Stylist – General

I got my start in styling in a round about way – as a photo assistant for the extraordinary fine art photographer Nic Nicosia, working in his darkroom, shopping for props and helping him concept ideas for his surreal photos. Later, I built and designed window displays for Neiman Marcus.

I Iived and worked in New York for nine years as a prop and wardrobe stylist. As a senior stylist, I went on to be a part of the team that opened the largest Amazon photo studio in the country at the time, in Cincinnati, Ohio.

I feel so fortunate to do what I love for a living, which at it’s essence is collaborating with other creatives and bringing a vision to life – the more daunting and elaborate, the better!

I currently live in Austin and style still life, product, food, wardrobe and interiors for national brands and publications.


Lauren Smith Ford is the Editor and Creative Director of TRIBEZA, a magazine, covering the arts, fashion, architecture and design, music, community events and cuisine. In her spare time, which is a hot commodity since Lauren is also a mama to a toddler, Lauren keeps busy as a freelance, in-demand stylist (check out her website here).

How did you get started at TRIBEZA? Did you know you wanted to be involved in editorial?
I was a journalism major in college and always knew I wanted to work in magazines. My first post-grad experience in the summer of 2004 was as an intern in the editorial department at Texas Monthly, where I got to work as the research coordinator on the Texas Monthly SHOP guides. Getting to know some of the editors and staff at Texas Monthly was a defining moment in my career. The pulse of the office was invigorating, and it opened up a new world for me. I met so many smart, interesting people and learned something every day, whether it was a great book to add to my reading list or how to be a better a reporter.

Getting to know some of the editors and staff at Texas Monthly was a defining moment in my career

Spending time with some of the greatest journalists in the world made me even more determined to work as hard as I possibly could to build a career in the competitive industry. Texas Monthly Executive Editor Pamela Colloff has been an incredible mentor to me both professionally and personally as a role model of the kind of person I aspire to be (she’s magical); staff writer Katy Vine recommended me that summer for a monthly writing gig for ELLEgirl, giving me my first national magazine byline; senior editor John Spong has been an insightful sounding board for story ideas for TRIBEZA over the years; and I helped photographer Peter Yang with a shoot that summer for the SHOPS guides before he moved to New York. We became friends, staying in touch over the years, and I styled an Esquire cover for him when he was shooting in Texas last year. So many great things came from my time at Texas Monthly.

After that summer, I started freelance writing and got some more bylines for Teen Vogue, Glamour and Modern Bride. I saw my first copy of TRIBEZA when one of my roommates brought it home in December of 2005. I was working full-time as an editorial assistant for Winding Road magazine at that time but contacted TRIBEZA, pitching an article for the February 2006 issue. I wrote a few more pieces for the magazine, and the TRIBEZA founder, Zarghun Dean, asked me to have lunch that April, since we had never met. He hired me at lunch, and I can’t believe it has been almost eight years since that day. George Elliman bought the magazine in 2010, and he is extremely supportive of Austin’s creative community. It has been a real gift to work for him.

Spending time with some of the greatest journalists in the world made me even more determined to work as hard as I possibly could to build a career in the competitive industry

Could you describe what you do at TRIBEZA as creative director? 
We have a tiny staff that works on the editorial and design, with just me, an art director and a part-time editorial assistant, so we all wear many hats. I come up with the concepts for and develop the stories we produce—the idea and how it will be presented visually. I decide which photographer is going to shoot which assignment, how many pages each story will get, the order of which stories appear in the magazine, what will go on the cover. Then, I am involved in making more big picture decisions for the brand in terms of what types of community events we will be involved in, marketing plans, selection of vendors and partners for TRIBEZA-sponsored events, etc.

What is a typical work day like?
One of the best parts of my job is that every day is different. I spend the majority of my time researching potential story ideas and brainstorming ways to keep our content exciting and unexpected for our readers. Other days I spend time producing the bigger photo shoots we do or working with both writers and photographers on details of articles and photo shoots. Some weeks, I go out on interviews to write the stories I am particularly interested in. I also spend time styling and art directing the fashion editorials we do.

What do you look for in photographers? 
Enthusiasm—when someone loves photography and is particularly passionate about the subjects we cover, like art, style, food and music, or is just excited about shooting great portraits, that really makes someone stand out. This, coupled with someone who seems easy to work with, is a great fit for TRIBEZA. We are a niche publication and always hope to give our photographers a lot of creative freedom, so it takes someone who just gets our aesthetic. We love collaborating with the many talented shooters in Austin.

We are a niche publication and always hope to give our photographers a lot of creative freedom

How do you find new photographers? Or do they usually find you?
A lot of photographers contact us, but we get in touch with new ones we come across on blogs or those we discover through other avenues. The photography community in Austin is so encouraging—just the other day a great architecture photographer told me about another shooter we should use for food assignments.

Do you get promos, cold calls, and emails? If so, do you have a preference on how you are contacted?
We get all three. Our favorite print promos often make it up on an office bulletin board, and I always like to get occasional email updates with links to new work.

Any tips for photographers coming in and showing their work? Will an iPad cut it for you or do you want to see their book?

Either one is great.

What are some of your sources for inspiration? 
I find inspiration from the 1950s, T Magazine, Grace Coddington, Juergen Teller, Sam Cook, the wide open spaces of Texas, Big Sur, to name a few, and from many of the creative Austinites we write about in the magazine. I have learned a lot from and am continually inspired by some of the talented designers I have worked with, like Joy Gallagher (who now works for Whole Foods), a true artist with such a beautiful way of looking at the world, Avalon McKenzie who left TRIBEZA to work for Free People (and is now at Whole Foods) but will still brainstorm story ideas with me and never ceases to amaze me with her knowledge, creativity and infectious passion for design and style and Stephen Arevalos (now at Neiman Marcus designing The Book) who taught me that less is actually more and white space is a beautiful thing.

Dan Winters

Dan Winters has also been a huge influence and source of inspiration for me. We first met when I wrote a profile on him for TRIBEZA in April of 2008. We became friends and first collaborated on a 15-image black and white fashion series for TRIBEZA (some of those images made it in to AI-AP). Since then, I have styled some of the shoots he does in his Driftwood studio—from recreating 1950s style advertisements for WIRED Italia to dressing Civil War re-enactors for a story about the role of golf in the Civil War for Golf Digest to a more recent assignment for Real Simple on the history of cleaning products, showing the same model dressed as a retro housewife, a contemporary housewife and a futuristic one. Dan has an incredible attention to detail and work ethic. He would never take the easy way out or cut a corner, and being around him makes me want to do better and always strive for more, never stopping until every detail is right for the best possible result. Getting to spend time with him has inspired me in more ways than I could put into words. He is a kind, tender-hearted soul, and it’s a true honor to collaborate with him.

Dan Winters has also been a huge influence and source of inspiration for me

Jay B. Sauceda

You are a talented stylist as well. Were you doing that before TRIBEZA or was it a role you came into with the magazine?
My very first experience as a stylist was in college when I had a weekly fashion column called “Campus Couture.” I made all my friends be the models. It’s funny to look back at the photos now, but it was a great opportunity to gain experience on my own shoots. I began styling the TRIBEZA editorial shoots soon after I started at the magazine in 2006. It is great fun to come up with a concept and find the right locations, models and outfits and see it all from start to finish.

TRIBEZA has produced some shoots (on small budgets) that I am really proud of. I got to collaborate with Randal Ford on styling some of the images for his Norman Rockwell-inspired series, and I love the Mad Men style shoot we did with Michael Thad Carter. Gradually over time, some photographers started hiring me to style shoots outside of TRIBEZA, and it has now become a second career that I greatly love. My first advertising job was for the DirecTV promotional commercials for the Season Three of Friday Night Lights (one of my favorite shows). I styled my first Texas Monthly cover in February of 2010 and have done quite a few covers since then. I love Texas and being a Texan, so jobs from them are always some of the most fun with getting to dress Willie Nelson as Santa Claus and Jack Black and Matthew McConaughey for the Bernie cover story being two of my favorite shoots so far.

Tammy Theis, Founder and Creative Director of Dallas-based Wallflower Management, a talent agency, talks to ILTP about Texas fashion photography, Erin Wasson, and great shoes.

How did Wallflower sprout?
I was a fashion writer and stylist for The Dallas Morning News/Fashion for 21 years. I always had in the back of my mind this wish to do something that had my stamp on it, that was completely my creation—and I always wanted to use the word Wallflower. I left the paper to freelance in 2006 and then met Brenda Gomez who had been a stylist and booked models for Neiman Marcus advertising—we worked together at another agency and had great working chemistry. I kind of hit the wall with what I could do at the other agency so I left. Brenda followed shortly after and we decided to open Wallflower, a boutique agency, similar to small, selective agencies in New York. We opened Wallflower Management July 6, 2009.

I believe in including the staff in lots of creative decisions—I think that’s how you get the best results.

What is the role of a Creative Director at a talent agency?
Well, basically I oversee all the creative aspects of the agency—scouting, model development, photo editing, design decisions, etc., but I am not an autocrat. I believe in including the rest of the staff in lots of creative decisions—I think that’s how you get the best results.

When I was in Los Angeles a couple years ago I saw Erin Wasson walking down the street, pretty much owning the sidewalk on her way out of Fred Segal, how did you discover her and how does Wallflower go about finding new talent?

Erin was this curly headed, gawky 15 year old, skinny as a rail, all legs and arms—but her face was undeniable. The shape of her eyes, lips, nose—perfect.

I was at the newspaper when I first saw Erin. Fashion!Dallas was doing a model search with Kim Dawson Agency, and I asked our receptionist to see the entries that had been mailed in so far. She handed me a box and I dug through and came across these snapshots of Erin in her Irving home—taken by her dad, I found out later. Erin was this curly headed, gawky 15 year old, skinny as a rail, all legs and arms—but her face was undeniable. The shape of her eyes, lips, nose—perfect. Her smile was gorgeous. I remember calling Lisa Dawson and saying, I found our winner—because we were a bit worried with our first search that we wouldn’t find anyone. I remember doing her first shoots—she was so cute and like a sponge.

How much of your time is still spent styling? Do you still get to go to the big fashion shows in NYC, Paris, Milan, etc.?
My styling keeps getting less and less, though I hate that because I feel it’s important to my creativity. I stopped going to the shows when I left the newspaper—the budget for that was pretty much done anyways. I do miss the shows, but not the grind of covering them! Brenda and I are most likely going up this fashion week to see our models on the runways and visit agencies.

Does Wallflower plan to keep growing and representing more of other talent such as make up artists and stylists? Any plans to expand beyond Dallas? (Austin could use the help!)
We have been slowly growing—we want to stay boutique so we can continue to give that one-on-one management and attention. We rep one makeup artist/hair stylist, Shane Monden who is extremely talented and we rep two stylists, Uel White and Graham Cumberbatch (Graham is in Austin and featured in a previous ILTP interview). We chose them because they are very Wallflower. Not sure if/when we might expand to other markets. We do have ideas about our expanding our brand in other ways.

Texas is full of amazing photographers! Dallas has a community of talented photographers, and young shooters pop up every day.

What is your opinion of Texas photography and photographers?
Texas is full of amazing photographers! The Amon Carter Museum commissioned Richard Avedon’s In The American West. Noted Dallas photographer Laura Wilson, who assisted Avedon, is a great photographer in her own right. Keith Carter lives and works in Texas. Dallas has a community of talented photographers, and young shooters pop up every day. I’ve been amazed at the work of Lauren Withrow, who started shooting for Wallflower around the age of 16—but she was no novice—she was directing and seeing things in a very advanced way. Kids amaze me these days. I do wish there were more photo/art galleries or shows that focus on photography.

What are the benefits of working in Texas/Dallas?
Well, the cost and ease of living here makes it viable. Studios are affordable. There are great models, great scenery, though sometimes you have to travel a ways and/or battle the heat. Most importantly, there are clients.

I prefer artistic photographers—I don’t necessarily look for someone who is just technical but whose photos have no soul.

What traits do you think talent agencies and models appreciate most in photographers?
I like photographers who have a style, a point of view. I don’t want to see a group of work that is all over the place. I prefer artistic photographers—I don’t necessarily look for someone who is just technical but whose photos have no soul. I love black & white photography and I still love film. I think as an agency creative director, I give photographers a lot of latitude—I don’t like to dictate what photos I want them to shoot of a model—I want them to shoot their concepts and what inspires them—it invariably results in better photos.

How has the demise of print and the surge in digital publications changed the way you do business? 
Well, I am not sure about the demise of print. It seems like there are more magazines every day—mostly out of Europe but beautifully printed publications—I love visiting Book People in Austin to find lots of my favorite magazines—I’m an addict for sure. There are plenty of on-line pubs too though. It really doesn’t change the way we do business—we of course love being able to send our models’ portfolios by email and handling so much of work efficiently through technology.

What is Wallflower’s take on social media for your business? What platforms do you use?
Well, I’m proud to say Brenda and I were the first agency in Dallas to have a blog (we were with another agency at the time but we started it). We have a blog, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for Wallflower.

What is Wallflower direct?
That is for models who have other “mother” agencies, meaning they are out of town and we rep them for our clients who have budgets to pay for travel.

I love the latest issue of the Wallflower zine, can you tell us more about that?
Thanks! When we opened I thought a zine would be a great idea for several reasons: it would scratch my itch of always wanting my own magazine (watch out what you wish for!), provide a creative forum for all of our talented photographers/stylists/hair and makeup artists/models as well as provide tear sheets for our models’ portfolios. It’s been well received—as soon as we publish one all of the photographers are emailing about the next one. This last one, the beauty issue, was our biggest yet with over 80 pages.

Favorite place to shoot in Texas?
That’s hard. I loved shooting in Palo Duro Canyon. I used to love shooting in Venus but it’s not as small town as it used to be. I’ve shot in Marfa and that was fun. I do love desolate open spaces, which there are plenty of in Texas. Of course in the summer, a nice air-conditioned studio is awesome—and I love simple studio photography.

Favorite Texas food?
Sonny Bryan’s BBQ in the old location on Inwood Blvd. I love Stoneleigh P burgers too.

Favorite pair of shoes?
My new Acne blue suede ankle boots from V.O.D.

Favorite place to shop for fashion?
V.O.D., TenOver6, Urban Outfitters and lots of other Dallas stores, but I buy a few really great things a season and wear them to death. I am a minimalist and pretty much wear a uniform of black skinny jeans or trousers and T-shirts. I love Acne and R13.

For new Austin talent, Graham Cumberbatch, styling is more about exploring cultural identities than finding the perfect pair of shoes.  Influenced by his family, especially his father’s style, he’s long been aware of the importance of how you present yourself to the world.

Graham is an Austin native but fresh from a degree in Semiotics from Brown University and an internship at GQ in New York City where he contributed to the art department and also wrote for the GQ blog. He has so many interests and talents that he hasn’t yet figured out which one will define him, but for the moment, a chance encounter with former Austin Monthly stylist Brandy Joy Smith, has steered him into the Texas fashion scene.

I recently sat down with Graham for tacos on Austin’s east side to reminisce on the pains of hauling shoot props across Manhattan and Dallas vs. Austin style.

Austin’s style is a reaction or opposition to Dallas, it’s anti-fashion.

You studied Modern Culture and Media at Brown University – describe the coursework and how that plays into what you are doing today as a stylist? 
The department used to be called Semiotics. It’s a cross-disciplinary field that covers literary theory, visual art, film theory and production and social philosophy. It’s all about the way knowledge is produced. It’s about signs and visual language and how the way in which they’re coded and decoded impacts how humans relate to each other.

It has a lot to do with how I approach styling. Our sartorial choices have a lot to do with how people define us. What we wear is a visual language we use to either connect with other people or set ourselves apart. I like to tell stories with style, communicate notions of place and people and explore cultural identities. I’m inspired by film references, literary themes and ethnic histories. Fashion isn’t generally considered to be very intellectual, but I think when you view things through the historical relevance of style, there’s a conceptual depth that’s possible when you collaborate with the right people.

My favorite photographers to work with are the ones that treat the stylist and other artists on set as equal creative partners and allow them express themselves.

What are some of the most important elements in a photographer-stylist relationship?
I think ideally, you first need to come to a common understanding of what makes a great image. That means finding a common language because everyone brings their own perspective on what that means. Collaboration is essentially about getting on the same page creatively, then letting the other person do what they do best. My favorite photographers to work with are the ones that treat the stylist and the other artists on set as equal creative partners and allow them express themselves.

 Who are some of your favorite Texas photographers to work with and why?
I’ve done a lot of work with Tania Quintanilla of  TQPhoto. We met through Brandy Smith. She has a great eye and an old-school beauty-oriented approach to fashion photography that’s hard to find these days. Her images always look refined and classically beautiful. Sometimes I think she makes my work look better than it really is. I also really like working with Wynn Myers. Of course, y’all know her here at I Love Texas Photo. We actually went to high school together at St. Stephens in Austin. Her stuff is really pretty. She has her own style–very naturalistic, great use of natural light, lots of emphasis on the elements. It’s fun to match my styling with her approach.

Photo by Tania Quintanilla for San Antonio Magazine

Tell us about your mentor, Brandy, and how you got into styling.
I met Brandy through my sister. They met on the set of an ad shoot Brandy was styling. We became fast friends and I ended up assisting her on a shoot for Austin Monthly by chance. I’d never done any styling but I helped with the guys’ looks and I liked it. I assisted her several more times and when she moved to NYC, she recommended me to Austin Monthly, one of her longtime clients. I made my pitch and started doing their monthly style spreads for the next eight months. It was a great experience–kind of just thrown into the fire, learning everything on the job. But Brandy’s been the mentor–always available to answer questions about the biz and give advice. She’s actually helped launch several people’s careers in styling. She’s a very giving person, never competitive, even willing to assist me when I’m in a jam. The industry can get a little hectic for a freelancer, we all need someone like Brandy in our corner.

Graham has a distinct style in his work–he understands proportion and color and he’s great at combining street with high style. -Tammy Theis/Wallflower management

You recently signed with Wallflower Management, tell us about that and how it has changed your work.
I just signed with Wallflower a few weeks ago, so it’s still pretty new. I really wanted to break into the field in Dallas. It’s a bigger market, Texas’ original fashion capital, with more commercial clients and a wider range of retail options. I think Wallflower will help broaden my opportunities. When we met, they really understood my aesthetic and were willing to invest in marketing me to a wider audience.

What are some of your favorite places to shoot in Texas?
Austin! I think Austin is a great place to shoot. But central Texas in general is beautiful. Growing up here you don’t appreciate it as much until you leave. The landscape here is really like nowhere else. I’m actually headed out to West Texas next week and I’m sure that’ll be equally gorgeous. I’ve been out to the Davis Mountains area before but never to places like Marfa and Alpine. I’m excited. I’m a big fan of the desert.

Photo by Wynn Myers

What are some of the benefits of styling in Texas?
It’s really easy to meet and connect with people professionally. There are very few jaded attitudes around because the fashion arena is so new here. Everyone really just wants to meet new people and collaborate as much as possible. There’s a lot of space to be creative without worrying about too much establishment red tape.

Favorite places to shop and pull clothing in Texas?
I love working with the folks at ByGeorge. They’re my high-fashion go-to. Sometimes you just need some Celine and there is only one place to get it. For menswear, Service is always great. It’s really well curated, relaxed, sophisticated–what an Austin man should look like. Maya Star and Co-Star are both great. MayaStar is a little more classic Austin, Co-star is a little more New York. Other Austin favorites are gallery d, Stella Says Go, Mynte, Feathers (great vintage), Olive Vintage (run by friend Laura Uhlir) and Capra & Cavelli (ask for Ken Miller).

Recently, I’ve been styling for San Antonio Magazine. If you’re ever there, hit up Aquarius Boutique, Penny Lane, Pinky’s, and Sloan/Hal.

You mentioned how Facebook was a really active platform for fashion professionals in Austin, how do you use social media for your business?
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram–they’re all becoming more vital for marketing yourself. It’s really a combination of just establishing an online presence and connecting with other people in the industry. I kind of just try to put my personality out there–things I like, things I draw inspiration from–and see who’s out there.

The way you present yourself to world matters a lot, especially for a young black male. It’s how people gauge your self-respect and to a certain extent, your approach to life and work.

You said your family, especially your father has influenced your personal style, tell us about your dad.
Since I was little, he’s always made a point to teach me the importance of personal appearance.  Clothes and material things aren’t everything, but the way you present yourself to world matters a lot–especially for a young black male. It’s how people gauge your self-respect and to a certain extent, your approach to life and work. We tease him that he’s a little bit OCD, but he was definitely about the details–pants and shirt pressed, shoes and belt matching, tie knotted straight, shoes shined–all the basics. But beyond that he’s always had a very distinct sense of personal style. At the law firm he worked for when I was younger, he was known as a unique dresser. He was always mixing patterns and shades–polka dot ties and striped suspenders, monk strap shoes and tortoise shell glasses. I used to love to borrow his clothes, I still do. I wish I’d had enough foresight to make him keep more stuff from the 90s (when he was as skinny as I am). But I did manage to hold on to a pair of his old frames I might start rocking. I also still wear his old YSL belt, when he sees it he likes to remind me, “Man, that thing is older than you are.”  I think it still blows his mind that I’ll be 30 soon.

What would your dream shoot be?
My dream collaboration would somehow involve Rihanna (forever muse), Jesse Ware (other forever muse), Casely-Hayford, vintage Versace and Junior Gaultier, Paris (never been), with Meline Matsoukas and Bruce Weber behind the camera.

Favorite designers?

Wow that’s really hard. It kind of goes in cycles for me, to name a few- Celine (so tough, minimalist like me), Stella McCartney, Acne, Vena Cava, Hood by Air. Locally, Betty Atwell out of San Antonio and Hey Murphy here in Austin.

What’s up with your mom’s famous mac n’ cheese recipe? Can we have it?

Oooooo, that’s a family secret, yo! I will say it’s delicious and that it all starts with the roux.










How do you make food look so appetizing on a shoot?
There are a lot of little tricks for every type of food but I try and make things look “real.” For me, real means slightly messy, full of ooziness, crumbs, and gooey cheese.

Event planning like food styling, makes you think on your feet and troubleshoot, something that happens on every job

How did you get your start as a food stylist?
I previously had a career in event planning that helped train me to become very detail oriented.  Event planning — like food styling — makes you think on your feet and troubleshoot, something that happens on every job.  After a few years in the event planning world, I switched gears and embraced my passion for food. I worked for a well-known chef who led me to the recipe development mecca: America’s Test Kitchen.  At the Test Kitchen I developed original recipes, wrote articles and was head of the Cooks Country Magazine photo shoots where I developed my expertise in food styling and prop selection.

Did you have a big break?  
I’ve built my business with several large, national clients in a short amount of time, which is great, but of course, I always want to do more!

What’s the most photogenic food (needing the least help to look delicious)?
I think cakes.  You take so much time and care in making them that they pretty much style themselves.

What is the hardest food to style?
Ice cream, hands down.

Will you take us through a typical food shoot?  (like prep time, etc. so they see how much work you do before anybody even gets there)
Prep is ALWAYS needed but not always given; sometimes it feels like a luxury.  Simply having time to set-up your tools, what you’re using in the kitchen and on-set and setting out a plan for the day goes a long way in making the rest of the shoot run smoothly. Typically you’re “cooking” each component of a plate separately so organization is crucial.

Is the food usually edible?  If so, who eats the leftovers after the shoot?
Most food I style is technically edible but I wouldn’t suggest eating it.  Anyone who’s worked on a food set knows not to eat (or touch) the food!

Most food I style is technically edible but I wouldn’t suggest eating it

What is the strangest item you have in your styling tool kit?
Oh it’s filled with many strange items, I’m always worried what security sees when I have to travel… I’d have to say the strangest is my baby “snot sucker” aka baby aspirator. I use it to remove very small amounts of liquid. I recently used it on raw oyster.

What is the most challenging thing about being a food stylist?
Schlepping around all your gear!  You never really know exactly what you’ll need so if you’re like me, you bring EVERYTHING!  (Don’t look in my hall closet…)

What is your favorite thing about working in Texas?
I’m a fairly new “Texan”, I’ve only been here just about 3 years but it’s becoming home.  Moving from Boston, Texas feels very welcoming.  As a Midwestern girl, I appreciate a “good morning” or smile from a stranger. I’ve been lucky to connect with great food photographers, designers and restaurants and am excited to build more relationships in the industry.

What projects have you done lately?
For the past two years I’ve worked on the new Whataburger campaign with local food photographer, Jody Horton.  The campaign has been well received and we’re really proud of our work (it’s also pretty great seeing it in billboard form).

I’ve also been working in Houston with Ralph Smith (and recently, NYC at Michael Schrom’s studio), for Joe’s Crab Shack, which has been a fun and challenging project.

I also styled the recipes in the new Salt Lick Cookbook. Austin photographer Kenny Braun shot the book in its entirety and the local Pentagram office led the design.  I enjoyed working with these talented people and the pictures will make you want to drive straight to Driftwood for a BBQ fix.

What’s next? Exciting projects coming up for 2013?
I’m excited to continue working with Joe’s Crab Shack.  I’m also looking forward to adding a new burger client.

The start to the New Year also means I get to work with a regular client, the National Mango Board.  I develop mango recipes for their promotional materials and website and have recently begun styling those recipes since they moved their photo shoots to Texas.

How do you define success in your own career?
I think success is when you get called again for another job; you know you’ve made that client happy.

I think success is when you get called again for another job

What advice do you have for aspiring food stylists or photographers interested in shooting food?
Practice and assist. It’s a difficult career to wrap your head around and can’t really be learned except by doing.

Favorite breakfast taco?
Shocking, I know, but I really don’t do breakfast tacos, I prefer going straight to lunch… The Democrat from Torchys is the best.

Photos by: Kimberly Davis, Jody Horton, and Ralph Smith

How did your career as a stylist begin?
I first started in San Francisco just after college working on fashion shows at the Macy’s in Union Square.  The  second one I did was for Donna Karan and I got to work with her daughter on styling it.  After a short stint there it became obvious to me that I needed to start a career in New York to really learn the industry and be in the center of it, so there I just hit the pavement, assisting several stylists and working on everything from editorial at Vanity Fair to test shoots with Terry Richardson to advertising for Celine.

How was working with Vanity Fair? What about Terry Richardson & Celine?
Everything was a new and exciting experience for me at the time and being able to work with some of the best in the world was humbling, but also made me realize a big part of being talented just comes from the confidence to just do it.  Vanity Fair has an amazing staff of smart people and was a great experience every time.  Terry Richardson pretty much lives up to his image.  The Celine shoot was shot by Patrick Demarchelier and I spent most of the time holding the purse to the side from off camera and trying to figure out what Demarchelier was saying in his muttering thick accent.

Do you have a most memorable styling job?
Well, I have to say the job is never run-of-the-mill, so there are many to remember.  Though most of the more scandalous and funny ones are from my assisting days working with celebrities, traveling around the world, and meeting many off-the-wall “fashion” characters.  But, probably my most memorable job as a stylist has been a trip to Thailand that I took last year for a European store called C&A that is run by a Chinese company and had a Taiwanese ad agency.  Every part of it was a learning experience, since we were working with many local Thailand-based talent.  The people were lovely and the experience was wonderful, but not without its many hilarious moments lacking correct translation when talking about fashion and creativity.

Do you have any gripes about photographers on set? Not specific people but just things that photographers may do that make stylists crazy? And on the other hand, are there things that some photographers do that you find really helpful? 
Well, it is always a joy (a hint of sarcasm) when the photographer wants to change or more often “add to” the whole direction of a look once we get to a location or start shooting…i.e. it would look really great to have a huge floppy hat here, did you happen to bring one?

Mostly, what works with photographers is a chemistry and symbiotic relationship

Mostly, what works with photographers is a chemistry and symbiotic relationship that is hard to describe when it works, because yes most of it is good communication, but also it is an ability to work off of each other’s ideas.  It’s nice when a photographer trusts you enough to show you inspiration images, then choose great locations and set ups, then just lets me do my thing with the clothing to fit the situation.

What is your personal style?
I am a simple girl.  I like clean lines and strong (sometimes even masculine) details.  But, overall I like a little edginess that makes an everyday comfortable outfit seem effortlessly chic.

You lived in New York and LA for some time, do you think this was important to establishing your career?
Absolutely.  It helped me to develop a heightened aesthetic and an uncompromising eye.  Not to mention, those places are where the work is.  Other US cities will never have the quantity of work that New York (and even LA) provide.  There is an entire industry and pools of quality talent in all the fields needed to participate.  A good shoot depends on high quality talent from not only the photography, but also from the hair, makeup, styling, production, models, and all of the assistants.  Even more importantly, all of these talented people that I have gotten to know along the way are some of my greatest friends.  We have spent many hours together away from our families and shared a lot of laughs and also….a lot of drinks.

When we first met, we talked a bit about agents. You have decided not to have an agent for the time being, could you discuss that?
For me, at least for the time being, it just is the right thing.  That could always change again.  I used to have an agent and depending on what you want from your career at each point in time, you have to weigh all the odds, as well as the pros and cons of what an agent brings to the picture.  I am also working now as an interior designer in Austin, so now I like to pick and choose my projects as a stylist and have enough colleagues that hire me regularly, so I really don’t have the need for one.


I know that you travel a lot for work; how many assignments end up being out of state? Where do they usually take place?
Most of my styling projects are in Los Angeles.  I’ll go to New York very rarely nowadays.  I used to travel to Dallas quite a bit, but have not been doing that for about a year and half.  I’ve just got a crew and network of people in LA that I work with and for, as well as a place to stay when I’m there, so that makes a job where you are juggling a lot just a little easier.

Where do you draw inspiration from, when you’re styling, and shopping, and working?
Everywhere!  I mean sometimes it’s magazines, blogs, or the runway, but often times I get ideas just from looking around me either at the cute girl who just passed me on the sidewalk or the pillows that I see on someone’s couch.

Any specific blogs you are loving?
I look at StyleLikeU, Emmas Designblogg, and The Brick House a lot, but often I really just find things through random searches – I am kind of wierdo when it comes to the online research.

What’s next? Any exciting projects coming up in 2012?
I’ve had a few great clients that book me every season, so those are always fun, because having that comfort to really push the envelope and be myself is great.  I’m looking forward to working with Dakine in a couple of weeks and Lee Jeans toward the end of the year.

Who are your repeat clients? Can you talk about your project with Lee Jeans? Did the photographer hire your or did Lee put together the team? 
Lee Jeans, Dakine, Galleria Malls, and I work with the photographer Colette De Barros all the time, so in that way she is very much a repeat client.  With Lee, I was initially brought on 3 years ago by Colette to shoot for them and have been working with them ever since, though now they ask for me directly even when they use other photographers.

What has been your best career decision?
Wow, who knows….probably the decision to stop caring when I got turned down or didn’t get a job.

How do you stay motivated?
Well, the end product or the idea of what the end product could be is what motivates me and the idea of making something visually stimulating propels me.

What is your favorite thing about styling in Texas?
I like living MY life and not trying to live to keep up with anyone else’s.

Do you have a mentor in the field?
I worked for Jennifer Hitzges for over a year full time in New York and from her I learned how to run “me” as a business.  I was also very encouraged by Sciascia Gambaccini, for whom I also worked.

Do you have a dream assignment?
A regular, seasonal, huge advertising campaign for a brand like J.Crew or Levi’s that wants to shoot in Austin every time!  Maybe if I say it, it will happen?

Favorite bbq?
Franklin BBQ

Favorite breakfast taco?
Taco Deli

Favorite libation?
Lately its been anything with strong ginger OR I love a martini!

Do you collect anything?
I am an avid purger!  But, I very much like glass and crystal glasses.

Any hobbies outside styling?
Hiking, walks with my dog, and flea markets/estate sales.

Mariah Tyler talks with photo rep Jennifer Dunn of Sister Brother Mgmt about representing artists, living in Dallas and the importance of collaboration.

In a nutshell, what is Sisterbrother Mgmt.?

Sisterbrother Mgmt. is an agency representing photographers and stylists.

How did sisterbrother come about?
When the economy tanked in 2008, our industry and local market were pretty profoundly impacted and though I worked at a fantastic studio repping a handful of really talented shooters, we felt it too. Our staffers were made freelance and, eventually, I was the last one on the payroll. If I had stuck it out, everything would have been fine – that studio is thriving today. But I couldn’t risk being jobless with two kiddos at home. So Sisterbrother Mgmt. was born overnight.

Why Dallas?
I was born and raised in Dallas. My family is here, my kids call Dallas home. Sentiment aside, Dallas also has a great photo industry. Diverse and lucrative…

What is the creative process in coming up with concepts for shoots?
I love that element of what we do but, honestly, I’m not all that involved with it. I offer inspiration by sharing with my artists imagery that calls out their name to me. I’m sure they fold that into the mix of visuals that seem to be stirring in them all the time. For commercial projects, concepts often originate many steps ahead of our involvement, but it’s always nice when an art director asks for collaboration from the photographer and stylist.

What do y’all look at for inspiration?
There is a fair amount of influence from the “usual suspects” – magazines, blogs, art, music. But it’s so personal, it can come from anywhere, right? Our families, the weather, travel…

Do any of the stylists work with non-Sisterbrother photographers and vice versa?
Most definitely. Inclusion is a really important part of my business ethos. I encourage the stylists and the photographers to work with whomever they feel moved to work with. And I feel pretty strongly about giving credit where credit is due, roster talent or non-roster talent. There’s enough to go around. And creativity is a tricky enough beast without unnecessary limitations on partnerships.

Styled by Brittany Winter & Photographed by Chris Plavidal ©

Who are the people represented by Sisterbrother?
Darren Braun, photographer
Richard Krall, photographer
Chris Plavidal, photographer
Steven Visneau, photographer

Samantha Collie, stylists’ rep.
Mari Hidalgo, stylist
Stephanie Quadri, stylist
Brittany Winter, stylist
Jennifer Bigham, assistant stylist
Olivia June Preuss, assistant stylist
Dana Stalewski, assistant stylist
Shannon Webster, intern

How does someone who is interested become a part of Sisterbrother Mgmt.?
Well, I’m reeeeeally selective. Because I invest so much energy and time in the artists. And because, and I know this can off cheesy, we are a family and while I have the final word, there is a lot of input to consider from the team. For photographers, I hold portfolio reviews quarterly and this is where I find the talent I’m most interested in watching. And for stylists, they tend to evolve from interns, to assistants, to stylists.

Where do you see Sisterbrother in 5 years?
I do have a five-year plan, but I’m not gonna share it right now. 🙂 We’ll be making beautiful images.

Steven Visneau ©

Favorite brunch spots in Dallas?
Brunch is my favorite meal! I like my neighborhood spots, Oddfellows, Hattie’s, Jonathan’s, [in Bishop Arts] in Oak Cliff. And I like Vickery Park and Taverna, too, if I can be convinced to cross the bridge on a weekend.

Top 3 go to spots for photo shoots?
I don’t think there are many repeat locations (other than our own studios). Collectively, in the past two weeks, we’ve shot at the Driskill Hotel and the Dougherty Arts Center in Austin, a vintage car showroom in Terrell, the Winspear Opera House, underwater in a backyard pool, the beach in Tulum, Mexico and many many studios.

Styled by Stephanie Quadri ©

Recent, notable clients?
We always love working with all of the different Neiman Marcus teams. Great art direction, great merchandise, great models. And we did a project last week for The Atlantic Monthly. Ooo, and Corona. Yeah!

Bonnie Markel is a talented wardrobe and prop stylist living in Austin, Texas. Bonnie’s work extends from advertisements for clients like Wal-Mart and Target to dressing Beyonce for Texas Monthly.

How did you get started?
I was a photo assistant

Do you have a mentor in the field?
Robb Kendrick

What has been your best career decision?
To always keep the door open and try new things.

always keep the door open and try new things

What is your favorite thing about styling in Texas?
The creative, easy vibe of all the people I work with.

How do you stay motivated?
I’m a curious person and life seems very short.

I’m a curious person and life seems very short.

What was your first big break?
I do not feel like it was one thing or job.

Who are you inspired by?
Valentino, Alexander McQween, Robert Frank, William Eggleston, my parents, my children.

What’s next? Any exciting projects coming up in 2012?
It’s always something new, never really repeats

Favorite breakfast tacos?
Toss up. Taco Deli & Maria’s

Favorite libation?
Tito’s and soda

Do you collect anything?
Old cameras and vintage jewelry