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A Model Inspires a Shoot
God, I feel like I shot this so long ago, a whole history book of my life could’ve been written between the time today when I’m sitting down to write this post and the day I actually shot this editorial. But here goes! Thank God Tyler is in the other room retouching for me. He’s young….he can remember the details!
When Felice Fawn asked me to contribute to the Spring issue of MIRRIN Magazine, I already had a concept in mind that I wanted to shoot for it. About a month before she contacted me, I was casting for an advertising job where I needed a male model and a package came in with Tait’s portfolio. Tait wasn’t right for the job I was casting for but when I saw his portfolio I knew I HAD to shoot him in the near future. So when MIRRIN came along and Felice told me to shoot what I wanted, I knew I had my model. At least one of them. For this shoot, the model informed the story. Tait has this very androgynous look. He’s 16 years old, tall and thin with wispy, straight long blonde hair and this really gorgeous face. He’s very edgy, very beautiful. I wanted to do a semi-romantic theme….after all, it was for MIRRIN’s Spring Issue and the whole concept behind MIRRIN, as they so succinctly say, is to erase the line between elegant and dark. I didn’t want this to be a typical love story. I wanted it to have a disturbing, ambiguous feel to it. A darker edge with a light, Spring almost fairy tale feel. I knew Tait could pull off this look. Now I had to find his twisted partner. After scouring the model boards and having numerous submissions come in from the various modeling agencies, I chose Dani from Photogenics. She almost looks like she could be Tait’s sister. Long, sinewy body with long, goldilocks and an achingly beautiful face, she defies the conventional and the banal. She’s sexy, like Tait, without being overt and obvious. That’s exactly what I was looking for!
We shot the first part of the editorial at my house in the Hollywood Hills. I live in Fred Astaire’s old estate and the grounds have that mysterious garden feel. There’s lots of steps leading to dead end, ivy covered areas with bricked in walkways and lots of twisted trees and overhanging limbs. I rented a smoke machine to pump up that ominous look, like a misty forest for our enchanted couple to find themselves in. The second part of the day we moved over to Griffith Park where I hike when I actually decide to do something healthy for myself. When I’m on my hike I’m always distracted with the beauty there and I’m forming shot lists in my head to come back to and utilize on some shoot I might have coming up. I have to say, my crew was great for the MIRRIN shoot. Robert Medford did hair. Michelle Tabor did the make up. And Kelvin Seah, who I’ve worked more than a couple of times, did the styling. All artists are represented by AIM Artists here in LA and I would work with all three of them again! Great people! Of course, Kelvin was the first person I contacted about doing the job. I gave him my idea, I sent him ideas and the model’s online portfolios and him and I collaborated further on the looks I wanted for the shoot. I like working with Kelvin for a lot of reasons, but the two more important ones are that: 1. He gets me without me having to over-explain myself. 2. He’s got great taste. I can trust he’ll pull exceptional clothing and accessories. Because organizing a shoot is a big job with many components, the last thing I want to deal with is mis-communication between myself and my stylist.
The weather was fantastic the day of the shoot in late January. Even though it was the dead of winter (lol….there is no such thing as the “dead of winter” here in LA but I like to sound dramatic sometimes), the day was warm with a mild breeze, so we didn’t need to rent a wind machine. From Ralph Lauren’s tulle skirt to Rick Owens’ bias cut gown, we ran the gamut of modern luxury. And Dani and Tait were perfect as my lovely “couple”. Sorry, there’s not much lighting tech talk on this post. I used natural light with the exception of two shots where I used a SB800 for a little flash fill that Tyler, my first assistant hand held roughly about 10 feet away. It was turned down to 1/4 power with no diffusion or cute coffee filters made into soft boxes over the head. I used an old piece of foam core that had been sitting out in the rain and was completely warped as my reflector. No other reason than hey, it was still usable. Why not? I used my NIkon D2x, switching between my 24mm 2.8 lens and my 85mm 1.4 but I also used a Nikkor 50mm 1.8 for a lot of the shots. I wanted to throw out the backgrounds so I shot wide. I shot fast, too. Sometimes my shutter was at 1/2000th of a second because I wanted to freeze the action of the hair flying in the air but also because I wanted to shoot wide.
You can download the issue from Lulu here! It sells for US $47.10 but you can download the entire issue for US $7.85! Depending on your budget, either format is wonderful! There are some great photographers that contributed to this issue and it’s worth every penny to see the incredible design and lay out that Felice did! Also, for an extra treat we did a BTS video for my readers so you can see a little of what went on during the shoot. I absolutely detest being in front of the camera, I can’t help but smile and look away because I find the whole thing so….hmmmm…..I don’t know the right word. My dear John Waiblinger is patient with me. John is the man behind the video camera and he actually gets me to relax a little and forget that he’s even filming me half the time. A big thank you to John! So here you go….here’s the BTS video and like we used to say back in the day…..this one’s for YOU!!!