Behind The Scenes Of A Shoot (a/k/a It Takes A Village)

by Matt on November 1, 2013

If there’s one topic on this blog that generates the most interest and comments (all of which I am thankful for!) it’s behind the scenes of photo shoots and my day job. Quite often I can’t really instafacetweetpin a darn thing from photoshoots for my clients because, well, it’s their shoot and we all do our best to wait for whatever it is we are shooting to hit the streets first. I actually have several cookbooks in the queue that won’t come out until 2014, and they are some titles I am super duper thrilled about, too! But this shoot? It’s all mine.

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In an effort to add some variety to my portfolio, I self-assigned a party scene at home. The story? Some friends get together for pizza, some wine, some treats, with lots of laughing and maybe some more wine, keeping it all very So-Cal in spirit. Assigning a story for yourself, producing it and paying for it isn’t easy, but as a photographer I find it imperative to keep working and trying new things. So let me take you through the process of a photoshoot!

The Producer

On some of my larger shoots I’ve learned to appreciate the role of a producer. They are the glue that holds the entire shoot together, acting as the keeper of the job. They bring art buyers, art directors, clients, prop stylists, make-up and wardrobe stylists, set designers, caterers, models and talent, photographers, photo assistants, studio folks, digital techs and vendors together, all the while managing the shoot’s location and shot list. An important position, don’t ya think? For this job I turned to my friend and wonderful producer Ellen Herbert of Neat Productions who helped me pull it off. She is a dream, an angel. Literally.

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After an initial casting notice, we narrowed our list down to around 30 to 40 models we’d see at my studio (a huge advantage of living in LA is that there’s SO! MUCH! TALENT!) Casting is a blast, as you get to see the models in person and see how you vibe with each other. Since I was shooting this at my house, it was important that we got along. And get along we did! Such great smiles and talent.
The Stylists

Now that I had my selection of models I wanted to work this, they also needed to be styled. Since I had a very specific idea of how I wanted people to look, Ellen put me in touch with stylist Elwira Miezal. There were emails, phone calls, pre-production sessions and lots of images sent over with ideas of how I wanted the models to look. Of course, when you work with professionals you give them space to do their jobs and perform their magic, and Elwira had everyone looking amazing from head to toe. Plus she’s gorgeous and stylish, which always helps :)  My driveway became the wardrobe closet as tons of beautiful fall items appeared. Oh how I wanted to go shopping so badly!

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And how to keep the models looking gorgeous and fresh as I MADE them eat pizza and drink wine? With make-up artist Aunny De La Rosa, of course! Can I just tell you how much I love this woman? LOVE.  LOVE.

As the models arrived and got dressed, we started with food beauty shots that would eventually become food props for the models. Of course when it came time for them to eat and drink we gave everyone fresh pizzas, and I managed to sneak in a few bites as well. But it was a race against time, as I only had 2 solid good hours of sunlight to get it all done.

So how about some photos?

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Our kitchen became the prep space for the food stylists. There’s really nothing happening in this photo, but I’m running it because a) Alexis looks gorgeous and b) I know it will irritate her to include it. SCORE!

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Adam, Food Stylist Extraordinaire, became the impromptu pizzaiolo.  But I must say that ever since we installed a wood-burning pizza oven in the backyard we really are practicing our pizza chops, ya know. And you already know how crazy I am about making pizzas, right? Also, Alexis you better not be Grindring in those photos.

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We kept the styling to a minimum. After all, backyard pizza party shouldn’t be overly fussy, right? Here I am contemplating the shot while trying not to fall over.

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My assistant Crystal checks out some shots while I try to peak over. Also, when I stand on apple boxes I’m almost as tall as a normal man.

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Speaking of tall, here I am on a ladder trying to get an overhead-ish table shot. I’m also apparently really confused about something. I have no idea what it was.

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Part of the story I created involved the hosts getting things ready for the partay. Bring on the beautiful people!

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I could have photographed her smile for another 8479273898 hours if I had the time.

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I just let them do their thang while I moved around photographing them.

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Adam made more pizzas…

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…while we review the images on the computer in the midst of very dramatic smoke

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The lovely stylist between scenes

 

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Oh Lord Jesus It’s A Fire!

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Time for another set-up, you can see some of the crew behind the models. For realism I wanted everyone to stay put, after all this was a party! Except for the big computer cart, which has no place at a party.

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Even while working 10 feet in the air I still have time to Instagram. I have priorities, damnit.

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Quick touch-ups before moving to the next shot.

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Speaking of Aunny, what a smile! ALSO:  Stretch-Tite has a way of sneaking itself into photos and you cannot blur it enough! UGH THAT YELLOW!

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More models in different areas, and please, avert your eyes from that bit of sneaky flesh I’m showing if you know what’s good for you and your ocular health.

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Another shot of food for a close up.

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Because I had the models, I also wanted to get quick portraits. I love working with professionals! And there’s that magic smile again!

 

Many thanks to the crew, and big giant hugs and kisses to Ellen! Please visit their links!

Ellen Herbert of Neat Production

Elwira Meizal, Stylist

Aunny De La Rosa, Make Up Stylist

Adam C. Pearson, Food Stylist

Leslie Armendariz of Pixies Petals for the gorgeous flowers

A special thanks to Niko Misafiris for the behind-the-scenes photography!