Behind the Scenes

Jamie Beck

There are so many aspects of a photo shoot that take place to get those effortless images that tell a story or inspire a dream. Before the months of post-production begin, a crew of talented people, each bringing their own specialty to the table, all comes together to bring an idea to life.

The idea began last December…starting with an introductory meeting with Rachel Roy, a peek at the spring collection for inspiration and a clear understanding of the scope of the project. Kevin, Kelly and I went to work concepting what the Rachel Roy woman was to us, and what story we wanted to tell. With inspiration from Georgia O’Keeffe, the colors of the spring collection, and the words from the designer “Effortless, Elegant, Exotic” bouncing in our head, we came up with the idea of American Exotic: our desert wanderer finding herself in the arid landscape out west. We wanted to put the clothes in an environment that would make them sing.

Once approved by Rachel we got to work with our producer. Where can we shoot in January that matches our vision but isn’t covered in snow? Locations had to be scoured with everything we needed for our shot list and then approved. Budget estimates had to be tweaked. Local crew had to be booked. Our model and muse had to be chosen. This is how we spent our Christmas holiday: taking work phone calls at family gatherings, working out equipment lists, renting equipment, buying film, writing video direction, confirming the crew and finalizing everyone’s scheduling with the producer.

One of the most important parts of being a photographer is directing everyone. Communication is everything. Only I can see what is in my head; I have to set the path, make the decisions and comunicate with everyone what we are going to do when and how, what time is call time because of the logistics of the locations and the light, when we are going to scrap one idea and head to another because I have a gut feeling.

And then, finally, we shoot.

Here is a small glimpse of what it looked like and how it worked ~

photo shoot

The “stand-in”

Deciding where to shoot, what angle is best, how the light is and where the model should go is all tested out before our  model gets on set with stand-in shots. The art director, an assistant, the stylist will all stand-in and help me visualize what I want by letting me test shots until we have worked it out and can then get our equipment ready.

photo shoot photo shoot photo shoot

Making moments with can-do assistants

Having high energy, can-do-anything assistants is such a critical part to any photoshoot and making magic happen! Here is Jeff getting filthy so our muse can be kissed by the desert smoke in the final shot emerging from the cave.

photo shoot

There is a lot of looking at shots…

photo shoot

Checking shots…

Jamie Beck & Kevin Burg

talking to the art director / client about shots…

Jamie Beck

figuring out shots…

Jamie Beck & Kevin Burg

and seeing if we got the shot.

Kevin Burg

Sometimes you have to lay on your back on the hot rocks, sometimes you get bruised from smoke bombs blowing up in your face, and sometimes you’re a dude who thinks this is really fun.

Photo shoot smoke bomb

The stylist is always there by your side watching, checking, tweaking, tucking, smoothing, and pinning our model. No detail is too small, and as you know, the camera sees everything.

Jamie Beck & Kelly Framel

… and Kelly comes with a lot of options.

Styling Styling Styling

We have built up quite a trust and language between each other since our first shoot together. As collaborators it’s important to us to be on the same page, to agree on the vision and share ideas. We push each other, we challenge each other and we spend hours concepting future shoots or answering the phone in the middle of the night when the stylist can’t find the clothing we are supposed to shoot the next day…

Jamie Beck & Kelly Framel Styling

Gotta love your models. Gabriella had to withstand below freezing temperatures in Joshua Tree, 5am call times, shoes that gave her blisters, being engulfed in sulfur smelling smoke and winds that nearly blew her over while standing on top of a bolder in high heels. She was such a trooper and you must take care of your talent because if the model fades – the shoot is over. They always come first. Water, robes, food, breaks, endless hugs,  whatever they need.


Then there are the ever important iPhone moments as in the age of social media, everything must also be shared in real time

Jamie Beck

It’s all about team work.

It’s also all about hustling to catch that perfect light

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…and choosing very talented people to work with. Especially when they show up looking like the female version of Johnny Depp and finish a shoot day with a snifter of Mezcal, making you realize you will never be that cool no matter how much swagger you think you have.

Gloria Noto

Then there are the moments when you are waiting at the next shoot location and you pray to god the PA’s remember which exact rock formation they left you are at… I particularly love this moment when our assistant mentioned wild cougars live around here.

photo shoot

Of course there are the amazing moments when you find yourself in incredible places and you realize how small and fragile humans really are under the awe-inspiring might of Mother Nature.


Producers become your new best friend. Peter was an encyclopedia of locations, recommendations, organization, putting together our LA team and keeping everyone happy, fed and taken care of. I got very used to someone always telling me “yes” to every single wish or desire *sighs*. They also are there to give you hugs at the end of the day when you are so happy and want to share the moment.

photo shoot Jamie Beck & Kevin Burg

Guys & their gear.

Video shoot Kevin Burg Video Shoot photo shoot

I don’t think I ever sit down or stop shooting when we are on location or even on-set at the studio. I’m always watching, always looking for something I haven’t seen yet. Our studio assistant Carly came along on this shoot with us to assist with all digital management and help shoot some of these behind-the-scenes shots. I particularly love this one of me so small and alone in this wild desert environment in a moment of quiet reflection.

Jamie Beck

It’s very important to have a home base. Venturing out into the vastness of Southern California it was great to have a space for everyone to prep, eat, use the restroom, take a break, steam clothes, and apply hair and makeup. Every evening on the long ride home I would sit at the table and begin the editing process. Managing all the day’s created content, making sure it has all been backed up, pulling selects to show with the client to double check we are on track and plan for any looks we might want to shoot a second option for on the next day.

photo shoot

When we got back to our hotel all photo equipment has to be checked, cleaned, charged and re-packed for the next day… and what a day it is when your job is taking photographs.

Joshua Tree

Thanks to the amazing crew for all your hard work on the Rachel Roy Spring 2013 campaign starring Gabriella Lopez, styled by Kelly Framel, hair & makeup by Gloria Noto, Produced by Peter McClaffery, digital assistant & BTS Carly Piersol, 1st assistant and B-roll Jeff Maksym, Andie Lipton from Rachel Roy & the assistant PA’s shot in California’s Joshua Tree National Park, Cougar Buttes and the Salton Sea. 

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  • Vickie Simons

    love all the behind-the-scenes shot & seeing some of what goes into making those gorgeous photographs :)

  • It looks so beautiful! I remember seeing your Instagrams back when you were in the desert and it’s so neat to see how it all came together!! All your hard work paid off, the final photos are beyond gorgeous Jamie! xo

  • Absolutely incredible to see how much work and how many people come together as a team to create such an effortless and magical shoot! It is no wonder that you’ve come so far… all of your hard work and determination translate into your beautiful photography! You’re such an inspiration Jamie, not only in following your dreams but in keeping up with the hard work in achieving those dreams as well!

  • Thank you SO much for sharing this! I am always so inspired by you, but getting to see the inspiration from A to Zed really helps.

  • wonderful post – so great to read about the process and see the behind the scenes to the outcome


  • PHEW! But doesn’t it just leave a HUGE Smile on your face at night?? the best.

    • Jamie

      Every night!

  • Im loving this “behind the scenes” insight into your world. My dream would to be a professional photographer like you, so I’m living vicariously through your blog!!! Thank you for sharing, I am always endlessly amazed by what you do xxxx

    • Jamie

      glad to hear it :)

  • These behind the scenes posts are always one of my favorite types of posts from you two! I love seeing all the work that happens in order for the final work to become a reality. It’s truly amazing…

    • Jamie

      So glad to hear it! Thanks Jade!

  • Diane

    I absolutely love all these photos. You always inspire me, so it was great to see the breakdown of a day on set. Thank you so much for sharing :)

  • Melanie Pogson

    Fantastic! Thank so much for sharing a piece of your exciting projects. It looks like so much hard work, but the results are awesome!
    Always loving your work x

    • Jamie

      Thanks Melanie!

  • nicole rule

    Very inspiring! So exciting getting to ‘see’ you work through these images.

  • Maya

    I am so amazed and inspired by this work and process. I put up a gallery show Monday at my school. I’d been working with paper negatives on a Polaroid 95, and I thought that process was hard. It’s always nice to remember how difficult the digital production world is as well. Thank you for sharing your absolutely stunning and clearly so well-thought out work. Congrats on a shoot well done!

    • Jamie

      Hi Maya!
      Oh my gosh that sounds amazing. Do you have a link to see your polaroids? I’d love to see how they look. Thanks for your comment!

      • Maya

        Hi Jamie!
        I’m in the midst of scanning the copies of the final 18 prints from the show. They should be up on my blog in a few days. Thanks for the interest!

      • Maya

        Hi Jamie,
        Here’s a link to some of the polaroids if you still want to take a look!

  • Great photo’s 😀

  • Molly Masters-Selten

    wow, this was an absolutely fascinating read.
    thank you so much for continuing to inspire :)

    Molly {Dreams in HD}

  • wow, that looks amazing!! you did such a wonderful job, I admire your photographs and it’s great to know the whole process of a photoshoot which is not obviously that easy. Wow! :)

  • Absolutely awesome and inspiring! Thank you for sharing the highs and lows… It’s all added such depth to the final product. Great work!

  • Lydia DeWolf

    OH my gosh, so incredible. And I was looking at your stand-ins going, they’re in parkas, how is the model going to deal with it? Apparently models are more resilient than I thought. :) You’re so lucky to be living your dream.


    • I know! Models have to “model-through” some really hard conditions. I try to shoot as quickly as possible, there was literally snow on the ground at morning! She was really amazing and professional.

  • Wow I looooved this! BTW you look even more glam than the models.

  • Anita Wu

    Amazing. You guys are always so inspiring, and the meticulous details that you wrote about and invested in that MASTERPIECE is proof of that.

    Looking forward to seeing more!

  • Love it, thanks for the inspiration.

  • Rosemary

    Hi I would like to know what brand of top you used for the stand in piece. white blouse like top with the pink trim v neck and line going down the front of it. Beautiful!

  • when there’s cold, do you have to take your gloves off to shoot or did you find the perfect ones to warm you and let you do the job?

  • This is truly inspiring work, it’s so great how you all worked as a team and as a result produced phenomenal work.
    I have literally just come across your website/blog today and am completely awe-inspired!
    Keep up the fantastic work!
    Much Love,
    Kate xo

  • Yas

    Beautiful! Did the smoke bombs end up staining the clothing?