Friday, April 9, 2010

Elite Chemistry & Craft Book Models

It all began with the orange juice photo, circa 2001 Benjamin Cummings. I know that it was for a chemistry book. I believe it was for an edition of Russo & Silver's Introductory Chemistry for undergrads. I could not even begin to wonder what edition it was. All I know is that I was an editorial assistant at Pearson Education in San Francisco, and someone told me that if I felt like it, I could spend the day at a photo studio and be a model for a book. Heck yeah, my 23 year-old self said! Hence, I showed up and some very nice photographers sat me down at a table, whereupon they piled fresh citrus, put me against a tropical backdrop, and turned on special lights that would give me a tan. I was instructed to "drink juice from a glass," which seems very easy, but is actually quite difficult to do in an appealing way! Eventually, they told me to just hold it near my mouth and smile. Which, let's face it, worked best for everyone. And voila!--or rather, 2 hours later--we were done. Do I know why a photo of a girl drinking orange juice is needed for a chemistry book? Nope! The point is that it sparked my amateur book modeling career.

Fast forward to 2008. I'm in New York City, editing a book called Sewing Green. Now, it all gets a little fuzzy when I think about how I wound up going from editor to Elite Craft Book Model for this book. Maybe I was needed at the photo shoot and got hoodwinked into it? No no wasn't that shady. But I do know that somehow not one but three of my coworkers wound up taking a train to Rhinebeck, NY that week to model such things as a buckwheat-filled neck compress, pajama bottoms made from recycled sheets, and a tote bag made from recycled tyvek envelopes (and then stamped with bubble wrap). Don't I look elegant holding my tote bag? What I love about this photo is that when we saw the proofs, I noticed all sorts of unfortunate things, like one of my knees was bruised, and my calves had indentations in them from the elastic in my socks because it was winter at the time. I must say, though--it's awfully fun to look at a proof of yourself and circle all of the "problem areas" with a sharpie for the printer to fix.

Just recently, though, I found a way for another one of my dearest oldest friends to also become an amateur book model. Jess P., shown on the cover of Knits Men Want, came through for us in a pinch on one of the hottest, rainiest days that Brooklyn ever saw! Because of a tight schedule, it was sort of a now or never situation. The photographer (Jared Flood) and I looked at the weather report and conferred on the phone--should we go ahead and shoot today, even though the skies are supposed to tear open and dump buckets of rain on us starting at 3pm? Sure! Why not? So Jess and a lovely man named Carter came to Jared's house and were the best sports I've ever seen. They kept their toasty sweaters on in the 90-degree humidity, ready to run outside the moment the rain broke.

The shot used for the cover is a particularly great memory for me. I was the one standing just to side of them (out of view, of course), holding a giant reflector over their heads to A) capture whatever light we could, and B) keep the rain off of them. After this shot was done, Jared and I were soaked to the bone. But hey, we got our cover shot! And Jess got to learn how to hold knitting needles. (Someday we'll get to the actual knitting, too.)

Either way, congratulations, Jess! You are now an Elite Craft Book Model, too!

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