The story continues:
After making it through the only round of auditions to get into the final group of models for DC Fashion Week, I was thrilled but also lost in a world of wannabes. Rehearsals would usually start with the director or one of his assistants/favorites giving a speech (more like a rant). Similar to everyone I work with day-to-day, they could use some public speaking lessons. Don’t ramble. Don’t think outloud. Speak ONLY if you have a purpose. I did try to pay attention to anything that could be relevant to me. When I heard “get yourself some good headshots and full-length shots,” I made a mental note and googled area photographers.
Because DC is not known for its fashion, surprise! it’s not known for its fashion photographers either. No, I don’t need engagement photos or real estate headshots or pictures of my five cats (one day though). And the money I was expected to lay down for this stuff wasn’t cheap. $300 and I had to wear my own clothes and do my own makeup?
Basically, all I wanted to do was pay $20 and then step into a real-life episode of ANTM, but apparently you can’t search for that on Yelp. However, I did stumble across a generic sounding photo studio in Arlington that specializes in men’s photos. Perfect! I went ahead and emailed the studio with my photos like the website suggests and waited, expecting to hear that they would offer to do my photos for a couple hundred dollars and that I’d need to provide my own camera. But, to my surprise, I received a response almost immediately from the guy who runs the studio saying that he was interested in doing a session with me FOR FREE and I would get to keep the photos afterward.
Right on! I thought. This is way easier than I expected it to be. I went to the studio’s website to see some of the other models and photos that this place typically does. All of the models were male, some more attractive than others, and of course there were the standard suggestive pics with no shirts or low-rise jeans (no undies). When I started scrolling through the site, everything was SFW, which was good because I was at my office at the time. However, I reached one pic where the guy was mostly naked but there was something covering up the front. I clicked on the thumbnail to enlarge the image trying to decide what was covering up. Some fabric? A pillow? Nope, there was nothing covering up that penis. It was a full-on nude male on the screen of my work computer. If HR actually gave a shit at my job, I would be written up so many times for viewing inappropriate images. However, I admit that this is not the first penis that I have stumbled across at my desk and it probably won’t be the last. So, I did my usual turn-around to see if anyone had seen what I’d seen…nope, I was in the clear. That was my first concern. My second realization/concern was that I was going to do a photoshoot with a studio that specializes in nude male photography. Am I okay with that? I asked myself.
I guess…I mean as long as I, Peter Mustafa, didn’t take off my clothes, this would never come back to bite me in the ass when I’m 60 and a single gay government employee that hates my life, right? It made sense to me, but I still had my reservations about going through with this. See, I really wanted those photos so that I could officially call myself a model, but was it worth the risk? I repeatedly tried to push my appointment with the photographer to later until it was the perfect moment. Finally, I ran out of reasonable excuses and decided to prepare for my closeup.
The day of the shoot, I woke up early, took the metro to Arlington, and waited to be picked up my a man named Dave. I knew that if this man abducted/killed me, my parents would just shake their heads and think to themselves, Man, that Peter was a dumbass, getting in a car with a stranger. But, I had reached a low point in my life and needed a change. If getting in this stranger’s car was going to make me feel better about myself than rotting at a desk day after day then by golly, that’s what I was going to do!
And I did. Dave actually turned out to be a really nice guy. My biggest fear was that he would look at me and change his mind about wanting to take my pictures. Your photos made your body look…tighter.
Ok, let’s be real, my actual biggest fear was that he’d pressure me into taking off all of my clothes and post tacky porn photos of me all over the internet. Like, I think I’d be okay with porny pics, but they have to at least be flattering and tasteful. Seriously, penis in a hot dog bun? Nope, even I’m worth more than that.
So, neither of these things happened in reality. Dave was great and very helpful. We picked out a few outfits and backdrops together. Then the magic started. I became a top model. Okay, so not really. I felt really stiff and awkward at the beginning of the shoot. All of the poses I had thought up in front of my mirror went out the window. No arched back. No legs in the air. No hair extensions. Every so often, Dave would show me some of the photos he had snapped and I wasn’t really impressed with myself. The lighting and backdrop were great so no disrespect to Dave. I just realized this was harder than I had expected.
But, I eventually loosened up and became more comfortable with the camera. I realized being critical of myself wasn’t making the photos any better so it was best to loosen up and keep things simple. I was also surprised at how comfortable I felt not fully clothed. No shirt? Okay! Only undies? Okay!
After about an hour, we decided that there were enough photos to choose from, at least for an initial shoot. Dave said he would edit and send them to me in a few days. Although I wasn’t 100% satisfied with my performance, I was happy that I had put myself out there and excited to get back in front of the camera again. Here are some of my favorites that Dave sent me:
If you look closely, because I know you will, you may see a little sunburn on my arm and a little skin peeling on my neck. This was my souvenir from Miami. Next photo sesh, I’ll be sure to coat myself in foundation so that everything is evenly mixed. For my first time, I’m really happy with the results. I’ve added them to my Model Mayhem page here and I now have 11 friends! Still waiting for an agency to discover me though.
This photoshoot was just the midpoint though. I had made it to the finals of DC Fashion Week. I had the new photos for my portfolio. Whatever came of the fashion shows? After this shoot, Dave drove me back to the metro station, and I made my way to the Saturday show for DC Fashion Week Spring 2014…