At the beginning of last year, I wrote down some goals. Big goals. Crazy dreams. This-will-possibly-never-happen-but-im-going-to-manifest-it-anyway goals.
One of them was "photograph Coco Rocha".
Coco started a Model Camp last year, where she teaches models from all over the world all about the industry, posing, and how to strut their stuff on the runway. So in July of last year, when the camp announced that they would be inviting female fashion photographers to join their camps, I sent in an application. Later that day, I got an email back, and a private message from Coco on Instagram (WHAT), and I knew I had to take the opportunity.
I flew to New York City last November on a red-eye flight, and spent the morning walking around Manhattan watching the city wake up. I walked around Central Park, among the reds and oranges of the last of the fall leaves, and spent some time in the MET, which I try to visit every time I visit New York, and is one of my favourite places in the world. Then, I made my way to the Camp.
We were greeted on arrival by Coco and her family, and the weekend kicked off.
There were industry chats, Q&A's, photoshoots, and even a posing class, where all the photographers got to try our hands at posing, which I have to admit was pretty fun - although I think I'll stay behind the lens and leave the posing to the models! Coco's top-notch music taste kept us moving and grooving, which made it all the more fun!
The photographers (myself and Lauren and Rachel - please, check them out, they are the sweetest!) got to talk to Coco before our shoots about what we wanted the mood/vibe to be, and Coco then picked her outfit and styled herself. I wanted to go for for something light and fun, colourful and funky, and Coco delivered with a fabulous green 60's inspired dress and the white cowboy boots of my dreams. Top it all off with a bold red lip and a cute hair accessory and we were off to the races!
Here are just a few of my favourites:
Photographing Coco was a dream. She knows how to move, how to play to the camera, and how to evoke such powerful emotions. She's truly an actress as well as a model, and she made our jobs as photographers so easy and fun. I have enough images from the 20 minutes I spent photographing her to last me a full year of retouching!
One of the reasons Coco launched the photographers' part of this camp is that she wants to empower and lift up female fashion photographers. She says, in this post on Instagram, "Women photographers are at a huge disadvantage to men in our industry. The fact is that while 50% of all photography graduates are women, only 13% of fashion magazine covers are shot by women and fashion advertising is even worse, women only shoot around 5% of fashion advertising. I think it's very important that when given an option, we give more opportunities to women in photography."
Those numbers are truly staggering, and in the age of #metoo, I think it's more important than ever to empower more female photographers who young models are comfortable working around. There's so much amazing talent out there in the world- let's bring it forward!
The gratitude I feel for being given this opportunity is immense. I met 15 incredible and inspiring young women from around the world who I feel lucky to call friends now. I learned about the industry, fashion photography, and got to photograph Coco herself, which has been one of my dream career goals for as long as I can remember. (I still have to pinch myself sometimes to remind me that it wasn't all just a dream.)
Thank you so much to Coco, James and the rest of your team, as well as the fabulous girls I got to hang out with over the weekend. Working with the models that come out of this camp is truly a treat, and I can't thank Coco and James enough for making it a reality for so many beautiful women from around the world.
Happy two-year anniversary to Coco Rocha Model Camp! What you are doing is incredibly inspiring, and I hope more women are as lucky as I was to get to work with you.
MUA: Veronica Velez
Hair: Carolyn Cina