When Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” won for best music video at the Grammy Awards it reminded me of a very fun project I did for Stockroom/Syren. Taylor used many of Syren’s designs in the video, and they asked me to put together a team of models to wear the same clothing and play the parts of the characters they created.
The video is a James Bond-like fantasy world, where a group of women are trained as a team of elite spies or assassins. It’s very slick and modern, and has an anime quality to it, with bigger than life characters, explosions, and over the top weapons.
Casting was a bit tricky. When you have a beauties like Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, and Ellie Goulding to match it can be almost daunting. For Selena Gomez I chose Jessica Ryan. Both Selena and Jessica have large round “rosy” cheeks and full lips, and with the addition of a black page boy wig Jessica was just right for the part. For Ellie Goulding I chose a model visiting from Birmingham UK named Tamar Roxx. Tamar is a musician/singer as well and has similar blonde hair, body type, and strong facial features of Ellie Goulding. For Taylor Swift I had a few models in mind, and Elena Vladi, singer for the band “Red Queen” had the same nordic look as Taylor Swift with high cheekbones, and big blue eyes.
The client asked that the girls be shot on a white background, so that the graphics department would be able to edit them into alternate scenes if they wished. Here is an example I quickly put together in photoshop with a few backgrounds I found on the internet.
After gathering props for the girls and picking up all the clothing from the designer, I had everyone over to my DTLA studio. I set up my 9 foot seamless white backdrop, and since the girls would be together in many of the shots (and also moving around) I decided to go for a simple lighting setup – just making sure that all areas were well lit and even. This way I know I have good light all around and no one is casting harsh shadows in any direction.
With the help of Xanthia Pink doing makeup and hair, it took a full afternoon (about 5-6hrs) to cover all the sets and poses I wanted to portray. The shoot was “Fun Deluxe!” This is one of those days where I realized how lucky I am to be able to do what I love. The girls and I had a great time and their energy showed in the final result.
Following is a gallery with some of our final shots, along with some screenshots from Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” video for comparison and reference. (Click to Enlarge) I’ve also included a link to Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” video on Youtube. Taking a quick look at that will give you a much clearer idea how I chose the people, props, and poses for this shoot.
Finally, with some time to spare, (and with Tamar’s prodding) I created a character of my own named Agent Tomasso Vendetti, and had some fun taking a few shots together with her at the end!
Initially when I was approached for this I knew it would be a daunting task, but I think you’ll see that all the preparation really paid off and we were able to capture a bit of the “feel” of the scenes. You can watch the “Bad Blood” video here, directed by Kendrick Lamar. Also, see below for external links to the fashions and accessories used in this shoot and Taylor’s video.
(click on any photo to enlarge)