Bethany Mollenkof is a commercial director + editorial photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. She specialises in portraiture and intimate, visual glimpses of the world around us.
Bethany's work appears regularly in major publications such as the New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, and ESPN. Commercially, she has worked with Apple, Nike, Netflix, and more.
Bethany lives in Los Angeles, CA and while she is originally from the South, she grew up in Kenya and South Africa. Most recently, as an independent photographer/director, she conducted work for ESPN directing a Fifty/50 celebrating 50 years of title IX that will show at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Bethany> I get excited when I read a script and know my unique background and point of view can elevate the ideas. I want to make things that feel special and distinctive that nobody else could make.
Bethany> I jump right into visuals and start scribbling ideas down while gathering imagery that resonates with me emotionally. Once I have filled my brain with a good amount of information, I will go for a long walk, cook a good meal or go running. Before I actually write the treatment, I will verbally explain my idea to someone close to me to see how it lands. I love to verbally process an idea before I create a treatment, it helps me be clear and deliberate.
Bethany> Research is everything. Understanding the context and the world my spot will exist in allows me to problem solve quickly and effectively. Being clear on who the target audience is and how they will view the work informs how I tell a story. I like to ask producers lots of questions and view previous work the brand has created to either build off their momentum or help steer them in a new direction.
Bethany> Filmmaking is all about everyone staying aligned and working towards the same end goal, so I try to pay attention to everyone on set. I love working with line producers that are nimble, creative thinkers, AD’s that are responsive and efficient and since I do a lot of docu-style work, DP’s that are intuitive and empathic.
Bethany> I am passionate about telling stories with nuance and empathy. I think this has become even more important to me after having my daughter during the pandemic. We have all lived through so much. People want to feel, they want to connect, they want to be seen. Through my work, I strive to create stories that allow people to feel like their experiences are represented, they matter.
Bethany> Because my background is in documentary work I only want to work on ‘serious’ jobs.
Bethany> There are always crazy problems in production. So, every job I assume something is going to happen and when it does, I just breathe through it. It’s rarely as serious as it feels at that exact moment.
Bethany> From the onset of a project, I think it's incredibly important to make sure the idea is buttoned up and clear and that everyone is on the same page with vision and aesthetics. Clarity and communication are foundational to effective collaboration.
Bethany> Our industry should better reflect the world we represent in the stories we tell. I think the commercial space can be so innovative if we leave behind some of the old ways of doing things and recognise there is not one POV or a ‘right’ way of doing anything.
Bethany> The pandemic has taught me to see everything as a gift. I don’t get as stressed out over little things as much and I am acutely aware of how difficult it has been for so many people.
Bethany> Because I am also a photographer, I am always thinking about the various ways a project can be formatted. I want my work to be seen by as many people as possible and it won’t if I don’t consider all of the ways it can be distributed.
Bethany> I love tech!
Bethany> Nike: Renee Montgomery
ESPN Sedona Prince