When I received an email informing me that I was the winner of Mochi magazine’s Beauty and Fashion Consultation Contest, my initial reaction was that of frenzied excitement, followed immediately by extreme anxiety. Had I ever done a professional photo shoot? No. Had I modeled? No. Would I get nervous and make bad fashion choices in front of a bunch of experts? Probably.
After traveling to New York City’s We The People Fashion Collective and spending the day with Stephanie (editor-in-chief), Christine (deputy editor), Brandie (photographer/photo editor), and Liz (hair and makeup artist), I realized I had nothing to be afraid of. They were all incredibly friendly and taught me the world about beauty, fashion and the skill it takes to stage a fashion shoot.
If I had to condense the day into three big lessons, it would be the following:
1. It’s easiest to pick one piece of clothing and build an outfit around it. There have been times when I have to run out the door at 6 a.m. and don’t have the mental energy to come up with a dazzling get-up. The best dressing tip I learned was to take it one step at a time: Start by choosing something that defines my mood, whether it’s a knit scarf or a frilly blouse, and then add pieces one at a time until the look is finished. There are two benefits to this: It forces me to commit to at least one piece —and if I pick one piece that I love every day, I’ll always be dressed in my style and at my best.
2. My face is my canvas. While dabbing on creamy swaths of coppery eye shadow across my lids, my adventurous makeup artist, Liz, showed me that I haven’t been taking enough risks with my own makeup. Putting on makeup is like painting. The only difference is that the canvas, one’s face, has a whole lot more bumps than a sheet of paper. That doesn’t mean I can’t play with mixing materials, shading, and color,however. I learned that if I pay attention to facial contours, the artist in me becomes unafraid to experiment.
3. I never realized how much work goes on behind the scenes of a fashion shoot. Hair and makeup were done meticulously, and changed for each of my five outfits. The clothing was beautiful, but because it was borrowed, we were constantly shielding the expensive pieces from the drizzling rain and damp streets. Outdoor sets switched after every outfit change as well. I was so inspired after this experience that I staged my own fashion shoot featured on my blog, a week after!
In the end I learned that the best fashion shoots tell a story through its clothes, sets and photographic atmosphere—a story that’s outwardly simple, but is actually nuanced to those curious enough to figure it out. A fashion shoot spread seems polished and efficient, but little did I know that there is a careful and colorful combination of creativity, enthusiasm and talent put into its completion.