I knew this was going to be a good day when I saw I was working with one of my friends here in Istanbul. At 7:30am, we get whisked to location. Upon arrival, we’re asked what we want for breakfast and the next thing we know, we have more than enough fruit and more than enough time to eat it: the team isn’t arriving until 10am. We spend the morning hanging out and go for a short walk to the Bosphorus for some pictures to kill time. The photographer and crew arrive as promise promptly and we go from being in a not so good area to walking into a beautiful gated home on the water equipped with a pool, three levels and much more. Continue reading
Last week, I worked two very opposite jobs, two days in a row: one fairly standard and one far better than average. This post will take you behind the scenes of a pretty standard job working as a model here. Istanbul and Mumbai and maybe some places in China, are the only markets I know of to have such commonplace inefficient working conditions. In most markets, there are long days for sure, but none quite like they are here. The day went something like this:
Myself and another model arrive at our agency ready to go to work promptly at 6:45am. We make our way to the ferry which leaves at 7:30 and drops us off in a small town at 9. During the ferry ride, I munch on an apple and some nuts to kill time and read some of my book (Dr. Campbell’s, “Whole.” What a great read)! When our ferry docks, no one is there to pick us up so we entertain ourselves re: twiddle our thumbs until our ride arrives an hour later. It takes another 30 min ride to get to the city, Bursa, where we’re working and thankfully I go right into hair and make-up. This time I’m shooting underwear and my head is going to be cropped from the photos so my hair gets sleeked tightly into a high ponytail and then I get a full face of make-up “just in case”. My friend is shooting clothes, so she spends more time getting primped than me.
Initially it looked like we really had nothing to shoot.
I get started shooting panty after panty, bra after bra. Soon my friend joins me and rotates in, modeling dress after dress, blouse after blouse. We change very quickly because we know the faster we go through it, the faster we leave. (Silly us, we should have known better.) As fast as we shoot, twice as many pieces take their place. It doesn’t take long for the clothes to start piling up. Our agency told us prior to arriving that we should be finished by 5pm so we keep telling ourselves, the sooner we finish, the sooner we go home. We continue to shoot.
Eventually, we break for lunch and I order a vegetarian arugula salad with balsamic. This is what I get:
I’ve barely eaten at this point and have been up since 6am so I’m not particularly happy. Sleeping and eating are my favorite things and little sleep and being fed rabbit food makes me grumpy so I demand (I mean politely request) more food. Luckily, they’re cool about it and say they’ll order again for me later in the afternoon.
After lunch is over, we both get our makeup touched up (even though my head is going to be cropped) and start shooting again, bra after bra, bodysuit after bodysuit, sweater after sweater, pant after pant. The clothes keep coming and then they keep coming and coming and coming some more. I don’t know at what point we realized that they planned to have us shoot every piece of clothing we could see in the warehouse. Literally.
The photographer let us know that we should be finishing up by six or seven and if we don’t, we may have to stay the night and finish tomorrow. We’re already so exhausted at this point, we know there’s no way we can do it again the next day so if it was possible for us to go any faster, we do. Somehow we end up finishing up by 6pm and are on the 7pm ferry back to Istanbul and are in our apartments by 9:30pm. It’s a wrap!
I’ve only actually taken the ferry to a job a couple of times but it’s pretty normal to have a one hour plus commute to and from a booking due to traffic. In Istanbul we get paid to work eight hours from the time we start shooting so if we don’t finish hair and makeup and start shooting till four hours after we arrive, the clock doesn’t start until then.
Overall, this was a really standard day. Waiting around to get picked up, waiting to get started, getting dropped off an hour before the call time, getting completely wrong food, wearing 100 – 200 (sometimes more!) pieces of clothing, being gone for a full 12+ hours, being bored silly and then worked like a horse, wearing shoes that are too big or too small, modeling winter clothes in the heat of summer or vice versa, not being fed any snacks or drinks or being fed a horde of junk food… Yesterday, I shot 104 pieces of fall/winter clothing in a studio with no air conditioning. Today I shot in another studio and stood my ground when the client wanted me to wear shoes they knew were too small. (We ended up compromising). A few days before that, I was working in yet another studio and after we finished all the pieces, they had me reshoot everything because they didn’t like the lighting.
This is just how it is here in Turkey… crazy and inefficient!
I realized when I made this for the fourth time this week, that I should post the recipe. Seeing as how I have extremely limited time on my hands between work and castings, I have to resort to everything super quick these days. When I was at the farmer’s market this past Sunday, I bought a bunch of purple basil because I’d never seen it before and it just looked so darn pretty. All produce tends to go bad pretty quickly here in Istanbul so what better way to use up the basil than to throw it by the handful in the blender? After this recipe, I truly believe that pesto is what basil was created for. Yum! Continue reading
Typically what you see on the internet makes everything in life seem oh so rosy but we all know that’s just not how it is. I actually prefer social media that way. The last thing I want to see online are daily depressing quotes or political battles but a blog… a blog can show many emotions and that’s exactly what I plan to do with this post.
If you follow me on any social media, it looks like I’m living the life and I have all the time in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life and wouldn’t trade it with anyone! I’m so lucky to do what I do, to see the world like I am and to meet so many amazing people, but that’s just not what it’s like on a day to day basis. Do you really want me post pictures of a studio after studio, weight room after weight room? Boring! Personally, I find pictures of beautiful sunsets, incredible food and amazing views far more interesting. Continue reading
Castings in Istanbul are a completely different experience from anywhere else I’ve been for so many reasons. Here’s a rundown of what our day might look like:
Late every evening we get a sheet posted in our living room that tells us whether we’re working or casting and what time to be ready. The model apartment I’m living in is located two floors above my agency, so it makes it easy for them to post the updates after each work day. Usually our morning call time is around 9:15am so by this time, I’ve already been to the gym, showered and have my morning green smoothie in hand. Promptly at 9:15, we show up in the parking lot and start piling into one of the agency vans. Thankfully it’s in my nature to be on time since it’s crucial to get a seat near the front as the air conditioning barely reaches the back and there’s just no room or god forbid, you have to sit on the floor. Continue reading
What’s the worst part about traveling? Getting sick. If there’s one thing I can vouch for first hand, you don’t want to end up in the hospital in a foreign country.
The symptoms started shortly after arriving in Istanbul although very sporadic and far between in the beginning. For me this is pretty standard when I arrive in a new country so I didn’t think much of it. Then a few days ago I spent a couple evenings doubled over in pain with stomach issues. (I’ll spare you the details.) I could have put up with it for several days before giving into seeing a doctor. Even in the states, I just don’t go to the doc. I don’t. For one, I’ve rarely had insurance so it’s quite pricey and another, I refuse to take antibiotics if I can help it. I’ve been doing my best to heal my gut and taking antibiotics will reverse all my hard work.
The word “antibiotic” literally means “against life”
In each market, the living situation is completely different. In Cape Town, I shared a room in a hostel for several months where all the models were put on the same floor and for the second half of my stay, I had my own room in a tiny guest house with the bare essentials. In Hamburg, I rented a room in someone’s home and the living was quite comfortable (except for the fact that I was living in someone else’s space). Istanbul is the first place I’ve actually lived in one of the infamous “model apartments”. While I like the idea in theory because of the instant connection to other models, it’s far from ideal.
I love dips! I especially love hummus but oftentimes I’m running around and don’t have time to cook the chickpeas and don’t want to resort to using them from a can. (I avoid cans because of the chemicals associated.) This dip is a tasty alternative and works great as a salad dressing or a substitute for mayo.
Chickpeas are known to cause uncomfortable gas and bloating but since this hummus is zucchini instead of bean-based, it gets digested much easier. Not only is it bean-free, it’s properly food combined. Continue reading
In two days I leave for Istanbul, Turkey and I couldn’t be more excited! It’s been a whirlwind few months here in Hamburg but I’m ready to move on. Not only do I get to experience a new and completely different place, both my sister, Nekol, and my good friend, Heather, are going to be there as well! I don’t believe in fate but this turn of events may have made me think twice about my stance.
In honor of my next adventure, I decided to make a dish similar to what I’ll find in Istanbul and am very pleased with the result! As usual, it’s very simple to make and you can easily swap out veggies to use up what’s sitting on your counter. It’s anti-inflammatory thanks to the turmeric and is super tasty. Continue reading
Alster Lake: There’s nothing more I love doing in Hamburg than going for a run around Alster Lake. This 160 hectare lake lies in the heart of the city and the permitter is approximately 7.5 km (4.7 miles) around. Along the shoreline, read a book and soak up the sun, meet friends for a bbq, or come back in the evening to watch a sunset. On the lake, take a boat trip, rent a sailboat, or try your hand at standup paddle boarding. Alster Lake is my absolute favorite place in Hamburg.