Not Camera Shy!

Me at 17 and at 47

Me at 17 and at 47

From as far back as I can remember both my parents had a tendency to CONSTANTLY put me in front of the camera lens. This included instant cameras, portrait sittings, catalog shoots, and commercials. I even had a product signing at the age of 13 in New York City! Consequently, I became very accustomed to being in front of the camera, so much so that by the time I reached my teen years, I desperately wanted to do high fashion modeling. This played perfectly into my then waifish frame and my love of fashion. Alas, my 5’5″ frame was too short for high fashion. I was still able to do some print modeling which I enjoyed immensely.

My mid-20’s were punctuated with a foray into pageants after I won the queen title at a Japanese-American festival in my area. I then went through three months of pageant prep for a larger competition. It was quite an experience to perform for three hours in front of 1,000 people, dancing, sporting a kimono and an evening gown, and giving a speech. It was terrifying, mostly because I was performing for an audience and not for a camera lens. Then we had visitations for an entire week, and wherever we went, we would be attacked by literally 15 to 20 photographers trying to take our pictures. It was a complete immersion in my Japanese culture and an intense exposure to celebrity status. Little did I know then that in another two decades, being in front of a camera would once again become a VERY regular thing.

There were only two occasions in my life when I shied away from the camera. One was when I was 19 years old and battling anorexia. At one point, I got down to 85 pounds. I was ashamed, sick, miserable. I avoided the camera until my weight crept back up to triple digits. Another period during which I avoided the camera was when I went through my medical training. I was on lockdown for seven years, and because I was also married during that time, I had no real interest in pursuing any type of modeling or acting endeavors.

The tide once again shifted dramatically when I began competing in 2009. I have become very accustomed once again to being in front of the camera on a regular basis, especially in the era of camera phones and the ever so popular “selfie”. I have photo shoots throughout the year and truly look forward to creating new looks and moods with different photographers. It is a creative process, a wild ride, and a chance to play dress up and not take myself so seriously. I have come a long way from that terrified young lady who graced the stage in her 20’s, and feel comfortable strutting onstage in a bikini. I am not threatened by the lineup of photographers at the front of the stage. That would never have been the case for me two decades ago, because I found the stage a bit daunting.

I sometimes take my ease with being in front of the camera for granted, and am reminded of this when I see people who are camera shy. I understand that it can be pretty rattling to bare one’s moods and soul to a camera lens, but I also know that you can let that camera lens represent anything you want it to be. If you are secure in who you are, your essence will come through in a photo capture. If you have an interest in modeling but are grappling with camera shyness, it might be a good idea to just dive in and have fun with it!

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