I found this brief challenging because of the prospect of the images being used for a real application and therefore it was clear from the start that the output would have to be of a high standard artistically and technically if they were eventually to be used.
A number of criteria were defined by the client in the brief such as the format and size of the final images, the models to be used and the preferred style – retro Pin Up – nonetheless there was a great deal of freedom in how the final output should look. A major factor in my thinking was to ensure the focus was on the product i.e. the shoes and not just create pleasing images of the model as I felt this would be missing the point somewhat.
I did some research into images featuring shoes, legs and pin up artists this proved extremely useful in finalising the concept as well as being an excellent tool to convey to the model the sort of poses I was after. I had made a number of key decisions early on which I felt helped the process. The most important of these was that it be a studio shoot, the thinking behind this was that a) I wanted to shoot a variety of poses and styles including some lingerie shots and thought not every location would be suitable for this. b) by shooting high key against a white background the images could be used anywhere and c) by using the studio I was eliminating one variable factor in that shooting at an unknown location might bring unforeseen difficulties and I wanted to ensure the images would be successful as it seemed unlikely we would get a 2nd shot with the model if we failed at the first attempt.
Again with the focus on promoting the product I wanted to display as many examples as possible so wanted to include some sort of display and decided to use a bookcase that was dressed with the shoes and some vintage props such as flat irons and old cameras as a background. One safety issue to be solved was that the freestanding bookcase wasn’t stable enough and this was solved by adding a 56lb weight as a prop. From the image research many shots used a high chair or stool which allowed the model to comfortably pose her legs and shoes. I found a suitable chair in a junk shop and re-furbished it by repairing the loose joints and having it painted. I also purchased a tray of the sort used by cocktail waitresses as I thought that having the model “serve” the shoes was another way of displaying the product.
On the day the technical aspects, lighting set up and triggering worked well, further details and evaluation of the shoot in the shoot blog post here, artistically the outfits provided by the model Nikki and the excellent hair and makeup by Leah made for a promising shoot. Pleasingly a large number of very usable images were produced on the day, I was with pleased both with the technical quality of what was produced with a high ratio of “keepers” as well as the artistic composition of the images.
A significant part this was a as result of using an experienced model who was able to provide a range of poses on cue with little direction required. Additionally the pre-planning of props and poses to be captured in advance was a definite positive factor on the day as things moved along and the shoot felt controlled and professional.
For the final advert I made up a number of adverts from a range of poses but in the end I decided on an image that included the bookcase as being best suited to the brief. In the end the client chose an image from someone else for the main banner but has advised that they well yet use my final image as an alternative and definitely wish to use some of the images for various marketing purposes.
Overall I felt this was a very successful, and fun, project and there were a number key factors that contributed to this success;
- Having a clear concept of the shoot
- Communicating this to other participants
- Experienced Model and excellent MUA
- Striving from the outset for a high quality technical result
What could be improved?
There were some shots I had thought of but didn’t get and I forgot to get Nikki to sign the model release – having a check list would have prevented these oversights on the day. I would also have spent longer during the shoot working all the props with all the outfits as there a couple of combinations that with hindsight would have been good to capture. However in the overall scheme of things I feel these are relatively minor shortcomings.