At 23 years old, jazz saxophonist/singer and Brookline native Grace Kelly released her 10th studio album, Trying to Figure it Out.
“It’s a compilation album of human experiences I’ve had during the last couple of years as I’ve been looking for myself as an artist,” Grace says. “12 years of being on stage has been a learning process, but I think my own thing is finally embracing all of the pieces that make me me.”
If only all of us were that sure of ourselves at that point in our lives, our 20s would have been far less messy. But that’s Grace for you–an old soul with the hip, blue-streaked hair of a millennial.
Grace is a natural performer, which is obvious from her cool attitude in the photos. She nurtured the dream of being a Broadway star as a child and took countless dancing, acting, and singing lessons from ages 6-12 before hitting the road as a professional musician. There’s something about music that just takes over her and sets her at ease. She said she had a felt a bit awkward at first, stepping in front of the camera for the Improper Bostonian shoot–mostly due to her feeling under the weather that day. But as soon as Michael Jackson started pouring through the speakers and filling the room, she was able to really have fun on set.
“John has such vision and knows exactly what he’s looking for,” Grace says. “He’s so awesome to work with and laidback–so humble too. When I saw the photos, I was stunned.”
The idea for the shoot was to place Grace in a stereotypical, smoky, underground jazz club–the complete antithesis of who she is as an artist. Yes, she adores and take notes from jazz legends like Stan Getz and Paul Desmond, but Grace also loves to blend modern genres with her old school training and inspirations.
“Sometimes in the music business, people don’t know what to do with me because I have such a wide range of styles, and switch between singing and playing,” Grace says. “But my own thing is uniqueness and audiences embrace this.”
The best part about these photos of Grace Kelly is how that “uniqueness” is captured. The photos are vibrant yet moody, highly stylized yet simple, energized but they feel mellow–a collection of dichotomies, odds, and ends that sum up one young woman Trying to Figure it Out.
For information on Grace’s music and tour dates, check out her personal website. Head over to the Improper Bostonian’s site to read a full feature on Grace, and take a look at some outtakes from the shoot below:
Libby DeLana is just the loveliest person. Meeting the sweet and laidback woman, you probably wouldn’t guess that she’s one of the advertising industry’s most successful and influential forces. Multi-talented Libby studied philosophy, trained as a graphic designer, and is now one of the industry’s leading creative directors. She actively advocates for female leadership in and out of the ad world, and is heavily involved with a handful of charities. In her spare time, she founded branding firm Mechanica in 2004 with Ted Nelson and Jim Garaventi. She also describes herself as a devoted mother and wife. Basically, she’s the woman who can do it all.
I’ve worked with Libby on many projects throughout the years. Most recently, we collaborated in January on a shoot for Saucony. Her vision for the campaign was a departure from the typical athletic wear campaign, where you see somebody running down a lonely road or through an urban landscape. Libby wanted to do something more minimalist and artful.
Working with Libby is always great because true collaboration is something she values, which I really appreciate–that’s what this industry should be all about. We had countless phone calls and chats over clamballs at Woodman’s where we bounced ideas off of each other for what the final pictures would look like. On set, she allowed me the creative freedom to deviate from the original plan and play around with light and composition. For example, the black and white portrait of the female model began with a strict lighting set-up and then evolved–or devolved–to a more natural shot taken with available light.
Libby is an inspiration to work with, the kind of woman who could pick a leaf up off the ground and design something around it. Collaborating with her fueled my own creativity, and being able to play off of her was a lot of fun. At the end of the shoot, I dragged her on set to take a couple of photos of her and her striking long, gray hair. I think they really capture her spirit.
Take a look at some photos from the shoot: