November-December 2014 … The Global Online Magazine of Arts, Information & Entertainment … Volume 10, Number 6
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Gabrielle Revere: Photographer

©Gabrielle Revere
Lindsey Wixson photographed back stage at the Donna Karan Spring 2011 Runway Show.

The Handwriting’s On Her Wall

by Mike Foldes

September 24, 2010

Photographer
Gabrielle Revere

It’s a beautiful warm day in New York when photographer Gabrielle Revere and I meet for lunch at the Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District in New York to discuss her career and work. Her photos have appeared in numerous magazines, from Spin to Seventeen, and her celebrity subjects include Justin Beiber, Avril Lavigne, and Carrie Underwood, to name a few.  Along the way to a certain level of success, she combined her time and money with a stipend from the Dove Foundation to create a series titled, “I only have eyes for you.”

The passing traffic – taxis and trucks – make me wary of sidewalk dining; the atmosphere inside is deceptively better, and besides, it’s air conditioned. Deceptive, because the background clatter turns out to be a killer for any but a very high-end, noise-canceling, audio recording device, which I do not have.

Signature image from Gabrielle Revere’s “I Remain, You Desire” exhibit featuring model Lindsey Wixon.

The reception  for Revere’s exhibit at Sotheby’s, “I Remain, You Desire,” hosted by Milk Studios founder Mazdack Rassi, and stylist Mary Alice Stephenson, took place a few nights before, and she was still high on the turnout which included among others Anna Sui and Duncan Hanna. The series features 16-year-old model Lindsey Wixson, who Revere met during New York Fashion Week in 2009, and subsequently helped bring to the fashion modeling forefront.

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I Remain, You Desire / Gabrielle Revere

Gabrielle Revere’s “I Remain, You Desire” exhibit featuring model Lindsey Wixon.

View larger photos from the gallery please enter the FS button.

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Revere lives in Brooklyn, which, she says, is living in the city with a bit of country quiet at the same time. It reminds her of San Francisco, or Paris, she says later in our conversation. She does not have a studio, and most often works at Milk.

“For the past six years, their brand has exploded. So, in a way, I’ve grown up with that.  I was one of the first photographers to shoot there, and with that they took me on as one of the family. They have the entire second floor and the entire eighth floor. The way they have it set up is that you don’t really have to do anything but show up and set up in the studio, and your clients show up, and they treat you like royalty. And everything is at your fingertips. It’s fully digital right now. You can rent about any kind of photo equipment you can possibly imagine. They are there for you. Everybody shoots there. I mean like top notch — Vogue, Vanity Fair, TV commercials.

“It’s such a huge organization, yet it’s still very personal. And they’ve branched out into video and film as well. One-stop shopping. They had a video nominated for video awards. They’ve really just come to life.”

“There’s so much celebrity content that goes on at Milk Studios — like the covers for Glamour, covers for Rolling Stone, covers for Spin… They’ll have their video companies come in and shoot videos of “behind the scenes”, and everything goes viral so fast with the internet. The viewer can go on spin.com, look at the cover shoot – look at it as it’s being shot, and it’s all very current and now.

With the advent of digital, a photographer can shoot all day long and not have to worry about the cost of developing film and printing contacts sheets, let alone the time it takes. How much of her own editing does she do?

GR: “Usually what I do either the day of, or the day after, depending on how long the shoot goes for and I might need a little time to digest, I go through all of the images and edit out what I think isn’t acceptable for me to publish. And, you might say depending on what the client needs, I pretty much have to give them every single thing.”

R: You don’t shoot film at all?

GR: Not at all. I would if somebody would let me.

R: What do you mean, “Let me.”?

Fern #1, 2004 Polaroid 20”x24’

GR: The industry has become a digital industry…. I grew up shooting an 8×10, a 4×5. I’ve shot Polaroid 24×24. The Mamiya RZ Pro II was my camera for years. I still have it. I love that camera. I took that camera all around the world, but now there’s a (digital) back for the Mamiya, so now I can shoot the Mamiya digital… Digital has inched itself into the world where I support myself. Two or three years ago I had a job and I said, “I want to shoot film, I want to use my Mamiya.” It’s a different quality, it’s a different camera. It will help me make my work beautiful. And now they make (digital) backs that are compatible with these cameras, so it’s hard for the photographers to sell film. And obviously, when you’re shooting with your clients there, you’re tethered to a computer screen. The clients are so used to seeing images come up immediately it’s pretty impossible to compete with that. For even a day. They don’t even want to wait a day.

R: Some people still shoot film and transfer to digital.

GR: When I first made the digital transition a lot of my archives, the quintessential parts of my work, had to be transferred to digital. I had to scan, color correct…. I did it, but it’s $100 to $200 a scan for drum scans, and then you have to take the time to have someone color correct that negative, and adjust it, to make it look like the print that you have.

R: So technically, when you first started shooting, you probably didn’t have the technical facility that you’ve picked up in the past couple of years?

Sweet and Vicious #7, 1998

GR: Yes, exactly. I’ve been shooting professionally for 12 years. For my work, and the original work, I was obviously buying my film, buying my Polaroids. I’d take it back to the lab, they develop a contact sheet, the contact sheet goes to the client, they do the edit, prints would be made, the client looks at the prints, and it’s out of my hands. I have boxes and boxes and boxes of contact sheets, all in order, but tons of negs. Oh my god — envelopes, even prior to shooting professionally, living off it, I’ve been shooting since 1990, so I have everything.

R: Twenty years ….

GR: Yes, it’s been most of my life. … I started shooting when I was 17. I still have negs from when I was in college. I first went to FIT, and then to the School for the Visual Arts. One of them was more of a commercial school, and the other more fine arts….

R: How’d you like FIT?

GR: It was great. I was young. I was 17 turning 18. It’s a two-year college. It went by very quickly. At the time they didn’t have a bachelor of fine arts degree program. But I think now they do. I graduated when I was 22. So that’s when SFA took over. They’re both great schools, but different. I will say now that both the colleges have a better combination of what students need to get by. When I was there, FIT was strictly commercial, and SFA was strictly fine arts, and you need both.

R: So FIT has changed?

GR: Yes, I think it has. I haven’t been back in years. I just go past it. But I’m grateful for the education, because the education showed me discipline. I think that is a lot of what education is about, discipline. Completing from start to finish. Having deadlines. Having an idea and bringing it to fruition. Being graded on that idea. In the real world, in the business world, in the real world you’re constantly graded. And there’s no room in the real world for error. In school, obviously, not that there’s room for failure … It’s the training wheels of life.

R: When did you go to California?

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Selections from Portfolios / Gabrielle Revere

View larger photos from the gallery please enter the FS button.

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GR: I worked out there after SFVA. I had never traveled out of New York, and I wanted to explore. I wanted to be on my own. I wanted to be away from my family. I wanted to grow up out from under the umbrella of my family. I moved out there with no job and no friends, nothing, just a lot of wishes and hope. Basically, I went out there, went through the phone book. There was a computer place down the street. I typed up a resume… there were days and days of putting resumes in the mail. That was before the days of the internet, and finally I got a call back. I took on a freelance job as, basically, a photo editor’s assistant at Time Inc.

R: A great way to start.

GR: A great way to start, and I had that background. Back in New York, two of the jobs I had at both colleges …

R: Internships?

GR: No, I never interned. I could never intern. I had to pay for my rent. There was no time for interning. I was working two jobs for five years at (photo) stock houses, where I had this kind of background, where a photo editor would call me for a photo request. So I had an idea of what was going on, and I did that for two years. I was shooting my own work outside. Then I moved back to New York and got in touch with everybody I knew.

R: What kinds of things do you shoot on your own time? If you had a weekend off, to hang out and take pictures, what would you shoot?

GR: The thing that’s interesting about the way that I shoot, or the way I progress is that, my intentions were that I’m an artist. Even in school, I’m the girl who dropped the Photoshop™ classes, who dropped the color printing classes. I’m the girl who didn’t think she needed that. Of course, I want to kick myself years later, but that’s beside the point. I always looked at it as I wanted my art to be seen, to show in galleries, and come out with books, to be a spokeswoman for the little girls out there who are struggling.

Photography was always a means of expression for me, expressing my feelings, and in that, in the commercial end of things, I became a working photographer. Meaning, I was paying my way taking pictures. … Because of the commercial work, my name has been able to get out there. It gives me access to people in my everyday life who I would never have access to. I’m constantly shooting my first photo book. It’s never something that’s planned. It’s not like, “OK, this weekend I’m going to go to my parents’ house … and bring my camera and take pictures of XYZ.” It never happens like that. It’s always very organic. Sometimes I feel like taking pictures and sometimes I don’t. You can’t force it. I can’t. I have to be inspired.

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I Only Have Eyes For You / Gabrielle Revere

“I Only Have Eyes for You”, at Milk Gallery in NYC. One hundred percent of the proceeds raised from the exhibition were donated to causes whose mission is to transform and inspire the empowerment and self esteem of children in need.

View larger photos from the gallery please enter the FS button.

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R:I only have eyes for you?

GR: A personal project.

R: Personally financed?

GR: Credit card, and the Dove stipend. That was fun, but at that point in my commercial career – I was seen as the face of young Hollywood. All the young celebrities and young musicians and magazine covers – it was all fantastic. I wouldn’t trade it in for anything in the world. I’m so grateful for all that time of my life, but I felt like at that time I needed to do something I wanted and no one was going to give me any funding to go overseas and photograph what I wanted (such as “I only have eyes for you”). They wouldn’t think of me to do that. The industry is very compartmentalized, you know, this person shoots beauty, this person shoots celebrities, this person shoots still live. There isn’t a lot of crossover. There are some people in powerful positions that can see the crossover, but for the most part you make your own destiny in this way. So that was me basically giving myself the project; I had the production experience behind me. When I jumped into it, not that it was easy,  not that it happened to me. I made it happen.

R: Would you do it again?

GR: There’s something to be said for your own experiences. It’s like riding a bike. I grew up on that experience. It was the next chapter in my heart. In my mind. You get on it and you just go with it. I grew up with that experience, to be on a boat in Bangladesh, or traveling down the Ganges River.

R: I don’t mean do it again in the same way you did it before. But in terms of your philanthropic projects, what kind of philanthropy project would you embark on if you were to do it today?

GR: I still do philanthropic work. I recently did a Make-A-Wish with Mary Alice Stephenson. I was asked to be part of a big photo exhibition for fundraising for kids with cleft palates… I was one of 20 photographers. Out of the goodness of my heart, I would do it again in a second, go overseas, go back to South Africa, Go to Brazil, go to Outer Mongolia, work with kids who feel they’ve been forgotten. Photography is a means of expression, of connection.

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New Work / Gabrielle Revere

View larger photos from the gallery please enter the FS button.

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R: Do you have other kinds of projects you work on, hobbies?

GR: I write. I must have a hundred journals up in my closet. I do a handwriting thing, you’ve probably seen it. Handwriting is becoming a important part of my work and photography. I only have eyes for you. I remain you desire. So the handwriting has become another means of expression. But people are buying the handwriting, which has been interesting. Thankfully, they’re buying it, the signatures. I do a lot of shoots for book publishers, and they see the handwriting, “We’d love you to write something out, you should sell your font ….”

R: How many books have you done?

GR: You mean like coffee table books? I haven’t done any yet. It’s on the agenda.

R: When you’re in a studio, how much direction do you give, for a fashion shoot, for example. Is a lot of it yours? Do you work with a fashion editor or director? Do you work as you go along?

GR: I do a little bit of everything. Usually in a commercial job, where you’re hired by a company you have a feel for the work. It’s usually the people who hire you, obviously they know you. Everybody has their job. If I shoot, I direct the models, but it’s not demanding in a directorial way. But if I have a vision of what it is we’re trying to show or showcase, I’ll give direction.

R: Is it the same if you’re doing an album cover or ads?

GR: Yes, with something like an album cover it’s about the artist, it’s about that personality, it’s a little different, it’s about who they are. If it’s a commercial assignment or an advertising assignment, you’re creating an illusion of that idea, so it’s more like acting, the model is acting and I’m directing a movie. And, like a signature artist, I’m drawing things out of that.

R: What do you shoot with?

GR: A 35 mm Canon 5D Mark II. What’s amazing about the camera is you can shoot hi-def video. A lot of videographers are shooting with that camera now.

R: I read an interview with you that you did just after fashion week in which you commented that you were surprised to find so much sexism and ageism in the business. With youth and beauty being so prevalent in the business, why was that a surprise?

GR: That’s not who I am, not how I operate. But you have to remember that how you operate is not how others operate. In this world, there are a lot of personalities, egos, a lot of money on the line. There are powers that be that set the rules before I was alive. And maybe it’s taken me a little longer, I know it’s taken me a little longer, but I can’t question the path that I’m on. Honestly,  I feel good about what’s happening now, rather than when I was 22. Twenty-two is pretty young.

R: Who are your favorite photographers? Do you have any?

GR: Yes, Sally Mann, Nan Goldin, Cindy Sherman.

R: What do you like about their work

GR: They went with their hearts. They didn’t have an agenda. They were shooting subject matter that they were compelled by, like an unseen force. Obviously Sally Mann for her children, was photographing children. Nan Goldin was photographing her friends. Cindy Sherman was photographing herself in relation to other people. It doesn’t get more intimate for putting your heart on the line than that.

R: And if you were collaborating?

GR: I’d be honored.

R: What’s next for you? What are you working on now?

GR: The Sotheby show comes down Monday. … The show will travel. We’re working out the details.

R: Where might it be going ?

GR: I can’t tell you that.

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See Revere’s other portfolios at www.gabriellerevere.com

© 2010 Gabrille Revere • All Rights Reserved


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1 Covers: Sept ’10 thru Feb ’11 | ragazine.cc { 02.18.11 at 9:01 pm }

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