Making the Best of Bad Weather
(mellow music) (upbeat music)
So we're here on location. And I want to take y'all through my entire workflow process of how I do my self produced commercial photo shoots for brands. And today we're shooting for Bluntstone, which we're both wearing. And this is my wonderful friend and model, Soph, also amazing photographer, and of course the amazing Maddy, the coonhound, with big floppy ears. And what I like to do before I start shooting is just take a moment and sit down with the talent and go through a very high level list of shots that I want to capture that day. Just a one through 10. And there's gonna be way more shots in between, but it's just that initial conversation just to slow down, this is where we're going to begin from, and that just becomes like a way to make sure you're in sync with just expectations of what you hope to capture. So this is the big picture shot list that I want to go through today. And of course, like in between all these ideas, there's gonna be a lot m...
ore images that we make.
And the way I like to work is if I kind of put milestones out or mile markers out, that'll give me a place to start from. So at least have some direction. And then when we're shooting and walking through the landscape and the environment, that's like just good moments to find more inspiration. So this is just really big picture place to start again. But I want to shoot some images on the rocks, see where that takes us. I want to make sure that we shoot some images around your pickup truck.
And then with your pickup truck, I want us to build a campfire and then we'll shoot some images with your truck, the campfire and with Echo, your dog. And then I want to kind of round off and finish with loading and unloading your surfboard off the truck.
So, the parameters that I set up for the shoot today to kind of give it structure and to leave room to still be inspired are first of all, finding a great location to shoot in. And that's where we're at here today. We're at the ocean. So we have that background. We have the sand. We have out cropping of rocks and we have sand dunes. So that's like the big structure, so we know where we're gonna be today. We know where we're gonna be creating from and we have a bunch of variety. And the other one is obviously bringing in your talent. So with the model today. And it's still leaving room within those big parameters to be inspired. After this like small pre-production meeting with your talent, which is going through the shot list, we've arrived here on location, the next step is you just have to start shooting and you have to lean into it, you've got to take your camera out and you just have to start creating images. And that is what is gonna begin the process of discovering what you want to say, and just in the back of your mind, just remembering you're gonna have that shot list from the brand that's gonna keep you on track, so you're not overshooting or undershooting. I mean, there's really not too much more to say about this. This is literally the moment where you've arrived, you're with your talent, you have to grab your camera and you just have to go out in the world and let's just start shooting. (upbeat music) So this is the hardest part about when you're out on your photo shoot is that first step to actually begin creating photos. We've taken quite a bit of energy and time and resources to kind of assemble this together. And we have our talent here. My camera's here. Even though it's not the perfect weather conditions, I still like to go ahead and start creating images, because even if today I don't fully resolve all the ideas that I want to capture, that's definitely gonna inform my photographs tomorrow when we get epic sunset. So the place that you just have to begin is just to try something. And again, I'm not worried about this initial process being fully resolved. You just have to start shooting to get the creative energy and like the good feeling mojo inside of you to start leading you down the path to creating wonderful photographs. So for these first photographs, we're actually just gonna focus on the product photography part of this, which is gonna be nice because the weather doesn't need to be the best it can be. So we're talking about, it's actually the frame being almost all the boot. So the place that we're gonna begin is just right here on these rocks. So, if you could climb up there and let's just start shooting and see how it feels. Cool. So right then, I gave her an action, something to execute, which was getting her to walk up the rock face. And I'm looking at how she's climbing that like a ladder to see if there's a photograph there. I know that I'm gonna shoot this really low depth of field, because I want to blow out that background as much as I can. And right now, I'm just looking to see how it feels. And now, you just have to put the camera up to your eye. I have this set like on the... There we go, cool. Yeah. So like, I love the texture of the rocks. I like that it's wet right now, but she's standing just in a way that feels a little bit unnatural and it's kind of in between. So I think the place to go from here is like let's make it feel even more unnatural, but self-aware. And here's what I mean by that is, Soph, could you stand up with like your heels both facing backwards? And just put your feet side by side very intentionally. Yeah. So like, that's kind of like very stiff but it's aware that it's stiff. And yep, exactly. Actually, let's see the tag. So these are little details that you've got to be aware of. So yours got chewed off, but that's cool because this is all about the boots being worn and real. So we just embrace a little (whistling) like that. So let's take this photograph. (camera sound) Okay, that's where we started from. So now, Soph and I have been working together for a minute, she's familiar with my camera and now I'm just gonna have her reset the entire frame, then we're gonna do it again. So could you jump down, Soph? Climb down? Ah, see, I just saw something that she did that I want to take a photograph of. So she had both of her feet right here and it was that leap off. That felt good. So could you do that again?
So that was something that I wasn't necessarily expecting to take an image of. It just happens because we're gonna kind of repeat the same frame a couple times and I want to get that kind of like stop motion. So we're gonna have our camera set to maximum burst, focused on her boots, and we're gonna shoot this a couple times.
Well, I've got to find my focus dot. Yep, and action. Cool. But these also have to be good photos though for y'all to show on the screen. Oh my God, that's another layer. So I think giving direction to your talent, this is a really important thing to do, especially if they are, I don't know, I don't want to be critical, if they're not professional models, like you have to really give them an activity to do that activates them and helps forget that the camera's there a little bit. And action. So can you like... It was like I think like a little two side by side when you're jumping off. Too perfect. Yeah. Hey, this is also an important thing. When you're asking your model to do something, sincerely check in with them to make sure the requests you've made isn't hurting them or they're comfortable with it. So here we go. So was that okay jumping off that, did you feel okay? Okay, cool. (laughing) That is quite important to do. It's easy to over ask because you're so dedicated and focused on getting the shot. So yeah. So I think just like... So now, okay, here's one we've run into, we've become so aware that this is what we want, now you can run into like some stiffness with the model and the interaction with the camera. So Soph, could you just take a couple steps back and then just kind of approach it and jump off whenever you feel good? Okay, one second. Okay, action. Yeah, that felt good. So, that's kind of a scenario I want to get. Now I'm just gonna really quickly check the images on my camera. I'm not gonna be hyper analyzing them. I just want to try to vaguely figure out if I got the shot i'm looking for. And then after you get a shot, make sure you give some affirmation to your talent to let them know that they did a good job, that it felt good, you got the shot, because you have to keep the energy up. It's raining, it's a little windy, keep spirits high, you know? So this might be easy to see why I love this. We have the sand texture, we have the rocks, we have the green moss. We have the boots that we're focusing on and these layers are photo goodness. And this is what we want to start shooting from and see if we can capture a really compelling image right here. So we've shot this frame a couple times. I love the sand, I love the green moss, I love the rock texture stuff, is of course doing amazing, but what's happening is the boots are getting lost in the same color palette as the rocks. There's no pop. It's not coming off of the colors, getting lost. We need some contrast. So, Soph has a wide variety of shoes with her because that's something that we made plans for in pre-production before we got on location. So we're gonna get her to swap over to her yellow rubber boots that are super cute and that will give us the contrast that we need. Yep, yep. Let's see what it looks like now. (upbeat music) Yeah. Look how much nicer that is. Oh, Echo, yeah. Cool. Yeah, let's do it again. So I'm actually gonna end up photographing this in two stages. This first step up and then I'm gonna do that long reach at the end.
Isn't it better (indistinct)?
Oh, yeah, that foot first is good. Okay, one second. Okay and action. Cool. And then step back.
Yep, one second, hold on. Okay and action. Once more. And action. Cool, got it. I'm a black dog.
I'm a black dog.
Cool. So the weather wasn't what we would've picked if we could have. Obviously if we could have chosen an epic sunset, no wind, that's the day we would have chosen, but this is the day we've been given and there's still an opportunity here to still make a compelling image, even though the weather isn't what we have chosen. So instead of trying to fight the weather, we're just gonna embrace it. So I'm looking out here across the ocean and all these puddles. We have Soph for talent in these rubber boots. So like let's not pretend that this is anything but like a gloomy day and let's just highlight the facts. So let's go take these contrasting yellow boots to the sand and let's just go splash in some puddles and see if we can make a little bit of fun and get a smile. (mellow music) Okay and action. (laughing) Nice, cool. Okay, action. Okay and action. Did you get really wet? Oh yeah. Yeah, that's great. I got a little...
Oh my God, that's awesome.
Yeah, yeah, that's cool. Cool.
That's so fun. Yeah.
We've been sitting here in the wind and light rain and much like that last scenario, where we're trying to embrace the weather, let's embrace the wind. Soph has amazing hair that's flapping in the wind. Then a lot of times when you're shooting for brands, you're not always shooting the one for one product, you're often trying to communicate a feeling and a mood. And that's what I want to do here. I want to really focus on the greater sense of place of course, but her hair in the wind and then her relationship with her dog, Echo. So I'm thinking that we're gonna get a photo of her walking in the wind, carrying Echo and maybe just like a little twirl or spin just to get some like feelings of the beach. (mellow music) So our talent, Soph, what she just told me was that her dog, Echo is 50 pounds and he gets heavy, so I'm gonna save the hero part of this shot after I got a couple things resolved with her. So in the back of my mind, I know that I'm gonna want Echo in the shot in the end. Maybe, hopefully her holding him, but I don't want to wear Echo the dog out and I don't want to wear our talent out, so let's just shoot with her first. Okay. So like I really love this reflection. So kind of what I'm thanking is like you're gonna be holding the dog and I kind of want to catch this like spin moment with your hair and the dog. Okay, so.
Oh, we can wait. We'll just shoot with you first. Yeah, yeah. Love it. That's a good shot. (indistinct). Okay, so I want to shoot in a fresh area. So these are like the little details that really matter. We've already been here with our footprints and chewed it up quite a bit. So I want to come over here to a fresh area. Soph, do you think you can pick Echo up and do that? Okay. Maybe. Yeah, I mean, I don't know what's going on. Oh my God. Yeah.
Is that weird?
No. I don't know, it could be. You've got to shoot it to find out. Maddy, back off. Maddy, go on. Yep.
No, it's fine. (laughing) Yeah. (mellow music) So, we already have her, so let's go ahead and capture this. So this is something that's just falling into place. Maybe all I got (indistinct). (indistinct), clicked over to manual focus by accident.
There we go. Oh, that's so good. That's so good. Yeah, she's a doggie. So this is when like the overcast drizzly rainy days can really work well, because we essentially just have a giant soft box in the sky. We're facing into the sun, our light source, and it's super soft and nice coming across our subject. I like it. (mellow music) So in the spirit of embracing what life in the day brings us and for us that is like windy drizzly weather, we still want to try to make compelling images in this time that we have and thankfully our talent, Soph, she was surfing before she came here and on her truck she brought a surfboard and her wetsuit and this instantly became great material to photograph to make another image for this project. Soph just dropped her tailgate and I already see a couple distracting elements in the frame that I want to make sure are not in the final photograph. Like I see a mud flap and a dog toy and some other things. So we're just gonna strike those from frame, just to make sure they're not distracting in the image. So while Soph is wrangling Echo, I'm noticing this little still life that I like a lot. We got the red brake light. We have the surfboard fins. We have the wetsuit dangling in the wind. Let's just go shoot this really simple still life. So for me, this is very much like what I would call a B photograph, a filler image, where it's not the image that's gonna carry the lead, it's going to help expand the story, the sense of place, the visual narrative. Those kind of photographs are really important and also quite easy to capture as you're out shooting. So we got our final hero scene set back up and this is just something to keep in mind when you're working with the animals. Sometimes you just have to let them run and be free and go have a good time. Soph just like threw the ball for five or 10 minutes for Echo, just to burn off some energy. And that's why often like the last component that I'll bring into the image is the animal itself. Let's get everything else resolved and lined up and then bring in the animal and start creating our photo. So this is our scene and this is where we're gonna try to create an image from and we can already see here that Echo has gotten really snugly and cozy and we're just gonna start shooting. And I know that I really want to convey the love between Soph and her dog, Echo, so I'm just gonna ask her, the place to start, is just give a little sweet kiss to the top of the head. Let's go there. So right now, when I'm looking for the view finder, I'm just trying to balance the composition. I want the focus to be Soph and Echo, but I also want to include the surfboard, I want to include the wetsuit. We have the red taillights on. It's all coming together in a circular motion. Post the photo, cut the video, still image on frame. You'll see exactly what I'm talking about. You can see there, I was just hopping closer. That's the thing to remember. This is why you don't want to use a zoom lens. Shoot with prime lens, because I'm not changing the way the photographs feel, I'm changing my relationship to the subject. (mellow music)