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Updated: Dec 8, 2022

Words by, Tamara Oei

Starting my first few weeks of studying at The Fashion Institute, I was already being exposed to so many amazing opportunities and offers. Just when I thought the flood of excitement couldn’t get any better, TFI reached out to me about assisting stylist Jamie Azzopardi on a photoshoot for HUF Magazine! I responded almost immediately without a second thought as I was so keen to take whatever opportunity I could get my hands on. Here I was, only just graduating high school and securing my first real experience in the fashion industry.

The day before the shoot, I started at Jamie’s place to assist in preparing and steaming the garments. Overwhelmed with feelings of excitement and nervousness, I did not know what to expect. However, I soon came to realize that I had nothing to worry about, as Jamie was super friendly and I loved getting to know him. There, I also met the lovely TFI student Sara who I was assisting alongside with. Jamie briefed us through the concepts and looks for the shoot, and we steamed the clothes ready for the next day.

Prior to this, I had never realized the amount of work and time that went into a single photoshoot. Surely it's just taking a few snaps of a model right? But I soon became aware of the extent of preparation and operation it took.

It was a 9am start to the day and Jamie, Sara and I made our way to the shoot’s location at Redleaf Beach. In order to get to the beach, there were numerous flights of stairs we had to climb down from the carpark. Jamie had given us a call sheet and it was Sara and I’s job to take the looks back and forth from the car and the shoot location as there was no room to keep the all the garments on set in the public area.

Together, Sara and I worked to transfer the clothing and accessories in the most efficient manner possible. With my hands full and the sun scorching down, I certainly got my workout done for the day as I went up and down those stairs more times than I could count! When I wasn't running clothes to and from the car, I was able to closely observe Jamie’s talent in motion. It was compelling to see how Jamie composed his looks and worked with the photographer to create the perfect shots. Whether this meant climbing in trees, or dipping in the water, there was no limit to the creative capacity they worked in.

After six hours on my feet being a part of this gratifying work, we began packing up all the clothing and accessories to be returned. This meant all the items we used needed to be in pristine condition.

My car loaded with a wardrobe of clothing and accessories, Sara and I drove into the city to begin the returns. After circling the busy streets of the Sydney CBD, we finally found a parking spot... of 15 minutes. We made the hasty decision of splitting the bags and attempting to do the returns before I could get a parking ticket! I laughed at myself running from store to store around Westfield with shopping bags over my shoulders. Out of breath, Sara and I met back at my car, thankful there was not a ticket waiting for us on the dashboard.

Elated and satisfied, I drove home thinking of how grateful I am to be starting this journey in the fashion industry. That day I was able to work with a renowned stylist who is so down-to-earth and a great inspiration. Jamie is so warm and inclusive, and absolutely incredible at what he does.

It’s true when they say that the practical experience trumps learning from theory. I was able to first-handedly discover a part of the exciting industry I was entering and confirm that this is what I wanted to pursue. For others, trying something out may cause them to realize that they are better suited in another area, which is 100% okay! The Fashion Institute is amazing in the way that they allow students to explore various avenues and guide them through the process.

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