What do you do when an eminent gown salon commissions you to present their prom fashion differently from the competitors? Bring a truckload of ideas, creativity, equipment, and props, of course!
I was approached by Castle Couture of Manalapan, NJ to highlight their new prom fashion collection, featuring some world-renowned couturier and prom fashion houses like Jovani, Sherri Hill, Tony Bowls, Terani, etc. Their spectacular and spacious store also features bridal couture gowns so I had an opportunity to work with a few bridal gowns as well.
Earlier this year I worked on a similarly challenging Bridal Couture two-day project but the focus was on makeup, hair, and accessories. Although there were 12 models back then, each of them developed just one look with only a few of the girls using bridal gowns (yes, lots of skin there). This time, the focus was on the gowns, targeting 50… Split between 10 models, this would mean five looks per each model with an attempt to not make them look alike, not catalog-like cookie-cutters which any average photographer could pull off. One thing is to work the assembly line for clean, polished, but prosaic images and another is to try finding something unique about each look and instill them all with a character by mixing lighting, posing, emotions, props, and backgrounds. A prom fashion client gotta to be all over them with “OMG”, “gorgggg”, “ILYSM”, “boots”, “yassss”, and such.
Some of you may appreciate the challenge and time needed… I could not see this made possible even in two days, so I requested three. Even so, continuous shooting alone, with neither food breaks nor pit stops, for nine hours each day moving from station to station and messing around with light and settings, all while thinking of the next setup/concept and directing the model who quickly changed 3-5 times, had its toll on the creativity and productivity. I had to cut the number of gowns to 40, stop at scratching the surface of deeper concepts, and well, use similar setups on occasion. I also had to get a fair amount of “safe” shots as seen below.
Nonetheless, I think I managed to create some better-than-average prom fashion illustrations that should bear a potential for Castle Couture to stand out. What d’ya think?
As for the preparation, I ran casting calls in multiple venues and secured adult professional models, some with performing talents. I also took it to Facebook where I addressed my friends who may have prom-age family members, managing to find some (thank you, Tanya and Natalie!). All prom fashion hair and makeup were provided by a nearby enchanting and boutique Avanti Day Resort, with their extended on-set presence through the watchful eye and golden hands of Michelle.
A special thank-you goes to my reliable and helpful friend and client Bianca of Bianca B Incorporated, a luxurious event planning company with which I worked on several events and creative portrait projects for young adults. On a pretty short notice, I was able to get that truckload of staging materials. I also dipped into my own sources to get a few props, notably two katanas from my martial arts friend. And of course, how would one person have pulled this off entirely? No way. All thanks to my ever-obliging colleague Anna Maftser of Candy Kid Photography, who also ravished two of my boudoir marathons as a client, including earlier this year when she got a little screamy…
On a slightly unrelated and personal note, since this location is a little remote from the studio, I managed to avoid the twice-a-day commute by modestly crashing some local friends/clients’ guest room for three nights (in the past, I photographed their beautiful daughter, right). Another MUA friend in the area invited me over for dinner for German-made Russian borscht! Sehr lecker!
My deep appreciation of everyone’s trust and help—this was a massive but fruitful project!
(Click images for full size)
Gowns: Castle Couture
Location: Castle Couture
Makeup: Avanti Day Resort
Hair: Avanti Day Resort
Props and Staging: Bianca B Incorporated
Photographer’s Assistant: Anna Maftser
Photographer: Ed Hafizov, Zorz Studios
Models: Aline Mayne, Alyssa Anderson, Anastasia Nesterenko, Breanna White, Daria Tymoshenko, Lina Luzar, Marissa Zandonella, Stephanie Dresher, Vanessa Villegas, and Erika.
And for you curious minds, take a peek behind the scenes! 🙂