How Avenue’s Fashion Photoshoot on the S.S. Moyie Came Together

A behind-the-scenes look at Avenue’s July 2019 fashion photoshoot.

Photograph by Mariah Wilson.

In the July issue of Avenue Calgary, readers are able to catch a glimpse of the newly renovated S.S. Moyie throughout the fashion feature “Set Sail in Style.” While the resulting images make the photoshoot look effortless, many people aren’t privy to the amount of work that goes into each fashion shoot.

Venessa Brewer, senior art director, describes the amount of researching, planning, adjusting and post-processing that happens behind the scenes and highlights the elements that make a photoshoot successful.

Scouting a location

Since most of Avenue‘s fashion shoots happen in an indoor photo studio where everything from lighting to air temperature can be controlled, this location posed a unique opportunity for our team.

While exploring the S.S. Moyie to select locations within the boat, Brewer’s primary question was: “What areas excite us?”

The stylist, Taylor MacDonald, fixing the model’s shoes in the saloon. Photograph by Mariah Wilson.


Whether it was the rich tones in the saloon or the natural light on the viewing deck, there was a certain element that stood out in each location that was chosen. Before the photoshoot day, scouting shots are taken to give to the stylist as well as Avenue‘s arts team to use to refer back to while planning the shoot.

Picking a style

The environment and space of the shoot largely dictates what the clothing selection will be. Originally, Brewer imagined featuring tea house attire with billowing skirts and floral print galore. But once experiencing the gusts of wind on the boat, she knew that it wouldn’t turn out well in the photos.

Venessa Brewer and Jared Sych directing the models while on the viewing deck. Photograph by Mariah Wilson.

Knowing this, Brewer decided to go with a monochromatic colour scheme that was light and bright to complement the physical features they liked aboard the S.S. Moyie.

Finding the clothing

Once the scouting shots, colour palette and vision for the shoot is given to the stylist, they begin to scour local stores for products that would fit. The stylist for this photoshot was Taylor MacDonald. Some of the criteria they look for is whether the article of clothing will still be available when the photoshoot is published (it was photographed months before), if it can be purchased in local stores and, in this case, how well it matched with colours on the boat.

Jared Sych laying on the ground to find the perfect shot of the models with the steam pipe in the background. The articles of clothing match the colours of the boat. Photograph by Mariah Wilson.

All of the shopping for the shoot usually takes two days to complete and even then, the stylist may have to go back and exchange some of the items if it doesn’t quite fit.

The day of the fashion shoot

The arts team, stylists, hair and makeup artist (Sarah Francis) and models (Bella O. from Mode Models and David S. from I Model Management) were on location for six hours on the day of the shoot. Walking onto the boat, the cramped staging quarters were filled with garment bags, rows of shoes and sandals and a steamer hanging at bay to jump into action whenever a crease was spotted.

The rows of shoes for both models. Photograph by Mariah Wilson.

When comparing this shoot to one in a studio, Brewer mentioned that models can “live in the environment” and interact with the boat itself whereas a studio shoot doesn’t enable that type of interplay.

Post-processing the fashion shoot

After the shoot it takes Brewer a couple of hours to go through all of the photos and pick out which ones are the contenders for the story. Once the photographer, Jared Sych, receives her picks he’ll spend two days post-processing the images. During this time, staff members will fact check all of the names and pricing of each article of clothing.

Venessa Brewer fixing the model’s scarf while Jared Sych is lined up to take the shot. The S.S. Moyoe can be seen in the background. Photograph by Mariah Wilson.

Overall, it takes a week’s worth of work to execute a successful fashion shoot from start to finish.

See the results of our “Set Sail in Style” fashion shoot in the July 2019 issue or online

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