It’s not everyday you get to work with someone you know is going to be big. I mean, it’s different if they’re already a star…but there’s a special energy that happens on a shoot when you know that one day people will be looking back at this shoot, to see where it all began.
Such luck smacked me across the face last week when Kris Jenner, mastermind and matriarch of the Kardashian clan, asked me to photograph her daughter, Kendall, for her Wilhelmina modeling book. She had been very happy with the shoots I’d given Kim, Khloé, and Kourtney, and she was hoping I could do the same with Kendall. The only catch, you see, is that she’s only 14-years old.
Kendall was a trooper right out of the gate. I asked her if she minded getting in the water, crawling on sharp rocks, etc., and she simply shook her head and said she’d do whatever it took to make art. Thanks to her sisters, I had Kendall’s trust. So, as I do with every model, I immediately got the hard stuff out of the way, because there’s never enough sunlight for a warmup period. I stuck Kendall on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and she held her poses with incredible professionalism—and her faces with intensity—even as waves smacked her in the back of the head.
The rest of the shoot went much the same way, and Kendall’s learning curve was incredibly steep. I was continually impressed with how quickly she took what she learned from one setup and applied it onto the next one. By the time a girl is 21, which is the average age I photograph, I expect them to have had at least a few good years of checking themselves out in the mirror and working their poses. But for a 14-year-old with almost no experience (save her celebrity genes), Kendall hit this one right out of the park for sure.
I didn’t expect the controversy that this shoot generated—it’s already been featured on E! News, People, In Touch, Extra, and Access Hollywood. Apparently some thought the shoot was too provocative for such a young model (sample video here). But to be fair, we should make a distinction between fashion modeling and glamour modeling. If you look at the early work of Adriana Lima, Brooke Shields, Miranda Kerr—the list goes on—their books were filled with sensational-yet-hardly-conservative images that launched them into supermodel status before age 16. In my opinion, whether the model wears a sweater or a swimsuit bears little relevance, as long as the shoot is tastefully done. I made a concerted effort to keep this shoot a very healthy PG13.
I have to give special love to stylist Monica Rose on this shoot, who not only brought incredible wardrobe as she’s always done with Kim, and who sat by the laptop making sure every frame was perfect, but who also was waiting in tow with a robe and towel, ready to warm up Kendall each time she ran back shivering onto the beach. You’re the best! xo
Wardrobe Styling: Monica Rose
Make-up: Joyce Bonelli
Hair: Rob Scheppy
Production Stills: Derek Eskridge & Christian Arias