XWHY Meets: Cooper Naitove
Cooper Naitove (aka Mr Juicebox) is a young photographer with a frightening work ethic that has taken full advantage of the instagram platform in order to amass over 20 thousand followers for his account “Babes of New York”. Having begun his photography career focusing solely on his major passion of cars, he has since had the opportunity to work on a diverse range of shoots from commercial assignments, to Sport Illustrated Swimwear shoots and Motor shows.
We caught up with him to discuss how his photography approach has changed and his thoughts on the impact of drone technology…
Your main passion has been car so how did you instagram account “Babes of New York” come about?
Up until I moved to Brooklyn, my whole life was about cars. Everyone I knew and everything I did was one way or another, related to cars. From Seattle to Saudi Arabia, every photography job I had was in the automotive industry as well. When I moved to Brooklyn though, all the cars disappeared and so did my main photography subject matter. There was a while when I wasn’t really taking pictures at all and that bothered me. The idea for Babes of New York came to me sitting on the deck of this ridiculously cool, lower east side, apartment I was house sitting for this ex model turned art director I had been working with at the time. I loved New York because I love the women who live here. It’s freezing in the winter, sweltering in the summer, and as we all know, expensive as hell. To make it here you need to be driven and you need to really want to live here. That meant that not only was this city teeming with beautiful women from every corner ever of the world, they were equally as successful and passionate as they were beautiful. I started Babes of New York to give other people a glimpse of what I love about this city.
You’ve got a huge following on instagram with the account, what do you do with the power of having 20 thousand plus people following you?
Having that elusive “k” next to my flowing really changed things for my page. I didn’t really take it seriously until then. I didn’t even tell my friends or anything about the page until I had like 10,000 followers. I got a lot of “wait, that’s you?!” or “you take all these pictures?!” Many of them had actually heard of the page already but never expected that I was the person behind it. I’m generally pretty reserved I guess and it surprised a lot of people to find out I was photographing girls in their underwear in my free time. Having that following though meant more established models and publications started taking me seriously. Where I was having to do most of the leg work in the beginning, they were the ones finally reaching out to me. Opportunities to travel the world also began to present themselves. (In fact, as I write this, I’m sitting at my private villa’s poolside cabana at this secluded resort in Bali. I was asked to bring a model with me and photograph our 3 day stay full of massages, spa treatments, and delicious food.)
What piece of equipment do you not leave the house without?
I never leave the house without some kind of camera. For me photography is about moments and rarely is a manufactured one quite as beautiful as one you come across by accident. I don’t really post these photos on my page right now, but I’m thinking of changing that in the future.
What has been the biggest change for you since you got involved in photography?
Photographing cars and women couldn’t be more different. With a car I get to place it exactly where I want in a scene. As it doesn’t move or get tired holding a pose, I can use lighting techniques that would be impossible with a model. At the end of a car shoot, I’ll have maybe one hundred frames and one to five final edits. At the end of a model shoot though, I’ll have taken over thousand to get to that same number of final images. With a model it’s all about capturing that one moment where the stars align. If even one aspect of the outfit, hair, makeup, look, etc. isn’t perfect, the shot doesn’t work. There are just so many more variables to deal with when working with a model compared to with a car.
Are drones more a toy or a ground-breaking piece of equipment?
Drones are the single most ground-breaking innovation in the photo/video industry since the invention of the digital camera. My drone lets me get shots that would have required a helicopter and 10s of thousands of dollars in equipment just a few years ago.
How different do you think your career path would have been without things like social media and drones?
Right when I was getting into the film industry in New York, Nick Weissmann, the guy who taught me everything I know about video, hired me to be his assistant on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuits Issues 50th Anniversary video. This was a big milestone for them so 30 or so of the last 50 cover models were in attendance. It’s hard to act like you aren’t totally star struck around these women. Not only are they all super famous but they are just as beautiful in real life. I mean, we got to interview icons like Heidi Klum, Tyra Banks, Kate Upton and Petra Nemcova. Speaking of Petra, she gave everyone in the room 3 kisses on the cheek when she walked in the room. I watched the four people she greeted before me get thrown off by that 3rd kiss on the right cheek though when they were only expecting the usual right, right left. I was determined not to make the same mistake. When it was my turn I had it down and didn’t flinch as that 3rd one came in. I felt like a boss. Anyways, hearing one after the next tell all their most fond memories of shooting in the worlds most exotic locations is something I won’t soon forget. My favourite interview though was with their main photographer, Walter Loos. He was with SI Swim from the beginning and had the stories to prove it. Talk about career goals.
What does the future hold for you?