Last September I went on an amazing trip to Bangladesh with People Tree to shoot the 2014 summer catalogue. It was a whistle-stop tour but what we saw was incredible.
We arrived in the madness of Dhaka on a Friday morning. We had a quick cup of chai then embarked on a car journey almost longer than the flight. After a very scenic, slightly hair-raising drive we arrived at Thanapara Swallows in the west Bangladeshi division close to the Indian borders.
An early start on Saturday saw us get a few shots under our belt before breakfast allowing us to spend the rest of the day meeting the lovely people of Swallows. It was amazing to see how the People Tree garments are made and the hard work that goes into each piece. Seeing it first hand has made me respect and appreciate my clothes more for sure. We also visited the school and daycare nursery that are both funded by the Thanapara Swallows Ethical Business and by People Tree.
There was an even earlier make-up call the next day and even more heat. Trying to keep three models looking cool and fresh was a hard job. I gave up trying to keep myself looking cool despite a Belgian film crew and Miki from People Tree filming all of us, so excuse me if I appear a little sweaty in any photos or videos. It was HOT.
Monday was our last day and another early make-up call meant we were shooting by 6.30am down by the river. The sun was already making it hot but we had the last few shots to do before we left that afternoon. The train ride back to Dhaka was more comfortable than the drive from it. Tea is served in china cups – much more civilized than the paper cups back home!
We weren’t in Bangladesh for long but it was such an inspiring trip – it was hard work but I will never forget it. The people were wonderful, so friendly and welcoming to us. It was a privilege to see the work that People Tree is doing at Swallows. It has cemented the fact to me that we can make a difference by choosing how we spend our money. I want to know where my clothes have come from and that a fair wage has been paid to those that made them, in a fair working environment. Wearing a People Tree dress ensures this, it also ensures that money is put back into the local community making life fairer for all.
To say it was hot was an understatement. We started make-up early every morning (4.30am was the earliest I think) so that we could start shooting as early as possible to try and escape the hottest part of the day. Luckily for me all 3 models had great skin so we skipped foundation and just used concealer where needed. There was a lot of sweat and shine going on during this trip so oil blotters were a must. Layer upon layer of powder is not an option in that kind of heat, it just ends up looking cakey and the shine soon prevails anyway. I went through a lot!
For eyes we kept it simple too with a flick of liner for definition – I used Mark and Spencer’s Autograph and it kept its hold well. On cheeks I used cream blusher – again powder can get cloggy in that intense heat. On the lips I used a lipstick by Tarte called Timeless.
Catalogue photography by Safia Minney.