It’s so much fun to get all done up and explore the city with my camera. My sister and I have a blast trying on different outfits and setting up makeshift photoshoots. But I always wondered what it would be like to be photographed professionally. And, when I got a job as a fashion designer in downtown Los Angeles, I finally got the chance. So if you’re wondering what really goes on at a fashion shoot, then take a look behind the scenes at my photoshoot.
I was honored that my boss asked me to model our fashion line. I knew the photos of the clothes would be placed in catalogues and sent to Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus for wholesale purchase. It was a lot of pressure, but I couldn’t have been more excited.
I arrived at my office an hour early the day of the shoot because clothes don’t just show up to a photoshoot on their own. Someone has to do the dirty work of hauling everything from the office to the studio. Guess who?
Seeing as how my company only had about 5 employees, the other designer and myself did most of the work transporting clothes. The garments needed to be enclosed in garbage bags to stay pristine in transit. Just bagging 600 styles could take all day, but we were forced to get it done in an hour. Everything was packed into several of the employee’s cars, and we all drove to Studio 1820 together. It was hectic, to say the least.
Arriving on Set
Studio 1820 was in a big brick building that was next to impossible to navigate. After finagling with an industrial elevator that felt like it might break down at any minute, the doors finally opened to a beautiful second floor where there was a mix of new and vintage elements. White-washed brick walls, green potted plants, and mid-century modern furniture filled the lobby. To my left was a hallway that led to several art studios that were rented by local artists.
After pushing past the paint splattered corridor, I finally came across someone who directed me to the studio I would be in for the day. It was a huge open room with tall ceilings, exposed piping and large windows that let in plenty of natural light. I loved how it looked like an updated warehouse. It was the perfect environment to get me in the artsy mood, and I seriously envied the people who got to work there on the daily! It sure beat the dim, cramped office I was used to working in.
The Hidden Room
There was a white backdrop rolled out from floor to ceiling on one wall, and a camera and laptop on the opposing side. While the photographer was busy setting up lighting, I was whisked away behind the backdrop where, to my surprise, there was an entire dressing room and makeup studio.
The makeup artist on duty greeted me and had me sit in a salon chair facing a vanity mirror. She pulled up her rolling cosmetics case that contained one of the most amazing displays of makeup I have ever seen. There was everything from Estée Lauder to MAC and Chanel. My face was about to get the pampering of a lifetime. And can I just say, that’s exactly what it was. I felt so important and official. Not to mention I was in love with the natural makeup look I ended up with.
I thought I was done with heavy lifting for the day because I was all dolled up. But that didn’t stop my coworkers from asking me to help out. Luckily, the studio had racks prepared and lended a hand in getting all of the styles from the car. Once inside, there was the tedious task of undoing all of the garbage bags I had so carefully wrapped just an hour prior.
To make the shoot go smoother, I organized every. single. style. Real fur on one rack, faux fur on another. Jackets over here, vests over there. It was time consuming and chaotic. Plus I had more pressing matters to concern myself with. How was I going to pose? Was this going to be super awkward? I had never “performed” in front of so many people and it was nerve racking.
I put on a pair of black skinny jeans, a white tank top, some heels I was provided with (that were 2 sizes too big) and took my first step onto my mark on the backdrop.
First, we took a few shots to test the lighting, and my boss’ dog joined me on set. It was kind of nice because it actually helped me relax and loosen up a bit.
With new-found confidence, the real shoot began. There was a laptop facing me, and each time a photo was taken, I could see it pop up in real time. Using this feature, I perfected my poses and got in the groove of things.
Every now and then, the makeup artist would come over and give me a puff of powder or a spritz of hair spray. While that was going on, a studio employee would clean the floor and wipe away any dust or scuffs that had developed, and then we would resume. I felt like a celebrity.
Finding a Routine
I would do a few poses for the front, side, and back before quickly changing outfits. And when I say quickly, I mean quickly. There was someone to my left that was ready to hand me my next outfit, and someone to my right who would help button me up and situation the garment so it was photo ready.
It wasn’t long before we realized that there was no way we could get through 600 styles in one day if we kept the same pace. The only way to cut down on time was to take just one picture from each side instead of multiple. From then on the process moved like a machine. There wasn’t a chance to enjoy the experience anymore. It was one thing after another without so much as a second to breathe. It was crazy and it went fast, but we plowed through a lot more styles in a lot less time. Despite this, I had tons of fun trying on all of the clothes I wouldn’t ever be able to afford otherwise.
I wasn’t even two hours in before my feet started killing me. Whose idea was it to give me heels that were 2 sizes too big? I was constantly sliding down, which put massive amounts of pressure on the balls of my feet. Needless to say, when it was finally time for lunch, I was extremely relieved.
At around 1:30 I heard we would be taking a break. My boss ordered Urth Caffé meals for all of us from GrubHub, which was a sweet perk to the day. I thought a lunch break would be just that–time to finally sit down and rest my tired feet. But that wasn’t the case.
When the GrubHub driver arrived, I was sent down to grab the food. I was also given a hefty order to pick up from the nearby Daily Dose Cafe. Luckily the studio was nestled between some cute restaurants and shops, so I didn’t have to walk too far. The alley I had to take to get to the cafe was absolutely adorable. It’s always fun to find new hangout spots, and this would definitely become one for me.
Once I picked up the coffees, I had a gigantic carrying case in one hand and a tote-sized Urth Caffé bag in the other. Not such a glamorous model anymore.
Somehow I managed to get everything back to the studio’s lunch room without tripping and spilling everywhere. I’m super clumsy, so that was a proud moment. We had 30 minutes to eat, and then it was back to the grind.
The Photoshoot Continued
Even sitting for 30 minutes allowed the muscles in my feet to relax just enough to tighten up. So when I put the shoes back on, it felt even more painful than before. But I pushed through the pain. I’m normally a pro when it comes to walking around in heels all day, but this was completely different. Something about standing in place for hours on end was much worse than moving or walking. There was no relief for the pressure on my toes, and they began to go numb.
With most of the racks photographed and completed, it was on to the fur. This added a new element of difficulty to the shoot. My black pants quickly became a fur trap. And it looked obvious in the photos. We had to break after every few photos and have someone take a lint roller to my entire body. Fun stuff.
All in all, the photoshoot took a full 9.5 hours. That’s a long time to be standing in place in heels that are too big.
Clean up was rough when I was exhausted and in pain. We had to enclose all the styles in garbage bags again and then haul them back to the office (which was pretty much the last thing I felt like doing at that point). While there were many parts I liked about the shoot, I was still happy it was finally over with.
I legitimately could not step out of bed without shooting pain in my feet. Not to mention my last two toes on both feet were completely numb for over two weeks. Luckily there was no permanent damage, but I have a new appreciation for actual models who have to go through this on the daily.
The Gift That Made It All Worth It
I didn’t expect to get anything for modeling. I saw it as a favor to my boss (and a fun new experience to me). But he surprised me with a gift the next day at work. It was a brand new Helmut Lang rabbit fur vest.
For those of you who don’t know, this vest retails at $1,600. Not a bad bonus for one day on the job.
Overall it was an awesome experience that I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to be a part of. While there were some ups and downs, I can’t complain. I got to take home some really cool shots, fun memories, and an expensive vest!