Last month, we launched Milky Jelly Cleanser, after more than a year of development and hundreds of suggestions from our lovely community of readers. But product development is only part of the story—there's still the campaign, the casting, the styling...everything that makes Milky Jelly into a world. Today, meet two key players in the final stages of Milky Jelly: Romain and Anna. Best friends from Australia, they photographed and styled those great photos of Georgie that live on Glossier.com. Here they talk about careers, inspiration, and why your best friends can also be your mentors (and vice-versa):
Romain Duquesne, Photographer: I grew up in a little country town of 7,000 people in western Australia, and I hated it so much. As a teenager I was like, ‘I need to escape, I need to do something with my life.’ So I moved to Perth, and then Sydney, and now I’m based in London.
Anna Santangelo, Stylist: I lived in Australia too, but I have an identity crisis about where I'm 'from.' I was born in California, and then when I was 15 I moved to Sydney and now I’m back in the States, but on the other side—New York. Being in Orange County feels like it’s a past life when I talk about it! My dad worked for a company at the time that brought us over [to Sydney]. We were only meant to stay for a year and then the next thing we knew, we were there for 13 years. It’s very much home.
Romain : I remember being this little country kid and saying to my mom, 'Hey mom, I’m going to be a fashion photographer! I’m going to move to this city and this city and then I’m going to end up in Europe!' She was like, 'Cool, great.' I don’t think she really believed me at the time, but I proved her wrong, didn’t I?
Anna : I wish I had that clear of a path! My younger sister was like that—she was one of those kids who knew exactly what they want to do.
Romain : You're like, 'Did I make the right decision?' Because you’re so young. But I just love photography, so it worked out. I first started taking photos when I was 14, and I ended up going to college and studying photo.
Anna : I actually went to school for science and anatomy. My dad was a marine biologist at a university and I’m the oldest of three girls, so I think he was like, 'Yes! One of my girls is going to be a scientist!' Then, as amazing as the degree was, it kind of didn’t resonate with me as something that I wanted to do. But I was always inspired by styling. I’ve always liked the idea of visually expressing things with clothes and the ability to show them in a way that’s not conventionally the way one might wear them.
So I didn't go to school for styling, but I feel like assisting is the best way you can get experience. My first assisting job was for a magazine called Madison. In Sydney it was like one of the Bauhaus Media ones, kind of commercial. I was stuck in this little closet making labels and cleaning adhesive off of shoes and I was like, 'What is my life?' But that was the first thing I ever did working for someone else. I assisted quite a few stylists in Sydney, no one really prolific, but a lot of the people that I really looked up to in Australia had already made the move over here, like Stevie Dance. After that I started doing my own thing and for me it was very important to work with someone that I felt inspired by.
When I moved to New York I got the opportunity to assist Karl Templer. I had just moved here, hadn't even bought a bed yet, and I was going for an interview with Karl! I was freaking out. The interview was intimidating, but you get a tougher skin. I got the job and my first shoot with him was for a Vogue Italia cover with Steven Meisel. It was definitely jumping in the deep end.
Romain: I’d only been in Sydney for three years before I started shooting for Oyster. When I met with the fashion editor at the time we just got along so well and we kept working on so many shoots together. I feel honored to have received so much support from her at a time no one else was really that interested. She saw something, and that was great. Anna’s been working with Oyster longer than I have. I only met her in December of 2014. We did a few shoots with Oyster just in the beginning of the year before she moved. And we always say that we wish we would have met sooner. When we started working together, it was like… You know how you meet those people and you just click? We have similar styles, but just enough that she pushes me and I push her and we create something a little bit different than what we are both used to.
Anna: We speak to each other like mentors.
Romain: It’s true! Our friendship is really good because we tell each other about the good sides and the bad sides. Both of us are always there for the other. There’s so many great creatives on top of their game, but I’m much more into working with Anna. I think that working together on the same level, you’re not dealing with a person’s ego, so you can progress together and push each other and that’s a really healthy relationship.
It's not hard to stay inspired when you love what you do. There’s no method, it’s just your life. There are days when it’s harder to get the ideas, of course, but I’m always quite keen to do it. A while ago I did a beauty story for a magazine and I was given a reference for Glossier’s first campaign and I thought, 'Cool, I like this!' Of course I wasn’t going to copy it. I wanted to do my own version.
Anna: There was a magazine in Australia that contacted me not long after I moved here, and they wanted to do a feature on Annie [Kreighbaum]. It was a very small editorial operation, so they organized a meeting for me to come to Glossier and meet her. I came in and I noticed the moodboards on the wall and so many images were Romain’s! I was like, 'Annie, can I please take a photo of your moodboard and send these to Romain?' She was like, 'I really love his work!' And I was like, 'I know him and he’s moving to London, I can put you in touch!'
Romain: When Anna told me that I was like, OK! A few weeks later I messaged Emily saying, 'Hey, I’m moving to London in a few weeks and I would love to work with you guys one day.' She cc'd me on an email with Annie and Annie said, 'OK, great! Let’s work on something together!' It’s a small world, right?
In Australia, the market overall is very commercial, so making the move to London was the right choice for me. Even with the weather—it’s better for my personal work. That’s what inspires me...to be in a place where I’m not held back from shooting whatever I like. For inspiration, both Anna and I have been saying that we don’t want to look at fashion photography anymore. We’ll send each other films that we like watching or snippets of films or go to galleries. For me it’s walking down the street. The industry is very saturated with people shooting very similar styles and, as much as that is beautiful, we are all being subconsciously influenced by the same things.
Anna: There's so much to be inspired by! I was never really a huge movie watcher until quite recently, but there are so many things that I want to shoot now that are inspired by film. I've always liked to dissect things that are very small and seemingly not important to people, but maybe that’s the science background in me.
—as told to ITG