Note from the KeraGirls: International Creative Team Member Abraham Sprinkle gives us the play-by-play of an editorial shoot for a big-guns magazine in late 2014.
Every session artist dreams of having an editorial in one of the heavy-hitter publications, so when I received an email from a photographer with whom I had worked asking me to be on the team for Vogue Taiwan, I was ecstatic.
Though editorial is the most creative and most valuable for your portfolio, it is also the least paid. So, when you are asked to participate in something of this stature, you must take into account the out-of-pocket expenses that may not get covered with a below-average day rate. This is no different from a newbie in the salon industry who buys expensive shears. In the end, you consider this opportunity an investment—when clients see the work in your portfolio or on your website, it puts you at a higher level as an artist.
Session artists can offset the expenses with something called “gratis.” This is basically getting a pull letter from the photographer (a letter with the magazine’s letterhead and all who will be on set), and then having a company supply you with products. What’s in it for them? Credits. It’s like having that one client who always brings you in new great clients. These are the ones we go the extra mile for, as we know pampering them will have a return.
Diary of an editorial session for Vogue Taiwan
I am on the train heading to Chinatown where the studio is located. I have two choices. Choice A: take a direct train and walk about seven blocks. Choice B: make a transfer and walk about three blocks. Well, after I lift my 70-pound hair kit, I decide a transfer will be the smarter choice. Wrong, wrong, and wrong. As I exit the first train, I realize the second train is two flights up. No worries, there is a elevator … and the sign says “Elevator out of service.” I start sweating just imagining the hike.
I arrive at the location with muscle spasms and heavy breathing. As I stand on the street trying to catch my breath, I am confused as to why about four cab drivers keep asking where I need to go? I soon look around to discover that the studio is on the second floor of the Chinatown tour bus that travels from Washington, D.C. to New York City once a day to help customers get their faux designer bags. RUN INSIDE.
The studio is about the size of a small hotel room minus the bathroom. Claustrophobia is setting in, and I have to remind myself the reason I am here: VOGUE …
The makeup artist and I have worked together before, so I already have a feeling of familiarity and my nerves begin to calm down.
A beautiful model walks through the door. Again I am happy, as my first gig in NYC was with her. Lan is from Vietnam and represented by Wilhelmina. She’s not only humble but extremely friendly. So far the shoot is feeling good.
At this time we are supposed to be finishing up the first look. Makeup and hair are complete, but the manicurist is running late. This is not uncommon as we all take public transportation to the set, and you cannot always guarantee the trains are running; still, it’s always nice when the late one is not you!
Nails are complete. The story here is cobalt blue (a popular color on runways for Fashion Week). The stylist is pulling clothes from Dolce & Gabbana, Roberto Cavalli, and Christian Siriano (of Project Runway fame), to name a few.
As the photographer is shooting, we are having to shuffle to give room for the model to move around in the hotel-room-sized studio. By “we,” I mean myself (hair), makeup artist, stylist, stylist assistant, manicurist, videographer, photographer, photographer assistant, model, studio manager, and her 1-pound Chihuahua. Again I have to remind myself that this is for VOGUE.
By this time the shoot is wrapped up, and all have parted ways. We leave with smiles, as the outcome will be incredible images for all participants to move farther in their journey within the fashion world.
Since I have decided to dive headfirst into the session-work side of the industry, I constantly am reminded of the similarities with my life as a salon professional. I can remember building my clientele and investing in my craft. Early in my career, I saved tips to buy tickets for education events and shows. At that time I was scraping by and my chair wasn’t constantly full, but I knew in the end these investments would pay off later in my life. I have come full circle and am going through these same tests. The great thing is, I still remember some of the answers …