Photoshoots In The Time Of Corona: How Production Creatives Have Adapted To COVID-19 Restrictions
Welcome to the new normal, where social distancing is a must and photoshoots, not a necessity. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought innumerable changes into our lives and for people in the production industry, this is just another one of them. Gone are the days when shoots were a giant gathering: models posing tightly around each other, assistants scrambling together, weaving in and out through all the people in the room. The scene of today is much more conservative. People in PPE suits carry the equipment, socially distancing themselves from each other as much as possible.
Recently, Kylie Jenner posed with Stormi on the cover of Vogue Czechoslovakia. Everything, Jenner claims, was shot on the iPhone. In a recent People magazine article, the beauty mogul also revealed that they'd had to hang sheets up in their backyard to serve as the backdrop. Styling herself in blue Balmain, Jenner went shoeless in a few of the photos, looking ethereal against the pale pink makeshift studio.
On FaceTime with her were creative directors and photographers, the Morelli Brothers, who guided the mother-daughter duo to create a best-selling issue that has since sold out in Czechoslovakia.
Last April, Bella Hadid also collaborated on a fashion campaign with Jacquemus in the world's first major FaceTime campaign. Aptly named "Jacquemus at home", the shoot was done entirely in one room at Hadid's home, with no stylists and no make-up artists present. Directed by Simon Porte Jacquemus and photographed by Pierre-Ange Carlotti, the photos produced are evocative of a no-filter lifestyle that reflects a growing trend on Instagram that calls for a more authentic representation of everyday life.
Another interesting example of these adaptive creative strategies is Eva Longoria's television commercial. In what could be one of the most relatable TVCs ever, Eva Longoria dyes her own hair, with L’Oreal Paris Excellence Crème. Shot entirely on her phone, and with no image retouching, the video is a minute and half long and, unlike most commercials, is entirely done in portrait mode. Longoria demonstrates how she dies her hair, excitedly relating to the audience that there's no place like home, showing off her freshly coloured hair against the backdrop of her home bathroom. It's relatable, it's endearing, and most importantly, it's safe.
These ingenious techniques however are not limited to international artists. With the resilience and creativity of the Filipino spirit, local brands have also been adapting. Wearpeach for example is local design studio known for edgy pieces. They'd recently conducted an international photoshoot from three different locales. Using the talents of a Bahrain-based photographer and a German model in Düsseldorf, the brand—which is based in Manila—collaborated on a photo shoot to showcase their newly designed PPE's.
Peach Resurreccion, the brand's owner and designer, says: "Given the circumstances we’ve all been thrust into globally, adapting and finding new ways of creating is vital. Ironically, I've found that despite the lockdowns happening in almost every city around the world, we’ve managed to connect even further, doing a multi-city collaboration from the safety of our own homes."
Read also: Vania Romoff, Kaayo, Armor Project, And More: Where To Buy Stylish And Locally-Made Face Masks In The Philippines
The story behind Tatler Philippines' July issue is also an interesting one. Bianca Araneta Elizalde describes the entire photoshoot as a bit of a challenge, but something she'd do all over again. "It was so sweet that [my husband] did [the cover for me]. [I'm more of the photographer between the two of us but] towards the end, he got super into it. His attention to detail really came out here because he was looking at how my hair was falling, my angles, the sets, how things around me looked. We're so proud of the results considering he's not really a photographer and I thought it was super sweet because he really invested himself in it. We shot the layouts in four days and it was a challenge but it was also an eye-opener that he's also so talented. It was slow—I've never done a shoot that lasted four days—but it was so special as well. This project that something that we're both going to remember. Would I do it again? Yes, absolutely."
Patty Ang, who only recently launched Patton Studio, had this to say about shooting in quarantine: "Our model, Fatima, offered one time that she and her husband could do shoots at home (since she could model and her husband, Hideo, is a photographer). So it would be perfect as we won’t have to have any physical contact with anyone! But there were downsides. Styling, how to wear the outfits and guiding the layouts."
Patton Studio is Patty Ang's line of chic, everyday wear. Although it doesn't seem as if their photos lack any styling or art direction, it's only understandable that creative directors worry a little over the final product with limited communication.
Chichi Tullao, a Manila-based food stylist who's worked with the likes of Moment Group and Metronome, has also had to adjust to the situation. One of her recent projects included the video promoting Moment Group's line of frozen food—perfect for quarantine cravings.
Responding to the adjustment, she says: "There is fear, but we have to try and continue with helping our economy and creating work for everyone. We have made the necessary adjustments by imposing a maximum number of people present, the strict use of personal protective gear at all times, and putting a cap on the number of hours we’re on-site. The pandemic is no excuse, and my team and I still do not comprise and continue to provide our clients [with] our best work, without sacrificing anyone’s health and safety."