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Portraits for FEED Projects

December 04, 2014 //  Commissioned Work Back to posts

Above: Venessa Arizaga and Olivia Kim for FEED Projects. Jewelry Designer; Director of Creative Projects, Nordstrom


I’m a control freak. I’ll admit it. To a large extent, it’s helped me in my career, but along the way I’ve come to realize that I can’t always do everything by myself. A recent celebrity portrait project put that to the test. Although the photographs themselves were quite simple in execution, this project would challenge me in a new strange way.


The portraits in this post were taken to to support my friend Lauren Bush Lauren’s charity, FEED Projects. Lauren and I dreamt up a concept for the shoot over coffee. We would capture portraits of FEED’s celebrity ambassadors and influencers in a studio setting that felt classic, natural, and share a moment of intimacy between friends or business partners. It would be the first major advertising campaign effort for FEED, and although grassroots, the final images would live in a lot of major places, including Vanity Fair, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, and Elle, just to name a few. 


Okay… This all sounds great, but there was one big problem- as much as I’d love to volunteer my time for every single portrait, each image was shot on a different day and conflicted with the busiest few months of my year as a freelance photographer. It is an honor to give my time to a charity and create something that would contribute to raising funds for a good cause, but I had already confirmed and held days for other projects. My schedule was locked-in. Yes- I had days free, but they weaved in and out of the other projects in no logical order. (Sometimes my schedule looks like throwing a bucket of paint at a calendar.) Another major problem was that the subjects Lauren had lasso’d to be part of the project were way more important and busier than I, and could not confirm dates very far in advance. Knowing this, we had to be loosey-goosey and come up with a plan in case I couldn’t make it to one of the shoots.


So, rather than turn down such a cool opportunity in its entirety, I came up with a solution and was very honest to Lauren about my previous commitments- I would design a look and lighting style for the campaign, so there is a sense of cohesion among the images and they look part of the same series, but I couldn’t promise to be there if schedules didn’t line up. If a subject scheduled within a day I wasn’t available, the look and feel would need to be able to be replicated by another photographer I trust. Since I moved into my first-ever-very-own-studio-space at the beginning of this year, luckily I was able to leave everything more or less set up during the duration of the shoot days.

John Legend and Chrissy Teigen for FEED Projects. Model; Musician

Lauren looking over the shoot and my studio’s cluttered shelves full of do-dads

Karlie Kloss and Christina Tosi. Model and Co-Founder, Karlie’s Kookies; Chef / Founder, Momofuku Milk Bar

Laura Brown and Garance Dore. Executive Editor, Harper’s Bazaar; Founder, garancedore.com

 Lauren Bush Lauren and David Lauren. CEO and Founder, Feed; Executive Vice President, Ralph Lauren

Miraculously, between being on other assignments in Morocco, Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, Germany, and then Alaska yet again, I only missed one photoshoot- Anne Hathaway and her husband Adam Shulman. I know it sucks because Anne Hathaway is an incredible actress, but I still consider missing just this shoot extremely lucky. Since we had planned this might happen, we already had a game plan: Lights were built, their positions were marked and taped to the floor, and the exact ratios of key and fill light scribbled on a piece of paper. After walking my good friend photographer Oscar Zabala and my assistant Caleb Adams through the setup, I hit the road knowing they would crush it while I was gone.


Photography is a lot more than just technical aspects, but Oscar is also no noob to the other important skills a photographer must have. Lighting aside, he contributed heavily to making the subjects comfortable, making sure the clothing worked with the look and feel, and of course influencing a relaxed pose.


​I was in Alaska, north of the Arctic Circle in the middle of a setup for National Geographic’s “Life Below Zero” when I heard my phone bleep… I took off my half frozen glove and took a peep at the screen- it was an iMessage from Oscar saying the shoot went well, with an attachment of one of the shots. I can’t say I really had a sigh of relief, because actually I trusted them to pull it off.

Oscar Zabala’s portrait of Anne Hathaway and Adam Shulman. Actor; Artist


So, what is the takeaway here? Photographers can be control freaks. Sometimes we have to let go and contribute to the greater project as a whole, similar to how a film crew works together. I can share Oscar’s image here on my blog as part of this post, but obviously it can’t live in portfolio simply because it’s not my work… but in the end we got the job done. I know that a photographer can never be replaced by a robot on set with an iPad for a face- The nature of the work is too personal and intimate. However, when you put trust in the right people, you can pull off things that would otherwise never come into fruition.


JL


Special thanks to Nick Leadlay and Pratik Naik for the help in retouching these images.

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ADD A COMMENT (35)

Cody Ash // December 05, 2014 05:47

Wow, great shots! That broncolor pack looks awesome with an LED modeling light. The tones of all these shots are great with the forest/camo green and the browns of the bags mixed with muted colors the actors/execs wore. Very nice styling.

Nathan Hartmann // December 05, 2014 06:33

Really enjoyed this post, Joey. Beautiful photos and great thoughts.

Mathieu Pecheur // December 05, 2014 08:23

Joey, you really on another planet ! your work is amazing.

A fan of the first hour !
From Belgium

debbi // December 05, 2014 08:38

Love your Mohawk

Jon DeVaul // December 05, 2014 13:14

Joey, beautiful lighting, and great subtle interactions you get from the models and between them too!

John Evans // December 05, 2014 14:22

As always Joey, great work!!! You are truly gifted and an inspiration! :)

Chris Renton // December 05, 2014 22:35

Excellent work Joey. Love the colour tone - yes colour, I'm British :) - and everyone looks very relaxed.

Mariana // December 06, 2014 03:08

The poses are amazing ! So natural, relax and real. How do you get your subjects to pose to perfection and also transmit this amazing energy ?

Rajesh Taylor // December 06, 2014 05:13

Really great set of images Joey. They feel so warm and close. The backdrop colour, lighting and emotional mood set is great.

If I hadn't read the post I wouldn't have guessed this was a manic shoot. Your friend Oscar also did a great job on Anne Hathaway's portrait.

Thanks too for providing some behind the scenes pictures of the set up.

melanie // December 06, 2014 07:37

Gorgeous, rich tones and the subjects are beautifully at ease. What a great project. I love your backdrop and set!

Drekfletch // December 06, 2014 14:30

Couldn't you have a division in your Portfolio for the design of look and lighting style? Or is that not how portfolios generally work?

George R. Sealy // December 07, 2014 04:27

Thanks for sharing both the background story and the collection of photographs.

Your work is inspirational and a great learning experience for all of us so much less talented.

admin // December 07, 2014 07:30

Drekfletch- There's no real rule of thumb. Photographers can organize portfolios by lighting style, subject matter, by story, flow, feeling, etc.

Steve Glass // December 07, 2014 08:40

LOVE IT! Always true to yourself. It's sort of like Timothy Greenfield-sanders meets Annie Leibovitz but better!

Pictures for the FEED project, by Joey L | Thebronxpapers's Blog // December 07, 2014 23:10

[…] The portraits in this post were taken to to support my friend Lauren Bush Lauren's charity, FEED Projects. Lauren and I dreamt up a concept for the shoot over coffee. We would capture portraits of FEED's celebrity ambassadors and influencers in a studio setting that felt classic, natural, and share a moment of intimacy between friends or business partners. It would be the first major advertising campaign effort for FEED, and although grassroots, the final images would live in a lot of major places, including Vanity Fair, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, and Elle, just to name a few. Link www.joeyl.com […]

Tommy // December 07, 2014 23:15

Does anyone know where I can find a backdrop like this? So nice!

Matt O // December 08, 2014 13:02

Beautiful background Joey. Did you make it? I haven't seen a paper roll or Muslin background that nice before.

Sander van der Veen // December 09, 2014 08:40

Nice work Joey and the rest of the whole team. Great read and results.

Steve Mvondo // December 11, 2014 03:16

Amazing... pictures are so clean

Raul // December 22, 2014 13:14

Please joey how i can get those background in a lower price. thank you!! amazing job :)

Victor // December 23, 2014 11:25

Gorgeous portraits!
Join to Tommy question :)
Where I can get so amazing backdrop?)
From Russia :)

Uriel Coronado // January 08, 2015 04:34

Gran trabajo.

Name*Francisco Nava // January 14, 2015 10:21

Comment*Great job, really i enjoy this work!!

Frans // January 20, 2015 23:57

Glad it all "Came together".

Arek // May 29, 2015 16:40

Great photos Joey, congratulations!
P.S.
Would you let us know how you get this creammy look?
Thanks in advance.
Arek

Elena Hernandez // June 07, 2015 13:25

As always my young friend you have illustrated what a true plan is all about. Taking things to the next level to get the job done without a hitch and knowing your clients can rest easy know they are in the right hands...
Love reading how far you have come and how bright you are shinning...
Blessings,
Elena Hernandez

Shane Baker // November 14, 2015 15:30

Thank you for sharing this. As a photographer it's incredibly valuable to get an insiders look at how you made the shoot come together and learn of the challenges you faced and how you overcame them. Much appreciated.

Danny Rivera // February 18, 2016 12:35

Joey, Switch number diffuser are you using on you Para 177? It's my next purchase.

Julien Kossarov // March 20, 2016 19:18

Hello Joey,
thanks you so much for sharing all your works. Can i ask you if you shot at 2.8 with you ND as usual on those photos? With a duo portraiture, there are risks with the depth of field right to have 2 faces focus right? Thanks you :-)

Eric Larson // August 08, 2016 21:07

Great shots! Were you nervous to work with these celebrities or did it come naturally to you because you work with big names all the time?

Annabella Schlee // October 23, 2016 20:20

I just completed watching your portfolio course on Creative Live. I was so pleased to see that having a hard copy presentation is still relevant in showing ones work to others. I am taking it step by step in developing my online portfolio and upon completing that phase I look forward to creating a hands on portfolio as well. Identifying my style of photography is also a process, taking your advice to have outside CC assist me find it as I grow as a photographer. Phenomenal work Joey L., thank you!

College Essay Writer // November 28, 2016 22:32

excellent project, I had also filmed for them. I like your portrait work

Stefanie // June 13, 2017 18:47


Woow, this looks really amazing,
This is really on my have to do list before i get into my 40's

Keep posting,
Kind regards
Stefanie

Mark Kitaoka // September 24, 2018 05:58

Hi Joey, are you using the 177 with the focusing rod and diffusion panel? Thank you.

Adolfo Usier // October 13, 2018 12:58

Woow this is amazing, beautiful colors and the backdrop just add some depth, love it all

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