Five Questions to Ask Yourself Before Setting Your 2016 Goals (and My Responses)

I’m a Pinterest junkie. You find things you like and then organize them into categories that you can go back to or reference at anytime. I came across this blog the other day while pinning and since I hadn’t verbally set my 2016 goals yet (and every article I’ve read about setting goals recommends writing them down to make you accountable), I figured I’ll start here. This blogger, Chelsea, recommends you ask yourself these five questions first that can help you in your goal setting. So here we go:

1. What is one way want to be different by this time next year? Don’t think about circumstances or things you want to be different, think about how you want to be different.

I want to work on getting rid of my fear of confrontation. There are so many things I need to address and conversations I need to have on a regular basis that I procrastinate having and often end up settling on because I’d rather not have the difficult conversation about it. I know it’s holding me back to put off having certain conversations or in many cases, not having them at all.

2. What is one thing I want to accomplish this year? 

One of my favorite things in life both personally and professionally (and often the lines blur) is developing and maintaining relationships with a fantastic network of all different types of people, who all bring different things to the table and all whom I admire and who are sources of endless inspiration. I had a conversation the other day with one of these people, Marie Griffin, who is a media trainer for some of the biggest names and companies in the world.

After our conversation, I immediately knew the one thing I want to accomplish this year:

Define what makes Sophie, Sophie. Who i am as a person beyond the obvious. What about me makes me photograph the way I do. Looking at my photographs, how is what I do different from what other photographers do. Put language to my work, which will help me craft who I am verbally. Why do people pick me to photograph a job? What are those defining factors? If you were going to overhear people in a room talking about why are they going to go with Sophie Elgort as their photographer, what are they saying? Define that thing that makes me stand out. There’s talent and then there’s that extra piece. Who do I admire? What resonates with me? Craft myself instead of letting others craft me. What about me separates me from the rest? 

I know it seems a little self-involved, but I need to start treating my business (which is me) like a business, so this is top priority for 2016, not only defining it but then putting the message out there. 

3. What is a quality I find myself admiring in others? 

The ability to get things done quickly and check them off the list. It’s not always done 100% perfectly, but it’s 80% there. There was a great example a family friend of mine told me when he was talking about getting things done. If you need new pencils and you delegate the task, the person might come back with blue pencils when you wanted red, but at the end of the day, you have your pencils and the task is done. Another funny anecdote regarding this topic – one night, walking home after an event with a group of a few power women in the corporate world, we were having a conversation about our to-do lists. I mentioned that I almost never complete mine and one woman responded something like, “well then the things on it must not be that important.” That really resonated with me, mostly because she’s right, some of them aren’t that important and therefore other things should be prioritized, but some of them are important and I procrastinate doing them only to my detriment.

I think this lack of being able to finish my to-do lists relates to my first answer – getting rid of my fear of confrontation. Often, I don’t get things done because I’m nervous about a conversation I have to have in order to complete certain tasks, so I put it off. It’s all connected.

4. What will make me proud of myself a year from now? 

I want to be a judge on a fashion Reality-Competition TV show and do fashion news correspondent segments. There, I said it. I’ve done some fashion and photography segments and profiles on TV which I really enjoy and while I keep growing my photography career, I’d like to be a judge or contributor to a show like Project Runway Junior or Americas Next Top Model or other media opportunities of that sort.

5. What is a word that embodies what I want out of this year?

Self-awareness. Here’s the definitionSelfawareness is the capacity for introspection and the ability to recognize oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals.

Happy new year!

Behind the Scenes at a… Model Casting

One of my favorite parts about being a photographer is choosing who I want to shoot -who inspires me. I keep a Pinterest board of models I’d like to photograph (it’s a secret board, but you know what, this just gave me an idea to do posts on each one as I find them here on this blog). I also keep a list of other non-models I’d like to photograph in my iPhone notes and update it whenever I see a new actress on TV or hear a new singer or meet someone out or even at a restaurant. Actually I saw this girl at a restaurant at the table next to me a few months ago and I didn’t ask her name or info because I didn’t want to interrupt her dinner. I have been kicking myself ever since. As a photographer, you gotta stay inspired and figure out WHO are your muses. Of course, every project will require a different kind of muse. On Tuesday I did a casting for a shoot I’m doing next week that my friend and frequent collaborator John Tan is producing (who is a casting director and also fantastic stylist, mostly in menswear). We needed four girls and four guys so between 12-2pm, about 30 models from different agencies who John had scheduled based on their portfolios or models he already knew or knew of came to my apartment to meet us.

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Kira is from Germany and she has the most upbeat personality. The image on her comp card reminded me of a young Kate Moss and that’s never a bad thing. I took at least one picture of each model holding their card so we could remember who when it was time for decisions since many don’t look like they do in their cards. Something you may not know about a casting is the models show up without any makeup and their hair usually down or back.

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Something I often ask after one or two shots is for them to smile – it’s good to see what their smiles look like!

This guy Adriano really impressed me. Adriano goes to school down the street and it was only his 3rd week modeling so he didn’t even have a comp card or portfolio book yet. When I asked if he had any pictures of himself he could show us, he pulled up his Instagram account, where he had pictures friends had taken of him. While scrolling through his Instagram, I noticed some pictures of him on a skateboard. We started talking about it and he showed me a bunch of videos of him skateboarding. It’s always a plus when models do things in addition to modeling – dance, skateboarding, art, music, whatever – something that they can talk about or that we can use in the shoot.

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In some of his portfolio pictures he looked like he might be a dancer so I asked and sure enough.. So of course I asked him to do a dance move for me. There’s nothing better than shooting dancers / performers.

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Jacob Suthers came in wearing the coolest look and it turns out he painted the clothes himself. Turns out he has been spotted on the street wearing his creations and commissioned to make things for people. I want one…

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We were done with the casting, but when he put his jacket back on and I saw the painting on the back, I quickly snapped another shot of him when he was walking out.

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Even though she’s not wearing one, she is also an artist and paints t-shirts. In fact, she was headed to Art Basel in Miami to show a series of her custom painted shirts.

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And Koki was also headed to Art Basel because it turns out he’s in a K-Pop boy band called EXP (even though he’s not Korean and the rest of the members in the band are also not Korean).

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Another thing I like to see is how they are in front of the camera. I say “move a little” – you get a sense of how they will be on a shoot and how comfortable they are in front of the camera. It’s helpful if they have their own sense of how to move that way along with your direction they have some ideas to contribute and it becomes a collaboration.

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About an hour ago I tweeted that I was working on this post and asked if anyone had any questions. Here are the questions they asked and my answers:

Question from @living_proof3: How hard is it to get into the modeling business?

Answer: I think in the past you had to be in the right place at the right time to get discovered, but now with social media it has become easier. A young model I shot a few months ago, Lameka Fox, was discovered through the Instagram contest #Iloveyourgenes run by IMG and now she’s signed with IMG and has a successful modeling career. If you have the right looks, which doesn’t always mean just being pretty, but often having more of a unique or interesting look and of course the height (in general no shorter than 5’7 for girls) then there are ways to get yourself out there now thanks to social media.

Question from @precioussteph98: Can you be really short and still be a model?

Answer: What’s “really short”? In general, models are 5’7 or taller.

For those who didn’t get their questions in before this was published, feel free to tweet me and ask and I’ll respond to you on twitter. My handle is: @sophieelgort

Thanks for reading!

*All photos by Sophie Elgort

 

A Day in Paris: Saint-Ouen Flea Market

The next time you’re in Paris, carve out a whole day (yes, the whole day) for a trip to Saint Ouen, the largest antique market in the world. But be warned, it’s only open Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 10:30am to 5:30pm.

Saint-Ouen is about a 20 minute cab ride from Paris proper and the vendors will all organize the shipping for you back to your home (even if you live out of the country).

There are 15 markets, but we only made it through two of them: Paul Bert and Dauphine, both which I highly recommend, but I wish we could have explored the others too.

Someone also recommended that we eat at one of the many restaurants at Saint-Ouen, Ma Cocotte (for you design nerds, the dining room there is designed by Philippe Starck). Unfortunately we were so jet lag that we didn’t get there early enough to eat breakfast there and still have enough time to explore before making it back to Paris for our lunch meeting at 1pm, so we grabbed croissants and ate them for breakfast instead on our way there to leave as much time for exploring as possible.

They have everything, furniture, home decor, vintage records, vintage clothes, knick knacks… Even if you’re not in the market for anything, it’s endless material, inspiration (and if you’re still not sold, endless Instagram and Snapchat opportunities). When we go back, we are definitely spending the day there including breakfast, lunch and dinner at all the restaurants around the neighborhood too. Check it out, you won’t regret it. Some snapshots of my favorite things we saw below:

It was like fate – the first shop we saw was called La Boutique de Sophie!

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The endless search for an antique floor mirror. I grew up with one in the front hall of my parents’ apartment and also my dad has a big gold mirror in his studio, so I always knew I’d want one once I had a place of my own. Psst that’s me in the reflection in my new Maje poncho that I bought the day before in Paris this time around (did you know that Maje is cheaper in Paris than it is in the USA by a lot actually, so I went a little crazy..)

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Taking Sputnik lamps to a whole new level.

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One of the first things that caught my eye in the second market we went into – Dauphine, which has a more eclectic assortment.

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This reminded me of the Jetson’s.

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Love this coffee table, but Eric wasn’t feeling it and since we’re decorating together we agreed we only get pieces we both really love, so sadly it didn’t come home with us.

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Old school foosball table – would love to have one of these at our place. I grew up with a foosball table at our place in Vermont and everyday after skiing, my brothers and I would spend hours playing until dinner and then again after dinner until bed. We still have massive tournaments when we’re up there. This same store also has endless antique Goyard trunks (there was no pictures allowed so I only managed to snap the one below before they were on to me).

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There are also lots of shops along the main street that all the markets stem off from. We didn’t have enough time to really explore those, but again love this Sputnik lamp and those tables.

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Last but not least, isn’t this a cool idea for a lamp / way to store your glasses? Especially if you live in an apartment you know you can always use more storage. I’m going to try this.

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Let me know if you go!

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Behind the Scenes with The Elgorts: Town & Country’s February ’15 Issue

This month, my brother Ansel is on the cover of Town & Country magazine. That’s exciting in itself, but what was really cool was that they hired my dad to shoot the cover and inside story, my brother Warren to shoot the behind the scenes film and yours truly to shoot the inside cover shot, making it quite the family affair. Along with showcasing a few shots from the magazine (the rest you can see in the issue itself), I thought I’d share some behind the scenes photos of the making of this issue:

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Cover shot by Arthur Elgort.

Sophie's Town and Country Spread

This is the inside cover. Featuring two of the Elgort men. Shot by moi.

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In my dad’s studio – Arthur shooting Ansel. Set design by Forest Watson. Styling by David Vandewal.

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Lots of moving parts. On the left you can see Warren and team shooting the behind the scenes video.

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Outfit change. On to the next one.

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Warren and team filming the interview portion of the video.

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The three Elgort men coming back up in the elevator after a shot outside.

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Change of clothes for Arthur and Ansel. Back downstairs where I shot them for the inside cover.

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A few days later someone told me they saw us in People Magazine. When I looked to see what it was, I noticed that someone else had also been taking behind the scenes shots that day.. (paparazzi are invisible, I swear).

This all culminated last night in a dinner that Town & Country threw for us in celebration of the issue. Check out my facebook page for photos and details!

 

Hawaii Honeymoon and Why Kauai

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This was the view from our window while in Kaua’i, Hawaii the last week of August for our honeymoon. We arrived late at night and could not see a thing on the drive from the airport to the St. Regis, Princeville. In the morning, due to the time change – I am NOT normally an early riser by choice – I woke up at 6am (which is noon in New York) and flung open the shudders to this view.

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One of the reasons we picked Kaua’i to go for our honeymoon is because it was important to both Eric and me that we go somewhere we could do things (not just lay out). Don’t get me wrong, I am not someone who wants to hike all day everyday and go to every museum and see all the tourist attractions, but I do get bored out of my mind just sitting around. So – we surfed (thank you to Evan from Hawaiian Surfing Adventures for teaching us – we both got up our first try! – and then recommending a local food truck for lunch down the street)…

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…We kayaked…

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…and then got out of our kayaks and hiked…

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…To “Secret Falls”, which wasn’t so secret after all. We swam in the waterfall (with the rest of the people)…

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…I saw this flower on the hike back to the kayak. Isn’t it interesting?

photo (84)Another day, I learned how to play golf with a lesson on the driving range…

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…and a few days later we played 9 holes (okay, it was actually 7 – I could not make it to 9, but I did get to golf this hole, which made it all worth it).

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And we also saw a rainbow on the course. I like golf now, which is a good thing since I married into a golf family.

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Another day we went sailing around the Na Pali Coast on Captain Andy‘s boat. Then had dinner on the boat and watched the sunset before docking.

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We did hang out by the pool one day. I wrote post cards and drank Pina Coladas to keep from getting restless. I still lasted only a couple hours.

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I love palm trees – just saying.

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And at the end of each day we would have wine and cheese while watching the sunset…

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And then we’d go to dinner. We found four absolutely spectacular dinner spots if you’re ever in the area: The Kauai Grill (a Jean Georges restaurant in our hotel – do the wine pairing menu if you have the chance), The Makana Terrace (mostly great for the breakfast buffet each morning), as well as two more local restaurants off property, The Hanalei Dolphin Restaurant (which also has a great fish market around the back by the same name where you can get great takeaway sushi rolls during lunch hour), and Bar Acuda – both restaurants that are in Hanalei, the town where we learned how to surf and the place where we will stay in a little hut on the beach if we go back.

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And one night, we just had to go to a Luau.

What would/did you do on your honeymoon?

Starting a Skincare Routine with Time to Spare Before 30

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This summer I was featured in The Daily‘s Next Generation issue. Now, if you’ve seen The Daily, you know it’s a big magazine (yes, while it’s also big as in well known, I’m talking about big in size). So when I submitted the photo for it, I had no idea they were going to blow it up to the size of the page, which made my head, well, bigger than life size.

It was right about then that I was happy that I had been taking care of my skin. Though I’m not a big makeup person, I once read an article in Glamour magazine that really resonated with me, 30 things to have and to know before you’re 30, so in the past year I have made an effort to develop a skincare routine – I am 28 years old after all. I had never gotten a facial, never been to a dermatologist and usually did not bother to take off my makeup (if I was even wearing any) before going to bed. The one product I always used, given to me by my mother at a young age, was Clinique’s Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion (coincidentally, I was hired to shoot a series of portraits of them coinciding with the relaunch of that lotion a couple years ago – how did they know!?)

Anyway, while I am still a fan of Clinique’s lotion, I needed a full routine – face wash and everything and I wanted to get my first facial (I got married this past August 23rd, 2014). I contacted my beauty aficionado, fashion and beauty writer for US Weekly and good friend, Monique Meneses. She recommended going to Ling Skincare for both the facial and their products and so I went. They recommend a five step routine every morning and night – Purifying Facial Cleanser, Dual Moisture Emulsion Hydrator, Moisture Plenish Hydration Solution, Eye and Lip Soothe Cream, Elastin Collagen Lotion – but I’m pretty happy if I do it even once a day.

I’m not saying I don’t have my nights where I come home too tired to do anything but fall into bed, full face of makeup on, but I’m pretty sure by the time I’m 30, I can say that I have my skincare routine down – check!

Arthur Elgort’s Photo Exhibition at Toronto’s Izzy Gallery

_1070663Last week, my dad, photographer Arthur Elgort‘s exhibition opened at the Izzy Gallery in Toronto. My brother, Warren and I went up there for 24 hours to be there for the opening reception.

_1070680This was the gallery during the day before the opening. My dad’s press schedule was back to back – interviews for TV, radio, newspapers, magazines.

_1070684One outlet sent a photographer to take his picture. He did not hesitate to ask my dad for feedback and advice on the images, which my dad gladly gave. One thing I learned, my dad definitely knows how to pose – maybe he learns it from the models he shoots?

_1070677I was familiar with most of the photos they were showing, including this one of Kate Moss back in the day at Cafe Lipp in Paris. When my dad arrived with his crew, everyone was so excited that Kate Moss was there that they said she could do whatever she wanted. So she got up on the tables where the off-duty waiters were having their lunch and they didn’t mind at all – that was the shot! When I was in Paris last year shooting during fashion week for Teen Vogue, I visited Cafe Lipp to see where it all took place.

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_1070678These I also know well.

_1070679But this one, I had never seen before in my life! How is that possible? I need it, I want it, I have to have it.

_1070701Around 7pm, the gallery opened and people poured in. In the middle, unbeknownst to my dad, a reporter did a Q&A with him in the middle of the gallery so that guests could get to know the man behind the pictures. He was charming and sarcastic, his typical mix of traits – when asked how he spots a good model, he pointed to the bartenders catering the party and explained which one he would choose to photograph (My brother, Warren, told me later that he had already photographed her with Warren before the gallery opened its doors). When asked which photo he thought was the best investment, he pointed toward me and said “My daughter, Sophie, is a better photographer than I am and right now her work is a lot cheaper, I would invest in one of hers, quick, and she’ll give you a deal.” I turned bright red, but how could I not be somewhat flattered? Aside from being a great photographer, my dad is a great dad. He also managed to give shout-outs to my two brothers.

_1070703Nobody wanted to leave. We finally escaped with the gallery owner, Izzy, to go to dinner at Sotto Sotto, where he is friends with the owner (who was actually at the gallery opening earlier that evening). His wife and brother stayed behind to close up and joined us shortly after.

If you are in Toronto before November 29th, go see the exhibition at the Izzy Gallery in the Yorkville area, you won’t regret it.

Pictures and The Stories that go with them

IMG_9769_smallI created this space as a place to post great photos and tell the stories that go with them.

So, this is me. A self portrait I took recently. It was the middle of New York Fashion Week (SS15) and a new website called Citiphile, a digital city guide for the fashion industry, approached me about featuring me on their site. I was flattered as the people they had featured so far included Simon Doonan, Elie Tahari, The Danijo sisters, Lori Goldstein and others I greatly admire. They sent over a list of questions to answer about my go-to places in NYC and also requested a portrait of me. They offered to send a photographer to take it, but, as a photographer myself, I figured I would try my hand at taking a self-portrait (different than the “selfie”, but that’s another discussion).

I had been at the Azede Jean-Pierre show that day. My good friend, creative consultant, Nneya Richards, introduced me to the brand and Azede herself, who is a promising young designer that you will hear much more about, I’m sure. So, I was wearing a metallic orange “Azede” blazer that I borrowed for the occasion (it is polite to wear the designer to his or her show if you can) and I paired it with simple black pieces including a pair of Theyskens Theory trousers, Tamara Mellon sandals and a Rebecca Taylor tank. The deadline to submit the photo to the editor was that evening, so, without changing from the day, I went up to the rooftop of my apartment building with a tripod and my camera and within twenty minutes, I got the shot. The thing that proved challenging was getting the camera to focus when I had no one else up there with me to stand in the place I would run into once engaging the self-timer. I ended up setting the camera on a high aperture (F11) and putting it on manual focus, focusing on the banister behind where I knew I would stand. Luckily, nobody was on the rooftop while I ran back and forth from behind the camera to in front, from photographer to subject and it worked out.

I will be taking more self-portraits in the future, but next time might bring a remote to trigger the camera instead of running back and forth.