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October 24, 2010
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Yesterday, I had a great shoot with model Janice Michele up in Oxnard, California of all places. Seriously…Oxnard? It’s pretty funny just saying it, ya? :) Anywho…I met some AMAZING people…and Janice is pretty amazing herself…beautiful, motivated, and super fun to shoot with. We got some amazing shots…which, of course, aren’t ready yet. But stay tuned for those. :)

But Janice reminded me of something yesterday that I thought I’d share with a lot of you photographers and/or models who are shooting portfolio content or fun projects. This could also apply to commercial work…but more often than not, when there is money involved, people want their cut. And that’s understandable. But this is more for those fun, personal projects or portfolio shoots.

So, a few years ago, I was out in my hometown of Ramona with my good friend Ennis and our friend Laura. We were planning on doing a “country girl” themed shoot and since I had spent most of my young life in this little country town, I thought it would be a good place to start. We scouted around for a little bit until we stumbled upon this farm, complete with hay, cows, and a few barns.

We drove up the driveway and found the owner and offered him a couple Andrew Jacksons if he would let us shoot there. His response was a pleasant, “Sure!” but it didn’t come without a brief look of confusion, as if to say, “why would you want to shoot HERE?” His daughter was helping tend to the animals and she offered to move bails of hay for us or get us anything we needed. It was pretty amazing how nice and accomodating these people were for a few random strangers who wanted to shoot on their farm.

But the moral of the story is this: it doesn’t hurt to ask.

A lot of photo portfolios have gorgeous models…all shot in the same location. To me, this shows that yes, you can take a good picture of a beautiful model…but do you have any creativity to make something different? Think outside the box? Make something that someone hasn’t seen before? Yes, I realize that many concepts have been done…but that doesn’t mean you can’t do them differently…and one of the ways to do that is by trying to find new and different places to shoot. For instance, I do a lot of beach photography. It’s pretty straightforward…and there are several different locations that I LOVE shooting. But it’s the beach. It looks pretty much the same no matter where you are…but there is so much beach to shoot at and when I shoot, I always try to shoot at new places along the way. One of my favorite spots in La Jolla, California, has about a mile or so of beach…and so I try to change things up once in a while by picking different spots along the stretch. You’d be surprised the way you can make the shots look different.

So yesterday, Janice wanted to shoot in a boxing gym. She had an idea for some super sexy and colorful shots. So she called up a local boxing gym and said, “Hey, I want to take some shots in your gym!” So the owner gave the okay and we made it happen. The guy that was running the gym was super accomodating and helpful and might be hiring me for some other shoots down the road. Janice also wanted to shoot some stuff in an old fashioned ice cream parlor. So…she found one in her town, called the owner, and asked if we could shoot there. The owner said “yes,” and we got it done. The girl behind the counter was totally sweet and basically helped us with anything we needed. She made us tasty ice cream cones for shoot props…and to eat, of course…and had her iPod going with some cool tunes too. :) When the owner came in later, he was super cool, loved the shots we took, and also may be calling for future work.

I learned that honestly, it really doesn’t hurt to ask someone if you can use their store, house, or even ice cream shop for a short, fun shoot. If you can get it done quick, fast, and in a hurry, most people don’t mind the small inconvenience…and may even enjoy watching the makings of some fun pictures. :) And when you think about it, what is the worst that can happen? They can say, “No.” No biggie. No harm, no foul.

But if they say “yes,” you’ve got a fun place to shoot something different…and you usually meet some really super cool people too.