For this month’s fall fashion feature, “Cool Comfort,” photographer Paul Miller and his fiancée, prop stylist Corissa Joy Violette, went to work creating a set that had the feel of an old home in a Colorado gold-mining town (think Victor or Central City). The duo employed all kinds of tricks to make the set look realistically dilapidated, as if nature had taken over everything outside and inside the house. Watch Miller’s time-lapse video below to see the ghost town concept come to life, from building the set to the photo shoot to teardown. Then scroll down for his commentary on the process.
The Setup: “The key to pulling this off in the amount of time we had to design, source materials, and execute the set was logistics. Building the set took about a week, so it was a tight deadline.” Originally built for another magazine shoot, the set required a total transformation of the space, including a paint job (nearly-neon blue and green to look like the deep ocean when lit), a billboard backdrop, and the addition of an aspen forest.
The House: “Corissa handled most of the interior set design. We picked out wallpaper and decided on the millwork for the bottom portion of the walls. Then she meticulously aged everything until it looked authentically old and weathered using mediums such as drywall mud and washes of paint. The floors were made from salvaged fence panels.”
The Forest: “Creating the ‘forest’—and making it look like it was part of the house’s interior—was a bit tricky. Corissa and I found someone on Craigslist who had aspen trees in his yard that needed removing, so we played lumberjack and then brought many of them back to the studio. I chopped the trees down to size and fashioned some heavy-duty stands for them so that they would stay upright. The leaves and ground covering were both gathered from the forest [land surrounding] a friend’s property. For the background, I had a shop print a 12-foot-by-20-foot billboard covering from an image I shot in the mountains. There was a little color treating involved to make it look like fall since it was actually taken at the beginning of July.”