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Moving Image

Profiles
Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck.

By Bee Shapiro

On a Friday afternoon, Jamie Beck, 30—photographer and one half of the creative husband-wife duo behind Ann Street Studio—was preoccupied with urgent matters. On the terrace of the sunlit, live-work and newly-leased Tribeca studio she shares with her husband Kevin Burg, was a ladder adorned with potted blooms and a few well-positioned, if deteriorating ice blocks. “It’s a time-sensitive issue,” Beck says, laughing and nodding towards the mini glaciers.

Her partner (in more than ways than one) Burg, 31—a Kansas City-born creative director with a graphic design background from Drake University—kept his cool. “We’re in the middle of a shoot,” he explains. The pair would work through Saturday to make deadline, he adds. “We keep seeing our friends Instagram photos and it seems everyone is in Montauk,” Burg says, somewhat wistfully.

But if helming a buzzy enterprise requires weekend office hours, at least the long days could be a shared. “We get to be really busy and still see each other,” Burg says, while later leading me around their upstairs offices. The generous skylights highlighted framed portraits like the heiress Hannah Bronfman, a ringer for Josephine Baker in a glamorous ‘30s-inspired shoot, and a playful model wearing a frock by designer Misha Nonoo. Neighboring a couple red boxes stuffed with Polaroids, an impressive collection of Beck’s vintage cameras was at the ready. “I was shooting with the 4x5 view camera today,” says Beck, intimating that she likes working with everything from old-school Hasselblads to today’s HD superstar, such as the Red digital cameras.

Indeed, it’s their experimentation and genre-bending work that have their clients, which now include such fashion heavyweights as Chopard, Donna Karan, Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany & Co. and Jimmy Choo, clamoring for more. “Our brand elevation has grown,” says Beck. Particularly, the two officially launched their enterprise in 2011, based on the success of their Cinemagraphs—a photography series with isolated animation, which they also trademarked. That year, Mashable.com claimed the duo was “changing fashion photography.”

It began with side projects, says Burg. Beck, who moved to New York in 2003 to attend FIT and majored in fashion photography, was already a working photographer by then, and Burg, who arrived in Manhattan in 2005, actually held a full-time job at Dotbot. “You know how you click with a place?” asks Burg, regarding his experience with New York City. “I just felt at home here immediately.” Cinemagraphs came about after some tinkering off-hours and seeing how their talents could jive. “I was always experimenting with animation and 3D graphics,” says Burg. Their first pitch was a hit: Gilt Taste signed on.

By then, they were already a couple, after first meeting through friends on the Upper East Side in 2006. “We’d go out after work, at a bar,” says Burg. The two, who started as friends but got together romantically in 2008, celebrated their one-year wedding anniversary in June. (The bride wore Katie Ermilio and said she was “very organized” about the whole event.) “We had really similar upbringings, but I think we really bonded over art and creativity—there was lots to talk about,” Beck says, pointing to her middle-class upbringing in Fort Worth, Texas, and Burg’s comparable childhood. In 2009, Burg encouraged Beck to start From Me to You, a now-wildly popular Tumblr account, which made the “30 Must-See Tumblr Blogs” on Time.com. At one point, the blog, before migrating to AnnStreetStudio.com, garnered some 250,000 hits a month. “She forced herself to stretch [with that blog],” says Burg, regarding Beck’s site. “I used to call it her master’s degree. It was an intensive thing she did every day.” Beck was also shooting for indie magazines at the time, she says: “I’m always thinking of what I’m shooting next, not of what I’ve already shot.”

Beck and Burg’s future looks promising. In the last couple of years, Cinemagraphs has become a bona fide hit, spawning imitators and coverage on BuzzFeed.com. But Beck, especially, now has built-in relationships with clients and admirers. For Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York, Beck will be booked per usual, “covering for Donna Karan and a few other in-house designer collaborations. They’re very specific stories or looks about the day,” she says. “I also really want to be a part of Art Basel Miami Beach,” Beck says. “We’re trying to find the right technology partnership.”

“We’re a good balance between clearheadedness and creativity,” Burg adds. “We just want to go bigger and better. We’re always trying to stay on the edge of technology and pushing the medium creatively as well, so it looks like you’re peering into a window.”

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