Archive for the ‘behind the scenes’ tag

Wet Seal Campaign by Chris Kilkus

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Here is a Christmas campaign I shot for Wet Seal at the Paramount Studios back lot in the New York Streets section.  I know, this one is a little late….. We actually shot this back in September.  I’ve had a crazy few months, shooting almost every single day since then, and it’s taken me this long just to look through the images and add them to my website.  Enjoy them, and I’ll do my best to catch up a bit with more recent work 🙂









Written by Christopher Kilkus

April 23rd, 2012 at 6:29 am

Christopher Kilkus for Arden B.

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Alyssa Pizer Management

Written by Christopher Kilkus

September 26th, 2011 at 9:49 am

Behind the Scenes on Wet Seal by christopher kilkus

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Here is a little Behind the Scenes video that Wet Seal made from our most recent shoot.



Orange County retailer Wet Seal Inc. pioneered the quick translation of Southern California’s beachy lifestyle into fashions for young women. But now it is trying to avoid drowning in the competitive teen marketplace.

The Foothill Ranch company said Wednesday that it would close 338 stores, or two-thirds of its locations, and lay off nearly 3,700 employees as the retailer tries to stave off bankruptcy and revamp its business. It will continue to operate 173 locations and its online business.”Our financial condition leaves us no other alternative than to close these stores,” Chief Executive Ed Thomas said in a statement. “This was a very difficult decision to make.”

Wet Seal has suffered in recent years as parents cut back on allowances for their children and older teenagers battled Expensive leases for mall space also weighed on Wet Seal. Shopping center rivals, including Abercrombie & Fitch and Aeropostale, have struggled to attract fickle young shoppers. Delia’s Inc., a competing teen chain, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month and is holding a going-out-of-business sale.Wet Seal may be heading for the same fate unless it can dramatically overhaul its brand and perhaps find a buyer, analysts said.

“The best chance of survival is to take the company private and in turn revitalize the company,” said Britt Beemer, founder of America’s Research Group. “At the rate they are going now, they won’t be here next year.”

The announcement of the closings follows an outpouring of anger on social media this week by workers who said they were suddenly told they were losing their jobs.

Photos of handwritten signs taped to some Wet Seal storefronts went viral online with hashtags such as #ForgetWetSeal and #BoycottWetSeal.

“It’s truly crazy. It was a big shock, especially coming so suddenly,” Bowlin said. “We all have bills and car payments and families, and our job was just taken from us.”

Wet Seal’s troubles started before the Great Recession, analysts said. The chain has wrestled for years to define its identity; it acquired other merchants and rolled out new brands, but never managed to resonate for long with fashion-conscious shoppers.

The chain’s woes were apparent in the lackluster sales at the locations that are being closed. Although they represent 66% of Wet Seal’s stores, they accounted for only the chain got its start in 1962 as a stand-alone swimwear shop in Newport Beach, originally named Lorne’s, after founder Lorne Huycke.

The name was changed a few years later, according to a company history, after the founder’s wife saw a model strutting down a runway clad in a black bathing suit and described her as looking like “a wet seal.”

The retailer rapidly expanded in the 1980s and ’90s, even adding for a time a chain selling unisex teen clothes called Limbo Lounge. The chain went public in 1990 and later acquired more than 200 Contempo Casual stores from Neiman Marcus Group.Competition for teenagers has only increased as young shoppers flock to the new generation of fast-fashion rivals that can rush items into stores only a few weeks after a trend is spotted.

In addition, consumers are no longer shopping en masse at enclosed malls, where many Wet Seal stores are located, Beemer said. “Wet Seal is part of that problem,” he said.

The company has lost more than $150 million in the last two complete fiscal years. In its third quarter that ended Nov. 1, Wet Seal reported a loss of $36 million, compared with a loss of $12.5 million a year earlier.

The turmoil in its finances has been reflected in boardroom drama. Wet Seal has had three CEOs in the last four years. In 2012, activist shareholder Clinton Group succeeded in ousting most of its board members, including the chairman.

The company also became mired in a racial bias lawsuit alleging that it fired black employees so it could hire white workers. In 2013, the retailer paid $7.5 million to settle that suit.

Now Wet Seal has to figure out a way forward — or risk becoming extinct.

Several analysts said the best path forward is to file for bankruptcy, restructure and find a buyer. Wall Street investors appear to be hoping for a sale; they drove the company’s stock to nearly 13 cents a share Wednesday from 7 cents the day before. That’s down from a trading peak of $2.75 nearly a year ago.

Last month, the company said there was “substantial doubt” it could continue operating. Last week, the retailer said it had received a default notice on $27 million in debt. The company’s creditor has given it until Jan. 12 to pay what it owes.

“The best way to get out of leases on retail stores that aren’t performing is through Chapter 11,” said Ron Friedman, a retail expert at accounting firm Marcum. “Their choices are raise more capital, get rid of all your bad stores and downsize.”










Written by Christopher Kilkus

July 18th, 2011 at 5:13 am

Scott Chrisman films Chris Kilkus Wet Seal shoot

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My friend Scott Chrisman, a talented Director of Photography here in Los Angeles, shot a really nice behind the scenes video of a recent shoot I did with Wet Seal, check it out below.

Urban Planet Summer Video by chris kilkus

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Here is out latest video for Urban Planet, shot at the same time we were doing their still campaign.  We shot this one on the beach at Paradise Cove in Malibu.  If you are lucky enough to live in Los Angeles, or just visiting, it’s definitely worth spending some time there.  It has a lovely little beach town vibe, there is a cafe and bar right in the sand.  Unfortunately, they day we were shooting was really cold and windy!  It’s always a challenge when mother nature doesn’t cooperate on a location shoot….. in this case there really wasn’t much we could do but keep the models as warm as possible and try to get the wind to work in the hair’s favor.

Christian Stoehr and Russ Lyster were working the Canon 5D packages for me on this one.  We kept it pretty simple, a couple cameras on RedRock rigs, a slider, tripod, and then just hand held reflectors for light control.  I wanted to keep it loose and give it somewhat of a vacation film vibe so most of the shots were hand held, but we threw in a few slider and tripod shots to keep a little of that cinematic feel too.

Of course, the challenge for me on these shoots is balancing the still and motion parts of the production, especially when the still is the most critical for the client.  The only way to do it is have two separate crews going at the same time, and I just walk back and forth from one to the other….. it can make for a busy day!  But with a decent amount of preparation things still tend to run quite smoothly.

I hope you enjoy our little film, and be sure to check back often for sneak peeks of our latest work.

Urban Planet by Chris Kilkus Photography

Written by Christopher Kilkus

May 20th, 2011 at 9:09 am

Wayne Gretzky for Skechers Photo Shoot

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Wayne Gretzky for Skechers by Chris Kilkus Photo

I was given the opportunity to do a photo shoot with Wayne Gretzky for Skechers a little while ago and the ads are just getting out there now so I thought I would say a few words.

If you don’t know, Wayne Gretzky is an icon of sport, widely regarded to be the best player ever in the National Hockey League…. his nickname “The Great One” says it all.  I have to admit, I don’t know much about hockey (I had to ask Wayne what the hockey stick was called….. turns out it’s a “stick” 🙂  but even I was familiar with his career and was really excited to meet him in person.  One of the wonderful things about being a photographer is experiences like this one, it’s always a thrill to meet people who have reached the pinnacle of their chosen profession, whether it’s sports figures, artists, or business people.

Wayne happened to be in Las Vegas as part of a Hockey Fantasy Camp he puts on there, so we flew in for the day to shoot with him. We brought our standard lighting and camera/digital kit with us, but JR Lighting & Grip in Las Vegas delivered everything else we needed to the Venetian Hotel where we built a little studio in a suite.  It was a pretty quick shoot, we probably only had Wayne on set for about 30 minutes.  But it didn’t feel rushed, and Wayne was fun and gracious and just a really nice guy in general.  He even hung out with us after the shoot a little and shared some stories from his years as a sports superstar, and was nice enough to sign some hockey pucks for us!

Wayne Gretzky for Skechers by Chris Kilkus Photo

The Skechers and Kilkus crew with Wayne Gretzky.

Wayne Gretzky for Skechers by Chris Kilkus Photo

I was doing a bit of shopping at the Century City Mall in Los Angeles today when I came across this outdoor display of the ad.  It’s always exciting to see your work in print, so I couldn’t help getting a quick snapshot next it!  Keep your eyes out too, I’ve heard they are using the ads in the security bins at most airports now.  I wonder if that will help me get through the security lines any faster! 🙂

Written by Christopher Kilkus

April 19th, 2011 at 6:50 am

Shooting Karl “The Mailman” Malone for Skechers

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I had the opportunity to shoot with NBA star Karl Malone for Skechers, and what a fun shoot!  Karl is known as The Mailman because he “always delivered” during his 19 career for the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers.  And despite being a sports superstar, he really is one of the friendliest, most humble and hospitable people you could hope to spend time with.

We flew in with the wonderful crew from Skechers to Louisiana to shoot with Karl near his home.  For this shoot we had to fly in ALL of our equipment since there were no nearby rental houses.  It’s not a big deal since we have our entire photo kit packed up in Pelican cases.  One for lighting, one for stands, one for grip, and one for digital… cameras are always carry on of course.  The only thing that becomes a challenge are sand bags… who wants to pay hundreds of dollars to fly sand around!  I’ve tried those travel sand bags that you can fill up with water or dirt when you get to the location, but they are so dirty to deal with and aren’t really heavy enough anyway.  So what was the solution?  You have to love this… my assistant Marco came up with the idea of buying masonry bricks when we got to town.  Brilliant!  Picked them up at the local Home Depot for about $3 each, which saved us hundreds of dollars in airline excess baggage fees!  See them in action in the behind the scenes photos below.

We converted the local indoor basketball court into our photo studio.  Another thing we do is put tennis balls on the bottom of our lightstands and tripod to protect floors from getting scratched up, something the location people really appreciate.  We picked these up at the local WalMart… this is Louisiana so it was right next door to the Home Depot!

All in all, we had a great shoot with a great crew and client, and had loads of fun trying out the local cuisine and exploring the area.  See the evidence below 😉

Karl mugging for the camera and the wonderful Skechers and Photo crew.

Karl is an avid hunter, it almost takes on a spiritual element for him… love his fully camouflaged truck and jacket!  And for comparison sake, I am about 6’3″ and he towers over me!

Here is the raw capture of the final ad.

Some more behind the scenes below of us having too much fun on the shoot. Karl pointing out a hole in my pants! And those are Karl’s pants that could fit TWO of our client inside them! And if you are curious he wears a size 16 shoe.

Written by Christopher Kilkus

April 6th, 2011 at 11:00 am

Wonderful Machine Blog Post

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Wonderful Machine made a nice blog post about the motion work we have done for our client Urban Planet.  Check it out HERE

Written by Christopher Kilkus

January 3rd, 2011 at 8:34 am

JW CantoPop Music Packaging and Video

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Not long ago I shot a music packaging job for a CantoPop singer from Hong Kong named JW.  I just saw the campaign is starting to go live so thought I would share.

JW, or Joey as I know her, is with A Music, the Hong Kong record label of CantoPop superstar Leon Lai.  He’s married to a good friend of mine, the model/actress Gaile Lai, a super star in her own right.  Gaile was acting as creative director on this job, and decided to fly in to Los Angeles for a couple days.  We did a one day photo shoot, and one day of video work, some of the results you can see below. Make sure to watch the 2nd video so you can see how fast I can run backwards… Oh my, how’d that scene end up in there!!

You can also check out JW’s web page at to see a little more about her.  Especially helpful if you read Cantonese 🙂

JW Behind the Scenes video from Christopher Kilkus on Vimeo.

JW Behind the Scenes Video 2 from Christopher Kilkus on Vimeo.

JW Behind the Scenes Video 3 from Christopher Kilkus on Vimeo.

Written by Christopher Kilkus

December 24th, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Chelsea Staub Shoot – Remote Controlled Client

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I was browsing around online this morning and came across these photos….. They looked vaguely familiar, and then it dawned on me… I shot these!  I completely forgot about this shoot.  It was a couple years ago at my old studio in downtown Los Angeles with Chelsea Staub, one of the Disney Channel’s music, TV and movie stars.  We shot for Sophisticate’s Hairstyle Guide magazine.

One interesting thing I remember about this shoot was that the client couldn’t actually come to the shoot, so we set up a computer with a webcam pointed at the set so she could watch the shoot from her office in Chicago.  We gave it an angle so she could see both Chelsea on set, and the computer monitor so she could see the images as we captured them.  We even had microphone and speakers so we could easily communicate with her as we shot.  It actually worked really well, it was like having the client sit on set with me like any other photo shoot.

Could this be a trend in the future, clients managing photo shoots remotely from webcam?  They can even use a remote controlled webcam robot like this to roam around the studio and peek in on the styling, and make sure hair and make-up is moving along smoothly, even chat up the crew by the catering table.  Or imagine an advertising job with a whole group of clients attending remotely…. you could have a half dozen of these little robots running around the studio!  Okay, that might get a little annoying.  But on the bright side, if the client’s robot get’s in the way you can always just pull the batteries out! 🙂

Written by Christopher Kilkus

December 7th, 2010 at 7:54 am