This shoot wasn’t our first editorial, and it wasn’t the first time we attempted to cover six looks with a consistent theme. But I do feel like it was the first time we came close to creating the kind of thing I wanted to be creating (maybe second, see the shoot we’d done a couple weeks before here). Of course, it’s taken me another year to really define what that “thing” is, and even now I’m still not sure I actually have it down. But given how long it’s taking me to get things blogged, now seems like a great opportunity to look back on this cold and rainy day one year ago and see what I did right, and I did wrong.
The first thing I’m still extremely happy with is the styling. I had lots of help with this shoot, but I had such a strong concept in mind that I was able to articulate as much of an exact idea as I could of what I wanted, while giving everyone leeway to add their expertise. That balance of good direction and openness to ideas is something I still work very hard to achieve.
For wardrobe I had help from Lloyd Schramm who worked off my guidelines of color palette and 70s references, as well as adding a few clever twists like a vintage pocketbook that looked like a bowling bag, and glittery oxfords. Liz Washer did some incredible work with blue eyeshadow, and Holly Daigle kept Ruby’s hair looking long and natural in a few variations. I’d cast model Ruby because, with her crazy-long straight hair and gap tooth, she looks like she’d walked right out of a time machine (very appropriate given that the location I wanted to use does too).
I also think I did a pretty decent job using available light (there are no ugly shadows or poor exposures), and creating a little world inside what was actually a pretty busy location. In retrospect though, I have a few gripes, and I’m hesitant to share these because they’re likely not the first things people see. I should probably just keep it all to myself and only a few snobby people in the industry would make fun to themselves and I would never know. But for those of you hoping to avoid making the same mistakes I did, I’m hoping talking about the shoot’s shortcomings will be helpful.
My first issue has to do with how some of the wardrobe fit Ruby. The shoot had been cancelled and rescheduled, and though I can’t completely recall, I may have recast in between. In any case, we weren’t sure who the model would be at the time Lloyd had pulled the bulk of wardrobe. And it’s very obvious to me that these first two pairs of pants are way too big, despite all the clips we used that you can’t see. It actually caused me to give up shooting the second look in the seated location, which I think left me a little confused about where best to capture the outfit.
My second gripe has to do with how I was initially shooting the looks. This was actually Ruby’s first shoot, and she did extremely well pulling off a whole editorial (usually I would have just done some simple portraits for someone’s first time, but this kind of just all fell into place). I don’t think I recognized this as an issue at first, and though I was providing direction, it just wasn’t the same as shooting with an experienced model who has go-to poses, expressions, and ways of moving. I started to realize that around the following photo (I’m putting them in chronological order of when they were shot), and you can see that they improve in visual interest as both Ruby and I warm up to each other.
I love this next shot, but I made a very common mistake- I used too many different locations for this one look. Part of that is related to feeling confined by the pants, part was because I was experimenting, but when I present an editorial I prefer that each look correlates to one particular spot, thus creating more of a story than just a model hanging out in different places and changing clothes a lot. I came back to this window spot later, which meant I couldn’t really use this shot in the final edited collection. It’s not a huge deal, especially because of the way her pants are unappealingly bagging in the crotch, but I should have just redone this shot altogether in the correct wardrobe change, and I didn’t remember to.
This is about when I feel like we all started to get into the shoot. I had far fewer throwaway shots, and I started to get a better handle on how to best use the location. That would be gripe three- I didn’t give myself enough time to warm up. I was feeling a lot stressed and I was worried about running out of time early on, so I rushed through the first look, giving up before I figured out how to best use the locker area. I still have this problem on occasion, I’ve been known to re-shoot look one whenever it’s feasible. It’s also a problem I’m more likely to have if I’m shooting by myself, which was the case here. When TJ and I shoot together we can bounce ideas off each other so getting acclimated to a location and all that goes more smoothly. Not to mention that if TJ were there, I’m sure he would have had a different perspective on shots, which would have no doubt resulted in a more dynamic collection. This is why I actually won’t shoot a full editorial without him anymore, it’s just not worth it.
I really did love this jumpsuit (still do) and it shows. I tend to shoot better when I like the wardrobe a lot, and in this case the denim (which fit Ruby perfectly), hair scarf (my grandmother’s btw) and iridescent shoes made me try harder. Even when we’ve fully outgrown this set I will likely still keep a few of these in our book.
The shot above is a keeper. The one below isn’t, I don’t even know why I originally bothered to edit it, aside from it showing off the bowling lanes really well. Ruby looks bored and boxy, not things I want associated with the Silvers & Bynes brand.
This was the fifth look we shot, and its strong point is really just the top that she’s wearing (plus the necklace and earrings, which I’d borrowed from my mom). I had a compulsion at the time to capture everything, but if I was shooting this now I would have at most included the belt (which is super cool), or had her sit to hide that ugly exposed fly.
Things were going mostly well until this point, but these window shots bug me. They’re boring shots that could have been taken anywhere. Admittedly I was having a lot of trouble with light in this area, but I should have used that awesome cream-vinyl couch again and I didn’t, thinking I’d already used it when I wouldn’t be able to use the photo I’d used it in anyway. You’ll probably need to read that last line twice, but I can’t think of how else to put it.
There’s that cream vinyl couch/chair thing. It’s physically painful to me knowing that I didn’t have her sit in it again. This full body shot is rather pointless, I’m not at all sure what I was trying to show off here since I am especially irritated by bootcut pants that bunch up on the sides. Maybe if they’d been giant flares it would have been worth seeing the bottoms.
This next photo is my favorite shot of the day. I love the hair here, but the issue is that we only have the hair like this in 1/6 looks, while the hair scarf stayed in for 3/6 and the relaxed, slightly wavy ends lasted for 2/6. That’s on me, not Holly, I should have been counting looks before we did a change up. I abhor inconsistency, but I do adore this photo.
This next shot just didn’t work, even though it was a fun idea.
All in all, I still love this shoot, and edited down to a smaller collection than what’s presented here, I’m still proud to include it in my portfolio. But I do think it’s important to look back and critique past work, not to murder it, per se, but to see what was done right and what could have been done better, especially when it comes to managing big sets like this one. Hind sight is always 20/20 though; I could complain about other aspects, such as the soft focus and the fact that I didn’t bring a light in, but all that would undermine the very essence of what this shoot was. Sometimes it’s best to just let something be- this shoot is what it is, and even with all its flaws, it’s still something pretty special.
- Date: Sunday, May 1st, 2016
- Location: Colonial Bowling Center, Worcester, MA
- Photography: Kayt Silvers
- Model: Ruby @ Maggie Inc.
- Hair: Holly Daigle
- Makeup: Liz Washer @ Ennis Inc.
- Wardrobe Styling: Lloyd Schramm