Sometimes it only takes a small detail to have you stand out from the crowd. It could be a bright pink glove or the presence of an attribute like kindness.
This past weekend I was in Iceland doing a campaign for a fashion brand and it was one of those perfect experiences where all my desires come together. I love the designer, we have many things in common, she is generous and a beautiful, direct and honest person. I love the clothes she picked, the story that was being told, the setting and in this case, the photographer. Watching him work was like taking a master class on composition and design. It was a meditation on details, the tiniest ones like the placement of a rose, the addition of a glass of whiskey, or the choice of a piece of art. Every detail, small as it was, completed the story. And although there was much preparation beforehand, like scouting locations, developing the mood, there was also the willingness to take advantage of unplanned but delicious moments like the model stuffing pizza in her mouth and the capture somehow becomes an art shot.
I love when there is a narrative that goes with a job I am doing. When people have actually gotten who I am and thought about how together we can tell an interesting story. When this happens, I feel and experience myself as being a creative, not a salesperson. Commerce and beauty do not have to be mutually exclusive when there is art, collaboration and creativity involved. After all fashion will always be about aspiration and desire. I lean into the experience and perform the story of a certain woman. The woman who… The woman who the designer, the photographer and I are all conjuring up in our dreams.
Over dinner I hear from the photographer how little room currently exists for trusting his creative direction and judgment on the part of those who hire him now. How much he loves working with this woman, now my friend, who gives him complete creative direction and how wise a decision that is when one sees the results. In some ways while I hear him talk about the trajectory of his long career as a photographer the word “bureaucratization” come to mind. The state that emerges when individual professional discretion and decision-making is taken away in the alleged service of efficiency. As Max Weber, the sociologist maintained, this creates an “iron cage” or a technologically ordered, rigid and dehumanizing kind of work, Why would fashion want to do that to itself?
I completely understand what the photographer is talking about. It is amazing how many people want to write your copy, tell you how to do your photo and want to dictate what goes on your site and your social media. I always decline these kinds of jobs. If I can’t be creative then there is no point for me in doing this. So far I have broken every rule about how to be successful in this business and yet I am doing okay, I’ve had enough bureaucracy in my previous career. So I am holding out in this one. Like the photographer I want to be in control of the tiny details that make something memorable like a fuchsia, velvet glove worn with everyday activewear.
BTW time to pick your brains, my dear braintrust. I have been approached by a number of people about writing a book. What are your thoughts on what this book should be about? What would you like to see me write about? No memoirs please, I would bore myself to death.