Love on the Run.


It has been forever since I've had a second to update this blog so I'll just dive right into it. This term has been insane as Louise and I work non-stop to produce editorials to be printed in the paper every Friday. This involves choosing a theme, hunting down references, sourcing the clothing, finding the models (in lecture halls, cafes and the houseparties we crash), styling the outfits, picking a date, location and photographer and praying that the weather cooperates because we don't have fancy studio lighting or paid assistants who can hurl their bodies over the clothing when it starts to rain. Once all that works out, we process, pick, and retouch the photos, set the layouts, write the credits, colour-edit for printing and post it all online before we start all over again on the next week's shoot. (It's no wonder my dissertation has been languishing in an unopened file for months...) It has been an absurd number of things to juggle but tonight as we sent our newest shoot off to print, Louise and I laughingly realized that in spite of being sleep deprived and on the brink of academic probation, we're having the time of our lives!

I love the whole process and can't think of a better way to learn about what goes into producing a shoot than by doing the work of an entire magazine editorial team every week. Last night, as I was editing some of the images from this week's shoot, I learned more about the genius of Photoshop in a few hours than I've learned about my PhD topic in the last month.

This weekend, I was responsible for both styling and shooting the editorial that I'd dreamt up in the summer, while chilling out in the mountains around my hometown. Being back amidst the gigantic trees of the Pacific northwest, watching seaplanes land in verdigris glacial lakes, building totems from bits of broken stone reminded me of everything I loved about being a kid. My friends and I used to pretend we ran a store in the forest, where a glossy leaf could buy you a fruit roll-up and a spotted leaf could buy you ten. Back then, I could not imagine anything more wonderful than running away and living in the forest (much like Sam in one of my favourite books of all time)--I still can't.

But as the 'Runaways'-themed shoot approached, I started getting hopelessly nervous. So nervous I actually forgot how to take photographs and contemplated backing out and asking someone else shoot it. Not that I thought my situation was comparable, but it made me think about those artists I love who had remarkably fecund periods and then simply stopped. Robert Duncan, Nathaniel Dorsky--whose newest films were on at the BFI last week--artists who, for one reason or another, disappeared for a few decades and then emerged with masterworks. I wonder if part of their reason may have been the paralysing fear of creating something mundane, forgettable. The pressure to produce something great seems to quadruple when it's something you care about intensely.

To make our job harder, the fenlands of East Anglia don't really have much in the way of trees, so we would have to drag three models and my net worth in clothing out to Epping Forest, an hour east of London. If it rained, there was no going back--neither Louise nor I dared to check the weather report the day before because we knew it had to happen rain or shine...

On the day itself, I woke up to a beautiful, crisp autumn morning, met Louise and the models on the platform of the Tottenham Court tube stop and headed off to Epping. The shoot ran like clockwork. We found the perfect location within minutes of entering the forest: a clearing blanketed with crunchy leaves, surrounded by eerie, armless trees that were perfect for climbing. Marc, Isaac, and Katy looked stunning and were a joy to shoot; hanging out with everyone, laughing as we tucked their clothing tags out of sight, my fingers relaxed on the shutter and my nervousness evaporated. When two big, exuberant dogs ran into the frame and started gnawing at the clothing (which was more expensive than my tuition), I barely remembered to worry (Mike was hyperventilating.) The second after I yelled 'That's a wrap!' the first raindrop fell, and we scrambled back to the tube.

We spent an hour at Louise's flat while her two year-old brother was having a birthday party (complete with crustless sandwiches!) scrubbing every speck of dirt off the bottoms of the boots we'd borrowed, lifting every hint of lint off the Rick Owens trousers with a roll of tape. As I review the film now, I struggle express how satisfying it is to have seen this project through from its conception. When you're doing something you genuinely love, no amount of work feels the slightest bit like work.

Thank you to the whole team, the final photos will be posted here on Friday!