When the Handbag is the Star!
I received a call about a job from Jennifer Disotell from Public Persona, a high-end advertising, PR and marketing agency which exclusively handles only fashion design clients. Jennifer and I go back a few years; we’ve worked together on everything from designing her website to working together on look books and line sheets. I like Jennifer’s integrity and honesty. She shoots straight from the hip! She runs her agency with two other women, her sister Nicole Disotell and their creative director, Melissa Castro. Together they are like the Charlie’s Angels of fashion advertising and promotion. Seriously, these girls are hot, talented, intelligent and on top of their game! Okay, so the assignment was to update the MeChar Handbags website and take photographs for ads to be placed in Elle Accessories and WWD. If you don’t know what WWD is by now, stop reading this post, click on that link and go educate thyself. It is the absolute authority of ALL things fashion industry! As well as web presence and editorial advertising, some of the shots were also going to be made into posters for trade shows and showrooms. The first step after her initial phone call was to set up a 3 way call with the client, Charmaine Ho, owner and designer of MeChar. We needed to all get on the same page as far as what Charmaine wanted to see in the final images. Charmaine had a great idea: a story about a girl getting made up and dressed to go out and meet a hot chick and bring her back to her hotel for some fun! Yeah! Pretty far out idea and I was all over it like an old suit! Right up my alley, as they say! When we got off the conference call, I got to work and put together a “mood board”. It’s like a story board. It’s a series of images that depict the kind of look and feel I think the shoot should have. From styling to lighting to location to type of model, it’s the theme and the look that I think the client would like to see. It’s like a visual articulation of what we talked about. Does that make sense?
Long story short, Charmaine loved my mood board, Jennifer found the perfect hotel in Beverly Hills, The Thompson Hotel, and we held a two day casting at my house where we had girls come out from Ford, Elite, LA Models, NEXT Models and Photogenics. We found the perfect blonde Star, the girl who will be getting ready to go out to get into mischief. Gorgeous Sarah Deanna from LA Models. And then we found her paramour, the elusive, tall dark and (ummm) beautiful Amanda Pizziconi from NEXT Models. I put together a list of hair and make up artists that I not only like working with but also thought could nail the look we needed and sent the list to the client. Charmaine settled on her favorite choices. I then went about to determine who was available on the date of the shoot. We ended up going with the uber-talented Laura Mohberg from Tracey Mattingly Agency. Laura did both hair and make up for this shoot. Styling was accomplished quite succesfully by Robyn Goldberg, whose work you have seen in previous shoots of mine. I, again, love Robyn and enjoy her laid back but utterly professional personality. Pre-production went fairly smoothly considering it was an important shoot. And we only had one week to prep. I must say that my assistant Carmen Chan did an impeccable job learning how to make an estimate AND a call sheet her first week of working with me! She rocks my world!
The handbag is prominent in every single shot because, well, yeah, it’s the item we’re selling! If you notice in all the shots, the handbag stands out! It is there, loud and clear, and it looks great! So do the models and the environment, but make no mistake: My job was to make those handbags look like something you HAVE to own. My lighting for this shoot was all over the place, so I placed the lighting info below the shot. We had a shot list of 6 total shots needed. An establishing shot: blonde star putting her make up on in the bathroom. Second shot: getting dressed and deciding on her handbag for her excursion. Third shot: caught in the hall way, dressed to the nines with her favorite bag. Fourth and Fifth shot: she meets her girl and it’s flirtation and sparks. And handbags, of course! Sixth and final shot: well, you see where it all ends up! Yes, it’s pretty PG…..it’s going in Elle Accessories and posters for showrooms and trade shows. Nudity and overt sexual overtones weren’t appropriate. We went for suggestive sexuality. There’s a difference. I know you know. : )
My challenge with this shoot was this: the hotel room was small. Given my Nikon D2x cropped sensor, my first assistant, Alex Vazquez, was kind of enough to let me borrow his Nikon D700 because I needed the full frame sensor in the hotel room shots. I also used his zoom lens (shhhhhhhhhh……………I don’t want to hear it! YES….I shot with a zoom…..I had to to get the shot). The bathroom was the size of a closet. Give me a break! I eventually went back to my beloved D2x but I had to use Alex’s 17-35mm 2.8 and his 24-70mm 2.8 for all six shots. In the hotel room, I used the 17-35mm. Out in the hallway and in the bar I was able to use the 24-70mm.
Here are the final images. There wasn’t much heavy post on it. We did add the MeChar logo to the TV screen, I wasn’t crazy about CSI:MIAMI playing on the TV. And we added the skyline in the bar shot where the girls are on the couch. Other than that, we just cleaned up and color corrected the shots. And in the end, what makes for a successful shoot??? The client is happy! Which she was! And that always puts a smile on my face! You can also check out another little behind the scenes video of the shoot on Mechar Handbags website. There’s a small interview on me and a few others of the others that were on the shoot that day! Enjoy!