Ever wonder how your clothes were made? How about where they were made or who made them? Today, more and more consumers are becoming socially conscious about their shopping habits whether it be by choosing fair-trade products or merchandise that supports a good cause. Recently Vietnam-based photographer Ehrin Macksey had a chance to photograph female artisans from developing countries who together with major fashion brands provide alternatives to factory-produced fabrics and accessories. Check out his images and read through the Q&A with Ehrin below!
How did you get involved with this?
I was contacted for this project through Nordstom’s partner Piece & Co. They were collaborating together to make a spring collection using clothing materials that empowered women from developing countries and communities. When I heard about this project I was quite interested because of why and what they were doing. When they told me that we would be producing with ethnic hill tribe people in the mountains of Northern Vietnam, I was even more excited. I have done a lot of motorbike rides and solo photo trips to these areas in Vietnam and Southeast Asia and these people live in stunning environments and are really so amazing to work with. Needless to say, I was pretty excited for the shoot even though the timeline, budget and production would be challenging.
How does this project fit into your photographic style?
When Piece & Co first reached out to me they told me that my particular style both in photography and video was very authentic and honest and that that fit their brand image for this particular project. It is great to hear this from new clients because that is exactly how I want my visuals to be perceived and to attract client projects I want to work on. Actually, I am finding that this is a common thing I hear from clients who hire me. More and more corporate and advertising clients are looking for an authentic and true-to-life feel to the visuals that compliment their brand image. I started my career in documentary photography and film making and my niche is supplying clients throughout the world with both photography and video content that fits this style of authenticity and honesty, but is actually carefully controlled and produced. We are still using strobes and natural light modifiers but the final photos and video style looks documentary, authentic and not over produced.
What was involved in planning/preproduction?
The client brief was to create 10 still images that would be used nationwide for Nordstrom’s in-store displays and website. My team and I were to produce photos and video that highlighted the materials used in their clothing designs as well as the women who make them, the craftsmanship of the production and that everything it is handmade. We also needed to do some interviews with the amazing women who made these textiles.
How much travel was involved? Were there any challenges?
The tricky thing for this project was that everything was on a very tight timeline and it all had to be shot in the same day and almost at the same time. The client had given us one travel / scouting day but by the time we made it to the site location in the mountains we had four hours to scout around to see what we would be shooting the next day. With that in mind I decided to shoot everything in natural light and use some simple light modifiers if needed. My amazing assistant Thien and I talked things over on our scouting day and we decided to use a two-camera setup. Basically I would tell him where and what the video shot was and then while he was setting it up I would go in and shoot my photos. If I needed to modify the light for the photos then he would come support me. Not ideal but this isn’t the first time we had to shoot like this so we were able to adapt to the situation.
What has the reaction to the images been so far?
The client was happy with the photos and video my team and I were able to produce and now they are considering me for future shoots in Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar.
To see more of Ehrin’s work visit ehrinmacksey.com