Fashion Shoots. It's Not All Black and White. Here's a quick guide.
The Unedited Truth
If your under the impression that taking part in a photo shoot of any kind, is glamorous then you are a little off target. Don't misunderstand me, they can be immense fun and totally rewarding, particularly when you get to see the finished edited pictures in all their glory. Positive feedback is always good for the ego too. Holding onto that feeling is what makes putting in the long hours for that one 'perfect' snap worth while.
Sometimes it can be just the model and photographer. Other times it can be much more involved, with a MUA (makeup artist), HS (hair stylist), other models, a helper for dressing and quick changes, a camera guy and anyone he may have with him to help with lighting gear, cables and to hold those big shiny disc things that look like they fell off the back of a space ship. I almost forgot the person paying for the shoot who want to make sure they are spending their hard earned cash wisely, and that the brief is being fulfilled to its full potential. After all this isn't just a family member taking a few snapshots so you can reminisce over the day, this is someone's livelihood and its a job.
Most of us have seen some supermodel somewhere on TV in a very exotic location getting snapped by a photographer and it all looks super fun and easy. After all you are just stood there smiling. How hard can it be? Well I can tell you its harder than it looks, but I will get to that in a minute. Naturally most of us think, hell yeah I want me some of that! Getting paid to stand and smile? Bring it on! But unless you've hit the big time the chances are you're in for a disappointment. Most 'models' start out in rooms not unlike any room in your house with a backdropped pinned to a wall, probably near a window and if you are lucky you will have a loo to get changed in.
Get The Low Down
A good photographer will put you at ease pretty quickly, showing that they are both friendly and professional. The last thing anyone wants is to feel awkward, neither party would do a good job, if all they want to do is get the hell outta there. Luckily for me I have always been at ease at any projects I've taken part in. But I've heard some not so nice stories from others and you definitely need to take care when undertaking work, especially if you're alone. Also, if I'm lucky there is a loo and even more importantly a kettle. After all, its thirsty work posing, coffee is a must!
Being out and about on location is very different. I did a shoot once in a garage in the middle of November with all doors open to let in as much light as possible. I honestly thought I'd never feel my fingers and toes again. I was perished! Little dresses, the great outdoors and high heels can only end in being freezing cold. Having to stand and not look like every fibre of your body is shivering and not crying for warmth is no simple task. Many models can be seen hugging hot water bottles in-between shoots and I seriously don't blame them.
The 'great' British weather can also dampen outdoor jobs. You have to wear what you're given no matter the weather, so its normal to be either roasting hot or bitterly cold. Meanwhile the crew will all be dressed appropriately and happily stay outside for hours. The ever changing elements will also affect the light, so there will be lots of hanging about waiting for various gadgets to be set up just right. Then you have the sun to manage with, there is nothing less attractive than a squinter because the sun is in your eyes. Of course we can't discuss weather without talking about rain. This can be just as problematic as the sun. You get dirty and muddy, you have to dive for cover when it really pours and the camera guy gets peed off because his very expensive gear is getting wet. Oh and you'll get cold - again!
Everything seems to be slippy when its wet. Wet grass and heels don't workout to well. Believe me, I know from experience after I skidded down an embankment in some rather posh shoes, thank goodness I stayed up right and kept a small amount of dignity.
A lot of the time outdoor work also means dealing with members of the public. They stare, pass comment, interrupt, stand in the way and take photos of you having your photo taken. Children tend to watch from afar and don't really give you to much trouble. They are much better behaved than the older generation.
When I first started out I was very conscious of other people staring and reacting to me. Lets face it, it is rather odd some random person standing in a field all made up for a night out at 10am on a Sunday morning. I'd stare too. I just block all that out now and concentrate on what needs doing.
The Naked TruthWhen you're in the great outdoors you can be miles from anywhere, including a toilet. So what happens when you need to get changed? Well, you have to get changed right there. If your lucky you can find a corner to hide in and get someone to act as a look out whilst you strip down in a very undignified manner. Don't forget you can't mess your hair up or smudge the perfectly applied make up, so quick changes often are not that quick. On my last location job, I had to get changed in a corner of a national historical ruin (with no doors, windows or roof) full of families at half term. Not at all glamorous and just a tad unnerving.
Its Just Standing and Smiling. Or Is It?
Just imagine you're in a strange place with people you don't know, wearing clothes that you wouldn't necessarily choose to wear, you're freezing your proverbial's off, with aching feet from your ridiculously high heels and you'd frankly kill for a coffee. Now all you have to do is stand and smile, easy peasy right? - wrong!
Fashion modelling is all about shape. The shape you make with your body, the shape you make with the clothing, the flow of fabric against your skin and how your hair falls. You are there to sell a product, not to sell yourself. You need to enhance it and show each garment off in the best way possible. This often means twisting your body in a number of ways and holding your head at funny angles. All whilst trying to not lose balance from the unnatural stance you're holding in those heels. You have to look natural, you can't show how uncomfortable you really are. But the reality is, your legs are shaking, your core is aching and your neck kills from all the twisting and elongating. It's pretty painful and weirdly tiring. To top it off, EVERYONE is staring right at you and a lot of the time talking about you but not to you.
Not so glamorous is it? It is widely assumed that the model has everyone running around them and dealing with all the demands he or she might make. Again this isn't true (unless your a supermodel) and lets be frank, the person wearing the clothing is the last person in a long chain of workers that have had to put in a lot of work in to get things to this stage.
That said, it can still be fun and the ability to laugh at yourself will help a lot here. Its great when you get to have good banter and you get a sneak peak at the unedited images so you can see how well the product is coming across. All in all it's a great experience and who knows what this type of work might bring your way.
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