Cone Denim

Jan 4, 2012
Photographer Spotlight

Recently, an email popped up in my inbox with some really nice images. Ok, I’ll admit, this isn’t a rare occurrence, but I still enjoy every single great photo that comes my way. Seeing as this was an interesting photo essay by our Raleigh photographer, Shane Deruise, I decided to get in touch and learn more. Below is my interview with Shane about his recent Cone Denim assignment for London’s Monocle magazine. Enjoy!

– Maria Luci

How would you describe your photo style?
I have been struggling with this for about four years now. I went from being a fine art photographer to a commercial photographer, because living out of your car just never appealed to me. So I was always shooting what the client wanted, some style that the photo editor loved. I became trapped in the hole of remaking some style and adding my own look to it that I would pull from my fine art roots. Going into the new year, we have really buckled down the studio and redesigned the way we do a lot of things. From contracts, to the way we are shaping with the lighting, developing our RAW files, down to how my assistant files memory cards while we’re shooting. I would say I ‘m solidifying my style into the Graphic Editorial/Portrait realm. These photos won’t be an example of that, but an illustrated feel, with an underlying narrative will fit the bill just fine. I used to dream of shooting these amazingly famous people…but now I think I would just rather shoot an amazing individual with a story to tell.

How did you get this assignment?
I was approached by the Monocle photo editor a week or so before. They’d been on Wonderful Machine and loved my work, so it didn’t take much persuasion, or even the need to send out a portfolio. Check and DOUBLE check!

Shane Deruise Raleigh Photographer Cone Denim

Have you worked with this client before?
No, this was the first time both of us were working together.

How was the assignment presented to you?
Monocle was doing a special section on manufacturers and on the list was a company called Cone Denim. They were waiting to hear back from the PR people but were completely sold on my work and wanted to know if I was willing to travel. It would be used as a one to two page spread filling up their Top 50 Industries in the world.

Shane Deruise Raleigh Photographer Cone Denim

What kind of photos were they looking for?
Shots of the day-to-day, environmental portraits, and machine shots.

Was this a typical shoot for you?
Not so much, as I usually shoot bands and portraits. I’ve always liked places of industry though. The people and the environment are very narrative and I love shooting in that kind of space.

Shane Deruise Raleigh Photographer Cone Denim

How much creative freedom did you have?
More than on most shoots! They were really great to work with. They sent me a reference sheet with about five shots on it for what they were looking for, and other than that, they let me really just use my eye.

What was the actual shoot day like?
I usually like to scout where I’m shooting before the shoot, but since we actually fit this shoot into our already full schedule, we didn’t have the time. So I would say: mildly stressful. Once we got set up though the staff was really nice and accommodating. Everyone that worked there was a real pleasure to talk with, when you could hear them that is, as Cone Denim still runs their Selvage Shuttle Looms… over 100 of them!

Shane Deruise Raleigh Photographer Cone Denim

Any challenges?
Besides shooting in 1/15th lighting conditions at some points, just lugging the light kit over 600 acres (roughly one mile) of factory, not to mention up and down four levels… we shed some pounds that day, and shamelessly put them back on that afternoon with some Battlefield Bock from Red Oak Brewery!

Did you learn anything from this shoot?
Always bring your sandbags! Yes, we were shooting inside, and weren’t going to bring any, but when we set our main light up and the looms were shaking the hardwood floor so bad that the c-stand was tipping back and forth, we thanked our stars we packed them!

Shane Deruise Raleigh Photographer Cone Denim

What was the reaction from the client with the photos?
I believe very satisfied. We gave them plenty of images with a lot of coverage. You can never shoot too much for the client.

What’s your favorite photo from the day and why?
Hard to choose, but this one (below) is my favorite. I shoot people so much now a-days, and I think up to this point I had forgotten how peaceful a shot of inanimate objects can be. I loved the available light hitting these huge steel thimbles, and it’s one of my favorite images from this year.

Shane Deruise Raleigh Photographer Cone Denim

View more of Shane’s work on his website,

Tags: cone denim industrial photography monocle shane deruise