Inspiration can strike whenever, and wherever, you least expect it! Come with me to a collaborative shoot in Brooklyn that was a bit snug but provided some fantastic results. I'll be sharing three tips on how you can best utilize a small space during your photo shoot.
When I attended the B&H Bild Expo, with my good friend and amazing photographer Tausha Dickinson, in September of 2023. At the expo, I had met a wardrobe stylist, Milla, that had worked on styling the models for one of the shooting bays. We connected and discussed working together the next time I was in New York.
Tausha and I were attending a workshop in Brooklyn the following month, so I reached out to Milla to see if she may have some availability for a quick collaboration. She did! We got the ball rolling and Milla began gathering the wardrobe and contacting the models. Fortunately, she also had a studio space that we could use.
When we arrived we had about 2 hours with the models, so Tausha and I had decided to divide and conquer. The space was small but we knew we would be able to create some really special images! Tausha started at the white sync wall at the back of the studio and I stayed toward the entrance way to give us both space and create some different vibes. I had about 8ft. to work with so I decided on using my 24 - 70mm to get some wide and close-up shots. My model, Lacrown, was an absolute pro and the wardrobe that Milla had put her in felt very urban, sexy, and sleek. The studio had a bunch of records adhered to one wall and I liked the texture and graphic quality to the shapes.
We traveled super light when it came to gear, so I used a single Godox AD300 Pro and a small beauty dish. This gave me some wiggle room with controlling the light and also to not interfe with what Tausha was doing further down in the space.
On the opposite side of Lacrown, where I had been standing, was a black wall with some black picture frames and a teal velvet couch. Towards the end of our time shooting together, we switched sides and changed up the vibe. The simple background allowed for Lacrown to be the focus and we changed up her wardrobe by simply removing the jacket.
When it was my turn to work with the second model, Këmë, I was immediately inspired by the vintage dress that Milla has styled her in. She looked regal, sophisticated, and glamorous! I decided to stick with the simplicity of the black wall and the picture frames to keep things feeling luxe.
During our time together, I used one of the lens filters that I have to add a bit of drama and to shake things up a bit. I love how the repeated pattern of Këmë and how it gave this tighter portrait some movement and flair.
TIP #1 - SURVEY YOUR SURROUNDINGS
If you have an opportunity do a little research of the space you'll be photographing in. If there aren't any photos online, swing by and check it out prior to your shoot, or ask your contact to send over some photos of the space to help you plan out your shoot.
TIP #2 - DON'T STRESS, EMBRACE THE SPACE
You gotta trust the process! You're talented, you know what you are doing, so cut yourself some slack! Sometimes you'll be put in an "it is what it is" location. While you might have a whole different idea in your head, sometimes you need to just utilize what you have. Can't fit multiple lights or a large modifier? Maybe consider bouncing off of a wall or the ceiling.
TIP #3 - GET CREATIVE
Try seeing things from a different angle! Perspectives change and you may find yourself being more inspired looking at your subject differently from your typical view. Try adding some more depth to your image by placing things in front of your subject or even your lens. Granted, if it's a corporate headshot that probably won't fly haha but if it's something fashion, editorial, or possibly music related, you may have a lot more wiggle room to get a little funky with your photos.
Just because the space itself was small, doesn't mean that we had to limit ourselves creatively. Challenging myself to create some dynamic images in a location I had never been to before, and on a bit of a tight timeline, pushed my thought process and was a great creative exercise. Would I have done some things differently? Sure! But a collaborative shoot like this one allowed me to just have fun and create without the pressure of it being an actual shoot for a client.