The Making of

We first started the conversation with Saks Fifth Avenue’s team that curates and runs their social channels including 10022-shoe, their NY-centric shoe-focused Tumblr. You never know with new clients how much control they are going to want or how far they are willing to go. Kevin and I are always looking to do new things, always trying to expand our work and continue to evolve Cinemagraphs, the new medium of photography we pioneered over two years ago.

So let’s talk about the creative process. Their team was completely open to our ideas, whatever we could dream up. When everything is a possibility, it can be hard to find a jumping off point, so our first action was to spend sometime at the SAKS shoe department. We walked in circles, letting various shoes spark our imagination. Oh! Look at this Louis Vuitton heel, can’t you see a girl at a train station surrounded by LV luggage and steam from the engine rising in these?! LOVE. We did this for a couple of hours. We never limited ourselves to what was physically and financially possible, we kept our minds free to form the visions and worry about the rest later. I always take iPhone pics of everything throughout this process so we can reference them later when we come back to the studio.

Next step: finalizing ideas. We ended up with about 11 strong concepts once we had brainstormed back at the studio, looking at iPhone photos and sketching out ideas, talking them through and pushing them further. Our studio assistant then began researching, pulling reference imagery and text relating to our themes. These ultimately go into the client presentation so that they may have a clear visual of what we are dreaming up, and get an idea of the color, mood, emotion, and story of the final image.

These were a few of the mood-board images we found in our research that matched the vision Kevin and I had for this particular cinemagraph. We took a lot of inspiration from Alice & Wonderland’s tea party sketches, the film “Return to Oz” and many of Tim Walker’s epic photographs. We had also just watched the documentary on Francesca Woodman and I loved her experimentation with flour and how that looked photographically. In the end we presented 6 completely fleshed out concepts to the client to choose from.

Once we got feedback on the client’s selection, the pre-production began. We had to figure out how to make dust (gray chalk on a cheese grater), convince my friend Erica from Of A Kind to lend her bunny Patsy Stone as the talent:

Bought flowers so they could die, bought old dusty dishes from Junk in Brooklyn:

Found ivy walls at the flower market:

Old feathers and serving utensils at the flea market:

And found the unique props, furniture, teapots and linens at Eclectic and Lost and Found prop houses:

 Then finally, we were able to start building the set at our studio.

For much of the day, we were tethered to a screen so that we could, in full size view, check all the prop placements, tweak the foot model’s position and watch for the perfect bunny moments all together as they played out in real life. 

In the end, our magical tea party was brought to life in the final cinemagraph, compiled of 25 different photographic and animation frames!