Saasha Burns details what exactly goes on behind a photoshoot

Everything Saasha Burns touches seems to radiate. Her style, her IG, her personality, and even her vitamin brand – BEAR. Which is why we weren’t all that surprised when the company launched its latest brand campaign for the Nourish Superpowder, the images virtually radiated off the screen.

Shot in Tulum, Mexico by photographer and art director Benjamin Holtrop, the campaign captured the minimalistic sartorial aesthetic the brand has become synonymous with. Mesmerised by the campaign images, we decided to chat to the BEAR co-founder and creative director to find out all the details of what went on behind-the-scenes on the Nourish photoshoot.

Can you talk me through the recent shoot for Nourish?
We shot our Nourish campaign in Tulum, Mexico at the start of summer, in June. We couldn’t of asked for a better team, it was such an incredible day where everyone came together to create magic. Sammy and I flew in two days before the shoot from Byron Bay, and the day before our photographer flew in from Portland, our model from New York, and our hair and makeup artist from Mexico City. We loved meeting everyone and spending time together before the shoot. It was an early 7am start for hair and makeup, and we started shooting at 8am to make the most of the morning light. We finished shooting ahead of schedule just before midday, so we all jumped in taxis and drove to nearby beach club Be Tulum for fresh fish ceviche, prawn tacos, and margaritas on the sand. After a long lunch, we shot some additional product shots back at the property for BEAR.

How did you choose which photographer to go with?
We worked with photographer and art director Benjamin Holtrop. He is based between Portland and Los Angeles, but by chance we met in Tulum in April. We were checking out of our hotel, Casa Pueblo, and he had just checked in and was shooting for another brand around the hotel. Sammy and I had just discussed how much we loved Benjamin’s work and how we wanted to work with him for BEAR – it was meant to be. We introduced ourselves, stayed in touch, and planned the campaign shoot in Tulum together.

Did you send the photographer moodboards or did you just talk about your vision on the day?
It was great that Benjamin, Sammy and I had all previously been to Tulum and knew the area quite well. We knew we wanted to shoot at Tulum Treehouse, a sustainable private residence in the jungle designed by local artisans. The concept for the shoot was centred around the property, with its white-washed walls and surrounding palms. I sent Benjamin a few reference images and we were both aligned on the styling, mood and the vision for the shoot. Benjamin and I put together two more detailed moodboards that we shared with the team the night before the shoot to ensure everyone was across the direction for the campaign. Benjamin and I went over the styling options, locking in our outfits and accessories the night before. The team stayed at the property and we all relaxed on the rooftop, sharing dinner under the night sky.

With the model, did you do a trial or how did you select which person you wanted to go with?
We had a look in mind, and were talking to a few agencies in Sydney, New York and Mexico City to discuss rates. We first found Yada on Instagram, and I was drawn to her unique beauty straight away. Her father is French and her mother is Thai. We confirmed Yada with Wilhelmina as we were boarding our flight to Cancun, and she flew in from New York the next day.

What things were you looking for in a model?
Nourish is all about glowing skin, from a strengthened immune system and healthy gut. We were looking for a natural, healthy model with strong and unique features. Yada has such a positive energy and radiant beauty, she embodies Nourish perfectly.

What about location. Did you have a specific location in mind or how did you source the location?
We knew we wanted to shoot at Tulum Treehouse on the Yucatán Peninsula. The clean, modern aesthetic aligned perfectly with BEAR and we loved the connection to nature. We shot out in the sunshine on the rooftop, and were surrounded by jungle as far as the eye could see.

Did you do all the clothing styling yourself?
I had a clear vision for the styling, and I consulted with Benjamin to ensure we aligned on the direction. From there, I sourced a few pieces from Australian and international designers, pulling a few pieces from my own wardrobe. The styling was effortless and natural, with a neutral colour palette. The model was barefoot, wearing off-white silk and linen pieces, paired with fine gold and Keshi pearl jewellery.

What was your vision for reflecting “Nourish”?
We wanted our campaign to have a strong editorial feel, with a focus on natural beauty and healthy, radiant skin to reflect the benefits of Nourish.

Can you tell me a bit about what Nourish is and how it’s different from the other BEAR products?
Nourish is a multi-fibre prebiotic supplement that helps support your gut microbiome and helps to build a strong foundation of health. Our single-origin Essential Daily Superpower contains one the richest sources of resistant starch in the world, from certified organic and bio-dynamic green Australian Lady Finger bananas. Resistant starch ‘resists’ digestion, reaching the colon intact where colonic gut flora metabolise it into short chain fatty acids. Nourish helps to support the immune system, nervous system, increase the production of Serotonin, promote bowel function and colon health, increase energy production, and promotes strong and healthy hair, skin and nails. Nourish is vegan, non-GMO, gluten free and our recommended daily serving is at a therapeutic level. Our Essential Daily Vitamins are one-a-day tablets and Nourish is an Essential Daily Superpowder that can be easily added to your favourite smoothie, muesli or porridge.

Are we likely to see BEAR continue to further expand on its product offerings?
We are currently in Europe working on some exciting new products, including a second Essential Daily Superpowder that will be released very soon. We can’t wait to share our new products with our BEAR community – stay tuned!

All images: BEAR feat co-founders Saasha Burns and Sammy Leetham with model Yada Villaret and photographer Benjamin Holtrop.

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