As a photographer you always have a person in mind that you would love to photograph. For some its a celebrity or a supermodel others a politician or movie star. Usually it’s someone that you have seen in magazines, ads, on TV, or a movie and thought to yourself “that would be so rad to get shots of…..” For me that person has been athlete and model Lauren Collins. You may not recognize the name but if you have ever thumbed through an Athleta catalog, a Shape magazine, a recent Eddie Bauer ad, and many other campaigns you probably recognize her. In my opinion she is the top athletic model in the country. She is not only amazingly beautiful but is a former decathlete so she has the movement and the strength to back it up. Ever since I started shooting active lifestyle and sports images I’d seen shots of her and thought it would be amazing to get the opportunity to photograph her. Honestly though, I didn’t ever think it would happen, but I recently had the opportunity to just that, and it was epic. This is how it happened.
Over the last few months I’ve been trying to build a network of people and places that I can shoot for in LA as an effort to broaden my client base and extend into new markets. That effort brought me to a meeting with It Model Management based in Orange County. They are one of Lauren’s agencies. While meeting with the owners Marlyn and Linda, I mentioned that I’ve always wanted to photograph Lauren. They said she happened to be in town and they called her right there on the spot and asked her if she would like to do a shoot with me. To my amazement she agreed and the agency told her I would would be in touch to coordinate everything for the follow day. I tried to play it cool at the time but once I got out of the meeting I exploded with excitement. In the meeting with me was with my friend and amazingly talented hair and make up artist Donna Gast. In the excitement I walked out into the parking lot and I looked at Donna and said “Well, what are we going to do with her?”
About then is when I started to feel the pressure. I knew that I may not have another opportunity to shoot her so we needed to come up with a good concept for the shoot. Part of the the agreement to shoot her was both the agency and Lauren wanted more of a lifestyle shoot, not another fitness shoot. Lauren has tons of athletic shots and she needed more lifestyle shots. We started with that. Donna had the idea of shooting her in white on her bed just really beautiful and clean. I loved the idea but I had to get Lauren to agree to it. I laughed and told Donna “Wait, you want me to call Lauren Collins and see if we can shoot her at her house in her bedroom on her bed?” I said ok and made the call. Lauren answered and I introduced myself and told her how excited I was to work with her etc. I then told her our idea and I said “we want to shoot you at your house to make it easy for you and we want to get shots of you in just a white top and some white bottoms in your bedroom on your bed. How would feel about that?” I waited and could tell she was uncomfortable. She asked something along the lines of “your not trying to do some sexy shot are you because that’s not me.” I reassured her that I wasn’t trying to do anything sexy, that and that I don’t shoot that way either, but just something simple, clean and beautiful. Once I said that she was ok and totally down. We set up the time and got her address and that was it. We were all set for the following morning at 7am. I kept on thinking “Am I really shooting Lauren Collins tomorrow morning”? Still felt like a dream.
That night I’m not going to lie, I was a bit nervous. She was by far the biggest model I had ever worked with and I wasn’t sure what to expect. She seemed nice on the phone but I’ve learned thats not much of an indicator. The next morning Donna and I drove down from LA to Lauren’s house in Orange County. I meet her and realized right away that she was going to be really great to work with. We got really beautiful shots of her on the bed, a few nice portraits, and and the end she let me get a few shots of her at track not far from her house in doing some fitness stuff. The light wasn’t ideal at the track, but I knew I’d be walking away with some solid shots after the shoot, and more importantly, different shots than anyone else had of her.
All in all it was great experience. Lauren ended up being one of my favorite people I’ve ever photographed not only because she is a great model but she is one of the nicest and sweetest people I’ve ever worked with. It is a good feeling to see your hard work, a little risk taking, and perseverance pay off. I know it sounds so cliche but being able to get shots of Lauren really was like a dream shoot come true me.
If you didn’t have to worry about money, a client, or anything else for a shoot who would you want to photograph? Go make it happen!
Special Thanks to Lauren Collins, Marlyn and Linda at It Model Management, and the amazing Donna Gast for always believing that we can create something great.