What I’ve learned about photography and modeling from my first brand photoshoot.
Cruelty-free bone and feather jewelry is Chaska’s specialty. Like and shop at https://www.facebook.com/SecondLifeWearables/
Chaska Lance was my guest on the “In the Telling” podcast for episode 57 where I learned that not only does she fire dance, but she also makes really amazing jewelry. A few weeks ago, during a post and comment thread in the Creative Curiosity Community on Facebook, we decided to get a collaboration together.
Thank you to the volunteer models who posed for the Second Life Wearables jewelry photoshoot. This was my first time shooting pictures for a brand and I learned a ton. It reinforced my feelings that good photos are first and foremost about good lighting. I’m also starting to develop a sense of my own taste. My ability to troubleshoot and execute my ideas so that they are fully realized needs some training and additional practice. I appreciated Chaska allowing me to contribute to her business with a skill set I’m still developing. I love supporting local businesses and local artists. It was nice to shoot in and out of doors with a variety of models for a brand I respect. Here are a very few of my favorite shots with notes to learn from each.
The Anonymous Pose
True, you can’t see much of the model, but in brand photography, the model serves to highlight the brand and not the other way around. Rather than shooting the jewelry on a table or display, an anonymous model adds a mysterious, intimate, human element to the photo without distracting from the brand focus. This helps the customer picture themselves wearing the jewelry.
Story and Response
Here’s a place where, as a lifelong storyteller, and a beginning photography, I have some work to do in closing the gap between my skillsets. A brand has a specific message, and brand photography should clearly communicate that message as a story. This is a prep work before a photo shoot. Ideally, the brand photography should tells a story that evokes an emotional or actionable response. Chaska’s process of giving a second life to old bones through jewelry was something I wanted to connect to some of my favorite wild places to take photographs. Unobliging weather pulled a lot of the shoot indoors last second. Being focused on the logistics of the shoot and some of the more basic technical skills in photography, I didn’t spend enough time on this part of the prep work as I hope to in the future.
Plan and Try on Outfits Ahead of Time
I had some recommendations for the models about clothing choices but I should have given more attention to necklines in the instructions. Still, we had such a great variety of models and jewelry to work with, I’m really happy with the shots we got. I imagine that in the future, I’ll need to have thought this through more specifically since I’m likely to be shooting with less variety in models, products, or both. For my own personal aesthetic, I really liked the way this shot came together in minimalism and warmth. For earrings with some color and a bold color background, I really liked how this outfit and jewelry paired together.
Personal branding photography includes professional images representing people. As an actress, these are first and foremost my headshots. Headshot photography has some clear conventions, but personal branding photography can be so much more flexible. It should respond to the visual identity of the client in style, tone, colors, posing, background, and more. I took some additional shots for each model to thank them for volunteering for the shoot, and when I asked Jae what they wanted for their additional shots, they were able to give me some really clear purposes and aesthetic words. The additional photos I shot for Jae were easier for me to conceptualize. In the future, I’ve got to prepare better questions in the strategic planning for identity and personal branding photos.
A photographer positions lines within the photograph to naturally draw the viewer’s eye to a specific point of focus. These leading lines can be directional in emphasis or conclude at a determinate point. Typically, you look for the leading lines, then position the subject. Trees are a classic go-to for leading lines. Streets, alleyways, train tracks, and arrows are also common. Often the photographer has to crouch down to get the face of the subject in line with the vanishing point of a lane of trees. This unusual tree necessitated climbing above the subject, and since I wanted to emphasize the jewelry, the leading lines are directing your focus to her face.
The Rule of Thirds
A quick trick to take eye-catching photos, work off a tic-tac-toe grid in lining up your photos. Or explained another way, imagine four lines, two lying horizontally across the image and two vertical creating nine even squares. Sometimes a picture will look best with the focus in the center grid (a coveted spot in a game of tic-tac-toe.) But the composition maybe even better if the focus lines up in the crosshairs of the grid instead of in a square space. In the photo I’ve posted here with Kristina, her eyes line up at one of those off-center intersecting points, which helps draw your focus to her eyes.
Upgrade Learning before Upgrading Equipment
I have a comparatively old camera, a Canon Rebel EOS T1I. It may be old, but it still has way more technical options and capacity than I know how to use. Before I put any thought and cash into upgrading my equipment, I’m going to continue to watch YouTube tutorials and practice. I’m going to be sure I know how to do everything my camera is capable of giving me before I try to buy myself up into a better photo. Even the best camera is only as good as the photographer behind it.
Two more photos where I love the leading lines!