So I was feeling a little inspired to use some Photoshop actions (created by Emily Soto that you can get from www.fashionactions.com) that I had gotten when I attended the Creative live course in Las Vegas. For attending the course we were given the Victoria and Allison actions that are designed to help provide some fashion looks to the images after they are shot.
To do this right I wanted to the entire shoot to be a bit dreamy and whimsical to fit the Emily Soto vibe. I messaged my go to model, Natalie, who I have worked with a couple times before and always seem to get some amazing images with to shoot. We wanted to do something spring time related with flowers, soft, natural and there would have to be some images with lens flare.
After getting the idea down I went about finding some locations to shoot. I wasn’t sure what exactly I was going for but I didn’t want it to be so overt as to the need for flowers but I just needed a natural setting. I checked out a couple places online but most of the flower fields required a pass but then I wouldn’t be able to use a light stand for my lights and I didn’t think they would appreciate us tromping through the field with gear and whimsical dreams of photographs. I don’t have an assistant or anyone to help out so if my gear took a spill it would be pretty expensive.
So I looked for some not so oblivious places. I started out by going to Balboa Park which offers an assortment of places to shoot but as it was St Patrick’s day weekend the Shamrock festival was going on and it was packed everywhere. While I was thinking about where to try next I wanted some coffee and decided to stop by the fashion valley mall. As I was driving up I saw the San Diego River to the right and decided to stop. I found a tree that had fallen over from the ledge and top of it was now in the water. After jumping on it a couple times and looking at the light coming through the trees I realized I had found one location.
One location in the bag I decided to continue my quest to get coffee and then find another spot. Loving the beach as I do, I decided I would check out a couple places I like to see if they would work in a different way than how I would normally use them. Turns out that the first beach I went to was perfect. Sunset cliffs has some amazing cliff lines and at low tide a rocky beach to get some great sunsets. There is a parking lot and park just above it that has some young trees that provide shade and have really tall skinny trunks that could be used to provide interest in the compositions. Boom! Two locations found with a quickness.
At this point I should have found a stylist or at least a crafty girl. I went to Michael’s to get just a few props that I could use repeatedly if need be. I knew I wanted a headpiece but I know nothing of these things, So my brilliant idea is to use flower wreath, you know one to decorate a wall or door. (I didn’t realize how big it was going to be at the time, I thought I was being crafty.) Then I also picked out three flowers, two to hold and then one I would use to shot through and help create a natural vignette in camera. My job here is done.
The morning of the shoot we made our way to the river spot first. The idea was to start out there maybe get something, maybe not but we were killing time for the mall to open so Natalie could get her make-up done at the MAC store, just in case anyone is wondering, you need to purchase $50 worth of stuff for them to do your make-up at that location. We actually got some pretty cool shots even though I was using it to warm up and help break the ice with her. So after we got her make-up done we went to sunset cliffs and knocked out the rest of the shoot. We got some pretty good images out of the whole thing and I am happy with the results.
Here few things that I learned from this experience. I need to pay closer attention to details, while I was editing I started looking at other images for some post processing inspiration. Doing this, I finally realized my mistake with the “headpiece” we used as it was huge and not exactly what I was looking for. At that moment I suddenly hated all the images or found something wrong with each one. I came to a creative stand still and didn’t know how I wanted to process the images. Sometimes stepping away can help clear things up. I didn’t look at the images for about five days. When I decided it was time to finish them I started from scratch in a new lightroom catalog with just those images. Once I edited one image, just a simple clean up, I knew what I wanted to do with the rest. So the lesson I learned is that, yes, I am a guy and not a stylist by any means but I still had solid images that are different from others. So lesson learned.
Among other smaller technical lessons, I learned that sometimes the models input can be useful other times it can make things worse. But the point is that while I may use the images to promote myself or in my portfolio, I took the pictures for them and so their happiness with the final result is key. This was a concept I wanted to shoot and I got to test some new techniques that I may or may not use in the future. I may not have many paying clients yet but when I do get them I want to be able to produce these things without having to think able how I am going to it.
I want to thank Natalie for helping me out out and at times being a Muse for my photography pursuit. She has been an absolute joy to work with and I wish her the best in her future. I hope to be able to shoot with her again one day just to see how much we will both have grown by that time. So thank you Natalie, I truly appreciate the energy and excitement you brought to our shoots.
I didn’t realize this post had gotten so long, if you are still here thanks for reading and until next time.