Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Is There Anything She Can't Do? Multi-Talented Prop Stylist Allegra Hsiao Show's Off Her Calligraphy Skills

As a prop and soft goods stylist, Allegra Hsiao is in demand. Images from clients like Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn regularly feature her work as do design magazines like Dwell and CA Home & Design. With a degree in fine arts from Amherst College, it may not seem surprising that Allegra has a hidden talent:  Calligraphy. Over the years, her calligraphy skills have complemented her work as a prop stylist on many a shoot. In fact, as evidenced by "the calligraphy stars of Instagram," the ancient art form of calligraphy is still decidedly modern.

When did you learn calligraphy?
My older sister was a calligrapher so I started trying my hand right out of the gate. She wrote out the alphabet in italics and I copied it over and over for years.  My first "professional" job was in the sixth grade when my teachers asked me to calligraph the names on my classmates' elementary school diplomas.

Calligraphy seems intimidating. Do you need perfect penmanship?
Of course not! If "perfect imperfection" was not desirable, people would use a computer. Beauty is found in imperfection.

Where can we see your calligraphy?
It has been featured in some catalogs over the years — Bergdorf Goodman, Pottery Barn, Red Envelope. I’ve also done a lot of event calligraphy for fashion designers like James Galanos and John Galliano. Currently, my calligraphy is featured as the title art for the film series Standing on Sacred Ground .

How does calligraphy complement your work as a stylist?
Every so often, a table setting needs place cards or some stationary needs address labels. My fine art background also comes in handy from time to time when a client needs copyright-free art in a pinch.
What’s in your arsenal of tools?
My favorites implements are an inkbrush or a nibbed calligraphy pen and ink. Inkbrush makes it feel less like writing and more like painting or making art. The old fashioned, nibbed calligraphy pen and ink is just plain cool; it makes me feel like I’ve stepped back in time. What’s more, the effect is always unexpectedly beautiful.

What should we know about calligraphy?
If someone commissions a calligrapher to write a letter for you, consider yourself very special! Essentially, you've received a piece of art that took a great deal of time and love. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Food Photographer George Barberis and Local Haven's Ashley Marti Share New Collab for Amazon Kitchen's "New Year, New You"

Who doesn’t want a fresh start in the new year? Of course, this usually means a renewed commitment to healthy choices. To narrate their visual story for the new year, Amazon Kitchen turned to photographer George Barberis and his inspirational food photography. Amazon’s “New Year, New You” campaign featuring George’s photography shows simple, seasonal recipes from food stylist and well-known blogger, Ashley Marti. Ashley is behind the swoon-worthy online destination Local Haven and beautiful Instagram feed by the same name @localhaven. 
The Amazon project was a happy coincidence for George and Ashley who had been meaning to work together for some time and were excited to finally merge talents. For Amazon’s campaign, George and Ashley do what they do best—celebrate beautiful, seasonal and local produce coming out of the Pacific Northwest. We can’t wait for their next collab.
Be sure to take a look at George's complete (& fabulous) portfolio at www.sallyreps.com. Bon appetit!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Brad Knipstein Showcases Benefit’s “Pinktorian” and We Want to Move in Now

Pink:  It’s shown to reduce aggressive behavior, offer a sense of connection and well-being, lend its appeal to gender movements and even made its way into technology via Apple’s rose gold iPhone. Last year, Pantone named Rose Quartz 2016’s color of the year along with Serenity, a cool, tranquil blue. No longer reserved for confections or little girl’s rooms, we’re taking pink seriously without typecast or judgment.
According to photographer, Brad Knipstein, who captures the interiors of some of the nation’s swankiest homes, pink is still having a major moment. Recently, Brad’s infectious imagery showcased Benefit Cosmetic’s “pink house” for the holidays. Benefit liked his work so much, they decided to use it for a profile in the popular lifestyle blog, Refinery29. Located near San Francisco’s Alamo Square, the Victorian — styled pink for the event — belongs to Brad’s friend and longtime colleague, gifted stylist, Rosy Fridman Strazzeri. (Wink:  Rosy’s name is aptly coincidental.)

Although Brad has photographed Rosy’s interior many times before, he noted this time, with so much pink—it was about neutralizing the walls to prevent a cast. “Rosy likes whites to a cooler point, while Benefit’s pink is a bit warmer than your average Valentine’s day pink. It’s more yellow. It was important for us that the walls stayed white.” 

We couldn’t agree more with Refinery29 — these images have our hearts collectively skipping a beat. To see more of Brad’s work, please visit www.sallyreps.com.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Photographer David Clugston's New Images for Julie's Organic Ice Cream: A Pure Delight!

For nearly 20 years now, Julie's Organic Ice Cream has been making delicious, organic ice cream. When Julie’s decided to update their brand packaging and introduce new premium flavors, they partnered with Retail Voodoo. Their goal:  Reinforce the brand’s commitment to the pure delight of Julie's ice cream made with only the finest USDA certified organic ingredients.
With just one shot to reach the grocery consumer, the creative team tapped Seattle-based commercial photographer, David Clugston, to shoot the product. David is known for his ability to photograph food stories that bring everyday products to life for market leaders like Starbucks and McDonalds. His knack for graphic, sensuous photography gives brands the “wow-factor” they need to drive purchase at retail.
To set Julie’s Ice Cream apart, David collaborated with talented, Seattle-based food stylist, Julie Hopper. With so many category choices, the team needed to break through the clutter. It simply wasn’t enough to photograph the product, the team set out to create imagery that embodied the very essence of Julie’s Ice Cream.
We think they've more than succeeded! Take a look at the final images:  Luscious, creamy, indulgent. Please visit www.sallyreps.com to see the latest product photography from David Clugston.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

'Tis the Season for Giving & Sally's Sharing Her List of Favorite Production Resources

We have much to be thankful for this holiday season at Sally Bjornsen Represents. After working in the advertising industry for more than 20 years, Sally, Founder and Principal of Sally Bjornsen Represents, is excited and grateful to have built a roster of incredibly talented commercial photographers, photo stylists and photo art directors nationwide.  Aside from her own talent, Bjornsen has developed a long list of favorite production resources. Lucky for us, Sally’s giving back this year by sharing her go-to list of creative partners.

“Crew is everything!” says Bjornsen. “A production crew is made up of many specialists who come together to bring a creative idea to life. Over the years, I’ve established partnerships with my favorite people and companies.  I truly value people who are passionate about what they do, flexible, have a great sense of humor and consistently deliver on time and budget. For me, it’s really important that we enjoy the process. I’ve seen the best creative results when there’s chemistry and respect between people. My partners are consistent on set and off.”

Without further ado, here are Sally’s local production picks:  

Hair and Make Up:  Shannon Rasheed. I met Shannon on a shoot nearly 18 years ago when I was a client. She’s so talented and has an outstanding demeanor. Models love her and so do photographers. Chemistry on the set is always a pleasure with Shannon. Shannon is represented by Celestine.

Food Stylists:  Food styling is an art! I have three amazing food stylists – Rachel Billings, Beth Batson and Allegra Hsiao — that my photographers turn to time and time again.  I also love working with Julie Hopper, who is represented by Tricia Burlingham at Artist Representation, Inc. Other favorite food stylists of mine are Jean Galton and Patty Whittmann. You are always in good hands with any of the above.

Producers: There are many good production resources in Seattle, but my favorites are: Lisa Farnham at The Radish Co. who is a seasoned producer for print, video and film and Erika Desroche at Blondehouse Production. Erika can also handle location scouting.

Casting Real People:  Diana Lopez at Real People Casting

Please contact sally@sallyreps.com for more information or to learn more about her talented production crew!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Walking on the Wild Side: How to Create Amazing Advertising Images with Animals

They help us beat the blues, lower our risk for heart disease and push us to exercise. Employees who bring them to work are happier and show increased loyalty to their employers. With the holidays upon us, we want to take a minute to celebrate pets and the joy they bring us.
That said, have you ever considered the challenges of photographing pets for advertising? Those cute little faces in the pet food ads? Well, it takes some serious know-how to make the perfect pet shot happen. Following their recent photo shoots with clients Amazon and Pottery Barn featuring some four-legged friends, prop stylist Allegra Hsiao, commercial photographer George Barberis and art director Quinnten “Q” Caylor shared a bit of their expertise. Sally Bjornsen, photographer’s representative, also weighed in with some thoughts to help ensure a smooth photo shoot with animals.

Is there a special skill set that you need to work well with animals?
Allegra:  When you’re photographing pets, it’s important to know that what you want them to do and what they can do. These ideas might be different. Stay flexible because the best shots come from the animal being able to interact in a very genuine way. We use props and treats and rely heavily on the owner or handler to influence the dog. For our most recent project with Amazon, we worked with employees’ dogs not professional talent. To set up compositionally, we used a stuffed panda that was about the size of a corgi. Once we set the scene, all our comments went through the photographer, George. At the end of the day, and especially with animals, the talent needs to hear from only one voice.
Q: Patience and planning. Much like directing kids – it’s important to cast animals that take direction well, make sure they've got a good handler, be patient while you wait for them to get to the thing you want from them and be open to loving the unexpected things they'll do on set. And, it’s always a good idea to have a backup.
Do you find yourself working more with pets these days?  Do you prefer working with professional pet models or amateurs?
George:  When shooting for Amazon, we do shoot a lot of pet-related products. Photographing pets is all about capturing a moment of curiosity or play. That means being ready to shoot right when the magic happens! It's great to have a dog who has experience on set, but our dogs were all "unprofessional" from the Amazon campus and they still managed to do a great job! 

What do animals add to images that humans can't?
Q:  I have yet to shoot a model that can consistently wag their tail at the sight of a squeaky toy.
George:  There's something so innocent and uncontrived about shooting pets. The atmosphere on set tends to be jovial with lots of happy faces.

What can go wrong on set with animals? How do you prepare?
Sally:  Talent and trainer are everything in a photo shoot.  Most trainers bring a backup pet in case the animal is not feeling up to his best on shoot day.  Beforehand, make sure the trainer is familiar with commercial shoots and knows what’s expected.  Be sure to limit your time with the pet so they don’t get agitated and worn out. Make the shoot a non-intimidating and friendly environment without too much chaos. Treats and toys are a must, but let the trainer or owner manage those details because he or she knows the pet the best.

Be sure to visit www.sallyreps.com to take a look at the brillant work coming from Q, Allie and George!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Photo Stylist Beth Batson Shares Some "Take Home" Styling Tips for Thanksgiving

Recently Amazon turned to talented table top stylist Beth Batson to promote all things Thanksgiving! Makes sense since Beth, who started her career as a cook and baker in commercial kitchens, has been turning table tops into dreamscapes professionally as a stylist for some time now. She partnered with fantastic food stylist Randy Mon to showcase Amazon's beautiful spread. Beth has been able to successfully meld her passion for photography and commercial video with her obsession for aesthetics to create meaningful visual stories for her clients. This week, Beth took a moment to share some styling tips that we can take home for the holidays.

What makes Thanksgiving special for you?
Most of the amazing women in my family — my sister, mother and grandmother — celebrate birthdays just after Thanksgiving, so this time of year has always felt especially important to me. Now that I live on the other side of the country, it’s also become a very nostalgic time. Over the years, what has meant the most to me is how my family has transformed our traditions through food. When I was vegan (Yup! For at least six years), my family and I made sure our dinner spread was entirely vegan, minus the turkey and gravy. These days, my father is on a strict gluten-free diet, and again, we’ve reinvented our traditions. We are all a part of the cooking process, even my 92-year old grandmother who is in charge of the pies.  

What would you tell your average host to get them started with their table setting for Thanksgiving? 
It's so easy to get lost on Instagram and Pinterest looking at gorgeous table decor and come away feeling defeated or overwhelmed. Relax! This is the time to bring out the family heirloom dishes, tablecloth or silverware. It's okay for the place settings to be mismatched and for your water glasses to be jam jars. 

Start with your family's customs, then incorporate something fresh or new that makes you happy. I'm of the opinion that the food is the centerpiece so keep the table decor minimal. Don't skimp on real napkins and a table cloth or runner. A few candles and a small vase or two with some autumn flowers adds a simple, elegant touch.

What styling tips would you suggest to someone who’s more adventurous or wants to add more drama?
I love the idea of setting up a separate table or bar for mid-day snacks and drinks. Dress it up with a tonal bouquet and add foliage that you’ve found in your yard or neighborhood — think fir needles, dried leaves, herbs and branches of berries. Create a bar area with a signature cocktail or make a mulled wine or punch. 

If you want to add more drama to the table, make menu cards for each place setting. Even if you’re serving gelled cranberry sauce, put it on the menu! It’s an easy way to make the meal feel more special and give guests something they can keep to remember the occasion. Don't be afraid to add a bit of gold or sparkle.
What elements do the most successful table settings incorporate?
Let the focus be on the food and the company. If you have a centerpiece, keep it tonal or monochromatic. It shouldn’t be distracting. No one wants to be ducking and weaving around tall candles and large bouquets to pass the stuffing, so keep your table decor low profile. 

For more inspiration from Beth Batson, visit www.sallyreps.com.