Buried Treasure: Conceptual Jewelry Shoot

KuohPhotography-BuriedTreasureConcept

As a commercial photographer, there’s nothing I love more than shooting personal projects.This is the best opportunity to show off our creativity and technical abilities. We shoot several personal projects every year, but coming up with a worthwhile project, something that no one has done, and no one has seen isn’t easy. With all the amazing photographers and other creatives out there and the easy and speed at which everything is shared, it leaves very little that hasn’t been tried or done.

WATCH THE 2min BEHIND THE SCENE VIDEO

For those who don’t know, at heart I am a fine art figurative sculptor. I have had a passion for the human form all my life. And it is the human form that drew me to photography in the first place. I’ve had the great fortune of building a successful product and interiors photography business, but I wanted to get back to my roots of working with the human body.

Classical Figurative Sculptures by Thomas Kuoh

Classical Figurative Sculptures by Thomas Kuoh

Figurative Oil Pastel and Charcoal Illustrations by Thomas Kuoh

Figurative Oil Pastel and Charcoal Illustrations by Thomas Kuoh

I am also constantly aware of one simple fact, “Commercial photography is about meeting the client’s needs.” With this in mind, I wanted my shoot to be product focused. Finding the right type of product was another challenge. After working with Litter SF on our Gypsy Tea Party Shoot, it reignited my passion for everything bohemian. So I chose beautiful custom jewelry as the focus of this product shoot.

“Commercial photography is about meeting the client’s needs”

Finding the right pieces to work with was the next challenge. I contacted Manya Nofal after seeing her work on Model Mayhem. She was incredibly gracious in letting me borrow so many pieces. Her work was partly responsible for the concept of the shoot. Their organic form and biomorphic texture paired well with soil and our earthy concept.

Jewelry collection by Manya Nodal

Jewelry collection by Manya Nodal

Lastly, I’ve always wanted to work with the elements, earth, wind, fire, water. There’s already so much amazing work done with fire and water, and I wanted to do something different. So we chose Dirt. “God made Dirt and Dirty Don’t Hurt.” as my 8th grade gym teacher, Mr. Hunter, use to say. Additionally, I really enjoy the play on impermanence and materialism that these three elements symbolizes; the body is temporary, the jewels represent our desire to hold on to our material existence, and the dirt that represents the fierce grace of nature.

CONCEPT MOCKUPS

Photoshop mockups to illustrate the idea. These helped tremendously in communicating my intention.

Photoshop mockups to illustrate the idea. These helped tremendously in communicating my intention.

So we have the concept, now to find the players to fill in the roles. We need a model, a Stylist, more jewelry, a location, assistants, and a BTS videographer to document it all.  For the Model, she would have to be willing to lie still for extended periods of time while half buried in dirt. Stephanie Liest of Model Mayhem was up for the challenge. She’s also an experienced Makeup artist which was big bonus. She had the type of curvy, not too skinny body that I felt would be good for the shoot. She has Grecian proportions and alabaster skin, which I felt would add to the mystery of the finished product. And she was a total trooper.

WATCH US BURY HER ALIVE!

We wanted to make sure she was ok under all that dirt so we gathered foam mattresses and heating pads to keep her comfy and warm during each pose. Each shot took nearly 45 min to compose, and during one of the poses her leg cramped up and she didn’t say a thing. We only found out after the shoot. AMAZING! Thank you Stephanie!!!

A-TEAM ROSTER

Stylist: Oceana Larson
Model: Stephanie Leist
Video: Israel Perez Hortal
Assistant 1: Fedor Polyushko
Assistant 2: Nelson Lau

Jeweler #1: Manya Nofal (leather necklaces and head piece)
Jeweler #2: Angela Blessing (Pearl back piece)
Jeweler #3: LitterSF (chains, and metal pieces)

BURIED TREASURE FINAL PHOTOS – ENJOY!