The process of producing a project, the sourcing, organizing, and coordinating the different aspects required to make a shoot a success, is one of my favorite things about this job. I love the problem solving, the research, and the exploring. I love asking for unusual things only to discover that in this wonderful city unusual rarely means impossible (often expensive but not necessarily impossible). That being said every project is different, depending entirely on the client's needs. Some are more elaborate, some are surprisingly simple. All are important.
Over the summer I was contacted to bid for a small menswear lookbook to be shot partially on location and partially in studio. The idea was to show how one shirt could take a man through his day and fit into both professional and personal life. After the bids were organized, delivered, and subsequently accepted the real work began on sourcing locations and an affordable studio and crew for the shoot.
The first step was looking for locations. During our planning meetings when we were discussing the theme and mood for the shoot I began developing a character for the subject. In my mind our mean was an approachable executive, the charismatic professional man's man, With that in mind I spent an afternoon wandering the veritable maze that is parts of Tribeca and the financial district looking for the kind of places he would frequent. Armed with an iPhone, good music and comfortable shoes I set off on a stunning late July afternoon to begin the walkabout looking for options. These are some of the locations the caught my eye.
The next step was the casting: calling the agencies, finding someone with the right kind of sensibility and experience for the project. The answer to the question, "Who's gonna be our guy?" was Major Model's Oliver Grubelic. Oliver is a talented, intelligent, and warm man. We clicked during the casting and he won the clients over with his impressive book and easy charm. They knew right away that he was exactly what they were looking for.
We chose to shoot this project down at 16 Beaver Studio in the financial district, since it offered a full studio with easy access to all the clients' favorite locations. 16 Beaver is a beautiful studio. It is an inviting and comfortable space (with some interesting fixtures) that seems to encourage creativity. The bottomless coffee and tea didn't hurt either, at least not until Antonio cut me off for my own good.
On this shoot we were working with a relatively small crew composed of Julianna Grogan, our hair and makeup artist/grooming specialist; Antonio Rodriguez, my first assistant; and Rena Rong my (first) summer intern. Julianna is an energetic and talented hair and makeup artist and this was actually our first project working together. She came highly recommended from another very talented friend and makeup artist, Andrew Colvin. Andrew wasn't able to join us for this shoot, but he made some calls and put me in touch with Julianna. She quickly proved that she would fit in with our team, she was attentive and able to identify and fix issues before I could mention that there was something wrong that needed adjusting.
Antonio Rodriguez is fantastic. He has spent several years working as a photo assistant and digital tech and has become my first call when I'm looking for an assistant. He anticipates my needs and is a huge help when it comes to problem solving technical issues. We think similarly and he makes the jobs we're on together more fun and so much more relaxed knowing I have his support. When you realize that you can't do everything yourself the next step is finding the best possible team of professionals to surround yourself with. In an ideal world those colleagues become friends and that makes all the difference in the world.
Speaking of admitting that I need help: earlier this summer I realized that even beyond the shooting schedule I needed someone to help with the day-to-day. I needed an intern. In previous positions I had managed interns, but it was an entirely different issue having one of my own. In addition to having someone to teach about technical, practical, on set, and business aspects of this intersection of art and commerce that we call the fashion industry, there was also the practical reality of working day in and day out with another person. She took over several of the smaller, sometimes mundane, but still important tasks and allowed me to focus on my clients needs as well as pursuing new projects. After several years of working entirely on my own this was a huge adjustment, but an exciting one that has since spoiled me. It was a short internship and she has since returned to classes at RISD, but my next intern has some very big shoes to fill.