I’ve never had a job where the days and weeks fly by so quickly, and I love it that way! Before working at River, I spent 10 years climbing the ladder, on some of the UK’s biggest glossy fashion and lifestyle magazines, and I am now at a point in my career when all that knowledge, training and the contacts made along the way are really coming together!
So what does a Group Art Director do?
I work on the UK version of Weight Watchers Magazine, but also oversee our weekly Members’ mag called Your Week, and international versions in French, German and Dutch.
On the UK magazine, I art direct all the ‘people/lifestyle’ shoots, which means I commission the photographer, hair and make-up artist, and stylist for each job and supply them with a mood-board and brief for them to work to, and then on the day direct the shoots.
For Your Week I work closely with our client at Weight Watchers to come up with the visual concepts so we can make each week’s magazine visually engaging and interesting and easy to understand for the readers. To do this I have to mockup the layouts for each issue.
For our international titles, I’m involved in the selection process for who goes on the cover, I then help edit the cover images, and oversee the design of the covers, with the Art Editors of each international edition.
Today, I’m shooting the front cover for our October issue of the UK magazine.
Look at this place! Sadly, I don’t live here… this stunning house is the setting for today’s cover shoot. The day starts at 9am, when the cover star, photographer, stylist, hair and make-up artist and writer will all rock up, ready for the day’s shoot.
My first job is to do a recce with the photographer of where I want each shot to be taken. We also have to decide which spot will give us the ‘money shot’ for the cover, and therefore plan at which point in the day we want to be shooting there.
Meanwhile, Amy, our cover star will be in hair and make-up. Next stop – wardrobe…
The stylist and I will edit the clothes rail. All the while, I’ll be considering:
- What will suit our cover girl
- Which outfit will work on the cover
- How it compares to the look that ran on last month’s cover
- In which room/against which background that outfit will look best
- When I want that dress steamed and ready to wear
Thank god I love organising! Within an hour of arriving at the house, I have:
- Planned the shot list for the day with the photographer
- Made a time-plan to achieve this
- Edited the clothes rail
- Organised the outfits ready to be tried on, with a plan of which Amy will be wearing first, middle and last
- Put the coffee on!
I aim to start shooting by 11am. (The morning can run away with hair and make-up, and trying on clothes) Then we’re ready to shoot! Jay, our photographer (that’s him in the green trousers) tests the lighting and then we’re good to go!
The make-up artist and stylist are always close by if I think the lippy needs a touch-up, or if clothing needs adjusting.
As you can see, our cover stars get star treatment and leave feeling very pampered as we’re all there, tweaking and perfecting the look!
My role while shooting is to direct the model on how I want her to stand, and to make her feel as relaxed as possible. To make a pose look natural, without your body looking tense, or your eyes or expression looking tired, is definitely not as easy as it can look!
Our cover stars are always ‘real people’ i.e not professional models, meaning they’ve most probably never been on a shoot before, don’t know how to pose for the camera in that effortless Kate Moss way, and are totally unaware that the shoot will be a room bustling with a crew! I never take it for granted how overwhelming it can be for the cover girl to be in front of the camera, with a line up of people (hair + makeup, stylist, photographer, his assistant, the client, and my editor, and I)… all watching! So my job is to put them at ease, talk them through how the day will run, how to stand, where to look when to smile, but most of all it’s about making it a really special and fun day for them to celebrate their success and weight loss!
PROPS! I love props! And seeing as this model was the winner of our cover star competition, what could be more appropriate than these 7ft stars that I hired in. Love them.
Who knew balloons needed styling? That’s our cover star, in the blue – isn’t she stunning.
I couldn’t resist the cheesy shot! Note the star-shaped balloons? Seeing a theme?…
During the day, I aim to shoot seven or eight looks – which means eight different outfits, hairstyles and different lighting/location set-ups. We can shoot anything up to 200+ shots of each look, which I then edit down after each shot, to keep on top of the day’s work.
Fast forward a week. It takes days to design a cover and once it’s been approved by the client, I mark it up for reproduction and select the colours, then off it goes to be printed. Job done!
Lucy Morris is the Group Art Director for Weight Watchers magazine, published by River. Contact us today to discover how we can create content that does more for your brand.