Anna Wintour Gets Personal With The Selby
Anna Wintour has been editor-in-chief of Vogue Magazine since 1988. A cultural icon and aesthetic expert, Anna is credited with forging and shaping America’s relationship with fashion into the new millenium. Artist The Selby directed and illustrated the hit social series Go Ask Anna in his latest collaboration with Vogue and Anna Wintour herself.
“People on the street ask questions, and then Anna answers them,” The Selby explained. “I do an interview where I’ll ask follow up questions and have a conversation with her. Then I do some watercolor drawings that go along with the video; it adds that bit of fun and funk and it helps illustrate what she’s saying.” The entire process is a collaboration, with The Selby at its core as director. The questions come from curious fashion lovers around the country. Vogue gathered some questions straight from the streets of New York, and The Selby was able to collect some unanswered thoughts in both Texas and LA.
It wasn’t the first time The Selby managed a project that included taking his interviews to the streets. “When we approach people that know who Anna is, they start freaking out. It’s like going up to a Catholic and saying ‘We’re going to show this to the Pope,’” Selby said. “Tourists might not know Anna or might be suspicious of me. They ask me for a business card; it’s an interesting thing. When I started my career, I used to work a lot for NY Mag. I did a lot of “hundred person polls” where I would grab people on the street and interview them. I like that random element of grabbing people and talking to them, but it’s gotten much harder now. Everyone’s on their phone, and you’re distracting them. I remember when the iPod came out with the earpods. It changed everything.”
Once all of the in-camera elements were shot and complete, Selby found space for his sketches to playfully illustrate Anna’s thoughts. “Once we lock the final edit, I think about a moment where it would be fun to show something happening. I’m trying to use myself as the audience, doing things I like that could be interesting. Anna only told me to take out one drawing, out of hundreds of hundreds of items. I got the AWOK. This thing with Anna is called ‘AWOK.’ It means the ‘Anna Wintour OK.’ There’s this whole thing at Vogue, you don’t have anything if you don’t have AWOK. It’s a huge deal in the world of fashion,” Selby explains. “That’s why all the stuff is like floating around her head. I think it's a representation of Anna’s world and what she does. That’s something I always do with my work. I try to document and represent someone’s world by also adding my own creativity to it.”
In this project with Anna, The Selby has the unique opportunity to pull back the curtain and giving the world a few moments to see into her brain and thought process. “I think it’s really fascinating to see how her mind works. She’s like this wizard of fashion so just seeing her process and listening to how she’s seeing these different things, I’ve learned a lot. Anna has this incredible knowledge of fashion and all sorts of things around fashion, and I think what’s really interesting is that she only looks forward, you know, which I found the same thing with Karl Lagerfeld. They are always looking forward, that is the thing, and I found that really compelling. It’s a mark of powerful people, visionaries look forward, they know the history, but they're looking at the future.”
Kai & Sunny Paint The Downtown
Kai and Sunny recently completed a mural at our very own Great Bowery office in New York City. The project was commissioned by Nutrafol, a hair wellness company, and unveiled during a launch party for the product. When asked about their inspiration and process in creating the mural, Kai admits that they designed for the job in mind and that they were focused on trying to capture dynamic movement. However, like all of their work, their process is holistic and informed by their environment, so the final piece is up for interpretation. “I think society is shifting right now and everything seems to be fighting,” Kai explains on the direction of the project. “We try to navigate through that. The idea of change is a good thing, it’s not that hard to explain but it’s an abstract piece. People can take what they want from it, but I wanted to get the idea across of shifting and moving and some kind of change.”
The style of the piece is in fact juxtaposed with the method they used to create it. When speaking about their process, Kai described a process that is “quite methodic and thought-through.” He further explains that their process does not include free form, it’s focused on planned design. Their piece, which is painted with acrylics, includes 10 different colors. “We work through our colors, so we work from the lightest up to the darkest,” Kai adds. “Very slow, very methodic and start to finish, so we know what we’re doing.” Kai and Sunny are not new to this process of collaborative creation. Their style evolved organically through the partnership. “We’ve been working for 15 years, and together, 16 maybe. It’s just been a natural process of chipping away, and extracting, and deconstructing, and building it up again.” Kai and Sunny’s use of a methodic process to create an image that captures fluidity is a paradox, but it informs their interpretation of the final product.
While their work is open to interpretation, they value the consistent symbolism of constructing large pieces out of thin lines and the detail of how many tiny, delicate parts make up an impressive whole. “We liked this idea that a single line is very fragile, with the lines in the beginning. You get a group of lines together, hundreds of lines, or even a thousand lines, and it has the strength and the structure, to create an image. There is something quite nice in a line, somewhere, very fragile, but with a thousand lines you got strength and power and color and movement,” Kai explains.
Kai and Sunny’s work is a wholesome collaboration between process and message. While their process is deliberate and focuses on precision, the message is one of change and progress. Kai explains that what attracts him to making this type of art is that “going back to the one line, fragile, hundreds of lines, makes something interesting, makes something powerful. If we all come together, we can make change.”
Back to Brutalist Roots with Jason Schmidt
Before realizing his love of creating images, photographer Jason Schmidt originally saw himself as an aspiring architect. Growing up in New York, he idolized the iconic Twin Towers and later found his ideal aesthetic with Brutalist architecture. In his latest cover story for T Magazine’s annual design issue, Jason marries his creative interests in a series of photo shoots focused on the six Brutalist leaning Chilean structures which he refers to as a “dream assignment.”
“It was kind of amazing,” Jason explained. “There was a local producer and architect who knew most of the architects that designed these six different homes, and he was our guide. We drove about four hours to get to the first house and we shot till sunset which was about 10pm and we were able to actually sleep in the first house. And then we got the sunrise and then we hit the road again. It was six houses in six days and six nights. And the itinerary was over a thousand miles. I had never been there before and the landscape there is incredible, quite extreme and it made for these incredible setting for these rather generally extreme homes.”
Traveling to six homes in six days from northern Chile to more southern areas of the country is no small feat. Jason traveled light, bringing just his camera and a tripod. “Interiors were not the primary focus, otherwise I would have had to bring some lights but in this case, I knew I wanted it to just be the daylight. A big part of shooting architecture is that invariably end of day and beginning of day are going to have the best light. Midday can be too flat or too harsh. You have to figure out exactly what the right type of angle is,” Jason stated on his process once on location. “Where I want to stand for a certain definitive view of the structure, or a certain elevation, or a certain facade. But then I’ll come back and revisit that same view or that same spot with my camera and tripod back multiple times throughout an afternoon or morning because sometimes the light radically changes the way the house is rendered dimensionally, as well as the mood. Sometimes the editing process is pretty interesting because I have to compare the same picture and see how it works.”
Although this project with T Magazine is architecture and structure focused, Jason is inspired by people and artists. “My portraits are pictures of people in a room and I sort of frame the space and put the person in there. I like organizing how I see things in a sort of architectural way.” In his photography work today, Jason still thinks about the lines and proportions of architecture that originally inspired him in his images every day.
In The Shadows With Nigel Cox
As the season turns to Spring, small trickles of color and warmth flow back into the winter world. Store windows become bright and vibrant, filled with floral-inspired accessories and sleek silhouettes perfect for a summer day. Spring-inspired accessories appear on those not yet ready to shed their winter coat. In his latest collaboration with Bergdorf Goodman, still life photographer Nigel Cox shows us the latest and greatest sunglass styles for the Spring/Summer season.
“I think it’s a nice thing that designers seem to be having more fun with sunglasses than they ever were before. There are some great materials and some great shapes in the range they gave us to shoot,” said Nigel on the aesthetic appeal of the project. “The Oliver Peoples glasses was the first shot we did of the series. The first shot is the one everyone always gets excited about. I love the surface and composition on that pair because it feels very levitating. It almost feels like the shadow has dimensions because the one arm seems more defined as if it actually is an arm. The rest of the shadow is more shaded and black against those colors. It’s interesting how the shadow sits because that arm is in such a different position and it’s casting that back shadow. The shadows are still very similar, sticking out at the same angle. When you look at the top one, you notice that it was made by an almost vertical arm. That's why we really had to think about the positioning and shapes.”
The consistent theme of Spring drove their choice in color, focusing on a more “off-beat” palette choice with colors that are unexpected, pitched by Nigel. The series featured a horizon line behind the floating eyewear that is suspended in mid-air. “We had a lot of work to do in two days. Sixteen shots over two days is a lot for that level of work, you really had to get in there and light them beautifully. We were doing all real shadows. Everything was shot very much in camera. We were holding things in place with plexiglass but otherwise, it was all very much shot in camera. We wanted to have really crisp shadows that were really true to what was happening above. We were factoring in those shapes when we were styling the glasses,” explained the photographer.
Although each season’s selections feel fresh and new, this wasn’t Nigel’s first time shooting accessories for the luxury retailer. Nigel and Bergdorfs have collaborated on many different fashion shoots over the years. “They want you to put your stamp on it and make it yours. They want you to be invested in it. A good client is one that lets you explore a little bit. The best ones are the ones that you explore the process. When they want something more creative, the best people are the ones who let you play around. Bergdorfs has always been one of those clients, they want something unique and original.”
Marc Hom's Game Of Thrones Finale
Marc Hom is no stranger to the set of the captivating HBO series, Game Of Thrones. The photographer has worked closely with Entertainment’s editorial on four different series of images since the show’s premiere. For each set of photographs he’s taken of the cast, the number of images that became covers has grown, with this final project producing sixteen. Each photo features a different actor, with the occasional pairing of intertwined characters. “No one has ever done 16 covers,” Marc said, cognizant of the magnitude of such a statement. “There was so much inspiration - the sets are amazing, the costumes are amazing. The way the show is made, everything around you is so unbelievably done in the Game Of Thrones world,” Marc continues, letting us in on the magic of being on set.
“The shoot itself was very well planned out. There was no way to achieve that level of work with that big of a cast without having it planned to the minute, because you only have 15-30 minutes with each person. We did have to be very careful because we were shooting where the show was shooting, so we couldn’t show any blood or spoilers from the set. We had to think about our camera angles and focus away from areas where the show had been filming. It was a lot of teamwork,” the photographer explained. Even the notion of there being blood on set incites a familiar anticipation for the fast-approaching series finale that is reminiscent of the consistent outpour of emotion from loyal fans and followers over the years.
Marc revealed his process behind the shoot, which is surprisingly less focused on the final season than one would imagine. “I’m never really thinking of the script,” Marc says, painting the picture of his thinking while on set. “I’m giving my take on it and looking at it through my own lens as opposed to focusing on the script because then it’s not really my picture. That’s something I think about in all entertainment work. When it’s too controlled and too directed, everyone becomes too stiff. It’s fun for these guys to think about who they are underneath all that stuff. In the last shoot, we took them completely out of the context of the show and shot them in the trailers behind the scenes. I loved that because it took them completely out of character. You can allow yourself that when you have characters that are so well known because the characters themselves tell the story. They're so recognizable.”
“It’s always incredible,” he continued, wrapping up his overall feeling about the photo shoot production. “We usually shoot in winter, but this shoot was done in June of last year. It was a touching moment because this was one of the last times the cast would be shooting in their beautiful costumes. They were in the middle of filming with just a couple weeks left. Kit was actually wearing that uniform for the last time when I shot him. It was a huge chapter of somebody’s life coming to an end, so it really was intense. We did 16 covers in 2 days with single portraits plus the big group picture. It was definitely a lot, but so well worth.”
Marc Hom’s collaboration with Entertainment Magazine follows Illustrator Jeff Soto’s Westeros artifact project with HBO, continuing B&A’s contributions to the final season phenomenon of the Game Of Thrones television series.
Alexandra Gavillet Goes Neon With Blackpink
Some of America’s most influential music groups come from abroad. A band’s first American tour sets the stage for their international success - pun intended. In her latest collaboration with Billboard Magazine, Alexandra Gavillet was one of the first American photographers to shoot the K-Pop artists, Blackpink, during their debut tour of the US.
A female photographer shooting an all-female South Korean girl group during their first tour of the US is a moment that America has not seen many times before. “Music is my number one inspiration and I primarily listen to music that is made outside of the US. This project was really exciting for me because it’s something I chat about all the time - how incredible the music scene is internationally and how important it is to work with, listen to and support international talent," explains Alexandra on why this project was a great fit. "Blackpink is so major, they're huge superstars. To have the opportunity to photograph their first US cover was major. I just felt so proud because it's so important that American media is more supportive of international artists, so this felt like a really meaningful first step for the k-pop community. I was so grateful to be a part of that.”
Although it was their first trip to the US, the girls had little time to sit back and relax. The girl group kicked off their stay with a performance at the Universal Music Group’s annual showcase and made morning and late-night appearances on primetime television talk shows, including Late Night with Stephen Colbert. The girls looked soft during their photo shoot with Alexandra at Smashbox Studios, accentuating the vibrant fashions and fantastical sets showcased in each photo. The band members stretched out on velvet couches in front of luxurious backdrops featuring green and fuschia hues of satin and fur and posed in a lilac room with whispy bunches of florals floating mid-air around the singers.
In addition to the cover image of all four band members laying in a sea of luxurious neon pink fabrics beneath a plethora of different floral arrangements, Billboard Magazine produced four covers featuring a portrait of each of the stars from their photoshoot with Alexandra. Billboard even produced a commemorative collector’s box set with all five covers and full-size posters of Alexandra’s images. Blackpink brought their A game to set for Alexandra, ready to show face and announce to America that the group, in fact, has arrived.
Polyester Takes A Trip With Deadly Class
In the age of book to movie phenomenons comes a graphic novel to television show that stands out from the rest. The live action TV show, Deadly Class, is based on the graphic novels of the same name. The plot focuses on a teen named Marcus who is recruited into a private Dark Arts academy where he and his peers are trained to be assassins. In the series' first major nod back to its original form, Deadly Class creator tapped Polyester, animation and production studio, to create a piece that combines different styles and dimensions to bring Marcus’s acid trip sequence to life.
“Originally the show creator, Rick Remender came to us based on a spot we did called “Memento Mori” and it involved jumping through four to seven different styles from 3D to 2D. He wanted to do something similar for the acid trip sequence that he had in the show which was amazing because we assumed that internal, promotional spot we did was kind of not commercially applicable in any way shape or form. But it’s an excellent starting point for where we ended up on Deadly Class,” explains founder of the studio, Jeremy Dimmock, laughing. “We broke down the script into eight different styles, eight different sections, so it allowed us to put together a mood board for each of the sections. We did style frames for those sections to determine what the look was going to be. As we went forward, some sections would be 2D, 3D, and Cel Animation so each one had its own unique look and feel. We wanted to start out very happy, like the trip is going really well and then it kind of hits a dark point where it goes into Marcus’s history and then it starts getting really dark. It gets super dark because of his past and his history intertwining so, it also references what’s going to happen in in future seasons subtly. There’s definitely that climax where it goes dark.”
When the show creator originally approached the studio for the project, the show hadn’t launched yet, so the team had ample time to execute their vision. Robyn Smale, the producer on the project, revealed that there was most definitely a “hunger for creative awesomeness” throughout the layers of the project. The studio got to working on the spot well before the show started production, and continued working and making changes once filming began. There were a lot of changes we had to keep up with based on what the live-action director was doing.” The opening sequence was changed a number of times, switching out characters in the car in each cut.
“Everything started with the script breakdown. When we broke it down into eight different scenes, we researched different styles. Each scene also had its own unique color palette and it became a road map for establishing the look as we jumped into creating production art and style frames. We actually wanted to establish a consistent palette but they insisted that each scene is as separate as possible. So we made sure that we broke up the 3D so you can see the distinct styles and distinct techniques that we used,” Jeremy explained, before giving a disclaimer that he was about to get animated (pun intended). “Then we broke it down. Scene 1 was done 3D Maya and was rendered in Redshift, modeling in Zbrush, surface texture and substance design. Scenes 2 and 3 used ToonBoom Cel animation, where the rest of the scenes go on to feature 3-4D, painted textures frame by frame, Adobe Animate, Flash and Photoshop with everything finally being comped in After Effects.”
Although exclusively created for the television series, the two-minute acid trip sequence stands on it’s own. The spot transports the viewer into a world of visual pleasure, using different styles to evoke emotion and colors that elevate those abstract depictions. The episode featuring the acid trip premiered on SYFY in February, but the excitement has yet to die down, with the network’s Youtube clip having more than ten thousand views. As for Polyester, they’re excited about the future. “Fortunately, their ratings continue to get better so hopefully we’ll be talking about doing something for Season 2 soon.”
Mind Over Matter with David Carson
The rapid development of technology has raised many questions about how creativity will evolve alongside it. David Carson’s collaborative exhibition, “Mind Over Matter,” with Thjis Biersteker, showcases that technology can help push the limits of how art is experienced and the influence it has on the viewer. The concept began with the artists' mutual desire to create art that has a real impact on the world. The project evolved through an emotionally-driven creative process to draw into question modern paradigms in society such as the practice of mindfulness, the visualization of emotions, group dynamics, and peer surveillance.
The partnership began while David was doing an artist residency program at the Zeoku Hotel in Amsterdam. Given David’s well-known background as a professional surfer, Thjis was in charge of showing David the beach. Thjis explained his background in tech-driven art and expressed his eagerness to collaborate on a piece with David. Their process started with the desire to clean up pollution. They began by collecting trash from around Amsterdam that David later used to create collages. Thjis, using his technological-art background, connected digital copies of the pieces David designed to a headset capable of reading brain-waves. Through this technology, the visuals were programmed to reflect the mood of the people using the headsets. Once they had tested and fine-tuned their installation, they invited a small group to experience the piece in action.
When David and Thjis saw how people interacted with their piece, they realized that the scope of the project had become much larger than they had anticipated. People in the exhibit begin to be mindful and actively exercise control their thoughts. The experience was so unique that the team could not ignore the power it was having over the viewer. “[It is] just something [else] to see your mind get calm,” David explained, “you feel it but you don’t often see it. If somebody would enter the room, and one person started doing something different, that affected it. I think we just kind of touched the surface but there’s something really interesting there. An obvious [application] would be meditation and self-calming. What was also interesting [was] that there were some people there that started reading the other people there like: ‘woah, you’re in a dark place.’ Or, ‘wow, that person is really calm.’ Or, ‘what the heck is going on in there?’”. The reality that David and Thjis did not know how their project would be interpreted before they put it in action was not a problem for David. Rather, he views it as an exciting marriage between human experience and technology, as well as a testament to the power of emotional art.
The strength of David’s personal belief in the power of an emotionally driven creative process is evident. The most engaging challenge of this project was how to create a collage that conveys the spectrum of emotions people might feel while interacting with the piece. To do this, he experimented. He asked himself if the visuals he created evoked the emotions the headset was programmed to associate with them. These questions are particularly compelling to David because evoking emotion has always been the goal of his creative process. Unlike professionally trained designers who learn to abide by a certain set of rules for good design, David emphasizes that he is self-trained. Therefore, he instead constantly asks himself: “‘what’s the emotion I’m trying to get from this piece?’. I want people to feel the work and react emotionally.” He explained that is why working on this piece came naturally, “it was very much the way I like to work [with] emotional reaction to visual things.”
A return to an emotional process in design is more relevant now than ever. In David’s eyes, the design world has arguably become more homogeneous as technology has developed. However, this is not to say that technology cannot be used to create emotional design. “That’s where the best work comes from–your unique vision and way of seeing things and nobody can copy that. Everybody can buy the same software and do reasonable websites but as we get more technically driven, it’s more important than ever that you get personally involved in the work. That’s when you do your best work and have the most fun doing it,” David believes. “That’s the only way you can do something unique because nobody is you; no one has your background, your upbringing, your family life. You can’t put all of that, but you can put degrees of it and then you have the chance to actually get some unique fresh work. If you’re not doing that then you’re probably bored with the work and you’re probably doing very safe, fine, forgettable work–professional but ultimately forgettable.” This strong belief in the importance of keeping emotion as the driving force of creativity in an increasingly digital world is why the highlight of the “Mind Over Matter” show for David was watching the emotional reactions of people as depicted by his collages.
The importance of prioritizing authenticity remains particularly significant to David who holds this value central to his craft. David is not alone in this desire, and when he really works through a process driven by emotional authenticity that is when he gets the best response. “Where you can tell there’s a human behind it people are really reacting again, gravitating towards that, and it’s really noticeable… people are hungry for something that’s authentic and to feel there’s a person behind it… I’ve been aware that there’s movement [in support of authenticity] again and that’s a good thing… things are shifting.”
Although the next phase of their collaboration is on hold because David and Thjis are in pursuit of different projects, the possibilities of where they may take the theme of the connection between emotion, image, and technology are broad. Although the team is not yet sure what the next phase will be, they would love to continue. Themes of self-awareness, couples’ therapy, peer surveillance, and emotional authenticity in a technologically-driven world are some ideas they have of ways this technology could be used to help make a real difference in the world – the main goal of their collaboration.
Tara Donne Travels to Adult Dream Camp
Tara Donne is no stranger to travel. The seasoned photographer and motion director is known for photographing the finer things that make up a lifestyle: food, travel, family, and fun. In her latest project with Travel & Leisure, Tara takes her talents to the Adirondack Mountains to capture all it has to offer, from the rustic cabin scene to the luxurious lakeside resorts.
The Adirondacks has a special place in Tara’s heart. Having spent her early years near the mountain range at school in Syracuse, Tara was already keen on all the natural beauty the area has to offer. “I feel like people don’t know about the Adirondacks. There’s a bunch of different things I love about it. It’s just totally my vibe up there, big trees, big mountains. I’ve been there at a bunch of different times of year – in the winter with friends, renting houses and just enjoying the nature and snow around Lake Placid. I always really love it. There’s great hiking and a lot of outdoorsy activities. But I’d always look and look and I could never find really cool places to stay. In a way, it was sort of lovely and refreshing because there was nothing trendy - there’s not a million pre-curated instagrammable things. It’s just really beautiful, natural and raw. As an aesthetic person that feeling was always both underwhelming but in the same way a little bit refreshing.” It feels fated that Tara, who at a time craved more intentional beauty from the unchartered Adirondacks, was selected as the photographer for a multi-night adventure in different luxury accommodations, dubbed Adult Dream Camp.
Tara and the editorial team of Travel + Leisure stayed in a plethora of hotels throughout the Adirondacks for the Adult Dream Camp journey that each had their own unique feel. From affordable cabins deep in the mountains to properties along Lake George, to finally one of Rockefeller’s properties turned luxury resort, the photographer had no shortage of picture-perfect moments throughout her stay on the four-day shoot. Tara’s favorite stay, “hands down”, was The Point, which she refers to as the highlight of her trip. “It’s a really nice and beautiful property, but everything feels like authentically from when it was built - in the early 1930s. It has that Adirondack cabin feel but with a luxe twist. But it’s not like they did this cheesy over the top renovation that feels inauthentic to what the Rockefeller property originally was. It feels like you kind of get to go back in time,” explains Tara. “Before I arrived, they asked if I had dietary restrictions. I said yes, I can’t eat gluten, so when I arrived there was a plate of fresh baked gluten-free cookies. They make you feel taken care of. It’s also not so posh because you’re still in nature. You can take the boats out and go swimming and hiking. You can totally unplug. There were even top-shelf bars that you could just help yourself, set up in five different places.” Tara took those cues and made herself at home, going as far as to make a fire in the fireplace that was pre-stationed in her room to photograph and capture the full luxury of the moment.
Although The Point made Tara feel more than comfortable, the other areas of the Adirondacks evoked more familiar feelings of nostalgia, fulfillment, and family that Tara showcased in her images. “I think the range of accommodations that were part of this story was perfect for what I thought were the most exciting, interesting, beautiful, authentic to the place kind of summery moments and things that happened at each spot. The Sagamore is a beautiful island that’s in Lake George and it has all this coastline that’s so beautiful to enjoy and it has all these tubes and kids in the lake. It feels like a family place,” Tara notes, referencing the outtakes of images of children and families wading in the lake and walking along the lake with their tubes. “I think a lot of the inspiration was wanting to tell a story. When you’re shooting a travel story, it has so much to offer and there’s so much about it that makes it a wonderful experience. I just felt like I wanted to spend more time there, not just because I wanted too, but because I wanted more time to photograph everything that happened there. It was such a good place to just shoot an inclusive story from food to things there growing the garden to the people who work there. I wanted to capture that.”
Pari Dukovic Shoots Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton Debut
Virgil Abloh’s legacy precedes him. The founder of fashion brand Off-White, is known for blending the lines between streetwear and luxury. The creative started his career supporting some of Kanye’s endeavors before venturing off on his own, experimenting with brands like Pyrex and finally finding firm footing that has reshaped how the world separates different aspects of the industry. In his latest project with GQ Style, photographer Pari Dukovic shadowed fashion’s brightest star, designer and creative director Virgil Abloh, through his most recent runway debut for Louis Vuitton.
With this unique portfolio for GQ, Pari had the opportunity to join Virgil on his tour of Men’s Fashion Week. He traveled to Paris to shoot the designer as he opened his first show as the men’s artistic director for Louis Vuitton in June of 2018. Pari photographed that intimate moment between Virgil and the man with whom he launched his career, Kanye West. The image of the creative director embracing his mentor isn’t the only moment the photographer was able to capture. Pari documented the runway show in its vibrant entirety, from the designer bags sitting idly backstage to the models walking the looks down the runway. Pari was also invited to the after party, where Virgil quickly switched hats and jumped onto the turntables to DJ.
The designer’s signature style has influenced more than just fashion. His academic background is in both architecture and engineering, which he regularly references in his work. Virgil is credited with fundamentally changing the way the world views creative directors, expanding his craft to include his roles as DJ, architect, author, and entrepreneur. GQ opened their article, which detailed different accounts and perspectives of Virgil’s success, with a welcome for readers to the “Abloh Era." Pari captures those moments that document his most exciting journey – so far.
Michael Muller Shoots Marvel's First Leading Female Superhero
For the past decade, superhero movies have broken records and topped the box office charts. Marvel’s Universe is home to the big screen’s most beloved superheroes, including Iron Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, and most recently, their first leading female superhero: Captain Marvel. The Universe paved the way for this progressive addition to its franchise earlier in 2018 with the debut of their first African American superhero, Black Panther. In his latest collaboration with Marvel, photographer to the superheroes, Michael Muller, shot the movie posters featuring the super woman for her own movie debut.
Michael is no stranger to shooting superheroes on set, and he sees each of his Marvel shoots as their own unique experience. His shoot with the cast of Captain Marvel was extra special. “The process is always a little different…” explains Michael on shooting characters from Marvel’s Universe. “When you do the Marvel superhero movie posters, you have these big casts of 12 Avengers, and sometimes up to 20 or 30 actors. Capturing each unique suit also makes it interesting. But I think the main, unique and cool aspect with this particular shoot was the fact that Brie Larson, the lead, is a female. And without going into too much of the story, a female that is going to save the world."
With each Marvel movie franchise comes a different set of superheroes, each with their unique set of skills and powers. During the two days of shooting with Michael, Captain Marvel’s powers stood out. “All the superheroes always have different powers, but Brie’s character sort of has all of their powers - one of which is flying,” Michael reveals, delving into some of the behind the scenes work that isn't shown in the final images. “It was cool to use Brie in harnesses. We use harnesses, and the stunt team comes in and we actually fly the talent. So she flew, without ropes… because she’s a superhero."
With ten years on the job, Michael knows how to capture and inspire the strength that boldly shines in each superhero shoot. “I’ll direct the way they stand, how they position their body, where they’re looking, and especially the angles I shoot them from. The angles and the lighting make it the whole combination – the superhero recipe, with the actors adding their character to it. This is her first superhero film, but it’s interesting to watch the actors, as the sequels develop, watch the characters perform their craft. After 10 years doing this, I try to direct the new superheroes as much as possible.”
When asked about whether one of the shoots stands out as his favorite, Michael admits that it’s too hard to choose. “There are no favorites because they all have sentimental value, you know what I mean? I enjoy all my shoots…but I would say, the one that’s got a lot of sentimental value would be Iron Man 1 because it was the first one I shot. I remember Robert Downey Jr. showed me the sketches, and how excited he was. And then the studio called. I did two weeks on that shoot, I did hyper unit where we go and shoot the actors on set as well. My assistants have portable strobe lights, and that’s when I have access to all the sets. When I do hyper unit it’s amazing. I love to get those shots on camera because we have the backdrops right there. The actors are in costume, in uniform, all that good stuff. That one has a lot of sentimental value, but you know my favorite I would say is “Captain America 2”. I think it had the coolest costumes and uniforms. Those costumes, that style; they were just amazing."
Through all of his superhero experience, Michael keeps one simple goal in mind. “With a movie poster you know, there’s 1.4 seconds to stop someone in a magazine or stop them on Amsterdam. You got one shot to make people say to themselves in their car like, “that looks cool,” or “that looks dumb”. The way you look at a movie billboard can really affect the box office. And that’s my job, to make them look cool. I know the comic book fans are going to come to the movie. My goal is to get my wife into the movie theatre. To get the people that are not the superhero or comic book people into the theater, into the seats."
We Are The Rhoads Photographs Oscar Contenders
Last Sunday the world tuned into Hollywood’s Biggest Night: the Academy Awards. People Magazine asked We Are The Rhoads to shoot their selection of female nominees whose talent and performances truly shined - with one who walked away with the award.
The Rhoads were provided the benefit of a unique photo shoot with each of their subjects, but because of busy schedules, some of the shots had to be done in just a few minutes. This was no challenge for The Rhoads. Their time with Rachel Weisz of The Favourite is a great example. “We shot those images literally within seconds of each other, the horizontal one was shot by Chris and I was on a side angle on a tighter lens. I shot the portrait of her looking back over the shoulder,” Sarah explained, who makes up half of We Are The Rhoads with her husband Chris. Their team was planning on shooting Rachel after the SAG awards, but after connecting, they decided they wanted to capture the excitement and energy of the awards and shoot during a short break in the show. “We had Rachel for seven minutes. Literally seven minutes,” added Chris. “We shoot almost all of our scenes in tandem, I will have a camera and Sarah will have a camera as well. That’s when you have that moment when I’m shooting straight on and Sarah is on the side and you get those two different moments beats apart that have different feels.” The dual capability of having both cameras on set is part of the magic that The Rhoads bring to their shoots, and this specific circumstance made for a dynamic contrast of images in under just ten minutes.
The gleeful image of long-time actress and new Oscar winner Regina King shows the star looking up towards the ceiling, with a warm smile on her face as if laughing. “She's been in such dramatic roles recently, and what Chris and I love to do in our work is to capture that honesty about a person and show how that resonated with us,” Sarah says about capturing a cheerful moment with the If Beale Street Could Talk star. “That was one of the last shots we got of her. She was just so warm and gregarious, Chris and I wanted to capture that spirit about her. She had a nice warmth that immediately when she walked in the room you could feel.” Capturing that one special and specific moment is deeply rooted in the spirit of We Are The Rhoad’s philosophy.
While the other shoots were hosted in California, We Are The Rhoads took their talents to New York to shoot Lupita and Danai. The two shots feature the actresses first looking straight at the camera, with all the intensity that they bring to the big screen in their Oscar-nominated motion picture Black Panther and contrastly, leaning into each other and laughing as if having an intimate moment. Chris credits those captured moments to their practiced philosophy. “I think it goes back to our whole ethos of trying to make them feel comfortable. Lupita and Danai had been friends for a while and have worked in numerous different projects, so they were already pretty comfortable with one another, so really it was just trying to extend that and have them kind of forget that they were on set. Obviously they're dressed up in this incredible wardrobe and we have this incredible fairly large lighting scene, but it’s really trying to start connecting with them on that human level. I think that’s where we’re able to get a little more serious or keep it a little more lighthearted and, you know, they’re pros. They’re so generous with sharing that kind of connection with the camera that it really makes our job easier. They're willing to step in and be vulnerable with you and show a more human side of themselves as opposed to just the character that they’re playing.”
Not all of the shoots were done on a set. The photographers immediately felt a spark in Marina De Tavira of Roma, so when the sun broke through for a few moments during their shoot, that flare of light felt like magic. The image of Melissa McCarthy was also taken outside, but the moment didn’t exactly come as easily. “It was raining,” Sarah started explaining about their experience with Melissa. “We had a torrential downpour in LA for a good 10 days during the time that we were supposed to shoot. We really had to execute quickly and get to something really honest that resonated and felt real very quickly and build rapport. So, I hopped on Chris’s shoulders for that shot to get a little height because there was very little room in the quarters we were shooting, especially for both of us to shoot. I went to get that angle from the top down and the second I got on his shoulders she was just cracking up, like ‘I can’t believe that someone is shooting my photo like this!’. That moment is kind of special because I feel like that's really when you got to see her real spirit shine through and that’s the image that they choose which we were really thrilled with. I’m 5’3’’ so to get that downward angle, I had to get a little height and there wasn’t time to pull out apple boxes!”
Each image created by We Are The Rhoads is special in its own way, bringing their ethos through every shot to create a collaborative yet cohesive portfolio of the leading ladies of 2018.
Behind The Scenes With Brian Doben
Award season is known to be one of the most glamorous times of the year. Hollywood’s biggest stars walk the red carpet and come together to celebrate the success of the people who make each nomination possible. During his latest project in collaboration with Walmart and The Academy, Photographer Brian Doben had the unique opportunity to shoot the powerhouses behind the scenes who help make the stars look good. From set designers to wardrobe stylists, Brian was able to capture the crucial moments where the set crews and glam teams shine.
The campaign included a number of commercials that premiered during the live airing of the Oscars and print ads that mirrored those six TV spots. Brian’s expertise working in conjunction with TV and film allowed him to successfully navigate the physical constraints and other challenges of capturing still photography on a production set where the schedule and environment are out of his control. “It’s always that kind of interesting dance of how do we find our time to create an image that is dynamic and stands on its own yet carries through and works simultaneously with the TV spots,” explains Brian on the process.
The final images for the ads intentionally match the commercial campaign, so it’s easy to assume that both of the shoots were happening simultaneously. In reality, most of those shots were done on Brian’s time, and there were only a few minutes that he was able to shoot in between the different sets for a true action shot. “I really try to respect people's time and space,” Brian notes, “so I saw that there was a moment when there was a lens change on one of the cameras and I was able to just take control of it for that shot - I think that image was taken in under a minute. It was pouring rain and it was fast.”
The result was a set of six images that transport the viewer straight to the set with all the energy of the production. Brian credits this to his practiced process of shooting. “My first camera was an 8x10 camera so I couldn’t afford to shoot too much, the film was very expensive to shoot. It would average about 10 dollars for a sheet of film between buying and processing it, so I would have to really think about my framing and the composition. It was extremely crucial for me because I couldn't do many images and that really was a great way for me to start. Although now everything is digital and you can shoot 10,000 frames, it's still stuck in me, to think about and to look at all the corners of the image and see, how do they relate to each other? What is it here that’s interesting, even if its just a garbage can, is that garbage can there right or is it wrong? When I really do think of my process now, I look at my 8x10 days and I use that because it's the same thing - what is my intention here?” Brian considers this process “creatively stretching”, where he comes on set ready to “absorb like a sponge” and connect with the subjects to get the best shot.
Although this isn’t Walmart’s first campaign as the official sponsor of the Oscars, the idea behind the campaign is a departure from the tv spots they produced in the last two years of their partnership. Making the decision to focus on the magic behind the scenes sits near to Brian’s heart. “From the beginning, I loved the concept because it goes really to the heart of my passion project, my at work project, celebrating people who love what they do so to honor the people behind the scene,” Brian commented on why this project was a great fit for him. “In my eyes, it shows that there’s a change in direction that's occurring which is to really appreciate the people that carry the weight of whatever it might be. It would have been much easier to show the stars of the production. They could have hired five or six movie stars and they could have done a very similar storyline and instead, they went with a much more daring and exciting point of view. They honored the person who’s getting the meals out for the crew or a stylist’s assistant - these are the people that make things happen actually and the viewer needs the reminder that without that core group, nothing gets accomplished. The stars wouldn't look good if their stylist didn’t style them to look good and the stylist couldn’t do it without their assistant. For me as well, I rely on my team who I’ve had for well over a decade and I really really love having them with me because they carry me through it.”
27 Dresses with Liz Von Hoene
The era of Netflix has made it easy to get lost in nostalgia. At a moment’s notice, you can have all of your favorite childhood movie and television classics at your fingertips. For some, this means watching the same genre of movies over and over. For many millennials, and even some baby boomers, fans of rom-coms or not, 27 Dresses is at the top of that list. In her latest collaboration with Entertainment Weekly, Photographer Liz Von Hoene shot an exclusive reunion with the cast of the eleven-year-old romantic comedy.
The movie, starring Katherine Heigl, is the tale of a single bridesmaid who has been in 27 weddings and counting. Blessed with incredible work ethic, Katherine’s character, Jane, comes to work for the man of her dreams. Her sister, played by Malin Akerman, also falls for Jane’s boss, and the two set a wedding date of their own. Tortured by the idea of losing her ideal mate to her sister, Jane develops an elaborate plan to confess her feelings before realizing that she was falling for James Marsden’s character the whole time. The happy ending of the movie leaves viewers craving more of the story, so the eleven-year reunion with Liz could not have come at a better time.
Entertainment Weekly brought the group together in Malibu with Liz Von Hoene to capture some of that nostalgia and to give lovers of the movie a look into what the characters might look like and be wearing today. The final product is a series of portraits and images that are the clear result of a fun and lively photo shoot with old friends. Bringing the stars and old friends together also meant bringing up the inevitable conversation - they would all love a sequel.
Shotopop Feels The Beat With Spotify
Musical taste is subjective, and sometimes hard to describe. In their latest campaign with Spotify, the illustration, animation and design studio, Shotopop, created five different visual musical identities from drawing board idea to 3D character. Each animated dancer came to life and moved to the beat through motion capture over two full days at Pinewood Studios in London.
The work that goes on behind the scenes of a project usually goes unseen. For a painter, it’s the color combinations and brush strokes that still only live on a piece of scrap paper. For a photographer, it’s the outtakes and unedited photos that never make it to print. For animators and CGI artists, it can be as simple as the basic awareness of how objects move, and as complex as strapping a human into a full body suit with sensors to precisely capture fluid movement.
Spotify called upon Shotopop for their expertise on this project, with just an idea. The designers at Shotopop decided to create a series of motion capture dances that represent each of their different listener profiles. The entire process took two full days, as well as a team of dancers and choreographers. The studio produced a behind the scenes clip that details the intricate 48-hour process in a mere fifteen seconds.
The result is a number of motion clips featuring colorful 3D animated characters. A flexible disco ball, an EDM inspired confetti monster, a rock and roll headbanger, three pastel k-pop groupies, and a workout dancer all grooving to the beat to the soundtrack of the Soundsmiths. It’s hard to not mistake these lifelike figures for real people in costumes. For those who understand the behind the scenes process, they technically were.
Roderick Stanley Plays the Part for Gucci Showtime
For the 2019 Spring/Summer collection, Roderick Stanley worked with Gucci and creative studio Simmonds Ltd to create a series of social media teasers. The videos feature eccentric celebrities at an imaginary red-carpet ‘premiere’ for the SS19 campaign Gucci Showtime. For the three videos, which have now racked up almost 1.3 million views on Instagram, Roderick wrote the scripts (based around the quintessential red-carpet question ‘Who are you wearing?') developed the characters, and played the role of the interviewer himself.
Shot and directed by Glen Luchford, the campaign film itself is an epic homage to golden-age Hollywood musicals of the 40s and 50s, reinterpreting classic scenes from the likes of ‘An American in Paris’, ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ and ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’. Starring in the spots is an eclectic cast of models in the Gucci SS19 collection – all “with maximum glitz and glamour,” as the fashion house’s creative director Alessandro Michele explained in a statement to press of his vision.
Jeff Soto's Game of Thrones
Great television shows spark cultural conversations and relevance that create lasting impacts in our society from The Sopranos to the now cultural phenomenon, Game of Thrones. To celebrate the show’s final season, artist Jeff Soto was among the eighteen talented artists chosen by HBO and given the task of interpreting one of the official show props. Given his experience painting on different canvases, Jeff was excited to elevate his work with the personal passion he felt for the project. “I've painted on shoes, cars, bottles, and all sorts of things, but this one was very special because I am a big Game of Thrones fan!” explained Jeff, “I’ve watched the series twice, and, in fact, my whole family watches it. My brother has read all the books!”
Each piece holds its own significant relevance to the show’s history and plot, so it was important for the artists to understand and maintain that integrity in their re-creations. “I am a painter, so I didn’t want to physically transform the prop so much as breathe new light into the existing shapes using color. I used acrylic spray paint and brush paints. I focused on rich, saturated colors that were the opposite of dusty old bones.”
After Jeff spent time considering the brief and working out the concept for the dragon skull, the entire process took about a week to complete. The artist started by spray painting the entire skull to give the piece an underpainting base before working on the detail. He completed the painting in stages to allow time to let the piece dry while carefully following the shapes and forms of the skull. In Jeff’s version, his signature use of color shines a striking contrast to the original.
Each of the eighteen pieces were unveiled this week, in celebration of the building anticipation for the upcoming final season. Viewers of the show and fans of the art are encouraged to create their own depictions of the props using the hashtag #ForTheThrone for a chance to be featured in the campaign. The project comes highly recommended. “Painting on a dimensional object can be a bit of a challenge” explains Jeff, “but overall, it was a really fun experience working on this piece.”
The Selby Says Yes to Starbucks Mornings
Waking up isn’t easy. Saying yes to getting out of bed does not always come naturally. In his latest project with Starbucks, artist The Selby had the opportunity to follow three city dwellers who always say yes at the start of their mornings. For Selby, the collaboration was a perfect match. “My whole interest is about interesting creative people and their spaces and getting to know their lives,” he explained about why he found the project so fulfilling, “I really love photography and film making and illustration and so when I was approached about this Starbucks project, I was super jazzed. It’s always a dream to get hit up about a job that fits so closely to your interests.”
As director, photographer and illustrator of the project, Selby was able to fully immerse himself in the creative process. The concept for the project grew into conversations with each of the creatives they shadowed, which ultimately led to the final ideation process. Selby was involved every step of the way. He added the final touches to each image or motion piece with his illustrations. “Eighty percent of projects at this point for me are mixed in terms of film and photography, photography and illustration, or illustration and film; which is really fun.” Selby is always wearing many hats on a single project, “Integrated film and photography is definitely what I’m doing most of the time,” he noted.
The entire project took 3 days to shoot. In three mornings, he got to know the New Yorkers, their lives, and their morning routines. Working on the campaign was intensive but rewarding, as Selby was able to create a connection to each of the individuals. “What’s great about this project to me is that the talent and the people are so inspirational. Jaamal works for a nonprofit and gives sneakers to kids in his community, and he walks his sisters to school everyday. Amber has her whole concept around yoga and broadening its appeal and she has a unique sensibility. Haley is a very special person in the world of fashion design - she’s really embracing all kinds of different people and sizes and color and body positivity. Love of color and pattern is definitely something that I’m really into; we definitely connected on our aesthetics.” Through this organic connection and process, Selby was able to bring to life the most special and intimate moments in their mornings.
Liz Von Hoene Takes Us Wear The Wild Things R
Personal artistic endeavors allow creatives to express their uninhibited imagination. Photographer Liz Von Hoene recently had the opportunity to come together with multiple like-minded artists, Creative Director Amy Osburn, Sculpture artist Mimi Haddon, among others, to execute a shared vision in what they refer to as a “hashtag passion project”. “We connected on a creative platform of liking the same things, inspiration and liking each other’s work. We had been talking about doing a creative project where I could shoot something for her,” said Liz on working with her personal friend. “Late summer/early fall we started collaborating and bouncing ideas back and forth. Amy came to the table with different concepts, and she really wanted to work with this sculpture artist, Mimi Haddon, who sounded very inspiring. She wanted to do an abstract portrait story in a more urban environment and loved the sculptures for that idea. I pulled up Mimi’s Instagram which started the conversation and it grew from there.”
The result was a pleasant surprise for the group, but admittedly wasn’t entirely unexpected. “Once we had a plan and an idea of where we wanted to start, we left room for the passion,” stated Liz. “You need to leave that door open and let the element of surprise happen so you’re led to something you wouldn’t normally do.” Amy agreed, “There is definitely always a road map but the road map is there to allow room for play.” Allowing room for the creative aspect to occur in an organic way was key in their planning process.
“When you’re embarking on a creative endeavor, when it's a collaboration, everyone needs a voice. This project was one of those rare moments when it all sort of comes together and all the artists feel the same way,” said Amy on the collection of talent. Their project, Wear The Wild R, sets an eerie stage of an urban world filled with vivid neons and different shapes that allow the model, wardrobe and sculpture to intertwine to become one. The artists used different natural elements, shape, light and shadow to elevate their work and create a playground to celebrate their vision. Amy went on to stay, “For me the biggest components that brought the shoot to life were the sculptures and the styling. All of the elements were able to work in tandem - it doesn't always happen that way - for a beautiful piece.”
Joshua Davis Disrupts the Norm
Magazine covers serve as a representation of all of the creative and journalistic work within. In his latest project for Computer Arts Magazine, Joshua Davis set the stage for their newest issue. Unlike traditional editorial covers that are shot by photographers or designed by illustrators, Josh focused his expression into writing a computer program to create the artwork. Joshua’s computer-generated project involves a process with two different systems: one that creates the composition, and one that disrupts and remixes the original system.
The processes behind covers are more intricate and involved than the computer programs most individuals are comfortable using. “Simple systems are to thank for these complex compositions. In it, 200 particles are created on screen, each picking a random art asset. The system then uses a flocking behavior to separate, align and unite one another. Each particle can be seen as a brush stroke leaving behind a trail as it paints itself across the canvas. After the particles have “painted” the screen for a set duration, we then have a semi-final composition” Joshua explained of his design system. “So a second system now takes over, sampling the semi-final composition, and beginning to disrupt it into parts. Here, an invisible grid samples random sections of the composition and creates a new version with displayed splices. Finally, each cell of the invisible grid makes a 50/50 decision; either display the sample as is or pick the first column of pixels from the sample and stretch”
Like most powerful works of art, change and displacement from the familiar is where the true, raw, creativity happens. The disruption in Joshua’s program informs the whole body of work. The theme of these covers is Be Disruptive, and his work does just that.