Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Two sides of ONE shoot - Elizabeth May

Oh about a month ago or so I was in LA and happened to get to shoot with the lovely Elizabeth May who is BRILLIANT. I might have freaked out for a few days afterwards but we had so much fun that I thought we should share our experience!

I've never shot with another photographer (only as an assistant and that's not really shooting) so it was really neat to see who it all happens on the other side.

Elizabeth was so kind to put together a post on HER side of this awesome shoot we did and share her photos. Today it's her take... Tomorrow, mine.

Bear with us, it's long but fun!


The Day:

As is the normal state of things in Southern California, any photo shoot requiring a trip from outside Los Angeles into Los Angeles (or even just within Los Angeles) is bound to be chaotic. Hell, meet Handbasket, thy name is LA.

The day I had originally scheduled to shoot with the lovely Vania ended in disaster. My wardrobe stylist’s dog fell ill and had to be taken to the vet, I was staying a half hour away in a hotel with my sister (a longer commute only exacerbates my lack of punctuality), and a gradual series of unfortunate events made the drive to Los Angeles impossible. I was quite distressed about it.

So, we rescheduled.

The next day, I was unusually punctual — mostly because my wardrobe stylist, Karen Deputy, picked me up at my hotel, so I was not required to drive anywhere. This was good, since I haven’t actually driven in the States in over a year, and had been getting over my habit of almost merging into the wrong lane. Karen and I stopped for coffee (my life’s blood) and headed to Los Angeles on schedule.

The problem with driving in and around Los Angeles is that, well, other people are driving in and around Los Angeles. It’s like a magnet. Or a black hole, if you will. Usually the best driving times are after the morning commute, which is when we scheduled our Vania Pick Up.

As a woman uninterested in sports of any kind, how the bloody hell was I supposed to know some Big Event was going on that day?

I can’t be bothered to remember which sporting event this was, but there were loads of people heading into the city, like a cattle herd of automobiles. So there my wardrobe stylist and I sat in inching traffic, hungry and immensely irritated with The World.

Finally, blissfully, Karen and I made it to the exit near where Vania was staying. The GPS wasn’t making any sense, as her robotic voice kept telling us to go in all these weird directions. Between the GPS (horrible hag that she is) and the Google Maps printout, we managed to find Vania’s place.

One hour late. (I’m sosososososorry!)

So Vania got in the car, and we hauled ass back out of the city, called up the models Andrea and Justen and told them to get ready. Vania had to be back in the city by 5:00PM, and our commute was not a short one with traffic.

Luckily, the traffic going out of the city was not so chaotic. We made it there with about one hour of time left before we had to go. We dressed Andrea and Justen, and drove to the location with about a half hour to spare.

There, the snapping was quick, as Andrea and Justen work exceedingly well together. Then we hauled it back to Los Angeles where, at the very least, we got Vania back on time.

And then on the drive home, I ate fast food. When I got back to my hotel room, I drank some ale and watched True Blood to recover. Being a photographer is hard work.

The Clothes:

Karen Deputy is so damn talented at what she does. Many people don’t realize that good wardrobe styling is not an easy job. It requires (especially in this case) the ability to throw together an interesting, beautiful style with time to spare. Karen and I had discussed possible looks to show Vania, and we had picked up some antique wedding dresses on Melrose that we hadn’t shot yet.

We put Andrea in one antique dress that didn’t really fit well on her. Vania liked the other one, so we had Andrea try it on and it fit her perfectly.

Boy clothes, on the other hand, are always a bit more difficult. Girls have plenty of things at their disposal: ribbons, lace, dresses, flowy bits. Especially in a less high fashion shoot, guys are always left with fewer options. We decided on something a bit a la Jack from Titanic. It fit with some story line of the lovely aristocratic girl falling in love with a not-so-suitable (yet sexy!) young boy.

The Shoot:

I try to approach taking photos in the most casual way possible. I always tell people I’m not particularly good at direction, and that’s because I prefer that photos come out looking as natural and unposed as possible. That’s especially important with couple photos, and where the goal is to tell a story.

If the poses and the expressions are natural, it brings out more of the emotions. And it makes the photos more realistic to the viewer. This is very important to me, as a photographer.

The Editing:

I take forever to edit; just ask my models. It’s not that editing the individual photos takes a long time (I do really minimal editing for most of my photos), but I have a certain editing style fit each shoot. I don’t use actions for this reason.

Also, I change my mind often. It’s a terrible habit. Before I get really into editing from a shoot, I often go through about 3 different versions of each photo before I decide on the treatment I like best.

For this one, it started off with quite a colorful background (you may notice one of these photos is not like the others!), which reminded me a bit of Victorian India. I kept that kind of style, and decided to mute the colors more with some blue filters and then added a tiny bit of a warm filter to give the photos a more antique look.


Here's her photos from the day!

She's quite brilliant isn't she?


  1. HolyEverything I love those photos!!! I may need a print or two!!

  2. WOW!
    I love those pictures!