A few weeks ago I was sitting in my living room which had been temporarily converted into a hair salon/makeup studio in advance of a photo shoot for a UK women’s magazine, chatting with the photographer and makeup artist while they got ready for the shoot, trying to pretend to myself and to them that this was, you know, just an average day in my life. The shoot was going to take place at a restaurant nearby, and I’d been asked to rally a group of my friends to be in the background of the shots (because “friendship”). I felt gauche asking if they’d pay for us to have food and drinks at the restaurant so I was prepared to pay for the meal.
The photographer and makeup artist came over to my apartment two hours in advance of the shoot start time so they could look through my closet and pick an outfit for me to wear and of course apply an inch or so of spackle that rendered me somewhat unrecognizable (but very glamorous!). They put makeup on the bruises and cat scratches on my legs and arms. This, they explained, was to save the photographer time when he was photoshopping me.
I liked them both a lot. In my experience photographers and makeup artists are some of the most relaxed, happy people around. They get to meet a lot of interesting (though I’m sure sometimes monstrous) people, and they often seem to genuinely enjoy their jobs. They don’t work in an office or spend time online except for fun. I have often wished I had any talent at photography or doing hair/makeup, but I very, very, very much do not.
As fun as getting glammed up and then sitting in a restaurant ignoring the fact that the restaurant patrons are trying not to stare at you as a photographer tells you repeatedly to relax your mouth and look up, then down, is, it’s not exactly the way I would have chosen to spend my Saturday. But they did pay for our meal and when the shoot was over everyone came back to my apartment and drank more wine and I made these baked turkey meatballs which were really not bad at all.
As I was getting my hair blown out I asked the photographer whether he’d shot anyone interesting recently and he said Martin Amis. He told me that Martin Amis let him into his house, told him “You have two minutes,” didn’t pose or smile, and then two minutes later promptly ushered him out.