As someone who has spent many years behind the camera, for my 40th birthday I decided to treat myself to a photo shoot. I contacted Andrew Clifton shortly after my birthday to give me a quote to do a session. He told me he had sessions on the west coast for September and December. September was too soon, so December it was. I booked the shoot in October for a shoot in San Francisco in December. Unfortunately I had to cancel the session and I was devastated. He told me not to worry, he is moving out west and we could book for 2015. A few weeks later, he gave me a date for February. I bought some dresses in early December but since my shoot was going to take place in southern California, I decided to go with lighter colors and shorter sleeves. I searched all over the internet for dresses and because it was still technically winter, there was still a lot of dark colors in the stores. But I was able to find a peach colored dress at a boutique in NW Portland. Leading up to the shoot, Andrew was great to work with, I told him I wanted fun, flirty and classy. We discussed what colors I would wear, I sent him photos of the dresses I tried on at the boutique to get his opinion.
I took Amtrak down to southern California as told in this blog post. Because of inclement weather on the east coast, we pushed my shoot back two days just in case Andrew got stuck in the midwest. I had a couple days to hang out before the photo session.
Day of the session: I don’t know why but I was SUPER nervous. This was my first professional shoot. I was nervous about how my hair would turn out, how my make up would look. I’ll admit I have some control issues, lol. I wanted this day to be perfect. 🙂
When I showed up at the location of the shoot, I was a little uneasy. It was in the Toy District in downtown LA. Not exactly the safest place but once Andrew came down to get me and got inside I felt a little better. I was introduced to Tiffany who would be doing my make up. The day before Andrew asked me to send him a few head shots. I am so not a selfie person but I sent him a few photos to send to the make up artist. I explained to her that since I was wearing three totally different colors, a nude smokey eye would be cool. A guy named Alexander who is from Seattle came to do my hair. I told him I wanted soft curls with a little body. He started on my hair and before you know it I looked like a grown woman. 🙂
One of the reasons I hired Andrew was because he has a unique way of capturing black women from size 2-22. All the portraits are sexy and classy of ordinary everyday women. I have heard way too many times from people who want photos that they are waiting to lose weight before they book a session. One thing I have learned from Andrew’s work is that he encourages women to embrace their curves. We’re so used to seeing women heavily photoshopped, enhanced body parts that we start comparing ourselves to them and not appreciate our own bodies. I’m not against photo shop. I will remove blemishes, whiten teeth and do a little skin smoothing on my clients. But I tell clients, I am not a magician. I will not transform you into someone you are not.
Back to the shoot. My first outfit was the peach dress that I got from Sloan in NW Portland. Since this was my first shirt, I had no clue how to pose. Andrew would give me directions and I would follow them to a t but I was listening to him instead of moving naturally on my own. But he just kept clicking until we vibed and got the shots he wanted.
Next was the gray dress I got from Banana Republic and we went on the the rooftop.
After the rooftop, I put on the last dress I got from Sloan and we shot inside the apartment. He decided to play some D’Angelo and I got into a groove. He just kept shooting as I danced to “Really Love” which is one of my favorites off the Black Messiah CD.
I am happy with how the photos the turned out. There were some I wasn’t fond of but that was because I didn’t like my facial expression. Nothing to do with the photographer. 🙂 We are our worse critics and I am trying my best not to over analyze each photo.
I am hoping my 40 and Fabulous photo shoot will encourage people to go ahead and get portraits done now and not wait until they lose so much weight or whatever excuse they come up with to avoid getting in front of a camera. 🙂
I believe in a few years people will regret having their whole lives on their camera rolls. Lord forbid you lose your phone and lose your photos. Or never bothered to back up your photos. Selfies are cool (I don’t take them because I don’t like how they look), but it’s nothing like having a great photographer capture you that will last for ever. 🙂