It’s fair to say I’ve learned a lot about styled shoots in 2017.. I went from never having done one at all to putting on six in four months. Along the way I met some incredible vendors, made some great friends, gained a ton of instagram followers and booked some amazing couples who totally buy into my brand and aesthetic. I’ve also been able to continually hone my style, discover what I love, and what I want Rock & Stone to stand for.
I get so many questions from people asking about my process or how to go about putting on a shoot so I thought I’d give you a little behind the scenes into my last shoot of 2017.
How it started
A photographer I have long admired on instagram, Taylor Smith, reached out to me about collaborating on a shoot. I was like, um, let me think about that.. HELL YES!
Taylor was keen to do something at Mount Rainier and having just seen a snow shoot by one of my favorite photographers Beatrice De Guigne, I was all over the idea! We knew that the wintery feel would have huge Christmas relevance, so we settled on a date in early December and went from there..
The design concept
Step 1: Pinterest baby, always! It’s just the quickest, easiest way to pull together overall mood and colors and share with other collaborators to make sure you’re all on the same page. You can see where we started here.
Step 2: Refine! Whilst Pinterest is a brilliant starting point it can get real busy, real quick. I like to funnel it down into a more concise mood board, using either Canva or Keynote, before reaching out to other vendors. In all the holiday buzz and excitement it was tempting to go full on Christmas, but in order to give the shoot more longevity and stop it feeling too themey we settled on ‘winter’ rather than ‘holiday’ in the end. Inspired by my love of the Narnia books I wanted to use lots of fake furs, candles, dried flowers and decadent fruits to create a magical and moody feel. I was also obsessed with the idea of dragging my inflatable mattress out into the forest and swamping it with cuddly blankets! The mood board ended up looking like this.
Bringing together a crack team
It’s so easy to work with the same people again and again; you have a rapport, you become friends, they totally get where you’re coming from etc but since I’m still so new to the industry I really wanted to make a concerted effort to reach out to some new vendors, that I’d been quietly admiring from afar! If you’re new to this, that first email can be daunting (if like me you have a minor fear of rejection!!) but I have found people to be massively supportive of each other, and even if it’s a no, basically, if you don’t ask, you don’t get… so, feel the fear, and do it anyway! I immediately knew Cat of Westerwisp was the perfect person to bring my floral vision to life, her use of dried flowers and feathers gives her work such an organic and emotive edge. I was delighted when she said yes! Likewise, Natalie of Pink + Peach has long been an instacrush of mine, and I knew she was perfect for the stationery. Again, when she said yes, I did a little happy dance, as did Taylor!
Since the logistics of getting to Rainier in the snow were tricky, I decided to do away with rentals and just use whatever I could cram into my car. After six shoots, and more antique shop hunts than I care to remember, my inventory is pretty extensive!
The Perfect Couple
I always found choosing models to be the most challenging part.. Obviously you want the camera to love them, but more than that, you need them to love each other… and the camera! Real couples always work better than two models who don’t know each other… because, however professional they are, it’s really hard to fake the kind of intimacy and genuine warmth that makes the perfect shot. The thing is, real couples aren’t always comfortable in front of the camera, so finding a couple who can act like you’re not there while a photographer straddles them on a bed (yes, that did happen, more on that later!) is the golden ticket! I followed our couple on Instagram, and just loved the playful nature of their relationship, I knew they’d be perfect… only one problem, they live in Arizona! Fortunately they have friends in Seattle and were prepared to fly up here to take part in the shoot. Jackpot!
Taylor & decided to drive up to Mount Rainier a few weeks before the shoot to find the perfect spots. I've done this both ways. Sometimes, when a location is far away, it can be tempting to just turn up blind, but when you've done a location scout previously it definitely makes the day of the shoot feel more relaxing and enables you to provide better info about where to meet, what to bring etc
The day of the scout was stunning, gorgeous light and deep snow, we came back super excited for the shoot and ready to listen to holiday tunes!
Come back tomorrow to find out how the day went down and see the end result!