London Couture Tag

When I hear the word "fairground," I think of roaring roller coasters with it's screaming riders, acres of game booths, the twinkle of the lights bordering every edge of every building surface, cotton candy, and of course... the craziness of a million people around you. So you could imagine the eeriness of driving onto the local fairgrounds in the off-season to see the exact opposite. For a second your mind wonders to those post-apocalyptic movies, where the land is barren, a location you know yet is unrecognizable, the occasional piece of stray trash rolling along the ground with a gust of wind.

It's the end of May, the weather forecast is looking amazing on this particular day. It's rolling the dice to schedule advanced outdoor photo shoots here in the PNW. And by "advanced" I mean 2-3 days out. Yes, that's still considered risky for outdoor shoots here in the Spring.

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.

I conduct many shoots for London Couture, a rising vintage couture fashion business in Tacoma. We hold some type of photo shoot once week on average, so... they keep me pretty busy. They sell many styles of clothing, each speaking to fashion-minded people in varying ways. As described by my client, the designer of the clothing line for this particular shoot was by definition dark, utilizing the spectrum of colors that can be summed-up as dull and muted. It definitely wasn't a happy and warm clothing line. To meet client's needs I will often start off by asking them, "so, what does this look like in your head, what do you see, what 'hits home' as far as an environment for these items you are selling?" All feedback I received for this shoot pointed to an industrial look. To the shadiest part of town we go!

Below is a video I shot and cut together for London Couture. They hold an event every Friday evening at their store in downtown Tacoma - Glam Power Happy Hour. They provide salon services, photos, champagne, food, and styling services. It's a pretty cool little event. The video is a little teaser to show the basic idea of the event and the environment of London Couture.

IMG_4309 I've been working with London Couture, a vintage fashion clothing business, for a few months now. So far it's been a great experience, and owner, Tina London, is largely responsible for the enjoyable experience. She's a lady who doesn't mess around, knows what she wants, and wants every aspect of her business done right. Our very similar work ethics makes us a good match for working professionals. I love her business for a number of reasons, but probably the most exciting is the fact that our opportunities in working together to create awesome imagery and marketing materials for London Couture are pretty much endless. The business has a lot of things going for it, and has a lot to offer as far as merchandise in the store. Over the last couple months I've been getting aquatinted with the business, and the style which they represent. It's a tricky thing, being in-charge of the creative design for a business, their visual marketing person, but only knowing a business for a short period of time. Much like a tiny snowball starting at the top of the hill (where I started with LC), and gaining size and speed on it's way down the hill, our relationship will grow and speed up giving us the ability to produce more and better work at time goes on. With a more intimate working knowledge of the business, my ideas for photo concepts are coming much more freely and often, not having to worry if the idea would be a good or bad fit for their style. It's that time of year to start pushing bridal marketing. All those brides looking to secure the biggest and best of everything to ensure their wedding is a great experience. LC has been attending bridal expos to help get the word out that they too provide bridal garb, but not just any kind of attire, really cool vintage dresses. A large part of Tina's time is invested in literally traveling around to fashion hot spots in the world and hand-picking all of the one-of-a-kind designer clothing you see in the store. No steps are skipped through the entire process, as stylists are at the store to help you navigate, select, and fit clothing to best work with your particular shape. It's definitely not an experience you get in many places, and it's a completely unexpected surprise in downtown Tacoma. New found customers are often delighted to come across the store, always saying they can't wait to get back into the store and shop more. Now that's a business I want to work for. In my mind, the hard part is done, Tina has established and invested into a great store and business, now all I have to do is make sure that the photography can keep up with level of professionalism Tina has set. I'm not having to make anything look better than it really is, fib here or there, cause London Couture doesn't need it.

postcard-4inx6in-h-front-01 My work is starting to ramp-up with London Couture, one of my large commercial clients. One of the first photo shoots we had was for marketing a fundraising event they are hosting, Strutt For A Mutt (yes, it's intentionally spelled wrong). The owner, a giant dog lover and overall kind person, is holding this event with 100% of proceeds going to the metro animal shelter. This is the second annual for this event, which I was not around for the first one. When the event was brought up in a meeting, we mentioned how ads and marketing were going to made. Prior to my being a part of the team, London Couture was left with scavenging the internet for passable images to use for their graphic design. With me around now, we can take idea from concept, to photo shoot, to graphic design without depending on any other resources. This is the real fun part for me. They showed me last year's logo, which like I said, had a random image off of the internet. The key part of the imagery, a fashionably savvy woman carrying a shopping bad with dog leading her on a leashed (all silhouetted). Bad habits had them going to the internet once again, looking for a "better" image to use for this year's design, and that is where I grabbed the wheel on the operation. "Why not just grab a model, some clothes out of the store, a couple of your dogs, and head down to my studio and do this right," were the words out of my mouth. Not only should we use our photographic resources for the big things, but everything, big or small. All of the suggested items were very easy to reach and doing the shoot ourselves would ensure it's done right, and most importantly, the image is OURS, and we can continue to use it or other work we produce marketing material.

matty_5.13.11_ 364 They are hectic, exciting, sexy, exhausting, exhilarating, and chaotic all at once. I'm talking about fashion shows. Sure, sitting out by the catwalk waiting for the show to start, everything seems normal, maybe even down-right boring, peeking to see when the models will start to strut their stuff. Well, the pre-show catwalk is the ying to the backstage's yang. Ironically, the backstage is where I wanted to be to capture the Fashion Night Out event that London Couture was hosting. It was the busyness, the prep, the inside look into what goes into a fashion show, but at the same time, snag some seemingly calm images of the models before they hit the runway. I spoke with the owner of London Couture, Tina London, a couple days before the event, and was able to snag the backstage access. I knew there was going to be a herd of photographers there to click away on the catwalk, but if you know me, you know I'm always out to get the shots and the look no one else is getting or thinking of.