Margo Moritz Makes Authentic Portraits of Real SkinSpirit Customers
Nowadays, brands are making it a point to advertise their products using actual customers. These companies enlist real people to play the role of spokesperson as opposed to models, actors, or celebrities. There are a few reasons for this development, but chief among them is that consumers crave authenticity these days.
This project was about using real SkinSpirit customers to show natural beauty at every age. I'm passionate about this topic of conveying people as real, authentic, and beautiful without retouching [the photos] or making [the subjects] look like something they're not. Real is beautiful, and SkinSpirit wanted to lead with that concept to drive their marketing campaign.
Margo got this assignment through the ad agency M/H VCCP, with whom the editorial photographer has forged an ongoing partnership thanks in part to this successful collaboration. The two parties seamlessly melded their skillsets, meaning that Margo got to flex her creative muscles within the parameters of the agency’s outline for the project.
[M/H VCCP] did an amazing job pulling together a branding package that spoke to the client's needs and did well balancing their art direction with my creative abilities. The whole process had a lot of harmony to it because everyone got to add their natural skills.
Over the course of two days, Margo photographed 11 SkinSpirit customers in her photo studio in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District. She was accompanied by a hair and makeup artist, wardrobe stylist, digital tech, and other assistants as well as people from SkinSpirit and M/H VCCP.
We wanted a soft quality of light, so we crafted a big soft light but with solid contrast and sharpness. The agency was amazing and the [assistants] helped me put on a great playlist for each subject, which boosted the energy [on set], made everyone feel comfortable, and brought out the subjects' personalities.
The ladies' ages ranged from late 20s to early 60s (not that this writer could tell) and their photos and life stories are all over the main page of SkinSpirit’s website. The company, which has 11 locations in California and Washington, was adamant that the photos not only feature real customers but also remain mostly untouched.
[SkinSpirit]’s goal was to use familiar faces from their own customer pool so people could relate to the real women that use their services. Realness, authenticity, and personality were the driving forces of the shoot.
I love working like this. My goal was to make the subjects feel comfortable in front of the camera so they could exude their own personalities and feel confident and radiant. This concept also led our retouching direction — making sure the retoucher hardly touched the skin. We cleaned up the backgrounds and did spot removal as needed but wanted to make sure the images were almost entirely untouched so that what you see is reality.
Margo says the campaign has really struck a chord with people because they “appreciate that [the images] were kept natural and unretouched,” so much so that there’s “talk of continuing the project with more customers.” SkinSpirit has certainly taken a shine to the work, which makes sense because the photos, like the women themselves, just look damn good. Kudos to Margo, whose approach to the shoot gave the images their polished authenticity.
I try to be real with the people I'm shooting and empathic to the process. I know that it can be challenging having your photo taken, so I approach the subjects with [that in mind] and let them know that I see their beauty.
Once people relax, they become even more beautiful.
Agency: M/H VCCP
Check out more of Margo's work at margomoritz.com.
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