Refinery29's Take Back The Beach: Behind the Scenes with Photo Director, Toby Kaufmann

Refinery29's Take Back The Beach: Behind the Scenes with Photo Director, Toby Kaufmann
Summer is in full swing and it's about time people hit the beach. However, visits to the beach are often met with a lot of anxiety and self-consciousness about your own beach body. Refinery29's timely Take Back The Beach initiative--which is going on its third year--focuses on changing the idea of an ideal "beach body" and championing body positivity instead. They recently partnered with the All Woman Project, an initiative focused on both empowering others and spreading body positivity and inclusivity, on a recent shoot for the Take Back The Beach section. We spoke with Toby Kaufmann, Photo Director of Refinery29, about this important collaboration.

Read on for Toby's answers and to see some photos from the shoot after the jump!


SPD: Tell us about Refinery29's collaboration with the All Woman Project on this photo shoot.

Toby Kaufmann: A few months ago All Woman Project founders Charli Howard and ClĂ©mentine Desseaux approached Refinery29 with the exciting concept of creating a swim fashion editorial that would showcase an inclusive range of body types and identities. We noticed that many of these ideas behind this aligned with Refinery29's mission and more specifically the Take Back The Beach initiative, which examines body positivity and encourages confidence in all women. From there we teamed up and decided to produce a photo and video shoot that was rooted in these values with hopes of inspiring women to claim their bodies proudly and take back the beach this summer. 


SPD: What was the biggest challenge you faced during this shoot?

TK: The largest challenge was ensuring that the creative vision we shared was translated between photo and video from beginning to end. We wanted to make sure that the message we sent was cohesive and that the still photos and video component worked in harmony together. I paid meticulous attention to detail during every step of the endeavor from pre-production shot lists and storyboarding to the post-production editing, and even the web-layout design process to ensure that the final project was unified aesthetically!

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SPD: What's your favorite photo from the story and why? 

TK: The [below] image of models Natalia Harris and Sammy Picone is my favorite from the series. Natalia's quote echoes the sentiments of the series and project, "regardless of our scars, or what society may consider a flaw, it doesn't define us. I think showing my scar is a way to show others, or a young woman like me, that although I may have a 15-inch scar down my leg, I can still wear shorts, I can still be beautiful, and they can too."

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SPD: What's next for Refinery29?

TK: There is always something new happening at Refinery29! This shoot was one of many that will be rolling out this summer as part of Take Back The BeachWe have a series of international portraits taken at beaches and pools around the globe debuting as well as a series of portraits taken by photographer Lia Clay illuminating the transgender summer time experience. Both of these series will be included at Photoville this September. As a brand Refinery29 is looking to continue pushing and challenging the status quo when it comes to representation in media. 


SPD Bonus Question: Who would play you in a movie about your life? 

TK: Ru Paul!! 

See the full Refinery29 story HERE! Additionally, select works from Refinery29's Take Back the Beach international portrait series will be available to view at this year's Photoville. Captured through the lens of female photographers, 'Body Talk' explores the different cultural variations of body positivity and the act of claiming space across the gender spectrum and the globe. Photoville runs from September 13th to the 24th at Brooklyn Bridge Park. The event is free and open to the public.




Photo Director: Toby Kaufmann

Design: Paola Delucca

Casting Editor: Lilac Perez

Photographer: Rockie Nolan

Styling: Jenny Harman

Makeup: Ingeborg

Hair: Eloise Cheung

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