Back to School 2016- Mall of America
My husband and I had the pleasure of working with the Mall of America for TWO of their Fall look books this year. Today I am sharing the Back to School 2016 look book. It's a wonderful joining of photography and illustration and I am really proud of how the final piece looks.
My role ( because I never give myself enough credit and this years resolution is starting now, not in 2017) for this shoot was photo assistant and also photo direction. A few of the children had modeled before, but some hadn't and for most kids having worked before or not is still awkward. Because we photographed everything indoors on colored paper it was up to me to create and engage with the kids to generate reactions that were authentic and translated well into final shots.
For the younger kids being around a room full of strangers is intimidating, so I cued in my mom skills, got down on their level, and connected with them prior to shooting. One of our beautiful models had special needs and she and her family were SO lovely, it actually makes me emotional still to see how her sisters took such wonderful care of her. You could tell her life was full of joy and she brings SO much joy to those around her, including us that day. But, for other kids, not knowing how to pose or connect with someone that has special needs and chairs is hard, they were so polite but we weren't getting 'the shot.' So, I began starting to ask them to just stop, take a minute, look at your friend next to you...it's ok to touch her hand, her chair...what could you do to make her laugh? Giving them permission to engage made the world of difference and we started to have a lot of fun! Instead of standing next to the wheel chair, let's stand on it! Pretend to be on an adventure!
I also play a lot of 'Simon says,' create games that encourage movement and say RIDICULOUS things to get authentic smiles. Its extremely rewarding...and exhausting.
For our older models it was helping them become aware of their bodies, the product, and doing different physical actions (like skipping, flipping hair, saying weird exclamations, and just moving their bodies), they nailed it.