Behind the scenes of the 2015 Colts Cheerleader swimsuit calendar photo shoot

Earlier this summer our stylists Cara, Renee and Kelley traveled back to Mexico for their second Colts Cheerleader swimsuit calendar photo shoot. Armed with last year's experience under their belt and all of the Invisible Blotting Powder and hairspray the airline would allow, they embarked on what they call the very best calendar yet, and the rest of us have to agree! Thanks to our incredibly talented stylists, the gorgeous cheerleaders, the wonderful Colts staff and other awesome sponsors, the images from the 2015 calendar are some of the most beautiful we've seen! Click here to see your favorite NFL Cheerleaders making it just a little hotter in Cancun, Mexico.

So how did our stylists' second photo shoot stack up compared to last year? Read their behind the scenes interview to find out!


1. This was your second photo shoot in Mexico. How did last year's experience help you prepare for this year?

Cara: I wouldn't say we were unprepared last year, but this year we made sure to be OVER prepared. We knew how to plan for the humidity and we knew we would have to operate on early mornings and very little sleep. 🙂

Renee: Last year went really well, but just knowing what to expect and how things were going to flow made a huge difference. I definitely felt more prepared this year.

Kelley: This year I felt way more prepared because I knew what to expect. We were able to have more of a game plan and know just how long we needed to spend on each girl and the random equipment we would need to take that we made do without last year.

2. What was a typical day like on set? What were your duties?

Cara: The Cheerleaders had to be ready in full hair and makeup by 5 am each day to be on set by sunrise. We would typically shoot five girls in one day and most of the days were similar, with the exception of the days we traveled off site. It was our job to keep them looking amazing throughout the entire shoot... not an easy feat during summer in Mexico! But I think we pulled it off alright if I do say so myself. 🙂 Everyone on set was helpful for the photography crew, whether we were holding props, helping with lighting, etc.

Renee: A typical day had 5 girls on the schedule. We would start doing hair and makeup at 3:30-4 to have 3 girls ready to shoot by sunrise. The sun rises over the water in Cancun so they wanted a lot of girls with pretty clouds and sunlight in the background. The first three girls would typically shoot until noon, then we would break for lunch. We would start getting the last two girls ready around 4 pm and would wrap for the day around 8 or 9. When I was on location I just focused on the little details, making sure their hair was laying right for the pose they were in and that their face wasn't shiny.

Kelley: Our days were generally the same. We woke up between 3 and 4 am to get at least three girls ready in hair and makeup. One day we had to get eight girls ready and were up at 2 am! Most days though, we had the luxury of sleeping in to three (haha). On location, it was our job to pay attention to every last little detail. Every single fly away needed to be in place, we made sure their faces weren't shiny and made sure their bathing suit was in place.

colts photo one

3. This year you strayed away from "Cheerleader curls" for some of the girls and went with more beachy styles like braids and even wet hair. How did you determine what each Cheerleader's look would be?

Cara: Each Cheerleader had a very personalized look for their hair texture which we decided upon among ourselves, then collaborated on with the Colts staff once we were in Mexico. We kept the makeup very soft and natural for all of the girls to fit with the beach theme.

Renee: The Cheerleaders' coach determines all of the girl's overall looks, which was supposed to be very natural and beachy this year. Going with that as our theme, we worked together to come up with a plan for each girl's hair based on its texture.

Kelley: We had a pretty good idea of how we wanted their hair to look based on it's texture. Once we were there, we made some adjustments based on what the swim suits looked like, their location, etc. We really took not only the Cheerleader's appearance but the surroundings in to account as well.

4. How did you deal with obstacles like the humid climate and shooting in the water? 

Cara: For a lot of the girls we wand curled their hair, which gave them different looks depending on the length and thickness of their hair, but ended up looking gorgeous and perfectly beachy on each of them. Their hair settled wonderfully as the day went on and even looked good when it got wet! As far as the humidity went... we invented hair product cocktails not even chemists could replicate!

Renee: This year we curled the hair differently in a way we felt made the hair more beachy from the moment we started shooting, to the last shot when their hair was halfway wet. I did a gorgeous braid on Leanna... I'm excited to see if it made the cut!

Kelley: We wand curled all of the Cheerleaders' hair and did a full face of makeup in the morning. We used all the Invisible Blotting Powder in the world to keep their faces shine free in the heat and humidity. Weather permitting, we would decide exactly how we wanted their hair to look once we were on set, whether it was getting the ends a little wet, flipping it to one side, etc.

colts two

5. Describe the collaboration involved. Who did you work and consult with on the back end?

Cara: A ton of people's time and effort went in to making this calendar a success. The Colts have a wonderful photography team who we worked closely with both this year and last. Coach Kelly was on maternity leave at the time but former Cheerleader and head of the Junior Cheerleader program, Anna King, was there as her proxy, along with their assistant Stephanie. Danielle Smith of Fresh Fettle was there to design the girls' looks with their swimsuits, accessories, etc.

Renee: For us three stylists, we had to make sure we communicated and collaborated a ton even before we left the states to make sure we would have absolutely everything we would need. That part is stressful because we stay at an all inclusive resort and if we need anything it can be very difficult to get, even though the hotel staff was super nice and accommodating.

Kelley: The three of us stylists discussed each girl's look in length and settled on the final look together, afterward getting our ideas confirmed with Anna and Stephanie of the Colts Cheer program. We also liked to check with the photographer and his team about our ideas, since photography is such a precise process. The way our eye sees hair and makeup is not necessarily how the camera will pick it up.

6. Were there any hiccups or hair and makeup emergencies you had to attend to?

Cara: Honestly, no! I couldn't have asked for it to go more smoothly!

Renee: Not really an emergency, but we did have one day we were scheduled to shoot at an off location resort and they couldn't confirm that we would have electricity there. It just meant we had to get five girls ready before sunrise as opposed to three. We got to the resort between 5 and 530 and it turned out that we did have electricity there and it was a very nice facility. We did all of the girls' makeup while we were there, and we started shooting Brittany E. first. It was lightly raining the whole time we were shooting her but it actually worked out a lot better than we thought. We wand curled her hair and so the rain just slowly made it fall out into a beachy, wet wave. She was an experienced model, so she was able to pose on her own and we just worried about getting the shots done quickly before more rain came. We started to shoot Cassia G. next, and shortly after we started the rain became a lot heavier. We ended up all getting soaked and having to give up hope that it was going to stop. We left that location and went back to our resort. We had to redo a couple of the girl's hair and makeup and continue shooting later that night. It was a very long day to say the least, but it ended up all working out really well. On days like that, you have to be very flexible and keep a very positive attitude because everyone is tired and it's easy to get discouraged when things you can't control interfere with your schedule.

Kelley: Not that I can think of! We learned what the weather was like last year and what to expect so we knew what to do differently this year.


7. After two years of calendar photo shoots under your belt, what are the most important things you've learned about making a model look her best for an editorial shoot?

Cara: Well, I feel confident now that I could make anyone look their best in 90+ degree heat. It's important for us to do our very best of course, and always be on the lookout for even the smallest of issues that the camera will pick up. It's also important for us to be a support system for the girls being photographed. They have a really hard job to do while we're there, and we want to make sure they feel confident and beautiful so it radiates throughout the calendar.

Renee: I guess the biggest lesson I've learned is that no matter why you are at the shoot, it should be a priority to make sure you do everything you can to make the model feel comfortable and relaxed. If they aren't, the poses look forced and unnatural. For us in Mexico, it was also super important to make sure the girls stayed shaded and as cool as possible so they weren't sweating.

Kelley: For summery, outdoor shoots like this the most important thing I've learned is that the more natural the model looks the better. And... everything is in the details. Details, details, details. The camera lens is unforgiving and we want to make sure the hair and makeup is absolutely impeccable.

8. What did you do in your spare time? Did you go on any excursions or activities?

Cara: Spare time was mostly spent by the pool or relaxing on the beach, as one tends to do in the beautiful Cancun, Mexico. We were able to sneak away one afternoon and enjoy a massage and reflexology treatment. We may work at a spa, but you can never have too much pampering!

Renee: When we had any spare time I just tried to relax and and be by the pool as much as possible!

Kelley: We had one entire day off so we laid by the pool of course, and had a super relaxing spa day. With waking up so early the other days, it was much needed! Most of the time we were too tired to think about doing much else besides relaxing in the sun and enjoying some cocktails!


9. Describe your favorite moment or day of the photo shoot. Why was it your favorite?

Cara: At one point during the shoot a huge storm rolled in and we had to halt everything we were doing for a few hours. Normally this would have been a hassle, but we happened to be shooting on a gorgeous, natural beach so although it interrupted the shoot, the storm and surroundings were absolutely stunning.

Renee: My favorite part is just working the Cheerleaders, getting them ready from start to finish, and seeing the transformation. All of them are awesome, and they're so excited to have their shoot!

Kelley: My favorite part of being involved with something like this is seeing the inner workings of how a photo shoot is really done. All of the careful thought, effort and hard work put into making this calendar a masterpiece is not something you normally think about, and is so interesting to me. You don't realize when you're looking at the calendar hanging up in your house how hard and sometimes downright crazy it can be to put together! I love having the unique opportunity to be a part of something like this. It's also SO fun on set. I've made awesome friendships and well... with the crazy days we have on set everyone tends to get a little slap happy! It's a blast!


10. What are you most excited to see in this year's calendar?

Cara: All of it! The photographers take hundreds of images, so I'm excited to see which ones make the calendar and who will be on the cover.

Renee: Everything!! I know it's going to be a fantastic calendar. I'm also pretty curious to find out if my braid I did on Leanna ends up in the calendar!

Kelley: I'm most excited to see how everyone's hair turned out. I think it will be so beachy and gorgeous with the way we used a curling wand on everyone!

Be sure to check out the Colts Cheerleader's photo gallery here, where you can also request your autographed your copy. Visit Tyler Mason on Facebook to see more of Cara, Renee and Kelley's behind the scenes album! And that's a wrap!