Mike Piscitelli Keeps Ashley Smith looking Natural for RVCA
Having Mike Piscitelli shoot Ashley Smith for RVCA was a long time coming. When Ashley started modeling after being discovered at SXSW in Austin, Mike was one of the first photographers to ever shoot her in NYC. On the other side, Mike’s been aware of RVCA for years, “I’ve grown up skateboarding and surfing,” he says. “And RVCA’s always stood out because they do a lot of stuff with artists.”
But it wasn’t just that Mike has history with both Ashley and RVCA (pronounced ROO-ka), it’s a natural aesthetic fit. Having spent his life between the San Fernando Valley, New York, and Venice Beach, the natural, relaxed feeling of RVCA is the same energy that permeates his work. It always has. “I’m not some fashion guy that’s trying to come into the RVCA world,” Mike explains. “I come from that world and I’ve expanded outside of it. But at my core I bring authenticity and a level of work to the table” When Mike says he’s expanded outside of it, he’s not kidding. He’s shot campaigns for KSwiss, Converse, and Expedia.com. His work has broad relatability, but his authentic naturalism is always the touchstone.
The images that Mike shot with Ashley speak to her similar style. Observing her over-the-shoulder grin, and the wink of her icy blue eyes while enjoying a popsicle, you’d be forgiven if you pigeonholed her as skating model. But she’s walked runways for Chanel and Balenciaga, and spends her time shuttling between NYC and Paris. She and Mike have worked together a bunch before, and since they both have such a relaxed nature to them, they let that inform their shooting style. “We treated it like a vacation. We just cruised,” Mike says. That’s how Mike kept the shoot so natural, but blurring the lines between what was on the clock and what wasn’t. Living between the shots.
“We were shooting outside and went into the supermarket to get something to eat and we ended up shooting in there,” Mike says about the shot of Ashley with the popsicle. “None of the supermarket stuff was planned. We were taking a break and I just had my camera, and so we shot photos when we were getting soda.” That popsicle wasn’t chosen from a hundred popsicles, and the bags of chips weren’t styled just right by a team. That’s how they were placed in the supermarket, so that’s how Mike shot them. The best way to manufacture a natural feel in an image is to let it be natural.
So, how did Mike get images of Ashley looking like she had fun? “Me and Ashley just have so much fun shooting together.” It’s that simple.