Recently, NYC based production company Silent Crow was in Ventura. Two writers with the company happened to have connected with Donna Von Hoesslin of Betty B and learning a little bit about her female inspired Eco Fashion line. They came up with an idea.
Producer Matt Bennett showed up to do a little bit of discovery work, and honed a reality show concept that deviated from the norm, in that it endeavors to look at the personalities and lives of the women in both my and Donna’s lives. Silent Crow named the show Bonafide.
Donna and I have long exchanged working relationships with people who we see as unique, and able to be involved in both the editorial market, and branding process, both for the model as a product, and for Betty B’s unique, ethics based, Fashion accessories line. The Betty Blog is here.
What Matt discovered is that each one of these women is a story unto themselves. Tricky thing to formuate a show upon. I just saw the teaser reel that Silent Crow Produced, and that I contributed footage and stills to. I think they get it. Not an easy thing to do, getting something that is a world unto itself.
Hailey and Sierra Partridge are two of the girls who were not involved in the show pitch per se. Recently a potential new supporter of theirs, Tonic, asked to use a couple images of the girls for branding purposes on their website.
What ensued for me, was a look through the girl’s files that began with a shoot for Betty B in Santa Cruz when they were about 16. Images from that first shoot went into a multitude of publications. Donna had simply shown me a cold pitch the twins had sent in and asked; “What do you think?”
“Duhhh yea”, was my first response. “Beautiful twins, athletes, and self motivated? What is the question?”
But what I discovered in the course of my years traveling and shooting with these young women, was something special. Having a rough go as life started for them, (They were basically born blind) the two daughters of Santa Cruz waterman Rym Partridge, and his wife Winnie, a career flight attendant, weathered the waters of Nor Cal, the alpha male environment of Santa Cruz, and tutelage of their Dad (Think gnarly. Better than you, better than me), to become waterwomen.
As they engage college, they have had a high bar for life and ethics set for them by the family, which has a history of not only strong nurture, but strict ethical and moral compass headings. Rym’s stories of outback charity work which began in the poor parts of Hawaii, and has taken him all over the world (he is a Dentist by trade), set a certain level of expectation for the young ladies.
Then there is Donna, and the incredibly competitive group of women who are the core of Betty B’s brand identity. Not an easy act to join, as each person is an entity unto themselves. They are sort of the anti team. But then again, surfing is an anti sport: a renegade, self oriented, lifestyle.
I find it interesting, as I look back on the thousands of images that the girls and I have produced, that I never saw two lanky blond beauties, I only saw sentient, kind people, who happened to be great athletes, and a certain potential. Shadow of their parents.
Betty B, Hobie Sports, K 38 Rescue, Oneill Intl, Ocean Minded, and countless editors, have supported and published this work. It gets pretty entertaining when certain fashion magazines come up with “great ideas”, then use the girls in them, right down to my art direction items, like the Red Ford Bronco we used in one of our Hobie shoots. (Hey I have a great idea) There is a reason for me hanging with who I do. I have a low tolerance for insincerity, and a penchant for authenticity. Real is valuable, and life is far better than fiction ever could be.
This edit illustrates a best case example of why I tend to to keep my subjects with me over time. The work becomes vital. We learn. We have fun. And authenticity? Well, they are the real deal. This is all them. I just pose suggestions which my career and vision allow for. If someone will not push the edge of their comfort zone continually, they will really learn to hate me in short order. But if they do have that desire, what an adventure occurs.
Model models for me, as they are the anti models: they are real.
“Sex appeal is 50% what you’ve got and 50% what people think you’ve got.” ~Sophia Loren
The following gallery is a cross section of some of our work together. Click on any of the images for a larger view.