The first business owner I approached for the HoMEGRoWN project project was Audrey. I had worked with her on a campaign celebrating all of the different body types that women can have, and knew I wanted to highlight her for this project.
Her store is full of beautiful things… to wear, to look at, to covet. Audrey is queen of customer service and wants everyone who enters to feel special and well cared for. (And a side note… her window decorations for the Magnolia Park holiday event always rock!)
Audrey felt a little self-conscious during the photo shoot (as she’s usually doting on someone else and not the center of attention,) but she handled it with grace and a winning smile. I count myself lucky to have worked with her, and wish only great things for her future.
For her conceptual image, I wanted to combine her retro fashions that have caught up with trends for today. The model is the same on the magazine cover as the one holding the magazine. My only regret is that you can’t see the beautiful neckline on the dress designed by Audrey in the image.
Photographer: Jen Serena
Portrait Subject: Audrey K, Audrey K Boutique
Model: Elle Jane Hounsell
HAIR & MAKEUP: Alexandria Storm, Miss Cassanova, Ciara Pisa
WARDROBE: Audrey K Boutique & Drelyn, Beyond Imaging
Happy New Year!
Located dangerously next door to our studio, it’s our favorite local pub, with an all-California craft brew lineup (including Tony’s own Golden Road line) and bar fare that’s worth writing about (including truffle tater tots and vegan sausages.)
We met Tony a while back when we were gearing up screenings for our film, MIle… Mile & A Half, and even discussed having our release at his Golden Road location. So, it only seemed fitting to include one of our favorite entrepreneurs in this series, and even with his busy schedule, Tony was game.
I only had 12 minutes to shoot 4 different setups with him, and although he says he’s not comfortable in front of the camera, he came off as cool and friendly as he is in person.
For the conceptual photo, I commissioned Sara Macias of Eclectic Visions to craft a dress made of Golden Road beer cans. The vision was a modernized Americana with our model holding one of TDA’s signature franks. Using all practical elements, including poly-fil clouds and turf, the post-process helped create the hyper-reality. The dress & image will soon be on display at Golden Road so keep your eye out for it, should you stop in for a bite or drink.
And here’s the initial design for the dress.
Photographer: Jen Serena
Portrait Subject: Tony Yanow, Tony’s Darts Away
Models: Elle Jane Hounsell
HAIR & MAKEUP: Alexandria Storm, Miss Cassanova
WARDROBE: Sara Macias, Eclectic Vision & Drelyn, Beyond Imaging
In her honor, we begin sharing the individual small business stories, environmental portraits and conceptual commercial photos there.
When we first moved to Burbank, Romancing the Bean was a small shop on Magnolia. Kerry’s loyal clientele, fueled by great coffee, atmosphere and customer service, prompted her to open a larger shop in the media district. When the rent became too high, we were afraid we’d lost this Burbank staple. Lucky for old and new comers, Kerry has revived the place on Magnolia in an airy and welcoming space sure to keep the lines long.
I was honored when she agreed to be a part of the project, even if she didn’t exactly know what she was getting into.
This conceptual image was one of the fastest to come to me… how else to describe Romancing the Bean, than with a couple spooning in a bed of coffee beans?
PHOTOGRAPHER: Jen Serena, Serena Creative
HAIR & MAKEUP: Alexandria Storm & Miss Cassanova
WARDROBE STYLING: Drelyn, Beyond Image
CONCEPT & SET STYLING: Jen Serena
Learn more about the HoMEGRoWN project here.
HoMEGRoWN: Juxtaposing intimate portraits of 11 small business owners and conceptual, commercial images of their product or service, local photographer Jen Serena shares her view of Burbank with a nod to its creative role in the big picture.
Personal projects always end up being bigger than you imagined, and HoMEGRowN was no exception.
Six months in the making, I wanted to start a project that would mean something to more than just me. I wanted to give quality, stylized, professional images to businesses that might not be able to afford such a thing. And what better way to share my diverse styles, than by bringing together diverse subjects, all tied together by being wonderful small businesses in my hometown of Burbank? It was a challenge well worth taking on.
Small business owners (SBOs) are a special breed. They’re passionate enough to take on the 24/7 lifestyle of striking out on your own, brave enough to accept the potential failures, smart enough to look past them to the big picture and just crazy enough to keep going despite it all.
Reaching out to local businesses and sharing stories; being able to connect with them in those few minutes of shooting time, just reassured that this was the right project to give my time.
I had a very small kit with me so that I could move quickly thought the 3-4 setups per location, (often during business hours and shooting around clientele,) and varied the images from standard portraits to more abstract images of the owner in action. The 30-60 minute session included a brief interview and discussion of the conceptual ideas.
As a portrait photographer, you have to establish an almost immediate trust with your subjects. They will only be with you for a few minutes, but they’re allowing you to share your vision of them with the world. I think only 1 owner actually liked having their picture taken. The others varied from strong dislike to downright panic, but all truly appreciated the process once it was done.
After shooting the SBO environmental portraits, I set to the task of creating unique concepts that would be more artistic interpretations of their product or service. I pitched a few ideas to the owners and once we decided on a treatment, I searched for the right team to bring it to life. They would have to create 10 unique looks, and move quick enough to complete it in one day.
My first big break for the project was finding Sara Macias, an incredibly talented costume designer who made a reality of my ideas for a beer can dress and waffle cone bustier. The designs fit perfectly with my vision, and she delivered on expectations in a big way.
Finding the right models was key – they had to be versatile – illustrating sweet, intimate moments or Hollywood glamour to fashion and conceptual looks. I was thrilled with Ella Jane’s ability to morph into each look, and Chris gave us the energy and professional strength to delver each image. In fact, some of the visitors at the exhibit only realized it was the same model after looking throughout he series a few times!
My linchpin was Alex for Hair & Makeup. From the beginning, I knew she was the one I couldn’t do without. Over the years, she has always created unique, often magical, looks, and her addition of Edica Cassanova to the team, brought the best synergy – their skills being evident in each image. And lest I forget, when testing for models, we shot the magazine cover featured in one of the setups. and for that we have hair and makeup artist, Ciara Pisa, to thank.
Our wardrobe stylist, Dre, was able to create styles from a very limited kit – including crafting two dresses within minutes, on set.
Knowing we had only one day with my full team, I constructed setups that could allow us to move quicker (with some heavier lifting in the post process.) Each set-up was timed to maximize the talent on-set and still achieve the end goal.
I’m so proud to be associated with the small businesses and the team highlighted in the project. It’s a wonderful mix of collaboration & art; and what’s better than that?
I’ll highlight each setup in upcoming blogs, so stay tuned! They’ll be rolled out in order of favorites voted at the exhibit.