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?