Jodi Peckman isn't new to working with [artist id="501686"]Britney Spears[/artist] on a photo shoot. Rolling Stone's director of photography has worked with the pop star several times over her career and admits that 2008 Britney isn't the bubblegum pop star she met back in 2002.
"There was a difference now than in 2002," she told MTV News about the recent Rolling Stone cover story on Spears. "She was really childlike then. She came bouncing in with her iPod and chewing her bubble gum with her thick Southern accent. She was very outgoing.
"I think she feels less comfortable now, and that's natural for any woman getting older," she added. "I think she's more self-conscious now. She didn't hold back, it's just that she's more reserved."
Peckman also worked with Spears in 2003, and she already saw Spears rapidly maturing from a bouncy kid to a woman. "She was a little more down to earth in 2003. It was quite different," she told MTV News. "She was more to herself, smoking cigarettes in the parking lot. She kept to herself more. She was a bit more private."
Peckman has noticed over the years that the people and the energy surrounding Spears have never been the same. And despite any issues RS writer Jenny Eliscu had gaining access to the singer, Peckman said that the shoot went smoothly.
"It was much more low-key this time around. There was much less pressure on us," she said. "She arrived to the shoot before I did. She came with her publicist and her personal assistant. Her mom was with her; her manager showed up about an hour later. Very calm, very mellow. It was really stripped-down. The time before, it had been more high-intensity, more controlled."
The theme for the shoot was no theme at all. Peckman wanted to show everyone the natural Spears. No costumes, no sets, no drama. "She's still a young girl, but she looks more mature. There's something about her. She's a mom now, and she's been through a lot, and maybe just her motherly aura comes through."
And the inspiration was simple for the shoot: stripped-down Marilyn Monroe — not glossy, sexy Marilyn Monroe. "We wanted her to be natural, almost as a reference was Marilyn Monroe in the actor's studio," Peckman explained. "We just let her under the beautiful light and let her be herself. We kept it simple."
And the moment Spears took the picture that would end up as the cover shot, Peckman knew. "Well, first of all, having a celebrity on the cover where there's no eye contact with the reader isn't the norm. But it was such a spontaneous, caught moment. It wasn't posed that way," she said. "The minute we got that picture, I knew right away. Caught moments just translate so well.
"She's so great that she can do high-concept and stripped-down," Peckman added. "She really gives it to the cameras. ... We just wanted to make her look like a beautiful woman."
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