One thing I have struggled with during my blogging journey is being comfortable in front of the camera. The hundreds of stylish pics on my blog and Instagram betray the “nerd” you see pictured. For the most part, I’m always awkward during these fashion shoots and it took a meeting with streetlifeottawa to shake those insecure feelings.
But firstly, let me tell you of what goes through my head when anyone comes near me with a camera:
“What should I do with my arms? Oh God!” – robotic stances ensue.
“Maybe I should suck in my cheeks more and look more ‘fashion’.” – pictures of an angry rando ensue.
“Nah – I’m not wearing lipstick in this one. I want to look natural – like I didn’t try so hard.” – hundreds of lipless shots ensue…and so on and so forth.
When Kevin Benloss, the man behind the lens of @streetlifeottawa and http://www.kevbenphotography.com/ contacted me for a collaboration, I was honoured. Kevin’s Instagram is a fantastic representation of our city. His collection of pictures highlight all walks of life here in Ottawa, from snowy landscapes, the city’s interesting architecture and my favourite, everyday joes simply walking around minding their own business.
Kevin’s photojournalism coupled with his love of grainy black and white shots lends a realism to his style that is refreshing and interesting. His Instagram is a breath of fresh air from the highly curated collections we have grown used to.
On that sunny Saturday, we walked around the downtown core scoping out interesting shooting locations and chatting about social media and photography in general. Kevin, who works full-time in a field totally unrelated to photography, is completely self-taught. His artful eye has produced not only incredible street life shots but also beautiful wedding photography and portraits.
Now – I love all of my collaborations with the talented photographers I work with. Kevin in particular though really made me feel at ease and it stands to reason. With each shot, Kevin had to remind me to be relax and be comfortable. It really worked. When I stopped, took a deep breath and just let my body relax, Kevin was able to produce a set of pictures that really conveyed who I am – happy, confident and a lover of life. An endearing fellow, he’d burst into giggles when I’d do my “fashion blogger face” – which in turn made me crack up.
The most important tip he gave me was to smile – to run with the laughter! I know, I know. It’s annoying to be told to smile, especially when you don’t feel like it, but for so long, I had been trying to perfect that ubiquitous fashion blogger look – one that conveys a message of coolness, of “je ne sais quoi” that sometimes comes off a little (a lot) contrived.
This particular shoot made me realize that I will never be that cool fashion blogger having her photo taken at a busy intersection with a look on her face that says: “I’m the coolest, ya heard???” It’s just unnatural for me. Come on – have you ever hopped across a street while simultaneously carrying designer shopping bags, a handful of pastel macarons and ruffling your hair like it’s a Pantene ad? More power to those who do and look awesome while doing it. I’d be more likely to be photographed twisting an ankle in a pothole while running across the street. Sigh.
It took an afternoon with a friendly photographer to realize that my smile is quintessentially “Dom”, that it radiates me and what I’m about perfectly. And you know what? That is GREAT. I’m going to run with that from now on. Thank you, Kevin!
Are you a fashion or lifestyle blogger? Got any photography hangups you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!