A photo shoot for a Drysdales catalog is lot more complex than handing a model a bag of clothes and saying: “Put these on and I’ll snap your picture.”
Planning begins up to a year in advance. That’s when Drysdales’ buyers go to fashion trade shows across the country and determine what apparel we’ll sell.
Clothing samples from manufacturers start arriving at Drysdales’ HQ a few weeks before a catalog shoot. They’re first given to a local cleaning service, which ensures they’re wrinkle-free and the pleats stay in place.
One morning a few days before a shoot, women’s clothing buyer Stace Allen, jewelry buyer Deanah Drake, and advertising and graphic designer Dana Cookson gather in the lobby of Drysdales’ main office.
They stand amid racks of clothing, plastic containers filled with jewelry, duffel bags stuffed with belts, and rows of fancy western boots on a table. Natural light streams through the lobby’s huge windows, but the women chose this area to organize the photo shoot for a more practical reason – it’s the largest room in the complex.
The trio is “bagging” – selecting clothes and jewelry the professional models will wear, then placing them in individual garment bags. On a table sit small stacks of Photo Shoot Request sheets for each model – Angie, Ashley, Cassie and Jenna, in this case.
The women already know each model’s size, and also select apparel on the basis of skin tone, hair, body type, and other factors. Stace tries to find jeans that go best with certain tops. Deanah picks the jewelry based on a shirt’s color and how much would be visible. Dana makes suggestions throughout and helps with sorting.
Dana tapes a completed photo request form onto each garment bag after it’s filled. Even so, they make changes on the fly. On this day , Deanah receives a new shipment of large cross necklaces. The jewelry is so striking and large (“It will pop out more in the photo”), they swap necklaces and write new instructions on the form.
The trio pepper each other with questions and comments as they sort:
- “What kind of earrings should she be wearing?”
- “I think Cassandra is the only who will fit in that.”
- “What shirts are going underneath the necklace?”
- “Do you think she’s too young-looking for that?”
Stace notes that one supplier’s samples still haven’t arrived. She makes a call on her cell phone and requests the apparel be FedExed overnight.
The women also note that one pair of jeans appears very small – too small for even the slimmest model. But the petite Stace quickly tries on the jeans, and they fit. She’ll model those jeans for the shoot. It’s not big deal; she’s done this before.
The women finish sorting and bagging nearly 100 pieces of women’s apparel in about two hours. A few samples still need to arrive, but their work is essentially done until the photo session.
That afternoon, men’s clothing buyer Leighan Gearhart and Dana sort and bag the men’s clothing. It proves to be a less-complicated job because no jewelry is involved. The two male models assigned to the shoot also will wear only black or brown boots. Plus, most of the clothes used are current top-sellers, not new apparel.
Sorting the men’s apparel takes barely an hour. Except for a few samples still scheduled to arrive, all the preparations are set until shooting day.