LSU students in photography, mass communication, and humanities pool networks and skillsets to build professional portfolios using LSU College of Art & Design resources and facilities.
Meet Ashley Monaghan and Malarie Zaunbrecher.
Ashley is a second-year undergraduate studying public relations at the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication. Malarie is a first-year student at LSU pursuing a double major in studio art and French with a focus on photography and film studies.
Ashley wants to be a creative director for a fashion magazine, and Malarie wants to be a fashion photographer.
Despite their shared interest in fashion, these two students may never have crossed paths amongst the more than 30,000 students attending LSU. Luckily, Ashley and Malarie live in the age of social media. It wasn’t too hard for them to find each other, and it wasn’t too long before they were collaborating on creative projects in an effort to bolster their professional portfolios. It was through these collaborations that Ashley and Malarie realized—and utilized—the resources and facilities readily available at LSU.
Malarie has spent the last three years photographing high school seniors, families, and weddings in and around Lafayette—even a couple of French weddings, she said. Over the summer, she shot behind-the-scenes footage and helped with the set production on short film sets in Shreveport for the Louisiana Film Prize.
Ashley has developed quite an extensive network in Baton Rouge and her home town of New Orleans through her freelance design work and brand ambassadorship, which is how she came to work with Time Warp Boutique, Baton Rouge’s premier vintage clothing store. She was also a model coordinator and operations director for New Orleans Fashion Week, which evolved into the Southern Coalition of Fashion and Design’s Southern Design Week, so she knows how to find models. She remembers seeing a PRADA ad—a photograph of the back of a girl with red hair, wearing a coat backwards—and thinking, “This is what I want to do.” She had the vision and the contacts necessary to create a photo series based on the ad, but she needed a photographer. She posted requests on Facebook and Instagram for a photography student who would be willing to work for free to build her portfolio. Malarie responded, and the two have been friends ever since.
“Ashley was once of the first people I met when I moved to Baton Rouge,” said Malarie, “and she knows everyone.”
Ashley and Malarie have both worked in the real world, but as Ashley put it, “You are mostly following orders or the vision of your client or boss without a lot of room for your own creative vision.”
One Friday afternoon in December, Ashley called Malarie and asked if she wanted to stage a fashion shoot over the weekend. Time Warp Boutique loaned Ashley the clothing, and she found models through Facebook and Instagram.
“I wanted a brunette, a red-head, and a blonde, and I found all three,” she recalled.
Victoria Fontenot, Laura Swirsky, and Hannah Chenevert—all three LSU students—volunteered to model, and Ashley’s friend Sydney Blanchard, a journalism student at LSU, offered to be the set assistant and do hair and makeup. Malarie, who had heard about the Communications across the Curriculum Art + Design Studio through her courses at the LSU School of Art, discovered the studio was open and available.
Within 12 hours, Ashley and Malarie had located models, a set assistant and makeup artist, clothing, jewelry, and a studio. They spent six hours in the CxC Art + Design Studio staging their own fashion shoot—and they did it all on their own initiative.
“The setup there was awesome. There is no way we would have been able to pull it off without CxC. They had the backdrops we needed and lighting equipment. We could have checked out cameras, too, but I brought my own,” said Malarie. “I feel like people don’t know how amazing a resource CxC is for both school-related projects and for your own creative projects.”
One of four communication studios on the LSU campus, the CxC Art + Design Studio, located in the Design Building, exists as a resource for art and design students, where faculty, student mentors, and CxC staff train, guide, employ, and recognize students who demonstrate exceptional communication skills. Video, photography, and visual media equipment is available for check-out, and open-access PC workstations are provided for individual or group web design, graphic design, CAD, and 3D design. The studio includes a digital documentation area containing scanners, studio lighting, and digital photography equipment to capture portfolio imagery, and color 3D scanning and 3D printing of objects for art and design projects.
“The CxC studios across campus are for students and, to a large extent, by students,” commented CxC Art + Design Studio Coordinator Vincent Cellucci. “We thrive off the members of the LSU community who come through our door and say, ‘I’ve got this really great idea . . .’ CxC studios are unique places where professors, students, and communication professionals all give and receive help to accomplish stunning projects on a daily basis. Helping driven students like Ashley and Malarie is what CxC is here to do.”
The space and equipment worked so well for Ashley and Malarie that they set up another photo shoot for the jewelry line Johnny Loves June. The models featured in the Johnny Loves June fashion shoot included two LSU students, Leonela Guzman and Madison McQuaig, and Christian Tarzetti, a student at the University of New Orleans.
“We wanted a darker feel for Johnny Loves June,” said Ashley. “It was really easy to change the backdrop from black to white and adjust the lighting.”
Ashley pointed out that these types of resources are extremely important for students. “It was my first creative direction experience, and we were able to do two shoots in one day. No one was paid for this, and we can’t afford to own this type of equipment or rent a studio.”
The students added the resulting work to their portfolios, and Johnny Loves June featured some of the photographs on their blog.
“It was a great experience,” said Malarie, “similar to how things would come together in the real world. In the end, we did this project because we love the work, and it will be good for everyone’s portfolios. We are currently planning our next shoot and hope to use the CxC Art + Design Studio again.”
View more photos from these fashion shoots on Facebook.
For more information about the CxC Art + Design Studio or the Communications across the Curriculum program, visit design.lsu.edu/student-life/facilities/cxc-art-design-studio. Learn more about College of Art & Design resources and facilities at design.lsu.edu/student-life.