• 7.23.14   Mike Piscitelli Keeps Ashley Smith looking Natural for RVCA

    Having Mike Piscitelli shoot Ashley Smith for RVCA was a long time coming. When Ashley started modeling after being discovered at SXSW in Austin, Mike was one of the first photographers to ever shoot her in NYC. On the other side, Mike’s been aware of RVCA for years, “I’ve grown up skateboarding and surfing,” he says.  “And RVCA’s always stood out because they do a lot of stuff with artists.” But it wasn’t just that Mike has history with both Ashley and RVCA (pronounced ROO-ka), it’s a natural aesthetic fit. Having spent his life between the San Fernando Valley, New York, and Venice Beach, the natural, relaxed feeling of RVCA is the same energy that permeates his work. It always has. “I’m not some fashion guy that’s trying to come into the RVCA world,” Mike explains. “I come from that world and I’ve expanded outside of it. But at my core I bring authenticity and a level of work to the table” When Mike says he’s expanded outside of it, he’s not kidding. He’s shot campaigns for KSwiss, Converse, and Expedia.com. His work has broad relatability, but his authentic naturalism is always the touchstone. The images that Mike shot with Ashley speak to her similar style. Observing her over-the-shoulder grin, and the wink of her icy blue eyes while enjoying a popsicle, you’d be forgiven if you pigeonholed her as skating model. But she’s walked runways for Chanel and Balenciaga, and spends her time shuttling between NYC and Paris. She and Mike have worked together a bunch before, and since they both have such a relaxed nature to them, they let that inform their shooting style. “We treated it like a vacation. We just cruised,” Mike says. That’s how Mike kept the shoot so natural, but blurring the lines between what was on the clock and what wasn’t. Living between the shots. “We were shooting outside and went into the supermarket to get something to eat and we ended up shooting in there,” Mike says about the shot of Ashley with the popsicle. “None of the supermarket stuff was planned. We were taking a break and I just had my camera, and so we shot photos when we were getting soda.” That popsicle wasn’t chosen from a hundred popsicles, and the bags of chips weren’t styled just right by a team. That’s how they were placed in the supermarket, so that’s how Mike shot them. The best way to manufacture a natural feel in an image is to let it be natural. So, how did Mike get images of Ashley looking like she had fun? “Me and Ashley just have so much fun shooting together.” It’s that simple.
  • 7.25.14   Platon's Lens reveals the victims of a Broken Immigration System

    The People’s Portfolio, the philanthropic photography project created by Platon, documents efforts dedicated to upholding human right and human dignity around the globe. The breaches of these rights and dignities are transnational and international, with no respect to border or nation. These injustices follow the human experience wherever it spreads and spills, and represents one of the most painful connections anyone, and everyone, can share. With the recent human crisis in the South of the United States, a bright light has been shone on the US Government’s Immigration policy, demanding the question of what Naturalized and Born Americans want to do with the influx of new undocumented immigrants. The edges of that flood of interest has just barely rubbed up against the plight of these undocumented people, and the injustices the system has inflicted upon them. This is where The People’s Portfolio steps in, to show us what we might otherwise not want to see, but what we need to see. The extreme press of focus spurred TIME to pair up with The People’s Portfolio and Human Rights Watch to present a handful of personal stories surrounding the Immigration debate. A series of photographs and videos show a world many in Washington would prefer you not to see. Robin Reineke of the Missing Migrant Project spends her time sorting through the remains of hopeful immigrants who failed to cross the Mexico / American border with their lives. These crossers perish in the desert attempting to enter the US, and when their bodies are found, Robin takes, catalogues, and attempts to identify them.  In the 1990’s the job was terrible but doable, averaging 12 remains a year. Starting in 2001, that number has leapt to 164 average remains a year. “It’s very typical for someone to be unrecognizable even the day after in the heat,” she says while walking through a cooler of filled body bags, almost all of which are tagged “John Doe.” She shows off the thousands of files of all the cases she’s working on, they fill up a bookcase, the top of filing cabinets, and spill onto the floor. “We ran out of space,” she said about all the files. “We need to find more room.”  Sometimes the easiest way for her to identify a body is with the items Robin finds on it. She goes through their pockets and finds what these hopeful immigrants brought with them to keep them safe.  Photos of family members, letters from loved ones, rosaries, talismans, all for naught. It doesn’t have to be this way, Robin cautions. She knows this because it wasn’t like this in the 90’s, this 13 fold increase of deaths is a result of political policy changes. Robin explains the thought process for the new policies of increased border patrol, “If you made it difficult enough for people to cross in safe areas, then they would see how difficult it is to cross in remote desert geographies and they wouldn’t try. They would be deterred. Over ten years later we’ve seen that hasn’t changed.” It has only forced the crossers into more dangerous situations that have claimed their lives. Robin lives every day on the real life front lines of the immigration crisis. She literally handles the victims of the tragedy, witnessing how the vacuum of a missing life can destroy the family that is left behind. “The way that these people are defined as criminals or illegals is an incredibly short-sighted way to look at a human life," she cautions. "How can we come to define someone to illegality? Is that somehow more important than their humanity, than their family, than their hopes and dreams?” Robin's story is a small piece in a large picture of how America's Immigration System begs for reform. TIME also highlighted the stories of Alina Diaz who advocates on behalf of undocumented immigrants who cannot defend themselves for fear of deportation. Marta Garcia who was prayed upon by a lawyer who defrauded her with an illegal visa, and is now being detained in Mexico. And Angie and Peter King, a brother and sister with two different immigration statuses because of an untimely death and a complex system. Each story represents another unsavory complexity that thrives in the limbo of inaction.
  • 7.24.14   Kerstin Jaeger Works her Magic on All of U-Das UNGER Magazin

    When magazine editors sit down to plan a new issue, they have to create a wide variation of styles and images to keep their readers interested. Even though every magazine has a point of view, and a stylistic touch, they curate a range of looks to keep it fresh. This can present a challenge, since the magazine has to get whole teams for every editorial to cater precisely to each style. Hair and Make-Up Artist Kerstin Jaeger has enough range that U-Das UNGER Magazin hired her for every editorial article throughout the entire magazine. Every single editorial image features her work. From “Asphalt Cowgirls,” that features women on the streets of LA in nouveau Midwestern garb, to “Desperate Housewives” showing off updates of 1940’s fashion, to four others, Kerstin had to manage each of the seven unique looks in the whirlwind three and a half day shoot. How was she able to work two stories per day for three and a half consecutive days? The German hair and make-up artist’s response may not be surprising: Organization. “Everything had to go so fast. The days were so short,” Kerstin says. “So it was just good planning and then pulling it through.” But this fits perfectly with how Kerstin prefers to work. “I prefer to plan. It’s a very German thing I guess!” she remarks through giggles. “It’s just good if you know exactly what you’re going to do. It’s nice to be spontaneous, but it helps me to be planned.” By working with the stylists, doing research on the locations and apparel, and planning out the looks, more time is spent on getting the right shot than making sure the models look right. That work was already half done because of her preparation. “It’s like a marathon sometimes, but so much fun. So much fun and so creative.” Kerstin’s ability to reach a great range of looks is likely thanks to her international work. Although Kerstin is German herself, she works prolifically for American companies, and she’s noticed that the German idea of beauty is slightly different from the American idea. “American is more bold in color. In Germany it’s way more natural, and clean,” Kerstin explains. “I would say in the US it’s a little more fun with the color and color variety.” The variety is built into her work, so it's no wonder she was able to pull this off.
  • 7.25.14   Sophie Haig Makes Less Mean More for Refinery29

    Any artist can add more. Layering paint and styles one on top of another until a shiny, crusted mask emerges, creating more distortion than representation. It takes a real artist to step out of the way and enhance what’s already there. Make up artist Sophie Haig’s latest shoot with Refinery29 was about staying fresh in the oppressive heat of Summer, and that means letting beauty shine through with as little work as possible. Sophie has an expert hand, and it takes that kind of knowledge to create such effortless looks, but we caught up with her for some insight. The shoot was profiling "12 Killer Outfits for Summer's Worst Days.” Those days filled with sticky humidity and are so hot it’s like a punch in the face. But, luckily for Sophie and the crew, they got to escape the city for a little adventure on the shoot. “There were no complaints about getting out of NYC and spending the day among beach goers at the beautiful beach and boardwalk!” she exclaims. Asbury Park, New Jersey acted as the backdrop for the free and easy shoot. Since the clothing was going to be light and airy, the make up had to reflect that feeling. In order to communicate that same feeling Sophie wanted, “to show natural skin, with hints of colors and pastels either on the eyes or lips.” This kind of work is Sophie’s specialty and she’s got a few tips for all of us. The heat in Summer can do a number on the skin, so Sophie started everything off with Avene Skin Recovery Cream for some hydration. She tells us that it “can be used on its own or mixed in with your foundation to create a more sheer coverage.” The foundation was applied as a combination of MAC Face and Body with Cinema Secret Ultimate Foundation palettes. She followed that up by contouring the face with Anastasia Contour Palette and Make Up For Ever Soft White/Gold pigment for highlights. The dewy, sun-kissed look on the cheeks is thanks to cream blushes from RMS beauty, Stila, and Make Up For Ever. Make Up For Ever was also featured prominently on the eyelids after curling the eyelashes so they looked bright and awake. OCC Lip Tars helped to bring color in for looks that worked for both day and night. Over all, the shoot was as fun as it looked, Sophie said. “It was a wonderful day, working with such a lovely team of people in such a new beautiful location.“
  • 7.24.14   Studio JeremyVille lends their playful energy to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week SWIM

    The words “Fashion Week” inspire thoughts of glamorous influencers fighting through the lightning strikes of paparazzi flashes, overdressed models and fashion editors with pinched faces. Bucking this image, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week SWIM Miami went in a very different direction opting for a lighter and more playful energy around their four days of industry insight. To do so they commissioed Studio JeremyVille to help them with an energetic switch up. IMG Fashion approached Studio JeremyVille to create a design that would reflect Miami, the home of the event, that Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week SWIM could use as a part of their visual identity. JeremyVille and Megan Mair worked together on a piece that was inspired by the aesthetic culture of Miami and would build on what Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week SWIM was already doing. Studio JeremyVille says, “The design 'Reflections' is inspired by the vibrant world of Miami Beach, with its classic Art Deco architecture, colorful beach scene and the iconic pool at The Raleigh hotel.  Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week SWIM went on to use ‘Reflections’ for a host of visual communication outlets. They used the banner for the fashion tents, as wraps on official Mercedes vehicles, street pole flags, and the banner for their official Twitter account (it’s still up!). Adopting the image as a huge part of their visual identity meant that JeremyVille’s typical playful and carefree style left an indelible imprint on such a high profile, international even. The full banner includes images of surfers on and around their boards, friendly dolphins expelling water through their blowholes, beach lifeguard towers, figures in California Dreamin’ revelry, and graphic patterns recalling the design history of the area. As Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week SWIM hit their 10th Anniversary, JeremyVille and Megan Mair reached into the past and looked to the future for a timeless representation to celebrate Miami.  
  • 7.22.14   Si Scott Indulges His Passion and the Work Follows with J&B

    The company that would eventually become J&B started creating and selling liquors in 1749, more than 260 years ago. That company has undergone many changes in the last two and a half centuries, but their logo has remained relatively untouched. “J&B” has sat proudly on the label for countless years, until this year when they used a new product to go in a slightly different direction.  With the insurgence of more complex and subtle mixed drinks, J&B infused their classic scotch whisky with honey. “Urban Honey,” is now available in a bottle that looks very similar to the iconic J&B with one major difference: the letter “B” has been replaced with a detailed drawing of a bee. Very fitting. Si Scott, the illustrator who created the drawing for J&B, commends the heritage brand for making such a bold move, “A lot of brands are sort of scared of doing anything to their logo at all, I thought it was quite brave of them to do it. I don’t think a lot of people would have.” It wasn’t always supposed to be just the “J” and the bee, it was a part of the artistic process in developing the label. As Si worked and created such an intricate illustration, J&B couldn’t reduce the image to a detail on the new bottle. It had to take center stage. Si works by hand. The original drawing was created in two sections, the body and the wings, each drawing was independently nearly 60cm x 42cm, but brought together digitally as seen in the video they created about the process. “If you draw something large and detailed and you decrease it and print it, lines disappear,” Si explains. So, he brought the intricacies down slightly so that they could all fit on the bottle, otherwise the printing would have lost the details in unpredictable and inelegant ways. It’s a credit to J&B that they were able to use as detailed a version as they did for the label. “It all depends on the print quality. Obviously J&B made sure they got things right, got it printed correctly." It was no mistake that J&B found Si for this particular project. He’s been interested in flying insects since he was a kid. “Especially bees and things like that because when you look closely at them they look like they shouldn’t be able to fly. Almost armored little things,” he says. “It’s just always one of those things I’m quite fascinated by.” He’s been drawing them for years. Whenever he’s not working on a professional job, he engages himself in work that he wants to do. “What I’ve found over the years, is in order to generate the kind of work you want to do, you need to do personal work that reflects that. I don’t do work that I think will please people, I do work that I want.” His personal series on insects eventually caught the attention of Diageo who commissioned him for the “Urban Honey” illustration. Si is an example of how the work will come if you follow your passion.
  • 7.21.14   Douglas Friedman Catches a Glimpse of Melanie Griffith's New Pad for People Magazine

    Melanie Griffith has experienced a lot of changes in her life recently. Her recent divorce means that she gets to do things her way now. She gets to create a space that is uniquely hers, designing her nest the way that she wants it, and exactly the way that she wants it. “It’s elegant and wild at the same time,” the actress told People Magazine who featured her new home. “It’s got more pizzazz.” That pizzazz came from Melanie working to have the apartment reflect herself. “The apartment kind of channels this old Hollywood, deco-glamour,” says Douglas Friedman, who shot the interior of her new apartment for People magaizine. “Melanie Griffith is Hollywood royalty. She comes from that incredible lineage. It totally channels her, completely glamorous and royal.” “She’s really proud of her space,” says Douglas. Being invited to a personal space like that can be an exciting thing, and an honor in its own way. But Douglas knows that Melanie wants to show off her new pad, and so he does everything he knows how to make it look as good as possible. Part of Douglas’ craft is to make an image as elegant and beautiful as possible, and that means a lot of tinkering. Sometimes it’s moving huge pieces of furniture tiny distances that might not make sense to an outsider in the moment. But it all pays off in the end. “Homeowners find it so strange that you start to move things around by the inch,” Douglas says. “What looks great in real life doesn’t always translate to the photograph.” And millions of eyes are going to look at the photograph, so it’s important to translate the experience as beautifully as possible. The key, says Douglas, is that he’s not changing anything about what Melanie has put into her space. “You don’t want to change what they’ve done and how they live and what they love,” says Douglas. That would sort of defeat the purpose. “Who she is already in the space. That’s her home.”  Like most things in life, Melanie’s apartment isn’t exactly where she wants it to be. The whole renovation has been happening over 10 months piece by piece. “I don’t think it’s completely finished yet. But it’s a happy place,” she says. After all, when things are finished, it’s time to move on. And she just got here!
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