When you’re asked to be the Casting/Creative Assistant on a New York photo shoot, it’s definitely not something you say no to. Don’t be fooled though – it’s not all lattes, roof top bars and Manhattan glamour. In a New York minute everything can change… the clothes, hair, make-up and even the model, if you’re not paying attention. You’ve really got to be on top of every change.
Fuelled by coffee, fruit (surprisingly healthy I know), Spotify, more coffee and (weirdly) peppermint tea, we embarked on seven days in Milk Studios – two days casting, one day set up and four days for the actual shoot.
It’s probably no surprise that casting is the part where you need your A-game. 180 models to see in 18 hours is not for the faint hearted, I’ll tell you now you can never have too many sharpies, model forms or enough patience!
At one point we had 30 models waiting for their 5-minute slot. The initial excitement gives way to the determination of just getting the details of each model, and trying to figure out how to spell (or even say) their names.
3, 2, 1, shoot! Next please!
It’s a well-oiled machine and everyone has their job to do… register models, chase agents, pull out favourites, the list goes on. Two days and 180 models later we then have the precision paperwork coordination of contracts to agents, and models to confirm. Hair preparation time slots; call sheets to schedule and one final run around to double check everything is as you planned.
From all of this chaos you’ve then engineered one beautiful looking spreadsheet of perfection!
Before the shoot begins is the perfect time (and probably only time) to catch up with yourself, organise your own wardrobe and if you’re really lucky a little bit of time to see something of New York; as up until this moment I’d only spent two long days in an air conditioned studio.
It has to be said, after the hell-for-leather pace of the first two days, the other shooting days almost felt like a luxury. Model in, hair done, makeup done, dress, shoot, dress, shoot, dress, shoot and repeat x 4… for three more days.
One essential you absolutely need on set is a clock-watcher, someone who keeps everything and everyone on schedule, and this role fell to me! Two lessons I took from being resident clock-watcher / schedule-keeper… keep smiling and send out for coffee when your photographer is looking fatigued. Happy photographer equals happy studio!
Day seven and that’s a wrap! 16 models (let me tell you, narrowing it down to 16 from 180 was not easy), thousands of images and one absolutely knackered crew, but we did it!
Can’t wait to do it all again next year (twice!)
New York Shoot Survival Kit
Menu to a good local Deli for lunch orders
Peppermint tea bags
Top studio tunes
Calvin Harris – We’ll Be Coming Back
Foster the People – Pumped Up Kicks
Stevie Wonder – Superstition
Walk the Moon – Shut Up and Dance
Michael Jackson – Beat It
Beastie Boys – Sabotage
New Edition – Candy Girl