Monday, December 21, 2009

Magazine Layouts

I love these mini-magazine-layouts as in the Janaury 2010 Harper's Bazaar. They take me back to my old graphic design days. And they inspire me to keep creating mock-editorials like these from my Fashion Photo Styling class at San Diego Mesa College.

I design a rough layout with headlines in place to inspire the students during their on-campus fashion shoot. Once the shots are edited, I place them into layouts to create editorial spreads for their own portfolios.

Our guest fashion photographer for this shoot was Siobhan Ridgway. Models courtesy of San Diego Model Management. Thanks to a great crew and a great group of styling students!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Downtown San Diego

This is the first of an occasional series about discoveries in downtown San Diego, where I live. Last week my stylist friend Cedric and I had our Tuesday afternoon coffee and I discovered some new spots as we explored this city. More to follow on those.

Then I revisited one of my favorites, Farkas Store Fixtures. I haven't been there in five years or so but the place hasn't changed a bit! I bought my early styling equipment there: rolling rack, steamer, tissue paper, a mannequin, tagger, plastic hangers... For the sake of my research I thought I should check on current prices of these items. They're a little more but Farkas is fairly frozen in time, and dependable as ever - in addition to being painted pink, surprisingly huge, and warehouse-like right in the middle of a thriving city.
(Photos courtesy of Yelp.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Glue Dots

A new styling material I learned about from one of the attendees at the San Diego Food Styling & Photography Workshop. She says it is just like clear putty and leaves no residue. I bought my own pack and had a chance to test it out!

I find the dots very similar to my hallowed jar of Museum Gel but in more controlled quantities. There is so much fun to be had by sticking one’s finger in the smooth gel and taking a dollop, only to have it become smooth again in a day to two. (I often pass it around and share it in classes and workshops, loads of fun!)

Glue dots are available in craft stores and museum gel can be found online, along with blue or gray putty, sold for holding objects in place in earthquakes.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Stylist Thank You Note

After a photo styling workshop several years ago, I received this brilliant thank you card. Megan Hirsch attended the weekend workshop and as her career began to take off immediately following the workshop, she styled this card for me. It’s made out of styling tools! Even though it’s been a few years I kept it around and wanted to share the creative idea on my blog.

I have more Megan Hirsch news to share soon on this blog. Or check out and

Monday, December 7, 2009

Cool Product Line

This is the product of one of the students in my Fashion Styling class at San Diego Mesa College. Juan Carlos Olivas and his brother invented these avant-garde beer cozies with a twist - and a handle!

Their slogan: "Bringing a little class to the front porch". I think this is emblematic of a new more modest style.

Juan Carlos' final project for my styling class is very cool - it's a take on the Corona Beer ad where there are two people seen from behind their beach chairs with their Coronas between them against a background of a beautiful beach. His project is two brothers sitting on a rooftop on ragged folding chairs with the beer cozy on a 40 ounce beer between them. Telephone poles and cityscape background. (I'll post it when it's submitted.)

See for the full style story.

P.S. A couple of footnotes: Juan-Carlos is the inventer of the 40Cozy and has several partners in the biz, but not his brother. Sorry for the error. Also, in the interest of disclosure, I have received a sample WeeCozy. I love it!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My Summer Visualization Board is Down

Obviously it's a new season! Not only is it cold in San Diego but there are other signs as well. I posted a story about this small board that illustrated my hopes and goals for summer 2009. It's been on the wall above my computer since last June. I'd been thinking it was time to take it down when a couple of days ago my board was on the floor.

I did achieve most of what was illustrated on the board - travel, off-figure styling photos for my book, listen to music. Now, what are my new winter goals? I'll write more when I narrow them down.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Designers’ Workspaces, Courtesy of MyFonts

It’s always fun to look at someone else’s workplace, when we each spend so much time in our own!

MyFonts is my personal favorite source for downloading fonts and I just found their blog featuring an inside look at some of their type designers’ workspaces. Hope you like the behind-the-scenes peek too. Here's a link.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I Got a BlueQ Bag!

Here's what my daughter Elizabeth gave me for my birthday:

My very own tote bag and change purse from BlueQ, the ones she first discovered and we were both so intrigued by (See my November 6, 2009 post). Now I know the full story; the 8-page tag/booklet says:

Woven from 95% post-consumer material/Recyclable plastic bottles and used grain sacks are collected, ground and.../melted into rolls of recycled plastic... woven into durable bag fabric/printed with our super-fantastic graphics.../cut & sewn into bags of all shapes & sizes/and off to work they go./1% of the sales of this product support global environmental initiatives. See details and links at BLUEQ.COM. Manufactured in a facility monitored & recognized for: employee care, product quality, environmental responsibility.

Not bad, huh?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Another Great Student Video

The latest in a series of student projects by Cris-Ian Garcia. This year of teaching Fashion Photo Styling 179 has been a lot more fun with the YouTube videos he submitted for various assignments. This one was created for our Room Styling Challenge. Thanks, Cris-Ian!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Women Artists Retreat

I just returned from a great weekend at camp in Julian, CA. The annual retreat held by Women's Caucus for Art (the San Diego Chapter) was really great this year. I had skipped the past two years, after attending the first 9 (9!) and it was good to be back at a whole weekend devoted to doing art.

We did a number of activities including portrait painting, encaustic, eating organic food, and talking. I met some women I really liked, especially the older, more experienced artists. Encaustic was my favorite medium, an ancient medium made from bees wax and resin from an East Indies native tree, which hardens when cured with heat and lasts forever. It appeals to me because of the translucent layers, ability to contain collage, and its depth, which are aspects of the work I already do. What's tough is the expensive materials and complex setup, more than I can manage here at home. So the workshop was a perfect opportunity to explore encaustic.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Search for a New Toolkit

After using the same styling toolbox for about ten years, I decided it's time for a new one. I was attached to it; as I say in the video "Choose something you like, it's your right arm." But I am sort of tired of this personalized box and my Goo-Gone has spilled so many times that the orange scent is getting old.

So Gary and I went shopping on Sunday. We started at a sports supply store, Sports Chalet to see what was available in the fishing section. I found one that was almost perfect, an open section at the top and two drawers for supplies, affordable too. But there were these sections on either end that stuck out, full of holes, for poles? I couldn't live with those. On to Home Depot, where we discovered that an employee had just collapsed and paramedics were arriving. The toolboxes were inexpensive but nothing special, nothing I fell in love with. So we moved on to Target, where I bought my old kit and recommended for shopping in my book. They don't sell them any more! Nothing!(Have to change in th erevised edition!) I looked online and only found this one:

Disappointing, mission unaccomplished. Crafts stores might be an option. I do want something heavy-duty and masculine-looking. My friend Cedric said he has a black toolbox he isn't using. That's great. I did want to have the experience of the shopping-hunt though. I will write as the hunt concludes and look forward to re-organizing my styling tools.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cool Shopping Bags

I love these shopping bags! My daughter Elizabeth sent me these photos from her I-phone yesterday when she was shopping at Henry's Supermarket in Carlsbad, CA. I haven't researched them yet but presume they are made out of colorful recycled materials with added graphics. I promise to investigate them further. (The top one is a coin purse - my 2 cents!)

P.S. Sunday, I did check them out! They are made by a company called Blue Q. The website has so much stuff! I guess some they make and some they sell from others. Very cool site.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Off-Figure Styling in a Washing Machine!

This is the ultimate in Off-Figure Styling in an award-winning washing machine commercial!

(Or for a better view, download the movie file on our Gallery pages.)

I just got it in an email today, but on further research I found out it has been on YouTube since 2006 and had over half a million viewers. It's impossible to be on the cutting edge of everything. But I'm so glad I got to view this FILM made by Leo Burnett Agency for a washing machine. How did they do it? And in video? Wow.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Learning About Store Display

Yesterday I had a guest speaker in my college styling class - Robert Roubideaux. He is the Visual Manager for San Diego's Saks Fifth Avenue Store. I wanted to present related careers and also I was curious about the similarities and differences between photo styling and visual merchandising. Robert's presentation was fascinating. And we learned about several new tools!

The differences, I determined, are in TIME and PERSPECTIVE.

When styling for a photograph the items only have to stay in place long enough to capture the images; in store display they may need to stay put for a month or so! And while photo styling is determined by the exact position of the camera, with all other views being irrelevant, an in-store display must be considered up to 360 degrees. So all elements change in relation to each other.

I prefer the exacting viewpoint of the camera, control of lighting, and all the details hidden behind the item. But it's a good exercise to zoom out from that position and look around.

Images above are from store windows in Tokyo (Vuitton, Benetton, and Hermes).

For more visit

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

BBQ and Beer Shoot

The test shoot I'd been planning with photographer Nick Nacca and food stylist Cindy Epstein was completed last Friday with success and delight. I contributed the Prop Styling and utilized some of the new skills I'd learned from Prop Styling 101. Nick made use of his contact, the owner of Alpine Beer Company, to provide micro-brewed beer and his restaurant menu for inspiration.

We frosted bottles with gelatin-ice and plated a slab of ribs on diner-style dishes, after torching them to caramelized crispness. We poured foamy froth over the edge of glasses. We concluded the day with a back-lit bottle laying on its side surrounded by ice, both real and faux. Now with his unique layering techniques, Nick will be creating the finished images for all of us to savor! As soon as they are ready I will post them here - and on the newly redesigned Cox Productions!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wardrobe Styling Challenge

This is an excellent project by two of my Mesa College photo styling students. I asked this year's class to look for alternative presentations to the usual display board. Some responded with Power Point presentations and others with YouTube videos.

(View on YouTube, full-width)

I love this video by Cris-Ian Garcia and Christina Park on the challenge of styling an imaginary wardrobe shoot. They completed the assignment of selecting the clothing and accessories, considering other aspects of the shoot, and creating a budget - in a very fun way! Nice work!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Best of Student Work

At last, I have finished another goal. I wanted to place the "Best of Student Work" from our online classes on the home page where everyone would see them. I have been posting the work on a Gallery but I doubt if anyone besides myself ever looked at them. Well, they're still there.

Now, they proudly parade in the slide show on the Photo Styling Workshops home page.

Current work represents Prop Styling 101 with Beth Reiners and Food Styling 101 with Debbie Wahl, both recently completed.

We wish we could represent all of our students but this is a competition, after all! This work represents the strongest visual images from the classes. While we assure students that good photography is not the goal of our courses - learning about styling is - it is a joy to look at these images. They will be updated regularly but will continue to be on view in the Gallery. (If anyone cares to look!) Congratulations!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Every year I ask my college fashion styling students to do a magazine presentation. They search in one single magazine for an example of each type of styling in both advertising and editorial. The types are:
Off-Figure Styling
Room Sets

Believe it or not, nearly every magazine includes an example of each. Maybe not Psychology Today or Popular Mechanics but most fashion or lifestyle magazines do.

The presentation boards, though, that I used to ask for began to seem sad - what do you do with a presentation board after you're done with it? Recycle it? Throw it away? And they weren't much fun to take home to grade either. So this year I asked them to think of a unique way to present the project. I got some Power Point presentations, some journal-type books, all were wonderful. Most fun was viewing some of the assignments on YouTube!

This is a video by one of my Mesa College Students on the Styling Career:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Food Styling & Photography Workshop

So now it's been a week since we concluded the three-day workshop in San Diego. It was fabulous. Not perfect, but fabulous. Lisa, Greg, and I were defineitley satisfied and we heard some very gratifying comments from attendees. Like "I've never shot such a good photo in my life," and "I am coming to the next one!"

I hope to have a lot more behind-the-scenes photos to share but here is a start. And we will soon have a Gallery set up where everyone who was there can view the shots. I can't wait to post our two final shots from the magazine cover and FSI ad we shot to demonstrate these two types of food photography. And most important, the great food shots the Master Class students created.

Thanks to Cedric, Cindy, the two Kens, and the wonderful folks at Macy's who hosted our workshop in the Culinary Kitchen of the Mission Valley Home Store. In March we plan to do it again in Atlanta!

Monday, October 5, 2009

The End for Gourmet Magazine

This morning I was stunned and saddened to hear of Gourmet's imminent closing. This New York Times article confirms the story. Gourmet was the ultimate food magazine, in print since 1940. I feel for the editors, photographers, and stylists especially since I heard a fantastic presentation by them at the 2007 International Food Photography and Styling Conference in Boston.

It is estimated that publishing industry has lost 50% of its income in the past year! This signals a disturbing change in the media we all style for and learn from. Without magazines how will we continue to develop our visual style?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The 5 Habits of Highly Effective Stylists

1. Be a creative problem solver.
Is there a new way to do it?
Can I borrow or adopt?
Can I give it a new twist?
Do I just need more of the same?
Is there a substitute?
Can the parts be rearranged?
What if I do just the opposite?
Can ideas be combined?

2. Share knowledge, techniques, "secrets".

Knowledge is a fluid, intangible asset tht can be transferred easily and its value increases when shared.

3. Be a team player.
A successful shoot depends on a team effort.

4. Know your resources.
"You don't have to know everything - you just have to know who knows." Mary Alice Williams

5. Have patience, patience, patience.

Remain confident and flexible.
Be ready to calmly state the reality of what's possible and what's not.

Courtesy of Lisa Golden Schroeder,

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dear Blog

Dear Blog, I am sorry I've been neglecting you! I didn't mean to, I love to post. Life just got in the way, really. I worked two weeks at the Old Globe, on a musical called "Sammy" that is going to be fabulous. (I'll write about Sammy later, seeing it next week.) What a September!

I also joined Beth Reiner's new class Prop Styling 101. Yes, I'm an online student at Photo Styling Worskhops! I love it; I'm learning so much - I want to be a prop stylist!

Continuing with my Mesa College class. We went to visit Nick Nacca's studio last Thursday. All these will be posts next week, I hope.

And... this weekend is our Food Styling & Photography Workshop in San Diego. I think we're ready! But there are 30 people coming in from throughout the US and Canada, Ireland and Costa Rica. How exciting. I want everything to be amazing and I think it will be. Will let you know! S

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Back to School

Last spring, I took a college class. After teaching my Fashion Photo Styling class for two years, I wanted to know what it feels like on the other side of the desk. I signed up for Ethnic Costume, taught by my colleague, Susan Lazear at San Diego Mesa College. It was perfect – one night a week and lasting only five weeks. Enough for a taste of being a student without too much commitment.

Here are some lessons I learned:
1. Allow plenty of time to get to class the first day. It may take longer that day and you have to get your timing right. Even though I am always on campus at least an hour before my own class, I arrived 15 minutes late to the first session!
2. It’s fun when you get to choose your project from several formats. I selected to write an essay while others in my class created mini-costumes on dolls or chose an ethnic element to convert into a new fashion style.
3. Students who need to show they know more than the teacher are irritating to both the teacher and to other students.
4. It’s nice to be able to wear jeans to class.
5. I am still a perfectionist, a trait that used to slow down my work in elementary school.
6. Learning about something new is always exciting.

I wrote my final essay on Ethnic Costumes of Indonesia. This class conveniently fell just before my trip to Bali. The research taught me the geologic, political, and cultural history of the islands. And when I saw people actually wearing sarongs and kebayas in their everyday lives it was such a thrill! (Read the essay here.)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

My Frittata

This is not a food blog – there are many excellent ones out there – but… I can see how it begins, after the frittata I made this week. We had some cooked sausage, and a trace of sauce, left over from a spaghetti dinner Gary made for the neighbors. I decided to make a frittata.

I had always used leftover pasta for making frittatas before (we have Italian night every Sunday so I sometimes have leftovers to work with). This time I decided to use the sausage, onion, and zucchini – and to use a new method. Instead of cooking it in a frying pan and flipping the frittata onto a plate to cook the other side, I tried Fanny Farmer’s recipe on page 343 of the 1980 edition cookbook.

It turned out great. Why did I always do that slippery plate-flipping technique when I could just cook it for five minutes in an iron skillet and finish it off for three minutes in the broiler?

Ingredients, in order:
Olive oil
Onion, 1 medium, sliced
Garlic, 2 cloves crushed and removed
Zucchini, 1 sliced
Eggs, 6
Parmesan cheese
Thyme, salt, and pepper
Tomato sauce, about 3 T.
Italian parsley
Sausage, sliced

You can see a list of my favorite food blogs on Photo Styling Workshops’ Link and Resources page.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

ASMP Demo Day

I spent last Saturday styling at an event sponsored by ASMP’s San Diego chapter – a “Pro Workshop” featuring three different photo specialties, product, fashion, and sports. I worked with photographer William Morton, makeup artist Mary Erickson, and two models to demonstrate a fashion shoot. The description:
Fashion Photography with William Morton
William demonstrates his experience working with models to highlight fashion (as well as the model). Different styles of fashion will be highlighted, with a demonstration of the effects on different fabrics and textures. A professional makeup artist and a stylist will discuss their inputs to the finished product, and how the team works together to achieve the look the designer demands.

I found two dresses that would be challenging to light to make William’s life more difficult. Could it be any more difficult? Yes, everything that could go wrong…

First two models cancelled the day before. When he started setting up his segment, first one light blew out, then the backup light blew. The projector refused to work with his computer. It went on and on. The group broke early for lunch and eventually things worked out. All this is, I think, a more effective learning situation than a shoot that goes smoothly. The lighting, version three, beautifully lit the fabrics, the audience stayed interested, looking back and forth between the set and the image projected on the wall seconds after it was shot and we were all able to demonstrate what we do. And William kept his cool and made the point that you always need backup equipment on a photo shoot.

Photos courtesy of Wayne Richard and William Morton

Monday, August 24, 2009

More Thoughts About Decades

Greetings from 90210! Here is the postcard I was looking for in my "archives" when I wrote the post about the 1990s. Quite a relic. Is it valuable?

While I’m on this decade subject, I have a few more thoughts. Actually I may return to the topic as this passage of time and culture is fascinating to me. You know you’re older when you start thinking of your life in decades instead of years.

Anyway, it seems that the transitions of the decades are more likely to occur in the middle of the decade than the end. For example the first half of the 1960s was massively different than the second half. We went from teased hair to long hair. From Mod fashions to long Indian dresses. From longing to get married to being free. (Contrary to common opinion, though, many young people throughout the 60s were getting married and living very “straight” lives, working for IBM, or joining the military voluntarily.)

1965 seems like a real transition for the decade, just as the 1970s progressed from the post-hippie era when it was harder and harder to be “unique” to the disco era in the second half of the decade. With that in mind, what really did happen in the 80s and 90s. Any thoughts?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Venice Beach: Roller Skating Capital of the World

On a trip to Santa Monica (our old hood) my husband I perused a pictorial history book on Venice, CA. Since we both had lived there and I spent many happy days roller skating on Venice Beach these “historical” photos are always of interest.

In the late 1970s everyone was skating and Venice was proclaimed (by the mayor of LA anyway) to be “the roller skating capital of the world.” I was right there in this historical fad, spending my days skating in shorts and knee pads (after a nasty fall), my long, permed, blond hair flying in the wind. This was me.

I waitressed at night at Snooky’s, the jazz club where I met my future husband Gary Cox, slept till noon and then skated to breakfast. I was fit! It is so interesting to be a baby-boomer and participate in all the trends of my era. A living cliché – but loving every bit of it.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Salary Comparison

I found a site that claims to provide the latest salary information for just about any job title in just about every city in the U.S. It is at, a job search site. Typing in "Photo Stylist" for Los Angeles, CA I find that the average salary is $44,000 a year. How does it know? I suppose it searches through all the data with the key words and comes up with the relevant salary. I tried "Food Stylist" for the same area and found that to be $59,000. Since we mostly freelance it's tough to say what a "salary" is but it's still fun to experiment with this site.

Here's the link to Photo Stylist in LA, as a starting point: What do you think? Is it accurate for your market?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Harper’s Bazaar August Cover

I love this cover! When I first received the magazine I liked the color, mood, dress, and composition. But then I thought, wait a minute! Did Kate Winslet really suspend herself at a great height like that? Would they let her do it? What a risk! Not that celebrities have more value than the rest of us. I keep staring at it.

The photographer is Peter Lindbergh and Fashion Editor is Aleksandra Woroniecka. (I think the cover may have been used only on subscription copies – sometimes I see other covers on the magazines in stores.)

Showing the cover around, I ask if other people think that shoot really happened. Most scoff and say, no, they shot that in a studio. I decided to look at the magazine’s Website and see if I could get the real story. The image was there but not the true story. I know from the other photos in the Kate Winslet story that there was a photo shoot in the same weather in Manhattan. But that’s all I know. Behind-the-scenes information is so much fun isn’t it? How do you think the cover shot was done? Add comments below.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Assemblage Workshop Weekend

I just spent the best weekend attending a workshop in Assemblage, led by San Diego artist Susan Osborn. It was especially great because I have been denying myself the pleasure of doing art - I am always working on Photo Styling Workshops, getting ready for my fall college class, our September Food Styling and Photography Workshop, my new book, or something...

For two days I just got to put materials together, gluing, drilling, and cutting with a dremel. Here's a box of nearly finished projects which will be finished next weekend. I'll post finished shots of them and then spend hours updating my artist site, but at least it's art.

Assemblage art arises from "the placement of multiple objects, which may be modified, in a way that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts." Found art is dfferent in that the artwork is created by using objects that are not normally considered to be art.

To visit Susan Osborn's site: and blog

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

St. Barbara's Dress

I just love the fabric in this dress. Just looking at every crinkle and fold in this garment, as the artist (Jan Van Eyck) drew them excites me! Is it not gorgeous?

This week I started working on the photographs for my next book, on Off-Figure Styling. I've been in the studio with my photographer Siobhan Ridgeway and assistant Cedric Chang, documenting every single step in creating the perfect laydown of, for example, a pair men's shorts. With a fine art background I look more at the fine details of fabric than the whole fashionable ensemble, whether I am looking at a photograph or styling it myself.

When I've been working on off-figure styling I find myself arranging the drape of every bit of fabric around me: the couch, the bed linens, my T-shirt, can't help it.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Blog Video Blog Video

I am having a blast blogging and creating new videos! There is this blog (Photo Styling Forum) and my new blog (The Invisible Stylist) which I suspect is too much confusion. I will likely merge them both into The Invisible Stylist soon! And then the thrill of making videos and uploading them to YouTube, which I have recently discovered. I placed two How-To videos for stylists on YouTube recently. These are the ones produced by photographer Jim Scherzi of Syracuse, NY: Toolkit and Rolling Rack. I think they're kind of fun and funny.
And here's the newest one, a promo about our Food Styling and Photography Workshop which will be held in San Diego September 26-28. For more details or to register visit Photo Styling Workshops! (Entry moved from Photo Styling Forum blog.)

Truly International Classes

They always say that the best thing about the World Wide Web is that you can reach people around the world as easily as around the corner. That was certainly true in the March 24 session of Everyday Food Styling presented by Photo Styling Workshops. The students were from:
Nova Scotia, Canada
Almaty, Kazakhstan
Shanghai, China
Kobe-shi, Hyogo-ku, Japan
Erwinna, PA
New York, NY

What's more, I was working on my laptop in Indonesia and then Hong Kong, processing their registrations!

Everyday Food Styling is our 4-week food styling techniques class enhanced with videos on Vimeo. These are accessible only to current students and demonstrate the special techniques that food stylists use "everyday" on the job. The instructor Lisa Golden Schroeder emails the students a written PDF lesson each work and access to the videos so that they can learn at their pace. There is a Class Gallery where the students can upload their assignments and receive feedback from Lisa on their work. They also benefit from viewing the work and comments of other students in the class.

One interesting aspect of this class especially was the search for products stylists use, like Kitchen Bouquet, for darkening sauces and meat. Lisa helped by encouraging the search for comparable products available at the local marketplace. Generally we offer a telephone conference call near the end of our courses for asking questions and sharing information but this class couldn't find a convenient time for all of them!

Other international students who have participated our styling classes have hailed from Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Venezuela, Nigeria, Finland, Phillipines, and Spain. The coursework is only provided in English but we have been considering a translation into Spanish. If this interests you - or if you are a Spanish-speaking stylist who could help with student comments please let us know!
(Photos above, Asian Perspective of World Map, showing our students and customers; Green Salad from Anthony Francis Antao)
Reprinted from Photo Styling Forum, May 3, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Here's a New Idea: Monotasking

(This is actaully an article I wrote a couple of years ago, pre-blog-time, and posted to my Cox Productions site. It is still searchable on the Web!)

The term multitasking dates back to the 1960s and is defined as “the concurrent performance of several jobs by a computer.” Sometime more recently we humans took on this process and, in an effort to makes our lives run more efficiently, started multitasking. We are proud that we can perform like a computer.

Talking on a cell phone is a common contributor to multitasking, and it’s easy to do. Anyone who has one is likely to use it without thinking twice. Sometimes three women will be walking down the street together but two are on their phones. The third has the courtesy (or lack of popularity) not to be on the phone, but has no one to talk to. Why don’t they talk to each other?

Recently, I went into a clothing store to shop for a pair of yoga pants and noticed that I was not among the majority of shoppers, those browsing while talking on the phone. Isn’t it hard enough to find what you want and in your size? Later the same day in a grocery store I overheard one side of a conversation featuring details of a fibroid tumor operation. Didn’t make me feel like planning menus.

Other abuses in multitasking are drivers performing other tasks like applying makeup or eating fast food, children playing hand-held games while spending quality time with their parents, or families watching movies while driving through attractive countryside. There are things to see outside of a car window; even graffiti and other drivers can be interesting.

Multitasking can even be dangerous! It occurred to me how unaware we are of surroundings, when I saw a report about safety awareness for women, suggesting that we not walk in a deserted parking garage while talking on a cell phone. And how many times have we all concluded a phone conversation in the car and realized we didn’t even remember driving?

The deadline for writing my book, “Photo Styling, How to Build Your Career and Succeed,” was a short five months. When writing on the computer or proofreading printed pages I went into another world where interruptions were very jarring. If someone asked me a question, the words sounded alien. But I was used to it - the work involved in styling fashions and products for photography takes concentration. When I’m at my computer processing stock photographs in Photoshop I go into a “zone,” and don’t want to stop and do anything else (especially paying bills!) until I’m done.

I am tired of the pace of multitasking. It feels good to do one thing at a time and know it's being done well. At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old person, I propose the concept of monotasking. We should all find the time to try it - but not while doing anything else.

About the Author
Susan Linnet Cox is the author of “Photo Styling, How to Build Your Career and Succeed” a comprehensive career manual for photo stylists, published by Allworth Press, She also teaches career workshops through her site

You have permission to publish this article electronically or in print, free of charge, provided the bylines are included. A courtesy copy of your publication would be appreciated.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Student Success, Cindy Epstein

Cindy Epstein, of Fallbrook, CA, signed up for the San Diego Food Styling & Photography Workshop in February 2008 to help her determine if she wanted to move forward with her food styling career. Before moving to southern California she had a catering business in Philadelphia. After selling her catering company, she apprenticed with a stylist in Philly, but her career plans got postponed after moving to California. Within a few weeks of completing the workshop, she found herself in the studio. She was testing with another student, Carl Kravats, a photographer who lived nearby and styling a new cookbook with photographer Greg Bertolini!Says Cindy, “I walked into the weekend with little confidence in my styling skills and with the hope that it would help me make a career decision about my next steps. The message was loud and clear. Go for it!! I walked away with a real sense of self-confidence.”

Here’s how Cindy describes her next project: “I've got a fabulous shoot with an ad agency on Monday. As one might expect, it wasn't finalized until Thursday afternoon at 4:45 and the agency was closed on Friday (4th of July holiday weekend). Ahhhhh! I've been shopping, prepping, and experimenting with various techniques for three days. They want to do 11 shots in one day - including ice cream - and there's no kitchen, no sink, no range, and no refrigeration. It's going to be a very busy day!” With Cindy’s skills and positive attitude, I’m sure she will have a successful day – and love every minute of it!Afternote: “I finished prepping Sunday night at 10 pm, was up at 4 am and on the road before 5 getting ice, dry ice, and making a trip to the bakery for fresh pastries. (They didn't tell me there was no elevator in the building!) We plowed through the day without a break. I got home at 8:15 Monday night, and as I fell into a chair, exhausted, I realized I hadn't sat down all day except for when I was driving to and from the job. But Susan was right, I had a blast! I can't think of anything more fun than collaborating with a group of creative people. When the group energy starts flowing, the process of creating the image is very exciting!” And the client sent a note after shoot thanking Cindy for the wonderful job she did! Visit Cindy's Website: www.cindyepstein.comCindy is now enthusiastically helping Greb Bertolini, Lisa Golden Schroeder, and me with promotions for the upcoming Food Photography and Styling Workshop in San Diego, September 2009.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Little Yoga Studio Shoot

One of the fun things about being a freelancer is the option of trading services with other independent people. I view this is an opportunity to help and network with others, in addition to being a good way to spend less cash.

Years ago I used to design T-shirts for my exercise program in Florida, Tuff Stuff. I managed to attend for months at a time just for designing a cool T-shirt for the instructors to wear. So when I was doing yoga this winter in my neighborhood yoga studio, The Little Yoga Studio, I got an idea. Maybe Maria Camacho, the owner would like to have great photographs of the products she sells. And we could trade.

Maria sells her own line of T-shirts and other great brands of yoga wear; also books, candles, and other yoga-related products. And she liked the idea. I enlisted Cedric Chang, my friend and former student, to help – he always likes to gain experience in the styling and photography world. One afternoon when there were no classes we met at the studio (actually the café down the street to get an injection of caffeine) and he played the photographer role while we both experimented with styling options and backgrounds. We had only three hours before the next class session so we had to use our time efficiently.

Here are some of the images we took that day, which are already up on Maria’s site, and I will be able to attend classes as often as I want this summer!

One bonus for all of the San Diego photo community: while shooting there I realized what a great location the yoga studio is. I have art-directed and styled athletic wear on location before and it’s always a challenge to find a good gym or studio setting. There are no mirrors which make shooting difficult (too many reflection problems, both lighting and the crew) and the bamboo-style flooring and wood walls make a great warm environment. While the studio is not large, I know this would be a great photo location. And now the San Diego Film Commission has The Little Yoga Studio on file.