Meet the Photographer Duo and Their 100 Set Design Challenge.

When we came across J&D Photography on Instagram they were shooting our tights and gloves in a beautifully created set designs. Their work and good energy called our attention so we decided to reach out to get to know them better. We are constantly inspired by creative ways artists use We Love Colors in their work. We are so glad we reached out to Jada and David. Now that we know them a little better, we not only admire their work, but also their values and creative vision. We hope you enjoy this interview and get inspired by them as much as we are.

How did J-D Photo start? Tell us the full story.
I was a photography major in college and David has always had a passion for photography and digital art. We started dating during my final year of college, and David helped me create my final thesis show. We realized what a great team we made and how much we enjoyed working together.
We officially started J&D Photo in 2013. For the past 8 years we have been wedding + portrait photographers primarily documenting one emotion – happiness. We began to feel a little stuck and that we weren’t pushing ourselves creatively. We decided the best way to really test our
limits and push our creativity was to give ourselves a new challenge.
We challenged ourselves to build 100 wild plywood sets and do 100 shoots in 1 year. Through these 100 shoots, we are exploring emotion through color, plywood, and people. We are shining lights on emotions that are predominantly overlooked in photos like frustration, defeat, exhaustion, sadness, curiosity and attempting to show that there is beauty in those emotions as well.

We see David is a set design master, how long does it take to break each set apart and create new one, walk us through this labor intense process. We kicked off the first of our 100 shoots on January 1, 2021. In order to achieve this goal, it means doing 2 – 3 shoots a week. Every set takes 1 – 3 days to build…so this is a lofty goal! We have currently completed 20 shoots + 20 sets.
It’s pretty wild that after spending almost 3 days building a set, we can tear it all apart in about 30 minutes. We try to reuse pieces from each set as much as possible to save time.

How does it take for paint to dry? What type of paint do you use?
We use flat, latex paint and Sherwin Williams is our go-to brand. They have so many colors to choose from! We let each coat dry for about 20 minutes and put fans on everything. We definitely rush the paint drying process!

How does the duo work? Jada takes the pictures and David is in charge of production or you both do everything, do you have a system in place?
We always begin by tossing around ideas trying to decide on an overall concept. Once we agree on one, we begin planning out the set. David’s background is in theater, so he takes the lead on set design. An idea for a set comes to him, and he sketches out the loose idea and shares his
vision for the set with me. Choosing a color palette is typically the next step. Colors are strategically chosen according to the overall mood, style, and tone we are working to convey. We work together to cut wood, paint, and construct the set.

From there, David does the lighting. I photograph each shoot and direct the models throughout the shoot. David watches the images come in on a viewing monitor and adjusts lights as necessary throughout the session.

What part of the whole process do you enjoy the most? Coming up with the ideas, production, shooting, editing? If each one of you have different answers please elaborate.
Jada – I love choosing the looks and colors for each shoot. My favorite part is always the shoots themselves. We always go into each shoot with an overall goal in mind, but the final product always seems to exceed our expectations.
David – For me, it is the moment when we finish painting and constructing the set and I can see for the first time that the vision I had in my head has come to life.

What’s the part of the process you dislike the most?
Jada – Definitely cutting wood!
David– I find myself battling self-doubt throughout the set building process, so that is definitely my least favorite part.

How did you come up with the cube idea?
We wanted to do a shoot that stripped away the subject’s identity. We wanted to show the face as minimally as possible and create body sculptures. Our shoots are centered around color, and we thought using colorful tights and gloves would further conceal the subjects identity while enhancing the body shapes created.
I am always fascinated by the concept of photographing people in boxes. I feel like it is a metaphor for the boxes we allow others to put us in and the boxes we put ourselves in. It is so limiting. None of us are one thing, so that is where the cube came from.

Are there any “photography/ business hacks” you would like to share for those starting out this path.
Build a good website and take advantage of social media!
David is also a web developer, and from the start he built us a strong website that was very visual and search friendly, which has been a huge asset to us.
You can create so many connections and find so many inspiring people on social media. I have been blown away by the artists, fashion designers, models, and other creatives we have built lasting relationships with because of social media. It really is a gift when used properly and with a positive mindset.

Who gets stressed the most? How do you handle it?
David gets stressed the most. The time constraints are what helps him work through it. When there is so little time to create, it forces you to move forward even when you feel stuck and frustrated. Also taking a snack break and blasting loud music seems to help!

Do you have days off or are just fueled by passion/ entrepreneur life working 24/7 kind of life?
Honestly, we really don’t take any days off. We both love what we do and are lucky enough to share the same passion, so work is a constant. It’s not really something we can ever turn off. Discovering a work /life balance is always something we are working towards.

How did you find out about We Love Colors?
We had an idea for a shoot that stripped away the subject’s identity. We wanted to find tights and long gloves that matched perfectly, so we started googling. We were thrilled when we stumbled on We Love Colors website. It was exactly what we were looking for and you all had so many fun colors to choose from!

Which one of the sets you have shot so far is your favorite?
We just did a set that was completely monochromatic. Everything was painted coral. We put a cube size hole in the wall and then built a cube the exact size of the cut out to create the impression that the cube was a “pixel” that fell out of the wall. The model was dressed in a jumpsuit the same color as the set, and even crawled inside the cut out in the wall for a few shots.

Out of the We Love Colors series, do you have a favorite shot? It can be more than one if you can’t choose.

Of my gosh that is hard! Even though the set, lighting, and wardrobe was the exact same – the colors and posing caused each shoot to take on such a different mood.
For me though, I think it is from the baby blue set when she is sitting on the bench with an incredibly slouched posture. To me it really symbolizes defeat.

Where can we see your work and contact you? Where is your studio located at? Our studio is located in Richmond, Va, but we do travel to Los Angeles quite frequently for shoots. You can view our work and read more about our mission to 100 here.