Creating a Concept Shoot

I thought today I might share a little of the behind the scenes information on shooting a conceptual shoot, as I find it is the most often asked question……..

“how or where do you get your inspiration?”

Firstly I find if I work in a series it is far less stressful. I can work out the basic scenario and then I just have to work out the individual images. The hard work is in the initial setup.

I have a shoot list and I will pick random things that can help me create the base image; colour, mood, theme, character, emotion, scene, time period, props, etc. So I might pick red, woman, dress, sorrow, ocean, cliff, dark and intense, sitting or standing, late afternoon sun. So I have pretty much all the elements; a woman in a red dress, sitting on a chair, on a cliff overlooking the ocean, sun glinting off the waves. Then I might add unexpected elements, the balloons and bear, is there a story in the teddy bear and balloons? What does it say to you? I love the juxtaposition……I mean why on earth is a woman sitting on a cliff in a red ball gown with a teddy bear and a bunch of balloons? Such fun!sunset-reflections

Same dress, same location, but I wanted a sense of freedom with the light breaking through the clouds and wind blowing her hair and dress. In both of these images I went for over saturated colours. I wanted to create a sense of freedom and flight.juliepowell_fear-of-flight

This next image is so simple, yet powerful at the same time; a simple tu-tu and ballet pointe shoes. Same again I wrote a list; Blue, tu-tu and ballet pointes, dark and dramatic, no people, a little mysterious. Does it tell a story, where is the drama or point of interest, add a pop of colour and heavy contrast……what story does it tell?dsc_6473

Things that also need to be considered is;

  • A clever (or fun) Idea and great photos
  • Cool setting or Background (Even a plain black backdrop is great in the right setting)
  • Beautiful Models or real people (Someone you can connect with, sometimes it is anonymous with no faces as such) remember the hero does not have to be a person.
  • Unorthodox wardrobe (Honestly some of my ‘clothes’ are sheets pegged at the back)
  • Unexpected Props and poses  (Red Balloons and teddy bear)
  • Composited elements (will I add additional elements or just as it is shot)
  • Trick Photography (levitations shots)
  • Textures for toning
  • De-saturated or over saturated/ Dark or Light
  • Use of one striking colour (perhaps red or blue on black or white, I love mauves, blues and reds.)

These are questions I ask myself, I don’t use all of the aspects listed above, but just a few, so one simple pose, one single prop, plain Black background. For Instance in my Tarot series I am mostly going for Dark desaturated colours. Jess below in wearing just street clothes with a platinum blonde wig and a black cape, holding a wooden branch in front of a black background

Page of Wands

Ace of Wands

The smoke, light beams, vines and butterflies are added in post in photoshop. Also I used additional textures subtly to add depth. The below image is shot on site, with just the bird added in post, so the actual shot was taken keeping in mind I wanted to add a bird on Mel’s finger, and she is looking directly at it.


So even after all this I still get asked, where do the ideas come from? Dapper Rabbit came to me in a dream and the story flowed from there, once I had the story I had the images I would required, the models, scenes, props, poses etc.

Alice………so easy; Jess had the costume and I just watched the movie and flicked through Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration, wrote out a shot wish list

The Tarot, my initial inspiration was from Rusty McDonald and Dividing Me……and then of course I went straight to the Tarot Cards for my shot list, needed particular props and poses; wands, swords, crowns, cups and am still working on my pentacle.

The Red Dress series was inspired by a red ball gown I was given, just needed different locations and moods and props. This is a continuing series. So I have a woman (usually) in a red dress…….I think of different locations and props. The Beach, a forest, sitting, standing, add in some props, do I want day or night, do I want happy, sad, anger etc. What mood, what atmosphere etc, etc, etc.

If you practice on these enough, it becomes a much quicker process. I also am always looking on-line; Flickr, IG, 500PX, DeviantArt, ShiftArt, YouTube, plus of course some of my favourites like Brooke Shaden and Rusty McDonald for an endless supply of inspiration.

~ Julz

P.S. Still not sure? Try  this one hour YouTube video from Brooke, it literally changed the way I think and work.