When you hear the word photo-shoot, I’m sure you think all things glamorous. Well after experiencing my very first one a couple of weeks ago, I can assure you they are a far cry from it. I knew getting into my job as a production assistant during my year abroad was not going to be easy, but I definitely underestimated how physically challenging working on a photo-shoot was going to be.
So my adventure began three weeks ago when I set off to a little cafe in the Le Marais area of Paris. There, I met up with my boss Jess who gave me my work iPhone and MacBook (I know!), while reassuring me that I was going to have a great experience despite all the hard work and that the girls and client that I would be working with were all very lovely. Any apprehension I had for the week ahead ceased. After the last couple of stressful days wheeling my suitcase all over Paris, I just couldn’t wait to sit on the train for the next four hours before I arrived at La Rochelle in western France. From the train station, I took a taxi which drove me all the way to Ile-de-Re, a little island off the west coast of France, only connected to mainland France by the Ile-de-Re bridge. I was dropped off at the village of Ars-en-Re, where one of the producers of the shoot, Sophie, met and drove me off to where we would be staying. It was this very traditional, farmhouse-like place, with a windmill in the middle of the grounds. The place was gorgeous as it was, but the weather of 25/26 degrees only made the scenery look even better. That day of my arrival was mainly spent welcoming and helping our client settle into the hotel, and making sure everyone knew what was going to happen over the next few days.
Quick snapchat on our way to greet the clients
Our home for the next few days
The next day was a preparation day for the shoot. Most of the team went of on a recce, which is a term used when the producers, photographer and everyone else involved in the actual photo-shoot go to view the locations to help plan the shoot. I was asked to stay back at the windmill and help steam the clothes for the upcoming days. I also assisted the stylist with some work and also helped unload the huge RV that contained all the production kit from Paris.
The next day was crazy hectic being the first shoot day. We started the day off early and headed down to the beach for the first shots to be taken. Although my official title is ‘production assistant,’ on days like this, my role is mainly that of a runner. To sum it up, I have to do whatever is asked of me by the producers or the client. This could include anything form taking coffee orders, checking the production suitcase for tampons (this actually happened!) or running from our location van to the set with the clothes for the next shot. On this day, I was required to drag a cart full of refreshments for the crew across the beach, set up the tables and food on location for lunch, carry the clothes back and forth form the production van to the set, as well as try to find in the place in the town of Saint-Martin that did takeaway tea and coffee (trust me, this was pretty much impossible!)
The harbour in St Martin
The second shoot day, I spent more time by myself as I was sent to search for the locations that would be used later on in the day around the village of Ars-en-Re and mark them on a map. Although I got very tired from all the walking up and down, I enjoyed this as I was finally able to explore the village, take pictures and soak it all in. I was absolutely exhausted by the end of this day and almost breathed a sigh of relief when I was told that I had to return to Paris later that day as I was needed in the office. I never expected working on a photo-shoot to bet that physically challenging, but with my prosthetic leg, it only made things a little more difficult.
The church in Ars-en-Re
The mayor’s office
The view of our place
One of the perks of my internship, is that I’ll have the opportunities to travel to some exciting places, which I probably would have never heard or even thought of visiting, such as Ile-de-Re. But at the same time, it slightly sucks that we’re so busy that you’re not really give the time or opportunity to really discover your surroundings, but I’m still grateful for this chance. I look forward to the other travel opportunities, but at the moment, I’m really hoping I’ll be needed in London for some upcoming shoots as I’m slightly homesick.