“One thing I expect from photographers is a repertoire of jokes, because putting on a false smile is not one of my strong points”

A Stylist, hairdresser, make-up artist, photographer, photographer assistant and one willing, (slightly nervous) radio presenter.  Five people, four hours, one photo.

I’m always in awe of how much work, time and manpower is wielded by magazines to make sure its readers are provided with the story and the glam. After all, it’s just a photo.  A couple of hair and make-up touch-ups smile and click.  Not that simple I’m afraid.

With some experience as the subject in magazine shoots, I quickly realised that this one was on a whole other level. Usually they require a shot of you behind the microphone in the studio while reading a shout-out, but this time it was in a photographer’s domain where any effect could be created.

I enter the photographer’s studio and the friendly faces that greet you immediately make you feel at ease.  Is this what I do when nervous guests come to our studio before going on-air for an interview?

During a lovely lunch the month prior to the shoot, I sat down with journalist Riëtte Rust to answer the many questions she had about my life. Funny how much easier it is to expose your soul in a fairly personal interview, but sitting in front of a camera completely strips you of your comfort zone.

On this specific day the Sarie-stylist Danny Toua had “Hollywood” in mind.  “We want to glam you up, Martelize”.  I just said yes and wondered how on earth she was going to achieve that.

It always fascinates me what tricks of the trade are employed to make people look as good as they do in magazines.  Not just Photoshop, but the type of make-up, the AMOUNT of make-up, the hair products, clothes, lighting.

In the studio everything is ready to achieve the effect Danny has been imagining for the last couple of weeks.  While the preparations are made, we chat about everyone’s lives and with chin tilted in a comfortable position for the make-up artist I even get a chance to fit in a quick interview with my microphone.

The dress is on, tight underwear and push-up bra in place. After super luxurious nourishing spray, layers of make-up and hair teased, it’s time for vogue.  I quickly become aware of the pressure to take the perfect picture.

A large golden chair has been selected to provide glamour to the shot.  Sitting on my “throne” I surrender myself to the people around me.  The way too good looking photographer is busy re-shaping the dress around me and placing my arms in just the right position, while the make-up artist and hairdresser are putting the finishing touches to their work with a bit of hairspray here and some gloss on the lips there.

One thing I expect from photographers is a repertoire of jokes, because putting on a false smile is not one of my strong points.  Luckily the man behind the camera is charming enough to inspire spontaneous laughter every 30 seconds.

The assumption can be made that at some point or another every woman dreams of being styled by a group of people that really know what they’re doing.  And then, maybe transported in a luxurious car stopping in front of a red carpet where people are just waiting to ooh and aah at how gorgeous they look.

How difficult could it possibly be to do a model’s job?  You’re born with the perfect “superficial” genes, pose and smile.  You bat your eyelashes and voilá, they pay you thousands of rand.  New respect people, new respect.

“Turn your head sideways”. “Smile brightly”. “Relax your hand”. “Lean forward”. “Wonderful!”  First set of photos taken.  After a few adjustments to my position, clothes and hair it was time for the next posing session.  You would think it is easy to remember to simultaneously smile brightly, keep your head tilted in a specific position and for crying out loud relax that hand. Alas . . .

Finally the shoot was finished and everyone crowded around a table with a massive Mac-screen to identify some possible choices for the magazine among the many duds.  Of course the choice of photo lies with the Sarie editing team.

After a stomach full of butterflies all day I can truly say it was a wonderful afternoon with a team of highly professional, creative and genuinely nice people. Still wondering which photo Sarie is going to choose I thankfully put on my comfortable day clothes and on a thorough high, blood full of adrenaline with a face made-up for a night on the town, I leave the studio.

Admittedly it wasn’t a very “cerebral” afternoon, but I think we can all do with a bit of glam every now and then.

Thanks Sarie!