I'm very grateful to be covering 18 beautiful women in tropical Punta Cana for BR.com all week long. No one would argue that following the girls around on the beach with a camera and then blogging about it from poolside is a tedious or dreadful way to earn a living. However, I do realize that shooting a professional calendar that will rival SI's swimsuit calendar is a lot of arduous work and requires a schedule that is demanding on a lot of people—including the models.
So on Wednesday morning, I decided to skip the water aerobics and the volleyball games and the sleeping in to get a feel for what everyone else in our crew is doing with their work week. And, in doing so, I managed to take on a few extra responsibilities surrounding this calendar shoot.
My day started just a few short hours after posting my Tuesday night blog entry, as my alarm awoke me at 3:45am. (I don't know if I've ever woken up that early in my life.) There was no sign of my roommate Will, meaning he had already gotten up, showered and headed down to the hair and makeup rooms. The only thing I was able to muster the energy to do was throw on a clean shirt, shorts, and flip-flops.
By 3:55am, I was knocking on Melissa's door to walk with her to hair and makeup. Angel showed up around the same time, but she was much more chipper and ready to start her day than I was. This would be the first time that each of these girls would shoot for the calendar and they were excited to get going. Being awake and knowing that the sunrise was still two hours away did not excite me.
When we arrived at hair and makeup, I was assigned my first task of the day. There was a very large bug in the doorway and the girls needed someone to take care of it. That duty was naturally assigned to me and I quickly squished the bug and cleaned up its remnants.
The makeup artists immediately went to work on Melissa as the hair stylists began to doll up Angel's hair in the room next door. By 4:30am, our other three models for the morning—Amanda, Richelle and Sammi Jo rolled in. Amanda was prepping for her third shoot of the week and seemed a little too tired for me to be pointing a camera in her face. Richelle was a little sleepy, but smiling and definitely ready to go. Sammi Jo seemed as though she'd but awake and geared up to go for hours. She attributed to her bright liveliness to her iPod. (I could have used a listen to that playlist.)
For two hours, I ran back and forth between the makeup room and the hair room, constantly checking on the progress of each of the five girls. (I really should take this opportunity to thank makeup artist Sam who made me drink two cups of "magic coffee" that perked me up and definitely got me through the morning. By 5am, the sun still hadn't arisen, but I was much peppier.)
Something I discovered while watching the girls get their makeup done was that it really doesn't take much work to make them look stunning. We all know that these women are naturally beautiful, but I still figured that tons of makeup would be applied to their faces before each shoot. I was surprised to find out that each girl's makeup can be done in less than 20 minutes.
The hair, on the other hand, is a different story. I learned more about hair in two hours yesterday than I ever knew in my life. Seriously. An incredible amount of attention and time went into the girls' hair. And while, I was told, makeup is basically the same for everyone, each cheerleader's hair—as well as how it is styled—is distinctly unique from all the other girls on the squad.
Approaching 6:00am, the sky was starting to get brighter. All made-up and ready to shoot, Melissa and a group of hair and makeup people hustled out to the beach. The girls have been shot in various settings throughout the resort. Today's location was the beach just a short walk from our rooms.
When we hit the sand, a camera and film crew was ready and waiting for us. During this week, we've had two photographers at each shoot, as well as several members of the RAVE-TV Broadcast Dept. rolling video cameras. The cameramen begin setting up lighting and production equipment at their shoot locations before the 4am cheerleader hair and makeup calls.
The sun was rising quickly and that obviously plays a major role in the lighting (as well as the backdrop) of a shoot. So when the photographers were ready for her, there was no messing around. It was time for Melissa to do her thing!
Something I learned pretty instantly while being on the shoot is that there is no standing around for no reason. If you're on the shoot, you're working the shoot. And despite the fact that I was capturing the behind-the-scenes action with my video camera, I still had a free hand available and the photographers took advantage of it. During Melissa's shoot, I was told to hold a branch of the palm tree that she was standing in the middle of so the palms didn't completely entrap her body. I watched most of Angel's shoot from behind a large white screen as I held one of the lights in a certain position. I was even sent to fetch a beach chair that we could rest equipment on so it wouldn't get wet or sandy.
I think I expected the whole shoot to be a bit more hectic than it actually was. Our photographers are great. They scope out the scene ahead of time, discuss how they want the girl to pose, determine which angles are best and then just bring in the model and make the magic happen. It's all not as easy as it sounds but the shoot seemed to run pretty smoothly and efficiently while I was there.
After sticking around for two of the five morning shoots, I decided to head back to my room. It was 8:30am and most of my fellow Ravens employees were just on their way in to work. Five cheerleaders and our entire staff had already been awake for almost five hours!
So maybe my job is not as easy and relaxing and fun as you all probably thought! Killing gigantic bugs, holding palm tree branches and taking video of swimsuit models can be tough work. And that was just my morning! I didn't even mention the pictures I needed to take (of the girls doing water aerobics), the hours working on my laptop (next to the pool), or the off-site sponsor dinner (the lobster tail was delicious) with which I was occupied for the rest of the day. Do you realize how tired I am right now?
Video: Awake Before the Sun **