How Does Shooting Swimwear in Winter Actually Work? A Curve Model Spills the Tea


Fashion calendars plan far ahead. In Autumn/Winter, you shoot for the following Spring/Summer and the in Spring/Summer, you’re already thinking about the next seasons. It’s this way so that brands have their seasonal campaigns ready to go at the start of every season.

This means that all the summer-y-looking shoots that you’ve ever seen on a billboard were almost definitely shot during the cold months. As a curve model, I’ve experienced shooting swimwear, lingerie and summer fashion in the middle of winter, and I’m going to spill the tea on how it works.

What Goes Into Planning a Fashion Campaign?

Heaps of work goes into curating a campaign, so it can take months to plan and execute. There’s the initial coming up with the campaign concept, such as colour palette, theme, location, imagery and name. Then, there’s the casting process; finding the right models to fit into the brand’s vision, as well as the right photographer, stylist, hair and make-up.

When casting, brands also have team connectivity in mind. This just basically means that they really want to make sure that everyone works well together and gets along, so that not only will they produce the best outcome, but also bring good energy when they come together and work.

From my experience working on campaign shoots, they often go across multiple days. Campaigns are almost always shot on location, which means the entire team and models travel together to the location, stay together and eat meals together. While there are always new faces at every job you do as a model, having a team that works well together and brings positive and cohesive energy makes such a difference.

On a recent campaign shoot I did, that was on location on the coast of Newcastle, the photographer was really incredible. He and his lighting assistant worked super well together, which meant minimal stress in an environment that can be unpredictable, and he also exuded humble and warm energy.

It just made me feel so at ease and able to be free and creative with my movement. It’s incredible the amount of difference a photographer like this can make. I’ve had my fair share of moody photographers, and they truly make you feel unmotivated to work; or as though you’re the problem. This is just one example of why it’s so important to have a good team working together, especially on campaign shoots.

How Does Wearing Swimwear on Set in Winter Work?

As models, we’re constantly putting our bodies on the line for our work. Whether it’s climbing up a wall of rocks to perch for the perfect shot, conquering a fear of heights to stand on a cliff face, or dipping our bodies into freezing cold water in the middle of winter. It’s all part of the job.

Many swimwear brands shoot their main summer campaigns towards the end of winter, so that they’re ready for a summer release. This means that not only do us models have to wear bathers, but we have to go swimming in them! Swimwear campaigns are always outdoors, usually somewhere along the coast. Occasionally, they’re shot at a location with a swimming pool, which is obviously way better for us; as the water is heated.

Essentially, it goes like this: we’ll put on the bathers, then wrap ourselves up in layers of jumpers, puffers and robes and make our way the spot we’re shooting. The photographer will take some test shots of us — with our layers still on — so that they can get the light right. When they’re ready, we take our layers off, get into position and start taking shots. We aim to get “the shot” as quickly as possible, and then there’s someone there with our warm layers and a hot water bottle or wheat pack to keep us warm in between shots.

If the brand wants shots in the water — whether that be in a pool or the ocean — they usually wait until the end of the day to get those shots; as they don’t want to mess up our hair and makeup too early, but also because they’re the coldest shots of the day. They try to only get you in the water if they really need to, with maybe one or two looks, because once you’ve gone in, it’s quite hard to warm back up again.

On a good day, you’ll do you water shots and then head straight back to the hotel and have a hot shower. Sometimes, the hair stylist will bring a wireless hairdryer to dry your hair on the spot; which helps massively.

It’s really not a glamorous part of the job, TBH. It’s such a strange experience, to be so uncomfortably cold but to have to pretend as though you’re not; otherwise it will show in your facial expression. I’m still surprised when I look at the camera after we’ve taken the shot, to see that it looks like summer and I look warm — which is really the opposite of how I feel.

How Do Models Prepare for Swimwear Shoots in Winter?

Every model has a different process. For me, I make sure I bring my own hot water bottle or wheat bag — in case the team doesn’t have one. I also make sure to bring a big thermals with me, so that I can sip on a hot tea throughout the day.

I’m also pretty big on not pushing my body, if it feels wrong. I ask for breaks when I feel I need them and I’m vocal about how I’m feeling. I find that people are super considerate and caring if you’re honest with them, and everyone is always aware of the temperature and do their best to keep you warm.

At the end of the day, it’s all part of the job of being a model. You don’t have to take part in these kinds of shoots to be a model, and some models really can’t handle the cold. And that’s okay. It’s just all about doing what you’re comfortable with.

Now that I’ve spilt the tea, you won’t be able to unsee it: every model looking radiant and summery on a big billboard in a bikini; is freezing her tits off.

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