Making of The Essentialist for Kenton Magazine

I know I say this a lot but it keeps being true so I’ll keep saying it: A project is only as good as the talents of the individual team members. The team is everything, working win the best possible people and trusting them is key. Without that trust you’re lost, and even if you’re not lost you will still be spending 8-10 very uncomfortable hours with strangers you can’t really stand, and while we are all professionals and we’re in it for the work, no one wants that.  The story of this shoot is not of one of those days.

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Most of the time stories start as creative ideas that are bouncing around in my head and the desire to give them life pushes me to pull a team together, promote the idea to magazines, coordinate the logistics and then once all the groundwork is set, shoot, edit, retouch and deliver the project.  And then wait, for sometimes quite a while, until I can safely and proudly share it with all of you.  My inspiration comes from all kinds of places, including but not limited to the wealth of visual media surrounding us at all times, recently read books, cultural milestones, travel, living in New York, and at times the long-buried lessons from my high-school art history classes.  I love this job because it encourages me to be a sponge absorbing and ruminating on the complexities of visual culture and meaning, but I digress.  Creating editorials and personal projects may often come from a cathartic need to decipher and challenge the world around me, but it also a great way to experiment with new genres and techniques.  This is still a business and each member of the team isn’t working with me for my stunning personality or their health, they share the desire to create beauty, but they also are building their respective portfolios, reputations, and careers.

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This story came to life from a business need.  Last fall Mia Tucker Williams, a very talented stylist and editor for Kenton Magazine, was assembling her portfolio and beginning the  arduous task of hunting for an agent.  The first step is always serious self-reflection over your business and portfolio, assessing strengths and weaknesses and filling any noticeable holes in said portfolio.  What she found she needed was a lifestyle shoot.  We’d worked together successfully in the past on several editorials and lookbooks, and so she reached out to see if this was a project I’d be interested in.  After a little discussion of concepts and a look at my own book I agreed.  She reached out to her friend and colleague Tiffani Rogers to be our prop stylist and I called on Ananda Khan a talented hair and makeup artist to see if she’d be interested in joining our merry crew.  With the responsibilities divided up and the location selected all that was left was to find the right model for the project.  After several emails to agencies across the city Emily Steel of Fusion Models was the overwhelming favorite, and with the later addition of Gendala Kelli Anna as Ananda’s assistant, we were ready to shoot.

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Working with Mia is always a pleasure as we work well bouncing off one another, we walk through the shoot plans and the styling direction to organically determine the flow and development of the shoot.  Ananda and I have been working together for so long that we have a little bit of an unspoken understanding about what we need and how to make things better.  Tiffani was so sweet and profession and brought an impressive array of props and (delicious) pastries.  I have never worked with a prop stylist and this was an illuminating experience that has spoiled me, she helped to bring the world we were creating to life with enthusiasm and warmth.

This shoot with all it’s moving parts would never have been a success without the talents of the incredible women I was luck enough to work with.  I hope you enjoy this peek behind the scenes and stay tuned for the full story.


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