My Miss New York USA State Finalist packet arrived – yippee!! So exciting and overwhelming!
This packet included the 2019 Miss New York USA/Miss New York Teen USA program, my sponsorship letters, and contestant folder.
I analyzed the headshots of contestants in the 2019 program, knowing that I would need to submit one myself. Although vendors, such as photographers, were recommended by the pageant, many were located out of town and would only be in the NYC area on scheduled dates, which were a few months away.
While working full time, I wanted a photographer, who was open outside of standard business hours, had a studio, and was affordable. I found one photographer, who seemed perfect! While walking through Manhattan one evening, I decided to walk by the studio. I kept checking the address on my phone to make sure I was at the right place. Upon arriving at the studio’s address, I saw that the building was totally deserted with a For Rent sign on the door. I called this photography company and filled out an online inquiry form, in case the studio had moved. The next day, I received a text and learned that they do not have a studio. The photographer seemed very nice and answered all of my questions but encouraged me to have my photos taken in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a nice area! However, headshots in the 2019 program were not taken outside, and I was also concerned about the weather conditions for the day of the shoot. While I was told that we would reschedule if it rained, it just didn’t make sense for me, especially since I wanted to have my hair and makeup done before and wouldn’t want it to go to waste in the wind or rain.
I continued to consider this photographer, but I felt uneasy. When looking up more photographers, I found the most breathtaking photos from Sean Turi Photo Studio. I called for more information and to make sure that the studio actually existed. Sean answered, and the next thing I knew, we had a 30-minute conversation. I felt totally at ease just a few minutes into our conversation. Yes, there is a studio! The cost was a bit more than the other photographer but definitely reasonable, especially for the quality. When speaking with him, I was very transparent and told Sean about the other photographer – he even checked their website while we were on the phone. Sean offered great advice, which definitely helped me make my decision. He said that for the quality of the other photographer, I’d be better off saving money altogether and have someone take my headshot on an iPhone’s portrait mode. Shortly after speaking with him, I reached back out to schedule my photoshoot.
On the day of the shoot, I had my hair and makeup done at Drybar and Cos Bar at Brookfield Place; the shopping center near the World Trade Center. Cos Bar made me feel like a million bucks! They used all sorts of fancy products that I never heard of and offered me wine – I didn’t have any, because I didn’t want it to mess up my makeup. They asked for my preferred eye shadow and lipstick color. I provided input of gold tones for my eyes and plum for my lips then let them work their magic! They moved forward with gold on my eyes, but after considering plum lipstick, they moved forward with pink, due to how the color would look in professional photos. As I left Cos Bar and made my way to Drybar, the makeup artists told me to come back after my hair appointment, so they could touch up my lipstick and blush. I was on a bit of a time crunch, but I planned to go back, if time allowed.
I entered Drybar, which was a couple doors down. My hair appointment was behind schedule, which was definitely stressful, considering that the photoshoot was quickly approaching. Luckily, my appointment was a dry styling, and it was scheduled to take about 20 minutes. I had looked at the hair styles on their menu prior to the appointment and decided on The Cosmo style. My stylist was nice and did a great job. I even had enough time to stop at Cos Bar for touch ups. The Cos Bar customer service is excellent! The makeup artists gave hugs and let me try a perfume sample as I headed off to the photo studio.
Of course, it started raining, so I had to take an Uber. It took a while for my Uber to arrive, so I was anxiously pacing with my hood up waiting for it. Finally, I made it in the car and arrived at the studio. When the first couple test photos were taken to assess lighting and the background, I had no doubt that I would be happy with the results.
The photographer’s website advised to wear neutral colors with minimal prints. I wore a short sleeve black faux leather dress from New York & Company and brought a tan shirt with a subtle black print from Boom Babies in Syracuse, NY. The shirt didn’t look as nice as the dress when we tested how it would look in a photo. After taking several photos, Sean stopped to show me the photos. I told him what I liked and what should be changed, which was really helpful. We experimented with different backgrounds in red, white, and black. The red was fun, but not what I would have submitted to the program. The white was really nice and what many contestants use for their program photo. I just loved the black, and I felt that I looked the nicest in them, so most of the photos were taken with that background.
I haven’t had professional photos taken since my high school senior photos from April of 2012, so I wasn’t sure what to expect during this photo shoot. Sean instantly made me feel at ease. After he showed me the first few photos, then continued to show photos throughout the shoot, I knew that I was going to have a fabulous photo for the program and 2020 contestant page of the Miss New York USA website. I just couldn’t wait to receive the full collection. Sean had offered to delete some photos that couldn’t be used, such as those with my eyes closed, or since we were talking during the shoot, those with a weird facial expression – mid-sentence or wildly laughing. Although I don’t look the best, the photos are still excellent quality. I told Sean not to delete those, since it would take longer for me to get the photos, and I was so excited, I couldn’t wait to see them.
I constantly refreshed my email when I returned to my apartment after the shoot. The next morning, the photos were in my inbox! It was fun and overwhelming sorting through the 263 photos. So many were nice, and needing to decide on just one to submit, complicated things in the best way possible.
I started narrowing down the photos by “favoriting” them into different folders. I approached this by asking myself, is there any chance I could see myself submitting this photo to the program? In my first round of favoriting, I selected my top 72 – still a long way from narrowing it down to one.
For round 2 of favoriting, I walked through the collection with my mom over the phone. Spoiler: there’s still a round 3 and 4. From 72, we brought it down to 30, then to 12, then to 5. Ahhhh! I’m still undecided, so I wrote to Sean and sent him my top 5. Sean acknowledged that it isn’t easy choosing, but I picked great ones! He told me his favorite, which was actually the one I was leaning towards. I had the photo retouched, which made it look especially polished.
I knew I made the right choice when I submitted that photo to the Miss New York USA program. What a relief!