Twist Collective Blog
Behind the Scenes: Faneuil Hall Shoot
When we photographed our first issue two spring times ago, Kate and talented photographer Caroline Bergeron combed the financial district in Montreal early in the morning to take advantage of the clean and modern lines of the street scape there. Kate and I often talk about the other beautiful places in Montreal worth shooting, but too many of them require a lot of money for location fees, elaborate permit processes, liability insurance, and other charges for which we just don't have money.
When Kate and I were brainstorming about how to get a slightly retro-slash-urban vibe for our "city" shoot for winter, I told her that Faneuil Hall here in Boston has some wonderful street lights that have a great Mary Tyler Moore vibe. She immediately agreed, and handed me that one to organize.
Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market is such a dynamic and busy place, I just knew there would be people I would have to ask, but finding Rebecca was a simple thing thanks to her organized management office, and once she understood what we wanted to do she was all too pleased to say yes.
Photographer Caro Benna Sheridan and I had a few email and phone discussions about the logistics: the crazy weather (we scheduled for three different days that turbulent week), and how we thought the shoot would play out. She soon after made a scouting trip first thing in the morning, and sent me this shot of the crowd at about 9:30 a.m. See those MTM streetlights? Hold your thumb over the cell phone antenna to see what I mean. And then look at the crowd. Several tour buses has just disgorged. At 9:30 a.m. Who for the love of Pete goes on vacation to be breakfasted and on the ground by 9:30 a.m.? Nevermind. It's shopping. I see the point.
We would have to get there at first light to be able to use the place, and so we did. Five of us (photographer, assistant Stitchy, models Jill and Anna Stover, and yours truly) convened on the steps of Quincy Market, grabbed Starbucks, and dressed Anna in her first outfit right there in front of the pastry case. We shot Cecily Glowik MacDonald's Mystère on the steps while we sipped our lattes and made jokes. I regretted that I hadn't shortened the skirt about three more inches, but I so love the red patent leather boots that Jill brought along, I forgave myself, and vowed to fit such things ahead of time on the future.
And there are those great lights, exactly as I imagined we'd see them. The image is clear and free of people clutter, but imagine that same angle with guys in flapping mackintosh raincoats talking on their cells going back and forth every 30 seconds or so. It was early enough that the sun hadn't peeked over the buildings yet, but not so early that there wasn't foot traffic to watch out for. Plus, we were trying to behave ourselves and not block doorways or get in anyone's way as part of the general politesse we worked on all morning in our gratitude to be allowed to shoot in such a great location. We didn't attract much attention, although while Anna dangled from a lamp post in her party dress for Cathy Caron's Bright Star, there was a guy just out of frame to the right enjoying his entire cigarette to the morning's entertainment.
After an hour and several outfits later, Anna had to find a restroom to change as the number of people passing through the place increased. We shot Anna in Kate Gilbert's Kirigami on the side of the market down the long view while we still had a chance for an uncluttered background. We teased Anna about who she was calling. I think that may be Caro's cell phone. I doubt you can actually make this out, but she's wearing a terrific pair of vintage sailor's trousers, the kind with the button panel on the front. They didn't make crop, but they have a not-too-wide leg that was perfect with the sweater's proportions.
As the morning went on, we picked up the pace, sending Anna racing off over the cobblestones in borrowed shoes with the next pile of clothes to change into (Caro snapped a candid of our reflection while we waited for Anna to come back in jeans).
Delivery trucks blocked good vistas, people came in waves, but still the tour buses hadn't arrived. We checked our watches. We had maybe 15 minutes of freedom left.
Caro was in the middle of shooting Mari Muinonen's Orvokki from a stair landing, when suddenly the food service truck pulled away from the eastern facade of Quincy Market. Opportunity! I stopped the shot, hauled everyone over to the corner, threw the coat and the gloves on Jill, handed her Leila Wice's Karazuri Bag and said "Smile, before another truck comes." Want to know what pressure looks like?
Jill's a master at this. And so is Caro, because she took great pictures before a big white van with red Chinese characters pulled up right behind her; we were done whether we like it or not (the van did give me an idea of shooting in Chinatown in the future), so we went back to finish Orovokki. By this time, at least one bus had arrived, as was evident from the groups of people in running shoes who did double takes when they saw us. Small groups stopped to watch and point. If only they knew it was about knitting. ::snicker:: We had four things left to photograph, but we had planned ahead. We used the famous statue of Red Auerbach for two designs, Jennie Eveleigh Lamond's Rover and Mary Ann Stephen's Polar Chullo,
but you can't really tell after the magazine layout focused in on the actual thing we were shooting. At the end of the day, ambience is really only a certain kind of useful.
Two to go. Caro liked the grey door at the front of Faneuil Hall, so we shot Angela Hahn's Plaited Tam and Kristi Schueler's Moxie hat and mitten set on Anna and Jill while they stood on the stairs, strategically blocking gum and bird marks with their heads, hoping Photoshop would do the rest.
Note the suitcase on the cafe table in the foreground: the sum total of all the clothes, shoes, and extras in one American Tourister with dysfunctional wheels (it may be time for an upgrade). Meanwhile, people were gawking all the way across the street, but by now, we had nerves of steel.
Don't you just love Jill's boots? After that, it was a wrap (as they say), so we had brunch together in the rotunda (there's that fabled food court with fresh fruit cups and killer muffins, among other things), and went off in our separate directions. It had already been a long day, and it was only 10 o'clock.
So there you go, pretty much how we do it around here. No magic tricks, just nerves and borrowed clothes. So while I'm on the subject . . . anyone got some sparkly gold shoes I can use for spring?