Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Women of Influence Photo Shoot with Ginella Massa

Fall 2017 Cover of Women of Influence Magazine

Some of my favourite professional moments are those I get to spend meeting and working with accomplished professional women, so when Stephania Varalli, Co-CEO and Head of Media at Women of Influence contacted me about shooting their next magazine cover I jumped at the chance. The subject: Toronto celebrity Ginella Massa, "Canada's first hijab wearing reporter, and the first anchor of a major Canadian news channel to wear a hijab on-air." (Women of Influence)

As is typical these days in the world of publishing, the budget was limited, but there are certain things that are worth doing, if possible, no matter the budget or lack thereof, one of these being a pre-shoot site visit. The advantage of location scouting is not just figuring out logistics such as where we'll be able to unload gear and park on the shoot day (who wants to be dealing with these unknowns on a shoot day?...not me), but getting the opportunity to pre-visualize and plan ahead. Working out where exactly we'd be shooting meant windows could be cleaned, and furniture moved and dusted prior to our even getting there to set up, a luxury we don't often have, but one that positioned us to be particularly nimble and efficient on this shoot.

The other helpful luxury was getting to speak with Ginella about wardrobe prior to the shoot. Although I have a blurb I typically send that outlines basic do's and dont's there's nothing like actually looking at at a subject's clothing and accessories ahead of time to make sure we're on the same page.

And this brings me to yet another opportunity to underscore one of the many advantages of working with an all-female team. No woman really wants a photographer barging in on them when they are barely out of their pajamas, but at least if it's another woman, it's less...inappropriate. In Ginella's case, in particular, it meant we had a green light to show up prior to her putting on not only her make-up, but her hijab. As it happened, thanks to our preparations, Ginella walked onto the set perfectly camera-ready, in the perfect wardrobe, anyway, hugely aiding us in our goal to shoot reasonably quickly and free her to get back to work on time.

The other thing working in our favour to this end, oddly enough, was our lack of permission to shoot in the second, outdoor, location. As a professional, I tend to be somewhat cautious in terms of breaking rules, or exposing shoots to any potential liability, so whenever possible, we get the proper permits for location shoots. However, when we were unable to contact anyone with the authority to issue a permit, we decided to go for it and shoot in our selected outdoor spot anyway, quickly. How à propos given that Ginella owes her success to refusing to be held back by what some would see as the 'rules.' 

Behind-the-scenes shot by assistant Lindsay Voegelin

A shout out to assistant Lindsay Voegelin for taking the behind-the-scenes pics to share on social media. I have to admit, we had to stage this shot a bit since the 'real' picture showed me bending over in an extremely unflattering way (think wide angle lens...distortion of objects closest to the lens...), so we fudged the set-up just a tiny bit to spare our (my) dignity and maintain the appearance of visual competence. Thanks also to designer Lois evidence of how fast we were shooting...she didn't even have time to find a place to put down her lunch before we co-opted her into holding a light stand.

I must say I felt especially lucky that the weather held for us, given the amount of rain we've had this summer. In fact, the forecast was not stable that day, so we were on the lookout for signs of inclement weather, but the sun stayed out, and it was a hot one. Ginella, the consummate professional did not even break a sweat. And I was reminded how more-than-usually fun it can be to work with a subject who is comfortable and experienced in front of a camera. (Of course I still love all my hate-having-their-picture-taken clients...and per my raison d'être as a portraitist, only you and I know who you are!)

On that note, I'll sign off, with one final thought: even if you don't need a picture for a magazine cover, you want to look good wherever your picture appears, right? So call me. I can help.

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