Behind the Scenes at a Fashion Shoot

Last week, Jennifer Heebner entertained us all with tales of prepping for our photo shoots. In follow up, I’m posting here my diary from Wednesday, our major fashion shoot for JCKstyle Red Carpet issue. The theme was red carpet moments, with fashion and jewelry appropriate for the Academy Awards. The set is a studio large enough to hold the limousine that we’ve rented for the day to be our prop.

As Jennifer pointed out, shoots take a lot of work and preparation. But the most important thing to remember when it comes to fashion photography is that even the best laid plans must be flexible. Early Tuesday afternoon, for example, Jennifer, Laura Finkelstein and I spread out the jewelry on my desk for a final run-through and had a collective panic attack. “Where are all the necklaces?!” “Who is in New York and can deliver by the end of the day?!” Bless them, Jennifer and Laura came through with everything we needed (and then some!). A couple hours later, with well over $1 million in jewels tucked away in the vault, the location booked, the stylist loaded up with clothes, shoes and accessories, the hair and make-up artist and photographer well-versed on the concept, the modeling agency called to tell us that our carefully cast model was in Miami and wouldn’t be back in time. As Art Director Todd Gast turned a curious shade of purple, he called a half-dozen agencies, frantically searching for a model for the shoot at 8 a.m. Wednesday. After a couple hours (and several Zantac) we found a suitable replacement and were ready (or as ready as we’d ever be) to face the day.


5:30 a.m.: My alarm goes off. The sun has not yet risen. This is just wrong.

7:30 a.m.: en route to the office, realize we have everything in place, except a car service to take us to Splashlight Studios, on the far west side of Manhattan. Email Laura, hoping I’ll pass through one of those rare zonnes where you can pick up cell service from the subway.

8:10 a.m.: Security guards we need in order to even set foot outside our office are nowhere to be found. A quick call reveals they went to the wrong address.

8:45 a.m.: Arrive at studio, where stylist Jennilee issetting up dozens of gowns, shoes and bags, and hair and makeup artist Greg Clark is busy setting up the tools of his trade.

9 a.m.: Laura and I unwrap all the jewelry, setting it out and instructing security where to sit to guard it.

9-9:15 a.m.: Jennilee shows each gown to Todd, Laura and I, and we choose favorites, considering both the jewelry and the shots that Todd has sketched out (to maximize the look of the jewelry, without looking like a posed advertisement)

9:15 a.m.-9:55 a.m. As Greg works his magic, photographer Jack Deutsch repeatedly calls the limo driver, who is stuck in Queens in traffic. Todd, Laura and I take advantage of the breakfast buffet and feed our Crackberry addiction.

10 a.m. Limo arrives and Todd’s role as art director expands into traffic cop.


10:30 a.m. Greg and Jennilee prep the model, Eishia, for the first shot, discovering in the process that most of the rings we have will go unused as her hands are too large for them.

11 a.m.-2 p.m. We hit that sweet part of the day when Todd and Jack hit their stride in planning out the set and lighting, and shot after shot flows.

2-3 p.m.: Crew tears into lunch. Laura comments that she never eats as much as she does on shoots (the stress, downtime between shots, and availability of food is a dangerous combination)

3:30 p.m.: The flow stops abruptly. The model is too tall for this shot, the car angled incorrectly, the hair a little too high, the dress a little too snug. Todd goes back to redirecting traffic; Greg goes back to the blow dryer; Jennilee goes back to help Eishia try on different dresses; I empty the dregs of coffee from the bottom of the pot.

4:00 p.m.: Down to the final two shots of the day, including the opener, which has to be horozontal, has feature “wow” jewelry, has to be shot to leave room for a headline and copy, and has to, generally, be the most amazing shot of the day.

4:30 p.m.: Jennifer calls from the office. Henry Dunay, whose piece we have planned for the last shot of the day, needs it back by 5 p.m., as he’s leaving the country in the morning. Laura calls the car service, which is running on a 30 minute delay. As I call back Henry’s office, Todd, Jennilee and Jack scramble to change the dress and set and get a shot off with his jewelry before the car arrives. It works! But the car is late and poor Laura goes off to face Henry, about an hour late.

6 p.m.: It’s a wrap! Jack breaks down equipment, Jennilee and Greg and I pack our wares. With the car service still running late, Brian, the limo driver from the shoot, graciously agrees to drive us back to the office.

6:30: Arrive at the office, shove duffel bag into the safe, and head home to rest before starting all over again the next morning. Fade to black…

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