Tell us about about the shooting of the project itself...when did you do it?
I shot it during a three-week period last fall, from October through mid-November. So it was shot in a short time frame, as these things go. There are two ways to do a project like this: One is to do it a little at a time, between your regular commercial assignments. The other is to have someone say, "I want you to focus on this, and here are the resources to get you to the place, to get from the place, and getting the girls won't be your problem, we will help you with that." So it was terrific. Victoria's Secret unleashed the creatives. When you talk about getting to the locations, you're talking about some pretty spectacular places. We took one trip to Sardinia, one trip to St. Tropez, and one trip to Mexico. And of course the company was incredibly supportive. For instance, I was in St. Tropez, and I wanted to get to Sardinia, and there was no practical way to do that, so they sent a jet down-one of their private company jets-and took us out of St. Tropez and dropped us into Sardinia, so we could be shooting in St. Tropez in the morning and shooting in Sardinia in the afternoon. Gotta love 'em for that.
How big a crew were you hauling around for this?
It fluctuated in size. Sometimes we'd have multiple girls, a lot of producers, so the crew was 15 to 18 people, which is a lot. But there were days when we'd have a basic crew of only five or six, when we needed to access really remote locations.
Who were the girls you shot?
We had terrific partners on this. And I use that word in regard to the model very carefully, because they were full partners in the creative development of the images. And they were basically all doing this for free, so to speak. In terms of the book, not a single dollar was paid to the creative talent involved on camera. Which was a challenge. The company said, "Look we'll back this project, but you have to do it. But we ended up with the very top girls who work with the company: Heidi Klum, Alessandra Ambrosio, Ana Beatriz, Gisele Bündchen, Naomi Campbell, Karolina Kurkova, Adriana Lima, Angela Lindvall, and Marissa Miller, to name a few. The creativity involved in working with all these famous models...that's an interesting idea.
How did the project play out as you shot it?
Like any project, I started with a preconceived idea-at first, it was going to be very expansive- about the locations as much as the girls. But once I got to the places, I found that it was just much more interesting to shoot a piece of coral in very tight closeup, and then the beauty of the girl. The project from my standpoint just didn't need much more than that. It's just an example of the way these things often work, where you preconceive an idea, but you gotta let it flow, or it doesn't come out.
Did the locations themselves present any particular creative problems or opportunities?
I had stayed at all those places while shooting different projects, but basically the locations, even though they don't scream it in the photos, each offered a different kind of inspiration. In this case, since the models were full partners in creative process, we would all have to adapt to different places. Girls would react differently in different locations. If you take a girl to Costa Careyes, Mexico-one of the places we shot-she's going to have to fly through two different cities, then get into a car and drive through some wild country for two hours, then she's going to be staying in a house in the middle of nowhere. So you really get into another space. It's so removed from the rest of the world, from agencies and managers, so it's possible to sit and chat, to have a cocktail and say, "Hey, let's do something really cool," and you're able to partner with the people. So while the locations might not seem visually significant in the final images, they were all very important because they were all very remote and beautiful, and they allowed me to get with the girls, the stylists, and the hair and makeup people, and just have little one-on-one conversations. I'd ask the girls what inspired them, or I'd give them concepts, like a shell, or seaweed, sticks, water. Karolina, for instance, gravitated toward these dry, crusty sea weeds, which as a photographic element at first glance you say, "How am I going to make this work?" Then you realize there's something beautiful in everything-in seaweed, in driftwood, everything.
What did other models react to?
With Gisele it was simple. She was huddling from cold because it was a windy day, and there was sand blowing all over her body, and I thought, that's a great element. And she's like, "Bury me, baby, bury me." And so into the sand she went. And so a lot of the pictures evolved in that way.
Tell us about the shot of Heidi sitting on the beach....
I've shown these pictures to a number of people, and they all say that series of images, and that shot in particular, is just captivating. It's a terrific character drawing. It was made in Costa Careyes. We were able to coordinate it so that Heidi could join us there. She