In an exclusive interview with MEGA, photographer Jan Mayo reveals glamour and grit collide for the relentless pursuit of perfection in a fashion photoshoot
Beyond the facade of glamour, there is a space where models balance on towering heels, locations play a starring role, weather becomes a fickle friend, and wardrobe malfunctions threaten to steal the show. The glossy pages of fashion magazines, the stunning ad campaigns, and the flawless runway presentations are the end results that capture our attention. However, hidden beneath the shimmering surface lies a world of intense creativity, hard work, and unexpected challenges. Photographer Jan Mayo helps us peel back the layers of glamour to reveal the gritty reality behind those images.
At the heart of any fashion photoshoot is the model, the embodiment of beauty ideals and fashion aspirations. For those gracing the pages of fashion magazines or strutting the runway, it’s a journey that demands more than just a pretty face. Behind the perfectly poised shots is a model’s endurance and dedication. Imagine hours of standing in towering heels, countless outfit changes that sometimes feel like a never-ending fashion parade, and the repetition of poses and expressions for the perfect shot.
Jan emphasizes that model selection often depends on the client’s vision and brand identity. Clients, whether they are fashion magazines or brand editors, carefully select models who resonate with their vision. He highlights the importance of choosing models that align with the project’s style, such as edginess or a particular aesthetic. “It’s the photographer’s job to translate that vision and turn it into an image that sells or an image that tells a story.”
Location, location, location
A photoshoot is as much about the location as it is about the fashion. Before the cameras start rolling, the location sets the tone for the entire photoshoot, aligning with the theme and aesthetics of the project. Often, it is presented during meetings as a vital part of the overall vision.
Jan discusses the significance of pre-production meetings and research when planning the shoot’s location. He notes that adaptability is key as conditions can change unexpectedly. It underscores the need for photographers to be resourceful and make the most of the environment, whether in a studio or on location. From gritty urban landscapes to opulent historical sites or even a decorated studio, the choice of location can elevate the entire shoot.
A photographer should be able to adapt to the environment and use it as an advantage rather than a limitation.Jan Mayo
Mother Nature: Best friend, worst enemy
Mother Nature, with her capricious temperament, can either be a photographer’s best friend or their most challenging adversary. The unpredictable weather factor is a significant variable that photographers and their teams must navigate, especially during on-location photoshoots. Natural light is a photographer’s best friend when it behaves. Its quality, direction, and intensity can drastically affect the outcome of a shoot. Paradoxically, adverse weather conditions can sometimes lead to the creation of iconic and unforgettable images. A sudden downpour can add drama and moodiness to a shot, making it stand out in a sea of predictable sunny-day photographs.
Regarding weather challenges during on-location shoots, Jan highlights the unpredictability of natural light. “This is a crucial part of a shoot because sometimes, even when you have that lighting setup in mind, space or lighting equipment can be limited.” He emphasizes the importance of having artificial lighting equipment on hand to handle varying weather conditions effectively. The unforeseeable weather factor also stresses the creative adaptability of photographers. It challenges them to think on their feet, to find innovative solutions to overcome unexpected obstacles. It pushes them to seek out new angles, unique compositions, and creative lighting techniques that can transform a potentially disastrous situation into an opportunity for artistic expression.
When we think of wardrobe malfunctions, our minds often conjure images of red carpet mishaps and celebrity faux pas splashed across tabloids—but they are not limited to red carpets. These untimely sartorial accidents have the potential to disrupt a carefully choreographed photoshoot and turn it into a chaotic scene.
When a wardrobe malfunction does occur, the ability of the creative team to respond swiftly and effectively becomes paramount. “This is where the stylist’s magic comes in,” Jan recognizes the role of stylists in addressing wardrobe malfunctions and ensuring that clothing appears flawless on camera. “When it comes to the clothes themselves, the photographer should always be on the lookout for creases, loose threads, and visible bulldog clips.” Stylists are the guardians against them, ensuring that garments fit perfectly, are in impeccable condition, and are suitable for the shoot’s demands. He also reminds photographers like himself to pay attention to details like creases and visible clips, emphasizing their significance in maintaining a polished look.
The photoshoot doesn’t end when the camera stops clicking. These raw files are like a first draft—they may have imperfections, uneven lighting, color variations, or other elements that need refinement. In the digital age, post-production plays a crucial role in enhancing and perfecting the images. This process involves editing and retouching the raw images to transform them into the final, polished masterpieces that grace the pages of magazines, billboards, and digital platforms.
Jan underscores the collaborative aspect of post-production, particularly the close partnership between the photographer and the art director. “I work hand in hand with the art director because it is important that the editing treatment is in line with the brand’s vision.” He stresses the importance of aligning the editing treatment with the brand’s outcome, showcasing the meticulous planning and coordination involved in the final stages of the photoshoot.
The glamour of fashion photoshoots may be what initially draws us in, but it’s the grit—the dedication, the creativity, and the ability to overcome challenges—that keeps this world turning. Jan shares his advice to aspiring photographers, “Do not be afraid to experiment with finding your style; it will constantly evolve, even when you are working professionally. And if you are stuck mentally and creatively, read photography books, browse online for inspiration, and consume images whenever you can.”
Behind every breathtaking image, there’s a partnership of hard work, collaboration, and yes, even a little bit of chaos. The next time you flip through a fashion magazine or scroll through a stunning Instagram post, remember that there’s more to the picture than meets the eye. Fashion photoshoots are a true blend of art and industry, where glamour and grit collide to create timeless beauty.
Photos JAN MAYO