For Kapital’s FW19 collection, Kiro wanted to shoot in the US, in the Black Hills of South Dakota. This is a very beautiful mountain range with historic sites like Mount Rushmore, Sturgis and the town of Deadwood. I was slightly familiar with the area as my father drove us there in 1986.
Deadwood was a run down main street with old stores selling cowboy hats and old stock Levi’s. As much as it looked like the Old West to me, my father kept gruffly repeating, “This isn’t what it was like in the 50’s.”
My rough plan was to invite my eager friends, rent a house with a jacuzzi and hope for the best. As the shoot was in the states, I went from being merely the photographer to the driver, cook, tour guide, party planner, shipper, caster, scout, producer, janitor and… photographer. Thankfully my friends Jeff and Saskia pitched in with many of the daily chores.
During the scouting I was just beginning to panic for lack of locations, local models, trucks, prop guns, horses, friends, and any solid plan when as fate would have it I bumped into local rodeo champion Bridget Romey and her parents. Her family welcomed me into their home, fed me lunch and gave me free reign of their ranch, trucks, horses and anything else I might need for the shoot! A horrible giant weight was immediately lifted off my shoulders.
For another shoot day we were with Black Hills Helicopters and for the first time ever Kapital shot with helicopters in flight! I met the owner, Andrew during scouting and after a beer was invited to dinner with a genuine chef flown in from Italy. In addition to the shooting, Andrew generously took all of the crew on numerous flights around Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial.
While most of the shoot contains hardcore homages to Americana, Kiro planned little jokes for the photos here and there. So mixed in with our obvious love for this country and the Black Hills area are a few irreverent jabs and a good dose of tomfoolery. The themes ran the gamut of cowboy, biker, football, casino, farmer, military and a nod to the classic film Stand By Me.
Our cabin was somewhat isolated in the hills so I planned a variety of activities for the week. Notably there was a birthday party for our model Emily and a raffle for 30 vintage Sturgis biker T-shirts that I had spent three months collecting! For our last night there we went to the Heart Ranch Rodeo to watch Bridget compete. To no surprise she was the champion barrel racer and won a brand new saddle!
The next morning Kiro’s crew, Jeff and me spent two hours trying to ship twelve huge boxes back to Japan. The local Fedex office had never sent an international shipment before! After that we had our last crew lunch and then little by little people disappeared to the airport. We saw Kiro off and then Jeff, Emmelie and me were the last “men” standing. We cruised around Rapid City aimlessly in near silence, none of us eager to leave.