Creative Director Albie Alexander Steps Into His Latest Role with B&A
In a world where so much of our time is spent online or looking at a screen, brick and mortar stores have become few and far between. In an effort to cut through the noise, brands have expanded to translating their digital presence to create in-person experiences. A trailblazer of creating memorable branded moments, B&A is proud to announce the addition of Creative Director Albie Alexander to our experiential roster.
“It is my mission in life to create artful experiences that serve as a catalyst for connection - with ourselves, each other and the world now on a profoundly deeper level," explains Albie. “We live in such an overstimulated world with a 24/7 news cycle and a complicated relationship with our screens that is pretty unhealthy. I believe that now more than ever, brands have the world's stage to create meaningful positive change that shifts culture and builds a more mindful and inclusive world for the future."
Having studied many different avenues since starting his education, Albie will tell you that he studied at the school of life. It’s his personal belief that there is no linear path in education, and that culture was his greatest influence. “I’ve been lucky enough to live in very diverse cities such as London, New York, and LA, and been exposed to so much beauty, that I would say culture has been my greatest teacher”. He’s made his career creating experiences, with roles at Paper Magazine and most recently, Refinery29. During his time with the digital media company, Albie co-founded the experiential sensation, 29Rooms, to celebrate the ten-year success of the brand. The endeavor came from the idea to create an experience that would immerse attendees in their content and where culture and creativity would be unlocked and celebrated every year. The event became a viral hit, both online and off. Albie led the creative direction, building experiences with countless brands, artists and partners for nearly half a decade.
“I’m not in the business of creating backdrops for a cute photo-op, I’m in the business of creating disarming experiences that invite people to be moved by beautiful things, to feel in new ways, be educated on issues that impact other communities than their own, and maybe even connect with a stranger for a few minutes. I want to crack open people’s imaginations and show them their limitless possibilities, that they can dream big and that they are worthy. It’s an exciting time to be a creator and I think we all have the opportunity and responsibility to challenge the status quo with the work we are putting out into the world. And so, if I can keep creating more experiences that help lift people up to realize their full potential - then that is all that matters to me."
Joey L. Goes Afar in Ethiopia with ZAAF
In his latest collaboration with ZAAF, photographer Joey L. took his talents to Ethiopia to capture the raw nature and beauty of Africa, where each luxury item in the collection was crafted. Joey and the crew ventured to some of the most remote and dangerous landscapes of Ethiopia, climbing an active volcano, and camping for days with no electricity. The photographs not only capture the luxury of the collection, but they encapsulate the unbelievable, natural beauty of Ethiopia’s landscapes while maintaining the integrity of the mission behind the brand.
Joey and creator of the African-made luxury brand, Abai Schulze, developed the idea for the campaign together, deciding to travel and shoot in one of the hottest places on earth. “Let’s shoot a luxury brand campaign for ZAAF in some of Ethiopia’s famous landscapes using all African models and crew. Let’s show the world the unique qualities that her country and culture has to offer, but in a high end way without the cliches of the way ‘developing nations’ are usually presented.”
Joey felt strongly that it was his responsibility as the photographer to translate Abai’s mission in her work into a visual medium. “As the only non-African person on the crew, I felt a tremendous honor but also burden to do a good job.” Joey's work does not have him frequenting fashion campaigns, so he approached this project the way he approaches all of his work. Not wanting to imitate a style he is not familiar with, he instead envisioned the work as part reportage, part environmental portrait. “Our subjects were beautiful Ethiopian models, so there was no point in hiding their natural beauty with excessive makeup or accessories. This allowed us to focus on Abai’s bags and the greater vision, but also for me to preserve the photographic motifs present in all my other personal work, and keep it cohesive.”
Joey and the team traveled to various locations to photograph, shooting at sunrise and sunset when the lighting was perfect and the heat wasn’t totally unbearable. The locations included the rim of an active volcano, a giant sulfur pit (one wrong move and their skin could be burnt off!), natural salt baths that are saltier than the Dead Sea, and salt mines where they encountered camels and the men who heard them, who are featured in some of the photos.
Like most of his projects, Joey did not let one minute of this incredible photoshoot go to waste. You can see his raw take on his time in Ethiopia in a documentary that captures the camaraderie and some unexpected behind the scenes moments. The photo series and documentary made their debut at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC. Joey maintains that while this project was grueling, given the high temperatures, risky locations, and lack of electricity, it was extremely gratifying to work on a campaign for this incredible brand with a team that had a sense of camaraderie which kept positive spirits high throughout the journey. The project now sits on his list of top 5 favorite photoshoots of all time.
Sarah Coleman's Life in Literature
Illustrator Sarah Coleman is known for her unique style of hand-lettering typography and hand-drawn illustrations. With clients spanning from top of the line authors and publishers, to a variety of advertising clients, Sarah’s inky work has been described as “unmistakable, while never staying still.” Sarah works in both traditional ink and digitally. “I use pencils to sketch out ideas, and pen and ink to draw, whether that’s nibs and dip pens, felt tips, gel pens, biros or any of the 750+ pens in my collection! I use a LOT of ink - creating washes, textures, backgrounds, often multi-layered. Sometimes I work with iPad and Apple Pencil only; the look is different, but still me!”
In her most recent endeavor, Sarah illustrated a book that is now fresh on the shelves. Collaborating with Oscar-winning writer-director, Guillermo del Toro, and New York Times bestselling author, Cornelia Funke, the team of creatives transformed del Toro’s classic film "Pan’s Labyrinth" into a dark fantasy novel. Written for all ages, "Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun," is a novelization of the film that comes to life with Coleman’s eerie illustrations. “I created the wraparound cover artwork, page illustrations, chapter headers, and spot art, with full-page plates by Allen Williams, with ink on paper and many layers of texture, wash, and detail.”
Sarah’s illustrations for the project include different characters: child-eating monsters, courageous rebels, and a long-lost princess. “The characters are so well known, it’s quite the responsibility - and the challenge - to recreate them in your own creative voice without taking them too far from their original form,” explains Sarah. “This story, adapted to novel form by one of the world’s best-loved fantasy writers together with the director himself, has an enormous atmosphere, and the job of work was really to capture that, while not giving away too much if you’ve never, somehow, watched the film before! It was a real honor - and responsibility - to be asked to work on this iconic, bold book, alongside legendary fantasy artist Allen Williams. And yes, all my work was closely monitored by Guillermo himself...I have an archive of emails to remind me!”
A seasoned illustrator, Sarah is no stranger to creating award-winning work. "Out to Get You" by Josh Allen is a collection of thirteen thrilling stories, with cover art and inside illustrations by Sarah. The collaboration between author and illustrator was seamless. “It’s been a fabulous learning curve. He’s so into my illustrations, and I am VERY into these stories - they’re exactly what I would have read as an 11-year-old.” Out to Get You was selected for the Junior Library Guild book award and will be in libraries across the country in early September, while also receiving an excellent Kirkus review - two honors that are no easy feat.
Alongside her publishing projects, Sarah has been busy working on an exciting advertising campaign. Special K has launched a new campaign with a fresh recipe that emphasizes health and nutrition. The brand called on Sarah and her inky pens to create a bicep for the US-wide print, TV, and social media campaign. Sarah’s iconic typography is comprised of empowering messages aimed at leading a healthy life, designed in the shape of a bicep. Sarah’s life long love of lettering and type have driven her career. “Words have ALWAYS permeated my work, whether it’s my words or someone else’s. I respond to them like a rich source of material to mine; there are the shape and form of them, and there’s the meaning, but there’s also the interpretation.”
Jesse Lizotte Sheds a Purple Light on Billie Eilish
In his latest collaboration with Vogue Australia, photographer Jesse Lizotte shot the cover story featuring young celebrity musician, Billie Eilish.
Many of the images throughout the series of photographs include a hue of purple. Various shades of purple come together to make up the sets and costuming, highlighting Billie in an intriguing light. “Billie has an ethereal quality about her and to me, that translates to the color purple,” explained Jesse.
The collaboration among Jesse, Billie, and the rest of the creative team was harmonious. Jesse captured the seventeen-year-old singer in a fashion that illuminates who she is as a musician. She maintains her typical style of oversized clothing and like in her music, exudes an overall ethereal vibe on set. “On the day before we started shooting I discussed my vision for the shoot with Billie and her team and we went through the proposed looks. Billie was very easy to work with and open to my ideas. She was opinionated when it came to the styling aspect of the shoot as that is such a big part of her identity and individuality, so that was definitely a collaborative process.”
Perhaps the most compelling image featured in the cover story is a composite of three images of Billie in a uniquely oversized coat, edited into one photograph. The final result of the composite gives the notion that Billie is walking away from the camera, with her back partially to the camera in two of the shots. “We couldn’t decide out of the three and I thought it was cool to see Billie in motion! That jacket is so sculptural too, I really love the illustrations painted all over. It was done by a young local artist so that was important to showcase,” explained Jesse.
Surprisingly on set, Billie’s album was not the music of choice. Rather, the team listened to Lil Keed in the studio, who Jesse says he is now a fan of. The four-hour shoot, in the very tight studio space, revealed a series of images that accurately capture Billie’s aesthetic and vibe as a musician.
Found Studio’s Summer of Motion
Found Studio did not stop the motion this summer. In their latest collaborations, creative studio Found focused on creating conceptual motion pieces that transport the viewer to another time and place.
In a project with Facebook’s Advertising Agency, Abacus, Found Studio created a conceptual film that follows the journey of a pixel as it navigates through varying media platforms. Chosen as a Vimeo Staff Pick upon release, Found designed and animated the spot using C4D, Substance Painter, Octane and Unfold3d. The collaboration was natural and allowed the creative studio the freedom to explore throughout the different layers of the project, including play with the concept, design and overall finish. The final motion piece is a dynamic evolution that travels through the abstract world and leaves viewers wanting more.
Found headed to the Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore where they created a short film of the timely and curated process of gathering ingredients and turning them into the perfect meal. The piece featured the full creation of the food and beverage offerings at the hotel, presented as a single shot. The viewer is taken on the journey from their seat as a guest at the restaurant that flips the view upside down to show the culinary process that goes on behind the scenes. The result is a showcase of the elements used to create the perfect dining experience.
In their most recent motion endeavor, the studio explored the corners of Scotch brand Ballantine's beverage inspirations in a motion piece that takes us to the heart of their distillery in the fictitious “House of Ballantine's". The campaign included imagery created in house, entirely in 3d. What started as a two-minute hero film expanded into a complete campaign including digital, print, OOH and POS assets. The motion spot titled “Too Good To Hide” takes us behind the scenes with a narrative that visually depicts the brand’s signature Single malts that until now went unsaid. Each unique world revealed in the campaign represents the distinctive origin and flavor of the corresponding malt. The piece includes mysterious scenes of hidden passageways and corridors with locked doors and safes, creating a sense of curiosity and intrigue.
Nathan Fox Illustrates Cory Booker for Politico
In his latest collaboration with Politico Magazine, illustrator Nathan Fox took United States Senator Cory Booker and raised him to super-human status for a non-fiction comic strip.
Finding his passion for cartoons and graphic novels at an early age, Nathan is no stranger to creating comic strips. “Cory Booker is a real-life figure who is just as flawed and fantastic as fictional heroes. People have a very interesting and exciting and rich and very dramatic past, so the story was there. I wanted to find a balance between a real figure as well as somebody who kind of has that charisma and aspiration of something fictional, beyond human. A lot of elements in his opening image are directly relevant to the story: the Newark skyline, dog leash, and shovel,” explained Nathan.
Politico first reached out to Nathan before Christmas, with the hopes of creating a comic strip to be debuted in print in the New Year, before Cory announced his candidacy for the 2020 Presidency. When Politico decided to go digital, that meant that Nathan would not only be switching mediums, and figuring out the in’s and out’s of a digital comic, but that the original 6-page comic strip could be extended to an infinite scroll. “That's when we started pushing the format, trying to use the right space and infinite scroll aspect of a mobile device. We were able to expand the story, so it was much more in-depth. It definitely went from what would have been a text-heavy, dense comic to a bit more of a fluid and organic showing of the legend of Cory booker, digitally,” explained the illustrator.
While the illustrator enjoyed comics in his own childhood, he didn’t always feel a connection to the classic narrative of larger than life superheroes. “It was hard to believe in superheroes in my childhood because they weren’t real. I never really latched onto them. I was initially interested in the visual storytelling in a bit more of an Indiana Jones or Robin Hood direction. There’s something that’s more tangible with real people doing extraordinary things.”
Inspired by the character and heroism of real people, Nathan brings a feeling of tangible authenticity to his illustrations. “One of the challenges was adding in real quotes and not fictional ones. We didn’t want to go too far into dramatizing his story. We tried to stick with reality. It was a real challenge not to go too far into fiction and over dramatization of his life, ‘cause it's much easier to do that. This account is as close to what really happened as what we could possibly get.”
We Are The Rhoads Bring the Sunshine to Tod’sIn their latest campaign with Tod’s, photographers We Are The Rhoads wanted to capture the latest designs of the season on a bright sunny day. The only problem was that when the day came, it wasn’t sunny at all.
The photo shoot was scheduled to take place outside on a sunny December Los Angeles day, and slated to debut for the Spring season. The objective of the campaign was to not only show the collection, focusing on an aesthetic similar to a hot summer day in Italy but also to capture an authentic and honest narrative that The Rhoads are known for. Although it’s shown in the final result, the sun didn’t actually shine on the shooting day. Instead, it rained the entire week.Despite several locations ready to go for the campaign, a last-minute weather change forced the shoot to move inside of a studio. Agile and dedicated to the aesthetic, The Rhoads were able to construct a new a set, replicating the natural beauty of a sunny day, all in the 24 hours before the models arrived. “It was pretty intense to change an entire shoot from being outdoors to indoors and creating light, sunlight and all that, inside a dark room. It was a big warehouse. The biggest warehouse in LA,” said Sarah of The Rhoads. Without design, without artistry, and without equipment, a studio is just a dark empty room. The Rhoads and their team were able to take that clean slate and turn it into a look that was everything they needed to be.The result is a series of images that live in the light. As creative masters of their craft, The Rhoads created sunlight in a studio setting where there wasn’t any, resulting in natural shading, with true shadows of artificial trees throughout the imagery. Despite the weather and last-minute changes, the photography pair were able to capture the effortless chic spirit of the Tod’s collection in their signature authentic style, despite the most challenging of circumstances.
Seth Brody’s Sculpture Studio for Christian Siriano
Visual artist and production designer Seth Brody created a studio of sculptures for the recent showcase of Christian Siriano’s latest Resort line. The overall aesthetic for the shoot, as well as the collection, was inspired by the sculptures of the Atelier Brancusi from the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, France. “Christian was initially inspired by the sculptor Constantin Brancusi and shared some photos of his studio. He showed me the colors and textures of the clothing he was designing and gave me full creative control from there,” explained Seth.
“I knew we would be shooting in his new showroom, which was once owned by Faberge, so loading large props in and out of the room had to be done carefully. We had to be mindful of weight and potential damage to the building. I decided to use styrofoam for a lot of the white sculpture’s legs, reinforced with wood in the center and then epoxy coated for durability. I sourced only salvaged styrofoam from Big Reuse, a shop on the Gowanus Canal that saves materials from the landfill and resells them. Other lightweight materials were used as well like salvaged cedar, wood, and pine.”
Seth worked on one set of sculptures per week and spent a total of about four weeks on just the initial inspiration - without even the drawings or renderings. “I got so into the project that we had to edit out about 20% of the sculptures because we were limited with space.”
While this is the latest collaboration between Seth and Christiano Siriano, it isn’t the first. Seth worked with Christian to design the striking violet sets for his recent Pre-Fall collection with backdrops with hues of lavender and lilac that leave you dreaming of Provence in bloom. “I have been working in this industry for almost 20 years and I must say, working with Christian was a truly unique experience. He is so talented and hands-on when it comes to styling, dressing, moving props. He is very inspiring to work with and a really unique talent. The project was fun, challenging and allowed me to be my best using all types of materials all types of tools and 100% creativity.”
Jenue Paints the Town Pride
B&A illustrator, Jenue, recently collaborated with Time Out Magazine to create cover art that celebrates LGBTQ pride for the month of June. The artist created three unique covers; one for New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. Each cover has their respective cityscape in the background with Jenue’s rainbow typography that reads “Paint the Town Pride” on each cover. The typography on each of the three covers are all slightly different in layout and coloring, but maintain the same three dimensional, textured feeling, as if the words were actually painted over the black and white backdrop.
Known for using a great deal of color in his work, Time Out asked Jenue to create a colorful, rainbow painted typography for the covers, inspired by one of his recent personal projects. For that personal project as well as this project for Time Out, Jenue utilized a new technique that he discovered by mixing different software, which allows him to create the realistic acrylic paintings seen on these magazine covers. Jenue explains that he has “always been inspired by primary colors and graffiti, and acrylic painting, so I always want to find ways to create things that look real and craft, but in CGI.” These inspirations are seen across Jenue’s work, as well as on the Time Out covers.
The main concept of this project was to “Paint the Town.” Jenue explains that this project was a collaborative effort between the Time Out team and himself. “Time Out gave me the photography in black and white, and they wanted me to create paint on top in rainbow colors.” The illustrator took this concept and ran with it by creating rainbow ribbons that tie together the city buildings and typography in a very authentic way, where the colors seem to literally pop off the page.
Of the three different covers, Jenue says the New York design is his favorite. All three covers can be seen in their respective cities this summer in celebration of the city’s LGBTQ communities.
Michael Schnabel Travels to Athens With Range Rover
In his latest project with Range Rover, photographer Michael Schnabel traveled to Greece to capture the contemporary, sleek feeling of the Evoque. In a compelling series of images, Michael captures the car as it travels through the streets of Athens where the beauty of the historical city compliments the luxury of the vehicle.
“Usually, my productions are very structured, where someone scouts locations beforehand. This shoot was really instinctive, although we did do some research. We flew to Athens, and cruised around the city for a day and found some nice places. The car was located in Athens, and the city itself was super accommodating, even though we didn’t use local production. I was amazed. Everyone was super easy going and we felt so welcomed there. It felt right to shoot there. The Evoque is a classic car, so it’s essence is a city with a lot of history. It’s much more of a city SUV than an off-road SUV.”
The team agreed on a general look and feel, and the collaboration with Michael felt natural. Michael took risks with some of his signature touches including layering, double exposure and shooting through the glass. “I sometimes use a lot of layers in my work. I do that a lot because to me it resembles how dense our life is, how many layers our lives have. There’s just so much going on in the world. The layering relates to the many layers of our lives,” explains Michael. “This whole shoot was pretty spontaneous. We had different priorities for what we liked and what we wanted to catch in variety. The art director knew what he wanted and gave me a lot of room to create. Sometimes I would shoot through the glass of the car it would give me extra layering. Sometimes I use these big tools and it’s totally controlled, but this shoot was very different and I think it worked out really well.”
Michael's passion for both automobile photography and travel brought the project to life, giving him the ability to tell the story in an innate way that conveys a sense of belonging for the Evoque on the streets of Athens. “I’ve never been to Greece, I was very excited to go to a place which I have never seen. Shooting in December in the southern part of Europe is just rewarding. I haven’t shot with such a small team in a while, so it was really nice. Wherever you see the car in motion in this body of work, it was actually in motion. We did a lot of car to car shooting from one Evoque to another Evoque. It honestly felt a little bit like a personal project which made it special too. I got to drive the car, it was a great ride.”
Buff Monster's Wall of Pride
Throughout the month of June, cities across the U.S. celebrate the LGBTQ community in various ways. In an exciting new campaign, NYC Pride’s WorldPride Mural Project Initiative, collaborated with production and curation partner, The LISA Project NYC, founding partner, HSBC Bank, and major supporter, Macy’s to participate in the 2019 World Pride celebration. The LISA Project is a non-profit organization, with a mission to unite and support a diverse group of artists in NYC to curate the start of mural art districts throughout the city. 50 local and international artists were selected to create murals across the five boroughs of New York that reflect and honor the beauty, struggle, and strides of the LGBTQIA+ community throughout May and June. B&A Mural Artist, Buff Monster, was among the artists selected to participate in the creation of these murals.
“I’m excited to contribute this giant mural to the neighborhood and I’m happy to bring awareness to the struggles and triumphs of the LGBTQ community.” Buff Monster’s giant pride mural was completed near his Manhattan studio on the Lower East Side. Measuring 94 feet wide and 31 feet high, the mural stretches across the entire face of a building on Chrystie Street. Buff Monster is not unfamiliar with working in this space. In 2014, he worked on a different mural with the LISA Project on the same wall that his new mural is painted on. “I’ve always loved this building; there is a park across the street, you can see the mural for blocks away and there is a lot of traffic turning at the mural for the Holland tunnel (outside of which another huge mural of mine is located).”
Buff Monster’s mural is the largest of the 50 curated for this initiative across NYC, featuring a “diverse group of characters with various expressions unified by a rainbow; capturing various stages of the struggle and triumph of the LGBTQ community,” explains Buff Monster. The figures of the mural are on brand with Buff Monster’s work, one-eyed, animated, characters. However, rather than each character being their own individual color, which is seen in most of his work, each character is filled in with a rainbow gradient of color. While each of their personal expressions makes them unique, the rainbow gradient unites the characters with the symbol of the World Pride celebration. When walking past the mural alongside the building, it’s easy to just see the characters one by one. But, when looking at the whole wall with a little more distance, one can see how the expressions of the various characters tell the story Buff Monster intended - both the struggles and triumphs of the LGBTQ community.
This mural was a seven-day undertaking and is just a bit smaller than the largest mural Buff Monster has ever worked on. The LISA Project team prepared and prime the wall, Buff Monster then sketched his design and filled it all in with the help of his assistants Amanda and Sam. “I’m very happy to be a part of this historic celebration, especially at a time that we’re divided more than ever. Big thanks to the LISA Project and NYC Pride for all their support, my assistants Amanda and Sam, and of course, Dana Dynamite.”
Joe Pugliese Shoots the World Cup US Women's National Team
In his latest story with Eight By Eight Magazine, photographer Joe Pugliese worked with a wishlist editorial and creative director to shine a different light on the Women’s World Cup US National Team.
“The editorial we were shooting for was created by Robert Priest, who is a legendary design director. He and his partner created this design group, Priest & Grace, that does all kinds of advertising. Robert Priest came from magazines and was the design director for GQ, and he just has an amazing eye. He loves soccer so he decided to start his own soccer magazine to marry his passions with his profession, and he’s doing a wonderful job at it. It’s a showcase of his design work and his love for soccer. When he asked me to photograph the U.S. Women’s National Team, I immediately said yes.”
The dynamic between photographer and creative director was fluid throughout the project and the collaboration felt natural. “He really let me lead the way on it, it was a total creative collaboration. We were both coming up with ideas and it was really a great collaborative effort. I got to lead the concepts and all the coloring,” explained Joe. “Some of the color changes are for visual relief. I knew this was going to be a sixteen-page portfolio and the idea of every single page being this blast of color or every single color being serene, classic black & white, felt to me like push and pull. I wanted to feel like layers taking on this journey, a dynamic journey, with visual ups and downs.”
The photoshoot took place at the Nike Photo Studio in Culver City in California. Nike hosted the launch for the team's uniforms so the shoot, as well as the set, were worked into a traditional press day for the team. “We were working with limited time and space, so I built the set to have the colors all around it. Some blues, some reds, some warm, some neutral. The shape of the lighting could change based on where I put people," said Joe. "These women, especially when they’re in uniform, they’re asked to sort of perform, to dribble a ball, to hold a ball. I made the decision to say I don’t want a soccer ball in this entire portfolio. It’s a soccer magazine. I just wanted their beautiful portraits in there. I think it was sort of a relief to them in many ways to just not have to do what they normally do at photo shoots which is you know to jump and kick. I wanted to respect them as athletes who deserve a dignified portrait.”
For this shoot, there was no designated cover star. The photographer had ten minutes with each soccer player, and Joe captured each team member as if they could be on the cover. “I have worked with a lot of athletes, but I haven’t worked with a lot of teams together. It was really nice to see the camaraderie on the team. It’s the fact that whether or not they like doing these press days, they all approach it like a team, they’re all very professional, they all have a clear view of their objectives. It was really nice for me to try to be a little more creative with them. Sometimes they’re photographed so often in such little time, that they don’t have the chance to do some photography that leans a little more creative, so I wanted them to have fun with that.”
“Honestly, the highlight of the shoot was working with Robert, he’s an absolute photographer’s dream to work with. He has so much talent, but he really lets you explore and take risks and he supports it. Part of working with Robert is being able to be experimental with color and lighting. Some art directors are more conservative, but he allowed me to push it. It’s rare these days.”
Taylor Rainbolt Shoots on Pixel for Google
With the rise of mobile cell phones, most individuals have a camera at their disposal, right in the palm of their hand. In a world where anyone can become the director of their own story, cell phone companies have taken the extra step to showcase the professional quality of the cameras within their devices as well as the latest designs. In her latest collaboration with Google, photographer Taylor Rainbolt showcased the new Pixel phone in a campaign shot entirely on the device itself.
“Google gave me direction, but it was kind of up to me to learn how to use the phone. They gave it to me a few days before the shoot to get my bearings and shoot some personal shots of friends,” explained Taylor. “It was different first going into the shoot because it’s not an actual camera like I’m used to. Once I had the freedom to play, I got much more comfortable with the device. It was definitely the hardest job I’ve ever done technically. The shot in the theatre took six or seven hours to light. Just the one shot. We turned off every single light possible in the theatre, even if it was someone’s cell phone light, because the Pixel is that good that you can literally capture the smallest light. Everything was done in camera on the phone, and we didn’t manipulate any of the shots. Everything you see is raw.”
Although it’s not required for every project, Taylor enjoys being fully involved in the process, including the location and model scouting. During the conversation with Google about casting, Taylor realized that she had friends that had the look the brand was hoping to cast. She created a deck of friends and loved ones who would fit in well with the aesthetic of the shoot. “Google liked practically everyone that I cast,” said Taylor. “It was really great because being from LA with a community that’s so diverse, my friend groups are into different things. I like that I can bring them into my work. I think it’s important to show diversity in casting and work in general because these are real people that I interact with and I want people to see that, and feel like they can be themselves.”
“I shot my friend Hazel for Solar Magazine and also for this shoot. I think that people are under the impression that being Indian means like wearing a jewel in the middle of your forehead and you wear a wrap around your head. We stereotype people and put people into boxes when really Hazel is just a normal girl, she’s a person just like the rest of us. So I think that when people see that everyone is kind of the same then we can all just love each other, and stop assuming people are certain ways because that’s what society has made us believe for so long,” explained Taylor. “We still have a long way to go. We’re so saturated with imagery constantly, ultimately the goal is usually that we’re selling things. But what I can bring to the world is changing how we see things. That’s the small role I can play.”
The shoot took place in LA, but the team spent their scout day looking for locations that were relatable no matter which corner of the world the viewer was from. “We wanted to find locations that didn’t feel like LA, locations that had a global feeling, as if it could be anywhere in the world. That was part of the message we wanted to get across. Grand Central Market was one of the main locations, which I felt like worked perfectly because there was so much culture and diversity there. I had a great group on this shoot. Google was very hands on. We worked as a team to get exactly what we wanted. They were a big help because they know the camera, the phone, better than I do - they built it. Having their input was really helpful.”
“I think my favorite moment was honestly just having my friends involved and getting to work with them. I think that with everything going on in the world right now, there’s so many photographers, so many DJs, so many creatives, and I never really talk about photography with my friends. Having them get to see what I actually do and how seriously I take what I do and getting to share something that I love with them was my favorite part of the shoot.”
An Artist's Process with Craig Ward
An artist’s process is ever-evolving, as not all jobs are created equal. While some creators rely on their practiced expertise, others are on a path of constant discovery, eager to push boundaries and manifest something new. Artist Craig Ward throws himself into his briefs and approaches each project with an open mind, ready to marry the needs of the client with any medium or procedure necessary.
Craig is no stranger to working with new materials in his work. “Fire, powders, light, smoke, food, money… I’ll use anything that helps the type headline better tell a story. I guess the most exotic ‘material’ I’ve worked with is bacteria; living organisms. The materials for the Adobe project, by comparison, were much simpler, just a mix of glycerin and water.”
In his latest collaboration with Adobe MAX, Craig was inspired by the idea of creative energy for the Core MAX logo. The logo consists of 6 triangles, so Craig’s process began by printing out a set of geometric shapes to build out the broader identity and patterns. “I pitched a handful of ideas around the theme of creativity - it being 'The Creativity Conference'. I liked the idea of somehow visualizing creative energy - the hum of a busy studio; the buzz of solving a brief, etc. I looked at a lot of ways of visualizing different energies - bubble chambers, lightning rods, but cymatics is a concept I’m familiar with that gives a lot of interesting results relatively quickly. It's a way to image sonic energy (sound waves) by vibrating liquid at different sonic frequencies.”
“The process involved a lot of trials with various lighting setups, art directing the shoot, cycling through various frequencies and photographing the resulting vibrations. The post-production on the backend was handled by myself also. I work with a photographer called Linden Gledhill and his background is in immunology. He's super smart and is also a keen photographer, so he’s able to combine his scientific know-how with photographic know-how, particularly when it comes to scientific processes. The hardest part was doing the maths for high-speed imaging. The LED's strobe at a certain rate and the waves vibrate at another so we had to work out how to sync up the strobing of the lights with the frame rate of the camera AND the wavelength of the vibrations. Not super easy stuff for a visual person.”
Some briefs require Craig to create his projects new from the ground up, while others entail working backward to break down elements that already exist. In his recent project with Time Magazine, Craig Ward deconstructed the UK flag and influenced the cover story’s subject line.
“Time came to me with the brief to interpret this headline, which was, at that time, “The Plot To Dismantle Europe”. I gave them three concepts that I came up with over that weekend. When you’re creating a magazine cover, it’s all about being easiest to see on a newsstand and attract people’s attention, so initially, I had sort of pitched this idea of the typography being stitched into the title on the top of it,” explained Craig. “I went out and found some fabric and sat down with it at the scanner. I frayed it and pulled it apart, as best I could, and scanned it in six or seven times, and just sent over a few selects of that in these various states of disarray. I went in with photoshop to color in every stitch to make it look like it was stitched, but I was very proud of it because it was a reflex, probably one of the better reflexes in a while actually. Even up close it holds up, in fact, it looks better up close than it does farther away.”
Most of Craig’s work is created to accompany a larger reveal, be it a new brand or product, a new company launch, or even a new idea in a headline. For his project with Time Magazine, Craig’s art had an influence on the overall story. “This always happens with editorial, but they changed the headline at the very last minute. It was actually very flattering because they changed it to “Unraveling of Europe” to fit the cover that I came up with.”
Craig's unique approach to the execution of the briefs from both Time Magazine and Adobe MAX took the extra step to elevate and bring the message in his typography to life.
Brook Pifer, Mother of Cameras
Fresh from the photoshoot of a currently sealed campaign that debuts in the Fall with a crew that she considers to be a “dream client”, photographer Brook Pifer lives to see life through her lens. When she’s not busy working with wish list brands and clients, she’s traveling and creating moments on film and translating them digitally into her own unique live motion GIFs for Instagram.
“What I find really special about film GIFs is that they bring together two things I inherently love about this art: analog and directing. Obviously, I’m a photographer first, but what’s really cool is that I’m able to know that visual sense, and still have this deeper way to tell a story with something really tactile and tangible. Of course there’s an inherent spirit to shooting film and I think that blending technology of film in that way is kind of awesome. I love it.”
Brook’s most recent bucket list trip was to Hawaii, but she creates wanderlust imagery from coast to coast. She photographs the people and places around her, including her pug Zoey, who has her own Instagram that documents their life together because “that dog knows how to find her light like you don’t even know.” Brook captures moments in her own travels and from moments authentically created by those who inspire her. “I’ve been working with a friend on a project called Lady Adventures,” explains Brook. “She had a career as a creative director, and she ended up selling everything and buying a van to travel across the United States. I would just meet her anywhere from Key West to Marfa, Texas, to Yosemite and Joshua Tree. We would hang out and camp and create and hike, go in the hot springs, climb boulders, and just be in nature, to be honest. When I’m with her it’s very stripped down compared to commercial, because it’s usually just me and what I can hike with. There’s beauty in stripping things away a little bit because it gives you that opportunity to capture raw and real and spontaneous moments.”
When it comes to packing, Brook handles work trips the same way she packs for travel - with as many cameras as possible. “I have this running joke that I have cameras, not kids. I feel like they’re all my favorite in different ways. Each camera, when it’s in your hand, it gives you a different way to create. It’s almost like if you’re a painter and you’re using oils versus acrylics, that gives you a different feeling than that versus watercolors, and it’s the same with a camera for me. I usually pack a few different bodies, a few different cameras, a few different formats. We joke about how much can I fit in a carry-on and still get in. I’ll split them up among carry-ons between me and my husband. I like to have different bodies and different cameras for different purposes.”
When she’s not traveling or creating passion projects, the photographer has a few tricks for connecting with the subjects and crew on set. Brook makes sure to bring the noise - literally. She always has music at her photoshoots and carries a speaker. She makes the distinction of identifying as a music fan, not a critic and that her choice of song depends on the vibe of shoot. On an all-day shoot, Brook can take the music from something chill to ‘60s protest music, landing on hip-hop.
“Whether it’s an actual client shoot or a personal shoot, I always treat people the same way. In some ways, I consider them less as objects and more of a co-conspirator, that way it brings models and talent to a place where they get to be an artist. When you develop that bond with somebody and develop that connection, that’s when you’re going to get the stuff where they’re relaxed, open to suggestions and things that they maybe wouldn’t want to try or ideas that may be adventurous or unexpected. That for me is how you get that ‘je ne sais quoi’.”
“You fall in love with people,” admits Brook. “That’s the thing about being a photographer and director, you fall in love with people over and over again.”
PK's Icy Heart for Vitamin Water's Ex Museum
Vitamin Water presented its newest “Ice” flavor in a humorous campaign that called on different artists’ to interpret the various elements of modern break-up culture. In a series of virtual exhibitions showcasing the journey of heartbreak, visitors are guided through a tour of the “Ex Museum” by the clever and endearing curator himself, “Tommy Lavender”. B&A artists, Pussykrew, designed a key piece for the museum that features a frozen-cold, bloodless heart reflective of the icy-fresh taste of the newly released blueberry lavender Vitamin Water. The frosted silver-blue heart is both beautiful and mesmerizing, yet unwelcoming, non-human, and totally hollow… just like your ex’s.
Pussykrew’s eye for intricacy and complexity is unique and always leads to stunningly elaborate works, even in the case of this more somber project. Their combined use of CGI and 3-D scanning produces visuals that are both graphic and imaginative at the same time. The striking use of texture, and vibrant, shiny colors, bring this icy heart to life.
Patrik Giardino Teams Up With Chris Pratt For Memorial Day
In honor of Memorial Day, photographer Patrik Giardino teamed up with Chris Pratt, Jay Glazer, Jared Shaw, and the other faces behind The Murph Challenge, created in memoriam of U.S. Navy Seal LT. Michael Murphy, who created and used the routine while deployed.
“I think this is a really great project, and it’s good timing, in honor of Memorial Day,” explained Patrik. “You train to have a really good experience, it’s almost like you train for a marathon, it's the same idea. You train for the Murph Challenge. Jared Shaw is the ex-navy SEAL who brought me in to the project. He is a very good friend to Chris Pratt. Jared has a really amazing background, they train together all the time. He did 4 tours in Afghanistan and in Iraq.”
Hero Michael Murphy was featured in the book and movie, produced and starring Mark Walberg, the Lone Survivor. Michael risked his life and continued to fight to save the lives of his unit, and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2007. That same year, his parents and brother started the LT. Michael Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation, which supports Michael’s favorite saying “Education will set you free.” The foundation is funded by donations and proceeds from the Murph Challenge, the Forged non-profit organization’s annual fundraiser.
The Murph Challenge consists of a 1 mile run, 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 squats, and a closing mile run in either a 20 pound vest or body armour. The website reads “The ‘MURPH’ is more than just a workout, it is a tradition that helps push us, humble us, and dedicate a bit of pain and sweat to honor a man who gave everything he had”. Participants have the opportunity to register their timing and compare their achievements with the unique group of registrants who also paid tribute to the challenge. “It’s a workout. It’s hard. It’s based off of the special forces and the training they do to make it through wars and attacks,” explained Patrik.
Patrik got a firsthand look at the challenge during his latest project with The Murph Challenge, where he filmed a motion piece with Chris Pratt, Tyga, and Jay Glazer, owner of the gym where their challenge took place. “Chris Pratt is totally into this kind of training. As an actor, he’s done battle scenes and intense action shots in movies. He gets totally into it. He became really good friends with Jay Glazer, they work out a lot together. Chris Pratt is becoming the face of the challenge, so it’s definitely getting more attention now that he’s apart of it.”
“They gave me total free range to shoot whatever I want because they trusted I would make a cool video. Chris Pratt hams it up the whole time. He’s a super funny guy. The whole group did the challenge, from beginning to end. I was running with them on the street with a camera!” said Patrik. “It was a really fun project, it didn’t feel like work, we were just having fun. It’s kind of like how the Beckham shoot was, easy and not so much pressure. Photoshoots tend to take the personality/persona of whoever you shoot, so this is kind of old school documentary but it’s got a little more style to it. I’ve worked a lot of celebrity shoots, but this is so different. You have access to people who really care about something and you create something that people feel strongly about. There’s a lot of moments where they’re totally sweaty and tired and they still talk right into the camera. It’s totally authentic.”
The video Patrik filmed was meant to be debuted on Memorial Day, but because of the excitement generated by the challenge during filming, the team decided to create a teaser and post it on Chris Pratt’s Instagram. It went viral. “It wasn’t even supposed to go live yet. We were chatting in a circle, saying maybe we should just post it now, to sell more t-shirt’s before the challenge. So I shot the promo and actually went home and edited it right away. The next video is going to be about five minutes long; in that video they're going to talk about the challenge and thank all the people who do it. Everyone involved has inspirational backgrounds. There were some big names in the group too, some NFL players, some MMA fighters, actors, a bunch of different promenent people who participate in the challenge. That video is the documentary about that day and it’s going to come out Memorial Day.”
“It’s really fun to be involved in this kind of environment. It’s awesome to meet all these people, it's great to challenge everyone. I didn’t exactly do the challenge because I was shooting, but running after them the whole time was pretty equal, I was sweating up and down the street,” he explained, laughing. “It’s funny, the paparazzi was outside by the time we did the second run. There was an article in the Daily Mail about Chris Pratt getting in shape for his wedding. But we were shooting the video for the challenge. I actually made it in the Daily Mail!”
To view the MURPH Challenge video featuring Chris Pratt, click here.
Jason Schmidt Captures Frank Gehry's Home
Architecture enthusiast and photographer Jason Schmidt had the opportunity to photograph Frank Gehry’s home and latest structural design masterpiece for a cover story with Architectural Digest.
"This is Frank Gehry's new house which he designed with his son. The house couldn’t be cooler. It’s an architectural and engineering masterpiece with these timbers. I feel like with any Gehry structure you try to fathom how it looks on paper, how you can draw and figure out how this all works - it's mind-boggling, the complexity of it all. When you're in the house, it feels somehow light, like you could have built it as a kid with pickup sticks. It has this incredible way of feeling light and simple while complex. It’s so cool."
Jason spent two days shooting Frank’s home, working closely with his son and considers the project to be a dream assignment. “I only had an hour or so with Frank himself for the portraits. That was an extra bonus, to spend time with Frank. My favorite parts of the house were the hippie nook with the round daybed and the green piano in that music room. It’s hard to have a favorite moment from the project, it was really just one incredible moment after another.”
Anna Pogossova Plays In The Sand With Museum Magazine
In her latest collaboration with Museum Magazine and Camper, photographer Anna Pogossova headed to the Stockton Sand Dunes in New South Wales to capture her own sculpture designs in a still life setting.
“The sculptures were a reimagining of the Eames Solar Do-Nothing Machine from 1957, and were designed and constructed by me. I created vector drawings which were then used to laser cut various shapes which formed the sculpture. The choice was very much to do with the look of the Camper shoes themselves, which I felt referenced a 60’s vision of the future and the atomic era design aesthetic.”
“I wanted to shoot specifically in afternoon light conditions as the sun was setting, and the shadows were getting longer,” explained Anna. “It did become quite cloudy towards the end of the day, but I liked the way it gave the image some softness and an ethereal quality.”
The sculptures feature a reflective component that mirrors the sand and the sky more vividly than the reality. The sleek lines of the sculpture's stem flow into the dark fabrics of the shoes, corresponding to the fluid nature of the geometric shapes. The result is a series of images captured by Anna that both complements and contrasts the Camper pieces.
Jèss Monterde Creates A Story For Vogue
As a professional artist, it’s easy to get lost in the process. Personal projects are an important way for artists to reconnect with their inspirations and reignite their passion in creative avenues that would go otherwise unexplored. In her latest collaboration with Vogue Portugal, stylist Jèss Monterde created a mood board for a story close to her heart and expanded her role on set.
“I didn't know Ericka Hart at all when this project first began,” explained Jèss. “When Arale Reartes, the photographer, told me about her and how she'd love to shoot her, I started to follow her on Instagram and fell in love. That's when I created a mood board for a story that I wasn’t even sure she’d be interested in.” The client, Vogue Portugal, responded well to the mood board and decided to commission the story. They loved the idea of featuring Ericka and were coincidentally preparing their Sex Issue for May. Once Vogue signed on to the project, it was time to reach out to Ericka.
The project is centered around the sexuality educator with a Master’s of Education in Human Sexuality. “She is Ericka Hart: She/They, sex educator, black queer femme, racial/social/gender justice disruptor, writer, breast cancer survivor, model,” explained Jèss. “This is how she describes herself and I couldn't do it better. The inspiration came from her: from her words, from her strength, and from her knowledge.”
In addition to setting the tone and aesthetic for the project with Arale, Jèss was also responsible for the wardrobe on set. “I did the entire styling for the shoot, but as you'll see, some of the photos feature the model naked. Sometimes you just have to step aside and let the body talk. Ericka’s energy, in terms of fashion, is really bright and colorful. Her style is free and powerful. Color, tulle, and glitter are all among the dreamy elements that have become my signature on shoots. So I decided to pull the craziest dresses. I have never seen so much joy in a person wearing a Marc Jacobs dress. It was really emotional for me to see so much happiness on a shoot.”
“I wanted to use young designers for some of the accessories,” explained Jèss. “They are free, and more likely to feel comfortable taking risks. I commissioned ANH Jewelry to create a crown for Ericka. It had to be colorful, that was the most important ask. With the help of the artist Giorgia Rojas, they created a crown that transmits light and color, the same as Ericka.”
“Vogue has been really respectful, no boundaries, no rules. They trust in our mood board and our ideas, so we were really free in this story. Ericka said something about the shoot that really resonated with me: ‘If you only see stretch marks and scars in the picture, you are missing the entire canvas.’”