“Absolutely bucketing it down! It’s just like being home.” That was my reply to the message of “What’s the weather like over there?” which was sent by one member of the Friend or Faux team we’d left behind to shoot our AW19 collection.
We had landed in Amsterdam the previous evening; the air was cool and the city was buzzing as always. We had two days to shoot the new AW19 collection which we took to the city which partly inspired its designs: Amsterdam. The neon lights, the architecture, the people, what’s not to love about Amsterdam? We wanted to get in touch with the city and its street life, so chose to take the challenge of shooting the collection with locals on the street instead of models (this sounds a lot more straightforward than it actually is!).
So, here's a behind the scenes look at how the trip/photoshoot went down.
First things first, the boring bits. The team meet up at Faux HQ to pack the collection into potentially the biggest suitcase I have ever came across in my whole life. My role on the shoot over the next coming days was to provide creative direction and styling on location.
Then came the first self-doubts of “Have I got my passport? Yep, there it is. Is that definitely my passport I’ve brought? Yep, that’s mine. Perfect!” Pack the bags into the car and we’re on our way. For someone who absolutely loves travelling, I absolutely hate airports! The checking in of bags, the waiting and the general lack of movement isn’t good for someone who doesn’t like being in the same place for any more than 5 minutes. After what felt like an eternity (it was a wait of no more than an hour) we were on our flight and ready to go. I had my playlist loaded up with enough of my favourite travelling tracks to get me through the 50-minute flight.
And then we touch down, grab the bag and head for the train. We jumped on the Sprinter service from Schipol to Centraal Station and after a quick look on Google Maps, found the route to our hotel. I had the bright idea that we should walk to the hotel as it was only 25 minutes away. 45 minutes to an hour later we finally arrived at the front doors of our hotel. Once we’d checked in and put the bags in the room, it was time for an outfit change before we headed out for some food and a look around where we’d be shooting over the next couple days. We had spotted a cool burger spot on the walk down, and decided to head there since we hadn’t actually eaten anything substantial over the course of the day. Lombardo’s has now been added firmly to the list of my favourite places for burgers. Unfortunately, as I was tired, I couldn’t really face being adventurous so I went for the “Dutch Basic Burger” which really didn’t disappoint. Full of beef, we went searching for a nice bar to have a beer and plan the last few hours of the day.
One pint of Jupiler later and we were scouting locations to shoot. A few locations found and it’s time for an early night.
Our main day of shooting so we get up early ready to smash the shoot out the park. I open the curtains and it’s raining. That rain that seems to be horizontal and there’s no sign of it letting up. Nevertheless, we get ourselves up and ready to meet our photographer Alex who had arrived in the city a few days before us.
Once we met Alex, we found a nice little café to grab breakfast and a coffee. Breakfast inhaled and it was time to hit the streets. Keen to fit in with the locals, we hired bikes which would be our mode of transport over the course of the trip. As someone who isn’t the most organised; I was over the moon that I’d decided to bring a Gore-Tex jacket with me. While everyone else complained about the rain, I sailed (almost literally) by bone dry.
As the weather was blocking us from shooting outdoors, we headed to NDSM which is just over the river via ferry. NDSM is sick; full of ridiculously cool bars, a massive centre for art inside a disused shipyard and a million other things you wouldn’t expect to find. Heading into the art centre, I never imagined such an enormous space to be filled completely to the brim with every form of creativity you can think up; everything from a DJ school to a renewable energy company, it had it all. After a brief look around, we decided to start and shoot as the interior features looked crazy and would look great as a backdrop! We got chatting to some of the artists within the studios, who were more than happy to let us shoot them in pieces from our collection.
We then headed out to explore the areas surrounding Art City. This was when we realised how bad the rain had become and thought best to seek refuge until it had died down. There was a big block of shipping containers towards the river's edge which we hadn’t thought about until we saw people walking out of them. Curiosity took over so we went for a closer look. We walked through the open container and found there was a heavy curtain on the other end. Once through the curtain we found a HUGE restaurant/bar. Never have I been so happy to sit down and eat. Most people, having had a burger some 16 hours ago, would choose something other than a burger from the menu... but the apricot jam had me hooked. Food and a few drinks later, the rain was still relentless, so we just bit the bullet and headed back to the hotel to come up with a plan.
After changing into dry clothes, we met in the hotel bar with our laptops to do some digital location scouting. I clicked my way straight to this blog post which I’d bookmarked months ago. I found our location for the night in the “Hang Out Spots” section of the list. Ton Ton West is a bar/restaurant with a huge arcade upstairs, this was perfect for several reason: the first being that it would make some great photographs... and the second being that I’d spotted a Time Crisis 3 machine which gave me a massive nostalgia trip so I needed to have a play on that.
With a bag full of t-shirts and hoodies we put our brave faces on and jumped on our bikes. We followed our noses before finding Ton Ton West hidden away. I'm sure if there was a camera on my face at the moment of walking into the arcades, I would’ve looked like a child on Christmas morning.
My pockets were full of tokens for the machines and we dived into a blur of flashing lights and screens. We met a lovely couple who let us take their photographs after a brief chat. We’d shot a fair few styles, ran out of tokens and somehow lost about 3-4 hours so it was time to head back. Obviously, we found time to fit a quick kebab in before we hit our beds.
At 8AM my alarm went off and I had to drag myself out of bed as cycling for the best part of 12 hours seems to take its toll on your legs. I threw the curtains open and typically the sun was shining when we only had about half a day left until our flight home. We packed our bag and jumped straight back on the bikes, heading to meet some lads who answered our casting call on Instagram. It only took 20 minutes to find them due to some poor communication via WhatsApp, but we eventually jumped back on the ferry to NDSM to shoot as much as we could in our remaining hours. The countdown tune was definitely playing in all our heads and after basically losing a day to the rain, we had to make the most of the time we had.
Once there we also bumped into some more people who were up for being our models. This included a free runner who we managed to shoot while he did his training session. There was a lot of grimacing from the whole team thinking we’d witness someone doing a front flip straight over the railing by accident. Luckily, no accidents. We had managed to shoot a big chunk of the collection so we headed back to the city centre to get some classic Amsterdam shots in the flower markets and canals (as well as the back-alley smut shops of the Red Light District!).
The collection was 99% shot when our timer ran out and it was time to pick our bags up and head for the airport. The trip to the airport was a bit nervy, nothing had prepared me for taxi drivers doing 70MPH while overtaking trams and sending messages on his phone! We eventually arrived in one piece even if we were all exhausted and ready for our own beds. Picking up some in-flight home comforts of a cheese toasty and a cup of tea made up for the slight turbulence we hit when we were landing. Although I loved every moment of the trip, I was grinning from ear to ear when I saw my front door and I was even happier to see my bed.
If you’ve stuck with us to this point then thank you for reading my rambling. We all hope you enjoy the photoshoot as much as we do. Let us know your thoughts and keep your eyes peeled for the AW19 campaign launching soon!