For the past 4 years I have had the pleasure of working with fashion photographer Julie Stanley aka JuleImages LLC. Julie and I have collaborated on a variety of projects including lookbooks, editorials and New York Fashion Week. We have a ton of fun working together and have become great friends along the way.
Julie and I recently collaborated on an editorial of our own design; “Angels & Gems” and I thought you would enjoy this exclusive behind-the-scenes look at our process. Striking editorial photos are a HUGE part of the jewelry/fashion industry and everyone approaches them differently. I often loan my jewelry to stylists and publications for a variety projects as well as co-create editorial photos which I offer to a select group of media contacts who need images for their stories. Whether you’re a fellow designer, photographer, jewelry/fashion-lover or just curious, it’s always interesting learning how creative projects come together.
Designing a new jewelry collection starts with defining a collection’s spirit or essence. It’s hard to find the words to describe my instinctual and intuitive approach, but the best way I can explain it is chasing down the sliver of a thread of an idea. This sacred process requires hand-selecting raw materials that represent each collection’s essence and meticulously crafting them into finished pieces over the course of many months and sometimes years. Every design that makes it through the final editing stage has 10-15 earlier versions that didn’t work out. As I’m working through jewelry designs I’m always thinking about editorial ideas that will best represent the collection.
The concept for “Angels & Gems” came about during the very early research phase for my Undina collection in November 2013. Both the collection and editorial were deeply inspired water goddess mythology and mermaids transforming into foam on the ocean in Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. I had vision of an ethereal editorial with a model in soft lighting and sheer fabrics so she would seem ghost-like and as if she might disappear into the mist of ocean spray at any moment. This concept haunted me until last fall when I returned from Nolcha New York Fashion Week and the stars aligned to make this project a reality.
While the “Angels & Gems” concept was on my mind for years, planning the shoot came together in a matter of days. Creative minds also have very crammed schedules so there were only a couple of days Julie and I had available to put a team together and shoot. Model Jeanette Thevenin, hair stylist Brad Lewis, and make-up artist Rob Thoma were excited about the concept and brought incredible energy and creativity to the project.
Every detail in styling the editorial was carefully considered. I selected the more colorful pieces from the Undina Collection featuring sapphire, emerald, peridot, tsavorite garnet and kyanite gems because they would really pop against the soft sheer tops and blouses I pulled from my personal wardrobe. We decided to use a large fan to add lots of movement to Jeanette’s hair so Brad styled it in loose curls and waves using a minimal amount of styling products. (Tip: hair that’s weighted down with styling products doesn’t move well and looks clumpy in photos.) Rob accentuated Jeanette’s alabaster skin with just a touch of foundation and powder. He applied the slightest wash of matte amethyst eye shadow to highlight her blue eyes and layered pale pink lip-gloss over light peach lip pencil to enhance Jeanette's natural lip color and to add soft shine.
After a few test shots and minor adjustments to hair and make-up, photographing the 7 looks went pretty quickly. So quickly in fact that Julie ended up taking 475 photos. Why so many, you ask? Well the fan we used would occasionally blow Jeanette’s hair into a weird shape or one hair or gemstone would shift out-of-place and look awkward. While a lot can be polished in Photoshop, it’s easier and less time-consuming to shoot a couple extra pictures than spend time correcting them in post-production, plus having lots of options to choose from is always good too. In the end, we had 258 usable images that we edited down to the 10 pictures you see here.
True collaboration is about creating a positive environment where your collaborators can fully use all of their abilities on a project. Jeanette, Julie, Brad and Rob are all incredible artists and we deeply trust one another and are in awe of each other’s gifts. Encouraging everyone to explore a variety of options with how to best make the various aspects of the “Angels & Gems” project a reality honored their talents and produced photos that are far more amazing than what I had initially envisioned. We hope you love these images as much as we do.