Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Beauty Shoot with Polina and Kat

Back in March I started conceptualizing a beauty shoot for my good friend Kat Sterrett. She is a make-up artist who donates a generous amount of time to Polina’s and my shoots and in return we stage beauty shoots for her that allow her to dictate the make-up and show off her range. For this shoot the concept was “landscapes.” The models have very different looks and complexions and I wanted to emphasize this with very different color and textural stories.
Three days before the shoot, we lost our hair stylist. Not wanting to scrap the shoot since coordinating schedules is the hardest part of any shoot, I quickly came up with an idea that allowed us to cope with the loss. I located 4 different helmets and styled the looks using old clothes from my attic and my roller derby gear. Kat’s approach to the make-up was to highlight single elements on the face in a way that complimented the styling. On set we loosely referred to the looks as Tank Girl, Easy Rider, Speed Racer and James Bond. These names and a quick glance in the mirror was all the direction we gave the models; the rest was up to them. There was never more than one model on set at a time so no model witnessed the other being photographed. I was fascinated to see how each girl chose to embody their character and work (or not work) with their huge accessory.
Kudos to Polina for agreeing to work with my crazy idea and for agreeing to shoot through the clear visor on our Bond chick. It wouldn’t have been the same had we kept it flipped up! And thank you to our lovely and tolerant models Kiley, Jenna and Yana.

These images and a few adddional detail images can be seen at
www.LEVELinterior.com under the ART DIRECTION tab.


The Urbanophile said...

Wow, those are really great.

Nikki Sutton said...

Thanks! We have been staying really busy this summer with both commissioned gigs (Polina is shooting the Oct/Nov issue of Dine) and fun stuff (Naptown Roller Girl '10 calendar). So look for tons of new photos in the coming month!

polina osherov said...

i like your picks - good eye! and of course the whole concept was great on-the-fly thinking on your part. you're a genius!

Craig McCormick said...

Fantastic idea and styling. Improvisation in good hands can be a lot of fun - keep it up.

Years ago I read a couple of books about improvisation and jazz. I was very much into the idea of what improvisation might be in photography and architecture. The books were Improvisation by Derek Bailey and Improvising Jazz by Jerry Coker. The Coker book was more music theory, the Bailey book more universal and interesting. I sought to understand what happened when Coltrane wandered off. I think the answer lies somewhere in human chemistry, adrenaline perhaps, and whatever kicks in in the crunch. Shifting into high gear.

Even the most creative of us too often subscribe to our tried methodologies to find results. Artists are the worst. Once they find a successful formula, one that nets the dollars, they repeat it with glory. The society of patrons expects this pattern of behavior from us, it's investment.

But ideally, wouldn't you arrive at the studio every morning with the dramatic need for improvisation, challenging you to make your best work?

Nikki Sutton said...

I have always been one to perform well under pressure. So well in fact that I tend to intentionally procrastinate. It is difficult to admit that but I think it might be true. The adrenaline and anxiety rush I get is addicting and believe it usually makes my work better. In all reality, I wish I would discipline myself to design first and quickly then use the home stretch to revise, and massage my designs. (It would be easier on my health and my friends.) In response to your comment: "But ideally, wouldn't you arrive at the studio every morning with the dramatic need for improvisation, challenging you to make your best work?" I think I set myself up for this scenario in almost everything I do. I have volunteered to design for Fab For Less in Fountain Square three times and every year I (intentionally?) took on more work than I could handle. I knew in the end I would be pushed for time but when that time crunch kicks in and you are under-slept, underfed and you suddenly stop hearing the background music, well, for me, that's when it all starts. It might be safe to say that subconsciously I think that if I put enough pressure on myself I'll end up with a diamond. Not to mention, it strengthens the personal connection I have with my work. My projects and I, we're like war buddies or something. There is a part of me in those projects and when I look at them I see my spirit. Wow. That was all a little self indulgent, hunh?

Nikki Sutton said...

Oh, and these photos would be awful and pretty cheesy if it weren't for the amazing talent behind the lens! It is easy to be experimental when you are confident that the medium in which your story is being told will be strong and dynamic! Polina, you are a gem.

Craig McCormick said...

Blogs are by nature a little self-indulgent, so go right ahead. I agree Polina's work rocks.