Artistic Director: Alex Gonzalez
Creative Director: Nina Garcia
Design Director: Byron Christian Regej
Photography Director: Caroline Smith
Associate Art Director: Wanyi Jiang
Senior Photo Editor: Ashley Macknica Barhamand
Photographer: Jonathon Kambouris
Jonathon: Photographing accessories can always be tricky but the challenge to make a still object look beautiful and interesting is something that I really thrive on. For this story my goal was to capture a mood and make the items glow. To bring out the crystals and jewels it was really about creating texture. My lighting process used soft light to create an edge on the items which separated them from the black background and then I mixed that with a harder light to create texture. The combination of this lighting was key to making these items sparkle.
The creative direction and inspiration for this assignment was to have a bunch of flares exploding off of the jewels. I figured the best way to capture this would be to photograph them on black. This complemented the accessories well and set a moody background to create beautiful and sexy lighting.
There is a crazy amount post work that can be done now a days, but I always approach every assignment trying to capture as much in camera as I possibly can. There were a few techniques I used with lighting and lens filters but in the end the intensity I desired for the flares could not be captured in camera. On-set my retoucher and I played around with different techniques in photoshop to create these intense light flares. It was a lot of trial and error. We would see how one flare would look and then I would go back to my set and light the accessory in a way that would naturally complement the flare that was going to be added. It was really about experimenting with adding and subtracting the flares and lighting until it felt perfectly balanced. Post work is so important, especially with still life photography so I have had to learn and really understand what I need to do in camera to create a seamless and natural transition from capture to final retouched image. As a photographer you really need to not only think about what you are shooting but also plan before you shoot and after during the post production processes. It is really important to be very detailed oriented through out each one of these phases. My retoucher and I have been working together for a good amount years now. We have really learned a lot from each other and it has been an excellent collaboration.
These items were actually black with clear and black beaded jewels. I originally shot the items as they were designed with no color and they looked very beautiful, but the editor in chief really wanted to see color in these shots. Adding color brought out an other dimension and in the end it was very fitting for this story.
I always feel like the biggest challenge in photography is visualizing an idea in your head and trying to translate that into a successful photograph. It is really about problem solving. For this specific assignment the flares needed to be added in post, which created a huge challenge; on-set there was no real reference point to start with while I was shooting. The hardest part was visualizing the right lighting for the accessories that would look natural and balanced with the flares that were going to be added. The key to making this story successful was having a deep understanding and connection between what I capture in camera with lighting and what needed to be accomplished in post.
Do you shoot for Marie Claire often?
Over the past year I have shot numerous accessory stories for Marie Claire and it has been an incredible collaboration. Their creative team is so talented and comes to me with fantastic inspiration and they really push every story to the creative max. It is obvious that we want to create thought provoking imagery of accessories and I think we have managed to accomplish this ambition successfully. It is an absolute wonderful creative process and I am really proud of the work we have accomplished together.