Manager, Photo Production — The "Why"

For the past four years I have lived in a variety of environments that one might describe as 'fashion deserts.' That is to say there were no fashion schools, fashion majors, or Fashion Weeks readily accessible to me. Despite this dearth of external stimulus, I have steadfastly nurtured my inner passion for creating fashion imagery by creating like-minded communities and collaborative projects wherever I go. 

Given the opportunity to serve MM. LaFleur by managing photo production, I would jump in with passion, diligence, and agility from Day One. I could wax poetically about the joy I experience uniting talented artists in creating elegant imagery, but to keep this efficient I'll narrow what I bring to the table down to three key takeaways:


  • I have a discerning eye for imagery + a mission to do things differently.

  • A scrappy, start-up mentality to photo production is my M.O.

  • People are my favorite part of the creative process.


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1. Imagery


My Bachelors in Studio Art led me to many corners of the visual world—from print making, to conceptual video art, to hanging 8' domes made of plants from the ceiling (no, really). If there's one core skill one learns through an art education, however, it is learning how to speak the visual language. I'd love to hold court with MM. LaFleur's Creative Director and Art Director because I'm never more energized than when I'm conceptualizing, debating, and planning a creative product. I've been able to use my visual eye + taste in a variety of contexts from creating marketing materials, to producing videos, to designing people's living rooms. And yet, I've never been able to escape the magnetic pull of fashion on my creative mind.

So, how does a garment-obsessed kid make fashion in a fashion desert? Three letter explanation—DIY. 'Sure', you might be thinking, any millennial with a DSLR and an attractive friend thinks they're a fashion blogger these days, did you push any further than that? Great question. Here's was my approach to developing impactful independent projects. I...

  1. Found organizations with money, connected my creative vision to their goals, wrote grants and got funded. 
  2. Recruited young creatives of all kinds: photographers, models, fashion designers, videographers, and in some cases, modern dancers.
  3. Developed compelling creative direction, organized and sweated the details, then let my collaborators loose.
  4. Presented the results: this might mean a conceptual fashion show, a dance performance, a website, or a sustainably-printed lookbook.

But enough description. Let's look at some actual visuals from some recent projects:

'superposition' 

Fashion design: Keenan Ferguson + moi. Creative direction, set design, photography: moi. Model: Leleska Morrisey. Studio: DPC


Fashion design: Keenan Ferguson + moi. Creative direction, styling: moi. Photographed by Tyler Wilson & Aly Dove. Model: Alex Long.


What About Doing Things Differently?

One of the reasons I'm drawn to MM. LaFleur is the way it uses elegant design as means to equip the powerful, diverse, #BetterThingsToDo woman. The MM. brand is meaningful and relevant because it celebrates and caters to real women who are out there making it happen. As a feminist I've struggled with the discrepancy between my beliefs and support for an industry that constantly objectifies and/or creates narrow standards for women's bodies. In my future work as a creative I want to push for bold, comprehensive, empowering diversity in fashion imagery. Thus, I would love to be part of an MM. team disrupting the fashion industry with a unique and progressive visual identity.


  'superposition' Behind the Scenes

'superposition' Behind the Scenes

2. Scrappy Photo Production (that looks expensive)


Although I was able to garner $1500-2500 in grant funding for my last two independent projects, when it came to developing sustainably-printed lookbooks, the high cost of printing pushed me to take a scrappy approach to photo production. For my project 'superposition' I cast rising model talent off Instagram, recruited young photographers honing their craft (in addition to doing my own photography), created a set design from simple, low-cost materials (Home Depot is my best friend), and found a newly opened natural light photography studio willing to let me use their space for free. Thus, I have seen first hand that one does not need a large budget to make great imagery, and would bring this inventive problem solving approach to managing projects at MM. La Fleur.

I care about the details at every stage of the image production process and have developed my skills through a variety of experiences:

  • Through my graphic design education I've developed a trained eye and gut instinct for striking composition and layout.
  • In designing printed lookbooks I've learned how to edit thousands of images down to a select few that tell a story.
  • I've managed the work of photo retouchers through my freelance consulting with the NYC social media innovators at SelfMade.
  • As part of the small founding team at Hamlet I had to constantly consider imagery needs for ecommerce + social media and solve these problems with no budget.

  WORK/DAY Behind the Scenes

WORK/DAY Behind the Scenes

3. People + Process


As stated previously, people are my favorite part of the creative process. By this I mean that I see my art as necessarily being a collaborative process. Some people may dig the "isolated artist" lifestyle, but for me the most powerful and influential work is the result of many like-minds coming together to align their unique attributes towards a common vision. I'm most inspired when I get to work with a diverse range of artists who I can tap for their particular talents.

Through past projects I've found my role in the creative ecosystem as an artistic connector, magnifier, and leader. I'm at my best when I can help individual artists find an opportunity to have their work featured as part of a collective effort.

Because I am an artist at heart, I understand the yearnings of the creative mind and what motivates it/makes it happy. Furthermore, due to my background in communication studies, I know how to bring the individualistic personalities of artists together through a variety of communication methods and channels (be it text, email, or public speaking). Likewise, due to my knack for the unglamorous operations/project management side of the creative process, I can provide a group of artists with the structure and organization needed to actually complete a project in time and under budget.


What Next?: A Proposal

So, you now might be thinking "well Cyrus, this all sounds great...but how do I know if you could actually pull off the MM. LaFleur Style?" Again, great question. Here's what I propose: allow me to take on a trial assignment that would demonstrate my understanding of the MM. brand. 

  1. I would develop a concept and recruit models.
  2. I would need to fit these models and borrow MM. sample pieces.
  3. Next, I'd independently recruit a photographer and find a studio space/photoshoot location.
  4. I'd direct the shoot, do the cropping and editing, and present the final project in a digital form.