NEW YORK – The pandemic has accelerated a power shift in fashion and advertising, with models and influencers out of necessity exerting more control over their own images during remote photo and video shoots.
Modeling agencies are asking companies to ship clothes directly to models, advertisers are crowdsourcing video campaigns, and creative directors are finding innovative ways to choose their best shots on Zoom.
Julia Haart says her Elite World Group, which manages more than 4,000 fashion talent globally, pivoted during the height of the pandemic to survive, when mainstream filming was impossible due to travel restrictions and distancing social.
She contacted brands like Urban Outfitters, Zara and Madewell directly, urging them to send clothes, jewelry and handbags to her models. And she brought in models to show off their personalities when shooting the products themselves.
âThink of the world of traditional models, who ruled the world: it was the photographers, the videographers, it was the magazine editors,â she said. “Now, with social media, with the digital space, it’s the talent that goes directly to people. It’s democratized fashion.”
The model HÃ©loÃ¯se GuÃ©rin has experienced it, even fully realizing some of her shoots. The products were shipped to her home where she and her husband, photographer Victor Demarchelier, would shoot.
âEven though we’ve had a lot of Zoom meetings with clients, they still left us a lot of room for the creativity and freedom that we really appreciated,â she said in an email to the Associated Press. “It was so much more fun than being ‘just a role model’ and it was very rewarding.”
While GuÃ©rin is uniquely positioned to create a quality product with a professional photographer under its roof, not all models are so lucky.
Haart says less than half of the models it manages have had the opportunity and ability to shoot their own material. Nonetheless, she considers the move towards models with more control over their personal brand to be sustainable, so she continues to move in that direction, even though some models are starting to return to the studio.
âI don’t want to be a Blockbuster,â she said. “I want to be Netflix.”
It was this same attitude that led Amy Zunzunegui to change her strategy as she prepared to launch her skincare brand, WLDKAT.
When the pandemic forced her to cancel her planned launch event, she instead mounted a self-touring video campaign featuring 14 women using her products.
âWe gave them pictures and a kind of vibe and energy. And they did it in a silo in their own natural habitat with their own equipment,â she said. “And what’s so cool is we’ve been allowed to give these content creators a voice.”
The adaptation or death mentality extended beyond modeling and advertising, touching the music and film industry as well.
Quinn XCII used a Zoom collaboration to make her voice heard during the pandemic. The singer-songwriter partnered with director Blythe Thomas to create a music video for her song “Coffee” using Zoom footage, security cameras and other videos shot by the woman. by Quinn XCII.
Thomas shot the video from New York while Quinn XCII shot from his home in Los Angeles. It took longer than expected. âWe had a call the day before, we were like, ‘Oh, this will be a five, four hour shoot,’â Thomas said. “And then it was like a two o’clock shoot.”
Others who have shot and shot remotely, like photographer Cedrick Jones, agree that collaborating on Zoom and FaceTime can take time. When taking FaceTime portraits of models, musicians and actors, Jones helps them find the right lighting in their home and shows them where to place their phones to get the perfect shot.
âThe response has been cool,â he said. “I’m still shocked at what I can get.”
For him, the shift to remote work was not necessarily a career decision, but a creative one.
âYou just feel like a painter,â he said. “You have to paint something.”
While artists and creatives are content with remote work, some, like “Riverdale” star Cole Sprouse, have tried to avoid the Zoom and FaceTime workaround altogether.
âI think at first when it was a novel it looked really interesting, but I think it got oversaturated,â Sprouse said. “But I think the way people manage to shoot and stay safe is intriguing.”
It is difficult to know what the lasting impact will be on these industries. Jones and Thomas predict smaller crews for photography and videography shoots. GuÃ©rin plans occasional remote filming even in a post-pandemic world.
But while creatives are content with working remotely, Thomas said she lacked the comforts of a music video set, especially for a second Quinn XCII music video she directed, a ballad titled “Second Time Around. “which emphasizes self-forgiveness.
âWhen something is a little more serious in the content as a director, you absolutely want to be there and, for example, protect things for the artist,â Thomas said. “There is something to be said for these established days when you have all the bells and whistles you need.”
Quinn XCII was pleased with the results, which he said show “we can still be creative ourselves, even with these limitations”.