The Reality of Photo Shoots!

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leyla-cleopatra-300The reality of photo shoots seems to be in the back of my mind this week. I was looking at old photographs and I realized that my sense of modeling has come a long way. And I mean from “nada” to where I am today, is like leaps and bounds! Most women will rely on the photographer to tell them everything and in the end they leave with little or no information. Understanding the necessity of photos in this business and marketing yourself is like another business. But in the end understanding lighting (indoor or outdoor) make up, body positioning is an art and one professional dancer’s must learn. It’s the life of an entertainer and whether we like it or not it’s apart of this business.

As I said, this topic is important to me because I have written about it before but I thought it would be a fun topic for this Wednesday’s chat. Besides it made me think of cool combos to use for in-front of the camera depending on indoor or outdoor shoots. So I am including “Photo Shoot Combos” with this weeks chat and I’m hoping everyone will have fun with them!

I think that many women rely on friends to take photos and there are many amateur photos used as professional photos. A friend of mine Michael L. Miller who is a movie producer/photographer and actor helped me realize the importance of first impressions. In the movie industry you might only have one shot at a part and if you don’t present yourself in the best possible light, it’s easy to be passed by. I remember I was called in to do a stand in for Jodie Foster in a movie she was directing and co-staring with Dennis Hopper in Taos New Mexico in the late 80’s. I was the right weight and height but they felt I was too exotic to double for her. I was wanted later for another film as a Lolita character but I didn’t want my first role to be a soiled dove! My point is that the first impression I made with the movie people at that time was a sexy Lolita character and I couldn’t get past that stereotype later down the road. So my so called movie career turned to dust.  

The worst part about this business are those horrible photos that someone takes and then all of a sudden there you are on some social sight looking like a scared chicken or menacing Medusa. Lol……..I didn’t understand in my early years why that was such an issue that was until I had my first experience with someone published a horrible photo of me in a German dance magazine. I didn’t know I was in the magazine until a dance friend showed me. I’ll never forget her saying, “If you don’t feel bad now after you see this photo you will.” I looked at her and thought to myself, “Could it really be that bad?!!” Oh yes it was! There to my horror was my impersonation of a scared chicken. What made me feel worse was the fact it was published without my permission. And I thought, why would someone even want to publish a photo if it’s that bad? Your guess is as good as mine.

Do you have a preferred side profile? I didn’t understand that until I had photos taken from my left side and right side. I realized that if you split my face in half, I would look like two different people. I had read in a Hollywood movie star book that Joan Crawford, Veronica Lake, Linda Darnell, Betty Davis and even Marilyn Monroe had preferred lighting and side profiles for close ups. The make up, lighting and camera people knew from working with the stars automatically how to make them look perfect and beautiful on screen. The same has to go for your photographs. You have to know your face and how you look from all angles. That includes your nose, eyebrows and how you work in your eye shadow in contract to lighting. You can’t just come to a photos shoot and say, “Here I am!” You have to know your make up.

Sometimes even the fact of knowing these things won’t stop problems from popping up. Outdoor photo shoots can be a pain especially if it’s hot and you’re sweating out your armpits! In one photo shoot I was on, I had mascara smeared on my cheek and the photographer never told me, he just kept on taking photos. Another time I had a long stick that attached itself to my skirt and unbeknownst to me I was dragging it around with me. There it was in the photos! Have you ever had a fly or mosquito buzz around you as you are trying to stand there and look not only professional but relaxed. It’s just not going to happen until the fly or mosquito is dead! I’ve walked on loose rocks and fell down a few feet skinning my knees. I had what seemed like millions of little stickers on my costume that would poke my ankles every couple of steps. I have lost a few feet in height because of hidden holes and our little or big friends who live in nature can really scare the begeegies out of you.

But the whole reason for our chat Wednesday is the funny reality of photo shoots. Remember that a yearly photo shoot is a good habit to get into. A theme is always fun but the best part of all is that as the years pass you will have wonderful archives to share that is your lineage to your belly dance journey. We’ll also talk make-up too. So join our chat and let’s have some fun! Don’t forget I’ll be sharing “Photo Shoot Combos” with everyone! Download Photo Shoot combinations



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About Leyla Najma
Lifelong professional Belly Dancer dedicated to providing "Belly Dance Instruction That Is Easy To Understand And Learn That Connects The Dots"


2 Responses to “The Reality of Photo Shoots!”
  1. allison says:

    Hi Leyla,

    I made part of the call today but I had to hang up because my husband was up making noise and I was afraid that it would interfere with you sound on your end. I was able to listen in on about half of it and since he is working tonight I will be able to listen to it tonight