Styling a lifestyle photo shoot
I love a blank canvas, in my case usually a room/rooms, though I have been known to paint a canvas or two. Much like creating a work of art, lifestyle staging whether for Real Estate or to promote a product is all about layering elements.
The images myself and Vanessa Lentz of www.farmgateimaging produce for Halifax retailer www.wickeremporium.ca are done in a photo studio at Wicker Emporium’s head office in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Not quite a room ( we usually work with 2 walls) the other half of the studio is used for web product photo shoots. This half is painted in white and resembles a skateboard ramp with one wall curved on the bottom to eliminate shadows in the finished web image. Every Wicker Emporium item from napkin rings to armoires is photographed here so it is a busy spot.
As soon as Vanessa and myself finish a lifestyle shoot we are busy planning the next one. Each shoot takes a week or more to plan. First step is to collaborate with Wicker’s Marketing Director to get an idea of what products to promote. Next I make a list of items I will need for the shoot. This involves checking the website , visiting the stores and sending the list to the inventory department. If available the large items of furniture are reserved in inventory for the shoot and placed outside the photo room for me before shoot day.
Lifestyle shoots are all about creating a mood so lighting comes into consideration. Vanessa and I discuss the setup (is this a morning/ afternoon/ evening vignette) We have a moveable wall on wheels (wouldn’t we all love one of those! ) which has a window with frosted glass. There are more than a few challenges to overcome when shooting. The photo studio has large windows that look out on a parking lot, a drop ceiling, a large double door and 1 smaller one that lead to the warehouse and a staircase, which we can use in the shoot if we reposition the wall.
I arrive the day before the shoot or the morning of to unpack and position the furniture, steam linens if needed, select and pick up accessories from one of the stores, shop for any food, flowers etc. for props and unload and unpack any additional items needed for props from my own inventory. I start with positioning the larger pieces of furniture (I may also get a sneak peek of any new items just arrived in the warehouse, it’s like Christmas!) Once I have this part right I can start to layer. Rugs, drapes, artwork, accessories. It’s a process that takes a lot of tweaking before I am happy with the finished result. It usually takes 4-5 hours to set up a small shoot. More elaborate shoots like the Holiday ones may take up to 2 days to complete.
This particular shoot was a “bathroom” setting. Not being done in an actual bathroom we had to get really creative to give the look of a country bathroom without a tub, sink or even running water. To make it even more challenging for Vanessa I used a large mirror. Mirrors are so tricky in photo shoots. The reflection of a drop ceiling and warehouse doors does not a pretty image make, so I positioned the moveable wall to reflect the window, quite effective in the finished image! There is a lot of tweaking during the actual shoot too, just off camera one part of the setup can be ripped apart as we reposition everything to get a good variety of images. There can be dozens of images shot but only a few are used (the cream of the crop) Even slight adjustments can make a world of difference to the final result so Vanessa and I constantly review her shots on camera and make changes as we go along to get the perfect end result.
After the shoot, it’s time for Vanessa to work her magic in the editing department. It’s always a thrill to see the final images after Farm Gate Imaging has done the technical stuff (she’s a genius) and it always amazes me how her vision and expertise can change what I might think was an ok shot into something spectacular.
Here are some images from the shoot. Prepped, re prepped, tweaked, edited and finally with text added by a designer. A lengthy process but so satisfying to see the finished result after everyone has done their part. These images are used for website, Face Book, Twitter, print and in store advertising.
Final Face Book banner image
We try to make every shoot different and fresh and we are so proud to be associated with Wicker Emporium, a fabulous local Halifax company that is expanding in big ways in Canada.
Final Web image
Last weeks shoot was a kitchen setting and I have to say Vanessa outdid herself. Keep checking the Wicker Emporium website, Face Book page and Twitter account to see new images of our work and Wicker Emporium’s beautiful products.
In a few weeks it’s time to start on the Fall lifestyle shoots, I hope the weather cools down before I set a Thanksgiving table.
Enjoy your Summer 🙂