Jimmy Johnston


Razzle Dazzle

A recurring job that I have is shooting for a makeup school here in Atlanta, Studio Crush. IT's designed as a portfolio school, where students come in each week and learn techniques from amazing professional makeup artists, and then are given a concept for a shoot and guided in creating and executing their own makeup looks on the models. Each week they bring in wardrobe, a photographer, sets and props if needed, and models from a local agency so when the student s graduate they no only have the skills required but also have a professional portfolio. 

My good friend and favorite wardrobe stylist, Hannah, also happens to be the director of the school. She's in charge of deciding on a concept for each week, scheduling the models and photographers, and styling the wardrobe for each shoot. On the days that I'm shooting, we like to collaborate and come up with concepts that are good for the students but also good for us, who doesn't want to get paid to create their exact vision?!

For this particular shoot, the initial concept was vague, "editorial", which could go so many different ways. Hannah had decided that she wanted the wardrobe to be black, white and red with lots of shiny vinyl in the mix. Then she asked me if I had any ideas to add in. Being a huge fan of Twin Peaks, the red/black/white wardrobe theme reminded me of the mysterious Black Lodge that you finally get to see at the end of season 2 (don't worry, no spoilers). With the black and white zig-zag patterned floor and red curtains I thought it would be a really interesting jumping off point for a set build. We decided to go monochromatic with most of the wardrobe and paint the set with black and white stripes, and then have that offset with pops of red in the wardrobe. So after a trip to Lowe's I got to work on the set build, a few posing boxes and floor panels, and they already had a few wall panels at the studio. Then came the tedious part, masking off the stripes. I spent about 4 hours the night before masking and painting, and then the morning of the shoot, it took 4 people another 2-3 hours to finish taping and painting the stripes. As were taping and painting the stripes, we decided to get a little funky with it and paint the stripes at different angles on the same panel. After we finished and put everything together, I noticed that we accidentally made our set dazzle camouflage*.

And just to make sure that we got everything that we wanted and exactly what we wanted out of the set, after shooting 2 looks each on 5 different models for the students, we decided to bring in an additional model afterwards and do the shoot again with our favorite looks, mixing it up a bit so it wasn't just a carbon copy of what we'd already done. It ended up being an incredibly long day and a ton of work (both day of the shoot and prep work before the shoot), but it was definitely worth it.

Model: Ana Karas for Factor|Chosen Atlanta

Hair and makeup: Erica Bogart

Wardrobe styling: Hannah Johnson assisted by Marah Rice

Set design/build by Hannah and Myself

And special thanks to Studio Crush and Rob Brinson for letting stay after hours to keep shooting

* Dazzle Camo is really interesting. I was used extensively on ships during WWI, and sometimes referred to as "razzle dazzle". Dazzle camo wasn't designed to conceal a ship, but rather to confuse enemy vessels. The disorienting patterns and stripes made it difficult to gauge the size, distance and heading of a ship. Once a ship was spotted, the opposing ship (or submarine) would put itself on an intercept course to get in a better firing position, but with dazzle camo opposing ships would have a hard time determining where that intercept course would be. 

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