This last Summer I spent three weeks in Chicago for Crate and Barrel. It was not the first time to Chicago for work; I had spent some time there in the past, a couple of quick trips but nothing substantial. As a Freelance Stylist you are called upon to travel all over the country and in this instance it was great as much as I missed my home in New York to explore a city marveled for it's architecture and Mid Western grittiness! Of course on these long jobs it can seem like all you see is the photo studio and the hotel room, but because I had weekends to prop for the coming weeks shots, I managed to get out into some interesting neighborhoods, of which there are plenty in Chicago. I also particularly liked trawling the Antique malls, always a must in a new town.
The Crate & Barrel project was for Fall "Best Buys", a small catalogue that comes out seasonally. Half was shot in the studio and half on locations, 2 hours out of the city. The images you see here illustrate some of the studio pictures. As you can see the dining room shot is entirely made up of a set. Researching components of the set is part of my job; I work closely with the in house set building team to create rooms from scratch. Working with pieces of existing architecture like windows and molding, we piece together a set using these an pre fabricated walls that are housed in the Crate & Barrel studio in Chicago. Part of my job as a Stylist is to add those “layers” that are not always obvious. When creating a set, even the hardware on the doors must look real, hinges, everything! Using the client’s product as the focal is necessary but also weaving in other elements such as flowers and other props gives that sense of “reality”
With the flowers, these must be sourced to give the right look to each set up, I often start at the Flowers Markets and take as many snaps as possible of anything that I might find suitable. Running them past the Art Director, these snaps shown here alongside the final image are approved foliage.
With the storage shelve shots, I set up the look for the props to the side of the location of the shot and often work on getting it just right, this can take time and means going back and forth while also working on multiple set ups, Of course the idea you have for propping can change once you look at it under the camera, luckily my instincts were right this time, My set ups stayed pretty much the same as the finished shot!
My Art Director Judith Scharli, who was amazing to work with, kept saying “It takes an army…” and it could not be more true, The team behind all these shots is enormous, There are Set Builders, Riggers, People to carry furniture on and off trucks and onto the set, also often building the furniture on the spot, Producers, Digital operators, Location Scouts, Assistants galore and yet from my point of view there still never seems to be enough! ; ) And of course..not to forget mentioning the Photography team, These final catalogue shots where photographed by the very talented Shaun Sullivan shaunsullivanphotography.com I should also mention there was also 2 teams involved in producing this one Best Buys catalogue.
Unfortunately I cant take credit for the covers, This was shot separately by the other team. Check out more at CrateandBarrel.com