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04-08-2008
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The Great Lengths a Photographer and His Team Will Go ... to Get the Perfect Photo
I wish I would have seen this exhibit!


from telegraph.co.uk
Quote:
Fashion in the mirror: glamour horror


Last Updated: 12:01am BST 06/07/2008
Page 1 of 2


A new exhibition shows the extraordinary lengths to which fashion photographers go for the perfect shot. As if Judy Rumbold - herself once a put-upon assistant used to satisfying their mad whims - really needed reminding…
I don't think it struck me as wrong or even remotely tasteless to be pleading with a toothless Egyptian beggar to give me his hat. The hat, after all, was fabulous - battered, attractively misshapen, a to-die-for shade of buff - and I needed it. As a young fashion assistant just starting out, I had been instructed by a gobby, bullying photographer to get that hat, or else. It would, he said, look perfect with the pristine white linen clothing we had brought out to Cairo to photograph for a magazine shoot. Never mind the beggar's impoverished circumstances and, in searing 40° heat, the crucial shade the hat afforded him. After a good deal of persuasion, the man - did I mention he was crippled? - accepted a single Polaroid picture of himself in exchange. He thought we were shooting a James Bond film and we didn't bother to correct him. Any decent person would have given him money, and quite a lot of it, but we weren't decent people. We were fashion people.
Jonathan de Villiers in his 5ft trench on a bikini shoot This was back in the early 1980s, when fashion somehow seemed a lot nastier and unprincipled, and photographers had ludicrously swollen egos. If the master had a vision, that vision had to be indulged. Later that day in Cairo I found myself faced with the task of re-arranging small drifts of tiny pebbles - virtually invisible to the naked eye - in a patch of desert in front of the pyramids. According to the photographer, the sand wasn't 'lying right'. Then I had to assemble half a dozen reeking, unco-operative camels for possible inclusion in the picture, while the people higher up the fashion food chain - photographer, hairdresser, make-up artist and model - sipped cool drinks in the shade.
This is the kind of thing that goes on at fashion shoots all the time but isn't necessarily apparent in the flawless images that end up in magazines. When, more than 20 years ago, a fashion team and I took a gorgeous fledgling model out to Crete to photograph puffball skirts on the beach it seemed like a perfectly delightful idea that would surely result in immaculately fresh and sexy photos. What could possibly go wrong? Two words: Naomi Campbell. When her stroppiness became instantly apparent in the departure lounge at Heathrow our mission couldn't have felt more doomed if a voice from the flight-deck had told us we were heading, with low fuel and engine failure, straight for a mountain range in impenetrable fog. Retouching photographs wasn't a widespread practice then, but, by the end of the shoot, these pictures badly needed it; she was crying in most of them. Her objections were many and whiny: it was too cold, the clothes were too short/thin/pink. The wig was rubbish. She was right about that: the wig was indeed rubbish, but, after five days of ceaseless tantrumming, the fashion team was so sick of her that a bit of wig humiliation in a national glossy seemed like delicious revenge.
One of Tim Walker's more modest shoots for VogueAn absorbing new exhibition, Fashion in the Mirror, at the Photographers' Gallery in London, exposes some of the off-frame drama that happens in the process of creating a fashion image. And not before time. Even the most fervent fashion-magazine junkie must concede that there are only so many airbrushed, vacant cuties you can look at before wanting to stab at your own eyeballs with the business end of a pair of Manolos. Here, for a change, the stars of the pictures aren't just the models and clothes, but also the lighting paraphernalia, the camera equipment and sometimes the photographers themselves. Jonathan de Villiers dug himself a 5ft hole in the sand in order to get the right angle for a bikini shot. Another of his photographs demonstrates the difficulties of working in camera-hostile environments. Thigh deep in water is another girl, another bikini, but who's looking at the ho-hum model when, just behind her, there is the far more eye-catching spectacle of a lighting assistant being virtually swept out to sea by an unexpected tidal swell?
A scene familiar to anyone who has ever worked on a fashion shoot is the photograph by de Villiers depicting an off-duty model chatting away to a technical assistant. There is a lot of chatting on fashion shoots. A lot of chatting and a lot of waiting. It's why fashion people so often look like pouty, unapproachable sociopaths. Their reserves of normal interactive skills have been drained dry by the hours, days, weeks, spent hanging around waiting for the photographer to get his lighting right, or the hairdresser to achieve just that level of mussed-up naturalness, or the make-up artist to work whatever laborious magic it takes to make the scrofulous, hungover teenage model who overslept and rolled in three hours late into someone half-appealing looking.
Has anyone else gone to great lengths to get a great shot?

Once my team and I tried to sneak onto the famous Tokyo Rainbow bridge, and we were chased out by a pack of 6 security guards who called the police (we ran off before they showed up!)

I`ve also had shoots where we were nearly eaten alive by mosquitos, using sleeveless chiffon dresses in minus temperature with snow, sandstorms...

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04-08-2008
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Great topic!

Well, lets see:

* I've worked on shoots where we stood knee deep in creek water, or in the surf, dodging waves.
* We were once chased off a mountain by a park maintenance guy who was screaming at us that we were committing a sex crime (the models were modestly draped ... not entirely nude), then he would not allow the models to get dressed be cause he followed us in his truck.
* We've snuck into a fenced area around a canal in the desert and posed the model on the slipery concrete slopes of the canal in a bikini, and it was winter and a storm was brewing. Several of us slid and got our feet wet ... there is nothing to grab at all... and we were fearful of sliding all the way in to the icy water.
* We've gotten lost after dark in the dessert on a series of dirt roads and could not find the main road.
* We've shot in the sun at 110 degrees with no shade.
* Climbed up and down a 100 foot cliff several times for one shoot.
* I've climbed a tree, to to arrange the model's wardrobe.
* We've worked right on active train tracks ... several trains came by, not to mention railroad security, but they let is stay there when they figured out that we would actually move off the tracks when a train came. Duh!
* Not to mention all the times we have worked in the middle of busy streets ... one member of the crew is assigned to let us know when cars were coming behind us.

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Last edited by BetteT; 04-08-2008 at 02:26 PM.
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04-08-2008
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sounds like...... fun.....

eaten by mosquitos must be the worst thing ever. (having been to China qute often, i'm traumatized by them)

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04-08-2008
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Cool stuff, I wonder the contemporary fashion photographers would go to such lengths for a great shot. Hmm.

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04-08-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by surrealseven View Post
Cool stuff, I wonder the contemporary fashion photographers would go to such lengths for a great shot. Hmm.
Yes they would! It all depends on what the magazines are willing to pay. As the production costs have gone up and the publishers are trying to keep the costs down...

For a serious photographer "the only" thing that matters is the picture and not the circumstances. Every pro photographer would go any length for the desired result.

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27-10-2008
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the first one is amusing, because the photographer could have very easily laid down on the sand to get the exact same perspective...but I suppose when you have the power to boss your assistants around and have them dig you a 5 foot deep hole...why bother getting sandy?

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27-10-2008
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How true!!! Ego at work here or what?

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28-10-2008
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For school I have done a shoot on train tracks before but you can hear them first so that is not a big deal. I have made a model stand on some jagged rocks and stairs can be more dangerous than you think. Really cold water at the beach can make your friend/model mad very fast it was like 70 out but the water was about 60 and she was wearing a full length dress so it was extra cold when it got wet.

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