Leen Abozahab is a designer from Syria who came to the US to avoid the fighting there. Once in Chicago, she used her fashion knowledge and skills with fabrics to create several dynamic and exciting hat designs which she successfully sold internationally. Soon after this, I met her at an event I was shooting and we decided to get together to create some photos. As her business was just starting out, she didn’t have any money to give me, but it was a good opportunity for me to work with a model and we agreed on the mutual exchange of resources. Together we were able to create some different looks for her new business which I could add to my portfolio.
The idea behind the ad campaign was to create striking images balancing the beauty of the designer, the designs, the locations and the photographs in order to make a big impression on first time viewers. The plan would be to feed the images onto social media and create buzz, which they certainly did. We would start in the studio, move on to location shoots and then to demonstrate the quality of the designs, we decided to do a Behind the Scenes shoot. Finally, we decided to do one additional shoot for the Spring Collection in the studio. A video was created during this process of a behind the scenes look into one of the photo shoots to create additional buzz after the initial release of the photos was such a success.
Our initial photo shoot was in the studio and I kept it simple with a black background and a soft light source coming from one direction with minimal fill. This showed off the model very well, but some of the details in the hats were difficult to appreciate with this low key lighting. But as these were to be Leen’s first professional introduction into the fashion world, it was more important to make a lasting impression.
For the second shoot, I chose an architecturally stunning venue with lots of white marble so that we would need minimal lighting other than reflectors and flags. The summery hats that Leen chose worked well in this bright environment.
For the next two shoots, I chose the Chicago Botanic Garden as I have a great relationship with their staff and the head of their PR department said that I could shoot there any time for free. So we took advantage of that golden opportunity and chose seven or eight locations that we could capture in the two days we were there. For these, we brought in hair and makeup and several assistants to handle wardrobe changes which sped things up quite a bit.
This documentary-style shoot for facebook was an idea I had to help Leen’s fans see all of the work that goes into her creations. So I captured Leen at a local fabric store, but I also wanted to capture the environment she was in, the fabrics, textures and overall feel of the creative process.
For the second studio shoot, we wanted to build on the great success of the previous shoots but show more of the product in a greater light. So I chose a higher key lighting style playing with gray and white backgrounds and I used a clamshell setup to bring out the specific details in the hats while keeping the overall lighting on Leen soft.