A photographer who has worked with Victoria's Secret for 20 years told us the most surprising change in the models' show routines

Mike Coppola/Getty ImagesCandice Swanepoel, Russell James, Romee Strijd, Lais Ribeiro, and Jasmine Tookes attend the ‘ANGELS’ by Russell James book launch and exhibit hosted by Cindy Crawford and Candice Swanepoel at Stephan Weiss Studio on September 6, 2018 in New York City.
  • Photographer Russell James has worked with the Victoria’s Secret brand for 20 years.
  • The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, which filmed in New York City on November 8 and aired on Sunday December 2, is a big date in his diary.
  • He told INSIDER the biggest change he’s seen over the years is the models starting to “look after themselves.”
  • “They’re eating great, training great. They’re models of health and fitness.”
  • He added that they’re also socially conscious when it comes to the products in their beauty regimens.

A photographer who has worked with the Victoria’s Secret brand for 20 years has revealed the truth about the models’ behind-the-scenes routines – and they sound more healthy than you might think.

INSIDER caught up with world-famous photographer Russell James ahead of the release of his new 448-page book “Angels,” which includes nude portraits of some of the world’s most iconic women including Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid.

Over the years, James, known for shooting ad campaigns for designers like Ralph Lauren and Burberry, has formed close relationships with the Victoria’s Secret “Angels” – models who have special contracts with the company.

Throughout the year, his career sees him shoot everything “from lingerie to sport” – but the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, which aired on Sunday night, is still a big date in his diary.

VS 2018 finaleNoam Galai/Getty ImagesThe finale of the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.


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“We’re already working on it now,” he told INSIDER late last month, calling the show “the largest show production in the world.”

The show took place on November 8 in New York City, though it didn’t air until Sunday, December 2.

“When you think of the model and music talent, it’s truly astonishing,” James said.

With so many models walking the runway (60 models took part this year), James said his “greatest problem” is that he “can’t clone himself.”

“I want to be front of the stage, backstage, on the side,” he said.

With so much going on, it’s lucky that the show is actually taped twice, according to James.

“We spend about two days backstage,” he said. “The girls go into rehearsal two days before.”

He also told INSIDER that he spends most of his time backstage.

“I don’t have much interest in shooting the show,” he went on. “All [of the] girls are backstage… It’s an A-list assembly line of hair and makeup, people who have to be ready to go at all times. It’s incredible.”

He added that he often likes to focus his attention on the new models.

“Inside they’re probably terrified,” he said. “They’re going to be walking in their underwear. I look for those people and try to calm them down… I usually find I get some really cool, candid, personal shots of those people.”


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‘They’re models of health and fitness’

With all of this experience behind the scenes at the show, James has seen the routines of the models evolve over the years.

“One of the most amazing things I’ve seen happen, is that [before there were] a lot of people who didn’t eat that well, but now it’s exactly the opposite,” he said. “People are looking after themselves. They’re eating great, training great. They’re models of health and fitness.”

He added that he believes “we’ve finally got a really socially conscious generation emerging and they’re a part of that,” even when it comes to their beauty regimens.

“Even the products they’re using, they’re considering the impact on the world,” he said. “[You can] see that new personality evolving of that generation.”

It’s these “extroardinary personalities” that make the models successful, according to James.

“That’s why they really stand out,” he said. “That’s why there’s a global appeal of these particular women… There’s a misconception you’re discovered overnight and you take off. You have to win the genetic lottery – that’s a given – but other things have to happen.

“By vast majority, these women are absolute warriors,” he went on. “They have been physically training for up to a month before the show. It’s game time, like the SuperBowl – at that point you can’t train any more.”

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