Over my career as a creative and art director, I’ve had the pleasure of working with incredible talents. When I was at Austin Reed, as creative director, I was asked to select the team to carry out the photography of the campaign.
As creative director, there is always a slight moment when presenting the concept and team when you are not sure how the proposal will land with the boss.
On this occasion, I was delighted when my selection, stylist Daniela Agnelli, photographer John Akehurst and model Caroline De Margret was approved by the CEO and we were given the green light to book everyone.
For the shoot, I chose Daniela for her meticulous eye for detail, John for his incredible sensibility for light, and model Caroline as she just can’t help but exude a certain style and confidence. We shot the campaign over two days on location in a dishevelled old house with winding staircases. A perfect backdrop and contrast for the properly tailored clothes we were shooting. We were shooting first on Polaroid and then on film.
Today fashion shoots are faster, and all digital.
In this my third blog on fashion photography in the digital era I thought I’d catch up with the very same Daniela Agnelli, former fashion editor of the Telegraph Magazine to talk about how fashion photography has changed and her experience living through these changes. She has just this April launched Vogue Poland.
JJ: Congratulations on the successful launch of Polish Vogue.
DA: Thank you.
JJ: What’s the first step when you are leading the launch of a magazine in a new country?
DA: The first step is getting to know the culture and then decide the right cover concept. We started on the concept more than a year before the launch. I have an amazing team based in Warsaw; they are all professionals and have been working in magazines for a long time. So I spent a lot of time with them getting to know the Polish Culture.
There are many Vogues and if you don’t give an identity for the country where you launch your Vogue, it’s just going to be the same imitation of others. We wanted to create an identity for our Magazine by having someone on the cover that represents the country. The composition of the cover was done with the iconic Palace of Culture as the backdrop.
JJ: What is the biggest challenge for photography and styling today?
DA: The challenge for photography and styling in the digital age is huge. Today image can change the perception or a brand. That applies to readers of magazines and obviously viewers online. It’s impacting on how we produce and we create contents. It’s not only about the static image anymore, but it’s also about moving images. When you have to translate a brand visually, taking into account sales and retail too, it completely changes the perspective. So, I am not saying it’s negative or positive, it just changes and you have to embrace it.
JJ: How has the actual art form and process of image creation changed?
DA: Technology has its advantages. It’s instantaneous and I can just check immediately what’s going on and then we have the tools to repair images and manipulate them. For instance, last cover we shot before two days we were going to print it. You could not do that in the past.
When I started working as a stylist with photographers, we used Polaroids then and shot only on film. There were more focus and more care in the process. You were taking a little bit more time to create that image and it was like making a painting, it was a completely different process. With the speed of everything I think we’ve lost that magic.
JJ: How has technology changed the process of selection, retouching and art direction?
DA: It’s changed it completely. I sometimes I do my edits on the phone because I’m travelling. I’m working with Vogue Poland (based in Warsaw) and I work with photographers that are based all over the world. Sometimes we don’t even have time to meet and go through the proper edit, which we would have done in the past, but that’s how we work today. If I have time, I do love to go back, print out all the pictures, try to work on the layout with the art director. I still believe in that process.
JJ: As we consume more imagery on mobile devices what do you think is the future of printed magazines?
DA: Magazines will become more of a coffee table product. They can’t compete with the speed of online content so they’ll be less “newsy” and move towards proper quality images and pictures. Print magazines will have more art photography, and featured pieces by proper writers; content and interviews that you will spend more time to read. They will differentiate from the fast reading and commercial content online.
JJ: When you look at brands, what would you say are the top three things of what’s happening in fashion today to make an effective campaign?
1 – Communication
The way you communicate to the readers is completely different. So the first step is to decide which way you want to go and who will be who is the protagonist of this campaign. Who is your model, actress, or celebrity?
2 – The photographer
This is very important. We used to have only a certain group of photographers and they controlled by the whole market. Now, there is the opening of new, fresh, young generation of photographers. Chose well and be open to using new and fresh talent.
3 – How you communicate
Social media is very important. Using social media instead of the usual channels to send out and distribute information. Having said that with Vogue Poland we are doing an advertising campaign on buses and it does work. Essentially you have to think of, and cover everything. It’s far trickier today because there are so many ways to communicate.
JJ: And if it’s a brand? How would you advise them to concentrate on what’s the best route?
DA: Think what and whom your customers will relate to. For instance Meghan Markle. She is a very perfect brand ambassador because everything she wears is sold out the next day. This is another way to brand and to re-brand. You have to think about reaching your market in a 360-degree perspective.