Backyard Dance Party

Essay 460 • Aug 17th 2020

The pandemic, which seems to be neverending at this point, has caused all of us to slow down creatively.  To that end, I’ve had more time to plan and execute personal shoots I normally would have a hard time getting on the calendar.  This past weekend I connected with my friend Rena Butler, an amazing choreographer and dancer, on a shoot where I styled it myself, and built a little simple set in my backyard. We got to really vibe out, and just have a good time shooting with no real goal in mind except to have fun. 

I had no assistants, and no one helping with lighting or setting things up.   There was also no hair and make up team.  Just myself and Rena.  It’s been such a long time since I’ve done a 'one man show' type of shoot, and it was a reminder of how rewarding and stressful the early days were when I literally had to do everything myself. Kind of cool, but the Louis Vuitton suit Rena’s wearing was my birthday gift to myself this year, but due to the pandemic, my birthday celebration was cancelled and I didn’t get to wear it.  In addition to that, I styled Rena in pieces I had bought for my wife that she also had not gotten a chance to wear due to circumstances.  I thought it was pretty cool that in addition to being shot in my backyard, I was also able to repurpose the clothes into something creative.    


Marcus Smith

His early love of colouring books shaped his confident use of light and distinctive color palette. And as a nine-year-old, he would hire his drawing skills out to his less-talented classmates, an early example of his hustle. Marcus studied Business Economics, and it was in college he first became interested in photography, shooting his musician friends. On graduating, he followed his creative instincts, albeit with a savvy sense of supply and demand from his studies.

He describes himself as a chameleon, able to adapt his style to both an intimate one-on-one shoot and a full-scale ad production. He likes to over-prepare in advance, but on set he is reactive, finding the real and the stripped-back shot in even staged scenarios.Shooting local high school sports teams he developed a raw, authentic look which stood out from the comic-book superhero style that was then in fashion. He was ahead of the curve, and has gone on to shoot superstars like Serena Williams, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant’s end-of-an-era retirement campaign for Nike.

Other clients include Abercrombie & Fitch, Apple, Adidas, Asics, BEATS by DRE, Bose, ESPN, Gillette, GQ, IKEA, Nike, The North Face, Pepsi, Powerade, Puma, and Reebok.
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Model: Rena Butler