Model Naomi Campbell became a cover star, make-up artist and photographer for the latest issue of Essence magazine as lockdown measures prevented the team from traveling that was booked to work on the special issue cover. Just days before the shoot was due to take place, as part of the magazine’s 50th anniversary issue celebrations, the USA went into lockdown so the magazine asked Naomi if she would shoot the pictures herself.

Also celebrating a 50th anniversary, Campbell rose to the challenge and, with direction from the magazine’s creative team, set up and shot the pictures with her iPhone. Planning discussions went on from the team’s homes via video chat, and the actual shoot was styled and directed remotely on the day—and the pictures have turned out pretty well.

'Naomi shot herself with an iPhone,' says MoAna Luu, the Chief Content & Creative Officer of the magazine. 'We couldn’t send a team so, she had to do her hair, her makeup and her styling herself. We were on late night calls trying to figure out how she was going to do the shoot with her phone in her hand. Then, we had to do a re-shoot because the photos didn’t come out how we imagined. So, there were technical challenges, there were human challenges; but Naomi did it all without asking any questions, she never quit. What’s amazed me the most about working with Naomi to do this cover shoot during the pandemic is the way that she embraces the fact that she truly controls her own narrative. She’s never waited for people to do for her; she’s created her own opportunities. She’s been a pioneer in so many ways and now she’s a pioneer in ESSENCE history because she’s completely and literally controlling her own narrative in this issue from the cover to the in-book story.'

Campbell isn’t the only one doing her own shoots during the global pandemic, as Batman actor Robert Pattinson had to take the pictures for an interview with him for GQ magazine. Pattinson had the good fortune to have a Nikon DSLR to shoot himself with rather than his phone, but perhaps a little less direction from the magazine. The pictures are pretty cool, and one shot in a mirror is used on the cover of this month’s magazine while another is being used as the header on the magazine’s social media channels.