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Northern Lights Photo Studio

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An exclusive behind-the-scenes look into Milwaukee’s hidden gem of a studio + event lounge.

Okay, so it’s confession time. About a year and a half ago, I was checking the mail when I noticed a sign just outside our main lobby that read, “Northern Lights Photography Studio + Events”. How cool!! A new photography studio–and in the exact building I live in–of all places!!

The studio is located right next to Screaming Tuna, so to get there from the outside, you just go in though the main lobby and up the stairs, and down the hall. (The hallway walls are reserved for photographers who would like to display their own work!)

I’ve heard and seen great things coming out of this studio on their Instagram, but decided to reach out to see what the space was all about for myself. David Bernacchi, the studio’s booking agent followed up with me the very same day (on a Saturday), and we had a tour set up that very next week.

As David put it, this place feels like a spaceship. With its wireless remote controlled lights, backdrops, and window shades, the state-of-the-art ceiling drop lights and cyclorama walls instantly make this studio a modern photographer’s dream. Even the bathroom is aesthetically gorgeous, encompassing dual-rainfall shower heads.

I was particularly in love with the amazing make up room!! The vanity sets have color temperature adjustable LED lighting. There’s even a clothing steamer and curling & straightening iron holders. They really thought of everything!

Not to mention, a fully furnished kitchen and lounge, surrounded by a gorgeous view of the Milwaukee River make Northern Lights Photo Studio perfect for wedding shoots and all kinds of events.

Robert Popp, the studio owner is an all around awesome guy and studio host. He really goes the extra mile to help photographers feel comfortable in the space and is happy to suggest light set ups for some fantastic results. I loved watching Bob work with Bryan in our test photo shoot last week. I couldn’t believe how many shots we got in such a short amount of time:

Click here for some fun behind-the-scenes out-takes from this shoot!

The part that I think photographers will love the most is how quickly everything can be set up. Simply push the drop lights from the ceiling to where you want them, pull them up or down, and press a button on the remote to select from an array of backdrops, (or use the always freshly painted white Cyclorama wall) and you’re ready to go!

Want to test it out for yourself? Come join us on Thursday, May 2nd any time from 6:00-9:00PM at the Northern Lights Photo Studio Open House & Networking Event. This free event will be an awesome night of test shoots, networking, and collaboration with complimentary refreshments and hors d’oeuvres. You can reserve your free tickets HERE, and check out the Facebook Event HERE.

Can’t wait till then? Book the studio and save 15% off your total booking session when you use promo code: CYNFLUENCE

Believe it or not, there is a type of modeling where your posing and runway skills don’t actually matter…

In fact, quite honestly we don’t even care what your face looks like, whether or not you have braces, how high your cheek bones are or how chiseled your jawline is. Struggling with acne/break outs? We honestly couldn’t care less. But, how…?

Because Fit Modeling serves an entirely different purpose.

What Does A Fit Model Do?

Photos by Northern Lights Photography Studio Make up by Deb Reimer of Milwaukee Fashion Week.

Clothing and product designers need real life, every day people to work essentially as human-mannequins. The job of a fit model is to test out the clothing for the designers to get an idea of how their garment will fit their future buyers. Once a week for about 1-3 hours, a model will try on clothing and move around a bit so the designers can see how the product fits a real life human, and how it moves comfortably on the body.

Ever order clothing off a fast fashion/super cheap website, and when you get the product you wonder how it could ever possibly fit an actual human? You can bet Fit Models were not utilized (or even thought of?) during the development of the garment!

Fit modeling eliminates this problem altogether by ensuring proper fits, and is a standard procedure with reputable clothing brands.

Qualifiers of Becoming a Fit Model

Okay, maybe they won’t make you do THIS, but mad props to Nick Montag for his skills.

While many traditional modeling aspects do not apply to this division of modeling, a Fit Model must have measurements that just so happen to fall between the designated, target clothing size for the particular brand. (The measurements vary slightly from brand to brand.) And, just how closely does one have to fall within the target measurements?

A half an inch, MAX.

For example, if the posting is looking for a model between the heights of 5″5 and 5″8, models who are 5″4 are too short for the position, and models 5″9 are too tall for that particular fit modeling position.

Fit Models also have to have great communication skills to be able to articulate how the clothing fits, feels, or mention any pulling or discomfort the garment may cause. Designers enjoy working with pleasant, reliable models who have a strong sense of team work and a collaborative spirt.

Oh, and you most certainly be reliable…

Release dates for clothing are crucial, and if a fit model isn’t present for a scheduled fit, it could potentially uphold release dates for an entire line of clothing.

Yikes.

Often times, clients will have a few alternate fit models on call in case their main fit model is not able to make it to a session. Then, it’s up to the next fit model to be ready and flexible to be able to show up at the product development center at a moment’s notice. Clients favor models who follow up to emails QUICKLY as for many, it is the primary way models are contacted.

How Much Does Fit Modeling Pay?

Even though photos are not taken (well, a few phone snap shots may be taken for designer reference) Fit Modeling actually pays substantially MORE than print or catalog models:

  • The entire line of a garment falls on the reliability of only 1-2 fit models for that particular brand
  • It can be extremely difficult to find a Fit Model that happens to fall within the EXACT parameters of a particular size.

Therefore, higher pay.

Fit models can be compensated at either an hourly rate or a flat-fee per session. Depending on the fit model’s experience and the client’s needs, these rates tend to fluctuate between $50-$200 total for a session.

If you know your measurements fall within the specified range within a half inch tolerance, you are a good candidate! You will want to follow up with your agent to confirm they have your most up-to-date stats/measurements on file. If they think you’re a good match, they will set up a “Fit Appointment” or “Go See” with the client.

The Initial Fit Appointment:

Consider this the easiest audition of your life, and a chance to get a behind-the-scenes-look into what goes on in the product development side of fashion. You will be instructed by your agent on what to wear (standard runway attire is usually a great go to) and will be provided with all of the details and contact information before your scheduled appointment.

The a member of the technical design staff will meet with you to verify your measurements, and may have you try on various articles of clothing. They may snap a few phone photos to reference later.

That’s it…

Agency Notes & Tips

Agency talent know the importance of reliability, so leaving early is imperative. You may have to navigate your way around a massive office complex, so allowing enough time to arrive to the venue is extremely important.

Also, agency talent know to NEVER discuss payment or rate information at these go-sees. Your agent will negotiate on your behalf with the client if you are being considered for the fit modeling position.

Do not ask your agent “if you got the job” the very next day. Most often, the design team will be reviewing a few other applicants. They will also need to meet as a group to discuss who their next fit model they believe will most successfully meet their needs.

They will inform your agent about the results in 1-3 weeks. 

Have you ever Fit Modeled?

Share your experience in the comments section below!

Be sure to check out our Auditions and Events page to join us at our upcoming open studio event!