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What it is REALLY like to have your picture taken for The New York Times

First off let me state clearly that we were over-the-moon-happy with Amy Wallace's feature story on Daily Grommet in The New York Times Sunday Business section yesterday.  Here's a picture of me holding it.

This is our first "big" national story and we were lucky to be in the hands of such a skilled journalist.

But here's my former fantasy (held since childhood) about what it would be like to get my picture taken for an important article:

  • I'd get a good night's sleep before the photo session.  And I would be serene and composed, having deferred all difficult tasks to another day.
  • I would make sure my hair looked good.
  • I'd carefully plan my wardrobe to be flattering and, surely, project the right image.

Here is what really happened.  We had one hour's notice of the photo shoot. I've been traveling non stop and we realized we HAD to do it on a rare day in the office. The NYT pulled a photographer out of the hat very quickly to accommodate.

Joanne and I each had a brief 10 second panic.  Not just for the surprise.  More that we were in no state to be photographed.  And that is not vanity talking...

It was a 95 degree high humidity day in Boston and we had spent most of it shooting video.  That is tiring in itself, but the hardest part is we have to turn off the air conditioning in the office to avoid the blowing sounds.  It's a challenging day for all of us because of that.  (No heat in the winter either, but that is not as uncomfortable.)

Joanne and I were stained, rumpled, sweaty messes.  Whatever hairdo or makeup we had sported in the morning had been long wiped out.  We each  made a quick plan to buzz home and put on something clean.  I said, "I'm coming back in a white t-shirt and a black vest."  She said, "No!  That's my go-to outfit for pictures." Clearly we've been working together too closely.

I thought about fighting back.  But I then realized I could make no such impressive claim to having a "a go-to outfit."  So I stuck with the wrinkled (never ironed it in the AM anyway) linen print dress I had on.  (Julia reassured me it was "very Grommet.")  I did go home to slap on some makeup...but the reality of that photo is we were still dripping with sweat and anything but fresh.

When the actual article came out (online first) I was afraid to look (not so much for the photo but for any stray bonehead quotes I had provided).    We knew it would hit at 3PM on Saturday and I cowardly stayed down on the dock in Maine while my family and a bunch of friends from Dublin and Detroit  were up in the camp hitting "refresh refresh refresh" on the NYT site.  When the article finally appeared, 19-year-old Julie (who won Miss Trinity College Dublin this year) used her finest elocution skills to read the article to all assembled.  Then, my "toughest critic" son showed upon the dock sporting an iPad and a big smile.  I knew I was in the clear.

Amy had spared me from myself, this time.

My hair does look sweaty, though.


  • Draya Says:

    Don't worry. You look fabulous!(Loving your dress, btw)

  • Jules Says:

    Hi Draya, Thanks! I think Jodi the photographer was kind to us. Maybe she put Vaseline on the lens. I like the dress too...it just felt really clammy in real life.

  • Jen @ SecondCitySoiree Says:

    Ok, I say this as someone who has a tendency to notice the little things...

    You look just fine.

    When I saw the article I didn't think "Hmm...her hair looks sweaty" or "She's wearing THAT?" I (honestly) thought "Wow, what great colors and they did it in front of the grommets, and oh look, there's the same mac I have and I wonder if that blue dress would look good on me?"

    Seriously, and congrats!

  • julespieri Says:

    Jen, I laughed so hard when I read your comment. Out loud in a public cafe. I liked your stream of conscious thinking. The dress is from Boden. Jen hosted a home party of their clothes in February 2009 and I got it then, at Jen's urging--she also told me where to get better jeans. I do everything she says when it comes to fashion.

    Anyway, it's been a winner. Whatever their current version is will look probably look better on you.

    You can see that the room where we shoot our Grommet videos is also our conference room. We just shove that table aside and slide in a higher one that I brought in from home when we started. (The space behind my couch STILL looks empty to me.)

    Now if only I can get Jen to tell me what my next haircut should be. I've been growing it on a road to nowhere. I even bought a hairstyle magazine two days ago. I was charmed by the 85 year old lady who was going through all the hair magazines on the shelf, looking for her next hairdo. She said "And I thought I was going to stick with the gray, but I can't stand it." She cracked me up.

  • Barbara Raab Says:

    It was on the basis of that story that I ordered a birthday gift from your website for my mother. When after 3 weeks it did not arrive, I used your "contact us" feature to send you an email inquiry. It was never acknowledged or responded to. Today, I called your customer service phone line, and nobody answered. I was prompted to leave a message, and I did, and I hope somebody will call me back. But I must say, this has been a very disappointing customer experience thus far.

  • Tori Says:

    Barbara - We're so sorry for your experience. We're looking into how we might
    have missed your earlier messages -- please know that we take our commitment to
    providing great service very seriously. We're a small team and are currently
    updating our platforms to ensure that nobody slips through the cracks. We're
    glad to know you did ultimately reach us and to have the opportunity to sort
    this out. Since we've spoken by phone, we've confirmed that your Mother's gift is on its way.

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