How do you create a safe and authentic cover shoot amid a near-global lock down? RUSSH fashion director at large Anna Foster takes us behind the scenes with model Heather Kemesky and model-photographer Erika Linder - the couple that made it all possible.
As a bit of fashion control freak, if you had told me that I would be virtually styling a shoot in L.A. via London via Zoom I would have stopped you before you had said the word WiFi. However the cover shoot for RUSSH's new Connection issue has probably been the best experience I've had in my entire career.
Our May cover shoot was meant to be shot mid March, just as the world shut down. At first no one really knew how long this would last, news was vary varied per country, per day. Our Editor in Chief Jess (in Sydney) and I (in London) discussed many options, one dim hope being that lock down might be relaxed at the end of April. I think this idea came from one of naïve positivity. But within a few days it became devastatingly apparent that life was never really going back to normal. Even if restrictions had been relaxed and we had been able to do a ‘normal’ shoot, we both felt that any shoot that wasn’t reflective of the worldwide situation would be completely out of touch. That it would lack any compassion, any connection.
Connection; the theme of the issue: “A celebration of communities, intimacy, kinship. Living not only for ourselves but being a part of something bigger. And understanding that our significance is not so much in virtue of our individuality but rather as a member of human society.” So many of the sentiments Jess had written in her theme notes last November were unknowingly more poignant than ever.
Creating in isolation; bonding over Disney: Anna Foster, Heather Kemesky and Erika Linder.
Weeks out from our printing date, we were still without a cover model. We worked closely with our casting creative Megan McCluskie and discovered that Heather Kemesky and Erika Linder were isolating in L.A. With Heather as model and Erika as photographer, and a relationship spanning eight years, this was is an honest and true representation of a couple in isolation. One that felt most relevant to us at RUSSH.
With only a handful looks on a mood board, the girls and I first spoke over Zoom the week before the shoot. From the moment we said ‘Hi’ I no longer had concerns. Heather probably loves great fashion as much as I do, and Erika was committed to capturing their lives as honestly as possible. Frankly, when a model and photographer loves everything on your (limited) mood board, you know it’s going to be OK.
We bonded over living in L.A., relationships, love, first meetings, family, kids, morning routines, how much we love our work, and weirdly enough, Disneyland. They shot over three days, produced the most emotional, raw and honest shoot I have had the pleasure to be part of. These girls are incredible, a true representation of love and my friends for life. I hope you enjoy this story, this true connection.