Brook Pifer Gears Up for Class with Levi's
In her latest campaign with Levi's, photographer Brook Pifer captures the excitement of Fall in a series of images that show off the best fits of the season. No matter the equipment required, Brook doesn't show up to set without her film camera. Brook created GIFs using the striking portraits and inspiring group shots she directed.
“What makes a really special GIF is when you get that added third dimension. It’s very much about thinking less a photographer and more like a cinematographer,” explained Brook. “Anytime where there’s an action moment that didn't line up against a wall, I know I can create something special. I like to look for when I can see that depth between the camera, the subject, and the background. There is a bit of a technicality to make it look the way it does, it can’t look flat and also have that dimension. It has to have the room for movement.”
“On set, it’s work but it’s a fun environment. I like to play music on and off set. Once they’re in front of me while I’m rocking and rolling, we can crank the music up and I can be vocal with direction but if I see something serendipitously happening, I let it happen. I give the subjects the time to be creative and have that moment to breathe because that's when you get those special in-between moments. On set it is work, but you’ll see people waiting to be brought to frame who were having fun off set and now they’re jumping onto set and keeping the fun flowing.”
For this project with Levi’s, Brook captured the fresh-faced cast in a suburban neighborhood in California. The team worked with locals to include the classic white Jeep parked outside into their set, which became one of the iconic backdrops in the shoot. The shoot focused on a pattern of neutral backdrops to draw into the energy of the choreography of the photography, whether it was a group shot or portrait, to make the subject pop.
“We were drawn to backdrops with light or even some texture to tie in that story so it looked consistent and very high end. We wanted it to feel back to school. That’s what you would do with your friends. You would grab an ice cream after school hanging out. We’re listening to music and now we’re dancing and hugging and creating a human pile up! That’s how I see the stories we create. I think it creates a more honest narrative,” explained Brook. “Something that was really great about the casting for this project was the focus on an approachable, aspirational, relatable aesthetic. It was incredible, the team was so great to work with. They loved what I’ve worked on in the past and trusted my vision, knowing that we can adjust if we needed to. They're kind of a dream client, to be honest. It’s a huge blessing to get that as an artist.”
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.”