Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Boudoir photos/Glamour shots - I finally did them!

Note: Oh, I've lived in fear long enough. So here's the post. Beware, it is rather long and convoluted. Get a cup of tea. Sit yourself down. You may need a toilet break.

A continuation of the Boudoir photos saga, except now I shall refer to them as "glamour shots". This post has been a long time coming. For some strange reason, perhaps as a "right brain, left brain" kind of thing, I find that when I'm on holiday, all I want to do is sleep in, play Sega Mega Drive games on MFC's PC emulator, and see how many Shortbread Creams I can eat in one sitting. Too slothful to blog or Internet, I remain dormant, unless something raises my ire (like silly ladies who want us to fork up imaginative amounts of fence money, see previous posts).

Then, the work week begins and suddenly I love the Internet. I love blogging. I love drawing my silly cartoons. I'm inspired to make crazy jewellery. Ideas for posts leap out at me and I scribble them furiously on bits of scrap paper, or e-mail them to myself to expand on later.

So, if this theory holds, to become a really, really good artist, it looks like I have to find an incredibly mind-numbing job, like the person who glues together boxes in a box factory. By Grabthar's Hammer, I could potentially be the best artist in the world then.

Anyway, back to the glamour shots, a post that I have visited many times but never finished. By the way, I told my sister about them tonight, when she called me, and she couldn't stop laughing. And not in a "teehee" kind of way, but in a "BWAHAHAHAHA, GLAMOUR SHOTS! AHAHAHAHA!" kind of way.

I have mixed feelings about the photos. They turned out beautifully, and I enjoyed the session, although my first reaction to the makeup was, "Good lord, I look like a Harajuku callgirl. Does Gwen know?" I do understand that you need that kind of heavy makeup to look natural in photos, which is some kind of bizarre oxymoron. They certainly did the job, because the photos make me look like not-Angie, the one that says no to Picnic bars. The Angie that looks like she's been narrowed horizontally in Photoshop, and had the blur, clone-stamp, and smudge tools applied liberally. (By the way, I love you, clone-stamp tool. Kisses!)

I felt that [name removed] was a true professional, and very good at what he did, but the sales rake-over that I received after the event left me feeling vulnerable and very, very poor, once I realised what I'd done. Oh, I can afford the pictures, but in a now-that-overseas-trip-will-have-to-wait-till-next-year and I'll-have-to-take-on-a-casual-weekend-job-and-eat-cereal-for
-the-next-12-months kind of way. In fact, I feel so damn poor I'm champing at the bit for July to come round so I can get my tax refund. But oh no, no regrets.

I have no regrets because I CAN'T HAVE ANY. I'm in, I made my bed, dug my hole, whatever, and moping about it won't help, although MFC does bring it up from time to time, such as when I nag him about buying some new geek toy. "But do you really need it, my sweet?" "Well, I can afford it, babycakes, since I'm not the one that blew $5000* on photos!", and I have to retreat, murmuring, "Yes, yes, I suppose you're right," while thinking, You wait till it's bedtime and I have cold feet, mister, because I know where I'm gonna put them!

I can have no regrets, even though, after the big sale, I had to go and lie down and stare at the ceiling, awestruck at the colossal amount of money I had spent**, and MFC had to come and talk to me gently until I recovered. The way you talk someone desperately clinging to the windowledge by their toes, or a sleepwalker who's holding a gun, and is dreaming that they're big game-hunting in Zaire. (For your information, the MFC was pretty angry at the whole sales pressure thing too, but he let me make my own decision. For some reason he thinks I'm a grown-up.)

I chose the damn things, and I'll pay for them, and I'll enjoy them, my three framed pictures and some A4s in a box. Even if I have to sell them on the Internet so I can afford them. And really, now that my youth has been captured forever on cotton-rag paper, I can let myself get gloriously, luxuriously fat and spend hours in the sun. Or, at least I thought I could, but MFC threatened to walk out if I did anything like that deliberately.

But really, to all of you who are considering this, caveat emptor, OK, guys? I'll tell you what you're in for, and hope you can be a little stronger and wiser than me, or at least have a large deposit saved up, if you ever go down this path.

Taking the photos was the fun part, being made up, and talking with the makeup artist [name removed], who is so good at what she does. And yes, I know I said I looked like a you-know-what, and I really think I did, and so did MFC when he had a close look in daylight, but it made for a lovely result in the photos. [Name removed] is very down-to-earth and we had a fun girlie chat while she was creating the facade. Oh, and she used to be a world-class ballroom dancing champion. Cool, eh?

I had fun during the shoot as well. [Name removed] and I talked a lot about art, photography, Photoshop and image processing, RGB versus CMYK, digital versus analog. I told him to get a Wacom tablet, and how it would change his life once he got off the mouse. He made me assume (and hold) a lot of poses which felt awkward, and required a lot of bending. My back was a bit stiff so I had to have a good stretch after each one, but the poses do bring out the best parts of your body, and still manage to look natural and hide any bulgy bits.

I made an appointment to come by after work the next week, to choose which photos I wanted. I asked for the prices beforehand so I could budget, and I was told:

A4 photos - $150 each, or $120 each if you buy a large framed picture,
Large framed pictures - start at about A3 size including gold leaf frame, $690, $790, $890. To have the large pictures on canvas instead of paper (for an oil painting effect), would cost $400 on top of that.

Holy crap indeed.

My gift included the photo session and makeup, and one free A4 photograph. I thought, silly me, that I would get, oh, at the most, $500 worth of photos, some nice A4s, for the memories. I was wrong.

Yes, I am an adult. Yes, I budgeted beforehand. I thought I was prepared. But I still blew my budget. No one held a knife to my throat, but on the day, I still managed to spend 10 times more than what I had intended. So spare me any snide comments or judgements because I'll ignore you and bring out the voodoo dolls. Hey, I didn't think it would happen to me, Miss Careful-On-A-Budget, but it did, and now I'm telling you.

I cannot directly state that the photos were a rip-off. What's the price of art blah blah? How do I know what his overheads are? However, I certainly felt that I was heavily pressured into making a far larger purchase than planned. And if any friends would like to get these kinds of photos done, I will let them know about all the "traps", yes, a harsh word, I know, but marketing traps these were, putting you in a high pressure situation, making you feel like it was now or never, and you could never come back.

On picture selection day, I met [name removed]'s daughter, [name removed], who oversaw the selection process, and we sat in a room with soft music and the lights turned down low, while enormous photos of myself paraded in front of us. It's unnerving, looking at yourself like that. I felt like I was in some bizarre Hitchcock movie. "And here are some pictures of the latest victim." "Oh, she was such a pretty girl." "Yeah, well now she's wormfood." ARRRGH!

We looked through about 50, maybe 60 photos. Here is what happened:

- I made a first pass through the photos and "culled" the ones I didn't like. Despite this, we revisited them anyway. In fact, I think we may have gone through the whole set about six or seven times. At one point she insisted that I choose ones according to how I would display them, in the living room or in the bedroom. I played along, although privately I thought that they would all be bedroom ones, because I didn't want to be one of "those people" who have gigantic pictures of themselves all over their house. I think it's a bit wanky, to tell the truth.***

- MFC came along a bit later, to help me choose. I don't think having a partner along is necessarily a good idea, because then you'll end up with more photos, as they will very likely choose ones that you don't like (bloody men), but then you feel a leetle guilty and you want them to have the pictures that they like as well.

- I asked if I could pick some photos out now, and come back at a later time to get more. I was told that the ones I picked now, this evening (i.e. bought) would be kept, and the ones I didn't would be discarded. Considering that these were digital photos, and memory is so cheap (especially if you run this kind of business and can tax-deduct it), I found this a little suspicious. If I were allowed to take the copies home on a CD, now that would have been something, but no, they got rid of the ones you wouldn't pay for, and you could only keep the printouts.

- As mentioned before, I couldn't come back later to have another look, and was told, only one client in all the years had ever come back to get more pictures, i.e., you won't come back either, so we have to get this done now. I definitely felt under pressure to make a decision then and there. I couldn't leave until I'd picked all the ones I wanted. I couldn't even take them home and deliberate over them. I arrived at 5.30pm and was there for just over 2 hours.

- When I asked about the prices, I was told that they had not changed for twenty years, and that prices were going up in the New Year. I would understand this if they were using old film processes, but surely with digital technology and improved printing technology, costs would be much lower now?

- I was happy to have all my selections as A4s, but I was told that some photos would only look good as large framed pictures, or only look good as the largest framed pictures. It would be "a waste" to have them as A4-sized pictures.

- At one point, before I made a full decision, the total was something like $5080, and I asked if it could be rounded down to $5000. Absolutely not, I was told. No room for bargaining whatsoever. Like a chump, I accepted it, when perhaps I should have walked out. I mean, $80 less out of $5000? I think you can get better deals on LCD TVs at Harvey Norman's.

Oh, that doesn't sound too bad, you may think. Silly weak-willed Angie. Perhaps I was trapped by my own vanity. But seeing all those lovely pictures of myself, and being told I only had one day to choose, I jumped. I abandoned reason. But at least I got this story out of it. Now, if you are a friend, that I may encounter in real life, be kind. Do not rub the amount I have spent in my face. In fact, please do not mention it at all. I think a small artery in my brain dies every time I hear how much money I've spent. Apart from that, feel free to ask questions while I have surviving arteries and can speak coherently.

As a postscript, I confessed to a friend what I'd done and how much I'd spent. She too, confided that she had felt pressured to spend about $420 on photographs that seemed reasonable at first (they hook you in with the sitting fee), and she showed me, three small black and white framed photos in a plain black frame, of her son. Smaller than A4, about A5 notepad size. So she got "done" too, and so we commiserated together. I don't know. It just doesn't seem right.

* Sigh. Yes, you read correctly. There is no extra zero typo. Actually, it was a tiny bit less, but it's easier to round up.

** Enough for an unforgettable trip around the world. Enough for the hard drive and scanner I need. Enough for half a year of Uni. Enough to reduce the interest on my mortgage by a whole lot. Enough for laser skin treatment every month! Suddenly these seemed like much more worthwhile things to invest in.

*** And now I AM one of those wankers. However, if my mother ever visits (she has no idea what I did), they're going in the store room. She has a heart attack when my father buys a DVD, lord knows how she would survive several grand's worth of photos.


Juliness said...

Not to be nosy, but do we get to see them ever?

an9ie said...

Hmm, I don't know juliness, they could tarnish the carefully crafted curmudgeonly image I've got going here. "Oh, how could you say such horrid things! With a face like that!" I might show some of the ones that where you can't see much of my face (hehe), or e-mail a selection to friends who sound sincere (unlike my SISTER!)

Juliness said...

I think I could still keep the grouch alive in my head even while staring at a conflicting image.

As I read what you write, I translate your words into a voice that sounds something like Eileen Brennan's character in the Goldie Hawn movie, Private Benjamin. I.e.: too much after hours whiskey and about 100 too many cigarettes.

It worked really well when I read the bits about the yard work fiasco!

an9ie said...

Ah! Eileen Brennan, AKA Zandra the Acting Coach from Will & Grace! I'd love to be her, although I would have to consume a lot of extra alcohol to get the voice (seeing as I don't smoke). I think I'll make her my future-an9ie template, the one that lives in a beach house with Nicky and our time-shared pool boy, Umpopo. Nice!