This past January on a Connecticut estate, I shot my first print ad campaign with my creative collaborator Kelly Framel for a luxury jewelry brand I have been a fan of for many years now: Monica Rich Kosann. As you know, I have been collaborating with Kelly for close to five years now. She knows what I like, what I gravitate towards, and what will make a good photograph. I feel lucky I get to go to work with one of my best friends and have clients I personally love such as Monica. This time, however, was a bit different. When Monica approached us last year about creating their campaign images for 2015 it wasn’t just digital as we’ve done so many times before. This would be mine and Kelly’s first print ad campaign.
So it was a little different…
They wanted Kelly and I create the entire thing from concept to final selection. Kelly spent a ton of time researching photography books and british magazines and would come to meetings dragging a suitcase full of them. A lot of visual inspiration came from Bruce Weber’s Blood, Sweat and Tears and Peter Lindbergh’s Untitled 116. For me, the story was all about heritage and balancing the timelessness of Monica’s jewelry. The way each piece is something you collect (or dream of collecting) and becomes a part of your life until ultimately being passed it down to a loved one. Monica is also a photographer so there was an element of her photographic spirit I wished to capture in the images, the way she finds these quiet and intimate moments so beautifully. I wanted to shoot in natural light, as Monica chooses to do in her own body of work, and I wanted to give elements of a place or home but never be literal. To feel like a life being lived shown with a delicate simplicity.
We casted two women for the shoot to make it multigenerational, something that is integral to the Monica Rich Kosann brand which we also felt represented the storytelling quality of her jewelry. Though I worked closely with the ad agency, I handled all post production in-house from color grading to retouching. I was very adamant that these would not be overly beauty retouched and aside from a very small few blemishes the women were left as beautifully natural as they are in real life.
When I was growing up it was a pre-digital world everything lived and died by what was physically printed. I dreamed of seeing my work in magazines, on billboards in Times Square (back when they were still billboards), window displays and in mailers. I’m very happy about my career and how things have changed through technology but there is a small piece of me that feels really proud to be able to check off an old fashioned goal of making it in print. When the first ad came out it was so thrilling to see it on the shelf and comb through the pages looking for the shot. If you follow me on snapchat you’ll remember the tears of joy I had sitting there, holding it. I hope I am lucky enough, talented enough, smart enough, to make this the first of many more.
So here are the series of photographs we made on this winter day. Though these are the final four you’ll start to see in Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Town & Country among others, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite moments, and fill you in on what exactly they are wearing these chic creatures and a few behind the scenes stories to some of the shots below…
To Monica & Rod, thank you for believing in Kelly and me.
The above shot of Deborah was the first in the series of ads to come out in this month’s Town and Country. The call time in Manhattan for the crew was 4:30am in order to get everyone up to the house in Connecticut by early morning light. As the models were in hair and makeup, the styling team were steaming the clothes preparing for the fist shot. I was standing in silence watching the light come up minute by minute. I knew I wanted to shoot in that soft delicate time before the sun comes up just over the horizon so I told Kelly she had ten minutes to have them ready by the dock. After we finished the shot just in time, the sun arose and that quiet moment had passed.
Above~ Marissa Webb navy button up dress | Primary funktional stockholm sweater coat | Monica Rich Kosann carpe diem necklace, gold locket, link chain with diamond pave bracelet, planet cocktail ring, cat’s eye stud earrings
The above shot of Ira was taken toward the end of the day. This is the 2nd ad to come out in this month’s Harper’s Bazaar. This photo is really special to me for a variety of reasons. First, I personally own this charm. It was an anniversary gift, a nod to all the world traveling and memories I’ve collected around the world. At this particular moment in the day I was feeling a little worn down from having so many people talking at me while I was trying to shoot. I felt like I couldn’t hear myself think! I told everyone we got the shot and they all started heading back inside. But I pulled Ira back and asked her to hang on for a moment. It was just her, my assistant and this quiet moment on the edge of the ocean and I asked her hold up the earth in front of her eye, like she has the whole world on a string.
The sports car… that was a surprise. When Kelly and I arrived at the estate the day before the shoot to location scout the grounds keeper took us into the garage were we gasped at the sight of four amazing sports cars. It made for quite the hysterical Snapchat show. On the day of the shoot we had Ira in the previous photo on a yellow couch with a blue jacket on and it just wasn’t sexy or cool enough. The jewelry stayed the same but Kelly put her in a power suit and white tee shirt, we pulled out this little red sports car and that was the right moment. That’s the girl I want to be. This image will also make it to print.
Above & Below~ Demylee sweater | Gerard Darel skirt | Monica Rich Kosann minature pocketwatch key necklace, Carpe-Diem necklace, pocketwatch key neckace, rose cut sapphire bracelet, moonstone poesy ring, & “my sister, my friend” square poesy ring
Below~ Gerard Darel grey sweater | Monica Rich Kosann Passion cocktail ring, Marilyn pave link chain bracelet with diamond pave link, Elizabeth link bracelet with Vine half locket charm, “Dream” moon charm, hammered half locket charm, & “wish” genie bottle charm
On left, Deborah wears Jill Stuart dress | Monica Rich Kosann hoop earrings with sapphires, “style” charm necklace with diamonds, four photo locket with diamond border, & carved prasiolite cocktail ring
The image below was the first shot of the day. I love how glow-y, dewy and soft the light is over the ocean wrapping around her this time of day.
Below~ Josie Natori top & pants | Monica Rich Kosann petite snowflake locket, petite mother of pearl locket, “dream” moon charm necklace, double stacked rosalind link bracelet, starburst rock crystle drop earrings, & vintage watch
The following image will be one of the other printed ads. Stalled by the high harsh sun of afternoon light we couldn’t make it work with the locations we previously had planned. Kelly and I walked around the house taking a moment to regroup together when I looked in this guest bathroom and loved the angular shadows the window panes were casting. Ira is actually sitting on the edge of the bathtub here, leaning back on to a shower curtain. What I love most about this image is that the starburst off the diamond in the “dream” moon necklace was real.
Above~ Tibi button up shirt | Pamela Rolland white pants | Monica Rich Kosann mosaic triple row bracelet, stacked Marilyn link bracelets with small baby feet charm, cat’s eye engraved prasiolite stud earrings, cat’s eye engraved prasiolite cocktail ring, oval sunburst locket, & pocketwatch key necklace
Above~ Josie Natori top & pants | Monica Rich Kosann petite snowflake locket, petite mother of pearl locket, “dream” moon charm necklace, double stacked rosalind link bracelet, starburst rock crystle drop earrings, & vintage watch
The next image in black and white and again in the cover in color were the last shots of the day. Just as the sun had slipped back down under the horizon we had those remaining few minutes of beautiful, soft, glowing light. Ira and I crouched down on the ocean’s edge together and found this place of effortlessness. To me, these two moments represent a dream of a woman I want to someday get to be.