Behind the Scenes

The sewing emergency I got called in for last week expanded into joining the set of a photoshoot today. We had done whatever sewing was necessary on this ball gown and designed it to be pinned in place once on the model.

I love working with raw silk: you can practically press seams with your fingers, it holds a crisp shape and can be modeled into place almost like clay, it tears with perfect straight lines, and it automatically adds at least 60% more luxury to any design.


We made this dress about 4 feet extra long for draping purposes:


Every time anyone moved, we double-checked the dress’s folds and re-draped, especially the fabric dropping down between the two dudes, as it kept riding up to show the box she was standing on.

About 500 shots later:


I also got to shorten Salome’s dress and to soil Cinderella’s washrag and kerchief. Everyone on set was surreally beautiful. It was hard not to stare, and I kept wondering how some of these people passed for human someplace like a Starbucks.


It takes a village:

Coming from someone who has like 2 makeup tricks up her sleeve, I don’t know how the stylist did this and did such different looks on everyone. Cinderella started out with that clever “I’m not wearing makeup” look that requires tons of makeup to accomplish for a photoshoot, then at the client’s request, was dolled up further, but still with a balance between glam and poor-girl.

In A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, David Foster Wallace opens with an essay about being a relatively successful regional tennis competitor in his youth. Later in the book, he describes his realization that the worst pro tennis player is still so many light years ahead of him it’s like a completely different sport. This is also true of photography. I can take pretty good amateur photos with my pretty good amateur camera. I’ll get a handful of great shots and several more good shots. My philosophy when I don’t have a feel for the subject is “first, do no harm:” at the very least, I can take a whole sim card full of inoffensive shots, and they will do what they need to.

Intricate use of lighting and all the props that modify it in so many subtle ways make a shot really pop. A great amateur photographer and a pro are barely the same animal.

1 thought on “Behind the Scenes

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