Jewelry Photo Shoots: So Glamorous, So Much Work

Whenever someone new to me hears what I do for a living—look at and write about fine jewelry—they’re fascinated and a bit envious. Frequent comments are “Oh, so glamorous!” and “Where do I sign up for that job?” Well, folks, today we’re planning photo shoots, and I’d like to share some of the “glamorous” aspects of this part of the job with you. The following is just a snapshot of how a fashion photo shoot is born, and how the page images reach you in your own issues of the JCK publications.

1)First, our fashion director, Carrie Soucy (editor of Luxury and JCK Style), scouts out clothing trends for the season. She considers all of the newest styles from the runways, compiles a list of couture clothing trends for upcoming seasons, and then translates them into easy-to-understand concepts for readers (trend examples are navy blue as a hot color and plunging necklines).

2)Next, Carries consults with Laura Finkelstein and me, relaying the trends to us. She tells us how many pages we need to fill. (Projected page counts of edit and ads determine the number of feature story pages we need to fill, and ultimately, how much jewelry we need to shoot.) Carrie also decides on the number of trends and looks per page.

3)Then we all brainstorm for jewelry that will compliment the clothing trends. For this process, we delve into our show notes, press kits, emails, and magazine ads to find large pieces that will show up well in photographs. If we’re dealing with a particular “look,” such as lace, we’ll generally think of a particular designer to call for merchandise (such as Barry Kronen for lacy-looking jewelry). The three of us pick the jewelry that will be considered for the shoot, but actual pieces that are used sometimes aren’t decided upon until the day of the shoot when the clothing is in front of us.

4)Once we have a list of photo-shoot-appropriate merchandise, Laura and I (and sometimes Carrie) get busy calling in the products. This process is tedious, nerve-wracking, and time consuming. On these days, I have two phones ringing (if I’m in the New York office), get headaches over people and matters I can’t control, don’t have time for lunch, and certainly don’t have time to talk to anyone who’s not sending jewelry to me for the shoot. We must obtain appropriate jewelry for the day the shoot is scheduled because rescheduling is expensive, time-consuming, and could interfere with production schedules.

5)Step five … we’re still on the phone. Depending on the size of shoot, the calls could take days. We call in more merchandise than we’ll need in order to: make sure the jewelry styles are what we expected them to be in size, shape, style, and color; cover for vendors who forget to send pieces even though they said they would; cover for vendors who send different jewelry than we requested and we can’t use what they sent; cover for a stylist who pulls clothes and might have gotten items that Carrie wasn’t expecting; cover for jewelry that arrives after the shoot is over; and because sometimes a shot just needs more or different jewelry than what we expected.

6)The day before the shoot is when the jewelry must arrive. Laura, Carrie, and I anxiously await the merchandise. Inevitably, things don’t show up, are missing because of improper mailing procedures, a vendor forgot to send stuff and they want to send it to the shoot (NO!) … it’s a long day.

7)The day of the shoot, Carrie, Laura, Todd Gast (art director), a guard, and the photography team meet early in the morning to caravan to the location (if it’s a location shoot). And once the team arrives at the site, lots of “fun” occurs—the model lied about her dress size and won’t fit into the clothes, power failures, there’s not enough jewelry, etc. I’ll let Carrie Soucy take it from here because she knows much more about the fun surprises that happen on the day of the shoot.

Know that photo shoots require lots of planning and hard work by staffers in order to put those pretty pictures on the pages. But somehow, when we see the finished product in print and hear your praise, we kind of forget about about all the work that went into it so that we can do it all over again the next month. We hope you continue to enjoy them. 🙂