Alex Prager, Photographer

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“The one beauty thing I do on shoots is, if I’m shooting a young actress—someone who’s just getting into it—usually I won’t wear any makeup, and I’ll wear more masculine, ‘getting down and dirty at work’-type clothes, rather than how I normally dress…I pay attention to fashion, I want to look cute. But you know how girls are about other girls. I want them to be totally into themselves and not feel any weirdness about another kinda cute girl in the room. So I make myself ugly—as ugly as I can, really—hair up, baggy tee shirt and jeans. And I don’t know if it does anything, but it makes me feel a little bit more professional, because I’m like, ‘Look, it’s about you,’ because it really is all about them. I think they should just feel really beautiful.

I’m definitely bohemian—I’m from California and was raised eating organic foods, never too much junk food or sugar. I was never really allowed to have that and now I’m just kind of turned off by it. I’m usually looking for organic or natural, from-the-earth beauty products. I use Dr. Hauschka after I wash my face—the Rose Day Cream and the eye cream. Dr. Hauschka is one of the best really natural lines out there. I’m a big fan. Also I love Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel and Microfoliant. And I supersize the Alba Botanicals body lotion; I wear it every day because it has built in sunscreen, it’s very moisturizing and it’s all natural—no parabens or anything—and it sinks right into your skin. But when I’m going on a date, I’ll use the Bliss Lemon and Sage Body Butter because it smells nicer. Guys always compliment me on it! Once it mixes with my skin it doesn’t smell like lemon, it just smells fresh…like I’m making an effort. [Laughs] Oh and my deodorant is like liquid salt, ‘Thai Crystal’. It doesn’t keep you from sweating but it definitely stops you from smelling too much.

For makeup I use Bare Escentuals original Bare Minerals foundation, with the brush. And I have this Dior eyeliner that I love, and black YSL Volume Effet Faux Cils mascara. Sometimes I’ll fill in my brows with Anastasia Beverly Hills powder. I pluck my own eyebrows; they’re so thick that if one hair goes astray, it’ll leave a huge gap, so it’s good to fill them in a little. I use Desert Essence Jojoba Oil as eye makeup remover—it’s really cheap, and it works better than any eye makeup remover I’ve ever used, and it’s totally natural. It’s like, four bucks for this little size. And that’s pretty much it for makeup.

I was bleaching my hair platinum blond for a long time, and lately I’ve made it more natural blond—I thought I was getting a little old for platinum hair. Being from LA and being tan, and small, the whole combination just wasn’t really sitting right anymore. I get my hair colored at the Nelson J Aveda salon in Beverly Hills, because the color they use is as close to natural as you can get with lighteners—and I don’t bleach it, I highlight it. And I use the Aveda Blue Malva shampoo and conditioner to balance out the brassiness. And I like John Masters Organics Lavender & Avocado conditioner, from Whole Foods. I get a lot of products at Whole Foods; my mom works there. I wash my hair every three or four days. I use Moroccan Oil…I have really unruly and rebellious hair. [Laughs] I also just ran out of the Moroccan Oil hair mask I love to use.

I’ve got a bunch of stuff in my shower—I got this scrubby cloth from Japan; they use it in all the bathhouses there—all the older Japanese women were doing it so I decided to copy them. You know how a lot of loofahs, as soon as they get wet, they get soft, and it doesn’t do the exfoliating you expected it to do when it’s dry? This is really rough which is good. I use Borghese mud on my face sometimes—you feel it tingling on your skin. And I love Dr. Bronner’s soap; you can use it for anything…like, even laundry detergent, if you run out!

Also, I’m big on supplements—Calcium and Magnesium are both great for stress; I usually only take these when I go to New York, I’m not kidding. [Laughs] They’re really good for calming yourself, your nerves and everything. I absolutely notice a difference when I take them…I can go to sleep really easily. It works. Another thing I take a lot is B1—it’s really good for hangovers, and if you travel a lot…it’s called the ‘morale vitamin’ because it really does boost your morale. Like, if you’re having bad dreams…or if you’re feeling really depressed, because of the hangover. [Laughs]”

—as told to ITG

 

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • http://daydreamsinaction.blogspot.com Erin

    Another great interview! I love seeing in what's other women's beauty cabinets. This one is particularly inspiring for me, because natural/organic products really fascinate me. And I need to check out the B1 vitamin she was referring to.

  • KT

    I love that bowl she keeps the makeup brushes in.

    Top shelf is my absolute favourite feature!

  • Janel

    Is that bowl an abalone shell? I have a bracelet and earrings made from abalone - my mom made them when she lived in California in the 60's. Ah, that west coast life. Maybe one day I'll ditch the hustle and bustle I can't seem to live without and I'll settle in San Fran. Until then, perhaps I'll try calcium and magnesium. I hear it's good for migraines, too! lol

  • Laura

    Love love love!!! so honest and natural. I've always wanted to try moroccan oil... just may have to now!

  • Angie

    What eyeliner is she wearing in the picture? LOVE!

    • Capitalist Pancake

      I think it's their pencil liner with smudgy blender on the other end (I never use that bit though, I use a NARS smudge brush) - I use them myself, and they do not move once you've smudged them how you want them. Better than Urban Decay's 24/7 pencils. I've got oily skin, and the Dior is the only one I don't need to keep checking my eyes in the mirror to see if it's migrated.

  • Laura

    Nice interview. I am surprised how many people like/use dr hauschka. I had really bad skin reactions when using them as they are choke full with alcohol....

    • therealblonde

      Me too! My skin was so badly damaged, and I had patches that were so dry the skin actually broke. It took months to heal. I'm glad I'm not the only one, I was beginning to doubt myself.

    • S.

      Me too! Good to hear others who have had a not-so-great experience with Haushka products. I love the scents and philosophy behind the label (and the methods used to create the products), but the Rose Day Cream broke me out terribly and I've tried using it three times over the course of a year and a half.

  • PhotoGirl

    Wow. As a photographer and a woman, I have to say that I find her approach to photographing women sexist and unnecessary. I have photographed many women and have never felt the need to push myself down in order to lift someone else up. I thought we said Goodbye to All That a generation ago. Evidently, I was mistaken. To hear such a comment from someone of Ms. Prager's stature is absolutely devastating.

    • Gemma

      It doesn't need to be "absolutely devastating"; it's her take on her work in certain situations, based on her experience. Really not something that we can accurately critique due to the aforementioned. If it devastates you, then don't do it with your clients!

    • Nina

      You know, I like this post for the beauty and style info (as usual), but that bit about "dressing down" for work was kind of strange. Being a professional photographer seems like a fairly physically demanding job. How dressed up would one get and still be able to retain agility and control? Why would it be necessary to adjust your wardrobe depending upon your subject? I'm not trying to provoke critical comments, but PhotoGirl's response made me think...

    • https://thebeautyphilosopher.com TheBeautyPhilosopher

      I do not think it is sexist at all. I think she is just being sensitive to younger women, who can be sensitive or self conscious about their looks, especially in the fame game. Plus after all, she IS working in the entertainment business so it really is about the subject as star.

    • Amelia

      @Photogirl- i totally agree. how are more people not commenting on that? i'm at least 10 years younger than her and i would never like to be photographed by someone who consciously thinks like that. when i see a beautiful woman i am inspired, i dont feel down about myself! and the way she kind of put herself on a pedestal before taking herself down- unnecessary.

    • Mobeta

      I agree w/ you PhotoGirl and ya know what it's not about them at all, it's about the product and selling that product. Certainly it might be a little different with a celebrity. I'm pretty sure Ms. Prager's view goes against the whole premiss of ITG: beauty and women gushing about beauty. It's basically the topic of conversation on every shoot i'm involved with (that + men).

    • Claudia

      Oh come ON, you guys! As a modern lady, I find it highly distracting when other women get all dolled up. I just get really competitive! Sometimes it's a real relief when I can be like "Jeez, I'm so glad that 'kinda-cute' girl wore her ugly clothes today! Otherwise I wouldn't be so consumed by her amaaazing makeup and contemporary fashions!"

  • http://virtuallystunning.blogspot.com David

    Lovely photos definitely want to try that Moroccan Oil!

    Have a Good Day!

    David

    VirtuallyStunning.blogspot.com

  • Marie

    What is the name of the Japanese scrubby cloth she uses ? (or a photograph of it ?)

    • Mame

      It's Salux bath towel. You can buy it for about $4 on ebay or Asian grocery stores in the US.
      I've thrown away all of my loofah and body brushes since discovering this AMAZING towel. It's gold!

  • Gemma

    Love this! I really enjoy the Top Shelves that highlight natural/organic products because that's my thing and I love comparing and getting new ideas! The detail in this interview is awesome too, I like how we got to know a bit about her, her routine and products, and her supplements/nutrition. Just perfect!

  • Kipper

    Wow. I've never read a top shelf that has made me instantly dislike someone. Making yourself 'ugly' so someone won't be threatened by your beauty? If this were not so stunningly egotistical it would be funny.

    Dr Hauschka products are a given here in Germany but they do contain a lot of alcohol. If you can tolerate that though they can be wonderful. I just avoid the toners.

    • Kaitlin

      I was thinking the same thing. Maybe it just came out wrong?

    • Fleur

      I have to agree with Kipper and Kaitlin unfortunately. Having that as the opening quote was not particularly flattering.

      Also, sorry to nitpick but I don't know if there's anything particularly bohemian about spending that much on beauty products. Nothing against the products, or anyone who uses them, I just feel people throw that term around a little too freely these days, and having Alex proclaim herself as "definitely bohemian" before reeling off that list of high-end products suggests she might not know what it means.

      • roses

        Agreed!

    • Lucy

      I agree totally with Kipper. This 'kinda cute' girl just doesn't come across as so cute in this piece unfortunately. :(

    • Melanie

      Agreed! She sounds very self-absorbed... "So I make myself ugly—as ugly as I can, really".

  • http://www.thebeautyfile.com Lisi

    Love her everything and ADORE "East of Eden!"

  • JS

    The tip about the vitamins and minerals was good.

  • http://ofstrangersensibilities.blogspot.com Joy

    Another great interview! I loved reading this.

  • http://variationsonaseam.tumblr.com Michelle

    I didn't like her attitude either at first. I was wondering whether to comment or just keep this too myself but after seeing a few similar posts I was also compelled to have my say. Her over-confidence makes me smile. Although perhaps she is actually insecure like the rest of us - and by making herself "ugly" it eliminates any comparisons!?!
    Or maybe she is just a confident woman and we should all learn from her - to love ourselves more :)

  • Capitalist Pancake

    Her comments about dressing down actually speak volumes about ego relating to beauty in Hollywood and fashion, rather than any intention of sexism on her part. Which is sort of sad for the ingenues in a way, because I just inferred a lot of them were maybe normal/shy sorts of girls to start, who get built into these super-egos in regards to beauty and talent. I understand dressing to suit an occasion, possibly she was only trying to say she was trying to just make herself appear non-threatening/approachable in dress to make the girls feel comfortable. Think of it in terms of that old chestnut about brides sticking their bridesmaids in the ugliest possible gowns, either consciously or unconsciously trying to get across the message that it's all about them. Alex is just doing a reverse, with good intentions.

    • https://thebeautyphilosopher.com TheBeautyPhilosopher

      Agreed totally. I think she misused the word 'ugly' and undervalued its potency, because from the other things she said and the way she described her reason for doing that, it sounds like is is truly just being sensitive to the needs and emotions of her clients.

      • Lisa C

        Thirded. Anyone getting on their feminist high horse about this (and believe me, my feminist high horse is in the barn out back in case I need her!) has not met any aspiring actresses and singers. The self-esteem is low and the anxiety is high! It doesn't make Alex either sexist or conceited to recognize that and want to tone down her look at work.

    • http://www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com chic noir

      good point about the bridesmainds, capitalist pancake.

  • Capitalist Pancake

    I'm half japanese, and we had one of those towels when I was a little kid - it was pink, and lasted YEARS. It was super long and my mom would wrap part of it round her hand and scrub our backs with it in the bath. It's true that everyone at the japanese public baths use them to scrub before they soak in the big tubs.

  • Cupcake

    INCREDIBLE! Loving your posts. Keep them coming!
    Cupcake

  • http://www.GourmetOnADiet.com GourmetOnADiet

    Love love LOVE seeing these products and her glowing skin...I wish ALL beauty products were natural and organic so I'm not tempted to buy the toxic stuff — but these are good examples. Thank you!

  • Fiona

    I thought her admission of how she dresses for starlets was refreshingly honest, even if it does perhaps mean she's contributing to the crazy Hollywood ego factory.

    A heads up for anyone tempted by that Alba body cream - it provides barely any UVA protection, so it's best used as a body cream rather than a sunscreen. Also, lemon and sage are far worse to put on your skin than any amount of parabens, but whatever floats your boat.

  • Christina

    "But you know how girls are about other girls." what a sad view point to have. It's a shame because most of her choices beauty wise I enjoyed reading.

  • Amelia

    i LOVE this blog with a passion- but the way these women throw around words like "low- maintenance", "hippie", "bohemian"- is kind of funny sometimes.

    • Maggie

      Totally agree! This one was, I think, unintentionally funny. Reminds me of the Princess Bride: "I do not think that word means what you think it means."

      Also I suspect the young women she photographs are not quite as threatened as she thinks (hopes) they are.

  • Ola C

    I believe she didn't mean to sound vain or something like that... Yes, it's sad, but totally true, that young women often feel insecure about their looks. And they really do compare themselves to other girls all the time. So she dresses down a bit to 'let them shine'- it may sound depressing, but maybe she's figured out it just helps and makes those girls more confident... Just my opinion. I enjoyed the interview, some really nice organic products and my favourite Dr. Bronner’s soap, great!

  • http://toblerone-tone.blogspot.com Toni

    She seems really laid back and fun! Will have to try some of these products

  • melissa lee

    ack! i agree... what an off-colored comment to begin with. it prefaced her whole piece with a 'better than you' tone. i would hate to think someone was dressing down to make me feel better about myself - how condescending.

    • roses

      Exactly!

  • KD13

    When I read the first paragraph it didn't strike me at all as egotistical. I even pondered her thoughtfulness for a second. From looking at the picture above, I personally think she is a pretty woman. But you may think she's absolutely stunning and can't be improved upon. You may also be wishing that you had her skin or her hair and that's why you're about to take her list to the store with you. Or you could be degrading her personality (the one you've derived she has from this bit that was pieced together by someone else using her quotes). The question is, how would I feel if I sat down in her studio for her to photograph me? How would she make me feel so that she could bring out the best in me? It sounds like she has some tricks up her sleeve to get the job done. She just let one out of the bag.

  • Kate

    I saw her comment on "dressing down" not as egotistical or holier-than-thou, but rather as thoughtful and logical. It's not her job to be flashy or distracting while doing a service to others. I commend her for realizing that her subjects should be the focus of attention, and making them feel that way. Many models are probably very nervous, and seeing that she has tried to make them feel more at ease is considerate. I agree that it might not be worded in the best way, but I think her message was clear.

  • SL

    Her comment did sound off. While I have come across a few incredibly insecure women who would need to be made to feel more attractive by being around more "unattractive" women, they do not represent ALL women, nor should it represent all young hollywood women. Maybe she didn't mean it the way that she did but it was very offputting reading something like that. It also speaks volumes about her ego. Confidence is great, just be careful how you display it. It can come off wrong.

  • Christine

    "Absolutely devastating" huh? Well pass the smelling salts!! If coming across to her subjects as dowdier than usual helps them relax and then she gets better photos as a results, what's the big deal? I've seen documentaries of male and female photographers in action, and with the exception of Karl Lagerfeld, these professionals are all in utilitarian garb.

    I always enjoy hearing about these inexpensive cosmetics from the health food shops. Thanks to Baudelaire and Puccini, the term Bohemian has wandered off from its original definition a long time ago, but maybe the Czechs can reclaim one of these days.

  • peanut

    When I read this, I re-read the first paragraph because I thought it was nice. I think that all of the negativity here is from girls who may feel intimidated by a pretty photographer if they were in that position. I think the girls commenting here are forgetting about beauty from the inside out - just because she is dressed nicely or poorly doesn't make her any more intimidating. Which I think is a good thing for the girls she is photographing to recognize. Oftentimes when in front of a camera, we are asked act a certain way that may even make us uncomfortable. It is a call to let your beauty shine from the inside out. Which I think girls look up to Alex for, rather than whether her heel is 6 inches or 3. After all, the Devil wears Prada.

  • http://www.copperetiquette.com Copper Etiquette

    I''ve used BE for a while I love it!

  • Farah

    Oh jeez. I think all of these negative comments are so strange. I thought she was just being realistic and thoughtful of her subjects feelings. Putting herself in their shoes and trying to make them feel as comfortable as possible which is a sign of empathy and compassion not egoism. I mean really who doesn't compare themselves to others--everyone does it constantly-- it is part of being human. She wasn't saying she was prettier than her subjects just that they might be a little insecure. It's strikes me as being similar to say not getting all dolled up to visit a friend who has just had a baby. And saying you are "kind of a cute girl" does not strike me as being full of herself at all. I liked her.

    • Gemma

      Very well put!

  • http://www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com chic noir

    Oh and my deodorant is like liquid salt, ‘Thai Crystal’. It doesn’t keep you from sweating but it definitely stops you from smelling too much

    I'm going to try a natural deodorant but I'm going to wait until we're well into winter. That way if it doesn't work, I won't kill flowers or cause little old ladies to faint as I walk past.

    I hear Tom's of Maine is pretty good.

    • Capitalist Pancake

      I've used Pit Rok (I'm in the UK) for a couple years now, and it is brilliant. I used to use every type of anti persp/deo under the sun, nothing worked. This works for me even in our rare hot/humid days.

      • http://www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com chic noir

        thanks captialist pancake

        I'll add Pit Rok to list. I hope I can find it somewhere in the USA.

        • S.

          Tom's of Maine did not cut it for me, even when I spent time in Canada (in the winter). I am not particularly active either.

  • http://www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com chic noir

    I use Dr. Brohmer's Almond scented soap. I love how I can still smell it after I've washed it off.

    Alex has gorgeous well toned legs. Emily did she mention what type of exercise she does?

  • http://www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com chic noir

    Michelle Her over-confidence makes me smile

    Me too, not every woman hates herself or the way she looks. I have no idea why it bothers other women when another is happy with her shell.

  • B.

    I find all of the backlash strange. Isn't it similar to being a bridesmaid - you never want to upstage the bride? Maybe she doesn't want to show up to a shoot in couture and steal the spotlight from the model, which is totally understandable.

  • Alex

    The Bliss body butter is a surprising choice for someone who claims to favor "organic or natural, from the earth beauty products" as it certainly is not organic or natural if you have a look at the ingredient list... The ingredients of most of her products don't fit the organic or natural bill either, actually.

  • LuckyD

    Wow! When I read this post this morning I had no idea it would spark such an ITG controversy :)

    I've worked with some of the biggest stars in the world and I can tell you they're almost ALL as insecure as the next gal (if not more-so as a result of the constant scrutiny), then add the fact that they're just human and sometimes have to show up at work with bad PMS! So it doesn't hurt to have your photog's legs take the back burner.

    Personally I think this woman is a total knock-out, though worth noting that I knew of her work before I'd seen her face.

  • Jenna

    It's so neat how she uses a large seashell to hold her brushes (I think it's a shell?). Whatever it is looks very chic.

  • macbeth

    I think her comment about dressing down came across in a context different than what she meant. I totally get it. I am a hairstylist working in editorial and and often have young celebrities in my chair. I notice a difference in their attitude at first, when they realize that I am the one doing their hair, not a gay man they can gossip with. It takes a moment for them to warm up...I'm in my late 20s, I used to be a model...sometimes it makes them feel like I can't do my job as well as someone else. In the end, it always works out, but there is that period in the beginning that feels a little awkward and I wish it didn't exist so I could do my job without a teensy bit of tension. It's just the name of the game. Hollywood is full of egos and insecurity. When it's their face out there in the magazines and on tv, it's hard enough to get a great shot when your subject is already insecure...let alone trying to do it with a lovely looking girl behind the lens. May seem sexist, but...unfortunately, a lot of women are insecure this way.

  • JM

    Eh, no. I couldn't get past the first paragraph. Besides indicating that more masculine-looking women are somehow ugly, there is "But you know how girls are about other girls" Oh, yes I do. Most of the women who come here do so because they admire beauty in other women. There are many, many girls who are that way about other girls.

  • http://www.brebeauty.com/ Bre

    I love this interview! I can understand what she means by wanting it to be all about the client when you're working, I really respect that. I love that she is as obsessed with all natural and organic skin care as I am. It truly is the best way to go. You can slather it on and never have to worry. I too use natural oils to remove my makeup and nothing works better! Especially for the thin, delicate skin around the eyes-it's added hydration so it's a total plus. I am all for supplements and vitamins to look good and feel good. Magnesium is fantastic and is really helpful for those who suffer from chronic headaches and migraines. Awesome interview!

    brebeauty.com

  • http://www.mylifeinbeauty.com anita

    Love her bathroom! Now I'm tempted to read "East of Eden".
    xoxoxo

  • http://angelieeee.blogspot.com/ Angelita


    xxxo from Argentina

    http://angelieeee.blogspot.com/

  • Alli

    Normally don't weigh in, but i think the controversy is so silly here. Bless her for being thoughtful about making others feel comfortable, period.

    Great blog, Emily - fun, more sophisticated beauty read and always giving me new ideas for products - some in my price range, some out of it :)

  • Lisa C

    Do I spy Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer yet again? Clearly that's the stuff to get!

    Reading this reminds me of the summer after college I spent in Siberia...with a giant bottle of Dr. Bronner's. I washed my hair, face, body, and clothes with it...and the bathroom at our dorm. I drew the line at brushing my teeth with it, though I certainly could have!

    This also reminds me that I've always wanted to try Borghese mud and her Bliss products...

  • fashionlady

    i think her viewpoint is actually considerate. WE (for the most part) can only imagine what its like to be on the other side of the camera.

  • Jo

    Just wanted to address everyone who seems to think that Dr. Hauschkas are hurting their skin, or that they are somehow less effective because of their alcohol content. I am not affiliated with the line myself, but I did use them every single day for about four months when my skin was going to a BAD breakout, and all they did was HELP me tremendously. Of course I'm sure that they don't necessarily work the same for everyone, however, do yourselves a favour and check with their website why they are using they ingredients that they do. Decent companies, Dr. Hauschka included, will ALWAYS state such things very clearly - the alcohol are in there for a reason people, and believe it or not, but it won't damage your skin! I mean, if you are that worried about drying ingredients you should really look at what most mainstream brands are using in THEIR products.

    No hate to anyone who has commented here, I simply felt like this needed to be said.

    • Joi

      great advice jo! I like Dr. H products and the company BECAUSE they are so transparent and open about their ingredients. So many companies now just list their "active" ingredients that are natural oils or expensive, and leave out all the crappy stuff they use. Dr. H is a great product line and I love their products.

PRODUCTS MENTIONED

Dr.Hauschka Skin Care
Dr. Hauschka Skin Care Regenerating Eye Cream
dermalogica
dermalogica special cleansing gel
dermalogica
Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant
Alba Botanica
Alba Botanica Very Emollient Body Lotion
Bliss
Bliss Lemon and Sage Body Butter
bareMinerals
bareMinerals Original Foundation
Dior
Dior Waterproof Crayon Eyeliner in Intense Brown
YSL
YSL Volume Effet Faux Cils Mascara
Anastasia Beverly Hills
Anastasia Beverly Hills Duo Brow Powder Ash Blonde
Desert Essence
Desert Essence Organic Jojoba Oil
Aveda
Aveda 'Blue Malva' Shampoo
Aveda
Aveda 'Blue Malva' Color Conditioner
Urban Outfitters
john masters organics Lavender & Avocado Intensive Conditioner
MOROCCANOIL
Moroccan Oil Restorative Hydrating Mask
Borghese
Borghese Fango Active Mud for Face and Body
Dr. Bronner's
Dr Bronner’s 18-in-1 Hemp Pure-Castile Soap
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