Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Behind the Scenes of Bradford: Photographer John Barone

As part of our effort to provide a truly unique reading experience, we worked with talented Philly-based photographer John Barone to put together a marathon two-day shoot featuring Spencer, Madison, Paige, Regan, Tyler, Dalton, and Ryder Jared.

On the first day, we started out on the campus of Chestnut Hill College, which doubles as the campus of Bradford Prep. Despite the fall weekend, the temperatures were in the 90s(!!), and the humidity was through the roof! But our models, stylist, hair & makeup, and the rest of the crew were real sports, making the best of the sweltering day despite the fact that everything took about three times as long. We arrived at our second location (the photographer's studio) about 3 hours late, where we grabbed fake publicity and paparazzi shots of Hollywood hunk Ryder Jared. We also took some really amazing photos of Spence, Mads, and Regan for book #2 (one happens to be the photographer's favorite image from the shoot, and is posted below). Then, it was off to bed before an early call the next morning.

On day 2 of the shoot, our location was Pearl, a swanky restaurant/lounge in Center City that doubled as Saketini, Soirée, and Bar Fetish. Being indoors, it was much more relaxed for the models, but there was a lot of work for the crew to make the mini-sets look like completely different places. It was another long day, but we had plenty of fun making fake cocktails for the girls to hold (colorful, but non-alcoholic) and photographing some of the super scandalous events from book #1.

All in all, the models, crew, and photographer were all wonderfully patient, super creative, and a very entertaining. And today, as part of our Behind the Scenes at Bradford theme, we have a chat with photographer John Barone.

Please tell us a little about your photography background. How did you get started? What’s your specialty?

I have a four-year degree in art with a studio concentration in photography. Post college, I spent an additional 5 years expanding my education, between working in a pro photo lab, interning, and working as a freelance photo assistant. I started shooting commercial jobs back in 1997, but officially started my commercial and editorial business in 2000.

The Bradford photo shoot involved 2 days, 3 locations, 7 models, and a ton of wardrobe, lighting, and set changes. Have you ever done a photo shoot as crazy as this one before?
Oh, most definitely. Multi-day jobs all seem to be crazy. At least this one was local and not across the country.

What was the most difficult part of the photo shoot?
I would have to say the time allotted for production and actual shooting. It always seems like if we could just have more time we could take things to a whole other level . . . or at least catch our breath on the level we are presently on . . . LOL.

How many people worked on the photo shoot, and what were some of their jobs?
I think the on-site crew totaled 17 people. There were 2 art directors, 1 photographer (me), a first photo assistant, a second photo assistant, 2 photo interns to help with the runaround stuff, 1 hair & makeup person, 2 wardrobe people, and 7 models. But there were countless others that helped with production tasks like securing our locations and casting our models.

You took an amazing variety of photos during the Bradford shoot, from casual snapshot-style photos, to simulated celebrity publicity shots, to fake paparazzi and mug shots. How challenging was it for you to take so many different types of photos in two days?
It wasn’t too bad. I enjoyed the freedom I was given to experiment with some new lighting techniques.

Which shot was the most complicated to set up, and what made it so difficult?
The most difficult shots were probably those at Saketini. While the shots were close and intimate, we needed to light the entire room to set the mood. We used quite a few lights and many different colored gels.

What was the most fun for you to shoot?
I really enjoyed everything we shot, but I would say I had the most fun taking the paparazzi and the fashion show shots.

If you could only pick one image from the photo shoot as your favorite, which one would it be?
Hmmmm . . . that’s a tough one. I’d have to say that there is a shot of Regan during the runway fashion show that I absolutely love. All the models were amazing, but I really felt that she connected with me best throughout the entire shoot and it totally came through in that shot.

Thanks for hanging out with us today, John!


  1. Oh wow, what a great interview! I'm really excited to see more of the images!

  2. Wow! I love that everything surrounding the Bradford Novels is so real! The locations and John's fabulous shots look like something straight out of a fashion magazine. Definitely not like most books out there. Everything is so original!!!

  3. Thanks, guys--a lot of work goes into making sure that we're creating an entire universe for you that you can play in once you've finished reading the books, as you can see!

  4. very cool! i had no idea how many people were involved in the shoot! all the photos i've seen look great!

  5. I know, the logistics of the whole thing are staggering...but it obviously paid off!

  6. And believe it or not, we actually could have used some extra help!

    BTW, once you've read the book, you've totally got to check out the character blogs, many of which have photos from this shoot posted—but be careful, they do have some SPOILERS!! (Look for links to them in the left column.)

  7. Kudos to John and to everyone involved, from the models to the art directors to the graphic designers to the makeup and hair stylists!

  8. can you tell us where the clothes are from? Micol, did you visit the set?

  9. I wasn't there! But maybe Liz knows.

  10. The stylist got a lot of the clothes from H&M (they have some very fashion-forward knockoffs), department store sales, and even some from her own closet!

    A couple of the dresses were described very specifically in the text, and she said she was surprised by how lucky she was in finding dresses that fit the bill—we didn't have to change any of the descriptions, which is unusual.

    Also, the dress that Regan is wearing in the cast/crew wrap shot above actually belonged to one of the other models!

    An insider's hint: the models all brought suitcases filled with shoes and some basic pieces like black pants, jeans, and such. That way, the stylist only had to worry about the really noticeable things like tops, dresses, and jewelry.

  11. Of course, we DID still have to adjust a few things in the text so that fashions that I described matched the fashions from the shoot (Spencer's fashion show dress comes to mind). So many details to keep track of!