How to Be a Cover Model

In Three Hours

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Managing Editor Jim Walters eyed my T-shirt-and-jeans get-up. “I guess you didn’t get my message. We need you to dress like you’re going to a wedding.”

I was hustled into Design Director Mindy Benham’s office for a briefing on my assignment: a photo shoot at a winery at 4 p.m. for the November cover of the magazine. Three hours. Sweet. I raced home, grabbed my suit, combed my hair, and returned to the office. At 3:50, I changed clothes and cruised over to Newport Beach Vineyards and Winery to make my cover-model debut.

The photo session was a flurry of shots of Associate Art Director Tori Alvarez and I striking poses with candles, wineglasses, and other props, all the while looking as if we were engaged in conversation. At that point, the extent of our acquaintance had been a brief “nice to meet you” a couple of weeks prior.

How do you look like you are having a stimulating conversation with such a new face? Well, I just did it for real—kind of. I pretended she was my wife and dropped the divorce bomb without warning. Even if she didn’t want to play along, I figured we’d at least get an interesting photo or two out of the exercise.

To my relief, she backhanded my serve, demanding possession of the dog if I were to get custody of the kids. We both seemed to think we’d won. This led to a variety of gestures and facial expressions as we ditched the divorce talk to discuss our hotel choice for the upcoming Seattle trip—I’m picky about room service—and debated our next set of wheels. Should we go for my choice, a BMW, or hers, a Mercedes, which just screams AARP to a 22-year-old like me? The matter remains unresolved.

I’ll let you guess which topic was at hand in the photo eventually chosen for the cover.

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