Photographer Dustin Lilley talks about the inspiration behind WL’s September 2013 Balls & Galas fashion editorial.
By Anne Kim-Dannibale
Washington Life’s September “Balls & Galas” fashion photo shoot took place at the historic Evermay Estate, home of the S&R Foundation, with a talented team of image makers ready to tell a fall fashion story. Photographer Dustin Lilley gives us a behind-the-scenes look at his thought process for the editorial and shares a few of his favorite photographs. See additional photos and the full editorial with shopping credits in the September 2013 issue.
What was your inspiration for this photo shoot?
My inspiration initially was to take the theme of “balls and galas” and make it more translatable to a younger, fashion-conscious audience. Evermay was such a perfect place for this because it embodies that feeling of classic beauty with modern luxury. I always like to let all members of the creative team bring their take on the concept to the table and hopefully watch the magic happen. I was lucky to have worked with such talented people who shared my vision and brought their creative individuality to the set. We all had our own ideas of what a fashion-forward woman of today would look like were she to attend one of the many spectacular social events listed in the September Balls and Galas issue, and to me this fashion story had the perfect balance of fantasy and reality.
What makes these selections special to you?
I chose these images because they really spoke to me during the editing process. Whether it was something in the model Leanne’s face or body language, I was looking for images that made me feel she was connected to everything from the clothes to the surroundings. I wanted to look at the final images and believe that she felt like any woman would before going out to a ball or gala — beautiful, opulent, and above all, special.
What were you trying to achieve with these shots?
I hope I was able to allow viewers to step outside of themselves for a moment and go on this journey with Leanne in this beautiful setting in these amazing clothes. One of the dresses we used retails for $25,000. I do not personally know many people who can afford something so extravagant, so it was my hope to invite the viewer to live that fantasy and to make it visually appealing.
What were some of the challenges in getting the right look, and how did you overcome them?
I honestly did not have a challenge matching the looks to the setting and for it all to be properly conveyed. It really was a perfect storm of talent and an amazing location. Of course there were moments when I felt that a certain look would have worked better in a certain room or outdoors. But I had a planning session with the amazing stylist, Will Lawry, while the model was in hair and makeup and we came up with a great plan of where to shoot each look. I really cannot stress enough how important it is to have a great team of people working with you. It allows me to focus on doing what I do best and trusting that everything else is done with the utmost quality and professionalism.
Photography: Dustin C. Lilley
Wardrobe: Will and Shani Lawry
Makeup: Kim Reyes
Hair: Chris Rushton for T H E Artist Agency
Manicure: Angela Turner
Model: Leanne Hyer
Editorial Director: Anne Kim-Dannibale
Assistant Editor: Laura Wainman
Editorial Assistants: Kelsey Edelmann, Katerina Polymeropoulos