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Artistic Integrity

Jorge Perez talks about what it took to make the Naomi Campbell and Lady Gaga shoots happen.

I called Markus and Indrani for a meeting at my office to tell them we were leaving for London to shoot Lady Gaga and Naomi Campbell. These two shoots came in very last minute but we couldn’t pass up opportunity. When we first got to London we basically had to go into the studio right away to shoot Naomi (she only had a few hours before she had to go back to Spain). I think everyone on set was extra cautious with the Naomi shoot. I mean, come on, we’ve all heard the stories, and we didn’t want to “cross the line of fire.” To my surprise Naomi was very calm and really chill, but she did have some moments where she really spoke her mind (you have to watch the episode for this). On this shoot Naomi seemed to be jiving more with Markus. Indrani was really smart to just let Naomi follow her groove.

I never get tired of watching Markus and Indrani shoot; they really move like an orchestra and know how to flow with their subject. Sometimes what people don’t understand is that the back and forth that goes between them is actually “the creative process” in action. With an artist that works individually, the creative process happens internally, the magnificent thing about Markus’ and Indrani’s process is that is verbalized and we all get to watch it in the making. The Naomi shoot went spectacular and the art came out INCREDIBLE! Naomi and her team were so happy with the images that they used one of them for the front of her website. Collaborating with Naomi made us all extra cautious, but at the end it proved to be a rewarding experience.

OK, now the moment that we’ve been waiting for … Lady Gaga. My first experience with Gaga was waiting for her at the kitchen of the Andaz hotel in London.  There were sooooo many paparazzi waiting outside, and I had to try to figure out a way for her van to come through the kitchen so she wouldn’t be attacked by the photographers. I’ll never forget when I laid eyes on her. She was wearing a green head Kermit the Frog outfit. We quickly got in the elevator and her manager introduced us. Before this, I was never that much of a fan, but once I saw her up close, I understood everything.  She has this energy about her, like you are in front of an alien-powerful being. She extended her hand to say hi and I grabbed it. The problem is that I didn’t let go of her hand until it got painfully awkward and she yanked it back … too funny. Gaga was such a pro; she knows what she wants and would continuously go to the monitor after every shot and give her notes. This experience for me was beyond fascinating. It was like watching a “muse” at work. I have always heard stories about how Madonna used to be when she was in her early twenties, and this is what I figured it would have looked like. To watch Markus, Indrani, GK, and Gaga collaborate was mind-blowing. They all had their different points of views and opinions, but at the end, all of the shots looked like masterpieces. My favorite moment of the whole shoot was when GK made Gaga a gown made entirely out of Hello Kitty dolls. This image was epic, and I think it will forever be imprinted in pop culture.

The more I work with Markus and Indrani, the more that I love my job. They truly push their creativity to the limits, with no holds barred… and in my book, that’s what I call artistic integrity.

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