Last week, 21 winners from Project Live Your Life headed off to New York City for the experience of a lifetime. These 21 inspiring people went from being American Eagle Outfitters customers and store associates to the cast on our Back to School photo shoot. Most of the photos in this post were captured by Project Live Your Life winners during the shoot.
The Back to School photo shoot was inspired by the place where American style thrives—New York City. From SOHO to the Meatpacking District to Brooklyn, the NYC landscapes—and the literally thousands of photos that were captured during the week!—will be the backdrop to the cast for the marketing you see in stores, on AE.com and on our social media channels.
All of our cast members also filmed a confessional style videos, where they talked about their inspirations, passions and personal style. The videos were especially fun to shoot because they were able to experience things that are quintessentially New York, including riding a water taxi from Brooklyn to Manhattan, skateboarding down the cobblestone streets of Brooklyn and eating the best slice of pizza in New York (Joe’s Pizza, according to video director Jenner).
When they arrived at the airport on Saturday, winners received the star treatment. Each one found his or her name on white boards held by private drivers. They were then whisked off to Hotel Rivington in the Lower East Side of Manhattan to get ready for a meet and greet with the cast and crew.
The photo shoot began on Saturday with hair styling for each cast member. They received haircuts, color treatments and some of the girls were even given hair extensions. Everyone (guys and girls!) had their hands pampered with manicures and were then fitted for their outfits. Being a part of the photo shoot gave the cast a special sneak peek at our Fall line that will be in stores and online this July.
After their fittings, the cast had the opportunity to explore New York City together before shooting began on Monday. They hit up famous NYC landmarks, including Katz’s Delicatessen on the Lower East Side, our flagship store in Soho and the bright lights of Times Square. All of their Instagram feeds were full of pictures with new friends all over the Big Apple.
On Monday, the real work started. Shoot days began early at base camp, which was located at Highline Stages in NYC’s historic Meatpacking District. Our cast and crew fueled up on breakfast each day at the studio before the cast went in for hair and makeup. Food is never at a shortage on photo shoots, since craft services always offer meals and snacks throughout the day.
The shoot consisted of four sets, which meant being bustled throughout the city during the week to capture photos and videos. Cast members were afforded the opportunity to work with renowned photographer, RJ Shaughnessy, and an all-star video team including Jay Silver, Jenner Furst and Julia Nason. Every cast member worked with our creative team and stylists and experienced a peek behind the scenes of one of their favorite brands.
On the last day of the shoot, the teams all wrapped the only way you can in New York City—with a rooftop dance party! The cast exchanged tearful goodbyes with the crew before heading into the city to spend their last hours together before leaving the next day.
After the shoot wrapped, two of the cast members shared their thoughts on the life changing experience.
“Shooting with AE was one of the best experiences of my life. Not only was working with the photographers and crew a blast, but getting to know the cast members was absolutely incredible. I had no idea we would all get as close as we did. I just want to say thank you to everyone who was involved in the trip, cast and crew. Without each and every person there it would not have been the same. You all are amazing and I hope to see everyone again soon! Love you guys!” – Brigette, ballet dancer from Rochester Hills, MI
“When I first got off the plane I was so petrified. I had no idea what this experience was going to be like. I had never really modeled for any big brands before so I was pretty nervous. Literally five minutes after arriving at the hotel, I ran into a cast member who was actually staying in the room next to me. As soon as we started talking we couldn’t stop… and that goes for everyone I met. All of our personalities really meshed well. I honestly fell in love with each and every person I had the privilege of meeting during this experience. All of the people who were involved in the creation of this campaign were incredibly kind and caring and it was nothing like I expected. Everyone was real, really real, and got along so incredibly well. All of the shots you’re about to see during this campaign were full of honest emotion. We loved being around each other and that will definitely show.” – Lauren, writer from San Diego, CA
Keep checking back to learn more about our Project Live Your Life winners and learn how you can be part of our next campaign.