Shooting fashion editorials can be a lot of fun, and they can also be a lot of work. Getting eight people, 700 lbs of equipment and several thousand dollars of wardrobe and jewelry on top of four downtown skyscrapers is a heavy task- literally. The elevators went to the top only on one building, and the other three- well, my assistants and I carried every piece of gear up many flights of stairs.
Once on top, we set up scaffolding rigs so that the models would appear on the edges of the buildings once the shots were lined up. In the above sequence, we literally had to have Kevin, my 2nd assistant stand just off-frame to keep our model,Lauren from getting near the edge in case she stumbled off the scaffold rig in high heels.
Shooting for magazines requires a well-planned idea of how each shot is going to be composed. If a shot is going to be a vertical full-page shot, a double-truck horizontal, a half page or a cover affects how each sequence is going to be set up and lit. In this sequence we were setting up for a shot with downtown Central avenue in the background.
The wall around the top of the building was about ten feet high. So in order to get our model Tiffany high enough for it to look like a normal-sized wall, we had to build up a scaffold rig and make it safe for her to move around on. My assistants know all too well the potential of wind when out on location, so everything is strapped down to sandbags that weigh hundreds of pounds when linked together.
It's good that they did this, because at about 11:00 PM, the wind went from zero to 55 mph in about 10 seconds. Stuff was blowing everywhere. It absolutely came out of no where with no build up at all and lasted the rest of the shoot. I normally will use the wind to my advantage when shooting on location but this was like,"aw come on!". We ended up with some really spectacular shots, especially after the compositing was done. But it made for a rough time during the shoot, especially for the guys who had to hold down the lights since the sand bags weren't even enough.
Each evening was beautiful to begin with, but later would turn into gail force winds as we shot. On the third night, we had 3 models each with their own sequence. Alexx did a great job doing 3 different hair and makeup looks that took him several hours. Once one model was done, we would take her to go shoot and he would start on the next.
A big part of keeping your crew happy is keeping them fed. So I always make sure we have meal breaks on any shoot that lasts over 4 hours and supply the models and crew with something good to keep the mood positive.
Our model, Shannon had to stand on a railing about 14 stories above the street. There was a safety thrust just off the edge of the railing that would keep her from falling (that later would be composited out), but none the less it was pretty nerve-racking being up there, especially with the wind blowing us around. I'm all for getting a great shot, but I wont compromise anyone's safety or comfort when it comes to things like this. I gotta hand it to these girls and the crew though for being so willing to do some scary stuff in order to get the shot. My hat's off to 'em.
This was one of the more laborious shoots, starting at 4:00 pm and going until 3:00 am. It just takes that long to set everything up and even to do the load out. A shoot sequence might only run 30 minutes, but everything in between from frame setup, to makeup and hair to loading all the gear around just takes a toll. But when you love what you do, it's always a good time. You can view the shots from this in the Fashion/Editorial gallery in my Portfolio. We didn't get many behind the scenes shots on this one because everyone was so busy holding down everything from the wind. But thanks to Kevin and Dustin for getting a few shots. And thanks again to Lauren, Natilee, Tiffany, and Shannon, Alexx and the whole crew for doing such a tremendous job so late into each night. It was still a beautiful experience.
Oh yea, had to throw in this obligatory shot. ;)