The daily grind can sometimes get you! More than once, after an editing binge for days on end for client work, my mind wanders over to my safe place — that beautiful land of themed shoots where I’m calling all the shots and no one even needs to like the output.

Honestly, in the middle of the busiest months, I’ll try my best to sneak my favorite models, make-up artist and stylist into the studio and collaborate on something totally spontaneous and creative. It almost always starts with a simple conversation about themes we’ve always wanted to shoot or how one or more of us is feeling. Once we’ve established a story structure we’re off to the races on which hair and makeup looks will support the story best, what kind of styling puts an exclamation point on the shoot and certainly, if the lighting should be edgy or soft and whimsical — and, yes I love both!

Character development is important in the themed shoots our studio produces. Who are our subjects? What are their personalities? What are we trying to convey through the project? How do we want our viewers to feel? Even the finish work on the imagery all points back to the central theme/story we’ve created together.

On the Edge

So why does any of this matter? It’s easy to feel like you’re always stuck working for someone else, keeping it commercial and clean. Sometimes getting your hands dirty, trying difficult angles with non-typical lenses or grungy lighting with new-to-you techniques ignites a fresh passion allowing us to drag the images out of us that we may have never known were there all along.

Girl on Fire

In this shoot, we explored some ideas about how grungy we wanted things to look and took our makeup and styling to the edgy side. What an awesome time we had creating the session! Our studio boasts a dirty little closed off alley between our building and the building next door. Anytime have an appropriate shoot to use it for we’re all in. We named this shoot Pretty Punk’n Aggressive. We stayed true to the theme throughout the entire shoot and added some canned atmosphere, colored gels and even some precarious dangling from the fire escape to create a mood that none of us will ever forget.

Step out of your comfort zone. Shoot something you’ve never photographed before. Add a little attitude. Push your boundaries. It really does give you an instant level up!

All of the images in this shoot were photographed with the Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II and the Profoto B1-X Location kit. My favorite image from the shoot is the one on the fire escape, shot with the M.Zuiko 7-14mm Pro f/2.8.

Hair & Makeup: @makeupbysalik
Models: @_leagho, @allylowery, @chlocoapuff

On a Roll