People often think of fashion as being a terribly glamorous profession, all air kisses and champagne. It might well be for the upper echelons of fashion publishing and the supers, but in reality it’s pretty hard graft and nowhere more so than with a photo shoot. Now I have no desire to rain on anyone’s parade, but I thought it might be of interest to those people who are interested in things fashion to understand what goes into getting the desired outcomes from a photo shoot in the context of a small lingerie company!
The prep starts about a month or so before we need the images. Being a niche brand operating in quite a limited sector of the market, we have to find a model who not only looks like our signature ‘lady next door’ but also has a 34A or at a push 34B cup size. Oh and not looking like a teenager helps, ideally someone ever so slightly older is what we are after. So the trawling of model agencies and their lookbooks on line begins. Hopefully we find one who is suitable and ask for more details / availability / price / location etc. And then you get told some time later that the lady in question is breastfeeding, pregnant, undergoing gender reassignment, unwilling to do lingerie shots (despite them being on her profile on the agency’s web) or has a mystery illness that prevents her travelling to the Midlands. All (well almost all) of these have been given to us as explanations to me by agencies…..
So, finally the model (from DNA Models) and I agree a date. Then I court one of a number of photographers who have either worked with us before, or want us to use them. You tell them the suggested date that the model can do and the negotiating starts. In the 10 days or so leading up to the anticipated shoot date a number of things can and do happen. The photographer’s partner will suddenly be having a baby due on the day of the shoot; they’ll have another shoot that gets moved and their client for THAT shoot simply cannot have it done on any other day; the studio that the photographer was going to use have decided that it’s morally reprehensible to be shooting underwear (I mean come ON, we’re hardly shooting raunchy undies here, we’re a very respectable, very vanilla underwear company if truth be told – just look at our website…) or finally the photographer had been doing a food shoot the day before and sorry, the studio still smells of tripe or whatever. So the juggling of four people’s diaries begins – ours, the model, the make up artist (MUA) and the photographer Scott. It’s a bit like herding cats!
And just when you think you’ve got all the people variable pinned, you realise that your shoot list (of garments, not your list of people you’d like to shoot although that might be appropriate on occasion) has some glaring gaps in the ‘samples ready’ tick box. And they’re almost certainly going to be the supplier whose company/factory/sample service is in Holland. Or China. Or the one that is undergoing a warehouse moved so everything is shut this week. And despite the fact that you absolutely discussed needing the next season samples for the shoot, they deny all knowledge and you are going to have half a shoot. I must admit it’s the most frustrating thing – having set all of this up (and it’s not a cheap business by any means) and you’re not going to be able to capture all of your next seasons stock in your one off expensive shoot. Can you feel the frustration waves emanating from here? Been there done that……
But then finally as in the best Hollywood movies, the day arrives and somehow, despite our misgivings, the day dawns and suddenly we are off. The models are generally lovely, and although in the days leading up to the shoot we’ve looked and stared and zoomed in on their pictures and wondered if they’ll really really be all right or are they stuck up and will they take direction and do they eat, they have all been professional, charming and really hardworking. The photographers almost invariably shed their diva-ness and the MUA turns out to be a directorial genius. And we get the shots that we use over and over again to spread the word and sell our Little Women lingerie. It almost invariably comes out good in the end…. Until the next time!