I don’t tend to get hung up on “beauty”.
For starters, the concept is subjective – thank God. While you may think blonde hair and blue eyes is the definition of beauty, someone else may go for red heads with piercing green eyes.
My grandmother was considered a beauty. She had raven black hair, flawless skin and amazing bone structure. She did dabble in modelling. We have photos of her wearing early 1950s wedding dresses, with outstanding workmanship since young brides could finally feel good about wearing a big white dress post-war. What she learned during her time as a fashion model stayed with her entire life; never look directly into the camera, never stand straight on, and never, ever leave your arms hanging down by your sides.
When I started my love affair with photography, Gramma would look at my images and even those that weren’t top-notch were deemed perfection by her. She would analyze the light, angle and emotion in the photograph and announce, “This isn’t portrait, this is a STUDY.”
This was the highest form of compliment one could hope to get. Gramma would say not everyone could be a model. There was a certain quality one needed to have; an attitude if you will, that came from an artful soul. All the foot posing and gazing into the horizon couldn’t make someone photogenic. It had to come from within.
Fast forward several decades to this past Monday. Little Sister owns and operates an environmentally responsible hair salon and spa. She wanted to promote the business and her stylists by holding a portfolio day. Five hours later we had shot six models with numerous styles. One of those models was my niece, M&M.
The irony here is that M&M was the poster girl for Tomboys growing up. She identified with animals, dogs in particular, and was the first one to dive into a snowdrift when it came time to play outside. Sign her up if you need a ball player, or want to go for a hike. But makeup? Hairspray? GLITTER??
LS wanted a highly stylized look for her models. I wasn’t sure M&M was going to buy into the idea, after all, there was a lot of primping going on.
But once I got her to myself, something happened.
Gramma would be proud….