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Kinzie + Riehm Go "Intergalactic"

Jacqui Palumbo


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© KINZIE + RIEHM


Kinzie + Riehm are a married photography duo based out of Orlando, Florida who specialize in kids fashion photography and advertising. Their approach to directing young subjects is refreshing and effective - they have learned to speak their language. It helps that they have kids of their own, but Ken Kinzie and April Riehm have also learned through trial and error that the best way to direct is to explain through storytelling. “Kids are great at imaginary play, so if you let them in on the story you’re trying to tell, they’re really great at getting into character,” Riehm says. “Given the opportunity, children are amazing collaborators.” With top clients such as Parenting Magazine, Atlantic Records and Scholastic on their roster, Kinzie + Riehm have successfully joined together their love of kids and photography.

Over the summer, the two were approached by children’s fashion publication La Petite Magazine for a futuristic fashion shoot. The editor, Rachelle Francey gave the starting point, but allowed to them the majority of creative control. Kinzie + Riehm decided to interpret “futuristic” in terms of space travel, inspired by the final NASA shuttle launch on July 8, 2011 that would be taking place during production.

Pre-production included a series of castings for the shoot and the hunt for edgy, yet age-appropriate wardrobe pieces for the young models to wear. Kinzie + Riehm speak highly of their wardrobe stylist, Cherie Picket, who sourced the clothing from American designers and international brands. They also worked with makeup artist and hair stylist Kristy Alonzo to apply an “android or machine-like” sheen to pull together the concept. “We’re lucky to have such a talented and dedicated crew and we couldn’t do it without them,” Kinzie comments.

Initially, Kinzie + Riehm imagined a much larger production, but due to the restraints of a tiny studio and limited budget, they kept the concept simple with an “almost sterile” feel to it. Any other challenges were met with enthusiasm. While some photographers prefer working alone, working together enhances their ability to problem-solve. They are flexible in their roles. Sometimes they shoot simultaneously from different angles, but they also take turns directing and shooting. Their roles are often defined by whom the kids are responding to more, and they have no problems trading off in order to make their models comfortable and to achieve the best results. “We’ve found that working together actually has helped us grow as photographers, because we’re always pushing each other to do more, and it works well for us,” Kinzie says.

Kinzie + Riehm ended up with several models, all with very different looks. They also cast their 4-year old son, the youngest child in the group. Right before the shoot, Kinzie + Riehm sat down with their models to talk to them about the era of the space shuttle. Growing up in Florida, they both fondly remember going outside to see the shuttles take off; even from over 150 miles away the fireball and smoke trails were visible. They explained to the kids that the Atlantis would be the final NASA shuttle launch, and asked them to imagine what it would be like to be in space and what it would feel like to be weightless. They photographed many of the kids just after their poses, capturing them once they had relaxed a little but maintained their expressions for a more candid feel.

When Rachelle Francey saw the final photos, she said it was “quite possibly her favorite shoot of the issue.” The “Intergalactic” editorial is high fashion for children. Its appeal is also in its nostalgia. It speaks to an era that is ending – an era that Kinzie + Riehm so fondly remember of wonder and discovery with each shuttle launch. The young models of “Intergalactic” will not grow up with the same memories, but can evoke the feelings through imagination, making the editorial all the more poignant.

For more of Kinzie + Riehm’s work, please visit their Web site.
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