• Stephanie Ashton

Girls On Film

Duran Duran, 1981

Cross dressing services are super for girls like us, as I described in my previous blog Oh You Pretty Thing ! The content of that blog was really aimed at the experience of going alone as that is typically where we all start. However, I have also had lots of fun doing makeovers and photo-shoots with other models. So, having done a number of these over time I thought it might be fun to write up a blog about my experiences of such sessions.

Being a sociable sort of gal I just love a good makeover and photo-shoot with another model. Over the years I have done them in cross dressing service studios, apartments, hotel rooms, in the street, in a warehouse, and even once in the offices on a major insurance company after hours. Some have involved using just the services provided by a cross dressing service, whist others have involved make-up artists, costume designers, professional photographers and even a pizza boy...lets come back to him later.

As mentioned on my main page I am always interested in approaches from other models interested in potentially doing a shoot together. In fact, I wrote this blog partly with the intention of sharing my thoughts and experience so others would understand my expectations and views on such an endeavour. These days my prime interest in duo photo-shoots is to push the limits in terms or style and creativity, to produce images that are unique and which some may view as art. You can see in my gallery the sort of upcoming projects I enjoy and will be working on. And yes, I do have a major love for Retro and Cosplay.

Look prettier and get more likes than me...sorry Anna you have to die !

Two is the Magic Number

If you are considering doing a professional make-over and photo-shoot with another person there are a number of key points I would recommend that you think about. So, let's start with practicalities. To produce nice pictures that are low effort in post production it is a good idea that the model you choose to work with is comparable in height and clothes size. If someone kindly suggests doing a photo-shoot together my first question is typically "what is your height and clothes size?"

Of course you can disregard this advice and do the shoot with someone you like regardless of size. But be warned, it may spoil the session for one or both of you. A large part of the joy of cross-dressing is the illusion of beauty that is generated in our own minds. However, this illusion is quickly shattered if you look like an extra from Land of the Giants next to your friend who has the proportions of Arianne Grande. Bitch. It is of course possible to look at pictures of someone online to get an idea about their height and size but be careful that you understand the perspective. Even a girl in proportion might be 6ft tall and size 18, or 5ft3 and size 8.

So having met a model who looks nearly as gorgeous as yourself it is a good idea to agree on what you want to achieve. Whether doing a shoot at a cross dressing service or something more elaborate, it is super important to agree on shoot objectives in order to avoid disappointment later. Regardless of the scale and complexity of the shoot you are both most likely committing a lot of time and money to the venture so it is important you are aligned on what you want from the experience. I was going to write "make sure you get your bang for the buck" but instantly it had too many connotations.

At this stage I would suggest you also figure out the other persons intentions for pictures produced from the session. If for example you are planning an intimate shoot with the intention of keeping the pictures private because you are closeted, then its probably not a good idea doing a shoot with a tgirl who wants to use the pictures on her calling cards. You get my point? In summary, work with someone you trust has the same views with respect to image control, privacy, storage and distribution. Intimate situations with other tgirls can produce some unexpected results *cough* so worth thinking about.

Now call me a traditionalist but I think it is a good idea to meet the person you are going to work with before the event. In addition to confirming objectives it is an opportunity to get to know the person you will be close too. For myself it is super important that the person I am going to work with is open minded and a friendly soul. For more provocative and intimate photo-shoots it is also a good idea that there is some level of attraction. No, I am not suggesting you must sleep together beforehand but you should have some sort of chemistry. For example, if you plan to do an intimate lingerie shoot sprawled on a bed together then you will only produce really great pictures if you are genuinely able to "turn it on" in front of the camera lens. These are the realities of life n'est pas?

Well this certainly beats my usual Tuesday 1 o'clock meeting...

Having now met someone you want to work with it is a good idea to get into the details and create a mood board. The purpose of this is to agree on style, clothes, poses, props etc. In fact, I would strongly suggest that you now go into planning overdrive not so much to ensure success, but to avoid the day being a complete shambles! Why do I say that? Well a multi model make-over and shoot is quite different to the solo experience as you will see :D

So, by training I am not a professional model, not even close. I am a fun transgender person who loves nothing more than to be a girlie girl. So, when I get in the company of other girls I immediately want to chat, laugh, dance and generally have a huge carry-on. Sorry, but I am a sociable soul okay? Even if the make-over artist takes on the persona of a drill sergeant to maintain order, there are some other practicalities that make the season quite different to a solo session. For example, if it takes 1.5 hours to get one tgirl ready, then it takes 2 plus hours to get two girls ready, even with two make-up artists. Why? Because of the general state of disorder, trying to match outfits, swapping accessories, and finding items lost in the sea of tranny gear that has erupted from all the luggage.

So, for sure, going to your next session with another girl is loads of fun. And if you do, my honest advice is to make sure you have the same objectives, and plan as much as you can beforehand. For example, when Anna and I went together, we prepare a mood board and shared it back and forth to agree looks and styles, in an attempt avoid a big debate on the day about style, poses, clothing choices and the like. I am not going to claim it was a total success, but it did ensure we left happy having achieved what we expected from the day.

No human body has ever been more contorted or in a state of such exquisite pain as the moment you receive the instruction "hold that pose - its a great shot"

Threes not a crowd...its carnage

Now let’s talk about the 3+ girl scenario and then I will share an amusing story. If you are considering trying a multi-girl makeover and photo-shoot I would suggest calling in Riot Control or Military Police. Because the whole deal is a big laugh but also complete chaos. There are civil uprisings that have observed better order. Between wading through the wreckage of the huge tranny bomb, and make-up seeming to take forever, you are simply having too much fun to really focus on the objectives. And you know what? When you are in the company of great friends that you don’t get a chance to meet often that is okay! However, it does wreck the idea of doing a top-notch photo-shoot together.

Now maybe some readers will think I am displaying a lack of "professionalism" against my supposed model credentials. Well that is true but it is important to recognise that there are important aspect of transgender development at play in this situation. Most tgirls just love the feeling of being dressed up together having missed the "dressing up like mum" stage that many cis girls get to enjoy together in their childhood. For tgirls who want nothing more than to be women it is also super exciting to now find ourselves as the centre of attention as a woman. We are now in our rightful place. And, when you factor in the presence of cis-girls, if there are any supporting the event, we are given the opportunity to explore what it is like to have fun and form friendships with other women AS a woman ourselves. This may seem strange to some but for myself it is really quite a different experience from when I was a man. Friendship with other women when accepted as part of the sisterhood is worth its own blog.

In the multi-tgirl-verse you also need to have a thought for the poor make-up artist. Why? Well for example, girl one is dressed, girl two has just had make-up done and girl three is in the make-up chair. Next thing you know, girl one has cocked up her make-up, girl 2 needs help getting into a dress, and girl 3 wants a big debate about eye shadow colours. In short, it can be hard work for the make-over artist(s). Lets be honest; it is hard enough work for our creators to keep one tgirl looking photogenic, never mind 2 or more.

So, if you are going to attempt a professional shoot with more than two girls you need to have great planning, great coordination, and very low ambitions about what you will achieve. Anna, Tina and I recently attempted to do a trio shoot but sadly that failed for other reasons, namely the famous “Apartment Fiasco." Blog to follow on that story...simply too good to start here.

Picture taken moments before the famous "Apartment Fiasco"

So, onto my little story which typify the points I have made above. This story is also typical of the bizarre things that happen to me, accompanied by the frequent thought "how did I end up in this situation?!"

In 2003 I did a trio shoot with two gorgeous tgirls in an industrial estate in Manchester, just behind Piccadilly. We had a costume designer, photographer and a make-up artist. Around 11:15, girl one was done up and had gone to the toilets, I was girl two and was getting dressed, and girl three was strutting around being a princess rather than getting in the damn make-up seat.

Well, in a little under 15 minutes we achieved a state of total carnage. By 11:30, alarmingly I had discovered black tar in my wig that had come off the floor boards...don’t ask; girl three was stroppy because we were running late and she wasn’t going to get the pictures she wanted for her "portfolio"; and girl one was in the toilets doing something mischievous with a pizza delivery boy ! I wouldn’t care, but we didn’t even order Pizza !! After all, what starving tgirl would order pizza, its not an acceptable food group, and at that time of day !?

Genuinely nobody in our team had any idea who the pizza boy was, or why he had turned up. Anyway, whatever the pizza boy was doing there he definitely made one delivery and enjoyed himself. Which is more than you could say for everyone else because the whole event was a disaster and I was on red wine in Edwards by 1 O'clock.

So the point off that story is this: doing a shoot with other tgirls is great fun and an adventure, but it can be complete carnage if not organised properly. And whilst I didn’t intend for there to be a second point to this story, I guess another takeaway could be that random lost pizza boys have their uses.

So that will do for this blog. I am starting to feel all silly and in fact I need to go and plan my next event. Stay gorgeous my friends and remember from this blog, duo shoots are huge fun but they need some thought if you want to get quality results.