Shooting for the November Men’s
Issue of Harper’s Bazaar Arabia
It’s such an incredible feeling when you really click with an art director or a fashion editor. It’s a rush, in fact. And that’s the way it feels when I work for Sally from Harper’s Bazaar Arabia. I am always excited for another opportunity to work with her again, we just have a mutual love for fashion and we are on the same page, aesthically! So when I got her email back in July about this men’s shoot, I was thrilled! There was about a 3 week lead in before she actually landed in LA so the first thing we started doing was looking for the perfect model and since we were also shooting the cover, the casting was very important!
There was a decent amount of prep work that went into this shoot and I’ll explain this to you now. While we were scouring LA for the perfect model, I set out to search the perfect location for the shoot. Sally wanted something very “LA”, you know, sunny, and glossy and hip! But Harper’s was also doing this story to coincide with the Louis Vuitton Trophy, the sailing race set to take place in Dubai from November 12th through the 27th! And because the shoot was with Louis Vuitton clothing exclusively, their people had some input too and they wanted a nautical theme sort of enter-twined with the story to enhance the Trophy race. So I first reached out to rowing clubs or considered renting an actual rowing boat. We realized that since we had to get 6 pages and a cover in one day, maybe the rowing boat would be too limiting. I reached out to some Yacht clubs too, but there weren’t any that were really aesthetically interesting to shoot in Southern California. That’s when I thought of a pool located in the Hollywood Hills that I had shot at about 2 months before this shoot came up. Situated high above Hollywood Boulevard, this house had all the glamour of Hollywood and then some! It was modern, sleek and bright. But the main star of the house is it’s pool. Beautifully “poised” in the front yard, the pool looks out over the city of Los Angeles with lots of white concrete surrounding it and tons of shooting opportunities. I forwarded Sally some outtakes of the pool from my previous shoot and she approved the location. So the location was nailed down first. The casting took a bit longer. I emailed the top LA modeling agencies and gave them the job break down and started forwarding the packages once I got them to Sally in Dubai. We went back and forth for awhile until her and her staff decided that Dylan Griner from Photogenics Models was our “it” model for this shoot. With his “rugged” but still beautiful looks, he was the perfect model for this kind of shoot.
So we had the location set and we had the model. The last thing we needed were some props to fill out the story. Because Sally picked up the samples in Paris from Louis Vuitton, we could have the model actually get in the pool with the clothing and get them wet. Originally I put together a shot list to include a lot of shots in the pool or just outside of it. But we needed something extra to read “Nautical!” While Sally was actually flying from Dubai to Paris to pick up the clothing from Vuitton, I was at Omega Cinema Props in Hollywood and photographing potential props for our shoot. Omega caters to the movie industry so they have football stadium sized buildings stocked full of everything you can possibly imagine in the way of props! They have them sorted by country or era. Or themes. When I called them to ask if they had a nautical section, the answer was yes, “yeah, sure, they’re all in building C”. It’s really awesome to visit there. SO many possibilities!! I drove down to Omega and took a bunch of pictures of different type of boating rope and buoys, different oars, just anything that looked interesting and Nautical.
When Sally arrived in LA, I met her at her hotel to take a look at the clothing and show her the pictures from Omega. She approved the ones she wanted and the shoot was set! This was 2 days before the shoot!
Our call time was 12 Noon because I didn’t want to start shooting in the middle of the day when the sun was directly overhead. Why? Because the light isn’t very attractive at that time of day. The morning of the shoot day, Tyler and I headed to Omega to pick up the props that I had put on hold. We then headed over to the house to get our equipment unloaded and set up before the rest of the crew arrived. David picked up Sally from her hotel so she didn’t have to take a cab all the way from Santa Monica, which if you know LA, Santa Monica feels like it’s in a different time zone when you’re up in the Hollywood Hills! By the time they arrived, the lighting was set up and Dylan, our model, was in make up. Sally used a guest room at the house to lay out the clothing and we had Dylan try on the clothing to see what worked best on him. Meanwhile, I was busy with Tyler working out the order of the shots and how the sun was going to move over the pool area we were shooting in. Because of the brightness of that summer sun in LA, I decided to use a neutral density filter. The main purpose of a ND filter is to cut down the amount of light that passes through the lens. So, in other words, I didn’t have to shoot at F16 to get my exposure. I own a ND 2 which has a filter factor of 2 stops. That means I have to open up 2 stops when I put that filter on. So I could shoot with a better aperture AND the ND filter also darkens the sky and helps keep colors saturated. So I knew the blue sky and pool water would really pop with an ND filter as well as being able to control my aperture. Meghan Stoll from AIM Artists was our men’s groomer for the day. She gave Dylan that “perfect” tousled hair look which looks like it wasn’t worked on but actually was. She also evened up his skin with a little foundation. Obviously we’re not going to slap on a ton of make up on a male model, especially for a pool shoot.
The day went really smoothly with zero drama. I want to reach out here and give a warm and sincere big thank you to Adam Press for letting us take over and invade his incredible home in the Hollywood Hills. We had our computers set up in the dining area, his living room became our grip room with all our gear laid out on the floor so we could run and grab an extra C-stand or whatever we needed. His guest bedroom, as mentioned, became the wardrobe room and the kitchen area was Meghan’s grooming domain. And then of course we shot the entire story in and around the pool. We we did indeed take over his house, if only for a few hours, but still. He was very gracious in letting us shoot there and I’m very grateful that he did because the shots turned out so lush and rich! And indeed the location had a lot to do with that.
Also a special thanks to Daniel Castro and his friend for the extra hand in assisting that day. Like I always say, it take a village to produce these shoots. There’s lighting issues to take into consideration and we have to trouble shoot constantly. One thing we decided to do on this particular shoot was to use our strobes as the sun and over power the sun. We were able to do this by positioning the lights at the angle the sun was coming in and then using a strong enough power of watts, we were able to trick the camera and sort of “over-ride” the sun. Slapping on the ND filter gave it some depth and saturation and there it is: our finished product!
And to add one more amazing aspect to an already great day, Matthew Wardenaar and Evan Matthews from EME Productions came out and shot our BTS video. These two are great guys who I met through one of my LA seminars and they’ve become like family! Not only are they some pretty handsome boys, they’re genuinely sweet. Oh and they’re pretty damn talented as well. Although, I think it’s a one sided love between us. I think they just love us because of our famous In and Out Burger’s catering on our shoots! LOL. Just kidding. That’s an inside joke. But Check Out their VIDEO that they did for us, so we can share with you the day of the shoot!