I was a bit distracted as I rushed up to the doors of Bishop Collective in the driving, New York September rain. I was late for the shooting of the Fall/Winter 2018 lookbook. I was muddled in my own thoughts trying to visualize what working on my first photoshoot would be like. Reality rudely crashed back in as I tripped over, or rather into a puddle. Luckily, the door handle kindly caught my fall. This indiscretion was camouflaged by the fact that the backdrops for the shoot had already been set up inside the store, thus blocking my graceful entrance. I was soaked through as my five-dollar umbrella had a leak. I think everyone in New York has bought one of those cheap umbrellas out of desperation –can someone tell me are those things waterproofed? I walked in to lots of popping; the air was crackling, the bright lights of a camera flashing, momentarily blinding, and then settling. This was my first experience on set of a photoshoot.
Upon entry I was immediately handed a coffee (I probably looked like I needed one). The back of the store had been transformed into a makeup station and the artist was prepping models. Between acclimating to the bright lights and trying not to flinch at each harsh pop, I had about a minute and two sips of coffee before Dimitri said “could you get our first model dressed? This seemed easy enough – shirt off, shirt on right? I joined the model in a fitting area where she said, quite simply, “bra on or off?” I’ll confess it caught me off guard, politely muttering “pardon?” – while my brain internally screamed “wuuuuuttttttt.” She repeated herself again as casually as if inquiring if I wanted milk in my coffee (I don’t by the way in case anyone wants to know). Stalling, I mumbled about as I straightened up from adjusting her shoes, but I was a bit late, I heard her decision- “I think off.” Suddenly I was face to face with full frontal upper human nakedness, as models are tall and I am not. I tried not to stare too long, or too needlessly. I’d like to say I played it off cool, like I dress models every day, but instead I found a persistent internal monologue of “Where do I put my eyes. MY GOD WHERE DO I PUT MY EYES – IS THIS RUDE IDKKKK.” I now know this is the norm for a photo shoot; however this was definitely an educational as well as an LOL moment for me. I continued my assigned task, strangling the models with the shirts and losing them in the billow of the fabric. Happily there were no casualties to report.
Overall, despite some of the moments where my brain checked out, I thought the photoshoot was smooth and beautiful as well. There is something exhilarating about the repetition of changing clothes, touching various fabrics, and draping them different ways. It was a bit dreamy. There is a lot of thought that goes into the styling of a photoshoot, even picking out the small details like socks. Pink or blue? Textured or not? In reality no one will probably actively stare, care, or say I can’t believe they put her in those socks, but you don’t account for the minute details and thought that is the artistry of assembling a seasonal lookbook. Most people just stare at an image, determine whether they like it or not, but don’t spend much more time on why or how. For me, I liked the pulling apart of all these elements and details that make the larger picture. As someone who is very jumpy, I even eventually (almost) acclimated to the flashing of the cameras. It was my first photoshoot but I am already looking forward to the next one. A couple of lessons learned: possibly take some earplugs to the next shoot; due to a setback in stature, I will probably always be face to naked boob with the models.