my day with Caroline
I recently saw My Week with Marilyn (yes, I am behind in my movie-viewing). I think that in any other year, Michelle Williams would have won for her nuanced, brave, and passionate performance. But when you are up against Meryl Streep- it’s a tough way to roll.
Not only was it a lovely film overall but there is this interesting takeaway in the fact that Marilyn (it’s fiction, I know, but I still think it seems close to the truth) still retains all of her fear and nerves about “being enough” even though she’s a huge star at the time. I guess this never goes away. And for some reason that is both comforting and terrifying. While it’s nice to know that insecurity and the worry about being enough and being good enough drifts through the minds of the tremendously successful, it is also a bracing reality to know that the feelings don’t stop once you’ve “made it.”
I have been fascinated with biographies lately, Richard Branson’s is my most recently reading, and the worries about being a failure or having the world see your ineffectual nature are overwhelmingly pervasive. Maybe that’s what makes people truly great- that they never settle because they never feel totally safe. They dance on the edge not because of anything pushing them externally but because of that inner drive to always achieve and grow and make a difference.
In a small way of pushing the envelope myself, I just spend the day with the illuminating photographer Caroline White. She was in town from LA and I had booked a photo shoot with her on the whimsical hope of really getting some new material to use. And not the standard fare but some very real images AND some super Vanity Fair like images (so quite a range). She was very open to my wild ideas (and my nerdy photo lookbook).
I also had the great pleasure of consulting with my dear friend Elsa Isaac who is truly a revelation of a stylist. Together we crafted some more created outfits and some very simple, raw looks that would get me everything I need.
I got off the train in Williamsburg not sure what to expect. Nervous and excited all at once. Caroline, and the incredible make-up artist Ciara Rose Griffin, really helped craft a shoot beyond my wildest dreams. And Ciara- I adore anyone who can make me look as though I don’t have a stitch of make-up on and then juice it up to be super glam without making me look like someone else completely.
I have put a few of my favorites on my Photos page under editorial and all of my page headers are from this shoot. I have never had a shoot feel more like creation. Normally I feel outside the process with a stomach twisted in knots because of the pressure of getting it right and the expectations that surround spending money on something so important to my career. But this day was filled with joy and play.
Maybe it was because this felt extra or additional. I didn’t “have” to get the perfect picture and I didn’t “need” anything from this session. It was pure artistic fun and resulted in, interestingly enough, some of the best photographs of me ever. I suppose that shouldn’t be surprising as I wasn’t focused on result and I didn’t have this desperation seething through me.
There might be a way to rise above the aching fear of not doing enough and not being good enough by simply diving into the work or the experience whole-heartedly without a focus on what’s to come. Without a worry about result. I guess that’s easy enough to say in a small context such as a one-day photo shoot but I hope to carry it into more creative endeavors. And if this feeling of doubt or not doing enough isn’t ever going away, I might as well get used to it now.
Thank you Marilyn for being an inspiration even in a cinematic interpretation. And thank you to Caroline for helping to vanquish some of those fears and providing me with visual reminders of how brave I can be.
And here I am on Caroline’s site, so proud to be a representation of her genius: