Laurie Frankel’s Fairytale Interpretation for Clé Tile

Laurie Frankel‘s innovative “Hansel & Gretel” photograph captured a Gold Award in Graphis Photography 2023. This avant-garde project, shot for online tile seller Clé Tile, drove beyond imagery for an advertising campaign. Instead, it’s a bold, daring feat of visual storytelling featuring a rich tapestry of color, mood, and emotion—all without showing a single tile. Conceived by Clé founder Deborah Osburn and senior creative director Sarah Lonsdale, the project was part of a campaign named Mythology. Enter the mythical world of Hansel and Gretel, where a fantasy-conceived narrative comes to life through the lens of Laurie Frankel, and let’s delve into the magical and untamed tale of “Hansel & Gretel.”

By: Sarah Lonsdale

Wildwood (originally titled Hansel and Gretel) was shot as part of a campaign for online tile purveyor Clé Tile. Named Mythology, the campaign features a new collection of rich, vibrant-colored cement tiles offered in unique pairings and trios. Shunning stereotypical installation shots of tile, each of Mythology’s seven collections focuses on color, mood, and emotion to create rich visual storytelling with not a tile in sight. Photographed by Laurie Frankel, the creative was conceived by Clé founder Deborah Osburn and Clé’s senior creative director at the time, Sarah Lonsdale.

Laurie and Sarah had collaborated numerous times on photo shoots, but the Mythology series was possibly the wildest and most darkly romantic to date.

The challenge: how to create seven rich, powerful color stories taking inspiration from Grace Coddington’s Vogue editorials, all within four days at five locations, an ambitious project with a small budget. We managed to pull together a stellar team of local go-to’s, the only holdout being wardrobe. Clothing was going to be key in the storytelling, but finding the perfectly discerning person with access to a grand enough wardrobe proved to be a challenge. With little over a week, before we began shooting, we were introduced to stylist Yael Gitai who was adventurous enough to take on the job at the last minute, fortuitously catching her in New York where she could pull a full wardrobe for the shoot.

The general vibe for Wildwood was forest folklore meets musky pastels grounded in earth tones; think sugar and spice and nothing nice, Hansel and Gretel style.

The location: an old barn in Napa. We had procured the site for another vignette entitled Flanders that focused on shadow and light but discovered a corner laden with discarded antiques that proved a perfect backdrop for Wildwood. Prop stylist Claire Mack came laden with sweets and tabletop layering a weathered table with creamy confections and copper pans.

Lighting: the interior was dark with very little daylight save for a couple of barn windows, so lighting tech Stuart Gow placed large mirrors outside to reflect the sun into the space, adjusting them continuously throughout the afternoon as Laurie shot.

Make-up artist Riku Campo perfected the pastel palette complexions of the models, not to mention the wild hair; Sarah Gillingham (aka Gretel) had pin-straight hair that Riku somehow managed to un-tame into a wild frizzy halo.

The whole atmosphere culminated in an over-the-top set with the models rising to the occasion in a more-is-more moment enabling us to perfectly capture this energy and the beauty of the moment.


Photographer: Laurie Frankel

Creative Director: Sarah Lonsdale

Prop Stylist: Claire Mack

Wardrobe/Stylist: Yael Gitai   

Hair/Makeup: Riku Campo

Lighting: Stuart Gow

DP & Digital Tech: Luke Sanders

Producer: Joe Armenia

Model: Sarah Gullixson

Model: Blaise Asmus

Production Assistant: Lucas Osborn

Social: Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest

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Author: Graphis