We could take the easy way out each issue and photograph shoes in a studio near our New York offices. It would be convenient, comfortable and provide a controlled environment where we could further simplify the process by shooting against a white seamless backdrop. That would reduce man hours and cut costs—no models, hair and makeup person, stylist, props, transportation fees and fewer mouths to feed at lunch. Such an approach would have been a logistical breeze compared to the extensive planning and enormous effort involved in this month’s fashion story, “Salvage Beauty” (p. 34). Our effort to portray transitional spring booties involved 100-mile commutes, bloodthirsty mosquitos and 12-hour work days.
Taking the path of least resistance is just not how we roll. Fully showcasing a trend requires a much greater investment of time, money and talent. It also takes blood (those mosquitos, for instance), sweat and, on occasion, tears. We are willing to suffer for our art, and for this particular shoot that meant schlepping our crew of 10 in two jam-packed SUVs more than two hours to the tiny hamlet of Barnegat, NJ, on the edge of the desolate Pine Barrens. Our specific location was Recycling the Past, a sprawling salvage yard that plays home to an eclectic mix of old doors, tubs, sinks, wrought iron gates, building columns, signs, glass bits, windows, a gondola, a submarine hatch, airplane parts, cast iron radiators, bowling pins and many, many other peculiar reclaimed odds and ends. Mixed in are pieces of folk art, including scrap metal pigs with wings, rooster lawn ornaments, chandeliers adorned with wine bottles in place of light bulbs and a giant rusty great white shark cut out of sheet metal.
It’s a location scout’s dream. One minute you are standing in front of what looks like an ancient Greek ruin; a few turns through overgrown reeds, and you’re beneath an ornate trellis with limestone benches befitting an English garden. The location sure beats a white seamless backdrop when it comes to elevating shoe fashion beyond a basic catalog aesthetic. Our job is not only to showcase the latest trends, but also to inform and provide direction. We aim to inspire readers whenever possible. Locations, props, lighting, styling and models can spark ideas—even if the shoot’s theme doesn’t apply directly to your business. Salvaged windows, for example, could make an inviting window display. And stylist Sara Dunn’s layered looks pull our transitional season booties story together beautifully. If the past two late-arriving springs have taught us anything, it’s that the weather doesn’t always mirror the calendar. On-trend looks like layers with booties are worth taking into account as you complete your spring buying plans.
Beyond such tangible benefits, I hope you simply enjoy the artistic beauty in our fashion pages. When the light is perfect, the model’s pose just so, the clothing and shoes spot-on and the location ideal, all the hard work involved in capturing the moment becomes worthwhile. Each photograph represents a new page in a story we’ve been unfolding for nearly 25 years. Depicting what’s next is always a thrill.