Creative Director: Theresa Griggs
Director of Photography: Sarah Rozen
Deputy Director of Photography: Freyda Tavin
Prop Stylist: Elizabeth Press
Photographer: Jamie Chung
Heidi: What specifically about Jamie’s work made you choose him for this project?
Freyda: I’m a huge fan of Jamie’s work. He can take an ordinary object and transform it into a work of art. His photos are deceptively simple and complex at the same time. In this case the subject matter wasn’t unique but the editor’s and writer’s take were and I wanted the photos to reflect that.
Can you take me through the creative process for this feature?
The process: Myself, Sarah and two art directors met with the story editor who went over, at that point, the story outline and any specific points she wanted to come through in the piece. We all brainstormed and came up with a few ideas. I talked to Jamie about it and he had more than a few great ideas of his own and sketched them out. From there Jamie and I both did some major drug research and then I brought Elizabeth Press, the prop stylist into the process.
I enjoyed the notes of drug addiction in the photos, what material did you use for the “sugar” in razor shot?
She found the perfect colored sugar for the blade shot so to answer your question that really is sugar. Jamie was set on using a glass spoon which was a great choice but we did lose one in the heating process. I never thought I’d want a razor blade hanging in my living room but it is just such a beautiful photo as are the rock candy and spoon. They’re the perfect visual interpretation of the story title, “Sweet and Vicious”.
Heidi: What’s your creative process like?
Jamie: I’m very curious in general, always watching, reading or listening to something. Making an effort to be conscious of my surroundings helps a great deal- (actually- I just made a picture inspired by a Chinese restaurant’s fish tank..!) I also do journaling, sensory deprivation- aka extended showering, and sketching.
You seem to work a lot with metaphors, what inspires your word play and how does that process unfold?
These photographs were made to accompany a story about the addictive/ harmful effects of sugar. And that’s where the sugar as addictive substance concept comes in. Most photography I am currently working on can be divided in three modes. One being product still life where I’m mainly focused on presenting and creating a mood around an object. The second is reportage, I’m very interested in artifacts. The other is a more illustrative kind of work that’s based on a concept or story. I approach these images much like a copywriter would. Looking for the succinct way of describing something in a powerful one or two word answer, this becomes a jumping off point for brainstorming. Also it was a great experience working with Freya, she gave me a balance of support and freedom to interpret this story.
What was the biggest challenge for the shoot?
One challenge in interpreting this concept was approaching the drug/substance metaphor without being to cheeky/ going over the top. For me it’s fascinating when a picture can say more by showing less. Another was creating a feeling of danger and seduction without being overly dark or gloomy (here we used color to strike a balance).
How did you get your start in photography?
I went to Parson’s in NYC and assisted several different photographers with various styles. Still life seemed to resonate with me mainly because I enjoy experimenting in the studio and the process overall.