Check out the interview and behind-the-scenes footage of my shoot with Vanessa Williams for the BOTOX Cosmetic campaign, "Express Success."
The campaign was all about being a bold, strong woman with confidence. Not only was it wonderful photographing Vanessa, but it was great to work with these women who have had hard times in their lives. That was a real highlight of the project for me.
Tell me a bit about the Botox campaign...
We did this shoot with Vanessa Williams, she is the spokesperson for Botox in conjunction with Botox Cosmetics. It was "Express Success," which is done in conjunction with the "Dress for Success" nonprofit.
The campaign is all about being a bold, strong woman with confidence, and ultimately that's what this entire campaign is trying to get across: strength, courage, and being a bold woman.
They are presenting Botox as just another means to build confidence in women, and the "Dress for Success" program is the same: you've been down for some reason, and they're giving women the means to interview for jobs and present strength and confidence.
What was the experience like?
Not only was it wonderful photographing Vanessa, but it was also wonderful working with these women who have hard times in their lives, and that was a real highlight of the project for me.
Was it completed all in one long session?
Yes, it was. Vanessa would be on set with the video crew, shoot her session, then she'd come over to me for a photo session. After a wardrobe change, she then did the same thing over.
I shot the light with essentially "beauty light," I definitely wanted to put a lot of light on her face and make her look pretty. At the same time, Vanessa is clearly a beautiful, beautiful woman and it's hard to take a bad picture of her.
Throughout a session, I'm constantly thinking and analyzing every picture that I take. As I'm shooting, I'm looking at the face and analyzing it and looking for the best angle. Then in a moment of rest, I'll go back and look through what I've captured on the computer, studying the images.
During this shoot, I brought Vanessa over and talked to her about what looked good (and what didn't), and then we went back on the set and worked together to achieve the right angle.
For this campaign, you went from shooting a woman who is very used to having her photo taken (Vanessa) to photographing women (from the Dress for Success campaign) who aren't used to receiving that sort of attention. Was this tricky to do?
Vanessa is very seasoned in front of the camera, very good. Any subject who sits in front of my camera - experienced or otherwise - you really need to build trust. This is true with Vanessa Williams or with anyone else I'm photographing. These women in the campaign were a lot more shy, and one of my strong suits is to make the subject feel comfortable, to help them to trust me and to enable them to be themselves in front of the camera. I find that if they know that I'm a "real person" and that they can talk to me, they'll become a lot more relaxed.
Everyone involved wanted to make these women feel good. One of the women that I photographed was very nervous, but I was having fun with her and doing whatever I could to help her get comfortable. She walked off the set and saw the photos and said "That's me?" She felt so good about how she looked, I gave her a big hug, and it was really a great experience for both of us.
The campaign made these women feel really special. They were photographed side-by-side along with this beauty queen, getting treated just like a celebrity. These women have all gone through very difficult times in their lives. What a role model Vanessa is for these women, a lesson in perseverance.