June 17, 2021
Sutherland's Anna Okorokov
Fitness magazines are a lie. I discovered this during my editorial for Shape. Those ripped models randomly working out on a beach with cable weights are definitely not as happy and relaxed as they seem.
After my actual shoot for Shape was done I was asked to quickly pose for a sneaker shot, which also took in both my legs. They were coated with baby oil and sprayed with water to imitate post workout sweat, not that I remember my shins ever sweating at the gym... I was then positioned on a bridge, and we began to wait for the sun to come out and bask my oily legs in its light.
Eventually it did and the camera was hastily picked up, I was yelled at to pose, one shot was taken and then with astounded disbelief on his face the photographer looked at me again and yelled "FLEX!!" Apparently, I needed to expose all the leg muscle I had. Complying, I dug my heels into the pavement and pushed as hard as I could and thanked God my face wasn't to be in the picture.
Unfortunately, this wasn't enough. "Flex harder, harder!!!" Uggggh I squeezed, flexed and pushed as hard as I could and cursed the giant, empty bottle of Evian that now lay by my bag, but just at that moment the sun hid away. We waited, and the moment it peeked again yelps of "Flex, Flex!!!" reverberated though the air, scaring surrounding birds. And so it went on, until the perfect shot was made, some 20 minutes and one flexed-out model later.
As almost standard practice, any promotional event in Singapore involves live models performing ridiculous tasks. My favourite job to date required me to dress in a tiny jean miniskirt and effortlessly rollerskate around mobs of children (also on skates) their manically agitated parents (also on skates) and an Indian guy that breathed fire (also on skates).
The event was a Samsung sponsored rollerskating competition along Singapore's harbourfront. With three other models, I was to wave and smile to the competitors of a relay race, and provide general good cheer.
I succeeded in fully embracing this star-of-the-moment contract by taking away the host's drumstick. He was supposed to use it to announce the passing of the baton in the relay by beating a large Chinese gong that stood on a little stage platform above the crowd.
Unfortunately, the man was sadly failing to consummate his designated duty and I already happened to be standing on the same stage as the gong. Thus, I saw no reason to pass up the chance to repeatedly beat a giant Chinese gong in the middle of a park completely filled with huge crowds of people. I was quite as surprised as everyone else upon discovering exactly how loud that device could be. I think it would be rather nice to have some gongs at Toronto events.
Photography is a fascinating art. There are numerous ways to approach it and I always enjoy seeing new techniques and styles. However, my editorial for Woman's Weekly left me wholly astounded at the entire experience.
The spread was for a fragrance article and I was to lie in various poses on the same prop bed, surrounded by bottles of perfume. The goal was to create pictures that would appear bright - filled with sunlight and radiance. For that exact reason, the large studio window, which stretched around one-third of the room, was promptly blackened out by heavy curtains. They were tightly pulled shut the moment we entered the studio, casting the room into complete darkness.
Instead, the photographer opted for powerful lights that shone on the prop-bed and placed a smoke machine into the hands of his assistant. To save myself from mental trauma, I will simply assume the assistant was confused that day. Any other reasons for his actions would probably instigate strong urges of violence in me.
It was a full day shoot and for every 3 pictures taken he emitted a blast of smoke directly into my face. The photographer would then repeatedly yell "HOLD" until the smoke cleared just enough for him to take a few pictures and I was forced to sit staring at the white smog with an expression that mixed attempted elegance and grace with an angrily twitching left eye. What is it now that people assume a model's life is? ...oh yes, 'glamorous' I believe is the term commonly used. Though undoubtedly, by the time August comes around and I see this article in print I too, will be enchanted by the beautiful sun filled pictures.
Going back and forth across town to various castings, I have begun to notice another spectacular feature of Singapore. Generously scattered about are glorious Buddhist and Hindu Temples, stunning mosques and churches.
Whereas I had seen Buddhist temples on my trips to China and Thailand, and mosques and churches in Canada, I had never before laid eyes on a Hindu Temple. Numerous personas from the Hindu religion adorn the entrances and walls of the temples. Some are in human form, others may have a human body and an animal head, and some appear in their full animal body. Sometimes, there are creatures that only appear in legends. Together, they are all tightly arranged above the doorway to the temple, and stare down worshippers as they enter the massive structure. Every statue is painted in lively, bright colours and combined together these figurines completely spellbind the beholder.
Would they make a believer of me yet? Still a month to find out!
Anna Okorokov is a Chantale Nadeau model, currently in Singapore.