There’s more to the Duck Dynasty cast than just beards, bandanas, and bird calls. In fact, the matriarch of the insanely popular TV family, Kay Robertson (aka Miss Kay), is well-known for her love of cooking. Recently, Little Rock, Ark.-based photographer and graphic designer Jacob Slaton photographed Miss Kay for LouAna, a leading processor of cooking oils in the Robertson’s home state of Louisiana — a job which he acquired after working with WM on the estimating process:
Jess Dudley did a fantastic job helping me land this job. His expertise was unparalleled to anyone else I’ve ever worked with. We went back and forth several times tweaking the bid and he made himself available to me any time I had thoughts or questions. I will definitely be calling him again next time I have a big job to bid.
Jacob took some time to chat about the exciting shoot. Enjoy!
How does this project fit into your photographic style?
My style has typically been darker and more dramatic, so this was a bit of a departure for me. I brought in my best digital tech (Jake Smith from Nashville, TN) to help me visualize everything and tweak the lighting to achieve the bright, fresh style you see in the final images. The most fun thing about the shoot was definitely working with such a professional team. Miss Kay was wonderful, the client and agency were an absolute dream to work with and the crew we put together was among the best in the business. If I could go back in time, I really wouldn’t change a single thing about this shoot from start to finish.
Were there any challenges involved with this project?
Honestly, this shoot went pretty flawlessly from start to finish, including all the planning and preproduction. The only big challenge that came up was that we had to change the shooting days a few days before we were scheduled to arrive, which meant shifting everything up one day. Thankfully, everyone was able to make it work with their schedules and it wasn’t a big deal, but there was definitely some elevated blood pressure there for a minute. One of the other challenges was finding a location where we could cook all the necessary food for the project, but also where we could shoot in the kitchen while the food for the next shot was being prepared, without getting in the way of the cooking team. We didn’t want to ask Miss Kay to cook all the food herself, so we ended up hiring a food stylist who could also cook, and we started looking for locations with two kitchens — one for shooting and one for cooking.
What was involved in preproduction?
The agency originally contacted me about bidding this job in July, but we didn’t end up shooting it until the week before Thanksgiving, and I’m pretty sure I got an email or phone call just about every day in between. We had a lot of conference calls and meetings before the shoot, along with updated mood boards and style concepts before anything went down, which was wonderful. I always like to have as much info and preparation as possible before jumping into anything like this.
The first thing I did when I got the job was to hire a producer – the amazing Leslie Dunn – and she helped me put together the best crew I’ve ever worked with. We brought in a props stylist, a hair and makeup artist, a wardrobe stylist, a food stylist, and a location scout, plus caterers, limo drivers, and everything else you can imagine. We even had to have a set of about a dozen LouAna aprons custom-made to fit Miss Kay perfectly for the shooting days. In addition to still photography, I also hired a local video crew — Nathan Willis Films — to handle the motion part of the project. About a month before the shoot, Leslie, Nathan, and I went down to Monroe, Louisiana to scout locations. We visited about six or seven houses throughout the day. In the end, we decided to rent two houses right next door to each other for the week. One house for shooting, and the other house for cooking, which worked out perfectly. With all these details ironed out ahead of time, the shooting days were a breeze.
What were the shoot days like?
One of the things I always like to do on a big shoot like this is schedule an extra day before the first official shooting day just for pre-lighting and troubleshooting. I had both crews (stills and video) show up on the pre-lighting day to load in, set up, and test every shot we wanted to get so that we would essentially have all questions answered before the client and talent ever stepped on set. With all the legwork done beforehand, the shooting days are generally pretty relaxed, which is exactly what happened on this set. We weren’t rushed for time, and I wasn’t running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to plan the next shot with everyone standing around waiting for me. Both the stills and video days went great, and we finished right on time both days.
The only major hiccup that happened was that on our pre-lighting day all the test shots looked great, but then on the first real shooting day, the moment Miss Kay stepped on set and I started shooting, my shots were coming in completely back-focused. My digital tech quietly called me over to the computer monitor and pointed it out and I had a short moment of total freak out inside my head. I thought for a minute about shooting the whole day on manual focus, which was possible, but it would have slowed everything down considerably. Then I remembered my video guy had a spare 70-200mm lens that he wasn’t using. Thank God for video guys that shoot Canon DSLRs!