What was this inspiration behind your most recent book Mother and Child? My experience of motherhood inspired my book. Motherhood transformed my world. In many ways, I was a child until I had my own children. My small reality of life and my own needs exploded with the birth of my first son. I suddenly felt a responsibility and purpose I had never known before. With my new insight, I felt inspired to tell a modern story of motherhood, to document and honor this profound human experience. My hope was to take portraits of mothers and their children that captured love and joy, to try to stop time in a series of portraits – and show how this experience connects us all.
On that note - can you tell us a bit more about your glamorous Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence shoot for Christie's? Christie’s commissioned me to be the creative director and photographer. I created for them a series of fine art portraits of iconic New York women wearing pieces from the historic royal Indian jewelry collection that would be auctioned. I choose an inspiring group of women and styled them in jewelry from the landmark private jewelry collection: Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence. These portraits were in many ways meant to be a collection of portraits of todays swans. I wanted these portraits to feel modern yet at the same time nostalgic while celebrating and showcasing these historic jewels.
How did you end up as a photographer - was photography always your chosen career path? My background started in the fashion industry. I started my career at Vogue. I went there in the hopes of becoming an editor and styling shoots. I left wanting to find my own creative path and my way behind the lens. I took portraits and styled my friends and family through my twenties. It was always my secret dream to be a photographer yet I didn't have the courage to pursue this dream until I left Vogue. I then started to take portraits of friends and style them in their own clothes, in locations they felt a connection to. This body of work was the foundation for my first book of portraits, "American Beauty", published by Assouline 2012.
What are a few of your favorite things about summer entertaining and your approach to setting the table? My mom has taught me so much about summer entertaining. She is my greatest inspiration when it comes to entertaining. She brings so much magic, beauty and humor to her tables. I like to create harmony with table linens, floral arrangements and silverware. I love to find my own authentic vibe and expression. I think setting a table is like putting together an outfit, it should express your personal style.
Who are the greatest influences on your personal style? My sisters and my mom.
What is the most memorable shoot / campaign you've worked on? My book shoots are my most memorable and most dear to my heart. I also loved creating special portrait projects for Michael Kors, Ferragamo and Christies. My favorite campaigns are for Aerin and photographing campaigns with my sister for Veronica Beard.
What are the top beauty products your'e loving this summer? Vintners Daughter: active botanical serum, Dr Huschuka revitalizing cream, Cle de Peau Beauty : La Creme
Any local Napa haunts that you adore? Gott's road side -- best burgers and onion rings, Auberge Du Soleil no better place for a glass of rose on the deck over looking the valley. I also love Bouchon- they have great oysters and fries.
What are your favorite instagram accounts to follow? @brentnealejewelry @aerin @alexistraina @carolynmurphy @amandacbrooks @thelsd
Any small brands you currently adore? Pippa Holt Kaftans -- I live in them every single day in the summer!