LC Prom Event – Shooting For Product

LC Prom Event – Shooting For Product

I thought I’d post some more work I’ve recently done for London Couture. Along with doing their marketing photography, I also do their graphic design. This is an ideal situation for a photographer if they are capable graphic designers as well. It really helps marriage a complete, polished look when it comes to the final product. It’s so important going into a photo shoot that I have my head wrapped around the final concept. Sure, someone can ask me to photograph a person or a situation, or… a person in a certain situation, however, unless I know what the photographs will ultimately be used for, I have no idea how to shoot it. I can shoot something that looks amazing, but could really fail to translate for a particular idea or even dimension of a graphic design. At that point, no matter how amazing your photos look, they could create a headache in the end when design comes into play. All the way down the the simple things, like knowing whether the photos will be used for a magazine ad or a website or both, which will determine whether the majority of my photographs will be a landscape or portrait layout (verticals are obviously conducive to magazine ads, and horizontals for web/digital display). So whether I’m doing the graphic design or I’m handing the photos off to another designer, you better believe I’m asking all kinds of questions so that everyone in the loop of production is very happy with what they have to work with. This make life SO much easier on the designer, and leaves my paying client with a very clean, professional product that didn’t have to get hacked together with a digital chainsaw.

A lot of commercial photography is shot on either a white or black background, reason being it’s VERY easy to add more space to a design canvas if needed. Ex – shooting a model on white seamless will allow a designer to plop the image onto a white canvas any where they want, and no one is the wiser. You can add or subtract designing real-estate until the cows come home. With that said, you really don’t have to shoot as consciously with your composition (you don’t have to worry about leaving any negative space in the image for the addition of graphics and text). You can shoot nice and close, providing maximum resolution and detail, and giving a graphic designer one more reason to love working with you. Shooting on a true  solid color is ideal for this editing flexibility, however, sometimes you want something different (even in the studio), or often times commercial photogs find themselves out in the wild shooting on-location. For these situations, it’s key that the final concept be well-understood. And again, it’s always a great thing if you are the designer and the photographer, as the layout is floating around in your head, and you can at times improvise even while shooting, as new design ideas pop up in your head and you can then shoot and frame for those ideas on the fly. A great luxury. Of course, if you are shooting for Nike or some huge name, the concept is concrete, which has been reviewed and ok’d by corporate big wigs. But if you are a smaller operation, you can get away with some… “creative flexibility” up until you shoot the last frame of the day.

The work presented with this post is for a design I actually came up with on my drive in to the studio. It was more playful of an idea than usual, but I thought it grab more attention than just a girl standing in a dress. These ads were designed to promote a prom dress event hosted at London Couture. Sure, we can just show a girl looking great in a dress, but like all marketing, you have to “suggest” ideas for people, effectively telling them what they should be thinking, right? So this is a very basic concept, a girl day dreaming about her ideal dress for prom, and bam, you see it and it’s at London Couture, waiting for you. This injects the idea – the dress you are dreaming about looking amazing in is right here at London Couture.

Walking into the studio, I knew I needed two key shots, as this would be a compilation of two photographs for the main design. One, close-up of girls faces (in normal clothes) thinking and looking-off, deep in happy thought. Second shot, a full body shot of girl feeling amazing in her dream prom dress. The “thinking” photos were very fun to shoot when I asked the girls to run through a serious of facial expressions. This brings me back to one of my points – shooting (and framing) for a product. Since I shot this on a gray background with gradient lighting, it would be very time consuming to add more canvas space if I needed it in post for text, so when I framed the girls tight on their faces, I knew I needed space for that little thought bubble above them. I left a lot of negative space above them for that very reason, and you get this very pleasing gradient of color where the light falloff is taking place. Also important to note is that this light falloff area is very important (where the background goes dark), because I shot the girls on the same gray background in the dresses. If the background for the “thinking” shot and the “dress” shot had the same exact colored background, it would be really hard to make out any kind of separate to the two images, and the little thought bubble would pop out as much. I was going to shoot the girls “dress” shot on a white background, but their dresses were very light colored, and would be better photographed on a darker background. This is another improvised call I made on the spot, and another advantage of being the designer as well, composing my final graphic design on the fly in my head while shooting, and knowing what I can get away with.

Postcard Front

Postcard Back

I quickly photographed the girls and was done with that concept. I photographed two girls because it would help to breakup tedious marketing. For London Couture, we typically produce , at a minimum, a pile of both posters and postcards. I used one girl for poster ads, and I used the other for the postcard design. Same idea, just different visuals, which in hopes, gets people to stop twice to read the same information. But… I didn’t stop my shoot there. Often times when working on a design, I’ll want some random detail photos, providing me the same basic feel and style of photography as the main concept, but branches off a bit with a fresh perspective and produces great bonus material. Sometimes the additional shooting of the details is greatly needed, and can save my butt from making everything all like it was all creating from one “look.” For this particular shoot, I asked the girls to leave the dresses with me, and I photographed individual dresses (again, framing them with ample negative space, because I knew if I were to use these extra detail shots, it would be for mostly informational, text-heavy design pages, and wanted just a little spice on an otherwise plain background). In this case, for the back design of the postcard, I used a shot of a hanging dress. It was framed perfectly, I plopped it into a canvas, tossed on the text, and it was done, no additional work needed. Total time for the shoot was about an hour.

12 x 18 Poster Design

I mentioned on-location product shooting earlier in the post, and that is even a trickier animal to tackle with all the eye sores out there trying to creep into our composition. Of course there are many ways to approach and design around that, but I love it if I can manage to deliver photos for graphic design that can fill the whole design and not have to be boxed or otherwise drawn over to create space for text, etc. Sometimes it’s a compromise, framing a shot that is less photographically powerful, “taking one for the team,” in a sense, to produce an over all better marketing product in the end. Next week I will post up another London Couture design that I produced from a on-location shoot, and I composed it with pockets of negative space for just the right amount of text, so stay tuned!