Once upon a time in a land far far away, I was arriving on set for what was to be a fashion campaign for Hazelton Lanes a.k.a Yorkville Village. I’s were dotted and T’s were crossed, everything was falling into place as planned. Little did I know that a sinister force called the weather was about to cast an evil spell on my production, and throw me one of the hardest curveballs I’ve ever been met with.
Working in the elements can be unpredictable, to say the least, and whenever you read a weather forecast take it with a grain of salt. Forecasters lie more than a Presidential Candidate. Always have a backup plan no matter how sure you are of things. So, I’m sure you are wondering, how did this little on set adventure unfold?
It all started as I had mentioned earlier, I was hired to shoot a fashion advertisement campaign for Hazelton Lanes. The original concept had us shooting in a quarry an hour West of Toronto, with a fantastic team, and one of my favourite Canadian models who was at the time living in New York. We had everything and anything you could possibly think of needing, trailers, smoke machines, clothing being shipped in, generators, a catering service, the works. It was pretty epic. The original plan had us finishing all shots that day, as our model had to fly back to New York the following day. I’m sure you can imagine there was a bit of a time crunch.
Our day started at 6am when we arrived on location. We set everything up as quickly as possible.
After hair and makeup was done we snuck in a few light tests to get the look and quality we were after.
Our model then headed to get dressed. It was that moment when the unforgiving curveball was thrown. Just as we were about to get the first shot of the day the floodgates opened and a torrential downpour began. I have never hated the meteorology profession more in my entire life, 0% p.o.p. and sunny forecasts were met with more downpour and cloud than I had ever seen. At what point do we just put on a blindfold and play a meteorologically adapted pin the tail on the donkey?
Panic ensues. We had some pretty expensive, defiantly not waterproof equipment. Our model was being sent home in less than 24 hours. If we rebooked everything the client would have to pay double for the same production, and we had spent several hours setting up already, time was melting away faster than mascara in the rain.
Quickly improvising we packed the entire set up and hit the road. We were on route to Hazelton Lane’s parking garage 3rd level. It was covered, no amount of rain could get to us short of a flood, and it had enough space for us to work.
After figuring out all the necessary logistical alterations we began re-working hair and makeup at 4pm.
A wee bit later than our 7 am projection, with a long list of shots that we had to get in before our model’s flight back home, you could feel the pressure. A few crew members and I decided a coffee was needed before the mall closed, giving us the extra jolt to power through and stay on our toes.
This is the point where if our day was a movie or fairy tale, the original hurdle was already overcome and it looks like smooth sailing through to the end, but then things take another dramatic and unpredictable turn. We get our coffees and head back to the parking garage, as we get in the elevator, the doors shut and we start moving. Almost as quickly, the lights flicker and the elevator stops. That’s right, as soon as everything starts going our way we get stuck in an elevator. To make matters worse one of the crew members had an intense case of claustrophobia and more specifically a fear of getting stuck in an elevator. I start looking around trying to see if I can use the elevator as a plan C for our location shoot… Maybe I can use the soft LED lights as my main light, maybe use the buttons as a wonderful out of focus background… I realized my only way to get this shoot to happen was to figure out how to crawl or pry my way out of that small box. After at least 5 minutes, which felt more like an hour, the lights flicker and the elevator begins to move again. We get back to set a little more on edge, but none the less ready to get down to work.
We powered through the first 5 shots, and our 4th or 5th coffee each. Everything was moving, we were all exhausted, but we were having fun.
At around 11pm, everyone was really feeling the effects of the days’ adventures. One of my assistants seemed to be taking things particularly hard. They walked past a lighting stand and somehow knocked it over. By some conjuring of my own inner ninja, I managed to sprint over and catch it, right before it hit the ground. After this series of events, I have never felt so lucky in my entire life. We had to that point overcome every worst case scenario that could have possibly happened.
We wrapped up at 1-1:30am. The client was relieved and a bit shocked, that we fit everything in. Later on it turned into amazement, all the images turned out better than anyone could have foreseen.
It looks like this fairy tale day had a happy ending after all.
Just another day in the office, as a Toronto Fashion Photographer.