#5before50: the styled photo-shoot

Thursday, December 21, 2017 Permalink

One of the items on my ‘5 things to do before I turn 50’ (aka #5before50) list was a styled photo-shoot. Naturally it took me 11 of the 12 months allocated to achieve this mini-goal as I kept putting it off thinking I’d: 1. lose more weight; 2. get better hair; 3. consider botox; 4. feel less vain about doing it; and 5. suddenly become younger and more attractive.

None of those things happened. Instead I almost ran out of time and when my mother asked for gift ideas, we agreed it’d be something she could shout me. And – between you and me – I hoped it’d be a way of accepting me as me (ignoring my body, big nose and yellow teeth and so forth!).

Some background

I’d previously contacted local photographer, Jessica Gunn Photographer as I’d initially planned to get some new head shots done for the blog (and Linked In etc) before the Romance Writers’ Conference in August… but it just didn’t happen. Jess was recommended by a friend and I’d looked at her work and thought we’d be a good fit.

Jess’s 30 minute mini-portrait session cost $150* and was perfect for my needs. I’d been in contact beforehand and suggested we do it at my place though usually she’ll go somewhere more inspired, like the beach or bush (etc).

I also visited my hairdresser the day of the shoot and ended up getting them to do my makeup as well. The hair and makeup was as much of the ‘treat’ as anything else. I rarely (if ever) get dressed up. I’m usually sweaty within minutes of walking out of the door, so the idea of dressing for an event is totally foreign to me.

In fact the last time I had my makeup done I was bridesmaid for a friend’s wedding in 1996!

The day

I was incredibly bloody nervous and had nightmares in the lead-up to the day – paranoid about my makeup running and hair getting sweaty – rendering the photo-shoot kinda pointless.

I took the day off work and pumped my home airconditioning up before heading to the hairdresser however, and warned Jess to bring a coat.

I’d pretty much decided on two outfits. Two NEW outfits – both recent (grown-up) purchases from designer Leina Broughton.

I wanted the pics to be natural. They needed to be me. Just a nicer version of me. One with flawless skin and nice hair.

Had it been winter, for example, I’d planned a pic of me in my 14yr old (hole-ridden) Nike sweatshirt on the sofa. Cos that’s who I am.

Hair & makeup
My hair appointment went really well and my hairdresser (who knows me well) did a great job on my makeup. “You need to look like you,” she said. And I must admit (and it sounds vain) but I was agog at the job she did. I kept looking at the face in the mirror that was me, but not me.

I’d suggested she put a light lipstick on and I’d switch to something brighter later.

The photo shoot
I’d not met Jess before but felt like I had. She was lovely and really put me at ease. I wasn’t sure how to start so she suggested I start with whatever felt most comfortable. As a result I stayed in the outfit I was wearing and perched on the sofa hugging my knees and so forth.

Despite my nerves I kinda felt at home in front of the camera and I’ve been a photo-whore since I was a kid – pasting on a smile and edging into frame. It’s only been the last couple of decades that I’ve shied away from being in photographs. I should also mention I did a modelling course thingy in my late teens and we had to do some photography stuff as part of that.

Jess couldn’t have been more reassuring however and kept getting the giggles at how ridiculously comfortable AND anxious I was. At the same time.

She showed me a few of the photos as we went along; and I’m not particularly visual so am always impressed by those who can see a scene and work out how to best capture it and even improve on it.

The result

Even though I’m prone to seeing only the bad I adore almost all of the photographs Jess provided me with on disk (114 in the end – in colour / black and white) and couldn’t be happier with the results!

I mentioned the styled photo-shoot before it happened (on my FB page) and someone asked for more info, so I’ve asked Jess if I can pick her brain and write something separate about ‘things to consider’ or ‘prepping’ for a shoot. So, stay tuned….

As for my favourite photo….

Have you ever had professional photographs taken? Are you comfortable in front of a camera? Anything you’d like me to ask my photographer?

The Lovin’ Life team includes:

* At the time of booking.
PS. Not sponsored. (And a huge thanks to my mum for the pressie!)

42 Comments
  • Veronica Moran
    December 21, 2017

    You look stunning, relaxed and happy. In photographs I always look awkward with a pained expression. Not good.
    Those photographs are a perfect snap shot in time. Another thing marked off the to do list. You are powering through!

    • Debbish
      December 21, 2017

      I used to quite like my photo being taken. Less so in my 30s and 40s when I was carrying a lot of weight. Even now, part of the impetus to do the pics was because I wanted to try to get better at accepting myself as I am….

  • Jess
    December 21, 2017

    These are all awesome!! She did a fantastic job! You are a total natural in front of the camera!

    • Debbish
      December 21, 2017

      Good photographers seem to just have a knack for snapping images that capture things beautifully. Her pictures are always gorgeous and when I went through her Instagram feed etc (months ago) I knew I wanted to work with her.

  • Jan Wild
    December 21, 2017

    You look fabulous and you have to stop being so hard on yourself. Happy Christmas !

  • Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit
    December 21, 2017

    These are stunning Deb!!! Well worth the money and the effort. You look amazing,

    • Debbish
      December 21, 2017

      Yes Leanne. (And my hair and makeup was only $125 – including my usual foils – so makeup wasn’t much additional to pay!)

  • Budget Jan
    December 21, 2017

    I love these photos. You look amazing and I loved the thought and prep you did beforehand. Your hair and make up and dresses are gorgeous and I think the photos are natural and glamorous at the same time.

    • Debbish
      December 21, 2017

      That’s good to hear Jan as I was keen to look like me. I know of people who have headshots done for business or blogging but look nothing like that in person. (Though my hair is usually scary in person, when it hasn’t been ‘done’!)

  • Lyle
    December 21, 2017

    My favourite is of you being you in the green dress on your sofa.

    • Debbish
      December 21, 2017

      Ah yes, I have a few of them Lyle and when I first thought about the ‘shoot’ that was the look I kinda wanted to go for. It wasn’t really about the clothes. More about me and my personality etc. xx

  • writeofthemiddle
    December 21, 2017

    These are such a fabulous collection of photographs Deb! You are so photogenic. You have a lovely natural smile. Love your hair and makeup. You look beautiful! Fantastic shots to use here on your blog and as profile pics for social media etc. Have a fabulous Christmas and best wishes for a fantastic 2018 ahead! 🙂 #TeamLovinLife

    • Debbish
      December 21, 2017

      Thanks Min and I agree that they’re great. There are a few I don’t ‘love’ but it’s more about me – saggy boobs, fat arms. Plus there’s some in the green dress where the sash has slipped down quite a lot. (A nice twirling one but the sash is falling down as I didn’t do it up tightly enough!)

      I hope you have a wonderful 2018… xx

  • Kate W
    December 21, 2017

    The photos are brilliant!
    I’m inspired to do something similar 🙂

    • Debbish
      December 21, 2017

      It was a lot of fun Kate. It felt kinda vain, but then again I do selfies of outfits to try to feel more confident in what I’m wearing and this was a bit the same. In reality having the hair and makeup done was as much of a treat as the pics which documented it. (I took some selfies before Jess arrived and was excited even then!)

  • Natalie
    December 21, 2017

    You look amazing, Deborah. I like how the photographer mastered the lighting in all the photos. Great idea to have it done by a pro.

    • Debbish
      December 21, 2017

      Oh yes, she knew what she was doing and then also was pulling the sheer curtains in my living space to put them in the edges of pictures etc… (My living space is very light so it was a great spot for the pics!)

  • sizzlesue15
    December 21, 2017

    Deb you are gorgeous! I love all of the photos and that green dress is stunning on your. What a great idea for a 50th I should have thought of that for my 60th! It is something we never really think to do and such an occasion deserves something special. Have a wonderful Christmas and a fabulous 2018 I’ve really enjoyed connecting with you this year. xx

    • Debbish
      December 21, 2017

      Thanks Sue. I bought the green dress for my actual birthday. I feel a bit uncomfortable in both that and the black dresses as I’m not usually a dress wearer. I bought my first dress in a decade or more earlier this year (an Adrift summery casual dress!) so I’m not overly comfy in them. Plus I don’t like things that are clingy. But… I’m hopefully doing a sunset cruise on my birthday and wanted to wear something bright and fun.

  • Jo
    December 21, 2017

    You’re a natural in front of the lens. These are fabulous – and absolutely you. Have a fabulous Christmas & a great birthday.

  • Amy Andrews
    December 21, 2017

    Love these pics – what an awesome present and a great job! You must be absolutely thrilled!

    • Debbish
      December 22, 2017

      I do love them Amy. Obviously there are some I cringe at a little – but that’s about me and not the pics! (The green dress is tighter across the chest than I’d realised…. :-/

  • Sydney Shop Girl
    December 21, 2017

    Deb, they are such gorgeous photos. You look relaxed, confident and beautiful.

    Merry Christmas and it’s been lovely getting to know you this year through Lovin’ Life.

    SSG xxx

    • Debbish
      December 22, 2017

      Thanks so much. Jess the photographer really put me at ease! Have a wonderful Christmas! x

  • unclutteryouruniverse
    December 21, 2017

    Oh what a brilliant idea for a 50th birthday present. They are fantastic pics, you look beautiful & they capture your personality.

    • Debbish
      December 22, 2017

      Thanks so much Jenni. That was what I really wanted, as I was keen for them to reflect ‘me’.

  • kathymarris
    December 21, 2017

    These portraits are absolutely beautiful Deb and you couldn’t have chosen better outfits, makeup and hair for the photo shoot. They are very natural and candid shots and that is what I love about photographers today – they try to capture the “real essence of you”. I had a professional portrait done when I turned 21 many moons ago and also a couple of family ones with the kids. It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to get another one done now that I’m sixty before I get any more wrinkly and old! #TeamLovinLife

    • Debbish
      December 22, 2017

      Actually you’ve reminded me we had family ones done – when I was at Uni and then when my niece was born. They’re very formal studio type ones though. I love a lot of the selfies fashion bloggers do that seem really candid. But aren’t!

  • Denyse Whelan Blogs
    December 21, 2017

    You light up in these shots. Each and every one. I can see so much bright and happy looks here and I am going to “ask” you to believe that they are too. I am guessing, with the “not very visual” status you give yourself it may be even harder to find the great ones. For me, very visual, I see brighly-lit eyes, lovely lips, a smile from ‘ear to ear’, and hair that is just right. As for the dresses: they are superb. So….do yourself a BIG favour and somehow pretend to be another person and have another look. Personally yes I have had a photo shoot but none of them were quite as natural as yours because you had these done in the place where you are most comfortable: home. THAT is an amazingly reasonable cost for your photo shoot. Wow. I am guessing now you print out what you want. My cost, way long ago was $600 which included make-up and hair and 8x10s of each ‘look’ aka the outfits. I did like the process and now wonder where the hell they all are LOL. Thanks for sharing here and being such a wonderful friend to me this year in particular. One day I am sure we will meet up!! Have a great celebration of your 50th. Denyse xx PS have a nice Chrissy day with Mum too.

    • Debbish
      December 22, 2017

      I think Jess’s cost was very reasonable Denyse. I was conscious that the mini shoot (and cost) meant that I had to be organised, so had my clothes laid out (and jewellery). I’d planned the two dresses but wasn’t sure if I had time for anything else, but had dressed in the blue shirt everyone loves to greet her. When she suggested starting in something I felt comfortable with it made sense to stay dressed as I was. I hope you have a lovely Christmas as well. What a big year it’s been for you!

  • leannelc
    December 21, 2017

    I’m so envious Deb – you looked really great (you but a shinier you!) I’d love to do something similar but have never been great with having my photo taken. I’d love to get a decent pic for a new profile pic – maybe that’s something I can aim for next year. You’ve inspired me! Happy Christmas xx

    • Debbish
      December 22, 2017

      Yes, this initially came about cos I’d changed my look so much and was conscious I didn’t look like the profile pics I was using online. (Can’t remember if it was when I dyed my hair brown / had it cut off or went back to blonde!) I’ve also been a bit envious of those who get their hair and makeup done for pics or even for events and wanted to do that… just to look special, even if only for a few moments. Perhaps if had gotten married / had a wedding and gotten to do the dress up thing then it would have satisfied that desire! 🙂

  • passion fruit, paws and peonies
    December 21, 2017

    I’ve wanted to do this for ages – you’ve made up my mind for me! You look fabulous!! x

    • Debbish
      December 22, 2017

      Oh yes, do it! The whole day felt like a treat and I’m really glad I took the day off and didn’t have to rush about in the afternoon after work which is what I initially planned!

  • @kanga_rue
    December 21, 2017

    You are stunning. I showed your photos to the ladies at work, and “wow… I love her hair” was a comment!

    • Debbish
      December 22, 2017

      I adored the hair as well and Jacinta from RnR at Urangan did a great job. I was getting the colour anyway and when she blow-dryed it we initially tried to do ‘beach curls’ but it curled under too much so she flicked it out and said “Yes, that’s you!”

  • Jodie
    December 22, 2017

    I’m thinking this should be your new career, Deb!! Because these turned out fabulous!! Seriously…you look so relaxed and normal!! It’s taken us (even me, but especially my moms) over 3 years to get good at this—and there are still times….
    XOXO
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

    • Debbish
      December 22, 2017

      I’m always very envious of plus-sized bloggers who get photo shoots and the like Jodie – as much as cos someone does their hair and makeup and styles them as anything else…

  • Janine K
    December 23, 2017

    Deb you look fantastic and congratulations on doing it for yourself! I don’t enjoy having photos taken, would much rather be the photographer. Your hair and clothing choice really suit you. Merry Christmas and I hope you have a great 2018

    • Debbish
      December 24, 2017

      Thanks Janine. Although I’m not usually a wearer of dresses I’m trying to change that but also wanted to go with something that reached some balance of being a bit special (so I felt like it was a treat) but was also comfortable! Merry Christmas! x

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