This is the essay I submitted to Student Blogs, just in case you are interested. At this point I had nothing to entertain myself - no internet, no TV, no novels, no manga. All my stuff was still in suitcases and jute bags. I did have some paper and a pen though!
“Imperial may have a reputation for housing mainly geeks and some nerds, but C++ and advanced molecular biology are by no means the limit of our interests. Last year I had a very pleasant experience that confirmed this. I modeled for Imperial College.
That’s right – I did. The chubby, messy-haired, terribly-manicured mechanical engineer. It was one of the most exciting and artistic things I’ve done in my life.
The ‘100 Women – 100 Visions’ exhibition was a photography project hosted by Women in Science, Engineering and Technology (WSET). Its aim was to showcase the fairer sex and their enthusiasm for SET subjects. I pretty much fall into that category so I decided to go for it.
From start to finish the whole event was marvelously organized. I can appreciate that coordinating photo shoots of 100 people is no easy task. To top it all of we were made to feel like real models – an award-winning photographer made the nervous ones feel at ease and before the shoot we were all prettied-up by professional make-up artists. They applied ‘camera neutral’ make up which simply meant that out facial features were more accentuated and nasty things like pimples were blocked out in the photo. It was still more make-up than I had ever worn in my life. And I may have embarrassed myself when I asked what ‘concealer’ was after which the lady looked at me like I was illiterate… Oh well, hydrodynamic bearings weren’t the only things I learnt about that day.
Then it was on to the photo shoot. We were asked to wear something that contrasted with the white background. Many girls went for dark colours that would stand out. My choice of clothing was a vivid aqua shirt which probably stood out too much. I had no problem with that; after all it was my lucky shirt and it certainly lived up to its expectations!
The second vital part of the photo was the props (the first being the model herself). They were supposed to reflect our field of study and tell us something about ourselves as ordinary people with a passion. At this point my creativity (which is non-existent, but can be referred to as ‘latent’) decided to forsake me. Other students brought something impressive or entertaining, or thoughtful. My personal favourites were a full-size skeleton and a live baby. I was thinking of using my mechanical engineering textbooks, until a mysterious package arrived at my doorstep…
Two pairs of real, steel gears. Can’t get more mech eng than that.
Why gears had been delivered to my address is different story, but for now I’ll say that they constituted the heart of a robot (or would it be motor neurons?). Back to the point, I thought myself fortunate that these cute and shiny 18-teeth gears arrived the day of the photo shoot. They, along with my lucky aqua shirt and Colgate smile, completed my image.
The photographer was frankly amazing. She managed to capture the perfect mix of emotion, colour and movement in each of the 100 portraits. That day in March at the portrait launch was the first time I realised that photography had a different dimension – it was a form of art. I was also impressed by the fact that although every portrait had its own individuality some invisible element tied them all together. I felt proud to represent my university and all the positive things it stands for. After attending the exhibition and meeting many of the models I felt special that I am part of such an active, passionate and motivated community. If I get another chance participate in something similar (and at Imperial I undoubtedly will) I will seize it.”