Chapter 3 : The Official Photo Shoot.
This was definitely something I was looking forward to. The girls we divided into 2 groups. One group was to shoot on Friday while the second was to shoot the next day. I choose the session on Friday which turned out to be a blessing because there were only 8 girls scheduled. This meant a faster shoot and a shorter wait time.
Preparations for the shoot included watching my diet the week before (hah!), vigorous exercise (hah!!!) and I did research on poses and how to smile. Too often I am told by the people casting me that I have a smile that is either too big or ' too happy'. The most common feedback I get would be "tone down on the happiness level a notch" which I find a challenge.
My usual smiling face. Too big of a smile. Some people call this the 'over smile'
A controlled smile. Toned down.
I was informed that we would be shooting 3 different things that day which was our beauty shots, swimwear and Metrojaya (our main sponsor) outfits. Having to shoot swimwear also meant that private personal cleaning/maintenance things needed to carry out at a very private personal part which I shall not dabble on. A couple of days prior to the shoot I emailed Dato' Anna to make sure I got the time and location of the shoot double checked and that I was aware of everything that I needed to bring.
I was told to bring along a black top for the beauty shot and very high heels. Just to be safe I brought along 3 varieties of black tops and 2 of my highest heels. The photo shoot was scheduled at 9am at Dwayne Foong's studio in Ara Damansara. I am not a morning person at all. In fact, I kind of despise mornings. It was so hard for me to get out of bed that morning, especially since I had trouble sleeping the night before due to anticipation for the shoot. I prepared what I was going to wear and everything that I had to bring the night before so I could get an extra minute or so of sleep the next morning. On the day of the shoot I left the house with moisturizer, sun screen and mascara on. I decided to skip breakfast which was not a very good idea because my tummy was grumbling throughout the shoot.
I arrived at 9 am sharp only to find that I was not the earliest ones there. Other girls had came way earlier already.I tried to take in as much information from my surroundings as I could. I recognized Dato' Anna from the previous interview but everyone else seemed foreign. I remember seeing a lot of people in black and a lot of people holding either DSLR's or digital cameras. I later learned that they were part of our team of sponsors that were covering the event. The sponsors present that day were
The team of hairdressers for Fridays' photo shoot. They were all extremely friendly.
I admit to being a little startled and intimidated at first. There were so many people in a limited space and it seemed like everyone knew what they were to do except for me.The night before, as much as I was excited, I started second guessing myself and doubting if I was going to perform well. I felt intimidated at the thought that I would be meeting the other girls. I imagined the other finalist to be elegant fine young ladies who were much smarter and way prettier than me. I was very blessed to have a friend come along for moral support. At least if I was put in a situation with unforeseen variables, I still had something constant with me. Also, prior to the shoot I was warned by caring friends and family members of rumors they have heard about the pageant industry. The rumors were of pageant girls being taken advantage of and doing special 'favors' to make it in the industry. Hearing such rumors and not knowing if they were true or not, I thought it would be wise to bring a long a male friend that had my best interest.
The scene at Dwayne Foong Photography's studio when I entered. Everyone was busy!
A couple of minutes after my arrival, Brian Lee called me by name and introduced himself and the photography team to me. He took down my Facebook page and wanted for me to like a couple of pages on Facebook immediately (His page and the Miss World-Malaysia page) so that I could be in the know of any social media updates on the pageant.
Brian Lee and the team of photographers and videographers
I was then asked to take a sit in the waiting area as all the work stations were filled. It was there that I met Vidiana, another finalist. I think the reason we both hit it off instantly was because we both were so clueless at that time. Haha. She asked me to call her ViDi instead as her name was 'too long'. She was humble, very approachable and extremely warm.
ViDi and I after our hair and make up. I do not know why my cheeks look so swollen in this picture.
Seeing that we two had nothing to do, the stylist that had just arrived asked VD and I to come over to pick out our FunFit swimwear and Metrojaya outfits. I realized that we both were the first among all the girls who got to choose our outfits.I felt really lucky to have first choice and I think it was God's favor. It's always good to have first choice because you can pick whatever outfit is most suitable for your body type rather than forced to wear whatever is left. Also, since all the other girls were busy getting their hair and make up done, or hadn't arrived yet, I got to try on a variety of outfits before choosing one that I was happy with. Looking at the Metrojaya outfits available, I quickly realized that they did not exactly fit my style. After trying on a couple of dresses , I decided that a classic LBD would be the best pick for me.
My chosen Metrojaya outfit
After that, I was sent to do my hair. I was asked what hairstyle I wanted. I was quiet surprised actually because I thought that everything was pre-prepared and that I did not have a say in it. Having no idea what hairstyle fit me best (note: do research the next time round), I chose the hairstyle that I was most comfortable with ; messy big curls. Looking back, I partly regretted not thinking through my hairstyle. Looking at how the pictures turned out, as much as messy curls give me a sexy edge, I also realize that it made my already chubby face chubbier. You can check out a video here to have a better understanding of the environment in the studio on the day of the shoot.
After hair, I was sent to another station to do my make up. I remember as I was walking to the make up station, I passed by another finalist that I just had to take a double look at because she was so pretty! And this was even before she had any make up on. She later introduced herself to me as Tracey. Make up took a little over an hour and by that time, I had already been sitting for over 2 hours including the time to do my hair. I made a mental note to myself to bring a book to read the next time. I tried to past time by practicing my facial expressions on the mirror. When I got to look at the after product of my make up I was a little shocked. It had been a while since I had that much make up on my face. Under natural lighting it definitely looked like I had too much make up on but I understood that for studio shots where I was to be exposed to hard light, such heavy make up was essential. After hair and make up was done, I had to wait for my turn to be photographed.
A series of selfies before it was my turn to be photographed.
While waiting for my shoot I was approached by Josh Lim to shoot an introductory video. Nervous, I asked him what the video was going to be about, he answered me with "You'll find out soon" and brought out his digital camera. The video consist of a self introduction and me answering to questions like "How are you feeling?", "What preparations have you done?" and "What do you have to say to Malaysia" .
Another finalist, Yen Qi, being photographed while I was waiting for my turn
It was soon time for my beauty shoot. I was so nervous! I could actually feel my lips giving out a little shiver. What I had in mind for this shoot was to give the photographer many different angles and poses to show that I knew what I was doing. However, as I started changing my pose after every few 'clicks', the photographer mentioned to me that for the beauty shoot, he wanted 'beauty queen' like poses, meaning very composed and minimal movement. My bad! After that correction, the shoot got better and I was done in less than 5 minutes. Dato' Anna and Dwayne, the photographer was pleased.
Dwayne shooting Miko, another fellow finalist's beauty pictures.
Dato' Anna and her team looking on and choosing the best photos.
I then got changed into my Metrojaya sponsored outfit and waited for my turn to shoot. We were provided accessories by the stylist as well. My necklace however had a piece of 'diamond' missing. I mentioned this to the stylist and she asked me to reverse the necklace instead so that the back of it was showing. I felt that it looked quite odd and tried to cover the necklace with my hair (lol). Later I decided to take the necklace out. While waiting, I took the opportunity to practice my poses. I overheard the photographer saying that he wanted a 'fun' and 'easy going' feel for the series of photographs to come. I guess being tentative to your surroundings really does help because you get to pick up on hint and clues along the way. Halfway through the shoot, the stylist came over asking me to wear the necklace. I'm guessing she wanted to showcase it as well.
Pictures with Tracey, Miko, Vidi and Me while we were awaiting our turns to be photographed.
My on-going shoot in the outfit by Metrojaya
Vidi being photographed while I looked on.
I had the most fun in my third shoot because by that time, I had already warmed up to the environment and know what to expect. Also, my hairstylist allowed me to mess up my hair in order to give the photographs a sexier edge. Before the shoot, I was oiled up by the stylist with baby oil and the make up artist added some contouring powder to my chest to 'define it a little more'. I have to say, getting oiled up by another woman while a makeup artist casually applies make up on your chest is something that I did not foresee happening. By this time I was very comfortable with everyone on set and had the confidence to try more daring poses. I remember Dato' Anna reminding me 'Butt out! bring your butt out!' haha. The photographer mentioned to me that this shoot was to be more elegant and sexy than the two.
Throughout the photo shoot Dato' Anna reminded us to watch our diets and to work out regularly. There was a lot of emphasis on being the and some girls were even called to 'work harder' at loosing weight. I felt rather uncomfortable with this. There was this phrase that I read in The Rules of A Gentleman's Tumblr which says that praise should be done in public and corrections should be done in private. I guess this also goes to show that to be in pageants, you need to be open minded towards criticism and have a bit of a thick face.
So far, I did not notice anything fishy or dodgy going on as my friends and family had been concerned about. Although there were obviously more pictures being taken once the girls changed into the swimwear, I did not see anything to be worried about. I believe that it is partly a lot on how you present yourself. If you present yourself to be classy and professional, I doubt people would be that bold to try anything funny with you. And if it does happen, I already prepared myself to decline them in a way that will not offend them but at the same tie stand my ground. Hopefully in the future, I would not need to put this to use.
In between the shoots I was also called my Brian Lee of Like Media to record a couple of videos. The first was a self introduction, the second was a thank you message to the sponsors and supporters of Miss World Malaysia and third a world cup themed video. Many who know me well would know that I have zero interest in the world cup so this was a little out of my comfort zone for me. In the end, Brian had to actually give me pointers on what to say for the world cup video. When I asked him "but this is a pageant. how does it relate to world cup?" he replied me saying "With the world cup going on, at least people will be able to relate to you".
Behind the scenes selfie
Being silly with Nathaniel. He sat through the entire photo shoot with minimal whines and groaning.