We Crowdsourced a Photoshoot Because Why Not

On February 8th, a Thursday, I shamelessly messaged our fashion editor right before 10 PM: “Idea: we should let our followers style a photo shoot. We hold a big Instagram poll one Friday and whatever people choose, we shoot.” Meggie, whom I adore because she enables my hairbrained schemes, agreed: “I really love this! It would be so fun to get our audience involved.” We said our goodnights, but I tossed and turned until the idea took shape. With blog post comment sections dead and Instagram and Facebook becoming a graveyard for small enterprise, could this creative exercise be the answer to my life’s biggest mystery: What the heck are you all thinking?

Two days later, I had a phone call with our Head Photographer, Mika, to schedule some editorials for our next print issue and snuck this shoot idea onto the books. I decided to break up the poll into four categories — core style item, makeup vibe, mood, and a curveball — and started designing the graphics.

Unrelated, I bought a pale pink silk skirt and some icy mint silk pants for work during the week, so we decided to make it a battle of the secondhand silks. Already this was a risky move because silk wrinkles so quickly and behaves so inconsistently on film. For the makeup vibe, I gave our readership the choice of Classic or Avant-garde. For the mood, that the team would have to evoke, we went with Romantic versus Edgy. In the end, however, we were stumped by what to offer as the Curveball. It couldn’t be a cop out, but it also couldn’t wreck the shoot. And without knowing which model we were going to use, we couldn’t make it something fit dependent, like a bra or a shoe.

On Wednesday, which was Valentine’s Day, Meggie and I brainstormed via FaceTime and we traded quirky thrifted finds. In the morning, she let me know her picks: a rust-colored faux fur collar ($1.50 from Goodwill Outlet) and a green and pink leopard print rain jacket with a cinched waist, from her own stylist closet. We now had just a few days to secure a model for the shoot which, trust me, is a time crunch nightmare. Thankfully, we were able to book Gia and set the shoot for 7:45 AM on Saturday, February 17th.

The Poll

If were were lucky, we would get either one of the low hanging fruit: the pant and jacket combo, with an Edgy vibe and Avant-garde makeup, or the skirt and collar with a Romantic mood and Classic makeup. Easy peasy.

But that’s not exactly how it went down. Here’s how the 24-hour poll actually transpired:

9:00 PM, Thursday night — The poll begins. People are choosing the skirt, wonderful. Everything is calm, what a great idea this was, back pats for everyone.

9:45 PM — Oh no, pant supporters came out of nowhere and the poll is now 50/50. The makeup is leaning heavily towards Avant-garde and Romantic, which I can do. No one is panicking.

12:00 PM, Friday afternoon  — What? The pants are winning?! But the faux fur collar is ahead, too. What are we going to do with that combo? Ok, Edgy and Romantic are neck and neck still. There’s still hope for our picks. Mika begins brainstorming locations for each mood.

3:15 PM — Ok, I’ve come to terms with the pants victory. We can do that. I’m still not sure that they’re going to fit Gia because the waistband isn’t very taut but we’ll deal with that later. Edgy has a good lead, but the poll still has five hours left and support for the jacket is gaining momentum.

7:00 PM — Meggie comes over to begin styling for the shoot. Usually, during a fit session or closet pull, this is when I would nix an item like the silk pants, worried that they were too unpredictable. But no can do! The people have spoken and the poll winners are pretty locked in. Despite everything, Meggie’s outfit is genius. I keep my finger’s crossed.


Shoot Day

On Saturday morning, our team of six met at the Selva Beat studio to make social media engineered magic.

Meggie styled the silk pants from Buffalo Exchange ($14) with a yellow J. Crew sleeveless knit top, only $1.50 from Goodwill Outlet. To balance out the burgundy faux fur collar ($1.50, Goodwill Outlet), we added a cuffed leopard print silk robe from Texas Thrift ($4.98). Running with the jewel tones we had going, Meggie added a vintage emerald bikini top ($1.50, Goodwill Outlet) for a little edge. For jewelry, we were lucky enough to find a necklace ($2, Texas Thrift) and earrings ($16, New Bohemia) that fit the color story but didn't try to compete with the fur. Meggie added a silver belt from her stylist closet and a pair of beaded Nine West platforms, $2 at Value Thrift Store. Finally, we handed Gia the pièce de résistancethe eco-conscious answer to the tiny bag trend: The Alobahe from Unravel Co.

For makeup, I painted Gia's lids with Big Bird by Medusa's Makeup, topped off with some of Root's clear gloss. For the graphic line, I used a wet angled eyeliner brush to apply Slam-Bam in a Can by Shiro Cosmetics. Then, I finished off the eye with a little black mascara from Hanami Cosmetics. Finally, I applied an orange lip stain, layering up on the lip line for a natural plumping effect.

Mika doubled down on boldness and took us to a bright yellow burger joint, then next door to a flower shop with beautifully textured, turquoise walls for our backdrop.

Pssst: This entire look was palm oil free, vegan, and cruelty-free.

What Did We Learn?

Primarily, you enjoy weird as much as we do. This surprised me more than it probably should have. After all, most of the people who took the poll chose to follow us in the first place. But click on any of the eco hashtags on Instagram and a few trends will surface, the most popular being 10-piece capsule wardrobes filled with neutral basics. I’m still unsure of where our maximalist style and attitude fits in the eco-conscious sphere, but I’ll take this exercise as a point in our favor ;)

Moreover, we should push ourselves to style more difficult textiles and silhouettes. From now on, I’m going to use the mantra: if it exists, it’s fair game. Thrift stores are full of problematic and poorly designed pieces, and we have to encourage each other to utilize those pieces with confidence if we’re ever going to make a dent in fast fashion waste. And finally, you want to chime in; and as a magazine that pushes ourselves to be innovators, we’re ready to keep bringing you along to get radical with us.

Comment below and tell us... Just kidding, we'll see ya on Instagram!


👢 Featuring Gia Litton. Photography by Mika Locklear. Makeup and photo editing by Magdalena Antuña. Styling by Meggie Copeland. Assisted by Jillian Mitchell and Victoria Jameson.  👢