The Perks of Being a Wall Flower

May 3, 2012

By Jacqui Palumbo

© Bob Packert

Opening image from the <em>Northshore Magazine</em> spread "Wall Flowers."

Bob Packert is a Massachusetts-based photographer, represented by zero2sixty creative, who loves to photograph people in any form. Whether fashion, sports, lifestyle or portraiture, he is drawn to expression and gesture. Packert says he started college as a graphic designer and ended as a photographer and the two skill sets have formed a marriage of sorts. “I feel that having a strong understanding of design helps with my photos and the way I see things or compose a shot,” he explains.

His aesthetic speaks to his design background with strong compositions and a clean look that still holds a narrative power. He finds himself shooting on location more often than in a studio, scouting unique settings that add power to his storytelling. 

Sometimes it is the locations that help to dictate the concept – on a recent fashion shoot for Northshore Magazine, Packert was given the simplest of concepts, to shoot spring and summer clothing in a fun and creative way. He had worked with Northshore Creative Director Bob Parsons many times before, and collaborated with him both as photographer and as a creative on the assignment. 

Packert had recently visited the Peabody Essex Museum and it came to mind while developing the concept further.  “I was intrigued by the modern architecture and amazing quality of light,” he says. After returning to scout specific areas within the museum, he approached Parsons with the idea of complementing the wardrobe with the space. Posing the models as sculpture in a mannequin-like way, they would become works of art themselves.

The shoot took place on a Monday when the museum was closed to the public. Packert worked with Parsons along with zero2sixty-represented lead hair and makeup artist Bre Welch, who was assisted by fellow lead hair and makeup artist Hilary Warner. The clothing was selected and styled by Lisa Pelletier. Packert photographed the project with a Canon 5D and used available daylight along with a LitePanel LED light balanced for daylight to fill. He says the shoot went smoothly, the staff of the museum were easy going, and that it was very satisfying to shoot in a place filled with “No Photography Allowed” signs.

Packert was able to breathe fresh life into a tried and true concept. His images are crisp and calculated, employing color in a smart and effective way. There is a sense of oddity in the stillness, as if the women had stepped out of the 1972 film Solaris with their strange and vacant beauty. Parsons comments, “The concept of ‘models as mannequins’ has been used again and again, and in the wrong hands could feel cliche. But Bob pulled it off, and very well, because he trusted his instincts that it could work in that setting. Against the backdrop of the museum and its artwork, we could execute the idea without hammering it over readers’ heads. And from a designer’s standpoint, the layout came together on its own, very easily, because the vision was so clear.”

The fashion spread, titled “Wall Flowers,” appeared in the May/June issue of Northshore Magazine. For more of Bob Packert’s work, visit his Web site.