News__ Q+A: Christelle de Castro

June 14, 2012 | By

Photographer Christelle de Castro takes us behind the scenes of "House Calls" for Opening Ceremony.

Opening Ceremony's former Photo Director, Christelle de Castro, teamed up with stylist Daria Radlinski to create a two-part editorial series that captures creative people in their natural habitats. The photos provide rare glimpses of professional artists in less-than-professional poses. In the first installment of "House Calls," we saw Norma Kamali, Tracy Antonopoulos, Chad Muska, M. Blash and Kembra Pfahler. For Part 2, Christelle and Daria visited Betsey Johnson, Patrik Ervell, Kathleen Hanna, Richard Phillips, David Toro and Solomon Chase.

These playful and candid photographs are highly indicative of de Castro's style. She shoots everything from lookbooks to bands on tour and her portfolio includes work for V Magazine, Nylon, The Fader and DIS Magazine. Sitting in her studio in NYC, she spoke to us about the conceptualization of "House Calls," the way Norma Kamali made her nervous and her dream house call.

Read the Q+A with de Castro below.

We love "House Calls"! Where did the concept come from?

I was the Photo Director at Opening Ceremony for 2 years and worked side by side with Daria, who is a stylist. We were partners in crime and she hit me up saying she wanted to work on an editorial. We made a dream list of the people we wanted to work with based more on their ability to inspire us than celebrity or something less personal like that. It allowed us to include friends, people we've worked with before, and people doing work we're organically interested in.

Did you shoot Part 1 and Part 2 of "House Calls" at the same time?

We shot them over the course of two months, it was a very long project. I would say the conceptualization, communication, and general coordination took about a month. The actual execution, meeting and shooting everybody was a whole other beast.

What were the benefits of shooting people in their homes?

We wanted to shoot them in spaces that that they were most comfortable in, it didn't necessarily have to be their home. We ended up calling it "House Calls" at the very end, but we shot a lot of people in their studios. We wanted to prevent the subjects from feeling awkward, that happens when you're shooting someone for a manufactured activity scene, like eating a taco at a restaurant. People could ham it up for me because they knew their spaces, so they would be like, "What about this?" It was really conducive to having a natural shoot.

Was it similar to other work you've done?

I do a lot of photo diaries. I've gone on tour with several bands where I essentially become a photojournalist capturing candid moments. The art direction for "House Calls" aimed to recreate that ethos. Some people were nervous and would say things like, "Okay, but my house is really messy right now," and that was actually perfect for the shots.

What do you do if someone is awkward in front of the camera?

A lot people tell me that shooting with me is very easy. I always find that funny because I'm not a model so I don't know how others work. I'm not stressful on set and I really make it a point to have fun. I'm constantly cracking jokes and I try to get my humor out of the way, right away. I think that puts people at ease. I'm probably the most inappropriate person on set all the time.

The shots are definitely playful. We love Norma Kamali squatting with a medicine ball above her head.

She kills me, it's verging on obsession. She's 67-years-old and I would seriously date her in a second.

What was the shoot like with her? Her photos are a bit different than the other ones because they're in a fitness studio.

Shockingly she didn't feel that comfortable with the camera right away. You would imagine that someone who's so stunning would be used to being photographed, but Norma is a centered, humble, energetic woman. She's not about attention and you tell by the way that she modeled. And FYI, she works out at that studio five days a week.

We were expecting bar bells and bench presses, but the open spaces and dance bars came as a welcome surprise. That was actually my most difficult shoot of the series because I was so nervous. She's so legendary and I've always loved her work so I wanted to deliver.

What was the easiest shoot?

Most of the shoots were pretty simple. Some of them were time limited. We only had 15 minutes with Betsey Johnson because of her crazy schedule. Kembra was amazing because she was such a ham. She was living for it and loved the whole thing.

Which "House Call" people did you know the best before shooting them?

Solomon and David from DIS--they're old friends of mine. I've also worked on a couple projects with Richard Phillips.

If you had to live one "House Calls" space for a weekend, which one would it be?

I would want to stay in Tracy's room for a weekend because it's my 90s dELiA*S bedroom dream come true. And it's filled with good tapes, Pretty Woman and the Garbage anthology.

What's your dream House Call?

This is so hard. Probably Missy Elliot. She's such an important contributor to the world of art and music.

What are the chances of that happening?

In this lifetime? I don't know.

Well, we hope it happens for you.

Thank you. I'll FaceTime you if that ever happens.

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