Ever wondered what it’s like backstage at a Shoes by Shaherazad photo shoot? Well, it’s certainly not like any other fashion shoot I’ve worked on before. That’s because the team who come together are “real people”, chosen not for their looks but their stories as real women doing real jobs in today’s hectic business world.
That’s not to say that models aren’t real people doing real jobs, of course they are! But the majority of models in our shoots don’t have modelling experience and many have never been on a shoot before. This makes it interesting work not only for the photographer but also for the whole team coming together on the day. Nerves, excitement and new experiences all add to the unique chemistry of the shoot (as well as some unexpected adventures along the way!)
So, why don’t we use women who model as their career for the shoots? Shoes by Shaherazad is all about real women empowering other women and girls, so it only seems right that these very women tell our brand story with us. On my first SS shoot the women who were photographed had all sorts of inspiring jobs. There was Evita who works in Law, Irrum who is a Business Leader, Ashleigh who studies and is in fact a real model, Julie who is a luxury Personal Shopper, Jasmine who is a Fashion Stylist and Footwear Consultant, and Imogen who works and studies in Theatrical Design. I was inspired by this amazing group of women who do such inspirational jobs, and who also took the time to model on a shoot to represent real women in real jobs.
The first hour of the shoot is what I would call “happy chaos” whilst the set is assembled, equipment set up and dressing room laid out. There are outfits which don’t quite fit, props which have been left back at the office, and even certain shoe sizes which have been …… (oooops) forgotten! Oh, and not to mention the phrases you just don’t want to hear like, “Is this tattoo on my foot OK?” and “sorry, I’ve been rock climbing last weekend and my legs have a few juicy bruises which I’m hoping will look just fine under tights?”
Then the real work begins and our photographer, Richard, gets to work directing the shots which show our women at work, in the board room, and then off to the bar, decked out in evening sparkle. Except, because we’re using real women, and because no-one other than Richard is aware of “shoot etiquette” there end up being a lot of back stage directions being shouted out by everyone waiting to be photographed in support of whoever is on set at the time. “Lean to the left”, “Flick back your hair”, “Work it, work it”, “I think you need an outfit change”, “Let’s switch to a flamingo back drop!”
And then there are the funny moments, such as when the make-up artists are asked to put make-up on the models’ feet as the bright lights are making the skin look pinker than a flamingo, which is not a good look, or a true reflection of how their feet really look. Our make-up artists have never applied foundation to feet before, but they do a great job regardless. And the moments when Richard was coaching the “models” on how to relax and pose were both serious and entertaining at the same time.
And then, after the initial setup chaos, everything falls into place and flows beautifully like a Mariah Carey track (which incidentally, we have playing in the background along with Beyonce, Taylor Swift and the voices of other empowering women to suit the happy mood on set). It all runs smoothly until someone kindly shouts, “Where’s the flamingo gone?”
The things I enjoyed most about the day were: the lunch (as empowered women we thought it only right that we eat good healthy food and as much as we wanted …. including brownies and muffins for dessert), the camaraderie behind the scenes with all of the women cheering each other on whilst being photographed, and sharing outfit pieces with each other (yes, the outfits all belong to our women who kindly model in their own clothes to ensure we represent reality), the stunning dressing rooms, and most of all, the fact that so many inspirational women came together on their valuable days off from high pressured jobs for such a good cause …. to empower other women through their photos and make the world a happier place.
Special thanks go to Lisa Barrett, our Brand Consultant who diligently organises and runs shoots with impeccable skill and care, and Richard Kiely, our Lifestyle and Product
Photographer who cheerfully works his way through our uniquely challenging (albeit empowering!) brand ethos.
By Kara Christopher, Event Stock Co-ordinator