Washington Life: How did the concept for the Washington Ballet shoot come about?
Design Army: Septime [Webre] asked us to take a look at some costume sketches during an meeting for the Washington Ballet‘s [TWB] season brochure, we all said it would be great to do a shoot with them since they were so amazingly cool – so we did. We did not have a large production budget so we knew it would have to be done in studio and styled with great hair/make-up and be overly engaging.
WL: Where was the shoot held?
DA: At the TWB Studios.
WL: How did you come up with the ideas for each individual shot?
DA: We wanted to capture the personality of each character, but also highlight each dancer – the queen is ready to kick some serious ballet ass! Alice’s hair is a mess since she just fell down the rabbit hole and she’s confused of where she landed – and how did that rabbit get in my hands? Same for the other images – they just speak to the character and the dancers artistry.
WL: How do you capture movement so well?
DA: Luck – when the dancers jump you have to snap the camera at the perfect moment. The dancers did a lot of jumping that day and Dean Alexander was clicking at all the right times. Also having a plan (sketch or storyboard) helps explain the concepts to the dancers/models so they do not waste time on set.
WL: Who did the styling for the dancers? And what is different about styling for a photoshoot compared to a live performance?
DA: Dean Kraph did the hair and make-up for the shoot (we love Dean) and we wanted to have a editorial style for hair/make-up – so the make-up is a little lighter and lots of fake eye-lashes. We also brought a whole trunk full of wigs to work with; so what you see in these images is not exactly what you will see on stage – but close. The stage make-up is typically more pronounced (and sweat proof!) an heavily applied. There is a fine line between costume and fashion – we just happen to know where to draw that line.
WL: How long did the shoot take, and how many people did it take to achieve the final pages?
DA: Just one day – starting at 7am and wrapping at 6pm; about 1.5hrs or so per shot – but they are very high energy with all the jumping and standing on-pointe. In total, we had a crew of about 8 people there helping with everything.
WL: What’s the most difficult part of producing a shoot like this?
DA: Picking the one perfect shot from each set – not easy and takes a great eye to do it; and on top of that we also have to look at the pose/point of the dancers to make sure they are in correct form.
WL: What’s the process of putting a shoot like this together? Do you start with a vision board?
DA: Purpose is to help raise awareness for the TWB (and sell tickets) and DC is a creative city/town – not all politics and corruption.
We always start with a concept and then work on the board/vision for the shoot. We pull a lot of reference images; especially for the make-up/hair and lighting since it’s very hard to sketch out those items.
WL: Design Army is known for its unique vision and almost surreal take on fashion shoots, what’s the trick to staying fresh and always doing something that raises the bar?
DA: Don’t just do what you think needs to be done – think crazy and then worry about how to execute it. If you are safe with your creative then you are not doing it different.
WL: Being a husband and wife team can be challenging, how do you manage to work together so successfully and be able to separate the work aspect from the persona?
DA: We blend work and life – we fight a lot, but we also compliment each other quite well. Jake keeps it grounded; and Pum makes it insane. It works out quite well; I guess you can say there’s no great ideas with out a touch of “madness!”
WL: What’s next for Design Army?
Who knows – we are always up to something new and different; perhaps more video work in 2012 or a product line. We will have to wait to see; we often post to our Facebook page all the latest and greatest work. Like Us!
WL: If you could do a photoshoot of anything or anyone in Washington DC what and who would it be?
DA: Obama 2014 – but we are pretty sure we may cause some controversy!