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Backstage with Sherri Thompson: Making the 2016 Sea Gals Swimsuit Calendar

The 2015-16 Sea Gals Calendar is here. It has all 30 Sea Gals spread over 17 months plus a 2015 Seahawks schedule page. 

This year we shot the calendar over four days in our beautiful state of Washington; Alki Beach, Golden Gardens, Mercer Island, and The Gorge. This was our first year to head east over the mountains for a day! We were fortunate to use Cave B Resort as our home base for the day. Shades of blues, greens, silver, and white make up the color combinations of the pages with the exception of October in support of Breast Cancer Awareness month.

There is a ton of work and preparation that goes into the Sea Gals Calendar.  

How The Sea Gals Prepare:

The Sea Gals begin preparation for their photo shoot by viewing shots in magazines and studying poses and expressions.  I require each girl to bring in three pictures they feel they can emulate.  It is an inspiration tool.  I split them into days, location, and time slots for their shoot.  It is required to have a nice golden skin tone which most of them gain from Seattle Sun Tan mystic spray tan.  All nails and toes are to be clear or natural.  Everyone does step up their fitness routine!  On the day of the shoot each girl arrives about two hours prior to get hair and makeup done from scratch.   We have two makeup artists from MAC Cosmetics and two hair stylists from Gene Juarez. I want each Sea Gal to feel like a rock star on her shoot day. 

Everyone shoots in a couple of poses and most in multiple locations.  Sometimes they are the unlucky ones who get the ugly cold, wet, or windy weather!  Sometimes they get it just perfect!  

The Swimwear:

The branded suits were commissioned out to Doll Street - former Sea Gal Lindsay is owner & designer.  There is no guarantee they will be used in the calendar but this year Lindsay has eight suits on the cover, the schedule page and Trinity's pink suit in October 2016.  The girls are allowed to select their own suit with my approval.  Many of them had former Sea Gal Jalanda make their suits and she did an excellent job of showing Sea Gals Glamour Style.  We try to coordinate the setting with the style and feel of the suit, the girl, and her best asset i.e.: is she sporty, smiley, sassy, sexy, or a sophisticated personality.

The Personnel:

The calendar producer helps with all aspects of the calendar including the photo selection, editing, layout, printing, shipping, and more. There is the photographer including his four assistants, a videographer, a fashion coordinator, hair and makeup, and myself for a total of 13 people working together.   

The Image Selection:

This is by far the longest process!  We begin by filtering through 3,000 images. If I am lucky there is one photo that just pops for a girl making the choice easy, but that is not usually the case.  It is a process of narrowing down to 15, then five, then two, and then sometimes deciding I don't like any of that girl and I go back and ask for more and start over again.  I probably spend about 50-60 hours just looking at the photos and going back and forth.  It can be difficult to separate the photo from the girl. Never sacrifice the girl for the setting.  Once I have my selections of each girl then it is a challenge to make them pair up on the months and to decide who gets a standalone month.  Yes, I ask for lots of opinions and as we all know beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder, so I get a lot of different and conflicting input!

Shooting The Cover:

This year I wanted to use more of a branded-themed cover hoping to clearly show who we are at first glance; the Sea Gals, the Seahawks Cheerleaders, and supporting the greatest fans in the NFL, the 12s!  The cover suits were printed with the Seahawk colors and trimmed with the feather print fabric.  Although the intention was to get a dynamite shot of three cheerleaders for the cover, it did not happen. I had selected eight Sea Gals that I mixed around and tried various combinations. Sometimes you shoot for something that just doesn't turn out the way you imagined it.  So when that didn't work out I ended up selecting the more spirited larger group shot with the hand-held 12 Flag flying high in the wind at Golden Gardens.  It is different from any of our covers in the past.

The Unveiling:

The Sea Gals do not get to see their selected photos until a few minutes before they take the stage at the unveiling.  The anticipation, excitement, and worry over the months from the shoot to the reveal seems like forever.  This year we did more of a show at the unveiling on Aug. 16 at The Triple Door.  We did more dancing and more performances by the Sea Gals Show Group.  The Sea Gals packed the house and had so much fun meeting and signing calendars for more than 375 fans!  

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