When your subject is someone who has the travel bug and jokes that “the most important thing I taught my children was how to pack a suitcase,” chances are that individual keeps a busy schedule and isn’t the easiest person to track down for a shoot. In this case, the subject was environmental advocate Gay Browne and the topic, fittingly, was about what she takes with her when she flies. Marisa Guzman-Aloia, who got this gig through Wonderful Machine, learned about the job with Virtuoso Life a few days before it took place.
Consulting Photo Editor Mary Risher emailed me with an urgent inquiry as the subject had a very specific shoot availability that was within a few days of Mary’s initial email. The email included that the magazine was profiling author Gay Browne, and they needed a portrait of the subject.
The profile was part of a ‘what’s in my bag’ spotlight, so I needed to make sure that Gay’s bag was included in each shot.
The D.C.-based photographer went to Gay’s condo in town and, given that she had little more than an hour to shoot what she needed, got right to work. Though the condo was a bit of a tight squeeze, its setup allowed Marisa to fulfill Mary’s request of getting a variety of deliverables.
When I arrived, Teresa Foss Del-Rosso, a wonderful makeup artist I often work with, was just about finished with Gay’s makeup. I knew I had about an hour with the subject and needed to strategically plan where I was going to shoot and what furniture I was going to need to move.
There’s always at least one surprise with editorial shoots on location. On this shoot, my challenge was to get two different setups in a 600-square-foot condo. As luck would have it, it was a beautifully designed condo. The place was uncluttered and had a wall of windows, making the space feel brighter and larger than it actually was.
During the shoot itself, Marisa’s challenge was making Gay feel at ease in front of the lens. One of the best ways to do this, of course, is for the photographer to find common ground with the subject. That didn’t take long for Marisa, who likes getting a chance to meet new people.
Gay was very lovely to work with. Like a lot of people — myself included — she doesn’t love being in front of the camera. As I set up my lights and moved furniture around, I chatted with Gay to figure out what we had in common. It so happens that Gay is bi-coastal and travels back and forth from L.A. to D.C. I am originally from L.A. and moved to D.C. about six years ago, so we had plenty to talk about. This helped to build a trust, and, in turn, we made some great photos.
I had not worked with Virtuoso Life Magazine previously, but one of the things I enjoy about being a photographer is that I get to work with a diverse group of creatives. In the end, Mary was pleased with the proofs and the variety of images they had to choose from.
Makeup: Teresa Foss-Del Rosso
Check out more of Marisa’s work at photoguzman.com.
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