Archive | July, 2012

Updating Portfolio on Miami Beach

I travelled with my friend Liis to Miami where we had pre-booked two different photographers for a two day photo shoot blitz to update our portfolios. It was great to finally get more outdoor shots in my portfolio. Most of my photographs had been in-studio with no natural lighting or setting. This trip was also a chance to bond with Liis, as we truly have always been two women who loved to exchange ideas and get inspired by each other and the world around us. This day felt very inspiring for me. I had shopped the day before in The Gap and found some very pastel and summery clothing that I would not normally find in Toronto at the time. I liked how Gap had created a palette to suit the pastels of Miami’s architecture.

Here I wore a sweater that I purchased in a department store in Poland when I was there on layover as a flight attendant. The brand name was Wallis which I now know can be found in stores across the United Kingdom. Wallis is still one of my favourite brands that carries larger sizes and doesn’t compromise style and detail. When it came to buying clothes to feature in my portfolio, I considered the clothes an investment in my wardrobe. This sweater was not cheap, but in this case, I got what I paid for. I wore it for about 10 years and always enjoyed it. I gave it to my mother in law when she visited from Russia and it was well received. It was just the right shade of taupy beige and I always wore a matching beige bra or camisole underneath to keep the lines clean. My mother instilled in me since my childhood that linen pants always look rich and have a fine quality. Plus they feel cool in the summer and look classy. I think they look very summery in this photo.

Liis and I, shooting the breeze

Liis and I, shooting the breeze

I was pleasantly surprised when I got the photos back and had lots of shots to choose from. I did not employ a stylist. I had done a major shopping spree in Scotland during a layover and had alot of good pieces to choose from. I have learned no stylist had more access to a wider variety of clothes as myself. I have made some mistakes, but when I learned to trust myself and get creative, I am my own best stylist. Plus I am not alone on set or on the beach. The photographer, makeup artist, and my colleague all put their creative input into the look. Clean and simple. Accessories are the first thing that date any photo, so I kept it clean.

Paula and Liis pose off in Miami after dark

Paula and Liis pose off in Miami after dark

It was getting late on the beach, but a very pregnant, scandinavian photographer was robustly taking photos and made me feel so good. Liis and I took turns as we changed outfits and had our makeup and hair touched up. The bonus was that the photographer had worked with plus size models before. So she had experience and knew how to make  voluptuous women look wunderbar in a photo and feel great! A successful photo shoot includes excellent hair and makeup, great lighting, chemistry with the photographer, lots of laughs, a great wardrobe and a bit of magic. We loved her zest for life and enthusiasm. We have always loved women who empowered each other. Together, we can all move mountains!

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Modelling Bridal Wear for Curvy Women

Modelling Bridal Wear for Curvy Women

This photo shoot was featured in Wedding Bells Magazine in 1992. I was living and working in Chicago for the summer when I was hired for this job in Toronto. The day before, I made the mistake of walking all day long (about 8 hours) in the sun along the lakeshore just enjoying the exercise and typical friendliness of Chicago residents. I got quite red all over which was a big mistake on my part. I took the train from Chicago to Toronto in time for the shoot. I arrived at the shoot but was quite red to which the makeup artist responded that it is almost impossible to disguise a burn (it was mostly my shoulders and chest). The makeup artist was also a brilliant hairstylist but his name escapes me. He did his best, and the sepia coloured film certainly helped disguise the burn, and perhaps create a dreamy mood.

When I saw the backdrop that had been setup for the shoot I was really inspired. It looked like a painted theatre backstage with an antique wood ladder, some large coils of rope, and some movie star lights in the background. The photographer was very in tune with me and established a rapport with me onset. I felt like a princess after the hair and makeup was done. Although this was considered to be an editorial shoot for Wedding Bells Magazine, it did not typically pay alot (about $250 for the day, less 20% agency commission, less the train fare from Chicago to Toronto). The trade off is beautiful photos for my portfolio that I did not have to pay a top makeup and hair artist, and top photographer to make me look as I did. The exposure to many more clients was great for me.

Several years later, I worked with a makeup artist, Paul Venoit, for Pennington’s who had known and worked with me for about 10 years by then. He was shocked to see these photos in my portfolio. He said, “That’s you?! I didn’t recognize you! Do you know how many women walked into my salon with this page torn out of the magazine saying, I want my hair just like this?” Here is Paul in Playa Del Carmen Mexico, where we were meant to meet again. After 18 years of bumping into each other, he definately recognized me that time. You can also find him on past episodes of “Look Like A Star.” They take an “ordinary” girl, and I use this term loosely, who resembles a celebrity and make her over for a red carpet photo shoot in studio. Proudly Canadian show, I must say. My bathing suit is from Marks And Spencer bought in England with a matching robe.

Celebrity Makeup Artist Paul Venoit and former Plus Size model Paula Erskine in Playa Del Carmen circa 2008. It's a small world after all. This picture taken following our humble beginnings working for catalogues, magazines, and major clients together in Toronto, Canada.

Celebrity Makeup Artist Paul Venoit and former Plus Size model Paula Erskine in Playa Del Carmen circa 2008. It’s a small world after all. This picture taken following our humble beginnings working for catalogues, magazines, and major clients together in Toronto, Canada.

The Rain in Spain is Really a Fountain of Euro Cup Celebrations, Madrid-Italy 4-0

Splashing for JoyThe energy on the streets of Madrid during the Euro Cup victory celebrations was palpable! With Spain outlasting Italy 4-0, loyalists, tourists and non-sporting voyeurs took to the streets to scream, dance, shout, hug, photograph and video the reaction of hundreds of celebrating fans. It was fantastic with people getting into two tier fountains, splashing rain on everyone, blowing horns, and helping even more people into the fountains of Madrid. At the traffic lights, people counted down till the cars were signalled to stop and rushed the intersection with organized chaos and more jumping for joy. When the traffic light changed, most people ran back to the sidewalks to clear the way for cars to go through. But the frenzy to express heartfelt happiness of Spaniards gave way to reason and traffic soon could not overcome the crowds who were too joyous care. People piled into the streets and cars were slowed and blocked from moving. Some cars tried to U-turn to avoid the chaos from every direction.

Meanwhile, in the fountains and squares people had dressed up with flag sarongs, flag capes, red and yellow tutus, wigs, facepaint and horns. Many tourists pumped up the noise all night long! It was a privilege to be in Madrid for this magical moment!  Tourists from all over the world, Spaniards, and all cultures could be seen in the streets of all ages truly enjoying each other as if they were one! We stayed in the streets for a few hours after the game to join in the festivities. Being stationed in a downtown hotel, there was no way we would have been able to sleep a wink. I worked my flight the next day sleep-deprived, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way! Viva Espana! Congratulations!