When I first started this blog, my idea of a "professional photoshoot" involved a bathroom mirror, fluorescent lighting, and a mediocre camera. Things have come a long way since then and though I've done plenty of shoots for other brands, the one for our Cupcakes and Cashmere Shop launch was the first that we were in charge of. It was a full-scale production that required an entire team and one very jet-lagged "model" (we'd returned from Japan just 36 hours before).
On set, we had a professional photographer, stylist, florist, management and editorial team, and hair and makeup artists. At any given moment, our prop stylist was setting scenes up two looks ahead, while Leslie hung each outfit for me on the bathroom so all I had to do was run in and do a quick change, while our photographer staged and lit each look in between shots. As our background, my manager Hilary graciously offered us her childhood home in Brentwood (so yes, her parents were also part of the host of people there!). Since I wasn't able to share any behind-the-scenes moments on my Instagram Stories the day-of (we wanted to keep everything under-the-radar before the big reveal!), I thought it'd be fun to share here what a photoshoot really looks like, starting with coffee:
9:01 am - I arrive on set to find that Leslie, Lisa, our merchandiser, and Paige, part of our management team, are already at the house—and they've brought coffee. I'm so jet-lagged (I'd finally fallen asleep the night before at 3am) that I'm thrilled when I first see it and then have to be reminded five minutes later to actually drink it. I bring it over and sit down with the hair and makeup team, Nicolas and Phoebe, where our team has set up a haphazard "home base" in our manager's childhood dining room.
9:16 am - While Phoebe and Nicolas get to work—I actually don't think she could have put more coverup on my under-eye circles, but she miraculously made me look bright-eyed and awake—the rest of the team gets set unpacking boxes of home goods and steaming clothes. By the time they're done, the entire dining room table is covered with items from the Shop—lamps, vases, and handkerchiefs.
10:07 am - On our way to our first shot outside, a garden scene on a bench, my manager Hilary points out the childhood pictures of herself on the wall. The girl really knew how to rock a headband. Since Elizabeth, our prop stylist, has already set out the flowers, all I have to do is arrive at the bench for the photos—which ended up looking beautiful!
10:31 am - For my next shot, I slip into my manager's parents' bed, as one does. We try to get the shot a few times, with a marble lamp and a newspaper, but it isn't quite working. I feel like the newspaper doesn't feel authentically me since I've never hopped into bed with the morning's paper—but I will grab my computer first thing in the morning, so we try that. Everything in their bedroom is neutral and the shot is very much in need of some color, so we swap in a pink lamp, some flowers, and a bowl of berries from that morning's breakfast. Since we didn't have the correct pillows at the time of the shoot, we added those in later with some Photoshop magic!
11:33 am - At this point, we're already onto our fifth look—and one of my favorites of the day—Ripley Rader pants and a white crop top. What we didn't realize is that the sample of pants we'd received were the perfect size, except that they were about six inches too long, so we had to improvise. I stood very still while Leslie used some fashion tape she borrowed from Phoebe to secure the pants. When I received the final photos, I realized I was genuinely laughing in every single one over the minor pant fiasco.
11:53 am - It isn't even noon, but I'm already starving since I accidentally skipped the bagel spread for breakfast. Thinking pretty much exclusively about lunch at this point.
12:40 pm - When I looked back at these shots of this Mina dress later, I literally couldn't remember taking them. We were working so quickly that most of the morning was a blur. [Leslie's note: Emily mentioned that she'd be jet lagged but it wasn't until I saw her physically shaking while taking these photos that I realized the extent of it!]
1:00 pm - Photo shoots are overwhelming and exhausting, so when my best friend Cristina came by for lunch, seeing her completely breathed new life into the day. (My favorite Chinese chicken salad from California Chicken Café didn't hurt, either.)
1:40 pm - Ever since I started taking professional photographs semi-regularly, I've learned that the vibe of the photographer affects the vibe of the entire shoot. Luckily, our photographer Emma—who I'd never worked with before—had such a laid-back vibe that I never felt stressed or anxious, despite the huge volume of photos we had to tackle.
2:04 pm - Often, a photographer will give me direction like "Look to the right and laugh," and most of the time I'm not actually looking at anything, but in this case, my manager Paige was standing just out of view of the camera, so in the final photo, I'm actually staring adoringly at her.
2:33 pm - I run back up to the master bedroom to take some photos "getting ready," with our jewelry brand, Shashi.
2:53 pm - At this point, it felt like we'd been shooting for days and must be near to the end. I just remember asking our merchandiser Lisa, "How many outfits do we have left?" And her answering, "Fourteen!" That's the number we'll sometimes do in an entire shoot day so I was convinced she was kidding until I saw her face and the clothing rack and realized she was completely serious.
3:05 pm - This "birthday party" setup was my favorite look of the entire day—we ended up using it as the homepage image for the site's launch! It just felt so fun and full of my favorite things we carry on the site. I love that the BTS shot here shows how many people are behind any given shot—it truly takes a village.
3:55 pm - At a certain point, we were all so tired that we began to feel a little hysterical. When we started shooting a sweater tank by a tree that reminded me a little too much of a high school yearbook photo, I could not stop laughing. Immediately after we got the actual shot, our prop stylist came out with a very well-timed concoction they'd made from lime La Croix, pomegranate juice, and lime slices. It was delicious and so refreshing!
4:15 pm - Since we were losing light and still had several outfits to post, we went into over-drive at this point. Within forty-five minutes, I was in two evening dresses, a dress in the kitchen, a casual jeans and top outfit, and a jumpsuit.
5:00 pm - Without enough light to continue shooting, we called it a day. Our hair stylist, Nicolas, went upstairs with the owner of the house to give her a blowout as a small thank you and we packed everything up in record time.