There is always something interesting that happens when I go to yoga class. Don’t worry: I’m not going to go all yoga nut on you, I just want to talk about Emily Gan.
Located in the creative hub of Montreal, the Naada Yoga Center seems to attract all kinds of interesting people, so when I get to connect with someone, they usually turn out to do really cool things.
Emily Gan happens to be one of these cool, creative, people—and a yoga teacher. During the summer, I attended many of her fun and wit filled classes. After each class, we have some tea and socialize. In these days of super fast connections through social media, it’s very refreshing to get to know someone better gradually—I call it “human speed”.
This fall, after a class, Emily excitedly announced that her documentary about her father was up for Cuban Hat voting. And from that point, the conversations started to become even more interesting. We talked about movies, art, dance and… of course, it had to eventually lead to makeup.
She was going to model for a beauty shot, and she needed someone to do the makeup. The concept was a mock Clinique advertisement, which was a perfect fit for Emily who is a very happy, go-lucky, woman with a strong athletic side.
As I was building the layers of the different colours to get the natural glowing look, we talked about the documentary that she is about to edit of her father’s spittle nest farm (if you’re wondering: it’s an Asian delicacy). More precisely: about the difficulty to document and to present a point of view that stays true to the actual people and events you are trying to convey to your public.
The process of recording Emily’s realness was also unfolding in parallel and, even though she’s also an artist who uses photography, something different happens when you are the focus of a picture. It’s not easy to be a model, to give up for hire the way you look and to accept to be someone’s blank canvas, being completely open to interpretation (and misinterpretation). Something most of us don’t have to deal with. Most of us simply look into a mirror, or we take a selfie where we control every aspect of what we share Online.
Emily’s self-perception’s threshold was hit when it was time to do the eyebrows. From my perspective as a makeup artist, Emily’s eyebrows had to be filled-in to look good for the shot. As I did the brow re-work, she was looking in the mirror, actualizing her self-image with these new brows, getting used to her camera ready face.
But it just took the very brief moment of a shutter click from Alphonsie, our photographer, for Emily to see how all of that makeup and brows translate into a picture: where it all looked quite natural. Where the Emily, on the computer screen, was still Emily, the woman/artist/film-maker/photographer/yoga teacher.
Base was created using Clinique’s Dramatically Different Moisturizer mixed with a blend of concealers. NARS Matte Multiple in Laos. Eyes were lined with Clarins Les ombres mattes in Earth. Brows were filled using Guerlain’s Eyebrow Kit and Giorgio Armani’s Eye & Brow Maestro pots. I used an Aveda L.E. lip pencil in Maple with Urban Decay’s Naked Gloss in Love Child. The image was 10% edited, mostly hair clean up and a few bumps, but Emily’s gorgeous skin was left intact.