Famed celebrity stylist and creative director Jason Bolden and his team approached photographer Nathalie Gordon with an idea to shoot a campaign for their newly launched sunglasses brand JSN.
This story could in theory end there, right? Who wouldn't want to work with a known stylist like Jason Bolden? After all, who gets into the fashion side of this industry without hopes and dreams of one day being able to work with that caliber of a talent? The great part is that the story doesn't’t actually end there. Nathalie is a professional and she did not just want to handle the project “as presented” but really wanted to push the envelope further and inject her own sense of style into it.
Jason and his team presented Gordon with a series of images from other leading sunglasses brands and asked if she was able create a unique look for them. She took a look over the images and thought instead of blending in, why not stand out? According to Gordon, she was already in love with their first range of sunglasses so she was naturally was excited to be involved with their second collection.
As this was her first time working with Jason and his team, she wanted to show them what she could do and really impress them. She went back into her collection of moodboards and images she had previously saved and came up with a fashion story that she had always wanted to do. She was ecstatic when the clients loved it and gave her the freedom to play and experiment with her own ideas.
Before the shoot she felt a mixture of excitement and anticipation. She was new to LA and wanted to make a good impression but also excited because of who Jason is. Planning was easy largely because Jason is always so busy that they didn’t have much time to overthink their ideas so they had to keep it simple.
The initial plan was to shoot in the gorgeous Californian sunshine but depending on natural light can be risky on a photoshoot where lighting consistency was important. In the end, they decided to shoot indoors and set up 4 x colored backdrops.
When asked about lighting, Gordon replied, “I like to keep my lighting simple so I can concentrate more on the image and working with the models etc. Most if not all of my beauty shoots require 1 or 2 lights. I’m shooting so close that I don’t need to worry about the background or full body so extra lights would only be used for gel effects."
For the JSN sunnies shoot, they only had a small window of time and they needed to recreate sunlight (for selling sunglasses of course). To achieve that, Gordon set up just one light, higher than the model and slightly off center to provide some nice harsh shadows. It was just a simple bare head with no light modifiers. This allowed her to create the effect of shooting outdoors in the sunshine but inside in a studio. They also didn’t want to see any light modifiers in the reflections of the sunglasses.
Gordon’s shooting style is quite consistent she loves her work to look super crisp, clean and colorful. She was happy the JSN team put their trust and confidence in her expertise and experience. As a beauty photography, she’s used to shooting tight in frame so even though they didn’t have much space in the studio to work with, it didn’t add any extra pressure to the day. They styled, shot and completed the campaign in half a day and even got the 8 final selects chosen and into retouch.
“It’s always fun when a client doesn't have too many restrictions on what they are looking for, a lot of the time a clients will present you with something they have seen from another brand/campaign and automatically assume that look will work for their own. I was glad Jason and his team had a really fluid approach to the shoot. They really liked my beauty images and wanted that same look and feel for their campaign. A lot of people assume i use a beauty dish to shoot beauty. I tend to shoot with a bare head or a silver brollie. “
So what can we learn from all this? Definitely get some inspiration from Nathalie, her confidence, her approach, her technical setup but more than anything just remember to always inject your own style into everything that you do. Never settle and always push that envelope further!
Photographer: Nathalie Gordon
Stylist: Jason Bolden
Model: Melina Elvenes
Make up: Anthony Merante
Have a favorite photographer you'll like me to feature? Let me know in the comments below!
All images used with permission of Nathalie Gordon