Lily Chang © 2020
About a month ago, I participated in a great photography project by Jeremy Rill, involving capturing women as the best version of their real selves. When Jeremy asked what my ideal spread in a Vogue magazine would look like, I said as an exquisite opera singer. So, he asked me to bring any opera dresses I might have as well as something more casual — jeans and a T-shirt.
The preparation and the shoot were intimidating, nerve-wracking, and fun. I had trouble finding stuff that fit and that I felt good in. I mean, come on, I’ve had four children, two of them were at the same time. I’m not a teenager anymore. And we all know gravity works against us as years go by. I actually felt pretty upset and sad. But I was determined to see what Jeremy would capture behind the lens, since I’m usually the one wielding the camera or whatever picture-taking device I have on hand. He had a couple of evening gowns for me to try, and one of them was a lace-up from the back. I had strait-jackets around my torso.
The photo shoot wasn’t any easier. It was just as demanding. I decided to have a professional hair and makeup artist work on me. That was a first. I’ve always been hesitant in letting anyone do that, because I’m afraid I’ll look like a freak at the circus. But I decided take a leap of faith and let the artist go to town.
She spent an hour just doing my hair and makeup. Besides feeling like she was going to stick something in my eyes every time she worked in that area, that was the easiest part. The rest was torture — sucking in my gut, sticking my neck out like a duck, dipping my chin down, contorting my body to fit this or that position — all while smiling like I was enjoying some savory dark chocolate melting in my mouth.
Jeremy was great to work with. We had fun. He made me laugh. And we had such a great time talking, making faces, and shooting.
I’m on social media, on a number of platforms: this blog, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. What I hope to present and share are beautiful and true aspects of life. How I see things. That’s to be distinguished from perfect, souped-up versions of reality.
So, this morning, I took a selfie, with the same pair of jeans, purple shirt (though you can’t see the top in my self-portrait), and leather jacket. I’m in roughly the same pose, using natural lighting. It’s unfiltered, it hasn’t been PhotoShopped, and I’m my usual no make-up, regular hairdo self.
I want to be the real me and not hide that. So, you see that in some of my pictures, my art, and my writing.
You can contrast my natural self, just as I am everyday, versus my dolled-up self, here. I’m confident you can guess which photo is from the shoot and which one is from this morning.