By Katherine Tinsley
Many of our lives were shifted, changed, and ultimately challenged by the Coronavirus also known as COVID-19. While under quarantine every industry has been impacted in some capacity, and the fashion community is not immune to this change. From transitioning into creating editorial shoots via FaceTime to the now-infamous Vogue Italia blank cover the industry is being forced to change, and the impact might be permanent. Leaving the question of what does this mean for fashion and the community that makes it special?
Recently I interviewed photographer Kreshonna also known on social media as @VisualsbyK_. She is self-taught and based in the Bronx, NY. Her work is known for its ability to illustrate the beauty within the concrete jungle utilizing color and the equally vibrant community around her. During this time she has not only continued to work as a photographer but she has adapted to this transition by using FaceTime. A post she made on her twitter account of four collages made up of FaceTime shoots went viral ultimately showing that not only is it possible to stay creative during this time but that because of this there are now more opportunities to be noticed if you allow yourself to adapt.
Q: What is your biggest inspiration for your work?
Kreshonna: To be honest, I can’t say I haven’t had any inspiration I’ve been outsourcing from anywhere I can. In general, I would have to say color, the color inspires me. I don’t know what it is about color but I can see color and automatically think of a theme and a concept. I also use Pinterest a lot for mood boarding and just pulling inspiration from all over, and another thing that I started when it comes to helping with the flow of my work and creating content and being consistent with it is color stories. I would pick one color and focus on it for maybe a month and every shoot that I did had to do with that specific color so I was curating things around a certain color.
Q: How has that inspiration evolved due to stay at home orders and quarantine?
Kreshonna: When it first started it was kind of just like “man when is the next time I’m going to pick up a camera?” So what I did was I said I was going to spend this time focusing on my craft like really diving into it and learning so I bought some online courses because I am completely self-taught. I didn’t go to school for photography at all. I graduated with a bachelor’s in business management, so completely different[from photography] but I just ran with it. So everything I learned I taught myself, but I found out that a lot of people are doing free online courses so I found this thing called Pearl-Edu and they have some great tutorials online by other photographers and they teach you things like how to plan and prepare a shoot, storyboarding, how to color grade, how to edit in Photoshop, things like that. So I bought a couple of packages and I started watching some of those and while I was strolling on Instagram daily I ended up seeing a FaceTime shoot that Bella Hadid did with Vogue and I was like okay this is cool, but I never really thought to do it. Then my cousin reached out to me and she was like let’s try it. So I tried it with her and she’s in Providence, RI and I’m in New York and I thought it was cool that I got to be with her in that way even though I wasn’t in front of her. After that, I posted them on my Insta story, and I didn’t anticipate it to get any feedback but people liked it and then I thought you know what let me try it with a couple more people and that was the first post I put up that went viral. It was like four people that I did and I just made collages and posted them and I’m like “well these came out pretty good to me you know being shot on FaceTime.” The hardest part for me is transitioning from the quality that I know I can provide with my actual camera versus the quality that I am getting on FaceTime. It is so diminished. Even though, my work looks good to the naked eye I know from looking at it that the quality I am putting out is not what I am used to so that is probably the hardest thing to transition into. I have been trying to work around it by using lighting and by having people clean their cameras and trying the front camera and back camera and everyone’s phone is different, every experience is different but it’s working so far.
Q: How do you set up a FaceTime shoot?
Kreshonna: Every experience is unique. If they haven’t already sent me pictures of the location it’s going to be in I have them show me locations whether it’s in their home or around their home even outside it just has to be a place with really great lighting; for the most part, I use natural light. It has led to me having to style on the fly. A person will come on the camera and I will go no I don’t like what you’re wearing let’s look into your closet for something else. Once we figure out what we are gonna be shooting I turn my camera off and there’s a little live button photo in the FaceTime call and I use that button to take the pictures. My camera is off which is why you don’t see me in the top box.
The live photos are taking a mini video and it’s a five-second clip and you can hear my voice. When I first started people were propping up on books and they were using random objects. As of lately, I’ve had a little more help with people assisting by holding the phone and that’s been helpful because the hardest part about this has been directed. I think that when I come out of this, that is going to be one of the skills that I appreciate the most and that I am happy that I learned during this time. It’s hard to articulate exactly what you need and what you see in your mind. It’s the one thing that I’ve been challenged with, and I think I’m getting a lot better at it so it is increasing my director skills.
As those behind the camera are attempting to adapt the models in front of it, are also experiencing a transition during this time. Modeling appears to be glamorous but it is a fast-paced career where models are constantly on the move going to shoots, castings, and traveling to different cities. Ariel Toole is an international model who has lived in Chicago, London, and Los Angeles. She spoke with me on her transition from her extremely busy life as a model to working under quarantine.
In Her Own Words
Q: How has this transition into modeling remotely been?
Ariel: It’s super hard and unpredictable. Modeling, in general, is such a play by ear day by day type of job. You don't know you’re flying somewhere until the day before. You don't know if you get the job until the night before.
It’s very last minute and being home makes me kind of uneasy because a lot of models just don’t know when the next job is gonna be. They don’t know what the plan is and agencies don’t know either. I think that’s pretty difficult but what has helped is that one of my agencies reached out and told us what their plan was, but it has been difficult.
Q: Outside of FaceTime shoots have you been doing shoots on your own at home?
Ariel: eCommerce and editorial campaigns are mainly what I do, but since we can’t go on set, brands have been sending models clothes to take photos in their home. I’ve seen that the trend has been for models with really nice housing and a nice environment that looks good in photographs so I think that’s difficult for a lot of models.
It is clear through talking with Kreshonna and Ariel that COVID-19 has forced everyone to adapt to an ever-changing industry where trends are constantly changing. However, because most of the work has transitioned into being done remotely, being a part of the fashion industry and community has become more accessible than ever before. This is a time where fashion is getting back to its roots which is creativity.
Katherine Tinsley is an editorial intern who specializes in building the bridge between the industry and culture, self care, and fostering difficult conversations.