I recently had the pleasure of working with a model for the second time. Cherry Von Sweets first shot with us in August of 2015. It was during one of our super specials we run where it’s all traditional studio style pinup shot on paper backdrops of various colors with props from our collection. The shorthand for this sort of shoot is “seamless” because the paper has no seams. The lighting is what is known as high key. Or in everyday terms fully lit. Big soft boxes for the lights and even lighting all around. Classic. This sort of style of shoot means virtually anyone can walk onto the shooting area and nothing from the first photo to the last will need to be adjusted lighting-wise. It means if we shoot a few people in a timeframe an economy of scale allows those shoot prices to be greatly reduced compared to other styles of lighting. These shoots have been wildly popular for a number of reasons like pricing which means people who always wanted to try it aren’t risking nearly as much as if they booked a private session. It’s not so stressful. With basic props and keeping it simple clients don’t have to wonder if they are “doing it right” (something we hear a lot). It’s easy for ladies to find something appropriate from our ever expanding wardrobe collection. It’s also a great way for them to see how they feel working with us. With as many return clients as we have we like to think we are doing something right. These basic shoots are also supported again and again by those return clients. Why? Well because it’s the best way to add fresh images to your portfolio for a fraction of what a private or themed shoot can cost. These are so popular that right now in our studio there are 5 rolls of different colors permanently mounted on the wall ready to be pulled out for these or any session where they are the foundation of the look. Cherry’s first shoot with us was one of these sessions. She traveled 2 hours to do it too.
During this special Cherry ended up with four different wardrobe changes and as you can see above she had unique backdrops and props with each. This shoot was one where over the course of 2 days we shot 21 clients. Cherry was early on the first day but if you take a look at this entry talking about the session of our 20th client we’re sure you’ll agree that person’s photos have no less attention to detail or quality than these here. If you read that model’s story you can also see her experience was exceptional to her. We do budget shoots like this to give people a chance they might not get otherwise. Yes we have bills to pay but this art for us isn’t just about the money. Uplifting people is why we can justify what ends up being low wages compared to most professions. These group shoots let us share it with more people than would be cost-effective to do otherwise.
Now this isn’t the only sort of shoots we do. We also shoot on location where we have some amazing backdrop that’s perfect for the sort of imagery our clients love most. We also do private sessions where we spend the better part of a whole day with just one model. With these we will plan the shoot weeks and sometimes months in advance. Cherry saw some sample images from a shoot we offered where we recreated some classic pinup paintings. She reached out to us about doing a specific one and she booked a weekday session.
This is what Cherry wanted to recreate. Balloons are easy enough. We have chairs even though not exactly as in this painting by Elvgren but the helium tank, those are not a standard studio prop. We’d have to rent one. I made some calls and got some prices. When I went to pick up the tank I mentioned why I needed them and noted I didn’t need all the gas for the limited balloons we needed to fill and the rep offered to rent me a large empty tank and another smaller one for my actual gas needs. Awesome, that saved $25 I could deduct from the shoot total.
The shoot day came and we all arrived at the studio. As Cherry and Nicole of Making Faces Professional began the styling I went to work blowing up the balloons that Cherry hand picked and brought. She and I got some ribbon and the ceiling of the studio soon looked like a birthday party would erupt at any moment. As I studied the original painting I was happy the tanks I got were gray. But noticed the yellow stripes. I then recalled that among the rolls of ribbon I had on hand there was some yellow/gold. I snipped off some pieces and taped them to the tank and thought “score”.
When Cherry was ready we got her into general position. We then began positioning the gallons and ribbons to follow the painting as closely as possible. A red ballon was caught under her heel so we got that one into position. She was holding a red one too. We tried for a color mix with the others that got us into the ballpark of how they were in the painting. After we were set I began some test shots. Each time comparing it to the original. Then something struck me that bothered me. As I looked at the “scene” with Cherry I noticed the balloons were doing what helium balloons will tend to do… they were all bunched up trying to go straight up. Often with classic pinup paintings the artists will exaggerate things or make them look a certain way to be more appealing than what happens naturally. If you look at the example above you’ll now see how those balloons fan out. It isn’t like they are windblown either because they aren’t all “leaning” in the same direction. It makes for a great “balance” in the image but that particular arrangement wouldn’t happen naturally all too often (if ever).
It really bugged me.
I also knew I would not be able to do this well enough in photoshop to be satisfied. So… some time tested studio accessories came out of the drawer. Fishing line and painters tape. I can’t tell you how many times these two items saved the day. They, gaffers tape and clamps are like duct tape to any handy person.It may be hard to see the line here but you can see the tape still visible on this balloon. They’d be retouched away in editing.
Here’s another view where you can actually see the lines off the edge and over the one red ballon. There were so many that at one point I went around Cherry and ran into a few of them even though I thought I ducked low enough.
So now that the balloon issue was addressed it was time to shoot.
Below is the final image with the original inset. I did treat this with a painterly quality to the balloons and backdrop to give it the same feel. For this my own watermark is modified to mimic the original. You can click on this for a large sample.
Of course we didn’t just do that one pose. Cherry has a great smile so I actually like this shot even better:
The recreation wasn’t the only thing planned for her private session. We also did some shots with our 10,000 silk rose petals ala American Beauty. This crop is my favorite from those images. I put it on the FB page as our banner for a time actually.
While Cherry was here she walked by the giant Bunny Basket we just finished for some upcoming Easter themed sessions. She couldn’t resist and asked if she could add that while she was here. Of course! And for a fraction (nearly half) what we are offering that shoot alone for she got her hair redone and in short order we were shooting!
When we finished I ventured to my editing area to begin downloading all the files. Cherry was instantly handed a duplicate SD card with every single image, I shoot to two simultaneously in my camera. My clients get all the files. Every one. Her session included a dozen edits and normally the model checks out her files and in a few days will send me a list of requests.
While I didn’t have these cute little envelopes when Cherry was here, these are what every client gets when a shoot finishes. It’s nice to have something tangible to go home with when you just splurged on a luxury.
After Cherry got back into her street clothes she asked me if we could review the images and make her edit selections while she was still here. Since I blocked off the whole day for her I said of course.
We sat down and went through her photos, marking those that jumped out at us. We narrowed it down and she was on her way. Her session was on February 10th. She got here at about 8 a.m., we made those selections by noon and less than 24 hours later I was uploading the bulk of the edits for her and sending her a gallery link (private, password protected).
Cherry had such a good experience that the same day I gave her the link to her files she booked another private session.
So, join us and a whole bunch of other great women for one of our budget sessions or block off some me time and let your imagination run wild where it is just you and us, you can even get the edits while you wait. You choose. Message us on FB with questions or to schedule your session.