Formento & Formento: Master Of Japan Diaries

BJ: One of the biggest breaks I had was assisting on shoots for Getty and Corbis. One of the art directors for Getty noticed how I was acting on set and said, “Obviously, you’re also a photographer. Can you show me your work?” I did and started shooting right away for a pretty good day rate, so I stopped assisting. This was in New York. An offshoot of Getty was Digital Vision, where Richeille used to work.

Richeille: When Getty took over Digital Vision, we had just come back from our honeymoon in Egypt; I took the redundancy package, and BJ and I started as a duo. Shortly afterward, we started Eye Candy Images, our stock agency. That paid the bills as we gallivanted around and did our fine art. We haven’t fed it with images in four or five years, but it’s still out there with about 25,000 of our images. One photographer, one art director. It’s on various stock site portals. After the stock, we did “Circumstance” from 2008 to 2011. We bought an RV and stopped doing the commercial imagery. That’s when the fine-art work really took off.

BJ: It was also during the recession and jobs really slowed down, so we decided to just shoot for ourselves. We wanted to show the abandoned America at the height of the recession. All the models we were meeting were living out of extended-stay hotels and their cars. That added to the mood of the imagery.

Richeille: “Circumstance” was partially a reaction to all the years of producing stock photography with all the bright happy images, especially for American stock at that time. It was such a lie. There was such a recession going on, and people weren’t very happy. We photographed 130 women across America for the series. I did most of the hair and makeup.

DPP: How did you find the models?

BJ: The catalyst was the location. There was a certain staged cinematic feel that we wanted.

Richeille: We had the RV and the truck, and we’d say, “Okay, we could get there tomorrow.” We’d get to Ohio or New Mexico, then we’d start scouting for a location. In advance, we’d look online at Model Mayhem to find a model in the local area or put an ad in Craigslist. Sometimes we would find someone in an RV park or in a café or in a Denny’s.

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