Just back from the star-studded, if somewhat subdued 75th Academy Awards ceremonies, Jennifer Graylock is enthusiastic, focused, composed. After 18 years of capturing glamorous celebrities at home or in public, in backstage beauty portraits, and runway spectacles, Graylock has the skill and class to deliver stunning images on budget, on time, and with a certain calm.
The founder, CEO, and creative dynamo of Graylock.com, Graylock has worked alongside high-fashion, high-profile photographers and news documentary photographers, as well as a prestigious, passionate clientele. Since her days at Fashion Wire Daily, where, as a founding member and VP of photography, she was in charge of hiring photographers, getting credentials, producing shoots, and hiring models when needed, her mantra has been quality, not quantity.
The same mantra prevails at Graylock.com, a full-service photographic agency, where Graylock and her top-flight photographers are ready at a moment's notice to cover assignments in New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, London, Milan, and Paris. "Celebrity, entertainment, and fashion photography can be trying, but we never undercut, opting to give clients the best material and keep our reputation stellar."
Fashion Fast & Furious
Some two months a year, Graylock is in high demand during Fashion Weeks. During a typical Fashion Week, she works non-stop from early in the morning to late at night. "The shows are back to back with little or no time to eat or sleep. It's a marathon. Assistants work fast and furious processing and transmitting the images to agents, magazines, and syndicators." Her images are syndicated by the Associated Press/Wide World photos, with Retna Ltd. serving as her main agent for global coverage.
During the Fall 2003 Collections, she was the official Mercedes-Benz Fall 2003 NY and LA photographer, covering everything from backstage beauty to front row celebrity to runway shows. During the NY Fall 2003 Collections alone, Graylock personally shot close to 30,000 images in eight days.
It's Show Time
A behind-the-scenes look at our cover image, a '40s retro outfit from Donna Karan's Spring 2003 Collection, gives us the photographer's view of a runway show.
Job one is securing the best position along the runway from which to shoot. Dead center is generally the "primo" position because it's where the models have eye contact with the house video camera. "The idea is to get there an hour or so before the show or have someone else get there early to save your position," Graylock explains. "When I'm backstage and see the models starting to get dressed I go 'front of house' and wait for the show to begin."
She shoots all available light with her Nikon D1x and 80-200mm f/2.8 Nikkor zoom. "During the walk through, when the video crew does their light test, I test my color balance. The crew may even say 'pure tungsten' or 'mix.' I set the camera to tungsten or automatic, insert a Lexar Media 512MB or 1GB CompactFlash card, and keep another card handy for extra storage. The Lexar cards are incredible. If you ever get into a situation where images are corrupted or unreadable, Lexar's Image Rescue software will retrieve them and pull them up."
Once in position, she's essentially locked in. "At times it's so crowded you really can't breathe," says Graylock. "Shooting digitally is so much easier here. Photographers using film have to manage two camera bodies and need to change rolls of film in a very tight spot."
Graylock shoots every outfit as the model starts down the runway, midway down the runway, and when she or he stops at the end and poses. "I like to give clients a little of everything. That post at the end of the runway is too close for my lens to get full frame. That's that's when I do my detail shots of faces, earrings, shoes, purses, necklaces, nails." The majority of photographers don't do that. Actually some only shoot beauty (the face) on the runway. Others only shoot shoes, or jewels, or total runway.
Immediately following the show, production begins in the press area. Within an hour, Graylock's magazine clients will be sent a hi-res CD containing one shot of every outfit from which to make their picks. "They don't have time to review 500 images, so we edit for them. No time to color correct; we just rotate images, caption, and burn to CD and deliver or transmit by the Internet."
Designer clients receive two CDs: one containing an edited selection and one of unedited, raw files. "I give them enough choices to make them happy and see that their vision comes across for buyers and other clients. I also give them proof sheets to save them the time and trouble of looking through hundreds of digital files." Within 24 hours, the client has the two CDs and proofs.
There's also the celebrity component to a fashion show. When the show is over and photographers run up to celebrities and start shooting away, Graylock isn't among them. She patiently waits for them to leave and asks the celebrities if they would mind being photographed. She gets her pictures—her way.
Yearround, Graylock.com accommodates client needs, from celebrity portrait sittings, at-home or location portraits, fashion layouts, events, premiers, to awards shows, fashion shows, and look books.