In case you were not aware, there is this phenomenon happening right now where professional photographers go to atypical shooting locations (sometimes deliberately "ugly" ones, for eg. the lighting department of a Lowes Home Improvement store, or the parking lot of a Target) and conduct a portrait session.
After many photographers sought them out, Michael's craft stores officially approved of the practice (see, "Yes, You Can Do That Portrait Challenge In Our Stores") and it became an even bigger thing than it had been previously. So I thought, why not?
Now about 99% of the shoots that I have seen at a Michaels involved the photographer heading straight to the florals department and hanging out there nearly the entire time. Their goal was to try to make the pictures look like they were not in a store with, what I consider, mixed degrees of success.
I decided to completely forgo that notation of deception and just admit it with the pictures: we're inside a store. But I was hoping to create a bit of the surreal. Hence the spacebuns, 70s running shorts, and general quirkiness.
Here are some fun behind the scenes so you can get a feel for what we were working with.
For my portraits I really like clean lines and unfussy backgrounds. Michael's stores are basically the opposite of that so the only way I could figure out how to get what I wanted was to put Kaitlyn up high...
Finally, we were practically ready to leave when we passed by the aisle with all those different vases I pulled out some fairy lights and we crawled under the floral display and rounded out our morning with this:
All told, it was definitely a fun way to spend a morning. The staff at the Michael's in Dublin were extremely gracious when I checked in at the start. And a shopper or two actually asked us if we were doing the Michael's Challenge.
If anyone reading this is interested in doing the challenge I have a few recommendations.
1. Definitely bring your own lighting or if not, make sure that you are shooting in RAW because the white balance of their lights is pretty funky.
2. Check out the store in advance. You'll notice color themes throughout that are helpful to work with.
3. Have your model wear makeup that is bolder than normal. I asked Kaitlyn to wear red lipstick because I knew that the weird lights were going to wash everything else out.
4. There is a lot of stuff to work with there. Think outside of the box!
Because she joined my brand representative team I've had the pleasure of photographing Adelle several times this past year. But this shoot was different because it was her actual senior portrait, designed and produced to showcase her unique style and personality. During the shoot we talked about college and I just found out that she was accepted to her top pick: Oregon State. Way to go Adelle!
To her session Adelle brought a pair of beautiful turquoise earrings. She also wanted to make sure to get some shots in her letterman's jacket to celebrate her tenure on the cheer squad.
Durring her session we talked about all of her exciting upcoming plans: a trip to Costa Rica, a resolution to dye her hair pink (which she did the very night of this photoshoot!) and the intent to get a tattoo when she turns 18 in March. The design she picked out is this beautiful flower and symbol that represents internal peace and tranquility.
Here are a few of my favorites of Adelle from prior shoots. We've had a blast this year finding all sorts of unique locations for shoots and chasing the sun! Thanks for joining my team this year, Adelle! It was wonderful to get to know you!
In her A.P. Econ class Arianna was supposed to craft a fictional life for herself using actual current job and real estate listings. Since she is considering a job in teaching (high school A.P. history, maybe?) she found a teaching job open with Redwood City Unified.
But with that salary, and the added obligation of finding a 2 bedroom house, the fictional Arianna bought a home in Tracy. To which I said, "Dang, now that is a terrible commute!"
Arianna is also taking African American Lit and a class called Lit & Social Justice where they are going to read my favorite book, 1984 by George Orwell (which, if you haven't read it, is both exceptionally timely and terrifying.)
She said that her favorite class and likely major is History because she enjoys how it helps explain how the world works.
We were interrupted during this photoshoot not once, but twice by random guys. The first time was in this cozy little alley next to a taqueria (which smelled like they were doing something *amazing* with chicken by the way)...
Shooting in downtown Livermore means that you can't entirely avoid onlookers. This bridge is an overpass and while we were shooting there (which we literally RAN to in order not to miss that last rays of the sunset) we had our second interruption. Some random guys driving under us shouted that they, um, would like to see more of Arianna... Never a dull moment!
Arianna played soccer for many years and is thinking about applying for a job with Kidz Love Soccer. So if your little one is signing up for it in the spring, you might be seeing her. And you'll also be seeing her back here for her Cap & Gown mini shoot. I can't wait to find out where you will be studying history next year Arianna!
Meet Sayler, Class of 2018. She looks fresh as the morning dew here, am I right? What would you say if I told you that it was actually *97 degrees* when we took this shot in full sun? I would say that Saylor is amazingly impervious to heat! Her mom and I were juggling water bottles and misters and doing everything we could to just function. Sayler, meanwhile, was totally fine.
If you get to know Sayler you'll find that she has a deceptively sweet sounding voice. Don't get me wrong, she actually *is* incredibly sweet and I loved every minute I spent with her! What I mean by deceptive is that she is, in fact, a decisive person and knows what she wants --which I love-- but not necessarily what you'd expect after just casually chatting with her for a few minutes. I actually think that this contrast is going to serve her really well in life. Kind of like that old adage that you can catch more flies with honey...She has this honey-voice, but is definitely a catcher.
Sayler's an athlete -- she plays soccer and lacrosse -- and she's got some battle scars to prove it. But when the possibility came up of whisking them away with photoshop she said, "Leave them in." Love it! And I'm not just saying that because it's less work for me; I'm saying that because I love that Sayler sees them as a part of herself, part of a memory, an experience, and not something to try to hide or erase. It's so incredibly powerful to take a part of you that others might perceive as a "flaw" and valuing it as something that makes you unique.
Sayler's in the midst of college applications right now: one down, several more to go. She's mostly applying to schools in Oregon and Colorado. When I asked about writing personal statements she mentioned that all the schools she's applying to this year have writing prompts on heavy topics. And I do mean heavy. But she does have experiences to draw on and it sounded like her writing samples are going to knock it out of the park.
Sayler, you did an amazing job at your senior portrait session. I can't wait to catch up with you in the spring for your Cap & Gown shoot and find out where you will be next year!
Unexpected things happen at photoshoots All The Time. In fact, there are very few occasions where we've wrapped it up and I've thought to myself "well that went entirely according to plan." But honestly, the unplanned moments often lead to some really fun pictures. None of these shots ended up in a client gallery, but I love each one of them for the honesty of the moment. Let's get crazy...
The old adage doesn't just apply to real estate. I'm constantly location scouting and the creamy colors and clean lines of this parking garage didn't disappoint. I love how Lilly's romantic look, killer shoes, and the dramatic clouds all came together for us on Sunday in downtown Livermore. There's also a "behind the scenes" shot of getting ready, just for fun.
I am a high school senior portrait photographer in the SF east bay area.