Jimmy Johnston


Phipps Plaza Editorial

This was probably one of the most challenging editorial assignments I've ever had. From the start it sounded like it was doomed to fail. The pitch from the editor was "hey can you shoot an editorial for us at a mall with bad lighting and dodging people all day?". Ummm, no thanks. I later found out that was their joke pitch after I almost passed on it, that's what happens when when you're reading a pitch and can't get all the inflections to know that the editor was being tongue-in-cheek by trying to sell me on what sounds like the worst job ever. Turns out it wasn't quite that bad. They were serious about the bad lighting and people dodging, but they knew that sometimes I like a good challenge. 

The idea was to shoot the editorial in the newly resigned Phipps Plaza and show off some of the new architecture in little vignettes around the mall and to serve as sort of an advertorial for Phipps and the shops there ... but without looking like "hey we're in a mall". There also wasn't a cohesive theme for the editorial either, every wardrobe look needed a different feel, they didn't want it to look like it all went together, but rather like a trip to the mall with all the different shops. That actually played to our advantage because every corner of the mall was different. All the wardrobe was pulled from various retailers which made things easier for the wardrobe stylist, Jabe Mabrey. For one look, he saw something in a shop and ran in, explained what we were doing, and came out with something that he felt completed the look. 

The challenges, obviously, were the bad lighting and the people. Not to say that Phipps is poorly lit, just poorly lit for a photo shoot. We tried to be as unobtrusive as possible and respectful to patrons, but it was tough at times. Every few shots having to stop so someone could go by, most people saw what we were doing and would hesitate before crossing, and we would pause and wave them through, but then there are the people who are completely oblivious and didn't realize at all that they'd just walked through our set until after when they'd turn around and ask if they interrupted us. But we were polite to everyone. We kept equipment to a minimum to save on setup time and to make it easier to carry everything because we had to setup, breakdown and then move to a new spot for every shot. Luckily we we scouted everything the day before and figured out a flow to keep us from having to backtrack all over the place. 

Models: Rachel and Sebastian from Ursula Weidmann Models

Wardrobe stylist: Jabe Mabrey

Hair and akeup: Stephen Mancuso

Art director: Avi Gelfond

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