On Set

"Grotesque Glamour"

After Oribe Backstage Las Vegas in April, the team at Sorella Salon & Spa in Washington found themselves inspired - and ready for a photo shoot. They took Oribe's Grotesque Glamour theme home, added a circus-freak twist and wound up with a set of old-school images they compiled into their own book. The final touch? Capturing a video of the shoot on Super 8 film.

We talked to three of the masterminds behind the shoot to see how their "grotesque" day came together.

Explain the creative process behind your shoot.
China Colton: When Andrea and I sat down, we started brainstorming ideas back and forth. At first, we came up with really safe ideas that played into what we抎 seen at Backstage Las Vegas, and we weren抰 thrilled with them because they were too much of a duplicate.

Then, Andrea sent me these pictures of runway models wearing beards. We thought we could put our spin on that, and later our bearded models got me thinking of bearded ladies, and that made me think of circus freaks.

How did your stylists get involved?
China: Once we proposed the idea to everyone, we gave them direction, but we wanted them to have their own interpretation. We said, 揋rotesque Glamour is about hair, so do good hair and make it glamorous, but lower it somehow.

Where and how did you shoot? How did you get the old-school photo effects?
Jamie Reasy: We had everyone meet at the salon on the day of the shoot to put their models together, and one of Andrea抯 guests had a great location with perfect props卋ut we also shot outside. Our photos were later totally enhanced and distressed, and we used Super 8 film [for a video that would] look old and antique. We wanted to shoot really grainy, distressed pictures.

Andrea Keene: We were going for a Grapes of Wrath, Depression-era kind of style卛dentifying glamour in a sad time. We even referenced a few actual portraits of John Steinbeck standing in a field.

How long did everything take?
The shoot was on a Sunday, and pretty much everyone was there at 7 a.m. We ended the shoot at 2 p.m., but editing the photos and video took four days. Editing is everything in any project. We even edited the sound on the video to make it antique-y.

Where will you use the images you created?
Jamie: We抮e using a lot of the photos for our portfolio. We put together a coffee-table book so everybody can see what we did. Our stylists were talking about this to our guests for a long time, so they抮e excited to have something tangible to see.

What was the most fun part of the project?
Andrea: From my point of view, the costuming is the most exciting. It抯 fun to research and reference different time periods卆nd then to execute it and see the outcome. We scoured all our friends closets because we didn抰 have costume or wig budgets, or makeup artists or anything.

What products did you use?
China: A ton of Dry Texturizing Spray and Original Pomade, as well as Soft Lacquer Heat Styling Spray and Gold Pomade.

What surprised you most on the day of the shoot?
China: A photo shoot is all surprises. Things take on a life of their own.

Any advice on how other stylists can pull off a shoot like this?
China: Use your network - our clients become our friends, and a lot of creative people know other creative people.

Jamie: The videographer, photographer and the person who did our music were all volunteers.

What about final tips for decorating to get the right vibe?
Jamie: We didn抰 need any decoration and barely needed any music because there were freaks running around everywhere. Stylists were wearing the costumes卼here was makeup, hair and glitter all over. The videographer was filming, and it was a mad house卋ut it was awesome.

- JILL HILBRENNER

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