Award-winning photographer Cade Martin recently completed a project with Bryant Prince as senior art director. Prince worked at Subject Matter in D.C. and now is senior art director at FCB Chicago. In an interview, Cade Martin discussed the project and how he became involved.

Cade, tell us how this project began and your role in it.

Relationships, relationships and relationships that turn into friendships. I met and worked with Bryant Prince about two years ago. We immediately hit it off and he is one of those guys that you want to always hang out with. Flash forward to COVID times and he was working on a personal project for, and with, his wife Shawnicy Marie and asked me if I was interested in getting involved.  I was.

You know how some people talked about quarantine and grim, distanced days as an opportunity to create? Shawnicy Marie did more than talk about it; she finished her first full-fashion collection. Enlisting the help of Bryant and his creative partner, Jimmy Carroll, they built a creative vision and team with an eye on spirited collaboration.

At what point in the creative process did you join the team? 

I was immediately interested when Bryant reached out about the project. At that point, I had no idea what we are doing but I knew it was going to be fun regardless of what we ended up doing.  Once we got started with the ideation phase and knocking around ideas, concepts evolved and the project was based on “Alice in Wonderland”, the collection is focused around the interplay between Alice and the three main characters, Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts. These are clothes that speak to the power of our self-belief, self-expression and the fun of what makes you feel good – as Shawnicy puts it – “falling face-first into a pile of prints and going for it.” It was a delight to be a part of the creative team born of such joy and the purpose of making something special during a time that has often felt heavy. We went for it.

You’ve said that you wanted this shoot to be a mix of Alice in Wonderland and Willy Wonka. Both of these storylines are about being ready for whatever comes your way — only by venturing into the unknown will you discover what lies on the other side. What did you find during this shoot? 

This was a free flowing, follow your gut type, best type of project.  There were no rules – everyone was open and game for exploration, so we embraced the ability to experiment.

Going in, I loosely had the idea of the lighting the set based on Irving Penn’s iconic corner portrait series. On set, things evolved as they do and tweaks were made to the lighting design to fit the set and placement of talent. Once I got behind the tripod, I thought of the hallway scene in Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka where they were playing with scale, so I took the camera off of the tripod, put on a wide-angle lens and got as close to the subjects as I could and played with distortion.

What about the logistics of the shoot? Where did this take place? Did you have a particular mindset going into it since it was during COVID?

Because of COVID, we had a scaled-down crew and took all of the appropriate safety precautions. We worked in a studio and created two different sets. This was a passion project, so there was no budget and we created everything – built the set, shot the images and did tear down – all in one day.  This was definitely a labor-of-love project. It was also one of those days where everyone had their flow going. It is always great to work with people that you really like and doing what you love to do.

 

Cade Martin, the award-winning photographer behind our Up Close and Personal series, is a Capitol Communicator sponsor.

 

 

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