Creativity from crisis: How Covid-19 made fashion embrace photo shoots by FaceTime

Forced to adapt to the new reality, fashion photographers are turning to iPhones and Wi-Fi to create work

Gigi Hadid in a FaceTime shoot for i-D magazine. Courtesy i-D/Instagram
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Covid-19 may be turning the world upside down, reaching into every aspect of our lives, but it seems there is one part it cannot alter: creativity.

With most of the world still under lockdown (or just leaving it) all normal working routines needed to make magazines has been turned on its head, forcing teams to come up with new alternatives. Thankfully, the industry that is built on creativity has already figured out a solution. Welcome to the FaceTime fashion shoot.

Model Mona Tourgaard in a FaceTime shoot for 'i-D' magazine. Courtesy i-D/Instagram

Using nothing but a bit of ingenuity, an iPhone and a good Wi-Fi connection, increasing numbers of photographers are switching to the chat service to envisage, direct and create beautiful photographs, despite everyone now being in different building, cities and even countries.

One of the first adopters of the technique was i-D magazine, a title already known for its disregard for convention. Under the title "Safe + Sound", it tasked photographer Willy Vanderperre with shooting models such as Gigi Hadid, Binx Walton, Adut Akech and Mona Tougaard for cover images.

The models all had to do their own hair and make-up, and are wearing their own clothes in their own homes, but with Vanderperre giving direction via phone, the resulting images are raw, candid and refreshingly unpompous.

Fashion photographer Kat Irlin has also embraced FaceTime to create a series of individual black and white portraits including two of the original supermodels, Cindy Crawford and Helena Christensen. Totally unstyled and unretouched, the images are beautiful for their absolute simplicity.

Sharing the images on social media, Crawford explained "there’s a first time for everything. Fashion and photography are going to be different for a while, but that doesn’t mean we need to stop being creative."

Cindy Crawford models for Kat Irving, via FaceTime. Courtesy Cindy Crawford/Instagram

Singer Demi Lovato, too, has been quick to embrace the new approach, teaming up with Los Angeles photographer Angelo Kritikos for a FaceTime shoot. In contrast to the normal crowd of stylists, hairdressers, make-up artists and assistants, in contrast this story involved just Lovato and Kritikos.

Of the experience, Kritikos said: “A few days into the stay-home order, I texted Demi my virtual shoot idea ... we wanted to inspire people to stay home and get creative. I don’t feel any pressure to perfect my virtual shoots because I really love the gritty and raw feel to the images. To me, it’s cool how imperfect the photos turn out."

Gigi Hadid's sister, Bella, has also starred in a fashion editorial for the April issue of Vogue Italia, with photographer Brianna Capozzi and stylist Haley Wollens.

Shot entirely in her living room, the images show Hadid going through her poses while clutching a balloon. Of the experience, Hadid wrote on social media that “times are changing and working from home has a new meaning".

She also starred in a separate advertising campaign for Jacquemus, again shot inside her house, this time with photographer Pierre-Ange Carlotti. Wearing no make-up and with her hair scraped off her face, the images are lit by sun coming through a window.

Although the final images are rather racy, they are also are fresh and uncompromising, having done away with all of the artifice of fashion. Thanks to a lot of ingenuity and a bit of technology, these FaceTime shoots could mark a new direction in photography that forgoes big teams and retouching for something raw, unpolished and looking every bit thrown together.

Candid, stripped back and surprisingly normal because of it, this might just be a glimpse of fashion shoots to come.