Lady Antebellum

 

I grew up in Massachusetts (southerners like to call us Yankees), where at the time there was maybe one country station on the radio that I admittedly never listened to.  My husband is always amazed that I’m not even well versed in the major country artists of the last 20 years.  Wille Nelson, sure, I’ve heard of him, but who is this Miranda Lambert that people seem to go gaga over?!  You can say that I’m truly completely out of touch of the extremely popular subculture of country music, but that doesn’t mean if you call me to do a photo shoot down in Nashville that I won’t jump up in excitement to take it, especially when it’s an opportunity to work with the Grammy winning star, Lady Antebellum.  A huge thank you to the photographer Rebecca Miller for asking me to be part of this project, and all the prop houses that were kind enough to let us rent on a Sunday (unheard of in Chicago… People are so nice in Nashville!!).  I’m now looking into my first pair of cowboy boots.

 

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Wes Anderson

I was once hired for a job because of my “Wes Anderson” style, which may have been the biggest compliment I’ve ever received as a wardrobe and prop stylist.  I’ve loved/been obsessed with Wes Anderson ever since I saw Bottle Rocket in high school, therefore I’m not surprised that it comes through in my styling.  The weird thing about this comment that kind of baffled me was, “how can I look like my style is “Wes Anderson” when I’m constantly adapted to either the photographer’s or client’s vision?”  I was talking about this with a photographer I often work with and he said that saying someone has a “Wes Anderson” style means that everything they create within an image is very deliberate.  If that’s the case, then yes and YES, I will then relish in this coined style.

If you’ve never been on a photo set before, you’d be surprised at how little is just that; a surprise.  It’s all manufactured to create the perfect frame.  How it looks on the other 3/4 of the object/model not facing the camera doesn’t matter, all that matters is how the camera sees it.  You manipulate things from every other side facing away from the camera to create the vision.  This is the main difference between styling print oppose to TV commercials.  It’s not about fluidity, rather that perfect moment.

Wes Anderson is so amazing because he is able to create perfect stills in motion.  His films are so rewatchable because all the effort he puts into telling the story within each frame.  Everything serves a purpose, which makes the story that much richer.  Hence, I CAN’T WAIT to get his new book in the mail.  I can now enjoy all his work in 2D.

The sport of Ebaying.

Truth be told, I was possibly a little behind on this (decade or two?).  Last summer I discovered the joys of Ebay and 90’s punk band, The Descendents (more like 20 years late).  I only mention the latter because it is as equally embarrassing since I love punk and never worked them into rotation until waaaaaaaay after the fact.

Any who, back on target.  Ebay…  Hot DANG!  The iPad app?  Get out of here…. It’s so user-friendly!  You’re my new friend and the reason why I may have to meet up with friends later than asked because a bidding war is ending at 8:23 and I NEED that pair of elk antlers.  My competitive nature tends to come out in the most aggressive fashion (no pun intended) when I have my heart set on something that I believe is already mine.  I kid you not, whenever I get it into my head that I want something, I always consult with Ebay first.  That’s when the “sporting” begins.

You most certainly need a plan when bidding.  Don’t be one of those assholes that bids on something when there is 4 days left of the auction to raise the prices up for the rest of us.  Instead, put your item on watch, set your calendar alarm for when the bidding war is supposed to end, and visit that item in its last 2 minutes.  I like to throw a lower number than I’d actually pay out there in the last-minute and a half to see if the other bidder already set the bar pretty high, if they haven’t, I’ll come back BIG and sock it to them in the last 7 seconds with a price they don’t have time to outbid.  Take that!!!  Needless to say, along with my UPS man, my USPS lady now also thinks I have a serious problem with the amount of packages I receive these days.  I love the hunt, I love the game, and I love having something that I really feel I loss some sweat over.  You won’t lose weight, but you will win boxes of happiness.

Backyard grilling action?  Now here’s something I know a lot about propping.  Here’s a Unilock commercial that we filmed last October that I art directed and propped.  I was so excited to see this because I never get to see any of the ads I work on.  You’d think I’d be better at digging stuff up to present on my blog, but honestly, blogs that only show your work are really just portfolios.

Some interesting outtakes from the filming of this would be the crew rolling into this suburban house at 5 am, trying to remove a tarp from the Unilock patio that had collected a pond full of rainwater the night before, and then proceeding to dump it all over ourselves.  I worked the first hour without any shoes and wet feet.  Thanks again Melanie (super duper producer who keeps extra socks on hand) for your festive socks.  Shockingly, the mostly Canadian crew showed no empathy for cold feet.

Other fun obstacles were creating a new patio cushion color by pinning loose fabric, making a yard that looked like late fall in Chicago look like June by filling it with out of season flowers, and propping a french door to look like we were still in the house, while in fact the door was rigged outside in the middle of the patio.  Oh art department and the challenges you present.  As usual, a crazy amount of work for a quick splice of advertising, but that’s how these things roll.

Which wardrobe/and or prop stylist should I contact to assist?

Some people may disagree with me on this, but I personally don’t think you should be choosey on what wardrobe and/or prop stylists you want to assist.  You can learn from everyone, even if you think someone isn’t as talented or has a different personality.  Sometimes learning what not to do is just as valuable as learning the seemingly right way to do things.  It is best to team up with as many stylists as you can in order to pick up as many different techniques as possible.  We all do it a little differently.

Propping Innuendos

I had a request from my friend to be more of my snarky self on my blog.  This one’s for you, Bob.

One downfall of being a wardrobe and prop stylist is that you get a lot, I mean a lot of catalogs in the mail.  The specialized catalogs out there are definitely onto me because of the random crap I frequently have to buy for jobs.  The thing is, I actually look at a majority of them, A) because it’s my job, and B) because there is a lot of hilarious stuff being sold out there portrayed in an equally hilarious manner.  Those of you who back me on Sky Mall as being the best runway entertainment, I highly recommend dumpster diving my recycling bin.  There are a pile of gems tossed out there every couple of days.

I get a lot of manly, hunting catalogs for whatever reason, but I especially liked this one and wanted to share it.  I like it’s subtle, manly innuendos of the life you could have if you started to incorporate more forest green utility shirts into your wardrobe.  I mean beer, cigars, guns, COYOTE???  If we’re going manly, then let’s show some chest hair AND nail hair.  The only thing I’m not sure about is if they hit their wives.  I can’t wait until Spring 2012.

One cigar is never enough.

You can balance wearing a less manly rugby shirt by drinking a draft beer.  I mean, look at that neck stubble.

Rest your head with some manly ease on a coyote, of course.

The forest green half zip pullover sweater gets to have much more fun.

All that work propping up my denim shirt made me want a beer.

I imagine this is how you get some genuine coyote pillows.

Here’s are some more serious prop innuendos for the ladies.  I would have loved to have been on the conference call discussing art direction on this one.  “Let’s make lingerie fun…. Blah, blah, blah….”

Big HEART.

Call me a softee.  I got a call from the amazing photographer, Brian Kuhlmann, totally last-minute, to find props and wardrobe at 5 pm for a 11 am shoot.  Once I calmed down from excitement, I ran out and found this freaking GINORMOUS magnify glass, (I think it’s used for a hot light), and came up with this hokey idea.  The thing is, this image makes my heart pump this big without the coolest prop hovering it.  I’m kicking myself for renting the glass and not buying it.  The possibilities for fun photographs are endless!

The Logistics

Warning! Boring post to anyone but those who want to be a stylist. Besides the creative side of the job, you also need to become a logistical master of your domain. Sounds lofty, and it kind of is. What I mean is that you need to really know your city or the city you’re traveling to for work. So much of being a good stylist is efficiency. That means being able to find the best stuff within the time given. You can’t be a Sunday shopper.  It also means not having an asthma attack on the street because you thought you could handle one more stop with 2 more bags added to the 7 you’re already carrying before you went back to your car on the 8th floor of the parking garage a half of mile away. Having a good strategy while working in a big city is crucial.  I thank the stylists dearly who I assisted for that taught me the best places to park to get the most bang for my shopping buck.  My back thanks them too and so does my wallet.  Parking gets ugly when you’re working in Chicago and NYC if you have to park all over the place due to poor planning.  It’s an easy way to burn your budget.  Strategy my friends.  Oh, and Ikea bags.  Best stylist tool ever.  More acceptable than the Granny cart for monster returns, a half mile away.  Go blue!

My online shopping cart is half empty.

I guess this is more of a warning than anything.  As you know, I’m a big fan of online shopping, especially since a lot of companies now have free shipping.  It’s really great for ordering men’s suits, with the option of getting specific pant lengths and finding hard to find jacket sizes.  It’s also amazing for shoes, which I hate buying in stores because you’re wasting too much of a sales clerk time when they could be getting commission from someone else.  The kicker is, and where I’m starting to see the online world as a half empty cart, is when you return the items.  Many companies now have smart labels, which provide free return shipping, which also provides intense anxiety over whether or not your package will ever arrive back to the retailer.  If the package was lost in the abyss of the USPS, I would have to eat the costs, which is about the same amount of money of what I purchased my first car.  This creates a bad day and in the end, not worth the emotional torment.

I recently did a job where I had a number of boxes that I needed to return and dropped them off at the USPS office near my apartment.  I realize 3 weeks later, the returns were still not processed on my credit card.  When I looked up the tracking numbers (ALWAYS KEEP YOUR TRACKING #) I saw that the packages hadn’t moved an inch.  After total panic of thinking the items were gone, the packages were sent to the retailers 4 WEEKS LATER!  Crazy, right?  This is when being a stylist becomes tough.  You don’t ever want a job lingering on your credit cards for a month.  Nowadays everyone wants to see the same amount of products on set, but they don’t want to pay expenses up front.  You need to have a lot of money to stay afloat when things like this happen, so that you’re not giving up half of your fee to credit card interest.  Bottom line, always ALWAYS keep your tracking numbers and purchase insurance, silently hate the USPS in your sleep, and keep a hefty savings for credit crunch situations.