Belgian, realistic, creative and positive; these four words were to be
the starting point for Bertelles’ very first editorial campaign.
How these words could be represented visually? What would be the most enjoyable and casual thing to do?? How do we actually live and spend time in Brussels? After a little internal brainstorm the answer was clear for me - spending the weekend with friends! This is how the editorial campaign "Saturday with Nils" started. Creating a concept for an editorial campaign doesn’t have to require a complicated and magical creative process, it can be as simple as asking yourself “What do I do with my free time?”.
As artistic director on a photoshoot, for me the team is a key. My idea is just an abstract concept, but with the right team it gets a physical form and, at best, becomes even better than the original idea. Of course, choosing the wrong team members will lead into an end result that doesn’t match with the original idea and can even convey a completely wrong message. This is why I always want to do my homework well and use a lot of time to research the right photographer, model and location(s).
For me, the hunt always starts with the photographer. I have always thought that photographers have a very special way of looking at the world. With the camera lens they manage to capture the world from an angle that is only possible with their refined eye and quick finger on the shutter button. It’s about anticipating, recognising and capturing the moment, and usually that moment lasts as long as blink of an eye. Maxence Dedry, the Belgian photographer on this photoshoot, is a magician with his camera. He is not a fashion photographer and that was key for me. I wasn’t looking for perfect skin, uncomfortable poses and dramatic lights. Max’s specialisation in documentary photography, events and video convinced me of his talent to capture the character and the atmosphere in the most realistic way. And yes, his finger is real fast!
After finding the right photographer from my network, I started to focus on the model. I used to work a lot with professional models in my past and in some cases it is definitely the best thing to do. However, in this photoshoot, I needed a character, a real person with an interesting job and most importantly – a great and honest smile. Nils is a dear friend of mine but also an artist with his own atelier where he works on his paintings and installation pieces. Also Nils being half German and half French was a perfect representation of the diversity of people in Brussels. So a creative, multinational guy with perfect curls and a great smile, who could have been a better option, right!
I wanted the photoshoot to be as simple as just spending the day with Nils in our favourite spots in Brussels and capturing the relaxed atmosphere of it. Finding the perfect spots was easy (and the original list was rather long), but finding a matching day and good time to go and take photos in places which are at the same time open to public, turned out to be more difficult. As always, all turned out ok in the end, but I do have to admit that I had few drops of sweat on my forehead as the last places were confirmed only few days before the d-day.
Giving the credits for these favourite spots in Brussels was also an important part of the concept. In the final photos you can spot always so charming Cafe Aa, the best second hand bookstore Librairie Nijinski, cafe and co-working space Le Phare du Kanaal (great spot for lunch!), the true treasure spot for the lovers of vinyl records - The Collector, the super delicious and always surprising restaurant Grizzly - and of course our Studio, as well as Nils’ kitchen and cozy living room. Being open and friendly, supporting your local cafes and shops, and creating real connections with the people behind those companies is one of the loveliest features in this city with a never-ending supply of small, creative businesses. Big thank you to all these places for opening your doors to us and letting us goof around with our lights and wires!
For me, as the person who builds up the team and brings previously unfamiliar people together with a mutual goal, it is always rewarding to see how the chemistry between people grows during the day. The way Nils relaxed fast in front of the camera, with a natural smile and a little spark in his eyes. Max’s creativity with his camera and his dedication to finding the best angles, details and colours for the photos. At one point it started to rain (quite heavily if I may say so) and he still wanted to capture specific shots through the foggy window, meaning he was freezing and wet outside Cafe Aa to get these perfect photos.
This intense 12-hour day was a culmination of a hectic and busy few weeks in the mist of launching the rebranding of Bertelles. The day contained a lot of coffee, plenty of laughs, an article on Scottish kilts, confused gazes from people passing by, interesting conversations and few new drawings in Nils’ sketchbook. And of course a huge selection of perfect photos of Nils embracing our braces in the super locations! As always, it is one of the most rewarding moments of the year for me to see the final photos and see how that original abstract concept gets the perfect physical form. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next photoshoot we have on our planning list!
Discover the full Editorial Campaign here.
Editorial Photos: Maxence Dedry