Photos by Grant Puckett

Brittney Paulson is our in-house Art Director, and several times a year she helps conceptualize and produce photo shoots for StyleHaul featuring the creator community. Here, Brittney talks to us about inspiration, creative vision, and what it really takes to execute a successful shoot.

First: can you define your role at StyleHaul for our readers? What exactly does an Art Director do?

I would say 50% of my role focuses on creatively executing client campaigns, and the other 50% (my favorite part) is overseeing the creative direction for StyleHaul’s owned and operated platforms. This includes all company branding, the look and feel on all social platforms, and creative for our owned and operated events.

My job looks different everyday. Sometimes I’m working on executing creative campaigns for clients, sometimes I’m working on brand identity for influencers, but I also plan photo shoots for social and marketing assets, provide design direction for videos and social posts, and design event collateral for our #StyleHaulNights parties.

I have a killer team and could not do any of this without them. When they say it takes a village – it really does!

You handled all creative for our last #StyleHaulFam creator shoot. How and where did you – & do you – find inspo?

A lot of my inspiration comes from musicians and the fashion industry. In my opinion, the music industry is always creating and implementing trends for other industries to follow. There really are no boundaries in music, and if artists aren’t ever-changing they’re no longer seen as relevant.

The fashion industry is my first love though, so I always take cues from the runway and designers. For this specific shoot, I was really inspired by the slouchy, carefree poses that I’ve been seeing in editorial shoots. I also think brands and designers are doing a great job at presenting their lines in different ways. It’s not just about a simple runway anymore. Backdrop and production are just as important.

How big a part do trends play when you’re brainstorming for a shoot?

Trends play a huge role, and although I don’t like to completely rely on them, I do think it’s important to understand and research what is currently being done in the industry so, A) we don’t mimic another artist/brand’s work, and B) we can better grasp what our viewer is interested in. What are they investing in? What are they double-tapping? There’s a level of knowledge we have to have about current trends, but it should be balanced with our own creative concepts.

I know you build a mood board while in the conceptualizing stage for a shoot. What does that look like for you?

Mood-boarding for me is the most difficult, yet the most fulfilling part of it all, and it’s a lot more than just throwing together a bunch of cute photos. It’s the blueprint for the shoot essentially – what the photographer, stylists, and models will use as inspiration.

Mood-boarding starts with hours of research: researching photography trends, model poses, lighting, and colors. Then you have to research the venue and contemplate how you might merge the look and vibe of the shoot with the location. Location is one of the most important elements of a shoot, and if your mood board and venue don’t align, then you won’t be able to properly execute your vision. So it’s important to mood-board and venue-search simultaneously.

How do you find talent (models, photog, makeup artists, hair stylists, etc.)?

I find most of my talent through professional connections and/or friends. I love learning about people and what they do, especially in LA, and I really enjoy supporting artists and people that I have some connection to, as I think it brings us all together in some weird, beautiful way.

I also find a lot of talent through Instagram. Sometimes, if I like an editorial shoot or a music video, I’ll research the tagged talent in the post. I follow a lot of different boutique agencies that specialize in music projects. I personally think there are so many underrated, unknown photographers, designers, and makeup artists out there, and it brings me so much joy to find and collaborate with them. Not because of how many likes or follows they have, but because they’ve hustled and created great content.

Lastly, how much do you rely on your team while on location?

Team is everything! There is absolutely no way I could ever produce a photo shoot on my own. My way of thinking is very abstract and in the moment. I’m focused on ensuring that the vision is coming to life, and details like call sheets, start times, wrangling models, outfit changes, and staying on schedule do not come naturally to me. But I think that’s what makes photo shoots so fun and rewarding – they can’t be fully executed without teamwork. We need each other to be successful.

I am so thankful that I had the team that I did for this shoot because it most definitely could not have happened without them. I’m also thankful that my boss trusted me so much with executing this vision – it was something we’ve never done before!

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