Jeana Turner is not a mirage.
Phillip Reardon has shot some of Instagram’s finest models. His photos of Angela Mazzanti have been featured in Inked Magazine, he’s worked with Christy Mack, Jessica Weaver, Italia Kash, and his portfolio even counts a Sullen Angel or ten!
Even so, his recent shoot with model Jeana Turner is one of his best yet.
The L.A.-based photographer has a knack for turning parched desert landscapes into some seriously sexy scenery. Jeana poses up a storm in the scorching heat, and then takes things up a notch by posing in the nude. But that’s what happens when the sun is too hot outside—you gotta take it all off.
Foxy Asia Magazine recently caught up with Phillip to shine some light on this week’s sun-drenched Foxy Feature. Here’s what he had to say.
Photography by Phillip Reardon – @touchekvlt
First of all, thank you for spending some time with Foxy Asia Magazine. Can you introduce yourself and tell us how you got into photography?
My name is Phillip Reardon, known as ToucheKvlt (Two Shay Cult) on IG.
I got into photography about 2 years ago when I started a clothing brand as a snarky joke while working as a designer and creative for other brands, and it kinda took on a form of its own quickly. My friends and I talked about how neat it would be to have 1 person do everything top to bottom on a project for a year behind the curtains and see what could be done without funding, and possibly create a new blueprint for direct to consumer brands. We worked for Karmaloop brands, and one of the directors is an amazing streetwear/apparel mentor and he thought it’d make a great case study. Quickly the time for needing photography came, and being the 1 person who had to do everything on the project, I was like…“ok here we go into photography, lol.” I did have a background in cinema and such previously from my band days…so the camera didn’t scare me, just photography is much different.
So how did you come up with you IG name “touchekvlt”?
It stems back to myself, Mike & Jon (Karmaloop brand designers and directors as well) always hanging out and working on shit together. We’d be designing things for brands and people would be like “feels like something such and such a brand would do”…and some of the times they were referencing brands we were in fact designing for…so I’d say “oh touche, it does look and feel like it should be for that brand” (because it was).
I had this saying about the apparel industry, especially in that demographic, being “a bunch of Andy Warhols…raping pop culture.” Taking a brand identity and manipulating it to send usually a juxtaposed message while maintaining the identifying look of the original brand…it was extremely common practice…so I never hid from the fact that a lot of the brands we designed for or the culture we thought was amazing, only existed by taking pieces from something with the “big machine” behind it… Like taking the McDonald’s logo and making it say Marijuana or something for a brand that was very 420 centric…if McDonald’s wasn’t a massive identifiable brand that shirt wouldn’t make sense and have that frame of reference…the familiarity to make it make sense.
Where did you draw inspiration for this set and what vibe were you going for?
Jeana and I have sent 364523764237427364 inspiration photos to one another over the last year or so, oddly we never do shit with them. We started a thing recently (within the past 6 months) where we’d be traveling (I’m forever looking out the windows and seeing spots I’d love to shoot at) and I’d pull the car over and say “let’s just hop out and shoot.” That turned into us shooting like 4-6 sets at a time in a small area of space, we’d find different lil spots close by, Jeana would swap hair and we’d pick out outfits really quick. Those are now my fav and most common way her and I work together, very spontaneous and in the moment. I’ve shot her in many many styles and techniques so I’m always using her to try new ideas or cameras out…she has styles she loves that I don’t care for, but we shot it all so that we’re exploring our abilities to the best degree. This set in particular (part of like 6 looks also that day) we wanted that very old 35mm look, high key at times but with lots of detail in the shadows…airy desert like old playboy looks.
Where did the shoot take place? What made this location the perfect place to set up shop?
A little spot in the desert of Las Vegas we had been talking about exploring and shooting for some time. It was perfect because we were both there…lol. It just had the looks and ability to shape and use the sun how we wanted them to look.
Our readers may not know this, but the beautiful model in this set, Jeana, is also your girlfriend in real life. Can you tell us how the two of you met?
Hahah she is in fact my girlfriend as well as my muse. We met…..at a shoot…lol
When she moved to Vegas I had been coming here a few times a month to shoot and work on stuff with a food publication I was creative directing at the time. I saw her on the gram and we had some mutual friends and so I had inquired about her schedule and wanting to shoot. She was into linking up and shooting at the time what we thought would just be a couple looks…fast fwd 5 hours and like 5 sets later, she had to leave for another gig…we met up after her other shoot and knocked out I think…4 more looks that night. The ability to shoot quickly and completely different looks and styles was just bouncing off each other. I had some additional wardrobe that fit her, tons of accessories and we just shot till I think all the batteries were dead and the flashes quit. lol
We of course kept in contact and she was traveling to my area in LA/OC for shoots and eventually would just stay with me so I could help keep her from paying for hotels or trying to lock down additional places to stay on her travels (everyone in LA says “come stay with me when you’re here”…then you get here and they stop answering the phone). So it allowed her to have a base to shoot and meet up with other photogs, her and I could shoot anytime she had down time…and as time passed the chemistry was just…intense. It was rather organic, for us it’s optimal…but it wouldn’t always work for everyone else. There’s a graceful balance we all have to learn every day when working with others in an industry so based off the physical appearances and abilities of other people when you’re in a relationship with someone… It’s always a learning process and curve.
You and Jeana are always creating stunning images. Is there any difference between working with your girlfriend and working with other models?
Not in the technical sense, but it def gets approached before and after the fact differently. Sometimes you don’t take into account that it needs to be handled as seriously as any other shoot, people’s time and such is just as valuable. Jeana and I work extremely quickly though. Those hop out and shoot sessions I mentioned before, we knock like 5 looks or so out in less than an hour usually. She gets much less of my post production time in that sense tho. For me…I don’t think she needs it, and I use her as my muse…what’s the point of a muse that you need to work exponentially harder for something that’s supposed to “roll off the tongue.” She knows if she wants something edited, she needs to ask me…it doesn’t take me long…hell she hates being edited more than I hate editing. Retouching is an art form a lot of people don’t understand, and they try to just use plug ins and effects…and they aren’t usually very technically dialed in, as each photo is different…how can one setting match every photo you’ll ever shoot?
How important is Photoshop in your final images?
It really depends on the subject, client, and the needs of the final image. With Jeana for instance, 80% of what people see of her from me, is straight out of camera sent to my phone and posted. I was traveling and lost my laptop and hard drive a ways back and had to become very technical in camera because the only way for me to get photos out of it and onto IG was by sending it over wifi from the camera while I was traveling. It sort of got me hooked on #NoPhotoshop. I’ve always said that that hashtag in itself makes a huge statement when we’re so used to seeing OVER editing and bad retouching (and amazing retouching) we’re never sure what’s really…REAL. When a model and a photographer can love a photo the way it was shot…much like film was…it says huge statements about a photographer’s true ability to capture great images, and a model about her raw look and talents. Also people think a photographer is just supposed to also be an amazing retoucher, these are 2 totally different skillsets, though often paired together as a craft, it’s like saying a plumber should also be a great carpenter and architect. Just because we often think of the final image as one set of skills…they rely on some different abilities to get said final image.
That said, I do love editing and color grading, retouching and all the aspects that come with the a-z process…sometimes minus the time it takes for intensive retouching…which is something that’s rampant in photography and modeling. Sometimes not the photographer’s fault, and sometimes not the model’s fault. Shit happens, we deal with it…though there is a fairly large disconnect between model and photographer/retoucher on images. When I’m sent images from a client for retouching…they’re accurately labeled as per what to correct, what to remove and all that sort of stuff…with a model there’s sometimes almost no communication about the desired end result. Sometimes girls want to be put through CrossFit boot camp in the retouching stage, sometimes they want almost nothing…but very few discussions happen till after the edit…just food for thought for us all I guess.
I’ll end with the question I often ask people…because I feel retouching is a very technical skillset, that other photographers aren’t afforded the luxury of a budget to hire it out or are learning under the gun (we all do at some point…I see my old retouching and am embarrassed too).
What’s worse, a non-retouched photo with some minor imperfections, or a photo that’s been so abused in the “retouching” stage that the skin loses all texture and is just blurred and the highlights and or shadows have been painted over making the features look flat? I’d rather see non-retouched work that just needs a little clean up than a bad retouch any day…personally.
Before we let you go, any final words you’d like to say to your fans and followers? Anyone in particular you’d like to send a shout out to?
My final words would just be to create as often as possible, learn your craft as often as you can. Be inspired by the greats before you, and in turn inspire those to come after you.
If anyone happens to like my work (www.PhillipReardon.com or @ToucheKvlt on IG) and wants info on workshops or private lessons on lighting, shooting and or retouching hit me up. Retouching can even be done over Skype and is pretty damn effective for learning in real time.
Thanks to everyone who’s ever shot with me, and or appreciated my work and kept me moving fwd.
There are plenty of reasons you should be following Phillip Reardon on Instagram. Just about one hundred thousand other people are already doing it. Only follow him if you’re a fan of gorgeous faces, perfect bodies, incredible curves, and very minimal clothing. When we say ‘minimal’ clothing, we mean that quite literally. Trust us.
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