This was from a shoot for the LA Times Magazine I did during a brief stint living in downtown Los Angeles. For a year I sublet a large loft space in an artist building just a few months after graduating, my first and last traditional photo studio. It was pretty raw, with no real walls or doors, my bed on the floor in a corner and the majority of the space set up for work. I had a view out the back of the train tracks and it was close to little Tokyo which was going through a resurgence of sorts.
I shot this on a very overcast day, purposely under exposing it by a stop then pushing the film to get this high contrast grainy effect. The model is Pam Piper, in town from NYC and her beautiful skin and unusual eyebrows made her one of my favorites. I worked with her quite a few times over the years. The suite was by Valentino and was one of the most expensive clothing items I'd photographed on a model at that point.
A scan of an enlarged "dupe" is all I have left of this shoot. Sadly, a lot of the originals of my fashion work are MIA. Not being diligent about getting them back from magazines, poor organization of my files and even throwing some stuff away during big moves are the main reasons I've lost so much of it over the years. Thankfully I was a bit more careful with my celebrity work.
I got to work with another amazing "out of town" girl, Lucy Cunningham, a London based model who had worked with one of my idols, Sarah Moon among many other great photographers. I was able to book her for a not so great but pays the rent clothing line job. She was kind enough to stay after and do this test shoot on the roof of my studio. Shooting with tungsten film gave it the blue tint and then I printed the b&w on color paper to add a blue tone. This was the way we did filters back in the day, really not a new concept just a bit trickier. Styled by Tracy Kirst with h&m by Jetty Stutzman.
Another from that period, shooting outside my back door on those very train tracks with Brian Setzer for Rolling Stone. It was my first assignment for them and I was pretty excited. Working for them had been a big goal and out of the blue the phone rang and it was Laurie Kratochvil the then photo editor. She had seen work I'd done for US Magazine, this was before it became a weekly tabloid when it was considered the movie's version of Rolling Stone. I used Polapan film, a wide angel lens and a portable strobe unit to get this shot.
When conceptualizing a shoot, the first thing I usually consider is where I will shoot it. Once I have an idea of where, I can usually start visualizing the actual shot. So I 'm constantly filing possible locations away when I come across one I like. One of the best uses for a phone camera is the ability to keep more than just a mental note. You might need to get permission before hand and be sure to also keep in mind the best time of day light wise. Traffic and parking might also be an issue if you're scouting on a weekend but shooting on a weekday. If possible try to scout it at the same time and day your plan to shoot.
Recently I was commissioned to shoot local pro pool player Oscar Dominguez for Billiards Digest. I considered shooting him at a pool hall but wanted to avoid the obvious and the idea of Montrose Bowl popped into my head. For me it was a cool retro backdrop and a bit of a humorous twist on the usual place you'd find a world class player.
I love a good diner location. For a recent assignment to photograph inspirational cancer survivor Linda Salivate for Providence Magazine, I chose Bobby's in Woodland Hills. When she told me she lived in that area it immediately popped into my head and they were nice enough to let use shoot there. I knew the front window got beautiful afternoon light and I love the character of this place. Excellent pancakes too!
When putting this fashion editorial together for Rue Magazine, I knew early on I wanted to use the Toys location, which is actually the alley behind Tom's Toys in Montrose. However it was just the day before the shoot that I went to a Big Lots in my hood just as the late afternoon light was hitting it. I was captivated by that and the graphic MCM designed building contrasting with the shopping carts. Inspiration hit and we wrapped our shoot there the next afternoon.
In the early 80s Polaroid introduced a new series of Auto Processing 35mm Films which came with their own pack of developer. You needed to buy a special low tech plastic gadget in order to process the film. The most popular were Polachrome for color and the B&W was called Polapan. Oh and best of all it was magical. The color had a beautiful, luminous quality to it and a unique, almost digital looking grain. Above is an old favorite using Polachrome from a fashion shoot I did for the magazine Sportswear International with the wonderful Charlene Short.
It did have it's challenges, extra delicate as you can see from these photos of Mitzi Martin where the developing layer stuck to the film while processing. I was able to save these by carefully washing off the layer, resulting in this distressed finish. Something I considered a "happy accident" and thankfully so did my editor. It was also hard for publications & their printers to work with. I think it was Rip Georges, back then the art director for LA Style Magazine who figured out you could have the originals duplicated to film and then use that to reproduce it. Lessening the risk the originals would be damaged.
all photos & content © Lara Rossignol
I've been pretty busy since ending my previous blog Piewacket almost a year ago. Working with some amazing new clients, taking on teaching at NYFA and most exciting, a photography book project with Chronicle Books. Still, I miss having that little space on the inter-web that allowed me to share my world with others. So I am back with some truly fresh and (I hope) extra tasty pie! Fresh Pie Press will be kind of re-booted Piewacket with just a bit more emphasis on photography.
So it seemed fitting, as a first post to begin at the beginning. This photo is one of the first successfully "composed" photos I ever took. Taken when I was about 18, using a friend as my model, posing her against the back of my garage and all the right things alining just so resulting in something magical. Less than a year later I was in Art School and it was there I began experimenting with printing images using mount tissue. I placed it in the easel, exposing the image through it to the paper below. That was how this print was created, think of it as an "old school" instagram filter.