Unchartered Territory: Adam Lerner’s New Protocol for IZOD and Van Heusen Shoot

Feb 12, 2021
Photographer Spotlight

Adam Lerner is a New York-based photographer who never stops expanding his horizons. Not only a portrait, editorial, and automotive photographer, Adam is also a podcast host and instructor with his own YouTube channel. Throughout the years, Adam has never stopped actively learning; when the pandemic hit, it was no different. It was another challenge to work through — and a new curriculum to construct.

IZOD and Van Heusen hired Adam for a three-day assignment in August, and he embarked on one of his first studio shoots since lockdown began.

Screenshot of Izod website with images of clothing by Adam Lerner

I've been shooting for IZOD and Van Heusen for almost ten years, and it's been an amazing relationship. I'm very grateful to be part of the family.

Years ago, Adam was introduced to IZOD and Van Heusen by one of his best friends, who was already working for the clothing companies as a stylist. The rest was history. In August of 2020, with all the restrictions and the uncertainties, that relationship became paramount to the shoot's success.

Adam Lerner Van Heusen Tearsheets

Of course, this was the first studio shoot since the lockdowns, but it wouldn't be the last. A big reason for that is Adam's ability to adapt.

We shot at a studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn, for three days. It was uncharted territory, so we kept our crews to the absolute minimum.

Adam Lerner Izod Tearsheet

With Adam forgoing a photo assistant for their August shoot, the entire creative team from IZOD and Van Heusen was also remote. To compensate, Adam and the crew used Microsoft Teams and a speaker to communicate with the art director and team in real-time.

Without the art director onsite to oversee the shoot and give direction, we had to rely on them to see things only on their screen remotely and then relay to us over a tiny speaker what needed adjusting.

The people on site had to go through rigorous COVID screenings and temperature checks before being allowed entry. They kept their masks on for the entirety of the ten hour workdays and had to eat their lunches outside while socially distancing. Prior to the pandemic, the caterer would provide a steam tray communal service for meals; now, all meals are set in individual trays for each member and the caterer provides individual snack bags.

Adam Lerner Izod and Van Heusen Behind the Scenes

We learned a lot about this new workflow and were able to streamline some of our methodologies and refine our communication techniques. I also developed additional safety protocols that we were able to implement for the next shoot.

Some of these protocols involved separate workstations for the photographer and digitech to avoid cross-contamination. No one but Adam would handle the camera and lenses, and an assistant would be the only one to touch the lighting and grip.

Adam Lerner Izod Van Heusen BTS

All of this added a significant amount of time to the shoot itself, especially when it came to communicating efficiently with the creative team. However, after their first shoot in August, the next one — which took place in October for another three days — went much smoother and Adam was able to bring his own assistant along with him.

Adam Lerner Izod and Van Heusen BTS

For the October shoots, we were able to have Microsoft Teams running on our cell phones and, via headphones, the creative team could communicate with the stylist and me much more effectively, which greatly expedited and enhanced communication.

Doing, as we know, is a part of learning, so it's no surprise that the first studio shoot since a crippling pandemic didn't feel like a total piece of cake.

We were all on edge for the first shoot in August. It was the first time that most of us had been amongst people outside of our households.

Keeping his family, his crew, and their families safe were Adam's top priorities and required a new level of organization, preparation, diligence, and stamina.

Adam Lerner Izod and Van Heusen BTS

Wearing a mask for ten consecutive hours on top of glasses and headphones while working was challenging. Some of the crew had more difficulty being in a mask all day than others. But we all did our jobs and were able to adapt.

Adaptation is truly the unsung hero of human attributes, and Adam has a particular ability to adapt to new ideas, challenges, and environments. 

Our next round of shoots is tentatively slated for late March, so provided that we are not in a more restrictive lockdown, we will continue to implement the protocols we developed from these prior shoots and continue to follow safe work practices.

Adam Lerner Izod and Van Heusen behind the scenes

 In late December of 2020, another three-day shoot was completed for IZOD, followed by a three-day shoot for Van Heusen, all at ROOT NYC, a photo house in Manhattan. PVH, the corporation that powers IZOD and Van Heusen has also brought on a Compliance Officer/Medic who conducts health and temperature checks as well as maintains sanitation and compliance on set. Adam was able to bring along an assistant and a digitech, as well as have an art director from each brand onsite for each shoot. While it may become necessary to put more restrictions and more protocol in place in the future, there's no denying that Adam is doing the most he can. We can all take a page out of his book.

Lots of our friends in corporate jobs went directly to remote working, but most of us freelancers weren't getting a ton of work, and it was a relief to finally be working again.

See more of Adam’s work at adamlerner.net.

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