Saturday, February 19, 2011

Lights! Camera! Ooops!

Or the story behind my author’s photos.

Have you ever seen pictures of your friends that take your breath away? I have! Several years ago some of my friends had their photos taken after a make-over. They looked so stunning I wondered if the photo/makeup team could make me—well, half as attractive was good enough for me. Beggars can’t be choosers!

So when the Tupperware boss, a friend, next invited the KL team to her KK outlet, I made an appointment to have my portrait taken. The young man who did my makeup and hair was amused when I said the fake eyelashes were ‘uncomfortable’ but he insisted that my eyes wouldn’t look good without them.

The photographer was another young man. He told me to turn this way and that, to hold my hands just so, to stick out my triple chins a wee bit, and he took several shots. The team had brought many ‘props’ and I was encouraged to use their stuff although I had brought my own things, too. I’m not really keen on donning clothes which obviously several strange bodies had put on but... oh well, we should do something at least once. I used a few of their things and smiled for the blurry camera—the guy had told me to take off my glasses and I was quite happy to be blind to the smirks of the other ‘models’, all sweet young things looking like they had recently popped out of their moms’ wombs.

All I wanted was a decent photo which could project an image of the teacher I wanted my students to see: stern and stand-no-nonsense one! But the team apparently had other ideas. After several photos, they asked me to choose the ones I liked, printed one piece for me to take home and said the others they’d copy on a disc and deliver later.

To say I was happy with the photos is an understatement. My heart burst into song all the way home. You would too, you know, if you’re plain (to put it mildly) like me. Even my mother finds me ugly. “Why are your teeth jutting out?” she asked one not-so-fine day. “They’ve always stuck out,” I answered, colouring my tone with irritation as though it was all her fault!

Mr. Hubby, too, couldn’t resist finding fault with my appearance but with him I’d go: “Oh, @#$%&*! If you wanted the perfect woman you should have married your mother.” Only in my heart, folks. Only in my heart!

Now you’re wondering where all this is leading to. Well, it’s the old proverb: make hay while the sun shines; sediakan payung sebelum hujan. I had my photos ready when, years later, I became an accidental writer and my editor asked for ‘two of your best headshots’! There was nothing else to send anyway, so I sent two of the four-year-old photos! Wouldn’t you have done the same had you been in my position?

My son said, “Ma, after people have seen your photos they won’t recognize you in person.” OMG! My own flesh and blood was rubbing it in.  

Another person echoed my son’s opinion: “I guess no one recognizes you when you go to the tamu.”  That’s just the way I like it, actually. I get uncomfortable when I know someone is staring at me but turns away when I look at him. Nowadays, I can’t decide whether the looker recognizes me, is trying to place me or is just wondering when I’d realize there’s a bit of red chili glued on my incisors.

There was a different reaction from a friend of a friend: “No wonder so-and-so fell in love with you. You looked beautiful (when you were young).” Vanity made me remind him the photos were taken when I was fifty-five and that a skilful make-upper, a talented photographer and lights can work wonders even on Cinderella’s warty stepsisters.  

In the good old days, long before cameras sprouted like mushrooms after a cold, rainy night, we had our pictures taken at the studio aka kedai gambar. A borrowed comb was our only beauty tool and fake eyelashes were beyond our imagination.  We used no makeup because it was synonymous with call girls (honestly!) and we were photographed in the sweaty, oily faces we had dragged to the studio where there wasn’t even air-conditioning.

But there was always ‘Lights! Camera! Smile!’


  1. technology do wonders! =p

    anyway, you are as beautiful as you are. =)

  2. That was soo fun(ny) to read haha..
    Yes, me too agreed with angel bear, you are as beautiful as you are. Btw, I see from the file's metadata from the link, they're using an old Fujifilm dslr? Wow...

    Apart from camera and lightning, Photoshop also plays the role in final post processing. I'm guessing that if they have provided you the original, unprocessed raw images, it'll looked a little different. Right?..hehe.

  3. Thanks for visiting!

    Yes, Angel, technology can do amazing things, even make the ugly beautiful and the not-slim, skinny! Remember the Hollywood star's pic that was published before the digital makeover was completed? One side of her body was cacat!

    Glad you enjoyed reading the post, Glen. No, they didn't give the untouched photos. But it was nice to be digitally cleaned and ironed!! Too bad they didn't remove the fat!