If you have been fortunate enough to get an invitation to the Vino D. Utah Shootout which occurs in June of each year, congratulations! The event is truly amazing, and affords models the opportunity to work with top photographers and videographers.
This guide is filled with tips and guidelines on how to have an enjoyable experience. A little preparation goes a long way!
PACKING FOR TRIP:
I always advise packing a couple of days beforehand so you make sure you have everything you need. It’s actually better to pack more wardrobe than you think you’ll need, because you never know what photographers want to shoot you in. You can never go wrong with brightly colored bikinis (red, orange, yellow, purple, etc.) and lingerie. Gold and silver wardrobe items look amazing out on the Bonneville Salt Flats too! Long slinky dresses, robes, and colorful scarves also look incredible when the wind is blowing.
Make sure to submit your food requests in advance to Vino so that he can make a grocery store run. I also strongly advise bringing a box of your favorite snacks to have on hand. Put your name on your personal food items so that others don’t eat it!
I think it is in very poor taste to booze it up while at this event. Some girls in the past have started drinking as soon as they awoke, continued their drinkfest throughout the day, and repeated the process every single day they were in Utah. It’s HORRIBLE for your skin, and if you are hungover, you won’t take pretty pictures! Save your partying for your last shoot day, after you wrap.
Vino usually buys body wash for the bathrooms in the house, and towels tend to be pretty plentiful as well. However, you might want to pick up a bag of Epsom salts from the store to slough your skin in preparation for the shoots.
Typically there are a lot of people packed in the house, so be sure to have a good attitude, and be nice to others. A bitchy and entitled attitude will only win the hatred of others in the house, and may push you off the invite list for future years. Keep noise levels down, especially late at night and in the early morning when others are trying to sleep.
Also, please don’t be a slob! There are so many others in the house that everyone needs to clean up and keep their items out of the way. Be considerate of the others who are sharing a room with you, and keep your suitcases in one small area.
MAKEUP AND HAIR:
If you decide to get your makeup and/or hair done, make sure to tell Jamie the day before so she can coordinate her work schedule and ensure that all you ladies are ready when it’s time to leave the house.
LEAVING THE HOUSE:
Be ready to go when Vino says so! He runs a tight ship, and when he says we’re leaving the house at 2 pm, we really will leave the house at 2 pm. Make sure you have your wardrobe, accessories, food, water, and wallet packed and ready to go. All of the luggage is transported in a pickup truck, while the models (and some photographers) will ride in the van, so if you need to have any items on hand while en route to the shoot location, put them in a smaller bag which you can bring on the van.
We usually leave the house at 1 pm or 2 pm. It typically takes anywhere from 2-/12 to 3 hours to get to Little Sahara or the Bonneville Salt Flats with the stops we make. If we travel to the marina, we’ll arrive about 1 to 1-1/2 hours after leaving the house. Once we arrive at a shoot location, we will shoot until sundown, which is around 9-9:15 pm. Be prepared for a mad scramble at sunset, because the best lighting occurs then.
We will pack up pretty quickly once we wrap at a shoot location, then head back to the house. Typically we will return to the house around midnight.
EN ROUTE AND ON LOCATION:
Use the restroom whenever you have a chance to do so, because Vino only stops 2 or 3 times while en route to a shoot location. I also recommend taking a toilet seat cover (take the second one in for hygiene reasons) for blotting oil from your face while you are at shoot location. Little Sahara has restrooms, but the other shoot locations (Salt Flats, marina, ruins) do not. You’ll have to get accustomed to finding a secluded spot in the bushes for your potty breaks. I always recommend carrying some tissue or a roll of toilet paper with you for those situations.
You might be thinking that it would be better to avoid drinking any fluids, just so you can minimize your restroom breaks, but with the hot weather, you should hydrate throughout the day. Bring water with you to drink while traveling in the van. Every day that I was in Utah for the 2017 Shootout, I drank close to a gallon of water. My skin looked great as a result, and I didn’t have any issues with belly bloat.
It’s also a good idea to carry some extra water which you can use to rinse your feet and legs when at the Salt Flats or Little Sahara.
The Salt Flats, Little Sahara and the marina can get VERY windy. If you have long hair, I recommend shooting so that you are facing the oncoming wind. This way, you’ll avoid having your hair whip in your face and ruin the shots. I also recommend putting your hair in a very durable style, such as crimped waves which won’t unravel when the wind blows. Use a good setting spray to hold your hairstyle in place.
The sun’s rays can be brutal on location, so make sure you slather on sunblock, and use sunglasses to shield your eyes from the sun. If you shoot without sunglasses, and you have difficulty with squinting while facing the sun, close your eyes and have the photographer count to three, then open your eyes for the shot.
SPECIFIC LOCATION HAZARDS:
BONNEVILLE SALT FLATS: The Salt Flats provide a spectacular location for photo shoots, so it’s worth the pain of dealing with the elements there.
The wind can be brutal out there, so hang onto any lightweight clothing items, or they will be swept up by the wind. The mercury can also drop dramatically, so bring a warm sweatshirt or coat for that location. Perhaps the greatest hazard at the Salt Flats is the salt itself. The mineral deposits, while beautiful, are very abrasive, and when covered with water, the minerals turn razorblade-sharp. Many of the photographers will ask you to get on your knees, to sit on the salt, or to lie on it. Make sure to put something protective down as a cushion between your skin and the salt! I used white kneepads to kneel on while there in 2017, and they saved my knees from lacerations and rashes which are the inevitable consequence of exposing skin to the salt. Next year, I plan to cut a white tarp down into sections so that I can lie on that without having to worry about being all cut up. You may think it’s not a big deal to lie on the salt, until you do it. Those cuts and rashes are brutal, and they’ll make your subsequent shoots difficult because your injuries will need to be Photoshopped, and you’ll also be in pain.
LITTLE SAHARA: The sand dunes present a different set of challenges. If there are sand storms, the sand can actually abrade your skin, and if that sand gets in your eyes while you are wearing contacts, you’ll be miserable. For this reason, I strongly recommend wearing sunglasses whenever you are on the sand dunes. Another issue on the sand dunes is the incredibly hot sand. You will burn your feet if you try to walk on the sand barefoot, so I recommend wearing water shoes or sneakers to protect your feet while walking.
MARINA: The marina offers dazzling sunsets which make for some amazing images. In addition, the reeds can be quite nice to shoot in when the sunlight has softened a bit. However, the marina stinks, there’s a sludge-filled area which is full of bugs, and the large rock formation smells like urine and is plastered with ugly graffiti.
RUINS: It is astounding how much broken glass is at the ruins. It is imperative that you wear shoes while walking around the ruins! In addition, there are lots of bugs such as mosquitoes in the ruins, so make sure to spray yourself with bug spray before shooting.
When you are at a shoot location, be proactive about seeking out photographers to shoot with. There will be intervals in which you have to wait your turn, but for the most part, you should be able to shoot almost nonstop. Conversely, don’t hog time with a particular photographer. Remember that other models want an opportunity to shoot with all of the photographers.
Above all else, be THANKFUL for experience. It is an honor to be a part of the group, and wonderful friendships are forged from the experience.