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Kings of Joy All-Stars photoshoot

Showing up powerfully in a photoshoot

#dancebreak drag king empowerment kings of joy kings of joy all-stars show ponies Sep 20, 2022

[From top L to R: Bobs Bulges, Max Mews the Ultimate Cat Daddy, Martin Van Tasmal, Randy Rootrat, Danica Lani, Chase Cocks, Hank E Panky, Dumblewhore, Cyber Prince.]

Have you ever done a photoshoot? Maybe you loved it, maybe you resisted it, maybe the very idea of it just freaks you out. Read on to hear my modelling journey, get why I have all my Show Ponies and Kings of Joy All-Stars do a professional photo shoot, and learn some hot tips about being in a shoot yourself.

When I was 14 years old I really wanted to enter Dolly magazine's modelling competition. I even picked out a photo. But I was too scared to send it in. A few years later I was modelling for friends' high school photography projects. 

Things turned when I experienced domestic violence and every time my partner's camera turned at me, it wasn't just the lens pointing at me, it was the threat of something else. For many years afterward, having my photo taken was something I avoided. Eventually, I bought myself a second-hand SLR camera and took photos myself to heal my relationship with the camera.

Before we all had smartphones, I took a disposable camera with me when I travelled and took 'selfies' along my journey before I even knew what a 'selfie' was. I returned to modelling again after I returned to dance and love doing photoshoots. But what a journey!

What has been your journey with having your photo taken? In a previous post, I wrote about the top benefits of inventing a persona for being on stage (read here). Ultimately, having a persona and practicing being that persona in front of a camera, has you be larger than life for yourself. It's a state change where you know yourself differently. You've had a moment in time of being over-the-top in front of the camera, encouraging you to explore this new freedom of expression everywhere in life.

You could say the same thing about gender expression. Gender is not something to be afraid of. It's something to play with. Go big and over-the-top when you lean into a particular gender expression. Pinterest is great for pinning poses you'd like to try out - you could make a board for masc expression, femme expression, trans expression, a genre or style, or simply abstract shapes made by the human body. Play with it.

The experience of being your persona in front of the camera transports you out of everyday life and how you know yourself day-to-day into a realm where you can discover new ways of expressing yourself. This is an important part of your persona's development and why I have all my Show Ponies and Kings of Joy All-Stars go through this experience. Your capacity to be 100% at home in your skin translates directly onto stage and into your life. When you are 100% at home in your own skin, nothing and no one can mess with you. You become un-messable with and this is a very powerful way to be in life. You are at home with who you are, you are settled by the fact that only YOU get to say who you are - nobody else. You can be present and look into the camera and bring your full presence into the world.

Know that it's normal to feel awkward or nervous at first but read the tips below to help soothe yourself, do some simple preparation, and go in with a good mindset.

The key things I've learned in doing photoshoots:

1. It's all about angles - Keep moving subtly, slightly, particularly your face otherwise you'll end up with 10 photos with your head on the same odd angle.

2. It's all about the poses - come up with 10 poses that you've practiced and feel good in. You could practice in front of a mirror or take some photos to check that the angles work and that you're not inadvertently blocking your face for example. 

3. It's all about lighting - good lighting makes or breaks a good photo. When taking a selfie, turn around 360 degrees to find the best light.

4. It's all about beauty sleep - the camera doesn't lie (except when it does), so get your beauty sleep before a shoot. No amount of good lighting or make-up can mask when you stayed up all night having great sex and got hardly any sleep. Best to reschedule handsome.

5. It's all about presence - being present, being here now, means you can bring your full presence. Give your love and energy through your eyes, down the barrel of the lens.

6. It's all about being at home with yourself - being 100% at home in your own skin makes a massive difference in front of the camera. Give yourself the room to be nervous, to make mistakes, to do something out there - and communicate with the photographer. They want the best shot for you too. Take 2 quick breaths in and 1 breath out, repeat three times to soothe your nerves, or take a #dancebreak and shake it off.

7. It's all about the money shot - there will be one brilliant photo in a group of 50 shots, so don't expect to get great shots all the time. Be ready to discard most of them.

8. It's all about the yes - when choosing photos from the shoot, pick out the 'yes' first. Use your gut - you'll know when you see a 'wow' photo. Don't bother picking out all the 'no's'. It will take too long.

Have fun with this. Remember when you show up powerfully, you give others permission to show up as themselves as well.



P.S. Wanna be a Drag King or explore your diva persona as a Show Pony? Click to join the waiting lists.

P.P.S If you're ready to explore your sexual and gender expression through queer tantra, click here.


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