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film photography

Behind The Scenes: DBL Designs

I have known Krista for a short while and when she got in touch to do a photo shoot for her upcoming website redesign, I was very excited to work with her and her team.

Krista owns and manages DBL Designs out of Lumsden, the scenic valley-town nestled just a stone’s throw away from Saskatchewan’s capitol, Regina. DBL’s philosophy is simple. Dream it, believe it, live it. And that, she does, by creating unique hand-made jewelry whose beauty is matched by its simplicity.

Fashion accessories made by hand at DBL Designs.

Fashion accessories made by hand at DBL Designs.

Before we met to discuss the creative aspect of the shoot, I had an image in my mind to draw on the simplicity and rustic nature of the product and to go in-line with the existing branding DBL already had in-place. Once we met for the consultation, I knew we were both on the same page and we settled on the creative vision for the shoot.

The vision I had for the shoot is something that would embody everything that DBL currently had in-place branding-wise, and bring that together with the changing of summer to autumn, then throw my own creative filter on it to come up with something truly stunning. A big piece of conveying the DBL message was the location. We easily decided on setting up in the Lumsden valley due to its unrelenting beauty, all-year round, and with the current state of changing leaves and the warm tones of autumn, it was no question that we nailed it.

Loading gear and getting familiar with the locations for the shoot. 

Loading gear and getting familiar with the locations for the shoot. 

In the weeks leading up to the shoot, Krista provided me with a steady stream of inspiration and creative ideas that she happened to find. Most clients are worried of being annoying, or disruptive by sending repeated emails with screenshots, thumbnails, or photos. As a photographer, I find these to be extremely beneficial. It’s difficult to see how something so beneficial could be a nuisance.

Before long, it was the day of the shoot and we couldn’t have selected a finer day. For anyone that knows Saskatchewan will tell you that 27 degrees C in October doesn’t come by all too often. We were grateful and couldn’t wait to get started as we arrived at the lovely valley town at 4 pm, just as the sun started its arcing descent to retire behind the horizon.

We met Krista and made introductions to the client-supplied talent as I walked everyone through the various shooting locations that I had planned for the afternoon. I wanted to give Kendal and Kennedy a bit of a breakdown of the creative vision I had in mind and how the shoot was going to go for the next couple hours, while verifying with Krista that we were all on the same page.

We ended up having 3 distinct shooting locations that were conveniently located beside each other. We started amongst the bare autumn trees, the ground littered with fallen leaves, with the sun pouring in from the south-west. I wanted to stage something dynamic as opposed to just simply having the models strike a pose. I instructed the talent to walk a series of paths to help provide a slight narrative as to why they were there, as opposed to just simply striking a pose in the trees.

There were a few snags, as with any photo shoot, but we came up with some great shots. 

There were a few snags, as with any photo shoot, but we came up with some great shots. 

A few wardrobe snags (literally) and a few laughs later, we captured a variety of different looks in slightly varying settings, and many different positions. This is where having two photographers and two models really came to be valuable. By having two a different angles, as well as two different focal lengths, simultaneously, we were able to get twice as much variety in our shots.

After 45 minutes, it was time for the next location as the sun was about halfway down and looking like it could be ready to set at any moment. For the next few shots, I wanted to convey more excitement and emotion than the first location so we moved into the tall, dried grass in the nearby clearing. To describe my vision a bit more clearly, I wanted to give the sense of joy and carefree attitude of enjoying the outdoors before it’s gone until next summer.

I lined a path in the tall grass for the girls to follow while “ridiculously frolicking”. I instructed them on the guideline that over-the-top, pandemonium is what I was looking for. I even stepped-in to show them how it was done, garnering laughs from the rest of the crew. Now with the plan set, we set up the shots and called action. Dainty frolicking ensued and produced the images I wanted exactly. We then experimented with a few different paths and angles like setting up on ground level, producing silky foreground blur and light leaking through the frame in abundance.

I am really satisfied with how the images from this set turned out. They capture the essence of squeezing out every last bit of summer and enjoying it while it lasts. Not only did we land some great images, but we had a lot of fun making it happen.

Last up was editorial shot for Krista. What is a website without a fantastic About Me section featuring a smashing portrait? By now, we were two hours in and running out of sun. We moved quickly and opted for the cozy area between the trees, backlit by the setting sun to get some nice portraits of the woman behind DBL Designs.

Canon 70D + Sigma 35mm f/1.4, Yuongnuo Speedlight + Controller with High Speed Sync

Canon 70D + Sigma 35mm f/1.4, Yuongnuo Speedlight + Controller with High Speed Sync

Since the sun was very bright behind the subject, we made use of the 48” octobox on a boom to balance the light and create something stunning. I added a CTO gel to the flash to balance the warmth of the sun and dialed-in the settings.  Krista was a bit camera-shy but was really great to work with in close-quarters. It didn’t take long before I got the shots I wanted and we were all done.

As I finished packing up the gear from the shoot, Tashia got some one-on-one time with Krista for some alternative creative shots that would be helpful with accenting some of the elements of the website redesign. Once again, having two photographers was proving to be very valuable by imparting another set of eyes and bringing more variety into the fold of photos to be proofed by the client. Most second shooters are strictly for wedding photography. Now, for my creative shoots, I plan to have two photographers every time.

At the end of the day, I feel really great about the product of the shoot and the experience altogether. We came up with some truly stunning imagery but also managed to define our process into a well-managed flow. It was also great working with two aspiring models who were incredibly easy to direct, resulting in better images. This was the first creative shoot I have completed that I feel like all aspects were covered flawlessly; from conception to execution, I feel like I was able to get the client exactly what she was looking for.

Shoots like these are my favorite thing to do, client-wise. As a photographer, I love working with clients that have a creative vision and want me to help bring it to life. I want to make sure everyone I do business with is happy but I also want to be happy as well, knowing that I did my best possible work for them, too.

As I grow as an artist, as well as an entrepreneur, there is a lot that can be said about how you conduct your work. I try my best to stay vocal and open about the project and the desired vision. My golden rule is to be completely forthright with expectations. Whether it is consulting the creative conception all the way through to final image delivery timelines, expectations can make or break client satisfaction. When everyone is on the same page, there is little left to chance or surprise, and makes for a much happier client. There is much less pressure which allows me and my team to execute and focus on the important details and come up with something truly amazing.

Supplemental photography by Tashia Walters



Dustin VeitchComment