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May 21, 2023 3 min read

Well, not really, but it sure looked believable, didn’t it? Our beloved fab photographer Mitchell Franz shares some of the tricks – and tribulations – for creating an interstellar shoot on Earth.

“We really commit to a collection’s concepts,” Mitchell explained. “Editorially, we want to immerse our audience in the era, the environment – or in this case, the atmosphere – of Cheryl’s creative concept. She really lives in that world while she creates and designs, she surrounds herself in sights and sounds of it, movies in the genre, songs, images. So, when it comes time to photograph it for the catalog, she has a pretty clear vision of how she wants the style story to unfold. And then it’s up to us to execute it, which means everything from scouting locations to pulling out all the smoke and mirrors to make sure the audience gets in that world, too.”

We’ve turned a Seguin stage into Nashville, we’ve captured the majesty of the Grand Canyonin the Texas Panhandle, and we’ve created Midnight Cowboy’s Manhattan on South Congress. And this time, we made Mars/the Moon out of a dried-out lakebed in remote West Texas.

“Funny story about the lakebed, actually,” Mitchell chuckled. “We had scouted it and were so excited, like ‘Oh yeah, the color is great, these cracks and crevices are perfect! This can totally work!’ and then went about shooting the other collection we were there to photograph – we often try to piggyback shoots for the sake of models and the team not having to travel twice – and suddenly, we notice water is being pumped into it – like someone turned on a giant faucet and left. So, we had a mini-panic and starting making calls, trying to figure out who was even the right person to reach to stop it. And of course, it’s a race against the clock, because it’s not your average garden hose, this thing is PUMPING. Fortunately, we got in touch with the right person and were able to sweet talk them into holding off for one day, but that meant we had to rearrange our shoot schedule to capture it the one night we had access to it.”

All that is to say, we had to put our gorgeous girls through the ringer once again.

“The plan was always to shoot Throwback to the Future at night, but it wasn’t to shoot it that night,” Mitchell said. “So, it made for an extraordinarily long day, getting re-made up and styled after dinner, after they’d already spent a day on set. And not just them, all of us – the whole team was absolutely beat – but we didn’t have to look beautiful through it!”

The other giant challenge we faced? The lights at night are NOT big and bright – at least not through the lens of the camera.

“We basically made our own moon,” laughed Mitchell. “Or super star, or whatever. We used one of our mega lights that we would normally use from the front to illuminate, but this time we positioned it way far back in the frame, so it gave the illusion of being a big bright something in the sky.”

And let’s not forget the other kooky component of this super-fun shoot: that big ol’ bubble helmet!

“Believe it or not, that clear dome was actually advertised as a helmet, it’s not something we repurposed or fashioned into a helmet. Danielle found it by searching for ‘clear bubble helmet’ or something,” Mitchell said. “Honestly, it was bigger than it needed to be, in my opinion, but I don’t know how else you could’ve had a hole big enough to fit your head in otherwise, I guess. Cheryl wanted an actual astronaut’s helmet, like from a space suit, but shockingly, NASA wouldn’t loan us one.”

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