"Turn to the left."
"Angle your torso towards the camera."
"Less smile, I want more personality for this photo."
These were the types of phrases I heard on a daily basis and today was no exception. It was noon and we had been shooting on this set for nearly three hours.
I had another shoot after lunch in another building but this one was particularly touchy.
The photographer was very specific in every detail and whilst it made him good at his job, it also made the shoot very time consuming. We had to stop for five minutes simply while my stylist fixed my hair at the photographer's request.
"Alright." Michael, the photographer announced as his snapped his final photo. "Go get a new outfit Troye and come back."
I dropped my arms from their current pose and straightened out. My back was sore and I sighed in relief as I stretched the muscles out.
Heading off the set, I entered my small dressing room and found Nina, my stylist, waiting for me with a new attire in her arms.
"Thanks." I said as I took the clothes from her and began to change.
Nina leaned against the vanity, watching me with a curious expression on her face.
"What?" I asked once I had pulled the new shirt over my head. "What's with the face?"
"You seem different today." Nina replied in a contemplating manner.
"I'm not sure. It's as if you're more alive than usual."
Nina laughed and set to work fixing my appearance. She works quietly for a moment while I sit in the chair and stare at the wall behind her. Grabbing the powder off the table, she turns to me with a raised eyebrow.
"Are you going to tell me who he is?"
I sighed. "I'm not dating anyone, Nina."
"No," she answers as if she knew that all along, "But something has happened. I can tell."
She continues her work of emphasising my features whilst I stare moodily at the mirror, refusing to cave.
Nina only smiles at me in the mirror. "I have a three-year old daughter Troye. You're going to have to do a lot more to convince me."
"Alright fine." I cave. "Jack made me sign up to this dating website and this guy messaged me. Happy?"
Nina smiled. "Jack made you? And you're talking to someone other than Jack? Wow, this is a big deal. What's his name?"
"Gabriel." I answered quietly. "He's Spanish but lives here."
"Oh, Spanish huh?" Nina muses. "Is he as good looking as his heritage entails?"
I take out my phone and click on the app, heading to Gabriel's profile and bringing up his photo. Turning the phone to Nina, she swoons when I show her the photo.
"Oh boy, that is one fine piece of man."
"Oh hush you." She sprays the water bottle in my direction playfully. "Don't tell me you've never drooled over a little eye candy before."
"Maybe," I muttered in denial, "Doesn't mean I eye other peoples."
Nina gapes. "He's yours now is he?"
"What? No! Of course not. I just meant that-"
"That you like him." Nina finishes.
"I haven't said one word to him." I remind her.
"But you want to," my stylist grins. "I've known you for three years Troye, I can tell when you want something. You should text him."
"What would I say?"
"Yes, Troye. Hey. That's often how people greet each other."
"He said he wanted to be my friend."
"Good," Nina smiles at me knowingly. "Then you're already halfway there."
Lunch time rolled around slowly. By the time I made it to the lounge, I was exhausted. I had already done two shoots today and I still had two more after lunch.
Mind you, each one took about two hours but this one ran longer than usual. Not that I was complaining, I loved modelling and would never take this job for granted.
I had a few spare minutes after I finished my meal so I headed to Studio B, the studio used for trial shoots. It was also Jack's office.
This studio was smaller than our main ones as they never held major shoots in here. Its main purpose was to serve as the demo lab so that when new models came through, the company could run a few trials using professional equipment and assess the model's talent and skill.
Depending on how the shoot went, the model would then be selected to progress to a permanent position in the company or move on.
The glass doors slid open for me as I entered the room. A shoot was occurring on the floor and I could see Jack waving his hands wildly in frustration from behind the glass. I chuckled and headed over to my friend.
"Hey man, what's happening?"
"Oh, hey Troye," Jack greets me with a tense smile but I can tell he's not angry. He hits a button on the board to announce a five minute break before turning to me.
"I'm trying to get this guy to loosen up but he's just not having any of it. Too stiff. I'm afraid we'll have to let him go. It's a shame too, he had great recommendations and I can see his potential."
I cast a glance out to the floor where a young boy is standing timidly. "Maybe he's just nervous in such a professional environment?"
Jack shakes his head. "He has to be able to work in this kind of environment and still put on a show if he wants to model. I'm afraid he's just too young and it's too soon to put him in this company."
An idea springs into my head. "Hold on."
Walking onto the floor, I approach the boy. "Hi, I'm-"
"Troye Evans," the boy gasps in shock.
I'm taken aback. "You know me?"
"Are you kidding?" the boy asks with a faint European accent. "Everyone in the northern hemisphere knows who you are!"
"And some in the southern." I tease.
The boy nods eagerly and sticks out his hand. "My name is Isak Letrolli. This is such an honour Mr Evans!"
I shake his hand, smiling. "Oh no Isak, the honour is all mine. Do you want to know why?"
"Because I think you're an amazing model."
Isak gasps excitedly. "You do?"
I nod. "Yes I do, but I'm going to give you a tip okay?"
His face falls slightly but he maintains his enthusiasm. "Okay."
I send him a soft smile. "Have you ever been to the zoo?"
"Zoo?" Isak questions, appearing slightly confused before grinning excitedly. "Yes, of course!"
"Great!" I grin. "Just for a minute, I want you to pretend you're one of the animals at the zoo, and everyone has come to see you, okay?"
Isak looked confused about where I was going with this so I continued. "This is something I learnt to do when I was younger to help me loosen up on set. I'm going to call out an animal, and you're going to pretend to be that animal as best you can."
"Oh, uh, okay." Isak smiles shyly.
I nod. "I'm going to do it with you. Jack is going to help us. Jack!"
At the sound of his name, my best friend pops his head out of his office and grins when he sees what I'm doing. He comes over. "Need my help?"
"You know the drill," I wink at him and position myself next to Isak. "You ready?"
"Ready." Isak replies and I signal to Jack.
"Okay. Tiger!" Jack yells.
Immediately I did my best impression of a tiger, trying to coax Isak out of his comfort zone and join me.
Did it feel ridiculous? Absolutely, but it had always been a technique that worked to help get the shy models to come out of their shell.
Isak and I started making sounds like an elephant. Trying to push it a little further, I picked up one of the tripod stands and used it as a pretend elephant's trunk, laughing as Isak stared at me in amusement.
"You've got to be kidding me," I groan as I took up the form of a platypus the best I could, Isak laughing right along with me.
With all the ruckus we were making, a few of the executives in the studio had poked their heads in and amused expressions immediately came over their faces as they looked on. This was not the first time they'd seen me do this.
"Lion!" Jack called.
Isak and I did our best to imitate lions. Seeing that he was nervous with all the other people watching, I stood in front of Isak directly. "Look at me, Isak."
Signalling to the photographer to start again, my eyes remained trained on Isak as the two of us laughed while trying to do our best impressions of whatever animal Jack called out.
Getting the hint, the photographer adjusted his lens and started snapping a few photos, the studio gradually increasing with flashes as the camera went off. Somewhere along the line, someone had turned on the radio to play a pop song which was helping Isak move around more.
Backing up slowly, I began to subtly step off the mat so that it was just Isak in the frame, giving the photographer the chance to do his work. Isak didn't even notice as he continued copying what was now me dancing to the song. The grin never left his face.
When the song ended Isak simply let his arms fall limp by his side. "That was awesome!" he exclaimed, beaming.
The photographer, Andy, gestured at me to come-hither. "Troye, look at this."
I peer over Andy's shoulder to take a look at the photos that were now uploading on the laptop beside him. "Wow."
The photos were incredible. Despite the darkness of the room, the pictures were light and playful. Each one held Isak in a different pose, smiling all the same as he didn't even notice the camera going off.
The whole scene was amazing, especially seeing as Isak was still dressed in his shoot clothes, meaning he was dazzling already.
"You did that," Andy smiled at me. "No one gets them to come out of their shell like you do Troye, you should be proud."
"It's never just me," I return his expression. "It's always inside them, you just have to find a way to coax it out."
"Well no one does it like you do, you have a way with these kids Troye. It's inspiring. Janine, take a look at this!"
Andy walks over to our senior director of photography for this studio, showing her the photographs excitedly. I watch with an amused smile before turning to see Jack watching me from the corner. He sends me a knowing look before retreating back into his office to go over details with the lab technician.
After that, Isak was dragged away by a number of gushing stylists. I only caught his grateful smile as he was hurried out the door, most likely to try on new outfits.
By the end of the day, Isak Letrolli was signed to the company.