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!
I am a teen, tween, and high school senior portrait photographer in the SF east bay area.