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The Guerrilla Photo Shoot Inside a Busy Supermarket

The inspiration for this November shoot came about organically and over time. First was Chanel’s much talked about Fall/Winter 2014/2015 Ready-to-Wear fashion show, where an entire supermarket was recreated as a catwalk. The models didn’t so much strut, as they shopped their way through the makeshift supermarket runway, reminiscent of your local Target.

Second was the Moschino Spring 2015 collection featuring the rebranded Barbie and McDonald’s themes. Both shows took everyday icons and turned them into high fashion. Both shows unashamedly represented consumerism. This led us to our idea.

Taking the consumerist-theme and putting a LA twist on it, we shot guerrilla style and on location with the Sony A7 paired with a manual focus Leica Summaron 35mm f/2.8 lens. We shot this series with a mix of Terry style and candid photography. The ever-gorgeous Wolfy from the band Wrathschild was our model and her look was provided by celebrity makeup artist Joann Persephone, who will soon be joining iLHP!  I hope you enjoy our shoot as much as we did.

The 99 Cents Only Store

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You’ve been to dollar stores, but you might not have been to the LA staple that is the 99 Cents Only stores. With its low cost shopping and brightly colored backgrounds, this chain is featured in one of the most expensive photographs ever sold in history, the 99 Cent II Diptychon by Andreas Gursky worth 2.5 million dollars.

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Homogeneously stacked shelves and stale fluorescent lighting was a challenge, but it certainly gave us an unorthodox setting for an unordinary shoot. The model was wearing a Chanel inspired tweed top, tight pink jeans, and patent silver sneaker. A gold belly chain complimented her long braids.

Ralph’s Supermarket

Don't worry. We paid for the milk and the cereal. Clean up on aisle 3!
Don’t worry. We paid for the milk and cereal.

Like your Shaw’s, Food Lion, Piggly Wiggly, or whatever regional supermarket chain that you’ve never heard, Ralph’s is what we have in California. The model wore a long white bathroom as an ode to The Dude from The Big Lebowski(a LA reference). I found that the mixed light was particularly difficult to correct for in Lightroom.

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Squirt Soda, the grapefruit flavored thirst quencher with the euphemistic name.

I realized soon afterwards that the color temperature of my Meike MK300 flash didn’t match the lighting in the market. Duh. Next time, I will remember to bring orange gels so I can equalize the flash color temperature against the background fluorescent lighting. Lesson learned.

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We did get a few strange looks but, by large, Californians are very friendly and non-confrontational. It helps that this was a few days before Thanksgiving and the supermarket was teeming with shoppers too busy with their own grocery lists. Your experience may vary.

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The 35mm focal length was too long so the model’s left foot was unfortunately out of the frame.

Admittedly, a manual focus 35mm lens was probably a bad idea. This was a very fast paced guerrilla shoot, full of shoot and scoots. I definitely recommend an autofocus lens, preferably a zoom because even 35mm on a full frame camera is too long in many scenarios.

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People were genuinely amused at what we were doing. The goal is not to look suspicious, which is really hard to do with long braids and a bathrobe. But then again, this is LA. Weird is normal.

I’m sure you should get a permit to shoot in a private establishment, but throughout our shoot, nobody bothered us nor did we make a scene. We paid for everything that we consumed plus we did a little grocery shopping. I can tell you for a fact that my heart was racing for the whole time I was there.

In-And-Out Burger

in-and-out-burgerNothing is more Californian than In-and-Out Burger. We stopped in for a few Double Doubles, Animal Style, and their delicious strawberry milkshakes.

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An impressionable young boy at the table next to us was particularly enamored with Wolfy. I’m quite sure he fell in love. Who can blame him?

Circus Liquor

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Before we ended our night, we stopped by Circus Liquor in North Hollywood to pay homage to the 1995 classic, Clueless. Here, Alicia Silverstone’s character was ditched by her date in the skeevy San Fernando Valley.

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A still from the movie Clueless (top). Our homage (bottom).

Gone are the pay phone underneath the clown sign. Hard to believe so much has changed in 20 years. Hard to believe it’s been 20 years since the movie Clueless.

Special thanks to our beautiful model Wolfy and the talented Joann Persephone for her great hair and makeup. Please check out Wrathschild’s new album “Birds” on iTunes.

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