but  you can click here for the link to the article. Someone I’d never ever met called me and wanted to feature me in the Style section because of a business that I created. I am damn proud  that I turned a dream about something I love to do into a reality. If you had told me this 10 years ago I would have put you in a straight-jacket and called the authorities. This little business of mine is just a couple of years old, I still keep waiting for someone to tap me on the shoulder and tell me I don’t belong. It will be the Queen of the cool girls who will come up and tell me what I already know, that I am not a cool girl and I need to leave this party. But I’m not gonna lie, this felt really cool.

Except let’s get real. On Facebook so many have lives that look perfect, which is annoying. Then there are those others whose lives are filled with downer comments and drama, which is also annoying. In between somewhere is real life. I’m gonna give you the real life version of behind the scenes of the photo shoot. First off this stuff gets planned way ahead of time. I got the first actual email from the magazine back in August. I almost thought they made a mistake. So then I wrote back. Then I called. Crickets. Seriously, I got no response. Okay, I thought, they probably did make a mistake. Eventually in September I did receive a phone call back. The editor explained she had been super busy and apologized for not getting back to me earlier. I tried to act casual but could not. I asked her if I could put her on hold to get out of my car and do a happy dance. I went to pick up my kids from school that day. When they got in the car I told them I had a huge surprise.

” Guess what? Mommy’s going to be in a magazine.”

They both cried, but not tears of joy.

“I thought you were going to surprise us with a play date!” sobbed my daughter.

” I thought you were going to surprise us with food!” sobbed my son.

That’s me, raising ’em right.

I'm sure this will be coming my way at some point - World's Okayest Mom
image via Pinterest

Fast forward to the actual photo shoot. The night before did not go smoothly. Our lovely daughter has this habit of piling things she feels she is finished with outside her bedroom door, for us to dispose of. I am not referring to trash. I am talking about shoes we bought last week because she had to have them, never wore and is now over them and no longer wants the offensive object in her room.  This inevitably includes a strange array of various knickknacks, anything from a zsu-zsu toy hamster pet to various headbands to perfectly good unused notebooks. I am sure if she could there would be times she would put me in that pile. I rattled off a long lecture about the value of money, clothes, etc. Our lovely son has a major meltdown because we could not find his favorite hockey puck. There were 2,341 others in the garage, the basement, in the lawn, in and under the couch but he needed this specific one. Then I broke a glass in the dishwasher. Have you ever done this? There is no quick and easy way to clean this up. None. Then our lovely dog threw up on the sisal rug, the one that looks like woven sea grass and is not meant to come into contact with liquid. Great.

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image via Pinterest via Cougar Town

In an effort to relax I poured a glass of wine. And maybe another after that. This helped me get to sleep, just not to stay asleep. From 3-4 am I was wide awake on my iPad on a Pinterest photo journey of completely random stuff. Of course when my alarm goes off at 7 I am drowning in a very deep sleep. When I do get up I notice I developed a nasty sinus headache and I cannot breathe through my nose. Lovely. Groggy, I get the kids ready and out the door for school, scolding myself for that extra glass of wine. I am moving very slowly  and I am running out time. I try on no less than 33 different outfits. There is nothing like being photographed as a “fashionista” that makes you feel like you have never ever gotten yourself dressed before. I was way over-thinking it. After tons of hairspray and enough makeup to make me look like a Real Housewives cast member I attempt to fight the sinus issue with a full arsenal of whatever I had on hand. I am just finishing the oh so sexy nasal drain from the Neti-Pot when the doorbell rings. I feel like a total hot mess.

We all have days like this!   I'll See Your Hot Mess & Raise You A Walking
image via Pinterest

So it’s go time. Time to act cool and natural. The photographer is very nice and very quiet. So what do I do to the nice and quiet photographer. Well naturally I talk his ear off of course.

Our beagle greets him in our front foyer.

Me: “Are you okay with dogs? I mean he is old. He is a beagle. He was a wedding gift actually. He is almost 13. Do you like dogs?

Photographer: “I have a cat.”

Me: ” Oh a cat! Is it like a typical cat personality cat or more like a dog acting kinda cat? I have friends that have dog acting kinda cats. Those kind are cool.”

Photographer: “Um I guess she is kinda friendly.”

Me: “Oh what’s her name?”

Photographer: “Lola.”

Me: “Oh! Lola! That’s what I named my car, I mean my truck. I am a truck kinda girl, well really it’s a big SUV. I name all of our cars….blah blah blah.”

Internal Me: “SHUT UP! SHUT UP!”

Photographer: (Now he just looks scared.)

Every. Single. Time.
image via Pinterest

He gets all set up and directs me on where to stand. Then he gets behind the camera and starts to get chatty. Of course, this is where he is comfortable and I am not. In an effort to get me to move around naturally he starts asking me how I started my business. This is the equivalent of going to the dentist and they decide to start asking you questions as they are working inside your mouth. I can’t respond with anything because I am too busy shifting my arms, my legs, my shoulders. Basically feeling 50 shades of awkward. In about 20 minutes he takes about 400 photos and is packed up and on his way. To say I was terrified of what the outcome would look like was an understatement. Then I went upstairs so I can start the really important part of my day. I changed into sweatpants to start cleaning the scary toilet in my kids’ bathroom. Total glamour.

In the end the picture turned out fine. No I didn’t love it but my own sister pointed out to me that it was a pretty safe bet I wasn’t going to be happy with any photo. As much as I was nervous about the magazine I remembered how good it made me feel. The magazine will come and go on the newsstand but I keep every letter and every email from a happy client. They are how I know I am succeeding at my business.

*Insider Tip – Wear color.

If you have to be photographed for something reach for that pop of color. When you are in doubt putting a color that you know looks good on you closer to your face is guaranteed to look better in photos then a drearier shade. Even if you are in all black a simple scarf can brighten the whole look. I swear that red jacket saved me from looking like I was a serious sinus sufferer.

*Insider Tip – Ignore yourself.

I recently listened to the most amazing speaker. She asked the audience how many of us had 2 voices in our heads. Pretty much the entire group raised their hands. The key is when to tell the negative one to shut up. We can be our own worst enemy and sometimes we just need to get out of our own way. Or better yet, turn up the volume on the positive voice, the one that is telling you that you CAN do it.

You got this...!!!
image via Pinterest

Thanks for reading!


Published by suziegaffney

owner at Suzie Gaffney Styling

7 thoughts on “Behind the Photo Shoot, AKA 50 Shades of Awkward

  1. Hi Suzi, love this posting! I have quetion for you. We are having hardwood floors installed inoyr bedroom next friday nd I think I need a rolling rack or 2 for all of my clothes. I’m ashamed to say my extra closets are pretty full. Where should I look for one? Thanks, Susan


    1. Hi Susan! I usually order on-line (but watch shipping costs) for the sturdier metal ones that are collapsible (like Patty uses for CAbi). I price compare on google any of the retail supply stores If you don’t need something as heavy duty I know Lowes has pretty good ones too. Also Bed Bath and Beyond. Hope that helps and thanks for reading!

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