SS // Who are you both and what do you do?
KELSEY: I am a photographer based in San Francisco. I moved here just over three years ago from Columbus, Ohio, where Michelle and I met and first started working together.
MICHELLE: I am a stylist – props and sets, and sometimes wardrobe.
So, Terrence Caviar is your duo name? How did you land on that?
Kelsey McClellan: Michelle came up with it and a handful of other equally great male/food related names. We first settled on ‘Dusty’ but quickly realized TC was the winner.
Michelle Maguire: It came to me one night during a euchre game. Kelsey wasn’t there, but it felt like she was.
How did each of you get started and involved in the photography/styling industries?
K: I worked as in-house photographer for Jeni’s Ice Creams in Columbus, and while there photographed Jeni’s second cookbook. Michelle came on to prop style a portion and ever since then we continued working together for fun on personal projects, and now professionally.
M: I’d begun location scouting and styling for a line of pouch bags I was making called Blimp Rizzy, which led to collaborating with friends here in town to work on their product lines, including a book for Jeni’s Ice Creams that I got to work on with Kelsey.
How do you guys work together? Who handles what? Does it ever change?
K: We are both really collaborative and communicate constantly - we are always sending snaps of items/props we find to each other that could be a good fit for a shoot we have coming up, or just of great things that we could use in the future. If we have time after a shoot we go through selects together - and even if not Michelle always looks at the images with me before we pass off the finals. I want us both to always feel like it is our work, not something she just styled or something I just shot.
M: I’m in Columbus, Ohio and Kelsey is in San Francisco, and let me tell you, the distance is the pits! However, Columbus is the land of terrific thrift stores and estate sales, so I’m always gathering stuff — objects, clothing, paper ephemera, carpet remnants, you name it — that I think will photograph well, but I really hunt like crazy when there’s a shoot coming up. Styling combines my love of hunting and collecting and organizing, and then thinking about ways of arranging those collected objects within a visual frame. Kelsey helps to fill in any gaps if I’m having trouble sourcing – we dream about living in the same place, but for now at least it seems pretty lucky to have two territories from which to pluck the best stuff to be used in our shoots. We make wonderful collaborators.
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You’re known for your series Wardrobe Snacks. How did that series get inspired - and how did it “pop off?”
K: Just after the election in 2016 we were on the phone, both feeling really drained and sad and confused and decided we wanted to make something that made us feel great the next time we were together. Michelle mentioned that she’d recently found lots of great monochromatic clothing items at thrift stores, and that we should play around with food pairings for each color. After we shot the first set in Ohio over Christmas holiday we emailed the images with statement to looooooads of blogs asking if they’d like to share it. Trendland was the first to respond and post, with many other blogs following shortly after.
M: Wardrobe Snacks was inspired by diners lacking the luxury of being seated at a table: my stepdad who rests his sandwich on his thigh in between bites (hell with a plate!) while he blasts an action movie on his TV; a commuter cramped up on a crowded bus retrieving an item from a bag or pocket; a lunch-breaker on a park bench eating from her lap. They’re informal — perhaps even a bit awkward — spaces as far as eating is concerned, yet the diners always appear to be comfortable and perfectly satisfied with their chosen snack, almost Zen-like.
How do you land on concepts to shoot? In the moment? Before? After?
K: We always have general concepts before, that way we can source props/set/models needed to shoot. There’s usually something serendipitous that happens while on set that we could never have planned for though. We were recently on a shoot at a mushroom farm and the farmer who gave us a tour of the grounds left us with a box of just-harvested mushrooms of all varieties, so we ended up fashioning them into boutonnieres for the model to wear in each shot. It was our favorite part of the shoot but something we weren’t at all planning for!
M: We exchange ideas and let them breathe for a bit, while being completely open to spontaneity that occurs during. Planning is great and necessary, but allowing things to change shape is where the magic is.
How do you think modern aesthetics will evolve in the future?
K: Who knows - I hope that there will be more of a return to meaningful storytelling in visual media, rather than just 2 seconds of absorption via instagram with little to no context. I think every photographer is saying this.
M: Hmmmm I hope it looks like Epcot Center! I like yesterday’s vision of the future a whole bunch.
What do you wish you knew earlier?
K: I reeeally wish I knew that reaching out to editors/companies you admire with your work and a nice note were really all you need to get started. If your work is strong, people will pay attention. I think I never really had the confidence to reach out to people until I moved to San Francisco. Making work that YOU want to make is also so, so, so important.
M: That styling was a job! I came into it accidentally, as a result of amassing collections of things I was interested in on a personal level, combined with studying visual arts and library science. I could’ve gotten started so long ago! But best not to overthink the order of things.
Tidbit of advice for anyone trying to get into styling and/or photography?
K: Shoot a lot, keep trying, stay positive, always ask for more money (especially as a lady - a man that is not as good is most likely going to make more than you just because they ask), be confident in your vision, don’t be afraid to ask for help/advice. (full disclosure: i still haven’t made freelance photography my full-time job but am keepin’ at it, whatever it takes - for the dream! slow and steady.)
M: Find someone whose work makes you feel moved and inspired and try to assist them. Trust that doing what you love will lead you to great people and great places. Make time to create personal work, because it’s the most genuine way of expressing one’s truest style, which is ultimately what leads to someone being attracted to your vision and wanting to hire you/collaborate.
Most memorable food you’ve ever styled/shot (favourite Wardrobe Snack)
K: Matcha Soft Serve - We bought green tea ice cream from a grocery store and used my standing mixer to beat it till soft, then I piped it with a pastry bag onto the cone that we got from a Korean ice cream shop here in San Francisco. The shot we selected was from our first try!
Weirdest thing you would like to shoot? (dream scenario)
K: Something with animals or something in South America/in any other country.
M: I’m dying to work with Playdoh! And snails! And grandmas in Oaxaca!
Favourite meal of all time? Cooked by yourself AND cooked by a restaurant.
K: Currently Shakshuka.
M: I’m gonna go with a recent favorite meal: plopping down on a sand dune for a shoot-break picnic and slurping oysters with Kelsey.
A quick and quippy read, it’s sure to get your brain churning with ideas, conspiracies, and reading into things like they’re metaphors. Ah, miss the college days.
Picture: a gorgeous frame. Massive, if you’d like. Filled with breathtaking art.
The California General Election 2018, or: why you should stop complaining about the future and try to change it.
Ah, a listicle. As you may already know, Matte Black loves a good listicle.
THE RIFF - talking about taste
On this episode, Matte Black Founder + Creative Director, Chelsea Matthews, talks about taste levels - making sense of what taste is, how to define your own, and a few key questions to ask yourself when approaching the topic of taste.