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  • Writer's pictureJetti Luckoski

Commissioned creative portrait shoot: How it comes together.

In a previous post I tried to answer the question of how/where/why I get my inspiration or creative ideas for my photographs. But what does that mean when I’m working to set up a shoot that relies not only on my creativity and photography skills but also the needs and wants of the person or subject commissioning the shoot? It’s exciting actually! At least to me it is.

If left to my own devices I can tend to draw out or procrastinate or “percolate” for an infinite amount of time. However, working with someone gives me a tasty little shove to start the brain flexing. I really do enjoy the collaborative nature of working with others on a shoot.

Imagine being alone in your kitchen and saying, “I’d like to make a cake today”. The imaginings of all the different types of cakes start bursting to life on your imaginary taste buds. They all seem so good. Should I make a vanilla cake with raspberry filling, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting or maybe a good old yellow cake with some yummy glazed fruit on top? It can go on and on. But now I’ve got someone standing with me in the kitchen and I say, “I’d like to make a cake today”.

Beyond the virtue of no longer talking to myself like a nut job I actually get an answer back. Perhaps, “Oh chocolate cake sounds good.” The back and forth results in the best German Chocolate cake ever and we actually get to put it in our mouths and share in the enjoyment. Now I just want cake!

When I get commissioned to do a portrait I take some time getting to know about you. Nothing invasive I swear! I have a few questions about hobbies, TV shows or movies etc… If this sounds like a first date you're not wrong but I'll tell you up front I'm married! I may ask you to forward a picture of you or the subject I’ll be shooting to get an idea of complementing colors and wardrobe options. This gives my brain a jumping off point. I take a few days to get creatively constipated and then start purging ideas together on paper. I can’t believe I’ve used cake and constipated on the same page ew!

I apologize in advance for any kitchen friends who accidentally stumble upon this post! That said, trekking on with our cake analogy, from there we get back together in the proverbial kitchen and get baking again. By the end of our consultation, I'll have a good plan and will put together a mood board for you and a description of the shoot. I’m a good baker and take my head chef role in this portrait photography project seriously. To give you an idea of your total time investment so far we've spent about 2 half hours together, two halves make a whole hour.

In the days between our phone consultation and the actual shoot I get to have some more fun by pulling props and wardrobe (my closet is fantastic), matching backdrops to the concept we’ve agreed on, even entire sets if that’s what the shoot requires. I love costuming and could go on for pages about it but I’ll save that for another post. Incidentally almost my entire portfolio is made up of wardrobe from my special closet. Don’t worry about it fitting, most won’t but I do a lot of pinning and hoisting to make it work. You’re not actually Cinderella at the ball. If that comes as a shock to you we’ll get along just fine. However, I will promise that you’ll just look like her in your portrait, pinning and hoisting aside.

For fun I’ve pulled together a few images including some of the same items. The black strapless evening gown.

And the skirt from I bought at Old Navy about 10 years ago gets an excellent second life in my special closet.

This concludes my insight on how I pull together my commissioned creative portrait shoots. Bottom line is this should all be fun. If you haven’t figured it out I’m neither stuffy nor pretentious and thus this endeavor should be enjoyable for all. Sorry couldn’t resist using neither, nor and thus and endeavor after all.


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