friday feature: kendra smoot

If you have even spent a split second on design blogs or ever read Blueprint, you have seen the amazing styling of Kendra Smoot. She's the one that makes photographs (and photographers) look really, really good. Lucky you, we have brand new photographs you can see below that are not on her website.

Kendra was born in Walnut Creek and has lived in LA and Utah, but now calls New York home. As a child, Kendra loved painting and art projects, but {ironically} studied social work at Brigham Young University. Her favorite things include good food, traveling to foreign countries, street style, living in a big city, and anything involving the ocean.. oh yah... and her man Seth and their adorable daughter, Stella Lou.

Clients include: Garnet Hill, Clarks, Cookie Magazine, Real Simple, More Magazine, and The Knot.

This is a favorite Friday Feature for me. Here is our interview, for you:

01. Describe your typical day (or however many days it takes) to prepare for a shoot. From pre-production to production and post.
This can really vary from shoot to shoot, and honestly I feel like I'm almost always working because part of the job is being inspired by places and people that you see. But I can give two specific examples of putting together a shoot:

If I'm working on a one day food shoot for a magazine than that usually requires 1-2 days of prep work. During those days, I'll have a meeting with the Art Director or Photo Editor to discuss the direction and mood of the shoot and also the logistics of where and when we'll be shooting. We'll talk about what issue the images will appear in and if there is anything seasonally appropriate we want to be there and if there is a color palette. Its always nice to have inspiration in these meetings -whether that is pictures or something beautiful I've found that I think would be nice to incorporate into the shoot. The rest of the prep time is spent acquiring props from prop houses or stores. at the end of the shoot there is about another day of post production -returning the props, submitting credit information if you've borrowed things from stores, and gathering receipts and invoicing.

Sometimes I work on much longer shoots. One of my favorite clients is Garnet Hill. I often do the props for the fashion portion of the shoots. We will usually shoot about a week on location and another week in studio. For shoots like this there is usually about a week of prep time to concept and source props and sets.

02. How did you get involved in styling?
I fell in love with a photographer! We moved to New York together and I was interested in his profession. i wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to do but i did know that I loved the idea of collaboration and the work that went into making an interesting image. Through my husband, I met and worked for an agent, producer, and photographer. It was on one of the shoots that I met a prop stylist and knew that it was a job i could really sink my teeth into. I asked to intern with her and it was great timing -her first assistant happened to be leaving and so we worked together for two years. From there, I worked at Blueprint Magazine as an Associate Style Editor until they folded (RIP!). For the past two years i've been working freelance.

03. What stylists/artists/photographers do you look to for inspiration?

04. What would be your dream styling job?

Probably shooting one of the "Living In" books by TASCHEN in a beautiful locale. Right now, I'm dying to go to India and it would be fantastic to have access to beautiful homes there.

05. Explain the creative process you go through to style a shoot.
I always love to sketch out my ideas and pull out swatches of fabric and paint. I keep this style sheet and any inspirational photos in a plastic binder that goes with me everywhere. From there I'll draw up a list (which is usually quite long) of what I'll need. Then I strategize about where i'll need to go, how i'll get things done, etc. when i'm running around sourcing for a shoot, I always like to pop into a museum or interesting store just to get the creative juices going.

06. What is your favorite subject to style? (lifestyle, interiors, still life, etc.)
I really appreciate styling all sorts of subjects for different reasons. I love styling for fashion shoots because you often get to travel to interesting locations and shooting people is always faster-paced. I love shooting food because the scale of objects is a little smaller and its nice to take a break from all of the heavy lifting... and I love shooting interiors because its so inspiring to see how people live and their style.

07. What is the most challenging thing about your work?
Sometimes it can be really physically challenging. On a prep day, I can sometimes walk up to 10 miles going from store to store, and it seems like you are always schlepping heavy things around.

08. Favorite places to shop?
Brimfield Antique Show, The stretch of Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn near Smith Street, Ochre, Butik, ABC Carpet and Home, Kiosk, Jon Derian, Bird, Odine, Moon River Chattel, Matter, Paula Rubenstein, online: Nightwood, Ebay, and Etsy.

09. Funniest work story?
On a recent shoot in Greece, our crew of about 10 had to travel back to Athens overnight via a yacht. When we pulled up to the marina, there was a beautiful boat awaiting us -it was like something out of a hip hop video. We were all cheering our good luck... until we actually got on the water. The wind had picked up and there were giant waves. You couldn't even walk two steps without being thrown across the boat. By the time we got to Athens -6 hours later- everyone was seasick and we had all taken turns throwing up over the side. It was the trip from hell! We are still laughing about it....

10. How often do you make/craft/sew things for your jobs?
Almost every job. I'm just an ok crafter. I really enjoy the process but after working at Martha Stewart, I realized how talented their crafting department is. Those people are geniuses!

11. What was it like working with Blueprint + Bluelines?
Blueprint was amazing! It was the type of job that required a lot of work, but the payback was always worth it. They always hire the most talented art directors and photographers, so it was a real honor to be included in that project. We are all still pretty tight and do a good job of keeping up with each other. Its been sad to see so many magazines close and those that are still around seem so thin! But its been exciting to see what's happened within the blog world.

12. If you could have any other career what would it be?
I'd love to consult companies when they are re-branding. And do interior design. And own a small shop that has all of my favorite things.

13. Any exciting projects in the works?
My husband and I have started working as a photo team so that's been really exciting. We're taking it slow. Right now we work a lot for the AOL's Holiday blog, Holidash, doing DIY projects. It's pretty low-key- it takes a couple of days to concept and source and craft, and then we shoot mostly in our apartment. i really enjoy having a creative day at home. we just crank up the tunes and dance between shots.

14. What advice would you give to a budding stylist?
Keep organized files of the images that inspire you. Get an iPhone. They are so useful for everything: storing contact info, the maps, tracking Fedex packages, taking photos of props, emailing press requests on the go. Intern for someone that you admire.

Wowzers.. isn't Kendra amazing? Leave a very special comment for her here. Thank you, Kendra! Dear Readers... anyone you'd like to see featured? Shoot me an email.

add to sk*rt


liz stanley said...

Kendra is seriously incredible. She's a good friend of mine and I've been known to call on her for advice on everything from decorating to styling to fashion for our family photos last year ;). She's got an amazing eye. Plus they're like the nicest couple I know. :)

Capree said...

Best Friday Feature ever! Kendra is such a sweetheart and so talented at what she does. Thanks for featuring such a deserving lady!

Katie McNeil said...

Yay! Kendra rocks.

a pina colada said...

Love this interview and love every single photo! Thanks!

missy said...

I love every single one of these prop set ups she's done. Loved learning more about how she got into it too!

Kate said...

Loved it! Thank you!

6p00d83452726469e2 said...

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. I feel inspired and awestruck all rolled into one. Thanks for featuring her!

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Cassidie Anne said...

She really is amazing!

Diana Hulme said...

Wow, she is amazing! Thanks for the interview - how cool. :)

Tabitha said...

Thank you Kendra! Great interview and I appreciate the advice!

sarathira sukiman said...

ok seriously, what an amazing and cool lady kendra is! i seriously loved the interview, it was so helpful and gave me an idea of what a stylist does since im thinking of venturing into it when i finished my studies :)

Christina said...

Your work is amazing. Seeing that you are a mommy makes it all the more amazing for me.

Veeda said...

Kendra is one awesomely talented mom. She's inspiring!

Jen said...

Thank you for this fantastic interview. I sometimes forget that an awesome photo generally takes a whole team, including talented stylists. Beautiful work!

Victoria Klein said...

Very great interview! I've got a long list of favorite photographers and stylists, so if you are looking for others to interview, just let me know :)

Kayleen T. Photography said...

Love these friday features! I so need to go back and read all of them!

So Smitten said...

I love hearing some of the details of how these shoots come together. Exciting images. Inspiring as always!

Jen J said...

This was really exciting for me to read...Kendra was a childhood friend of mine in Walnut Creek. I had no idea she'd grown up to have such a glamorous and fun career!

paula said...

what a great interview! I dream of her job and talent. So inspiring.

Diana said...

Does anyone know if the light blue floor in the nursery is painted wood or something else? Where was that photo published?

Deborah said...

Thank you for the great interview! I think I've missed my calling!!

the emily said...

She is the coolest! What a cool life. I never realized that living that life was even possible. I hope you love every minute of it, Kendra!

paula said...

not sure how I missed this interview. It is amazing. what a dream job for me. Her work is quite brilliant.