• 6.23.16   Joey L Gets Real for Lifetime

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    “I don’t care what it is, I always like working with her no matter what,” photographer Joey L. says about Ilene Block, the Creative Director at Lifetime Television who recently asked Joey to shoot their campaign for UnREAL's second season. The TV drama lifts the curtain that covers the inner workings of reality television. Rather than focusing on the antics in front of the cameras it dissects how reality TV shows are put together, replete with the manipulations and machinations that make the on screen chemistry burn. Good television requires drama and when the drama doesn’t show up naturally it has to be inspired. The two main character of UnREAL, as producers of their own reality show, must make the drama happen whether it’s authentic or of their own creation.  Two portraits support the main image that Joey captured, one each of the main characters. In the set up of taking these photographs, Joey has created more than just a portrait; he has built multiple layers. Joey usually sits with his subjects and draws out of them authentic moments that he captures on film. This time he sat with real people and drew out their characters. It’s a unique creative challenge that he struck with some masterful lighting. “We balanced the lights to match the light that was emanating off the TV. On their set they were shooting with constant light so flashes balance that daylight,” he explains. The two colors - the blue from the TV and the yellower natural light - show the conflicts these women face as they strike their own balances between real lives and the ones they manufacture for television. As its core, reality TV is a feint at reality. Even in the rawest form of drama, documentary, production has a real effect on the results and that’s something that Joey knows very well. When he’s not shooting commercial work he often takes the role of a documentarian, like on his recent trips to Kurdistan and the Omo Valley. As a photographer he gets as close as possible to showing life as it is, but there’s always going to be some change purely because of his presence. “No matter what you do whenever you bring a camera somewhere to document it you’re changing the reality because you are documenting it,” he says. “The very act of taking a photo and not doing anything to it is implying something in itself.” He’s describing The Observer Effect - when a subject feels a camera on them, their behavior will change, however subtly. In documentary, like what Joey does, they lessen the effect as much as possible. But in reality TV, and in UnREAL, the directors and producers use that effect to their greatest benefit. It’s the heart of their drama, and for UnREAL that’s attracted acclaim and a Peabody Award. It’s an examination of this cultural phenomenon and a recontextualization how we think about our own displays of “reality.”
  • 6.24.16   Shotopop Wants to Annoy You

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    Do you know what’s really annoying? Because Shotopop does, and they’re using it to sell coffee. In their latest piece for Maxwell House, the creative agency brought to life an insufferable cup of fancy coffee that they made precisely to piss you off. “We tried to make the character as annoying as possible with the voice over, his mannerisms, the way he moves, and the way he speaks,” says Casper Franken of Shotopop. They did this for a really good reason: Maxwell House stamps out the character at the end. After all, Maxwell House has always been the coffee for regular people and it’s time we saw regular people win instead of the elite. We get to see that with a simple Cup o’ Joe. In execution, creating the super-annoying cup of coffee was actually quite complex. Shotopop had to balance aesthetic wishes with material limitations. So they used stop-motion, photography, and CGI to bring together a comprehensive visual experience. Ultimately the annoying dude was made entirely out of CGI so they could have him perform actions that they wouldn’t be able to do with any other medium (and hit their deadline). “We decided to go with a 3D approach so we could keep the character a little more flexible,” Casper says. “If you look closely at the character there’s actually some motion that’s a little unrealistic in terms of what paper could actually do but it brings a little more life to him.” Whether he’s fluffing his foamy coif with a whisk or blowing himself a kiss while taking a selfie, the agility that Shotopop found by bringing him into a 3D space made it a successful endeavor. This video will be seen all throughout the Chinese market, and with that different audience comes different expectations. Shotopop noticed a different, more vigorous work ethic from their partners in Asia, and with that came a really positive experience. “We had a good time collaborating with them,” he says. “It was our first proper 3D animation character, and it was a good one!” They were able to hit a couple birds with one stone all while making a memorable character for a very funny spot. Even if it’s a little annoying!
  • 6.22.16   Craig Ward Balances a Creative Mix for Starbucks

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    There’s a reason you’ve probably never seen a Starbucks commercial. Their brand recognition is some of the best in the world (plus all those strangely misspelled names on social media are doing the job of a huge campaign without any of the cash). But every now and then Starbucks wants to bring attention to something new they’re working on, and for their latest foray into cold brew coffee they asked Craig Ward to help them spread the news. We don’t have to tell you that Starbucks knows what it’s doing when it comes to the confluence of coffee and customers, but cold brew has captivated the caffeine-addled masses in ways a java trend hasn’t in a long time. That’s for good reason. Craig wanted to take that energy and make it palatable in a visual way for a company with the international responsibility that Starbucks has.  “My task was to come up with a bunch of ways for these titles and headlines to interact with the footage that was happening behind them,” Craig says. As their House Made Vanilla Cream hits the coffee it explodes as a white addition to the clear black coffee. The visual was already there so it was up to Craig to communicate the information that Starbucks needed to teach its customers, while still playing with the beauty in the mixture. He created a tension of movement and stillness, the clear hard lines of type against the natural action of the ingredients. Those visual contradictions draw us in and keep us watching. For a spot that will be mostly seen online where distractions are unrelenting, these visual cues are crucial to the job. Striking that balance can sometimes be a heavy lift, but Starbucks gave Craig and 72 and Sunny (the creative agency involved with the project), a very specific set of parameters to help guide them. “The challenging part was, as always, treading the line between legibility and communication,” Craig explains. Craig found that line and then worked with his own team to execute it exactly the way he needed it done. Once they wrapped it up it was time to share it with the world. As it zips around from one corner of the internet to the other, Craig couldn’t be more pleased. “Of course, it’s always nice to be involved in a big project,” he says with a laugh. Cheers!
  • 6.17.16   Tiffany Patton and the Unique Beauty of Amina Blue

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    Standing at a formidable five feet tall, just a year and a half ago Amina Blue walked off the street into an audition to join the modeling crowd of Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 1. She didn’t know it at the time but she was entering an entirely new chapter of her life. Her unique figure and shape inspired the musician-cum-designer and that distinction has lit a rocket turning her into an in demand model on the way to the top. In the latest issue of The Cut a feature on the model includes an editorial to show off her unique features that includes makeup by Tiffany Patton who highlights what it is about Blue that underscored her singular look. Her special features are a veritable counterpoint to everything we consider conventional. Her nose is short and broad, her cheeks and chin are round and full. But that’s her appeal, and exactly what Tiffany highlighted for this shoot. A smokey brown eye accentuates the round lines of her face, while her skin is dewey giving her the appearance of a perfect doll. Tiffany’s work dances: a natural touch edging on plasticine, making Blue look both familiar and perfect. That’s where Blue’s look exists, between our conventional world and the world of inspiring the greats and Tiffany helps us see that.
  • 6.21.16   Platon's 'Service' at Milk Studios

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    When Platon began photographing Army recruits at the beginning of their training, his goal was to get a glimpse at what they go through. What he found was a meditation on loyalty and sacrifice. "I wanted to find out what happens when you're asked to do something and you do it - and it's very dangerous, and the sacrifices you make,” Platon explained to NPR. “This is where I learned about the other side of leadership, which is service." The resulting series, SERVICE, shows us what he found and teaches us how we should understand the 2% of Americans who uphold the mantle of this service.  What brought Platon to this project was his recognition of power structures in the world, and the vacuum that certain systems left open. Some of Platon’s most recognizable images are of powerful people like Putin, Clinton, and Gaddafi. But these people represent a very small piece of how we operate as a species. “I think at one point I had photographed maybe 160 or 170 of the world’s leaders,” Platon tells Milk. “I had seen up close and personal that sense of supremacy, but there’s another side of leadership, and that is service. To be a good leader, technically speaking, you are a servant of the people.” Platon wasn’t seeing that service in the broader media, so he took it upon himself to change that. Platon spent years exploring these themes and following the lives of service members through their training and into their tours of duty, sometimes meeting their families after the service members didn’t come home. His new book acts as a compendium of the images he captured, but this week marks the opening of his show SERVICE on display at Milk Studios.  SERVICE is on view June 22 to July 24 at Milk Studios, 450 West 15th Street, on the ground floor. For Milk Studios’ full hours click here.  Platon will be available to answer your questions about his process and the SERVICE project this Thursday, June 23rd. He’ll be sitting with Elisabeth Biondi, the former Visuals Editor of The New Yorker. Come by Milk Studios at 450 West 15th Street, in New York City, 7-9pm. If you’d like to attend this talk please RSVP on the other side of this link.
  • 6.20.16   Rod Hunt and the Globalization of Fashion

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    Even just thirty years ago being a global company in fashion meant something totally different than it does today. It used to be that the only access to new looks from overseas was by seeing them on the street or waiting for them to arrive at a local boutique, but the digitizing of our world means that it can be shared instantaneously. Now we can see a new style posted on Instagram moments after it’s off the assembly line in Italy. It’s changed what it means for any fashion company that wants to take over the world. It’s easier now, but it’s also more democratic which raises its own challenges. Business of Fashion recently tackled all these challenges in Issue 07: A Connected World that featured a Company Culture Guide with illustrations by Rod Hunt. In Rod’s illustrations we get a glimpse at an “Every City,” one that is not identifiable, and this is crucial. As brands are globalizing their styles, staying up with trends and tastes, they’re able to make a space for themselves in any part of the global community. In Rod’s illustrations we see brands like H&M, Gucci, and Nike that have always been global, next to brands like lululemon and Uniqlo who were born in this digital world. Chinatown is next to a British telephone booth on the curb adjacent to a NYC cab. We can no longer identify a place by how fashion has spread to it: it’s everywhere. To grab Rod's illustrations as a part of this issue of Business of Fashion, grab it here.
  • 6.17.16   Tom Corbett Reflects on Fatherhood for Alexa

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    In the fashion industry it’s all about the hustle and bustle and everything moves at the speed of light. The global hearts of fashion are the world’s most fashionable cities like Paris, Rome, and New York. But Karl Lagerfeld’s main muse Brad Kroenig has rejected the lifestyle that’s forged in those cities. Instead he’s moved to suburban New Jersey to grab a piece of a quieter, more relaxed life. It’s an unconventional choice and something that The New York Post’s fashion vertical Alexa wanted to explore. The Post sent Tom Corbett to New Jersey to see what he could find, and what he discovered is a feeling of a time gone by. For Tom, this shoot was all about visualizing the tradition of the 1950s Suburban Fatherhood ideal. In many ways, and from many angles, Kroenig is the perfect father so Tom wanted to punch that up. “It’s every suburban dream,” Tom says. “Perfect lawn. Perfect house. Perfect wife. We wanted to give it a little bit of the ‘Leave it to Beaver,’ ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ feel. And it think it came across quite nicely.” What better time to reflect on the idea of fatherhood than the week of Father’s Day? To achieve this look Tom reached into his technical bag of tricks. “I used a Fresnel light, a movie star light, to really give it that ‘50s real vignette,” Tom explains. “And we played with curves just to give it that retro feel. I think it worked really nicely.” Technology has come so far in the last sixty years that catching the aesthetics were natural in the ‘50s requires incredible knowledge of the craft to make them seem true. Tom’s mastery of the form means he was able to achieve the look exactly right. The last element was a creative relationship with a subject that lined up with Tom’s goals. He had to focus on making sure everything looked exactly right and luckily Kroenig was right there with him. Kroenig is an accomplished model and the perfect partner to create something amazing with. “He’s a big model so he’s really easy to work with and the kids were amazing, they’re really super easy to work with as well,” says Tom. Suburbia, meanwhile, wasn’t as cooperative. “The police showed up twice because they wanted to make sure we weren’t doing anything illegal,” Tom says with a laugh. Alas, perhaps the worlds of a fashionable city needs some distance from slow moving suburbia, and that’s precisely why Kroenig is out there. But the lights and the camera are always calling him back.
B&A Instafeed
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