Shooting fashion catalogue images for Tunnelvision.
Tunnelvision, an online vintage clothing store, had me in to photograph their new line of stock this month.
My wife Kelsey is involved in realizing Tunnelvision with her stylish friends, buying up the very best in vintage stock around California and beyond, and trading it through their online store. Its a pretty smart hustle as far as I can tell and the girls are very much on point with current appetites for "grunge, hippie and general weirdo" outfitting (their words, not mine).
With me on standby for Uncle Sam's permission to work, I kept my creative hands busy by offering to shoot their latest pile of product. And boy, was it a pile. We shot something like 100 items in various looks in a whole day, using a small garage space in a Hollywood home. Working with four models on rotation, thats some pretty intense shooting.
The models got the hair and makeup treatment first whilst I rigged a simple studio: a pair of soft-boxed flash heads either side of subject and a third light on the white backdrop. The two lights either side are at a close, even distance and pretty much balanced in power. Its about as simple as studio lighting gets and not very creative, but hey we're shooting catalogue flats here so it has to be all about the clothes and singing those colors. Tunnelvision is very colorful stuff.
Three stylists were on hand to dress the girls, matching various footwear and accessories to compliment specific pieces. They're all very good at this and things move along like a production line. Model comes in, does a rotation for three frames before giving it some sass and personality for a couple of frames. Out they go and on to the next look. This is photography for battery hens.
The above images are the finished product: minor editing in Photoshop to bring up the clarity, jump the colors and a little sharpening before taking out the background to a clean white. This last step is essential: you'll see from the images below how a background of white can shift in temperature and brightness throughout the shoot. Light intensity can vary as much as half a stop from one frame to another, with no adjustment to light power or exposure, so this must be accounted for in the edit. Also, the white floor gets very dirty, very quickly from all that modeling, and so obviously those marks have to go before publishing online.
The trick to this type of shoot is not so much in the photography, which is merely a matter of button pressing once ready to go, but in working efficiently with people. The stylists need to know we're getting the right look, the models need feedback on their poses, folks in hair and makeup want their work to shine, and of course the client/producer/boss has one eye on the sheer volume of work to knock out and the other on the clock. In each instance there is a relationship for me as photographer to manage and to embellish. Everyone has their role to play, their own pressures to face, and I don't mind taking on the responsibility of holding it all together. In this situation, a quiet photographer is surely an untrustworthy one; I think its important to speak up to let people know that things are going well, that we're all "working it", and critically to make adjustments if something isn't quite right. This way hopefully the last frame will look as decent as the first one when shooting 1,600 in a day. Now thats a lot of pictures!