It was a funny thing to be shooting in New York City, as it was only the second shoot that I had done in the past 15 years. I was really nervous. The first one was for our first lookbook which I shot in Bali only a month before.
All the time that I was a professional photographer in Sydney I had always dreamed of doing a fashion shoot in the streets of New York – and there I was, 20 years later, after I had given up my career – actually doing a shoot in New York City! Life is funny like that. It’s always full of surprises and eventually I’m finding that your dreams do come true.
It was really great to be back with my old crew Susan Joy the stylist and Manami the make-up artist. We used to work together all the time in Sydney and to be reunited after 20 years felt fantastic – absolutely amazing! So coming from Sydney into New York, never having shot there before, I had no idea of the protocol. I turned up and rang the agencies, but of course nobody knew who I was so nobody answered my emails or put my phone calls through. I rang around to everybody I know in New York and had no luck with an introduction. It was two days before the shoot was scheduled and I was getting absolutely desperate. I didn’t have a model, I didn’t have a location, and Susan needed to know so she would have time to get all the clothing.
That night an amazing coincidence happened. My friend Cynthia, who started the Green School in Bali with her husband John Hardy, gave me a call and invited me to dinner. She wanted to introduce me to a female photographer she thought I would like. I turned up to Cynthia’s amazing apartment in the upper west side and I met a wonderful older woman called Isabella Ginanneschi. She had worked as an art director with all of the top photographers from all around the world in the 80s and the 90s – all of the names of those photographers that I had seen growing up in Vogue and Elle, she had worked with them all. She is now an amazing photographer in her own right and is very well known in New York, so I told her about my dilemma. The next day she rang one of the best agencies in New York and secured me an introduction. When I rang the next day I got put through straight away and found our wonderful model Andreia. It’s very much a case of not what you know but who you know in New York City.
The next thing I didn’t realise is that most advertising shoots that take place in NYC have a production manager who pulls the whole thing together. I of course in my typical Aries fashion just took everything on a did it myself. I had no idea of what I was meant to be doing or not doing, so I pretty much pulled off the impossible apparently, which was coming from the other side of the world with no permits in place to shoot on the streets with no production manager to organise everything, which was unheard of! Susan was amazed that I was able to bring it all together in 3 days, and so was I.
Now that I had found the model, all I had to do was find the location. I contacted a friend of mine who I met at Burning Man, who I knew had an amazing penthouse overlooking the skyline of New York City. I went up to her apartment with my daughter and had a look and she very kindly offered me the use of it all day, which was incredible because we were able to spread out all the clothes through her kitchen and living room and use her apartment pretty much from 8am to 8pm which was an absolute godsend!
Shooting was like riding a bike, I picked it up very easily and absolutely adored the energy of shooting again! It was very difficult shooting in the streets because of course there were so many people. I was shooting with a really long lens (a 300mm), so the model was very far away and she couldn’t hear what I was saying. We had to have a runner relaying messages between me and the model. Our model was fantastic. She worked so hard – the shoes were so high and she was on her feet all day, so that by the end of the afternoon she actually could hardly walk and had red and swollen feet. She did an amazing job.
I was really thrilled with the results and just felt in my element to be photographing again and I’m so very grateful for all the people that came together to help the day be such a success.
Breaking the Rules
At one point during the day the police came up and asked me what I was doing. They don’t like people doing professional shoots on the streets of New York city without a permit. I then told him that I was from Australia and that the shots were for the Australian market and I guess he thought we were so far away we’re not worth worrying about and left us to it. We were so lucky as he could’ve shut our shoot down. That was the only trouble really we had all day. It was actually pretty amazing in retrospect what I managed to pull together and what we got away with.
I was definitely a Rebel that day, I broke so many rules. I even broke rules I didn’t even know were there!
I photographed where I wasn’t meant to photograph, I did it in a fashion that broke all the protocols and all the rules of how people deal with agencies and I was bold enough to shoot in the streets of New York City with out a permit. I realised that I’m in my element when I’m breaking rules and pushing boundaries and doing things my way! It felt really empowering and really fantastic.
I’m not ashamed to say that I love breaking rules, it’s so much fun!
When have you broken the rules? Leave a comment below and tell me!
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