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Serious Fun with Paul and Monica

Serious fun.

That’s what I’m calling my experience shooting with Paul Buceta. Serious because that’s me, fun because that’s him.

Maybe I should call it scared sh**less fun or I never imagined I would do a shoot with PAUL BUCETA!!! fun or OMG I did a shoot with PAUL BUCETA!!! fun, but however you slice it, dice it or say it, it will always have fun in it.

For anyone who doesn’t know who Paul Buceta is he’s the Chief Photographer for Strong Fitness Magazine, he shoots for Playboy, he was the lead photographer for Oxygen Magazine, does photos for Maxim, and has shot over 230 magazine covers. Need I go on?

But Paul is only one half of a fun and dynamic team. The other half is Monica Kalra, makeup and hair artist extraordinaire. She’s extremely talented, funny, and sweet. She’s engaging, open and kind. Monica puts you at ease, she steps you through the makeup and hair process, and lets you know what she’s doing and why.

Together these two are a team. It’s evident in how they work together, the obvious mutual respect, and you can tell that they genuinely like each other, not just as business people but as friends. What a great atmosphere for a photo shoot!

There is a lot that goes into scheduling a photo shoot and lots that goes into being camera ready. For me shoot prep included getting a spray tan the day before (perfectly completed at Grand River Tanning in Kitchener) and thinking about clothing lines on my skin. Hence, half way to Toronto on shoot day I had to turn my yoga pants inside out to minimize the appearance of seams on my legs.

One of the ways Paul and Monica prepare for a shoot is by learning a bit about the model and having them fill out a questionnaire. With this one teeny, tiny question included:

What type of shoot are you doing? Fitness Sexy A bit of both

The obvious answer was Fitness. That was what I had in mind and I didn’t bring any clothing that I would consider risqué or sexy: no lingerie, no thong style bikinis, nothing that could be construed as sensual. It was fitness all the way!

Monica put me so at ease, and Paul contributed to the relaxed atmosphere when he came over carrying a few copies of the newest Strong Fitness Magazine wondering why no one compliments him on his food photography. Food photography???? By the time hair and makeup was completed I wasn’t even scared sh**less anymore.

After hair and makeup it was time to show Paul what clothing I had brought. I knew I was going to get in 4 outfits for a half day shoot, and so I hadn’t gone overboard on clothing.

He picked the outfits and put together things I hadn’t considered. He was right. He knew what would work and what wouldn’t. I think he gets a feel for each person, based on pre-shoot conversation and mannerisms. I think he’s good at reading people and goes with their flow. He was so right about everything that he picked, and what he got out of me for the shoot.

Paul is very much a gentleman and let me know ahead of time that he would be messing with my hair (I think the term was: “I’m like the Picasso of Hair” followed by a laugh) and so the apparent real reason I was there for a shoot came to light: to learn that being sexy is a state of mind, not clothing or lack of clothing, it’s in the eyes and the smile, but you have to get into that zone, that is so far out of your comfort zone you didn’t even know it existed.

Something I didn’t expect to come out of that day was learning something new about myself, but that is exactly what happened. I came away from that shoot a more confident person than when I went in. I discovered that getting totally out of your zone, and your own head, can make magic happen. I found out that a photo shoot can be so much fun that I would be talking about it for days (okay weeks), to anyone who was willing to listen. I also found out that Paul Buceta is really a nice, down to earth guy who loves his job and likes to make magic happen, and Monica Kalra is the perfect ying to his yang. They are both genuine fun and easy-going people.

Do I want to do another shoot with these 2 fun-loving people? Umm, YES! And you should too! I remember saying during the shoot that smiling does not come naturally to me, but I think by the end of that day it did.

You can contact Paul and Monica at

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