INTRO TO VOORHES STUDIO
We first met badass husband and wife duo Adam Voorhes and Robin Finlay – masterminds behind Voorhes Studio – in Portland, as they were commissioned to shoot our SOLID bike for Wired. Along with Wired, they have an extensive (and impressive) client list ranging from Details, GQ, Redbook, Fortune, O Magazine, Atlantic, Target, and many more. These two have found the sweet spot and are the definition of a collaborative partnership. They make the impossible possible, executing their client’s vision from concept to fully executed experiences. Working together compliments one another’s skillset, resulting in their signature aesthetic – Voorhes Style. The pair met in Austin and now along with their bulldogs call ATX home. Working from their studio (which at one time was a church) we recently chatted with the inspiring pair to get the insider scoop on a day in the life at Voorhes Studio.
Q: WHAT IS YOUR ORIGIN STORY?
A: (AV) Our origin story really has to do with us coming together. Robin was an art director at a magazine here in Austin, I was a photographer just starting out. We began collaborating, and Robin would push directions that catered to my still life interests. She didn’t have much of a budget so she ended up styling our shoots. Eventually I started to hire her for my commercial jobs, then we got married. Now, together, we brainstorm concepts, research and troubleshoot projects, build props, shoot, retouch, all of it.
Q: IN A PAST INTERVIEW YOU STATED, “INSPIRATION IS THE EASY PART. GETTING THINGS DONE IS THE HARD PART.” CAN YOU EXPAND?
A: (AV) It seems like ideas are always floating around in the air, then they pass into your mind and are stuck there forever. I can sketch an idea out, put it in a folder with all of its friends, then I can relax. I can ignore it, but all I have to do is think about that folder of ideas and it all comes swarming back. The problem is executing on the ideas. We work for our clients 6-7 days a week, and we work 10-14 hours a day. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for these other ideas. We try though! For instance last year we published a book: Malformed: Forgotten Brains of the Texas State Mental Hospital.
Q: WHAT ARE KEY SHIFTS YOU SEE IN THE WORLD OF MEDIA?
A: (AV) We use to shoot magazine stories for print only, now we shoot the same story for print, tablet, and web. Mixing motion and interactive elements while shooting multiple compositions to fit different design needs is definitely a shift. Another area we see is a shift in is advertising for social media. For example, we recently did a Target campaign exclusively to be posted on Twitter. People and brands are doing smart creative work, without the dumbed down effect that you see in a lot of traditional advertising.
Q: TELL US ABOUT YOUR WORK PROCESS AND APPROACH.
A: (RF) The process is full collaboration from the start to the end – we’re both better at what we do with the other’s input. Most clients send us documents to read and brainstorm, others have ideas they want us to execute; but either way we always start with a sketch. When props are being built and sets constructed, Adam gives input throughout the process, discussing how an object will be lit, or solutions for more challenging scenarios. When it comes to post-production we both do the retouching. No matter who finishes a picture, the other takes one last look before they are shipped. Getting a pair of fresh eyes that you trust is huge.
Q: HOW DOES PORTLAND COMPARE AND DIFFER AUSTIN?
A: (AV) Summers here in Austin are brutal, but the winters are sprinkled with lovely days. Enjoying a patio in January is not out of the question. Both places have a good sense of community. People are friendly and willing to help each other out. The support and cooperation between local businesses is also a shared value. What Portland has that we envy are old warehouses. The only buildings with tall ceilings in Austin are old churches… so that’s what we chose for our studio. Music and food are huge similarities, we both have amazing food, brilliant bands calling our cities home, micro-breweries galore, and local coffee roasters.
Q: DO YOU HAVE ANY PERSONAL PROJECTS IN THE WORKS?
A: (AV) Yes, always. We had to sit down and make a list of priorities because things would get started but never finished. Right now we have a couple motion projects that are in the works, we have sketches for more experimental series, and the honey bees project is (and will be) ongoing for a while. The bees are in the back yard and its easy to continue building on that body of work whenever we have a second. Lots of ideas, not enough time.
Q: HIGHLIGHTS WORKING TOGETHER AS A HUSBAND AND WIFE DUO?
A: (RF) Covers are always fun, especially when the image utilizes both our skills fully. Our first Atlantic cover is up there as a big one. The set was complex with a 3-foot wrecking ball and books hung like they were flying through the air. Photographing and lighting it was very involved. There were a ton of exposures with debris coming at the camera. Sharing those kind of career highs with your partner makes the reward that much more sweet.
Q: WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE VOORHES?
A: (AV) We’ve done more covers in the past (3) months than we have in the past (3) years. I’m excited for more. Now that we’ve finished our book we can focus on motion. We have some wild ideas. Everything we get excited about is technically difficult, it takes time and experimentation, but it’s worth the effort. High speed, time lapse, explosions, stop motion, macro, BEES! And more explosions.