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What Do I Have In My Bag?

What Do I Have In My Bag?
March 3, 2014 7 minute read

What on earth do you bring to a photoshoot? Great question. Packing for a job can be a daunting task. Personally, I like to be prepared for anything I might encounter because most of the time other people aren’t. It has made for some pretty funny stories in my life but let’s see if we can’t spare you some of the drama. By now your skin is glowing, so that’s covered, but read on to find out what else you can do to prepare for your photoshoot. Here’s what I have in my model kit.

Skin Care Products 

1) My own face moisturizer and primer. I’ve had body lotion put on my face – enough said. Bringing your own facial primer also minimizes the stress having hundreds of new products put on your face can cause. At least this way there’s a barrier between you and potentially irritating makeup. A personal favourite of mine, which has been accepted by all of my makeup artists, is Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer, $52. It goes on silky smooth and creates a perfect base for any and all makeup application.

2) Face mist. A good face mist won’t ruin your makeup, it’ll re-hydrate your skin and make your foundation look freshly applied. Depending on the day, I’ll either spray Avène Thermal Spring Water, $19 or Caudalie’s Beauty Elixir, $18 on my face after lunch to reactivate the makeup.

3) I’ve had some unknown substances put on my body before, so I always bring my own body lotion just incase. Make sure to choose one that gives a nice sheen that will translate well in photos. Something like Burt’s Bees Radiance Body Lotion, $9 gives a really nice glow. I also bring a basic body lotion, like CeraVe’s Moisturizing Lotion, $14 in case they want a more natural hydrated look. These all go into mini travel size bottles.

4) Makeup remover. I like to take my makeup off at the end of the shoot before I start my trip back home. I treat it as a first cleanse, and I usually have to do a second removal once I get home to get all of the makeup off. It takes an army! And it certainly shows with the amount of product that gets loaded onto my face. My favourite product is Ponds’ Evening Soothe Wet Cleansing Towelettes, $5. They’re easy to transport and loaded with chamomile extract (an effective soothing and calming ingredient) and white tea extract (known for it’s protective anti-oxidants which keep your skin fresh and young). One towelette will remove pretty much all my makeup. Plus, no need to rinse after! One spritz of Avène and a little moisturizer and I’m out the door!

5) Hand moisturizer. My winter skin saver is Weleda’s Skin Food, $19. It takes a little while to fully absorb, so put it on while you’re in hair and makeup, but it really moisturizes.

6) A good lip balm is mandatory! I’ve talked about it before, but Rosebud Salve is always in my bag for photoshoots – it’s the perfect nourishing base for your lips.

7) My Tatcha Original Aburatorigami Japanese Blotting Papers, $12 have saved me from at least 5 extra layers of powder per shoot. They “removes excess oil and sweat without disturbing makeup or stealing moisture from the skin. A powder and primer alternative that improves the wear of makeup.” They’re the best.



1) Water with a straw (and extra straws in your bag). I’ve been on sets where I haven’t been allowed to drink until lunch because it would “ruin the lips.” If there’s a straw, there’s a way. I’ve also been on sets with no water. So stay hydrated and bring your own.

2) Nude and black bras. I have to admit I don’t always do this. I show up in a nude bra and most of the time if the client needs something different they either have an alternate colour or they don’t have me wear one at all. Another option is to bring those nifty nipple covers.

3) Your vouchers. These may seem annoying at first, but they’re the best way to keep track of the money you’re owed. It’s also handy for clients and your agency so that you don’t get lost in the shuffle. You’re looking after yourself by taking part in this step. 

4) Have a couple composite cards on hand. I’ve probably snagged as many new clients at a job as I have through my agency.

Stockholm Street Style Emma Hansen


1) Snacks. Nobody likes a grumpy model. And I turn into a monster when I’m low on fuel. So bring some high protein or complex-carb foods to keep your energy going. I like to have a little bag of nuts (pistachios, almonds or walnuts), a sliced apple (don’t ever try to bite into a whole apple with red lipstick on), a green juice and bite sized celery sticks with unsalted almond butter.

2) Lunch. When I have time, and it’s a new client where I’m not sure which type of catering they do, I like to pack my own lunch. This usually consists of a quinoa salad with dried cranberries, tomatoes, cucumbers and avocado. If there’s no fridge, this is perfect because it can sit out for a while.


Emergency Solutions 

1) Rubbing alcohol. This recently became my #1 must have. Any jewelry going into my ears has definitely not been sanitized in-between jobs, so I make sure to bring my own antiseptic so I’m not a total diva asking to have things cleaned for me. I just put the alcohol in a mini travel spray bottle so it’s easy and quick to sanitize jewelry.

2) Mints. I always have a little tin of Mini Peppermint Altoids on hand just in case.

3) Floss. Spinach for lunch? Be prepared.

4) Concealer. Because sometimes you get a less than awesome makeup artist. There have been times where I’ve had to go to the bathroom and touch up my makeup. A girl’s gotta look out for herself!

5) Eye drops. Make sure they’re ones you’re used to! I’ve had a full on allergic reaction to eye drops in a makeup artist’s kit. The label was rubbed off, the bottle was dirty, and the solution possibly expired – in hindsight I probably shouldn’t have used them but my eyes were red and something had to be done. So bring your own, they don’t take up much space, just make sure they’re effective at hydrating and reducing redness (hair fans aren’t the best for your eyeballs).

6) Phone charger. iOS7 is awesome but it drains my battery quickly (especially if I’m using it to research for SS). There are days when I’m at 5% by lunch, so having an extra charger in my bag has frequently saved the day.

7) Bring a book. Trust me, if you’re bored, it looks way better to be buried in a book than buried in your phone. A phone says “I would rather talk to anyone else but you” – a book says “I’m intelligent and I’m learning something right now.” Plus it helps to avoid the phone battery drainage problem I mentioned above.

8) Antihistamine. Oh I have a long list of situations in which an antihistamine would have been wonderful. The list extends far beyond product allergies. For example, once we were on location in a forest shooting a campaign and the makeup artist stepped in poison ivy. Another time I was actually allergic to the clothing and developed a rash where the fabric was touching my skin. For the record, I don’t have sensitive skin.

9) Pain reliever. There’s nothing worse than having to face a 10-hour day standing in front of intense lights with a splitting headache. Tylenol. So wonderful. 

That’s about it! This is an extensive list (yes, I realize I’m slightly OCD about needing to have a solution for everything) but having these items has transformed me from a model who just shows up to a model who is invested in her job and is fully prepared for the task at hand.


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