Based in Sullivan County in the foothills of the Catskills, ’Skilled is a one-stop shop for photographers and creative directors, offering location, production, casting and catering services to the creative industries. For last season’s Kate Spade Saturdays campaign shot by Cass Bird, ‘Skilled supported with finding them the perfect backdrop in upstate New York to create the perfect country living experience.
‘Skilled Productions was founded in 2013 by Ellen Jong, an artist, and Hali Friehling, a photo editor, producer and art buyer. Friehling is a local whose family owns a stable and ranch in Bethel, a stone’s throw from where the 1969 Woodstock festival was held. After working for more than a decade in the city, she returned to Bethel to start a family on the shore of Kauneunga (White) Lake. Jong purchased a house in Mongaup Valley along with her marketing genius husband. She divides her time between a Chinatown apartment and her upstate home / studio.
Jong and Friehling had worked as photo shoot pro- ducers at various times, and both had spent years on one or the other side of the camera. The two also had a deep appreciation for the beauty and diversity of the Catskills. A landscape of rivers (the noble Delaware delineates one of the county’s borders) and lakes, richly wooded and with a seemingly endless skyline of hill after rolling hill, Sullivan County is paradise for a photographer or creative director looking for a ru- ral setting. Only two hours from the city, it offers a mix of settings from deep woods to open fields, wide lakes to trout streams, farmland, hunter’s shacks to sprawling lakeside homes, a dramatic hydroelectric dam and an airport straight out of Mad Men.