Tell us about yourself! Where are you from?
I grew up running around a bit. I lived overseas in Mallorca and London for a while before my family settled in the large, weird state of Florida, but we still had family overseas, so I never had to sit still for too long. I always felt out of place in suburbia, so I fled to New York as soon as I finished school. I had plans to pursue an MFA, but instead I quickly fell into working on photo sets and was never able to look back.
When did you first become interested in photography?
My grandfather was, among a wide variety of other amazing things, a photographer. My family traveled in that cool, easy way that you could during the ’70s and ’80s, and we would all sit together after dinner and he would show me the world and my family through the slides he would project onto the walls of our home, and it transported me. When he gave me my first camera, a Canon AE-1, one of the cameras that he had used to capture all these incredible moments and places, I was hooked. I may not have had the pyramids of Egypt or plains of Africa to work with like he had, but looking through that camera, it made every scene, even the most banal, become magical and momentous. It finally felt like I had found an outlet to capture the beautiful mix of isolation, wonder and desire to be understood that adolescence can bring out.
What drew you specifically towards fashion photography?
My background is actually in fine art photography. I went to school at the University of Florida, which surprisingly had a great arts school. There was a program we did called WARPhaus, which was a yearlong, intensive crash course in all media and forms of conceptual and contemporary art that cultivated an environment to explore creativity while discovering work that had come before us. I was particularly drawn to the Dada movement and the reversal of gaze that I discovered in ’70s and ’80s conceptual photography. I still find myself trying to explore that in the fashion work I have been doing. In all the photography work that I develop, it becomes about taking this instant and allow it to become timeless and more expansive, using it to make a statement or put forth a message.
When I got to NY I started working on fashion and advertising sets, and it couldn’t have been more the opposite of everything I had studied. The focus was on how to manipulate forms and figures, specifically the female figure, to do exactly what you needed to sell what needed to be sold. But there was a beauty in the honesty of the industry that really attracted me after 4 years of art school. No one was denying that they were using lights, makeup, and actors or models to make an image exactly what they needed. The technicality and precision behind it all was something that I had always wanted in creating conceptual art pieces, and I started to realize that within the collaborative aspect of making fashion work, from the designer to the art director to the lighting tech to the hair and makeup artist, it could all be curated to tell a story exactly how you envisioned it in your head.
Who are your favourite photographers?
Man Ray, Gregory Crewdson, Nan Goldin, Jeff Wall, Diane Arbus, Lee Freelander David Hamilton, Helmut Newton, Juergen Teller, Billy Kidd, Hannah Hoch, William Eggleston, Alex Webb, Jamie Hawkesworth …. The list could go on forever! People are doing amazing things these days, even with their iPhones. There is probably some 10-year-old in the middle of nowhere doing incredible things I’ll see on Instagram tomorrow and take inspiration from.
Where do you look for inspiration, other than in photography?
Art history, subcultures, neon lights, interesting faces, different shades of light throughout the day, design of all sorts, color, cinematography, a fantastic location that needs to be explored, music, different time periods, stories I’ve read or heard that need to be re-told.
What do you look for in a creative team?
Finding a collaborative team who understand the general concept of what you are going for and then add to it has been crucial for my workflow. I am so lucky to work with an amazingly talented art director, Katy Smail (ig: @ktsmail). She has helped me with this shoot and a few of my other recent projects. Having someone who can act as a second set of eyes and give insight about the big picture allows you to feel like you can really explore each moment you are shooting.
Tell us about this shoot; what’s the story behind it?
A friend of mine has a gorgeous space in Brooklyn, NY, where the natural light throughout the course of the day travels and makes these fantastic shapes and colors. I wanted to show the feeling of moving with the light throughout the day. The stylist, Katie James (http://katiemjames.com), and Katy Smail thought it could be fun to use this to go for a ’90s vibe, which I think was one of the heydays of ennui, so we went that direction with the styling, hair and makeup.
How did you go about casting your model?
I am always looking for an interesting, unique face. You can have the entire shoot team and moodboards and production in place, but it often doesn’t click together until you finalize the model. For this shoot Katy helped pull together packages from different model agencies in NY, and when we saw Anna (the model in the story), we thought she would be a great fit for the styling and the overall look of what we were going for. Plus, with those bright eyes I knew she would look gorgeous interacting with the different hard and soft light moments we were aiming to capture.
Do you always work with the same hair and make up teams?
I am really lucky to be surrounded by quite a few talented hair and makeup artists. I think when you have a relationship with people that comes from shooting together a lot, there tends to be a little bit of mind-melding that occurs where they are able to interpret the overall concept or storyline and then put their spin on it, often in a way that you never would have thought of before – which is the best!
What’s coming up soon that you’re most excited about? Any fun projects?
The fashion and commercial world is changing. There is a push to try to showcase a more realistic approach to the body, which I couldn’t love more. I want to use every shape, color, gender and anything else I can get my hands on in my work. While I do think digital manipulation is here to stay, there are pockets of work where it is starting to be used for good instead of evil, by which I mean for less body-shaping and manipulation in post-production and more of a focus toward creating a mood and look with color and layering of images. I’m looking forward to making a wider body of work that showcases that.
Where can our readers stay up to date with you, and your work?
They can check out my website, baileyrobb.com, which features my photography and the work I do with my post-production company, and my Instagram, @baileeer, usually has a showcase of my travels, featured collabs and inspirations.
Lighting Assistant: Wesley Sun // ig: @wsunphoto