Photoshoot Diaries: Old Town Scottsdale
Welcome to the first post for my Photoshoot Diaries! Whenever I do a photo shoot, I’ll do a recap of my photo locations, the obstacles I faced, new techniques I learned, and I’ll end with a collection of the final edited photos. Enjoy!
This past weekend I went down to Old Town Scottsdale to take some portraits of my younger sister. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that my thing is self-portraits. This was a new experience for both me and my sister, as she isn’t a model and tends to be somewhat uncomfortable in front of the camera (as most people are). While we got off to a bumpy start, I’m happy to say there was a quick learning curve in those whole process. By the final location, we shot our most favorite photos from the whole shoot and wrapped super satisfied with the last set.
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Below, I’ll recap what happened at each location and include the final photos from each set. Don’t forget to check out the behind-the-scenes YouTube video at the end of this post to see how I achieved each photo!
First Location: Alley
We found an alley that we thought was perfect. I envisioned exactly how I wanted my shots to be, set up my camera, tried to help Amber pose and… it just wasn’t working. The photos that I had so perfectly imagined in my head just weren’t there.
Starting off the shoot with these major expectations was quite ambitious. I initially intended for an urban style for this shoot, but I tried to jump right into it too soon. Doing a photo shoot is like working out or training for something…
You have to warm up.
Your model has to warm up to you, the location and the scenario, and you have to warm up with the lighting, camera settings, atmosphere, and the model. This is crucial if you want to capture your ideal shots. If you set high expectations without warming up, you’re guaranteed to be extremely frustrated (and possibly even give up) when you aren’t achieving what you set out to do.
We tried a few different shots and although I wasn’t super pleased with how these turned out, I’ll show you our first round below. I think I could’ve done better.
Second Location: Garden
Alright, once we found this hidden garden, we started getting the hang of things. It was also nice because it was tucked away from the streets that were crowded with tourists. Both Amber and I felt more comfortable experimenting with different poses and techniques without people watching or staring at us.
There were beautiful tiled benches in the garden, so I had Amber sit on them for a few photos. The lighting in here was great, I only had to avoid a few weird spotty shadows. Overall though, the light was soft and diffused. You can check out the best photo below.
Next, I’m super proud of this snap below! I took this photo in the same garden. I had Amber sit in front of a bush and grabbed a prism that I brought with me. I’ve never used one before, so I figured it was time to experiment. The sun was coming in behind me, beating down on poor Amber. We had to do one of those “1…2…3…open your eyes!” situations. I used my 50mm f/1.8 lens and twirled the prism up in the corner as I snapped a bunch of pics. I love the flare of color and how it barely just tickles her face. This shot was my favorite one and I obviously edited the color a bit, as you can see the jacket that was red appears pink here.
Third Location: Flower Bushes
After the garden, we headed back to the car to do a wardrobe change. We weren’t entirely sure where we were heading to next, but we figured we could wing it. As we switched up Amber’s hairstyle and jacket, she pointed to these yellow bushes in front of our car and asked, “Wait, will those work?” It’s great that she said that, because the photos we ended up getting here were some of my favorites!
Again, it took a little bit of trial and error, readjusting, and fixing my incorrect white balance (oops) to finally snag some beautiful portraits. For the last few photos, I took one of the yellow flowers off of the bush and held it in the corner of my 50mm f/1.8 lens to give it a nice color blur. That really took the photos to the next level. It looked like she was surrounded in this field of flowers when we were really in a parking lot.
Although the actual photos had a really vibrant color, I ended up tweaking the hues of the blues and yellows and settled on this moodier tone. I normally don’t do such dark tones, but something about this color scheme really attracted me. Check out my favorite two photos from this set:
Last Location: Another Alley
Satisfied with the flower photos, we debated on whether or not to call that a wrap or not. But we decided to push on once my sister found that I brought my cool cat-eye sunglasses. She really wanted to use them in the next set of photos. We walked around the shops a bit more and found another alley to work with.
By now it was nearing prime golden hour, so we used the sun coming through the alleyway. The light bounced off the walls and created a nice glow for the portraits. We even found a random chair, which I had Amber sit on in an attempt to try an edgy look, but it didn’t really work out. But hey, you need to experiment! You never know what will work until you try it.
Finally, I had Amber switch up her look. She put the cat-eye glasses on and leaned against the brick wall. We turned around to have the sun shining on her and finally I could tell that we clicked. This was it. We both felt comfortable as a model and photographer duo. I was able to give direction just as easily as she was able to take it and interpret it. We worked really well together on this last set and I think it’s because our vision and intentions for these last photos lined up perfectly.
While I took the photos, I could already envision how I wanted to edit them. I definitely wanted to mute the colors and give them a vintage/retro vibe. They came out perfectly and I was so happy that the shoot ended with these. Again, Amber even grabbed a few shots of me which I edited to add to this collection. Check out the final photos below!
You can see I had some fun on this last one giving it that old film scratch overlay. :p
There you have it! If you enjoyed seeing my photos, make sure to check out my YouTube video where I vlogged behind-the-scenes footage of how I achieved these photos. Make sure to subscribe by clicking here if you want to see more portrait photography tutorials on my channel!
Plus, let me know which set of photos was your favorite in the comments below. Hope you enjoyed today’s photoshoot diaries entry!
Want more photography resources? Check out some more of my content below:
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- How to Grow Your Photography Instagram FAST
- The Best Way to Use Natural Window Light for Portraits
- How to Start a Successful YouTube Channel in 2019