Staying In ’Toon: Model Shoot

Published in the September 2018 Issue July 2022 Feature Scott “Sky” Smith

Photos provided by Larry Erickson, DSM Managing Editor

As I have mentioned before, I am married to a recovering accountant and one of the biggest hurdles for me is convincing my spouse that I need new stuff for the pontoon. I mean really, a spreadsheet of the costs and resulting benefits? Anyway, one way I do that is by using the boat as an advertising vehicle. You know, such as my company name on the boat and stuff like that. I have also used the pontoon for article research, like when we put the Pontoon Wholesalers third pontoon on it. The boat has also been a great place to entertain customers. Really it is like a floating patio or deck with one major advantage, no cleaning the real deck and house!

Photos provided by Larry Erickson, DSM Managing Editor

Recently I found a new use. While we were attending the local DSM Magazine new issue release party, one of the editors asked if my pontoon boat was available. My first thought was why would a local artsy fashion magazine need to use my `toon? The editor said there was going to be model fashion shoot on another acquaintances sailboat and they needed a support boat to carry the models and assorted equipment. A pontoon seemed to be the best boat for the purpose. I agreed and mine would be the best boat to carry models. Well, as you can probably imagine I was all over that! Just think, five or six beautiful models on my boat!

As you may have noticed, I have had many different experiences and done a lot of stuff through the years. Well I figured this was perfect for me, having been a model myself. My first modeling experience was many years ago when I was an extra on a bus in a never aired commercial. Years later I was… well, how should I say this, I was a centerfold.


Luckily, my wife is a very understanding person, even if she is an accountant. Before the centerfold, we did a spreadsheet analysis. After seeing the potential in the spreadsheet, we both agreed there was a tremendous marketing benefit from being in the magazine. Even now, years later, I still keep a copy of the centerfold picture on my phone to share with people who doubt the story. I guess this is just proof that “regular” people can be models, and in my case even a centerfold.

Anyway, this model shoot was going to be fun. It motivated me to get the `toon cleaned, polished, and ready to show off. That was until the lake level started to head up to flood level sending all sorts of debris and tree trunks floating throughout the lake. Initially I was concerned the editors would call off the shoot, but they decided to move forward and just keep a lookout for debris.

Another minor issue was the number of people. Originally, it was four to six models, but then that number increased with each model having their own “fashion,” “makeup” and “hair” people. Who knows how many assistants there was going to be? Then we still need the photographer, their assistant and photo equipment. Oh and don’t forget a few of the magazine personnel. I was thinking that my poor 20-foot pontoon was not big enough.

Luckily, when we all met at the dock, the numbers had been reduced to just two models (one guy and one girl), the photographer, a few assistants and a makeup/hair person, and a couple others. Oh and a pocket dog named Dallas. We lucked out; our boat was going to be big enough.

On The Set

The first half of the shoot took place on the docks with the models on the sailboat and everyone else just setting around on the pontoon waiting. In a way, it was pretty exciting watching everyone getting ready for the shoot. The discussions on clothes, angles, sunlight, backgrounds. There is a lot that goes into getting just the right pictures. Model insider hack, did you know if the clothes don’t fit that sometimes they use clamps to tighten up the extra material in the back?

When the editor finally decided it was time to head out on the water, we were ready. Although the way it ended up was all we had to do was follow along with extra photo equipment (and the snacks) on our boat. I was kind of let down actually. The plan was at some point in the future they would move someone or something to our boat.

My chance of having “models” on the boat was dwindling. Actually, I take that back, we did have a model onboard for a while, a pocket dog hung out with us before we left the docks.

Photo by Elizabeth Carrie

Even though I have been on other photo missions which include a few air-to-air shoots I always forget how difficult it is to get everything right. Sure almost any photo can be changed or enhanced with Photoshop, but I believe you really need to have the right picture to start with.

As the sailboat close-hauled up the lake, we followed on the port stern waiting for the call to swap out equipment or people. However, because of the high water, we also became a lookout boat, watching for floating debris. Many times, we would deviate from our course to miss a log or a tree. We would also keep an eye out for the captain of the sailboat, just in case he missed something. He had a lot of activity on his boat, with the camera person moving around the deck and the camera assistant positioning the reflector screen often blocking the view.

During all this, the two models would change outfits and move around the deck getting in new poses for the photographer. The photographers assistant would have to move around the deck with a big reflector shield to make sure the light was just right. And all this time we just kept motoring along, watching the water for logs which there was a lot of and traffic, which there wasn’t much of any.

Pontoon Pickup

Finally, towards the end of the sail, we were called over by the crew of the sailboat to pick up the camera person so she could shoot photos from the pontoon. It was about time that we got in on some of the action.

We spent time motoring circles around the sailboat so the photographer could get shots with the sun at different angels, the models in different positions and the sails accentuating the pictures. During our motoring in a circle, we also had to deviate from the course and the distances from the sailboat because of floating debris. The photographer was great to work with, she would ask me to put us in a certain position for a shot and the next thing would be my wife yelling something like, “look out, log” and if I had to change course, the photographer just tell me to do what I needed to do.

I had always thought the stereotype of directors, photographers and the many other important people in photo shoot would be hard to work with, but that wasn’t so for us. This group was great. In the end, it was a great experience.

Oh, and if you are wondering about the centerfold, check out the photo below:

  • Like what you read?

    Want to know when we have important news, updates or interviews?

  • Join our newsletter today!

    Sign Up
You Might Also Be Interested In...

Send to your friends!


Time to Shake up the Industry

A Sneek Peek at what's coming in 2023!

Check out a preview from our FALL 2022 issue!

Already a subscriber? Please check your email for the latest full issue link.