Over six generations, Berroco, Inc. has become one of the largest importers and wholesalers of yarns, knitting patterns, and supplies in North America. The company is headquartered in North Smithfield, Rhode Island. Their specialty yarns are imported from countries around the world, including the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, Romania, Brazil, and Peru. Branford, Connecticut-based fashion photographer Gale Zucker has been working with Berroco since 2016. Her photos can be found in Berroco’s lookbooks, hand-knitting fashion designs, and advertisements for knitting patterns. Twice a year, Gale collaborates with her client on a multi-day photoshoot for the Berroco Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter collections. This most recent project for the client (in March) was a three-day, multi-location stills shoot for the Fall/Winter 2023 Collection.
My experience as a commercial photographer with a narrative style, and a love of shooting on location, were important factors in being hired by Berroco. Being a knitter and maker myself is added value. I understand what customers are looking for in handknitting fashion imagery. It’s part aspirational beauty and part showing how the pieces are constructed, making sure the texture of knitwear pops.
The project for Berroco’s Fall/Winter 23 Collection really spoke to me. I love mixing colors and patterns. I like composing an image with lots going on, placing the model and product within the chaos so they stand out. I also loved using sculptural lighting so the set looked lit — for the past few seasons we’d been doing very open, flat/natural lighting. It’s fun to mix things up!
Gale first connected with Berroco’s former creative director, Amy Christoffers, in 2016 through the handknitting craft world. At that point, Gale had photographed and co-authored three craft/knitting coffee table books for Random House.
Amy was establishing a new creative freelance team for the company photoshoots. I brought along my favorite assistants and makeup artist to our first shoot together. We vibed well and, under her leadership, we became a hard-working solid collaborative crew. The Berroco Dream Team (as we call ourselves) has been fairly consistent since then.
For the Fall/Winter ’23 Collection photoshoot, Margaux Hufnagel had recently taken over as creative and marketing director at Berroco (she was formerly the assistant CD). With the end of the pandemic in sight, the theme of the photoshoot was maximalism, “more is more,” in terms of props, colors, light, and the overall concept of the various looks.
Much of the joy in this project was breaking free from the constraints of producing the Berroco photography during covid. In March 2020 we switched from mostly location shooting (pre-covid) to mostly studio shoots. This provided a solution to have space for our crew of ten to socially distance and avoided having to work in a group in public on location, especially during the lockdown of the pandemic when it was impossible.
Although it was never articulated as such, leaning into imagery with empty space around the models from March 2020 through September 2022 was a visual and psychological response to the pandemic. Compositions and backgrounds were simple. It was an intuitive need to create images that were visually relaxing with no tension from layered or detailed compositions.
The preplanning for the March photoshoot began a month beforehand with emails and Zoom calls between Gale and the creative director.
We strategize 3-4 collections a day (16-19 outfits a day with changes between). Collections are themed to feature the yarns. The creative director sends me mood boards or cultural references. I research and suggest specific locations, backdrops, set materials, and lighting styles we can use to support the themes. We send a lot of location options back and forth. I keep a file of ideas I’d like to try someday and share any aligning with the creative director’s vision.
The goal for the photoshoot was to create lifestyle fashion imagery showing Berroco’s colorful luxury yarn in a playful and stylish way, and to market the company’s contemporary, size-inclusive knitting patterns and design, as well as the high-quality yarn itself.
The following details (and the images in this article) come from Gale’s last day of shooting this three-day project on location at an Airbnb rental property along the Connecticut coast.
We chose the rental property because it suited the three collections we planned to shoot that day and it fit into our budget. We wanted a space we could convert to a retro ski chalet set up, an outdoor space to use for a second collection, and a room large enough to set up lighting and decorate for this third maximalist-themed collection shown here. It also had to be not too far from the previous day and following days’ locations, with enough bedrooms to house half the crew that don’t live in Connecticut.
Gale had already photographed two different collections/sets that morning. But the Dream Team’s years of close-knit collaboration helped see this project through to its final stitch.
There was good positive energy on set. We all enjoy working together, everyone lends a hand and jumps in, not restricting themselves to their job titles. Margaux Hufnagel is high energy and cheers us all on!
Early in the day, I assessed the samples we were going to be shooting as well as the styling and the props we had on hand. I asked someone from the Berroco team to go to the local supermarket and get bright colored flowers, oranges, and anything else inexpensive yet colorful we could throw in. We went through the kitchen cupboards of the rental house finding bright orange bakeware. We moved a yellow curtain from another room as well as some colorful vases and glassware. Margaux provided the multi-colored fabric, the faux animal print throw, and other tchotchkes for the shelving we used as the backdrop.
The talent for this shoot was Alexis Asante-Agyemang from the Maggie Agency, based in Boston.
Lexi is a fantastic model that I’ve had the joy to work with several times. She does amazing poses! We knew Lexi would bring this concept to life. She has a playful sensibility and is very professional.
Models on Berroco shoots often say how much they love working with our team and experiencing an all-female crew. There’s a lot of laughing and dancing. We usually cover ourselves with a safe version of the set up and then improvise a little. I like to keep things upbeat, friendly and relaxed while shooting. I treat the models like people, not living mannequins, which makes for good connection.
Weaving together the threads of this multiday shoot had its momentary snags, but Gale’s years of experience and the many skillful hands on her team helped make light work of any challenges they faced.
My regular assistant, Yliana Tibitoski, went home sick after dropping off equipment. My other assistant, Ariana Mclean, was on set as digitech that day, but ended up doing double and then triple duty! It was a little tricky to get the light how I wanted, while avoiding highlights in the glossy finish on the walls and shelves near the model. Ariana jumped in as lighting tech as well. Thankfully, she’s a multi-talented production person!
We always have tight time constraints due to a dense production plan each day. But I work well under pressure — must be my photojournalism origins!
See more of Gale’s work on her website.
Berroco Marketing + Creative Director: Margaux Hufnagel
Berroco Design Director: Alison Green
Berroco Lead Designer: Asa Buchta
Berroco Sale Support & Marketing Specialist: Emily Sproul
Talent (Maggie Agency): Alexis Asante-Agyemang
Freelance Stylist: Julie Robinson
Freelance Hair Makeup Artist: Deanna Nickel
Photo assistant, digitech, and lighting tech: Ariana McLean
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