This Is What It’s Like to Shoot an On-Location Campaign as a Curve Model
I work as a curve model, and also get excited for campaign shoots — because they’re pretty rare. In the Australian fashion industry, our most frequent work (as models over a size 10) is for what we call “ecomm”, short for e-commerce, which is less creative than shooting for a campaign.
This is an example of an “ecomm” shoot I did for Sportsgirl:
Below, though, is a campaign shoot I did for Marle. The campaign shoot creates the hero images you see in store windows, on billboards on buildings, in stores and shopping malls. They’re usually the main image on a brand’s website when that particular collection is live. In short, campaign shoots are the thematic shoots that go with a new collection. They’re the visual mood-board of the collection that gives buyers an understanding of what the latest collection is all about.
Campaigns are the most fun because, again, you get to be creative. You get to work with other models, are often in new and exciting environments and sometimes even get to play a character.
Personally, I find campaign shoots the most rewarding. It’s more about the vibe than the amount of photos, so the photographer and creative director often spend more time getting the mood right than worrying about how many photos they have. This means that the photos turn out really nice; it’s quality over quantity.
This morning, I flew back from Newcastle, from a location shoot for an Australian brand’s 2022 Spring Collection and I thought it would be fun to run you through what a day in the life of a curve model on a location shoot looks like.
The night before…
4:00pm: Arrive in Newcastle and meet up with the team (who were all on my flight). Collect all of our luggage, which contains clothes, make up and camera equipment, and bustle out of the regional airport looking like absolute divas.
5:00pm: Arrive at the hotel. It looks like something straight out of The Hamptons, by much quieter (obviously).
5:05pm: We find our way to reception, check-in and ask for food. They say the kitchen is closed but can make us pizzas. We say “yes, please”.
6:00pm: Return to our rooms post-pizza for a nap. I jump online and wrote some articles for POPSUGAR Australia. (I’m a Lifestyle Writer for the site.)
7:00pm: Dinner with the team. There’s me, the creative director, marketing manager and two hair and make-up artists. The other model’s family lives in Newcastle, so she’s spending the night with them and joining us in the morning. We meet back at the restaurant. Everyone’s pretty tired, but it’s nice to get to know everyone before the shoot. Halfway through dinner the lighting assistant arrives, who is the kind of sexy older man I used to dream about marrying when I was younger (that’s a whole other article). The photographer arrives a bit after and is a total Byron Bay dream boat. Everyone’s energy is super warm and nice, and I begin to look forward to the shoot.
9:00pm: We head back to our rooms. I have a shower and groom session, which involves cleansing, shaving, moisturising and doing my nails. I also put on a hydrating face mask because are you even a model if you don’t!? I also write another article.
11:00pm: Bedtime. I do a sleep meditation and have one of the best sleeps of my life.
The day of the shoot…
7:30am: Wake up and wash hair (it’s always good for it to be clean to be styled properly). Go downstairs for breakfast. They have a fresh DIY juicer! I have a carrot, apple and ginger juice and a double espresso.
8:00am: Get hair and make-up done. The marketing manager of the brand has booked a big suite in the hotel room for us to use. Make-up and hair usually takes around two hours, but it’s so therapeutic and nice. I don’t know if having my hair and make-up done will ever get old, TBH. The other model arrives.
10:30am: We start shooting. The team is super organised and has a shot list of what we need to do. The talent is me and one other model, so they alternate between us doing solo shots, and some together. When they cast models together, they usually get models that look quite different, to show the brand on different looks. For this campaign, I was paired with a model slightly taller than me, blonde, with an athletic body, while I’m curvy and dark-haired. We’re told the brief is “two best friends on holiday on the coast”, so a lot of our shots together are us laughing, interacting and having fun together — which can be super awkward, but we had good vibes, so it was actually really easy.
We start on the beach, and it’s freezing. I’m wearing a linen shift dress, and the other model is wearing a short-sleeved top and shorts. We huddle inside her huge fluffy coat together, while we wait for the photographer and lighting assistant to set up the shots. This happens in between each photo, with the additional little jig on the spot to warm up.
1:30pm: Everyone is in a super chill mood. The tunes are flowing, we’re taking some great shots and then we agree it’s time for lunch. Most of us eat a Thai beef salad, while some opt for the chicken burger. I’m a bit out of it at lunch because I’m trying to plan a dinner for my parents coming down to visit me in Melbourne next week, and my boyfriend has just texted me that our schedules aren’t lining up. I shake it off.
2:00pm: Immediately after lunch, we’re back to shooting. The hotel is on a pier, with yachts, private beaches and cute boardwalks, so we’re moving along the path throughout different locations. We started on the beach in the morning, and have now moved to a spot in front of some expensive-looking yachts. Our outfits are very rich-ladies-enjoying-life and I feel like it suits me (lol). The clothes are fab, but we’re still cold, as we’re shooting clothes meant for spring. In between each shot, we put on a jacket or a robe to stay warm. It’s pretty amazing what the art of photography does, as the photos look as though it could be 35 degrees outside. Let me assure you, it’s not.
We take photos on a rocky pier, climbing the rocks to get in the right position for a good photo. We scramble up in our summer-y maxi dresses, trying not to ruin any of the clothes and also not hurt ourselves in the process. Sometimes location shoots can be a little scary when they want to perch in a precarious spot, or put your body on the line with temperature and conditions, so you’ve just got to be willing to get involved. Of course, they never make you do anything really dangerous or that makes you uncomfortable, and these guys were especially cautious — standing with their arms out in case we needed help — but it can put your adventurous instincts to the test sometimes.
4:00pm: It’s a race against the sun. We have three more shots to get in three different outfits, and we want to catch them all before the sun goes down at 4:56pm. This happens at every location shoot; everything is calm until the sun starts to set, and we go into full adrenaline-fuelled rush mode. Funnily enough, the best shots always happen within this final hour. I’m not sure whether it’s the light — nothing beats that warm, glowly sunset rays — or whether it’s because we’re in a rush so just pull out all stops.
I’m in my final look of the day and it’s my favourite; I feel like a goddess posing on textural rocks with the sun setting in the background. Everyone is yelling out “Beautiful!” “Gorgeous!” “Oh this looks stunning!” “Yep, perfect!” “Wow!” “Maybe we can try some of you walking?” “Arms up?” “No down is better…” “…that little smile was so nice…” It’s total creative chaos and I love it.
4:56pm: The sun sinks into the water, taking its glow with it. Everyone cheers and claps and hugs. Someone calls “That’s a wrap!”. “Yep, we definitely got it,” the photographer tells me, “Come look.” I go over to the monitor, which is synced up with his camera and he shows the photos on a bigger screen. They look gorgeous and I feel a sense of pride, knowing I’ve done my job well. I don’t even look cold! It’s magic.
5:30pm: We get back to the hotel suite and pack everything up. The team have got a studio shoot the next day and so we’re staying in a hotel closer to their studio location. We jump in the car and head to the new hotel, which is an hour away.
7:00pm: Once we’ve all checked in and had a moment to pause, we meet downstairs for dinner. It’s the best meal we’ve had over the past 24 hours. The previous resort’s restaurant was stunning, but slightly old-school — this lamb rillette, heavy shiraz and white collared waiters. This hotel has a modern pub attached, with a neon-lit courtyard and a delicious special of barramundi, roast potatoes and beans. We drink a few bottles of wine and get to know a little more about each other. Everyone is super relaxed now, the hard work is done, and we’ve been working together all day. We talk about previous jobs and celebrities we’ve met/worked with and didn’t like, and share funny stories. There’s lots of laughter. Location shoots feel a bit like school camp, except you often don’t know the people you’re working with before you get there. I feel super lucky that this shoot was so friendly and brought good energy. I met some truly memorable people and went somewhere I wouldn’t go otherwise; which is a pretty incredible opportunity to get to experience for work.
9:30pm: We go up to our rooms and give each other goodnight/goodbye hugs, kisses and nice-to-meet-you’s. I have to get up at 4:00am to be on a 6:00am flight back to Melbourne, so I shower and go straight to sleep. It’s been a whirlwind 24 hours and I wouldn’t have it any other way.