Up On the Roof at the Vanity Fair Photo Shoot
(Note: I wrote this post in January, immediately after the photo shoot for our new Vanity Fair magazine feature. I couldn’t post it then because the contents of the issue were secret and they asked us all not to say anything about it. But now that the magazine is on newsstands, the coast is clear. So here’s my own “snapshot” from behind the scenes at the shoot…
San Francisco, Blue Sky Studios. We have a pretty special opportunity: being included in Vanity Fair’s April 07 Green Issue. We’re sharing the stage with the founders of Method, Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry. I arrive at 12 noon. In the studio the “shooter,” Todd Eberle, is assembled with four photographer’s assistants, a set designer, a stylist, an assistant stylist, a “groomer,” a local personal assistant and two Vanity Fair staffers. I count 12 people in all. They've been here since 10am. There are Apple laptops, food, clothes, product, makeup, lights, and equipment everywhere. The day before they began to build the set. I’m the first one into “styling’” which means I strip to my boxers as they try on 15 – 20 different outfits. You can’t wear your own clothes. Everything about the photo is designed. It feels as much like a theatre piece as it does a photo shoot.
I end up in a paper thin stripped crew neck sweater and Levis jeans. I don’t feel particularly hipper than I did in my own clothes, but then my kids don’t consider me particularly fashion forward. On to the “groomer.” She starts with a haircut before filling my head with “product” to keep my hair standing on end. Then on to makeup. By 1:00 pm I’m ready to go. By 2:00 pm, I’m still waiting and am now using the time to explore ways we can collaborate with Method to fend off the consumer packaged goods giants.
The photographer, Todd, decides the set they built wouldn’t work. He wants to start all over. Ultimately, he moves the shoot up to the roof of the building and starts working with an entirely different design concept. Todd is the boss. What ever he says goes. By 3:30 pm the new set is completed. Tod comes down to survey his “talent.” He doesn’t like anything about the way we are dressed. As the sun starts to go down, we’re in a mad rush to find new outfits. The three of us wander around the racks of clothes in our underwear. I end up with a white T-shirt, a pink striped unbuttoned button down, Levis jeans rolled up at the bottom and orange converse sneakers to match my watchband.
We’re on the roof. Standing in a brisk wind as the sun lowers in the sky. The San Francisco skyline is in the background, our products, Seventh Generation on the right, Method to the left, are littered on what look like a conveyor belt. Stand here, leg up, leg down, hands in pockets, hands out, chin up, chin down, show your boxers over the top of the jeans, loosen your shirt. Todd almost whispers the directions. The instructions go on for almost 45 minutes with the groomers and stylists rushing around to keep hair in or out of place and shiny spots off noses. After about 50 Polaroid shots the real shooting begins. All three of us are shivering in 40-degree temperatures and no coats. By 5:00 pm we’re done. I walk away with a Polaroid as a souvenir. Looks great!