Shooting Conceptually at the Salt Lake Art Center

30 Oct

I was invited to shoot some original creations by Michelle Boucher, a fabulously talented fashion designer and wardrobe stylist, as part of the Art Meets Fashion Event.

This presents a great chance to talk a little bit about the role of a photographer in a shoot like this. I shoot for myself almost 90% of the time (meaning I shoot for fun, not for money).  I do have experience working for commercial clients though and obviously when someone else is paying for the shoot they generally have the final say.  If an employee from the client is on set then generally that is the art director or creative director, their job is to make sure the final images fit their vision both conceptually and technically.  I won’t get into the details… but if you want more details feel free to ask!

One reason I work so often with the same team of stylists is because we’ve developed an amazing rapport which allows creativity to flow extraordinarily well. Over time we’ve developed an unspoken system in identifying the art director on each individual shoot.  The system is simple, whoever came up with the idea to shoot is the one dubbed as the “art director” for that particular night.

In this instance Michelle Boucher was the bona fide art director, she booked the styling team and models and we were shooting her custom designs. When I was brought on board the designs weren’t even finished yet, but Michelle Boucher provided a sketch so that I could help come up with a concept to shoot around.

I immediately was reminded of beautifully feathered birds of the rainforest, the symmetrical pleats breaking up a slimmed body with vibrant, yet natural, colors.  I couldn’t help but think about how fashion has always been heavily influenced by animals.  The more exotic the animal the more prestige the wardrobe signaled.

Within the last few decades wearing dead animals has gone out of fashion and recently it has become in fashion (again) to use live animals as accessories in the form of miniature dogs carried around in custom doggie-bags costing thousands of dollars.

Well, the concept that started sprouting in my mind was a tongue in cheek homage to the pet as a fashion statement.

Since we were shooting for a charitable cause I felt comfortable asking the good folks at Scales and Tails if they’d be open to volunteering to bring some of their animals to use in the shoot and I was so excited they agreed!

On the day of the shoot we ran into a little bit of a dilemma which I described in detail in an earlier blog post where I was faced with the decision about whether to skip the animals and just shoot the wardrobe or find a way to proceed with the shoot as planned.

It was an easy decision because to me there is no question… the role of the photographer is to convey a personal style with every image shot, and in this instance I (along with the entire creative team) set out to tell a story based squarely in my favorite theme, whimsical fashion.  This is what fashion photography is all about… anything else is just a snapshot.

These are the results of our efforts, which were a little rushed and a little hectic due to some last minute changes and hiccups in our plans but I love how Michelle’s designs seem to become a sort of urban camouflage blending into the backdrop of Salt Lake City while the animals stand out extraordinarily.  A serendipitous result that I love!

Custom Wardrobe by Michelle Boucher
Hair by Steven Robertson
Makeup by Paula Dahlberg
Animal wrangling by Shane Richins at Scales and Tales
Models: Paris Gibson, Jaymie Vanderhoof Jessica Garcia
Photography Assistants: Ryan Muirhead, Steven Wood, Tiffany Sanchez

Jake Garn Photography

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