I come from a Corporate America background in bank operations. I wrote policies and procedures for two of them if that gives you any indication of how I like to follow a plan. I have a system of doing things and I like to have a well thought out plan when it comes to a lot of business stuff. It’s how I’ve been trained. However, I believe God has a sense of humor and likes to throw curve balls at us quite often. Maybe that’s not your experience, but it has been mine.
So, it started out as any typical High School Senior shoot with the exception that Chloéwas a new Class of 2014 Model Rep who just so happens to be one of my photography students and one of my photography assistants. I knew this would be a fun shoot because Chloé is creative and a little off kilter (in a good way) like me. We both dream big, which is why we click so well…
We’ve been trying to get together for weeks but because this shoot was going to be filmed for my advertising campaign, I wanted my fashion stylist Josie involved in this shoot from start to finish. All three of us have crazy schedules, but we finally found an opening for us all to meet. So last Wednesday, May 29th, we finally had Chloé’s Senior Portrait Consultation. Josie and I met out in front of their home and walked into what we thought would be a typical consult. After Chloé, Mom, Josie and I chatted a bit, it was time to get down to nuts and bolts. There are contracts for the session, a contract for Model Reps, etc. to be signed and we were working through the formalities so we could move on to the fun stuff. Well, it got to the place on the contract where it asks to list the date of the session and Mom asked what she should put down. “Well, let’s look at our calendars and nail a date down,” I said. Lo and behold, we again had very crazy schedules, including the Neal family going on an extended missions trip, meaning we wouldn’t be able to shoot until JULY!? “That won’t work,” I thought to myself. “I need to get the promos out there for the summer!” and Chloé IS my main model for that. We looked and tried for 30 minutes to find a date and it turned out there was only ONE…yes, ONE date that worked for all of us, the Monday coming up, June 3rd. I think I turned white right there in front of everyone, and they might have even seen the brief moment of horror on my face. I don’t reveal my cards for long though, so I switched to T.J. mode and started texting possible photography assistants and makeup artists right there in front of my client, something I NEVER do as my attention should always be on my client.
I knew Chloé’s shoot was going to be a big undertaking since we’re both creative and…well…wacko. I knew I needed a big team for this. So here’s what I had to do to figure out if this was even possible:
Schedule two photography assistants
Schedule my favorite make-up artist
Schedule Josie my fashion stylist (she was present and we knew she could make it)
Find locations to shoot Chloé
Find a large space for the studio shots. I had an idea brewing and kinda knew I wanted to do with Chloé in studio
I knew I wanted lights in the studio shot, I knew I didn’t have time to build them, I had to see if I could borrow them
I knew I wanted fog for the studio shot, there was no time to have the fog machine I wanted shipped to me, so I had to borrow one
I knew I wanted a big dress for my studio shot that was going to be fantasy/fairytale likeand after sifting through Chloe’s closet, we knew that Mom had to buy it or I had to borrow it
Chloé told me what she wanted and what she thought would show her personality, so I had to put a plan together
Borrow a camera that recorded in HD video, as I was using one that night to record the consult session from a photographer friend and he was able to let me keep it for Monday
So using a cattle call on Facebook I started looking for the fog machine, dress and a field of flowers (here in Florida, do you know HOW HARD a field of wild flowers is here in Central Florida?). I knew there were lights my church used for the Spring Recital recently that I could use for the studio shots. They actually partly inspired the idea in my head for this particular shot. I private messaged someone at church to see if I could borrow them for the shoot. In less than 24 hours I had scheduled 2 assistants, found the fog machine, got permission to borrow the lights from church, received leads on 5 location possibilities and found out my usual make-up artist wasn’t available for that day. By Thursday evening I had found a backup makeup stylist (who was great by the way and from the same company) AND I found a red cloak to go with the Red Riding Hood theme that was percolating in my brain. And I can’t even bore you with the details of the personal things I had to get done for my family between all this wheeling and dealing.
There was a bunch of research to do because I was using fog and haven’t used it in my imagery before and I had to find out how to keep it low to the ground. Spend most of Friday researching, client deliveries and picking up the fog machine from a friend. Spend some of Saturday doing more research then we went to buy the parts I needed to cool down the fog to keep it low to the ground and we needed to scout the 5 possible locations given to me by some friends. My beautiful and wonderful bride agreed to go scout with me, and after about 2 and a half hours of searching we found the PERFECT field of yellow flowers for the wonderful Ms. Chloé.
Sunday was spent mostly at church service in the morning and a special dinner for Life Group Leaders in the evening, but in-between the two events I had to test the fog machine, load the van for Monday, makes sure all the equipment was ready, batteries were charged, etc. So in 4 days I had everything ready to go.
Our day started with makeup at 8 am with our hair and makeup stylist. Now, I planned an aggressive schedule for Chloé and I because I know Chloé can handle it and she didn’t want the “norm” for her portrait session. We were on the road by 9:15am and hit 4 locations before going to the studio at 5:00pm. And we did get rained out in Lakeland and didn’t hit everything I had planned for us. We wrapped up shooting and finished packing up the set around 8:30pm for a total of 12 and a half hours.
Is every Senior Session 12 and a half hours…NO. Chloé is special to me, has worked hard for me for 2 years and I was willing to give Chloé what she wanted…a unique experience on the other side of the camera. Chloé is happy with her shoot, and I am amazed at God’s grace in helping me pull this off. I surprised myself in what I was capable of and I couldn’t be more proud of what we created together. It was all with the help of an amazing team that came together and helped with my crazy ideas. Everyone was tired, but it was a job well done! We should all be proud!
Why the details you ask? Well, here’s a look into my world as a photographer. Although Chloé holds a special place in my heart, I work this hard for all my clients. Maybe not 12.5 hours of shooting, but all the rest is the same. Maybe not over the course of 4 days, but the same dedication, thought and hard work goes into each of my shoots. What’s the catch you ask? All of this does come at a price…I won’t be selling 50 prints for $19.99. I sell large pieces of art to complement your home that just so happen to be of someone you love and who is going off on their own…can you really put a price tag on that?
I hope through this post, you’ll understand what my commitment to you truly is. I offer an experience to your graduating High School Senior! They will love the experience, they will remember this day and so will you because you will have some beautiful pieces of art for your home to mark the occasion. That’s what I do here at TJ Towers Photography.