Creative Director: Debra Bishop
Senior Art Director: Jamie Prokell
Photo Director: Natasha Lunn
Associate Photo Editor: Stephanie Swanicke
Assistant Photo Editor: Gabreille Sirkin
Photographer: Emily Shur
Who did the graphic sign for the first shot did that come from the magazine?
Yes the lettering on the sign came from the magazine. This shot was conceived ahead of time because the art director knew he was going to use this image as the opener. The magazine asked me to photograph Nadia (our model) with and without the piece of cardboard she’s holding.
Styling and casting seem essential for this project. Who was the stylist and what made you choose this person
The stylist was Jessie Cohan, and she did an amazing job. I was really hoping to work with a stylist on this shoot that could elevate the images. I loved Jessie’s sensibility, and she had a great mix of shoots on her site from sculptural high fashion to more bohemian feeling stories that looked like they had a blend of vintage and current pieces. Since this wasn’t technically a fashion story, we weren’t limited to certain brands or seasons. So, I wanted to do what felt right for the different shots. I also wanted to find the right styling balance where everything felt fresh and modern even though our girl in the story was supposed to be kind of a mess.
Tell me about the collaboration with the magazine, how did that unfold?
The magazine had a very clear vision of what they wanted the images to look like. They used a past shoot of mine as reference for the light and color palette which was great. It’s helpful for me to have direction when I start thinking about a shoot so I can visualize the images before I make them. So, we had that as a starting point and then we worked together to collaborate on the five different shots and what our model should be doing in each one. The story was already written so we had five specific branding-challenged “characters” we were going to be shooting.
What were you looking for in the casting? Long hair must have been essential for the looks, what else?
I actually didn’t think too much about the hair! I sort of figured we could use wigs if needed, but having a model with red hair was a huge bonus in the end. I was mainly looking for someone who was comedic and expressive. Casting this was the most difficult part of the pre-production process for sure. We saw lots of pictures of attractive women, but none of them really screamed COMEDY to me. I ultimately needed a really great comedic actress who wasn’t solely concerned with looking pretty. Nadia Quinn came to us sort of in the eleventh hour on a recommendation from a casting director in NY. The magazine wound up flying her out to LA for the shoot, and she really was my dream girl.
Did you have any reference to the looks you were going for?
We had all of the ideas pretty well nailed down before the shoot. For example, we knew one shot was going to be a drill sergeant, one was going to be so bland she blended into the background, one was going to be an over-zealous karaoke singer, etc. I didn’t have many visual references for the characters, but I had enough conversations with the magazine to feel comfortable going in and just doing it. And as I said before, I did have strong lighting and color references so I knew where I was going with that from the start.
What made you choose that color background?
The background is actually just a white cyc so the color comes from the color profile I used to process the images…and then of course some Photoshop love in post. It’s a profile I made on an older shoot (that was used as reference by the magazine).
Have you ever directed a model this much before? Tell me about the shoot process, did you talk it over before you started shooting
This was definitely on the high side of the spectrum in terms of how much I directed Nadia. We discussed every shot before we got going. I would give her the general idea…some were meant to be more subtle and some were clearly more big. While we were shooting I’d call out little tweaks for her to make and she took direction amazingly. This type of shoot would’ve never been successful if that communication wasn’t there.
Was this a multi day shoot?
Nope – we got it all done in one day.
What was your biggest concern going into this shoot?
My biggest concern was that one element wouldn’t be as strong as the others and bring the shoot down. Luckily we had such a great team – wardrobe, hair, make-up, props, talent, etc. – and there was no weak link. Everyone was dedicated to the story and worked so hard.
What surprised you the most?
I think what surprised me the most was how seamlessly everything came together on set. There were many people on this shoot I hadn’t worked with before, and that can really go either way. Not only was everyone so good at their jobs…everyone was nice and happy and we all had fun. It was really the best case scenario.