Again, an overdue post!
Last month I did a catalog shoot for Jill Stuart in New York City, specifically for the Jill Jill Stuart dress line. The photos will be used for online catalogs as well as the look book that the sales team shows to buyers that come into purchase dresses for distribution. The shoot took place at Jill Stuart’s corporate offices in NYC and lasted about half a day.
The Setup: Since I was coming from out of town, I had to travel light and since this shoot was indoors in a controlled-lighting environment, speedlights and shoot-through umbrellas (to modify the light) were the most compact and travel-friendly way to go. Throw in a paper backdrop and we were ready! Speedlights are not a one-size fits all solution but given the nature of the shoot and the travel, it was a simple and effective setup.
To trigger the flashes from a distance, I used my trusted Cowboy Studio wireless triggers. Considering you get a pair of transceivers and one transmitter for $28 on Amazon, they’re a steal! Also, for the price they’re shockingly reliable and reportedly have a range of up to 100 feet—to-date I haven’t had a problem with them.
Post-Production: Basic corrections were made for exposure, color temperature, and restoring detail in lighter dresses. However, one major edit in each of these photos was the expansion of the gray backdrop to fill in the dimensions of the photo. This is a very cool trick that I picked up from Scott Kelby at Photoshop World 2012, and I highly advise this approach when you don’t have the space for a huge backdrop. We used was the Savage Widetone Slate Gray 53″ x 12 yards backdrop which is only $26 at B&H. This is a very affordable and easy to transport paper roll, but 53 inches is not nearly wide enough to fill in the camera frame when taking full length shots of a (tall) model. Solution: Use content-aware scale in Photoshop! To do this, simply use the marquee tool in Photoshop to select only the gray background (and as much of it as you can) on either side of the model, turn on content-aware scale, and stretch out the background until you’ve reached the end of the image canvas. Then do the same thing for the other side of the image and voila (!), you now have a 9 foot wide instead of a 5 foot wide backdrop.
Our model that day was Jennifer Daniel, who was exceptionally graceful in front of the camera (and not to mention patient with the dozens of wardrobe changes she had to cram in).
Here are the final products of two of the dresses:
I want to thank my friend Harriet Jung, a talented Assistant Designer at Jill Stuart, for making this connection and taking care of so many of the details. Along with her, I also want to thank Lana Rybak, Director of Sales, and the other folks involved with this shoot (including Jill Stuart interns Andrea and Ga) for making this happen, coordinating the wardrobe and looks, and making sure the shoot ran smoothly!