Some time ago I was contacted by fashion designer Saba Tark. She posted a casting call and was looking for a photographer to shoot her new clothing collection. I had been following her work and process for some time and I jumped right on that! I loved how the designs looked and when I heard the title to the collection “Nomads of the World”, I was sold! I couldn’t freaking wait to shoot it.
To start, I had to think of a way to visually tell that nomadic story. I immediately thought of tents. I love that freedom, bohemian, nomadic feel. And because this was Nomads of the World, I could draw inspiration from different nomadic tribes and styles. I emailed this idea straight to Saba and she loved it too! But let’s be real, who wouldn’t be up for building pillow & blanket tents! Haha never grow old! So once the idea was there, it was a matter of budget & time to tell how much was possible. Thankfully, we had neither of the two… I had to work with what I had and went into the studio closet and got out everything that was in there. Sat down started sketching, styling and designing the sets. We had 8 outfits!
I do all my casting calls on Facebook. I’ve created lists for every group of people on there. So when I’m looking for models I only target the model list. If I’m looking for Asian models I target the AsianModel list etc. etc. In no time we had the models booked through different agencies. Now it was time to find the rest of the team like: the makeup artist, hairstylist & stylist. We found those pretty quick as well using the same methods of Facebook. The reason it goes so fast is because having a clear idea and good concept laid out makes it easier for other artists to attach to your project and wanting to be part of it.
Now that we had the team, it was on to building the set. Because nomads are mostly on the move and use materials around them in nature, I wanted to use a lot of cloth, woody nature-y things. So I did a quick sketch on how it would look and then started building. Because we were short on time, I had to do this on the day of the shoot. On the day of the shoot we didn’t have many problems. I just kept building sets, moving things around, drawing from my mind’s eye and what I researched before. Because at some point you need to let go of the visual reference material and let your own mind translate what it sees and wants.
The props I find form my sets. I pick them along the way. I visit thrift shops a lot, always looking there to see if I can find something new to draw inspiration from, or to use in a on going project. Also, when I’m outside shooting, I usually walk around different cities and I always keep an eye out for shops that have unique things. We creatives are usually very visual driven. So little visual details on other humans trigger my eye as well. Like necklaces, earrings, styles. I try to categorize it like: “This would go great with a dark themed shoot” or “This earring would work great with a mermaid shoot” and my mind just goes on to fill in the gaps for a shoot like that. This is pretty much how I come by the props. After I’ve used a certain prop I try to figure out another way to use it again that isn’t the same as before. And after a few times I throw them away.
With props you always have to find the balance between what the shoot is about and that item/prop. If it’s a fine-art styled theme, by all means, go all out to tell your story. But if it’s a fashion shoot where the clothing has to grab the attention and not the stuff around it, you need to be selective in what to bring in. I tend to leave the set something that happens in the background. It should feel natural and the lines should ideally point to your model and the clothes. In some cases, like an accessories shoot, the focus would be the prop! That earring, or bag. You then have to try and isolate only that prop.
Elinchrom BXRi 500 /w Rotalux 100cm deep Octa as mainlight varied: Rotalux 175CM Giant Octa box
Elinchrom D-Lite RX One /w reflector + grid
Canon Speedlight 430ex ii. Honl gels.
Canon 7D, canon 5d
Sigma 50mm f1.4
Canon 85mm f1.8
The lighting was different for every set, but not that much off.
Switched between the deep octa as main and the Rotalux 175cm giant octa.