From the set of the BBC's Sherlock, international star Benedict…
When I wrote “I Love Photography,” I didn’t have this particular shoot in mind…but, er, it’s obviously very important for me to keep photographing a variety of subjects to keep my skills up so that I can continue to love photography, right? (yeah right, Allen).
If your conception of lingerie is Victoria’s Secret, I’m happy to say that there are alternatives with a much wider range of choices, and I happen to be a technology/online advisor to Journelle, the best online lingerie retailer — conveniently located around the block from the PhotoShelter offices. I’ve spent a lot of time talking to their team about the same types of things that we talk about on the blog like SEO, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and online marketing strategies. And when the subject of conversion came up, we all decided that it was important to have photos of models wearing the lingerie, instead of just straight product photos shot against seamless — this was corroborated by surveying their customers. Think about the use of photos in terms of the buying funnel and buying intent. Once of the hallmarks of good conversion practices is to provide enough information to the customer to offset any doubts they have at the point of sale. When someone is shopping for clothing, they want to know how it looks on a person (even if that person has no resemblance to them — clothing can be very aspirational).
When I previously interviewed Bonobos (a men’s clothing retailer), they articulated the difference between the types of photography assets that they create and use. E-commerce, marketing and “above the line” photos all have distinct functions in the marketing portfolio, and the shoot with Journelle was to be no different in that we were producing photos specifically for e-commerce. Now I love photographing pretty girls in lingerie as much as the next person, but like any produced shoot, this was no leisurely walk in the park. In particular, as a catalog shoot, we had to get through a lot of product, replicating the same poses, and shooting with gray and white backgrounds.
On set, we had the following personnel:
- Art Director
- Make-up Artist/Hairstylist
- Second stylist
- Journelle CEO
- Photographer (me)
- Photographer Assistant
Melissa, the art director, created a shoot list and call sheet for the day. Here’s a little snippet:
I’ve done other catalog shoots in the past, so I wasn’t particularly worried about being able to produce, but there were some differences in the way that they wanted things lit. For example, they wanted a gray background, but not too dark. I originally wasn’t going to illuminate the gray background (Savage Soft Gray 90), but because I was shooting at f/13, the gray was going too gray, so we ended up throwing a little light onto the background. For detailed shots, they wanted more shadows, so we used a large softbox at 45 degrees off axis (instead of 30 degrees that we were using for the full body shots) to create more sculpting.
Here’s the lighting diagram:
You’ll have to wait to see all the finished images, but I thought it would be fun to show you an image straight out of camera without any adjustments given all the recent articles about models and Photoshop. In this case, you can see the dust on my sensor, the not-completely white background (this was intentional so that the background didn’t kickback any light and cause flare), and a lovely model in the Eberjey Pima Goddess Soft Cup Plunge Bra & Low Rider.