Behind the scenes with SHEI Magazine at Shinola Detroit

The Concept
The concept for this shoot was based around our partnership with Shinola Detroit, a luxury watch and bicycle manufacturer based in Detroit, Michigan. We wanted to showcase the emphasis Shinola places on craftsmanship, boldness and simplicity of design in our images. The best part of this experience, for me, was the challenge of showing off the beauty of the watches and bicycles they provided without compromising the editorial integrity of the shoot. The warehouse behind the flagship store in Midtown was particularly well suited to our needs and made the most sense to shoot in. It was a clean, well-lit, open space that still featured some of the grit that Detroit is known for, and as we were given free range of the space we were able to build mini sets throughout the shoot with beer kegs from Motor City Brewing Works. We were extremely excited to work with Shinola as the brand has been recognized nationally and internationally in publications ranging from HOUR Detroit, and The Detroit Free Press to Forbes, Time Magazine and Vogue.

Lighting and Location
One of the most important pieces of information that came out of our location scouting trip the weekend before the shoot was that the warehouse that we would end up shooting in had sky-lights. This lighting situation turned out to be ideal for the shoot because it allowed us to amp up the drama of the images by metering for the light on the models’ faces and allowing the background to appear a little darker in the final images. The light fall off ended up looking especially nice in some of the black and white shots, and using reflectors allowed us to redirect light onto the models when we moved to areas within the warehouse that did not have skylights directly overhead.

Some Final Thoughts
While Shinola has come under some fire for being a luxury goods brand in a city struggling with bankruptcy, the representatives, employees, and crafts-persons that I spoke to were all extremely proud of their city. Many were born in and around Detroit and had watched, first-hand as the city struggled in the wake of the Bailout and from the bad press associated with the scandals surrounding ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Many of them felt that it’s abut time Detroit began to be associated with innovation and quality as it had been during the years that it spent as one of the nation’s largest manufacturing hubs. While gentrification in and around the city is a significant problem, especially when rising housing prices cause problems for current residents, the presence of brands like Shinola in the city of Detroit do bring in people who are willing to invest in the city. My personal thoughts are that in times like these a balance must be struck between preservation of the established culture and the mechanisms that will enable the city to build its future in a financially stable and sustainable way. It’s not a problem that I can solve, but I do think that it’s important to acknowledge that at some point in the past, all of the manufacturing that came to Detroit was new and untried, and frankly, scary to some people. Innovation, I think, should scare you sometimes, if it doesn’t, you’re not moving fast enough.

All Images made in cooperation with SHEI Magazine, Clothing kindly provided by Renaissance Ann Arbor, Hair and Make-up courtesy of Lily Grace Cosmetics, Bicycles and Watches provided by Shinola Detroit , Location provided by Motor City Brewing Works
*All models, stylists, shoot assistants, and photographers at SHEI Magazine are current students at The University of Michigan.

Video produced by Alex Holmes at SHEI Magazine

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