Preparing for a Fashion Photo Shoot

Photo by Susie Biehler
Photo by Susie Biehler

I was going to write about the photo shoot for my dress but then I started getting into all the details of what happened before the shoot began. So I’ll write about the shoot another day and just focus on my experience preparing for a fashion photo shoot. OK — I admit that sounds rather fancy — it was just me, my dress, and a photographer shooting outside on a sunny day in San Francisco, not an elaborate setup (no stylist, photographer’s assistant, or hair and makeup person!).

The photo shoot was on a Saturday morning and the night before I was still sewing! Yep, I was adding those last nitty gritty dress details — such as the bra strap holders at the shoulders and hand sewing the Bemberg lining at the waist — and I still had to make the crinoline! Yep, I was up until 3 am  — so much for getting my so-called beauty rest beforehand! That was not what I had planned but things just took longer because, 1. A week before the contest deadline I changed my mind on which dress I was going to make and 2. I could only work on it after I got home from work.

I knew I wouldn’t be very alert the next day so I packed up nearly everything I would take with me the night before: Two pairs of black shoes (one low heeled and one high heeled), my new black-and-white umbrella that I bought for the shoot, and a needle and thread and scissors just in case. Then I set aside the veiled black straw vintage hat and hat pin I would wear and I laid out a cardigan sweater, jeans, and nude tights I would wear on the way to San Francisco. (I got that great hat last year at All Things Vintage in Oakland.)

I live in Berkeley and I had at least a 30-minute drive ahead of me so I planned on changing into the dress when I got there. The dress and crinoline were on a hanger and I put a dry cleaning bag around them so they would be protected and ready to go.

photo by Susie Biehler
photo by Susie Biehler

Then the following morning I needed to put on some makeup, do my hair and put on my hat. I don’t usually wear a lot of makeup so earlier that week, I went to Macy’s in Union Square on my lunch break and asked the makeup person at the Bobbi Brown counter to give me a lesson in eye makeup. I already had some Bobbi Brown eye shadow and I needed to get more eye liner. I got some good tips — start by putting the eye shadow near the lashline and work your way up — and felt a little more comfortable about doing my makeup.

I put on some foundation, which I usually don’t wear but I bought some at a drug store a year or so ago when I had my husband take some photos of me wearing some of my hats. I think you’re supposed to throw out makeup that’s more than a year old but hey, I’d hardly used any of it. So I did put on concealer, foundation, bronzer, eye shadow, eye liner, lip liner, and bright red lipstick. I couldn’t quite disguise the dark circles under my eyes but I couldn’t get to sleep any earlier.

For my hair, I made a small ponytail on top that I could stick my hat pin into and I gathered the rest of my hair into a bigger ponytail. I clipped a black fabric rose to the elastic. Then I put my veiled vintage black straw hat on and stuck my hat pin through the back. (Yes, hat pins do have a purpose!)

Then I put my lipstick, concealer, and Q-tips in my purse and I was ready to leave. My next post will be about the actual photo shoot. To see the photos I posted to BurdaStyle, check out my project page.

Author: Chuleenan

Chuleenan sews, collects hats and shoes, and is a fabric addict. She is also the organizer for the Bay Area Sewists Meetup group.

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