On Location

09Feb11

Models and bottles.

A new phrase I learned in Philadelphia that seemed pertinent this past Monday. There were models, yes. But instead of bottles of Cristal, we had bottles of hairspray.

Monday was my first real challenge in my new job as special sections coordinator for the Press of Atlantic City.

Our Bliss spring bridal magazine comes out next month. It is my job to coordinate the editorial content for the issue. I determine the stories and assign them to freelance writers. I also produce the photo spreads.

The feature photo layout is the bridal gown spread. I pick the location, hire the photographer, the hair stylist, the make up artist and line up the models.

Since it is still winter, it was reasonable to hold the shoot indoors. I just finished my brief, brief stint on the board of directors of Amana’s Old Creamery Theatre, so a local South Jersey theater seemed like a proper choice.

The Landis Theater in Vineland recently completed a renovation project, and was the easy selection for the locale. The director and board president were extremely helpful and gave us the entire run of the theater.

I had worked with the photographer David Michael Howarth once before on a simple photo shoot. He is calm, cool and professional. The hair stylist and make up artist, Justin and Jim respectively, came highly recommended and did not disappoint.

The models, on the other hand, were the wild card. They were hired through a free modeling agency. We had ordered one brunette and one blonde. The brunette, Dorian, was confirmed right away.

The blonde turned out to be a redhead.

Liz was the first blonde model we had scheduled. But she dropped out and Carrie was lined up as her replacement.

Last Thursday Carrie canceled. Instead, the agency sent over Shannon. Shannon is 17, taller than Allen Iverson and had never modeled before, but bygosh she really wanted to be one.

The day started off on the wrong foot.

First, it was the Monday after Super Bowl Sunday.

I was hungover.

(Not so much too much alcohol, but not enough sleep)

Second, the wrong time was relayed to the models. They showed up an hour early, which I guess is better than showing up an hour late.

But Justin and Jim arrived half an hour late.

And also, since Shannon was only 17, she had teenage problems, such as acne, awkwardness and little personality.

Because of her pox-marked skin, it took longer for Shannon’s make up to get done. So instead of the shooting initiating at 11 a.m., David wasn’t able to get a model in front of his lens until 12:30. Just a little behind.

First up was Dorian.

She was a little older than Shannon (20 years older) but thankfully didn’t look her age. But she never shut up. And when I saw her in her first dress, she looked pregnant.

A blip of panic set in when I thought she actually was pregnant. “The shoot is ruined!”

But thankfully, the dress just had a weird poof at the midsection, and we were able to flatten it with the use of some clips. Crisis aborted.

From there, everything ran like clockwork. Dorian was amazing. David, the photographer, would give her one word directions – “pout,” “now happy” or “fierce.” And she morphed into a visual onamonopia.

The only other moment of distress was when Jim the make up guy asked if we could put a blonde wig on Dorian to give her the “Marilyn Monroe” look. Dorian has jet black hair, and pronounced black eyebrows. Now I know Marilyn Monroe was not a natural blonde, but Dorian was not fooling God, Jehovah or Dave.

They had to convince me, but they are the professionals after all, and I am the rookie, so I caved. Thankfully I did, because the “blonde” pictures turned out amazing, and the best of the bunch.

We wrapped up at 5:30, two and a half hours late. Everyone was exhausted, but there was a great feeling of accomplishment and camaraderie.

David sent the first batch of pictures to us yesterday. I said to my boss, “She looks just like a pin-up!”

That was exactly what we were going for.

Can’t wait to see it in print, and can’t wait to do it again.

P.S. I deleted images to avoid  any copyright infringement. But here is the video I made from the whole process.

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