Through the Lens: Behind the Scenes With Nico Nordström

“Give her a darker lip only in the very bottom center, like she was just eating berries,” says Austin-based fashion photographer Nico Nordström to makeup artist Lauren Garcia. She has spent close to an hour perfecting the look of model Anna Cash, who will be debuting in a Nordström editorial with a “sexy lingerie cowgirl” aesthetic shot at an old ghost town in Manor, Texas. The shoot will feature six looks, all from designer Nicole Bell. Nordström invited ORANGE along to document the creative process behind a typical fashion shoot.

Story Ethan Elkins

Photos by Cori Baker

On April 11 our day began at Salon Savoy in north Austin to prepare Cash’s hair and makeup and for Nordström to discuss each look with hair stylist Michi Lafary, who also pulled the jewelry for the shoot from Luxe Apothetique, a boutique downtown. With a vast selection, the two had to perfectly pair the correct accessories with each outfit while making sure Cash’s hair and makeup also correctly match. With yearly experience at New York Fashion Week, Garcia is an expert in her field. Her amount of supplies could compete with that in a large toolbox, yet she utilizes most of them, including her airbrush makeup gun. After a final nod of approval, Garcia passed the torch to hair stylist Michi Lafary, who curled Cash’s hair and inserted different colored extensions fit for six different looks.

We left the salon early with Nordström and her assistant to make the thirty minute drive out to the ghost town and scout out prime shooting locations. The place turned out to be huge and housed everything that could be expected in an old western film: a bank, hotel, jail, saloon, mess hall and an outdoor theater. Before we could get out of the car, Nordström already had her eyes set on certain walls where the shadows were perfectly cast. Her talent as a photographer comes naturally; she says she began shooting fashion when she was only five years old and was given a camera. She dressed up her Barbies in different looks and shot them in a manner that now translates to her professional career. Nordström has had work published in VOGUE Italia, and this shoot will be submitted to other magazines with the possibility of publication.

Cash, Lafary and the rest of the team of assistants soon arrived and were ready to work for the remaining two hours of daylight they were allotted. Nordström’s team set up a home base in the old cafeteria and began styling. Cash’s first outfit included tall brown boots accompanied by a leopard printed corset topped with a designer western hat. With a vintage whip in hand, Cash posed in front of a fence while assistants sprayed her with canned fog to create a mysterious setting. Each look was given precisely nine minutes so that all six shots were given as much sunlight as possible. In between looks, “you never know how long it will take to change, as it could be a few minutes or thirty,” Nordström says. Still, she does not worry about time constraints. At a shoot in Los Angeles, she was given only thirty minutes to photograph a model in three different extravagant gowns, so today should not be a challenge.

The team worked diligently to change Cash into the remaining looks, each distinctly unique. Each is sensual but classic, and Nordström chooses appropriate locations to capture their essence. From laying across a piano to standing on cinder block stilts in front of the jail, Cash worked the camera and brought each look to life. Accompanied by requested tunes from Beyoncé and Lana del Rey, Nordström snapped her shots on multiple cameras, including a vintage polaroid that takes nearly an hour to fully develop. Like the polaroid, her career is still developing, but with each shot Nordström learns new techniques to enhance her artform.