Behind the Lens: On Set With AE Part One

Behind the Lens: On Set With AE Part One

My name is Cassie and I am the Social Media Coordinator for American Eagle Outfitters. That’s me in the above picture at Solstice Canyon during our conservation volunteer project with the Student Conservation Association. I had the chance to attend the Spring 2013 photo shoot in Los Angeles to meet the real individuals who entered our Live Your Life contest last fall that you currently see in our stores and on our website.

The concept and ideas for the photo shoot begins in Pittsburgh, headquarters for American Eagle. Our creative team works across all areas of the business – from design to merchandising to marketing – to determine the story behind the season. For Spring 2013, the theme is color, individual style, and showcasing the story of our cast. Prior to the shoot, I also worked with these teams to brainstorm cool content ideas for social media and how to celebrate the real individuals in our campaign.

The Spring 2013 photo shoot took place in Los Angeles, CA so the journey began with a cross-country flight. Between my iPad, fashion magazines, Luna bars and coconut water, I was fully equipped for four hours of self-entertainment. This trip also marked my first time in LA, so I was extra excited to see a new city. I was a little nervous because like most of our cast, I did not know what to expect!

Jet lagged but excited to get to work, day one of the photo shoot starts with fittings for all the cast members. I arrived at the suite where fittings were taking place bright and early so I wouldn’t miss a thing. The room was overflowing with clothes, shoes, hats, scarves and accessories. Key looks were chosen by the merchandising teams prior to the shoot, but once they see someone’s personal style, they may adjust the outfits to better reflect it. Clothes are also tailored to look their best, so while the merchandising teams are checking out the looks, tailors are pinning and altering everything. I loved watching the casts’ reactions to their outfits and seeing our Spring styles before anyone else. I could see parts of my style reflected in our cast, but I definitely loved Emily Beth’s laid-back classic vibe and Malia’s beachy, surfer cool style.

American Eagle Outfitters model fittings

The AE Business Strategy team and AE Stylists check out Emily Beth during her Spring 2013 fitting

After everyone agrees on the outfit, shoes, and key accessories, the outfit is photographed so the stylists can quickly build the look on set. Everyone has one or two main outfits for a season and then additional looks are built out for our web guides that include Looks to Live In and the seasonal Outfit Your Fit.

American Eagle Outfitters model fittings

Malia during her Spring 2013 fitting.

During fittings, the hair styling duo of Jayson and Tuan will perfect everyone’s ‘do. Girls may get highlights, extensions, or a quick trim, while the guys may get a completely new hairstyle. Jason was in Tuan’s chair for over an hour! During downtime, some of the AE crew might even pop by for a haircut. After being on two photo shoots, Jayson and Tuan have definitely helped me perfect my hair styling!

American Eagle Outfitters model fittings

Malia and Jason get hair cuts from Jayson and Tuan, our hair team, during the Spring 2013 photo shoot.

Guys and girls both receive manicures. Typically if the manicurists have time the girls on the AE crew get their nails done too! Unfortunately during this shoot I did not have time to get mine done (but I did pop into a salon one evening to check out the LA nail scene!). This was also a really great time for me to hang out and talk to the cast to find out more about them. I play journalist, asking questions and jotting down their response. Everyone always asks about my job because it seems so cool (and let’s be real – it is), so it makes talking and forming a connection really easy.

Marissa shows off her manicure.

Marisa shows off her manicure and red hair extensions.

While our cast is in fittings, our creative team is scouting the locations where they plan on shooting. During a location scout, they also think about what props they could need or use to make the shots look their best.

The day wraps up with a team dinner so everyone can get to know each other. Everyone attended including the cast, the photographer and his team, the AE staff, and the key hair and make up team. The atmosphere was lively and everyone was having fun and looking forward to the days of shooting ahead. I was so busy mingling and taking photos, I barely had time to eat.

Jarett, Paul, and George during our introduction dinner in LA.

Jarett, Paul, and George during our introduction dinner in LA.

Check back tomorrow for part two of our ‘Behind the Lens’ series – what goes on at a photo shoot!

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