While visiting family and friends in my home state of Vermont, I was invited to participate in a feature series Vermont Public Radio produced about young professionals' opinions of living and working in Vermont. Though I can't think of a better place to grow up, I happily stretched my legs and went to New York for college, and kept moving south to DC for jobs upon graduation. I love to visit several times per year, but don't see myself ever moving back permanently. Hear my thoughts on Vermont (and some major DC love) on the feature HERE, and thank you to Annie and her team for having me.
In which I attend the Russian Ball for The Washington Post.Read More
I'm proud to announce that my series of social reportage images was awarded first place in PDN's The Scene photo contest. More after the jump!Read More
Over the last month I've started shooting lots of fashion and style features for The Washington Post - get the full story after the jump.Read More
I'm REALLY EXCITED to share an 8-page feature I shot for the brand-new Washingtonian Mom Magazine!Read More
As the house photographer for the Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art and Design, I'm able to make portraits of some truly incredible artists. Since I've been shooting there for a year and a half, I've developed relationships with some of the emerging artists affiliated with the institution. Among them is the manic genius Gabriel Mellan, a kinetic sculptor and photographer who is also an incredible character - it's always completely brilliant to see and catch up with him since he has such a strong visual identity.
Here are some portraits I took of Gabriel at Pinkline Project's Cherry Blast party last month; he arrived wearing roller skates with a drink in hand and madness ensued. An yes, he's wearing a laundry bag as a shirt.
Have a great Thursday!
I'm happy to present a brief editorial test shoot Shannon Cusello and I did two weeks ago. Armed with looks I'd styled for a Great Gatsby event and Shannon's killer hair and makeup skills, we turned two hours on a Sunday afternoon into a Gatsby dream. More photos are on the scrolling gallery below, and you can read on for the details about the wild party that inspired the shoot, including my entertainment news anchor debut. Cheers!
I was recently invited by the charming gentlemen of Greg's List and What Do I Wear to their Great Gatsby penthouse party overlooking the White House. With instructions to channel Jordan from the classic novel and a date who loves to get dressed up, I knew I had to serve some serious 1920's style. To get all glammed up, I pulled a swoon-worthy gown and headpiece from BCBG Friendship Heights and then dove into extensive research about historically accurate hair and makeup - not an easy feat! The dress moved beautifully and the headpiece was such a statement that I knew I had to learn some styling tricks to do them justice!
To mimic the pin curls of the 20's, I curled 1/2" sections of my hair around a 1/2" iron before brushing them out into finger waves and arranging them with my headpiece.
1920's makeup was all about dramatic eyes, with color and saturation concentrated at the front corner of the eye instead of the outside as we do now. Combined with the techniques to conceal the brow or draw on a downward sloping replacement and add a petite, bow-shaped mouth, the look was meant to portray women as doe-eyed damsels in distress. Not what I'm used to doing, but fun to learn about and execute nonetheless! By changing the shape of my brows and lips, I was amazed how dramatically different I appeared; some of the party guests didn't recognize me, so I knew it was working. ;)
It paid off - the charming painter Martin Swift (clad in a vintage three-piece suit) and I were thrilled to be named best dressed by the publicist of the Great Gatsby movie, and I was asked to be the CW broadcast hostess for the evening. I've never done anything like that before, and had a blast interviewing a few of the movers and shakers at the event! Of course, I talked too fast and got over-excited, as usual. Luckily, one of the event photographers snapped me with my mic - hilarious! It was a fun way to wrap up a great evening.
After all the research, I was happy to be able to take the dress for another spin for my shoot with Shannon. I hope you enjoy!
Many thanks to BCBG Friendship Heights, Greg's List, What Do I Wear, and Shannon Cusello (as usual, completely and utterly fabulous).
Happy Friday! In DC you know it's spring when everyone gets all a-twitter about Derby Day, when everyone gets dressed up in the most outlandish array of pastels and hats and goes to the horse races or parties. You can check out some of my photos from last year's Seersucker Social for perfect attire inspiration. I'm an advocate for MAJOR hat statements, so the bigger the better like Alicia Guidi's floral piece by local hatmaker Ciao Nina! Paired with an equally strong necklace, I loved her look!
Even though I'm from New England, I embrace any opportunity to drink during the day while wearing a Ru Paul-worthy hat of enormous proportions, which is why I was really excited for the opportunity to be a guest judge at one of the most hopping Derby parties in town, hosted by the Perry Center and my friends at RaiseDC. On Saturday, May 4 from 4-7pm I'll be naming best dressed and other awards with my fellow judges as guests party in the springtime finest! The event information is below if you can come - I'd love to see what you're wearing!
An editorial shoot I styled and photographed for the DC edition of Modern Luxury magazine hits newsstands today! I had the pleasure of working with Daisy Castro, the 16-year-old gypsy violin prodigy who is in the midst of her residency at the Strathmore, where we were lucky enough to do the shoot. Besides being incredibly talented she's really creative, so I was excited to collaborate! You can check out the photo the magazine picked for their feature above, the whole issue HERE. My favorite photos are below, and read on for the behind the scenes scoop.
The Team and Getting the Right Look
When I got the call about the editorial, I immediately started putting together our team to make sure things went smoothly. It's really important to me that the set be relaxed, fun, and efficient; with a high-quality team where everyone is a rockstar at their job that becomes really easy!
With my background in fashion I opted to style it myself, and hit up Hu's Wear and Hu's Shoes in Georgetown for pieces for the shoot. Since Daisy is young but loves all things rock and roll, I wanted to strike a balance between edgy and luxurious while pulling pieces that were appropriate for the magazine's aesthetic. I fell head over heels for the Helmut Lang blazer she's wearing with ALC leather pants in the magazine, along with pieces by Bottega Venetta, Herve Leger, Peter Pilotto, and Halston in other shots. I pulled shoes by Manolo Blahnik, Guiseppe Zanotti, and Valentino - you know I'm a sucker for shoes! We kept the hair and makeup polished with a fun flair, and picked the final looks on set the day of the shoot.
I tapped photojournalist Craig Hudson to shoot behind the scenes and photo assist, stylist Alex Fawcett (previously of Ralph Lauren and West Elm, among others) to style assist on set, and makeup artist and hair guru Lauren Clark to work her beauty magic. Everyone was focused but having fun on set, and things went flawlessly!
Lighting the Venue
The Strathmore is a gorgeous venue with impeccable details and natural light, so I was really looking forward to working with my assistants to pair available and natural light to get a really soft look. We used a reflector and shot through a white umbrella for several shots, and added a rim light for added drama for some as well.
Behind the Scenes
DISCLAIMER: What started as an effort to document rockstar style from the bands playing BYT and the Hamilton's upcoming DC Emerging Artists Super Sampler, Vol. 1 (holla for tickets HERE) was quickly derailed. I pictured leather pants, perpetual bedhead ("organic self-styling"), knock-offs of those Chloe boots that everyone and myself swoon over, and more Penny Lane faux fur than you can shake a stick at.
I was wrong, somewhat.
A few bands were interested in style, and the rest...not so much. BUT I HAD A PLAN! Instead of focusing on their fashion style, I focused on the visual identity of the band, and everything that comes with that. From band houses of questionable cleanliness to laser light shows and beloved Pomeranians, the visual identities of the bands are unique and very much their own. So I set out to shoot portraits that tell the stories of those visual identities, and adventures into the wilds of the DMV ensued. As a personal photographic challenge, I shot each in a different lighting style - I had a whole group of ready and willing subjects, and I was determined to make this a learning opportunity.
Upon arriving at Aaron Estes' house in Northern Petworth on a Saturday afternoon, I was attacked by the first element of his visual identity, his maniacally happy Pomeranian named Warf. (So cute!!!!!!!) After lots of face licking and petting and belly rubs (Warf, not Aaron), Aaron and I chatted over a pot of coffee and took photos. His quiet and thoughtful way reflects his mindful way of writing music, so when he told me he is also a professional trapeze artist and trainer, I was a bit surprised (and really really excited, to say the least). I love when people surprise me!
Since he is a straightforward guy, I opted to shoot his series in natural and available light, which provided some soft options upstairs at the dining room table, and more dramatic ones in his studio.
Drop Electric drive the world's most typical and awesome minivan, in which they picked me up to bring me to their band house in the outskirts of Silver Spring. Lots of jokes about soccer moms, juice boxes, and FREE CANDY ensued, I can assure you. Anyway. It was the typical band house to the nth degree - equipment and gear piled ceiling high all over the place, and a living room devoted to being a rehearsal space. Drop Electric write epic movie trailer music, so after taking pictures that showed their love for all things audio visual (PROJECTORS! LED LIGHTS! COLOR!!), we made a hilarious short film of them doing epic household chores...forthcoming, promise!
To continue my lighting challenge, I created a custom continuous light set-up using projectors and custom LEDs. This enabled me to give each band member their own vibe while still creating a set of images that transformed their living room from band house to performance space.
In an apartment complex near Catholic University, I entered an unassuming condo to shoot Beyond Modern at their graphic designer's house...which happens to be covered almost entirely in graffiti. Yep - all of these photos were taken inside. And it's awesome. We figured out that we have mutual friends, and then we set off to shoot, hooting and generally having fun.
After standing with my mouth agape as I took it all in for a good 5 minutes, I started planning the lighting. To create drama that would match the backdrop while adding some street grit to our interior shots, I popped a diffuser on my hot shoe flash and positioned it just slightly below the guys. I was able to move it around as needed, but generally kept it low and close to make them pop and use the harsh shadows to separate them from the graphic backdrop.
Kid Named Breezy
Breezy is the ultimate gentleman - he picked me up in a nice car, took me to his nice house, and then offered me a refreshing drink once we were inside as we got to talking about visual identity. Clearly a fellow kindred spirit, he knew exactly what I meant form the beginning, and we decided to include his favorite artwork in the photos. His neuvo-Fresh Prince style is distinctive, but it was his eagerness to talk about the art scene in the District that made us fast friends.
Since we were shooting during the day outside by the pool, there was available light but it read pretty flat. To combat it, I positioned my gridded flash just off camera to add some light interest and help make things pop. That with his colorful ensemble, and shazam, portrait a gogo!
Locke wanted to take me on a tour; after we met up at the Fort Totten metro, he changed into his vintage Army/Navy jacket and we hit the streets of Fort Totten. Our destination: Kennedy Ave, which was U Street before U Street and remains one of DC's classic neighborhoods. This un-gentrified neighborhood acted as the perfect backdrop; from colorful storefronts to institutions like the Kennedy Theater, the settings were perfect for shooting.
I shot Locke similarly to how I shot Breezy, except this time I widened the light and floated it a bit higher then the camera. With the overcast mix of daylight, it added just enough extra drama.
I'd been warned that Reesa loves shoes, but I wasn't prepared for her to show up at House Studios with 6 pair. That was an awesome new challenge for our shoot - take on an unfamiliar setting and a pile of props to boot. I love shoes, so I was excited to tackle the challenge!
After some working around, chatting like old pals about the DC music scene, what we love and struggle with being creatives, and dating, we decided to shoot two lighting setups with the small softbox I brought. For one, I positioned the softbox in a traditional 45 degrees off of the camera, and for the other, I moved it back parallel and occasionally behind Reesa for deeper shadows and more drama.
As I tend to, I got incredible lucky with the setting for Shark Week. They invited me to hang out backstage at the Warner Theater, where they were set to perform at the top of the stairs in the lobby...leaving the stage itself vacant for our shoot. In an epic Tom Waits moment, we climbed onto the stage, which was occupied by a single lightbulb on a mic stand. OF COURSE IT WAS. So lucky. Incredibly lucky! I'd like to thank the gods of the Warner Theater for leaving that light bulb for us there, because it made for some hell of a photo set. Coupled with some reportage-style shots from the greenroom, and we were good to go and off to a raucous Thursday night at Que Sera.
Of course, Ryan Hunter Mitchell did a power slide down the banister at the Warner. Wouldn't you? ;)
While at most shoots I come in with a plan and run the show, that definitely wasn't eh case at my shoot with Incwell - I realized quickly that their magic lay in their dynamic interactions with one another. I set up a softbox to light their basement, and took a fly on the wall approach to shooting their larger than life personalities.
RA the MC
Ra was all down to business but incredible in front of the camera - our shoot was a quick 20 minutes, and I had the highest ratio of usable frames from her. Amazing! We shot in the back alley next to House Studios, and had a blast talking fashion for our whole shoot.
To light her, I hooked an SB800 up to my Pocket Wizards (WHICH ARE LIFE ALTERING) and fired a single flash up into a silver-lined umbrella to get nice spread and snappy light. Gotta make sure that boombox is lit properly!
We talked a lot about vanity, since there's no doubt that the Static don't lack it. In fact, that's what made them incredible to shoot - their high-energy, theatrical style and personalities lit up as soon as I took my gear out and started shooting. Those are my favorite kinds of people to shoot, that's for sure!
With my SB800 firing into a silver-lined umbrella I had no problem filling the studio with light, but the photos were a little boring. To spice up an otherwise standard studio space, I decided to try playing with varying levels of shutter drag, and that did the ticket! With me dancing all over the place and weaving in and out of their rehearsal, these more than the others felt like I was on stage with the band, and we had a blast.
Brand is identity. I've hosted and spoken on panels, tweeted, Facebooked, and generally expounded on this topic a lot recently, and with the redesign of the site, had the perfect outlet. After a series of unexpected major life changes, it was high time to create some order, sweep out the old designs and tell the story of GoKateShoot in the best way possible. I no longer felt that a blog was the best platform for my work, and wanted to make sure that my site, brand, and visual identity had the best narrative possible. For the first time in my life, I had the time, resources, and photos to do exactly what I wanted with my brand. Bliss!
1. Tackle the portfolio. First, I had to narrow down my photos into a portfolio that was easy to digest. Easier said than done - I took a whopping 20,000 images in 2012 alone, so picking a portfolio from all of my work ever was like lining up my children and deciding who to shoot. It. Was. Awful. Over the course of two weeks, I revisited any picture I've ever taken, and decided which ones were essential to telling the story of GoKateShoot. There was sighing, tears, and more than a few long nights (helllllo coffee!). I survived, as did the best photos. Once I had my master list, I grouped them by portfolios, and brought in the A-Team, a group of my most critical and creative friends in Washington and set them loose to critique. They were free to take pictures out, suggest that they get moved to different portfolios, or generally tell me that I was being outlandish. They did, and the work got stronger. We tightened things up, and the work started to have a single voice - my brand started to emerge! In putting together a portfolio, remember that more is not always more - I'd rather see 6 strong pictures than a dozen mediocre ones - so removing photos is key.
2. Design a logo. That was easier said than done, turns out. For all my excitement around change I struggled to outline exactly what I wanted for my logo. I knew the rules - clean, graphic, easily identifiable, and at the end of the day simple is best. Easy peasy, right? Nope. I was stuck - after hours and hours of research, pinning logos I liked, talking to other creatives, and doing some serious shower brainstorming (un-scientifically proven to be the best place to think about things), I didn't have a firm answer. So I did whatever any floundering woman does when in need of support and a solution - I called my bestie.
My bestie is Eliot Payne, menswear designer and Renaissance man extraordinaire. He also happens to be an excellent graphic designer, so I headed over to his place to straighten everything out! We talked about all of the things I liked, hated, and wasn't sure about, and then he dove in - he started putting my new logo together on the spot, with me peeping anxiously over his shoulder. He convinced me to piously retire my old logo with the graphic pose, swapping out my plan to redesign it for a cleaner, text-based option. I put up a bit of a fight, but in the end realized that he was right - a clean break was best. By putting one of the studio photos we took behind the text, we added the pizazz it was missing and I got on board.
3. Next was color. With the visuals in place, next we tackled color. Ack! Ask a girl with both marketing and fashion backgrounds to pick one single, solitary color to represent her brand and identity and you get nothing short of dramatic near-hyperventilation for 15 seconds. But when we landed on what Crayola would call Red-Orange and what I would call Riot Red, since it nearly matches the red in the photos I took during the riot in Paris, we knew we had it. Aggressive and exciting with a touch of fun, like my photos! Next, we used Color Hexa, a site that develops design-friendly color pairings, and put together a little family of colors for me to use.
4. The Goodies. Once we had our logo, color palette and picked photos to include, we designed the goodies - social media assets like a new Facebook banner and Twitter background, business cards, and everything in between. I got everything I'd need to run a business with amazing graphics - when you get an invoice from me, it looks on point with my website, the estimate I sent you, and the card I handed you when we met. Swoon, mais oui?!
So that's the story of the rebranding of GoKateShoot! Regardless of the kind of business you run, having a strong brand identity is key. Whether you do it yourself, ask your bestie graphic designer friend, or hire a firm, use your visual brand as the first way you tell the story of your business.