Unpublished image courtesy of Stewart Shining
The Atomics, collectively Lucky Blue, Pyper America, Queen Starlie, and Daisy Clementine, are the Smith’s fabulously good-looking brother-sister band, and yes those are their real names. While many know Lucky Blue, who comes to the table with so much social media clout at only 17, the Atomics can’t be greater than the sum of its parts without each other, and together they’re bound to be a phenomenon. We speak to Stewart Shining who photographed the blue-gazed sensations for Vanity Fair Italy on working with the beautiful and talented family.
Photographer/Director Stewart Shining | Fashion Editor Selin Bursalioglu |Hair Davy Newkirk | Makeup Artist Matthew VanLeeuwen Video by MILK DGTL
The Atomics-Vanity Fair Italia from Stewart Shining
Did you know much about the group going into the shoot, specifically the social media mania that surrounds them?
When the shoot came in, it was just referred to as a “sunglasses story,” so I guessed I’d start the LA casting from NY. Then Vanity Fair Italia emailed and asked what I thought about doing it on a young band, The Atomics. I hadn’t heard of them, so did a quick Google, saw a few pics of them, and was like “YES!” The pics I saw were a little bit cheesy- a little too tweeny for me, but I thought, “Wow, I can really make great pics with them…” Oddly, I only went for visuals, and didn’t check their social media presence. I guess it was a busy week…
How was the family dynamics of the “Smiths” while shooting?
Let me put it this way. I was in the location van, on this random crazy weird (visually) street in Venice, and I hear someone say “Ummmm, I think they’re here…” I look up, and it was like a dream. These 4 kids, all just BEYOND great looking in the kind of way they moved- carefree and happy- and then as I got closer I was like “holy smokes, these are seriously good looking kids!” I popped out of the van and introduced myself. I don’t know what to say. There’s something very special about their bond, the way they’re a unit, a pack, and yet individually unique and one as sweet and cool as the other. I explained what we were doing for the day, and threw them into hair and makeup, and then just started shooting individuals and groups as they got ready. MILK Digital was there, to shoot moving image not as B-roll but as a companion piece. So the whole shoot was easy and a blast. It was like a photo fest. If I was shooting one and any of the others weren’t changing, they’d hop out and come watch or egg on their brother or sister. Totally cool, chill, fun day.
Thoughts on all the colorful names? Lucky Blue, Pyper America, Queen Starlie, and Daisy Clementine… must have been fun to direct them.
First thought – SHEER PANIC. I’m known for being the WORST with names- I mean when I’m shooting I give lots of direction and encouragement so the “the name” thing comes up a lot. Like I’ll say under my breath to my assistant “I am COMPLETELY blanking. WHO am I shooting?” (meaning their name) SO I took it head on this time. I fessed during our little group meeting, had each one of them look me in the eye and tell me their names, and how to remember them, then did a pop quiz with them and myself when they were in hair and makeup fittings. I have to say, it WORKED! I probably only messed up once or twice, and with FOUR unusual names, I thought that rocked.
So, Lucky Blue–what do you think is the source of his power?
Juice Bars??! They got a lot of those in LA… Ha! Kidding. I think that his sheer physical presence- the height, those piercing blue eyes and pale skin. And the fact that he’s not a model first and foremost, he has a different sense of himself which then translates thru the camera. Plus he’s fun, happy and polite. That goes for his sisters too.
Was it strange being around one family that’s so darn… good looking?
For me, it was stranger being around a family with such a strong similar visual thread running through them. I told them this before we started, because it’s an odd thing with me. My two siblings and I are all adopted from separated sets of biological parents, so no one ever looked like anyone else. So I get almost freaked out, when I see siblings that have that. Literally. I’m like “whoaaa! I feel like someone slipped me a mickey because everyone looks alike! Freaking me out!” One of my first published pictures, years ago, was of the Brewer Twins, wearing their clothes backwards a la Kriss Kross-styled by Joe McKenna for Interview. I’ve always had a fascination with that.
I got extra excited when I found out that Alexis Borges from Next is their agent. We go way back and I hadn’t seen him in awhile, so he came down to set to catch up. Kept it all real and in the family so to speak. No entourages, and their Mom came and picked em up after the shoot- how cool is that??!! And when I met her I saw why they’re all so good looking.
Have you had a listen? Thoughts?
I love that their music makes me think of California, like those surf rock albums crossed with a Tarantino movie. Movies and the Beach. I mean how Cali is that?
For the whole story go to the Stewart Shining website.