2 minute read
Aaron Anderson’s Fashion Challenge
Sandra Wong Geroux’s engaging fashion scene is built upon a lifelong relationship of creator and muse
“The girl in the photograph is Hannah McKnight, a childhood friend of my son Sam. I’ve been photographing her on and off for 22 years – from slurping popsicles in her diaper and running down hills, to leading a grassroots organization offering free rides to voters during the 2020 presidential election,” Sandra begins, shedding light on the long history leading to her winning frame. “Sam and I moved from San Francisco to London when he was just three months old. I met Hannah’s mom in a group for new moms and we instantly connected. Since then, we have all lived in many different cities but always kept in touch.
“For me, there is no line between commercial, editorial, or fashion work, and documenting the lives of my friends, family, and community. I approach all photography with the same discipline and rigor. This particular photograph was made during a visit to Hannah’s parents’ lake house in New Hampshire, in the early afternoon after a rainstorm.”
Where many meticulously curate their subjects’ wardrobe, the scene-fitting garment in Sandra’s image came about all too naturally. “Hannah always inspires interesting photographs,” she explains. “She’s also a voracious shopper of vintage clothes. The session was a spontaneous one, and this was one of the two dresses that she had with her. Instead of dictating wardrobe, I prefer when a subject comes in their own clothes, because clothing is a marker of time and an extension of personality.
“It’s always a challenge to show restraint when photographing Hannah. She’s an artist in her own right and has an incredible self-awareness. There are usually too many situations to choose from and I have to really dial into the predominant feeling of this particular moment in time. On that day, I was decisive about the location, with water that melted into the sky, but light was shifting from smooth overcast to hard noon sun, so there was only a limited area at our location that we could work in.”
Final elements of the photograph’s look came together perfectly at Sandra’s expert hand. “The wash of cerulean blue was a creative decision and an effect of the vintage lens. I wanted to create an image that worked with the dress. It felt like the kimono had time traveled to Hannah’s suitcase, and I wanted the image to feel like the space between being awake and falling into a dream. Hannah is also a person that lives in her imagination, so she is able to convey that feeling of drifting in a still image.”
Aaron had great difficulty choosing one winner from such an outstanding shortlist, but Sandra’s image called him in with a sense of questioning and wonderment. “I want to thank everyone for their amazing entries,” he states. “Ultimately, I chose the winner because there was a beautiful combination of a lot of the tips I mentioned in my video. I am drawn to the story of the image because of the care they put into it – everything from the moody coloring to the use of the environmental framing, and all the way down to the pearls she is wearing. The combination of those elements makes me ask, ‘what’s her story?’ When all of these things come together, it makes imagery that draws people in. Well done!”