Tuesday, May 13, 2014

That One Time My Picture Was on a Bus

There is no good way to slyly drop this in, but guys, my picture is on a bus.  Depending on who you are, this is either amazing or mortifying.  I think it's somewhere in the middle, closest to hilarious.  So there is my in-the-open brag, none of this fake #humblebrag.  I don't think this really counts as being famous, and honestly, I'm not sure that anyone looks good when their picture is that big.  It's hard enough for me to look good in tiny pictures or real life. 

Friends on Instagram already know this.  So I wanted to explain a little why I'm on a bus.  Plus, I think this is the only time I can say, "I've got something exciting I've been wanting to tell you about but couldn't share any pictures until they've been professionally released" since I likely won't be publishing a book, collaborating with Target, or have my home in a magazine or whatever "surprise projects" other bloggers work on.

The picture I'm in is an advertisement for Capital Bikeshare.  Capital Bikeshare has been around in DC for a few years, and it is my favorite way to get around the city. We know that driving is awful, and for short distances, public transportation still doesn't always cut it.  Not all metros go where I need, or they aren't direct, or the wait for the bus is the same amount of time it takes just to walk. Enter Bikeshare. You pick up a bike from a dock close to you, have an awesome time enjoying the outdoors and burning calories, park at a dock by your destination! It's often cheaper, faster, and much more pleasant than any other system. It's even better than using your own bike since you don't have to worry about locking it up or for making one way trips.  There's a fee that varies depending on whether you want to join for the day, month, or year. It's really only a bad option when you have to carry stuff that wouldn't fit in the bike basket or during bad weather (too rainy or too hot and sweat soaks through your work clothes).  There's docks all over the city, and they've been doing some serious expansion into neighboring counties.

Now this is where I come in. With the expansion, Bikeshare wanted to do some advertising. They send monthly newsletters to members and the one I got last summer had this blurb in it:

Do you want to be able to say you’re a “model” on singles dating sites? Are you totally average looking, yet surprisingly photogenic? Then we want you! We are currently looking for models with the ability to ride a bike for an upcoming Capital Bikeshare photo shoot. 

Average looking? That's me! Photogenic? Not always me! But sometimes! Do I look awesome in a helmet?  Um...Plus, I figured the helmet would enhance the forced and awkward smile I often have in pictures.

The requirements were to submit a picture (it certainly doesn't reflect well on our culture that they felt the need to note it should be a fully clothed picture), and those chosen to participate would get a free annual membership and lunch provided. C'mon, I love Bikeshare, but I don't give away my time for free! Although I will give it away for fun perks!

I submitted the only picture I had of just me on my phone (the one right above), which while not the most flattering, probably was the best representation of how my "pose for the camera" moments would turn out.  Pretty average yet photogenic. Plus, these ads always try to be ethnically diverse, so I figured I was a good candidate because most people can tell I'm not white, but they can't tell what I am. Kind of like how Jennifer Lopez plays an Italian girl in "The Wedding Planner." Even though she's Latina, Hollywood thought she could represent other races. Of course, Jennifer Lopez ain't got nothing on my ability to look average, so they picked me, not her, to do the shoot. Ok I'm getting carried away, but whatever the case, I got an email a week or so after submitting my picture saying I was in and requesting my availability. It actually ended up that the shoots took place during the government shutdown last October, so I had the time to do two shoots with them. One around the Mall/ Capitol area, and one in Silver Spring/ Takomah.

The guy managing the project, Matt, suggested bringing a casual outfit and a professional one, assuming you can bike in them. It took me ridiculously long to decide what to wear.  My hair really didn't matter under the helmet, so that was easy, and I just went a little heavier on the makeup in hopes it would read better on camera.

We met super early both days to be sure to take advantage of the morning light. The photographer, Sam Kittner, was friendly and professional. I've since seem some of his beautiful photos in exhibits and the results of this shoot, and his pictures are outstanding.  There were a few other "models" there. Matt would tell Sam what kind of shot he was looking for then Sam would have us ride past him for the shot in various configurations. It'd be the same 20 yards three or four times and then a lot of waiting or biking to the next scene.

Looking good on a bike is no joke. Insert joke about how hard it is to be a model here. Sam did his best to coach us "average people" on trying to smile and pose naturally, but it was a little hard to bike steadily, avoid traffic, look ahead and smile all at the same time. Or trying to look like you are engaged in a conversation with your best-Bikesharing-friend without actually making funny shapes with your mouth.  Overall both days were beautiful, and I was happy to be biking, so biking in circles wasn't really a bad way to spend the day. The only "incident" was when the first day's shoot was over; I followed a few of the other bikers back to where our cars were. There was too much stop and go and hesitation in the middle of traffic with too many other people, and I ran pretty hard into the back of a stopped cab. A little bit of yelling, but no damage done.

Once the photo shoots ended, I didn't hear anything. Sam gave me access to some of the pictures he took, and I kind of forgot about this whole thing until a friend saw my picture on a bus and took the picture at the top of the page! In my hometown! Where we're living right now! I think I laughed for ten minutes straight, so I share all this so you can join in laughing with me at me.  In the meantime, I'm keeping my eyes open for anywhere else my picture may show up!

And if you're interested, here are a few of the other pictures Sam took.  He took a ton, so these are the ones of me I thought turned out best.  They all looked great, but it wasn't Sam's fault that I had weird expressions in some of them!

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