by Samia Lavenant
I was very excited and nervous to be asked by my teacher Susan Linnet Cox to help her for a photo shoot, a “real” one. Her reassuring words about my capacity to do well helped encourage me to pull out my styling kit, which I had put together for last year’s Fashion Photo Styling class I had taken with her at Mesa College. As a student to be asked to help with a professional in the field is the biggest compliment.
It is a well-known fact that San Diego has limited opportunities for styling, so it is my personal advice to read as much as possible on the matter and keep on researching for outlets to reach out to. Once you have booked a job, give yourself plenty of time to drive to the shooting location and even familiarize with the location a day or two before so you arrive on time and present yourself professionally.
Sleep plenty the night before and double check you have all equipment and tools ready to go. It is also important to do research on the client you will style for.
On the day of the shoot I arrived before the rest of the crew, introduced myself to the client which in this case was a high end lab coat company called Cortex. I was very nervous as all the books that I have read on styling can’t prepare you for some real action. Once the crew got there, there was a meeting to go over the shoot details, scenes, what needed to be accomplished, and also review the client’s expectations.
This shoot involved product styling as well as some fashion styling. The objective was to show the details that differentiate the company’s coats such as the lining and stitching. There was a lot of steaming and we even went to a building close to studio/ location to shoot some exterior pictures. We had to take our styling kits with the basics and always be on the lookout for things that might not look good in a picture; such as pins showing or a tie that is crooked. I found it interesting that once you are at the shoot you have to be conscious of everyone’s space. There are all these common sense things that are required yet have to be learned, like making yourself indispensable, asking for permission from the photographer to “go in” and fix something only when it is highly necessary to achieve the final look.
I dealt with models and helping sort clothes options that would complement the lab coats’ features. I also assisted in product styling and had a chance to style a couple of shots which I hope I get to see soon. This was an interesting experience to just see how to style, tricks that I observed from Susan such as creating textures on the lab coats to show fabric. The shoot even included a dog that was very challenging to shoot since he eventually got tired.
For me, it was important to remind myself to keep on working and looking for things to help out in everything I could without overstepping on someone else’s job, like the photographer’s assistant or the makeup stylist. I very much enjoyed this experience and was keeping mental notes on what to do and how to do it. By the end of the two days I was very happy, and it was nice that the crew knew I was assisting and made me feel comfortable about it, like Ken West, the photographer. Another thing I enjoyed was the upbeat and familiar environment that all the crew displayed, the amount of stories that makeup artist Tracey Taylor told us was keeping us going with a good sense of humor.
I definitely left the shoot feeling excited about pursuing the “Styling Path” and thankful to have been able to be hands-on in a shoot. A teacher’s encouragement goes a long way and in this case I am still developing a networking system so I can further my experience.
Samia Lavenant has been an outstanding student of mine this past year. I was happy to have her assistance on this big project. We will post more results from the Cortex shoot once the product launch has occurred.