Category: people

melissa esplin

have you ever stopped over at IS*LY? sweet melissa taught our bookbinding course at The Art Weekend -SLC. she’s totally fabulous -and look at her amazing handwriting… it’s stunning and for her, effortless. i have my own little card written by her and i’ll never throw it away. it’s just too beautiful.


friday feature: kendra smoot

If you have even spent a split second on design blogs or ever read Blueprint, you have seen the amazing styling of Kendra Smoot. She’s the one that makes photographs (and photographers) look really, really good. Lucky you, we have brand new photographs you can see below that are not on her website.

Kendra was born in Walnut Creek and has lived in LA and Utah, but now calls New York home. As a child, Kendra loved painting and art projects, but {ironically} studied social work at Brigham Young University. Her favorite things include good food, traveling to foreign countries, street style, living in a big city, and anything involving the ocean.. oh yah… and her man Seth and their adorable daughter, Stella Lou.

Clients include: Garnet Hill, Clarks, Cookie Magazine, Real Simple, More Magazine, and The Knot.

This is a favorite Friday Feature for me. Here is our interview, for you:


01. Describe your typical day (or however many days it takes) to prepare for a shoot. From pre-production to production and post.

This can really vary from shoot to shoot, and honestly I feel like I’m almost always working because part of the job is being inspired by places and people that you see. But I can give two specific examples of putting together a shoot:
If I’m working on a one day food shoot for a magazine than that usually requires 1-2 days of prep work. During those days, I’ll have a meeting with the Art Director or Photo Editor to discuss the direction and mood of the shoot and also the logistics of where and when we’ll be shooting. We’ll talk about what issue the images will appear in and if there is anything seasonally appropriate we want to be there and if there is a color palette. Its always nice to have inspiration in these meetings -whether that is pictures or something beautiful I’ve found that I think would be nice to incorporate into the shoot. The rest of the prep time is spent acquiring props from prop houses or stores. at the end of the shoot there is about another day of post production -returning the props, submitting credit information if you’ve borrowed things from stores, and gathering receipts and invoicing.
Sometimes I work on much longer shoots. One of my favorite clients is Garnet Hill. I often do the props for the fashion portion of the shoots. We will usually shoot about a week on location and another week in studio. For shoots like this there is usually about a week of prep time to concept and source props and sets.


02. How did you get involved in styling?
I fell in love with a photographer! We moved to New York together and I was interested in his profession. i wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do but i did know that I loved the idea of collaboration and the work that went into making an interesting image. Through my husband, I met and worked for an agent, producer, and photographer. It was on one of the shoots that I met a prop stylist and knew that it was a job i could really sink my teeth into. I asked to intern with her and it was great timing -her first assistant happened to be leaving and so we worked together for two years. From there, I worked at Blueprint Magazine as an Associate Style Editor until they folded (RIP!). For the past two years i’ve been working freelance.

03. What stylists/artists/photographers do you look to for inspiration?


04. What would be your dream styling job?

Probably shooting one of the “Living In” books by TASCHEN in a beautiful locale. Right now, I’m dying to go to India and it would be fantastic to have access to beautiful homes there.

05. Explain the creative process you go through to style a shoot.
I always love to sketch out my ideas and pull out swatches of fabric and paint. I keep this style sheet and any inspirational photos in a plastic binder that goes with me everywhere. From there I’ll draw up a list (which is usually quite long) of what I’ll need. Then I strategize about where i’ll need to go, how i’ll get things done, etc. when i’m running around sourcing for a shoot, I always like to pop into a museum or interesting store just to get the creative juices going.

06. What is your favorite subject to style? (lifestyle, interiors, still life, etc.)
I really appreciate styling all sorts of subjects for different reasons. I love styling for fashion shoots because you often get to travel to interesting locations and shooting people is always faster-paced. I love shooting food because the scale of objects is a little smaller and its nice to take a break from all of the heavy lifting… and I love shooting interiors because its so inspiring to see how people live and their style.

07. What is the most challenging thing about your work?
Sometimes it can be really physically challenging. On a prep day, I can sometimes walk up to 10 miles going from store to store, and it seems like you are always schlepping heavy things around.

08. Favorite places to shop?

Brimfield Antique Show, The stretch of Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn near Smith Street, Ochre, Butik, ABC Carpet and Home, Kiosk, Jon Derian, Bird, Odine, Moon River Chattel, Matter, Paula Rubenstein, online: Nightwood, Ebay, and Etsy.

09. Funniest work story?
On a recent shoot in Greece, our crew of about 10 had to travel back to Athens overnight via a yacht. When we pulled up to the marina, there was a beautiful boat awaiting us -it was like something out of a hip hop video. We were all cheering our good luck… until we actually got on the water. The wind had picked up and there were giant waves. You couldn’t even walk two steps without being thrown across the boat. By the time we got to Athens -6 hours later- everyone was seasick and we had all taken turns throwing up over the side. It was the trip from hell! We are still laughing about it….


10. How often do you make/craft/sew things for your jobs?
Almost every job. I’m just an ok crafter. I really enjoy the process but after working at Martha Stewart, I realized how talented their crafting department is. Those people are geniuses!

11. What was it like working with Blueprint + Bluelines?
Blueprint was amazing! It was the type of job that required a lot of work, but the payback was always worth it. They always hire the most talented art directors and photographers, so it was a real honor to be included in that project. We are all still pretty tight and do a good job of keeping up with each other. Its been sad to see so many magazines close and those that are still around seem so thin! But its been exciting to see what’s happened within the blog world.

12. If you could have any other career what would it be?
I’d love to consult companies when they are re-branding. And do interior design. And own a small shop that has all of my favorite things.

13. Any exciting projects in the works?
My husband and I have started working as a photo team so that’s been really exciting. We’re taking it slow. Right now we work a lot for the AOL’s Holiday blog, Holidash, doing DIY projects. It’s pretty low-key- it takes a couple of days to concept and source and craft, and then we shoot mostly in our apartment. i really enjoy having a creative day at home. we just crank up the tunes and dance between shots.

14. What advice would you give to a budding stylist?
Keep organized files of the images that inspire you. Get an iPhone. They are so useful for everything: storing contact info, the maps, tracking Fedex packages, taking photos of props, emailing press requests on the go. Intern for someone that you admire.

Wowzers.. isn’t Kendra amazing? Leave a very special comment for her here. Thank you, Kendra! Dear Readers… anyone you’d like to see featured? Shoot me an email.

sherrie mills johnson

i have amazing neighbors where i grew up -so much talent and inspiration… one of them is sherrie mills johnson, who has authored many books and pamphlets on gospel-related topics. i’ve had two on my bookshelf for years and they are so inspiring and thought-provoking: spiritually centered motherhood and man, woman, and deity.

her new book is out –excited to get my hands on a copy! sherrie also writes the inspirational blog, good news! so if you’re ever feeling a little down or frustrated, hop over to her blog for a quick pick-me-up.

blonde designs blog

kristin and angie’s amazing blog is up! i photographed kristin’s kiddos about a year ago and got some really great photos from them (remember the boy who feeds the dog pancakes from the table?) anyway, both are former art directors at martha stewart. love that these talented girls are blogging.

via inchmark journal -another talented martha gal

friday feature: andrea fazzari

One avenue of photography I’ve always been envious of is travel photography. To be able to eat and shoot your way through country after country would be unreal.

Andréa Fazzari has that job. Manhattan-born Fazzari has been traveling the world shooting for clients such as Travel & Leisure, Vanity Fair, Gourmet, GQ and more. She has stayed at the most luxurious hotels, eaten in forgotten countries and photographed the most interesting characters.

Now she is sharing her travel tips and experiences with you on her brand-new (re-design launched today) blog, Fazzari Traveler.

Oh yah… not only is she brilliant with a camera, but she also speaks French and Italian.

Here is our interview, for you:

01. Where have you been the past month or two?
I have been in India (Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur), Italy (Sardegna, Venice and Florence) and Spain (Seville).

02. What equipment did you start with? What equipment do you use now?
I started with a Hasselblad and the Pentax 67, which I still use today. I’m a minimalist with my equipment and I adore my camera and lenses!

03. How has your experience in the fashion industry influenced your photographs?
I started as an advertising assistant for Giorgio Armani out of college. That was my first job! Then I did public relations for Dolce & Gabbana here in NYC. I was interested in fashion, art, photography and design, so I knew I wanted to work in fashion once I graduated from college, but didn’t think I would/could be a photographer. Being someone who is constantly observing and aware of aesthetics and details, I realize that fashion was just a good stop on the way to becoming a photographer and working for myself. I don’t think the industry in and of itself influenced my pictures; it was my life experience that helped shape my interests and led me more specifically to photography.

04. Traveling all the time must get exhausting -how do you do it?
The only time it can be a little bit tiring or taxing is dealing with certain airports and going through security. Jet lag doesn’t affect me too much; coming back from Asia is the most difficult, but I just give in to the fatigue and sleep a lot when I return. I have a certain rhythmn and formula for when I travel; I am very used to functioning in in this way and moving around a lot. I actually thrive on it and find it exhilerating…especially when I go to a country I’ve never been to before. There’s nothing like the feeling of new discovery!

05. Meeting and photographing lots of strangers could be very intimidating for most people -has it ever been for you? What do you say to strangers who you’d like to photograph?
No, it is not intimidating for me. I find it exciting. 9.5 out of ten people say yes! When I do approach someone to ask if I can shoot them, I tell them my name, where I am from, what kind of story I am shooting and for whom, that I would like to shoot them and why…….people do detect my sincere interest, and make it happen! I’ve had some wonderful experiences with some interesting people. People usually get quite excited by being asked.

06. Aside from traveling, where else do you find inspiration?
In films…lots of films. I keep an ongoing list of favorite films from around the world.
Places inspire and / or spectacular views; certain people inspire me a lot for how they look, behave, or how they live. I like observing how people carry themselves and understanding what makes them tick.

07. Where is your favorite place to visit? Sleep? Eat? Relax?
I have too many favorite places, and can never single out one!!
I recently relaxed in Laos…it’s very slow there. Bali was very relaxing too…the sounds of the animals and the rain were enchanting. I’m not sure that I relax in a particular or typical way in NYC. I love Asian food mostly – Vietnamese, Japanese, Cambodian, Laotian….but also enjoy eating in Argentina and Brazil….I’m open to many cuisines!

08. Do you have moments -when traveling or shooting- that make you think “I have the best job in the world?”
Yes, I think this way quite often. My work is quite emotional for me.

09. What do you do to keep your clients to continue to hire you time after time? What do you think you offer?
I think I offer elegant and sensual images which show my engagment with the world and reflect the fascination I have with different people and cultures…I like to transmit my excitement for the beauty in the world. I’m also very enthusiastic about my work, and that’s always a good thing!

10. What is your most helpful travel tip?
Get Skype on your laptop and iPhone…it’s the best and cheapest way to speak everyone…no matter where I am in the world.

Did you like this interview? Please leave a comment for Andréa.
Check back next week for our next Friday Feature with Aran Goyoaga.