02/27/15

Advertising Photographer Miami |Kate Benson | Donald J. Pliner Shoot

Daniela, a model I worked with years ago, contacted me recently requesting high resolution files from a shoot we did for Donald J. Pliner back in 2011. I spent some time looking in my archives, searching for the exact images she wanted. It was a lot of fun revisiting old photo shoots from years past. Thankfully I am organized in my file-naming, so it didn’t take too long to locate the photos she needed.

Here are some of these images:

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I also came across this cool group shot that was used in a general marketing email blast for Donald J. Pliner:

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Click here for more info on Miami Advertising Photographer Kate Benson

02/17/15

Miami Product Photographer | Kate Benson| Christian Roth Eyewear Composites

One of the best parts about shooting e-commerce photography is seeing how much more clients can do with the images I deliver! My client Christian Roth has fabulous eyewear! I’ve posted about it a few times because I really just love shooting it so much! A few weeks ago, Christian and Eric posted on their Instagram these incredibly creative composites. I had to grab a few screen shots of them and reshare. My personal favorite is the sunglasses set. If you think this is cool, you should see their website!

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Naturally, I have a pair that I wear every. single. day.

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02/10/15

Switch 2 Social Recap | A Seminar on Social Media and Blogging

Last Thursday I spoke at an ASMP event titled, “Social Media Secrets Revealed,” about how blogging has helped my business grow. For those of you who attended, thank you. For those of you who couldn’t make it or were too far away, you missed a great show! Rosh Sillars was the keynote speaker and had some great tips. Pascal Depuhl, Jorge ParraScott Coventry and I were additional speakers who shared our own personal success stories. My story was about how blogging has really helped my business. It is often overlooked by artists because we think our work speaks for itself. But in a world where clients want to know who they are hiring, the blog is your new resume and portfolio.

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When I talk to people about blogging, there is often a lot of fear surrounding the idea of it. Some common fears are related to insecurity, weak writing skills, lack of information, and the list goes on. Insecurity stems from the misconception that someone else out there probably knows the topic better. Many people are anxious that writing isn’t their strong point and so are afraid of not sounding eloquent. Some have a false belief that they should first gather more information and then blog when they really have something of epic proportions to say. Whatever your reason, just toss it out. My first blogs were terrible (and some still are). I mean really, really awful. And the pictures that I took back then, well, I wouldn’t be putting any of them on my website today. But it was material. It was content. It was a starting point. Writing anything is almost always better than nothing. Nothing will get you nothing. Often, the idea of writing for the entire online community is daunting. Sometimes it helps to imagine that you have no audience, that you are just writing for yourself.

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So, where do you begin? What would you like to tell someone about yourself or your work if you were writing in a journal and could say anything, for example? Write that. Add some visuals if you have them; if not, oh well. Post what you wrote. In the beginning your audience probably will be close to zero. I have been posting so infrequently that I’m pretty sure the size of my blog’s audience is back down. But, even if it isn’t, I prefer to imagine that it is because if no one is reading my blog and I’m just writing to give Google some fresh content to crawl, the pressure is off! I have yet to lose a client because of a blog post (knock on wood it doesn’t happen in the future). So, I have nothing to lose and everything to gain, which is the same for you!

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So your homework this week (for those of you who already have some sort of blog platform up): Write a post. Even if it is a post about never getting around to posting (I think I have at least 10 posts like that). But write something! Break the ice!! You have to start somewhere!

If you don’t have a blog yet, you have a bigger assignment: Figure out what platform you want to use to blog (research WordPress, Blogger, etc), learn how to install it and get to it. Or get a buddy who is computer savvy to do it for you. If you have no computer savvy friends, hire someone to do it. Just figure it out and do it!! Worst case scenario, you don’t install it correctly and have to try again. Practice makes perfect and eventually you will get it!

South Florida ASMP Kate Benson

02/4/15

Miami Product Photographer | Kate Benson | Cosabella and FX’s The Americans Team Up!

Recently, my client Cosabella has teamed up with FX to collaborate on a project for their show The Americans. In the cross promotion, they needed some sexy still life shots of a few of their signature pieces. The still life was designed out with FX to go along with window displays and other in store cross overs. It was a bit last minute when they called for the shots because everything needed to happen fast enough for FX to have time to do design work on the shots but we made it work! As always, I had a blast shooting for Cosabella!

Here are a few of my shots in use on Cosabella’s website and email blast:

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For a bit more info, check out Cosabella’s blog post on “The Official Curated Collection for Fx’s The Americans

 

02/2/15

Miami E-commerce Photographer | Zacasha jewelry

Over the course of a week, we worked for Zacasha, a prominent jewelry designer with necklaces and bracelets at upscale stores. Our team consisted of Kate, Kristin (her assistant), Jennifer (the designer), and Jennifer’s daughter. Together, we worked to create the story of this gorgeous jewelry.

The pieces have an elegant Bohemian feel to them. The beads and tassels are so unique, and yet they work really well in groups. We decided it was best to tell the story in groups and develop a dreamcatcher effect.

We were lucky enough to get a few of the fabulous pieces. We wear it everywhere and everyone loves it! We get constant compliments on the necklaces and bracelets, with questions about where to get them.

These are some of the photos used on Zacasha’s website (http://www.zacasha.com/)

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In-house we decided to experiment and play around with the backgrounds to really make them pop. This is what we came up with:

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Here are some behind the scenes photos from the shoot:

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Kate shooting Zacasha.

Photo: Kristin Stickels

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Working with Jennifer to style the product.

Photo: Kristin Stickels

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We took advantage of the studio space for organizing all the necklaces.

Photo: Kristin Stickels

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A closeup of some of the jewelry we were about to shoot.

Photo: Kate Benson


01/29/15

Miami Portrait Photographer | Musical Artist Thiago de Melo

On January 20, I had the opportunity to shoot Brazilian singer/songwriter Thiago de Melo while he was in town from New York. He was looking for some natural photos that would convey his fun, relaxed personality and also needed short video clips of him discussing his new album (in both English and Brazilian). Both the photos and the video were to be used on his new website.

It was a lot of fun to work with Thiago, as his individualism and charisma came out easily while in front of the camera. Being both silly and serious for the shoot was no problem at all for him, as you can see in the following photos:

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Thiago’s music is a wonderful mix of soothing and vibrant tones, combined with his gentle yet spirited voice. If you follow him on Twitter or “like” him Facebook, you can download a copy of his latest album, “Home, Family & Roots” for free.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThiagoDeMeloMusic

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thiagomusic

Thiago’s website: http://thiagodemelo.bandcamp.com/releases

Reviewing images from the shoot with Thiago. Photo: Kristin Stickels

Reviewing images from the shoot with Thiago.
Photo: Kristin Stickels

01/27/15

E-commerce Photographer Miami | How to Produce a Professional Photo shoot, aka “What the heck do I do now?”

Everyone has to start somewhere. Chances are good that if you are reading this blog, you are wondering what the heck do I need to do to produce a photo shoot? It’s OK! No one will tell! In fact you can message me with any questions you might have. My goal is to help my clients or anyone who finds themselves needing to produce a photo shoot. Ready? Here goes!

When planning a shoot, there are a multitude of things to consider in order to make your shoot successful. As the saying goes, “The devil is in the details.” Here are ways to plan out those details to make for a successful shoot. While this is a list of important items to keep in mind, the descriptions are purposely broad with some specific examples given; your distinct needs for your shoot will require you to refine, add and/or subtract items as necessary.

Some of the very first things to take into account are your budget, due dates, the shot list, and usage. Identify the budget for the shoot, and determine how rigid it is. This will help shape the decisions you make regarding the entire production. How much flexibility do you have if unexpected costs come up? Due dates are crucial to keep in mind. When are the images needed? Understanding your time frame will allow you to work backwards in creating a schedule. A shot list is also imperative. Brainstorm what photos you will need. Does your product need to be shot on-model and/or still life? Do you need various angles of each item? How many total images do you need of your product(s)? And don’t forget to keep in mind the usage. How will your photos be used? For advertising? Internally? On the web?

The next thing to plan is the art direction. This is something that can be done in-house or outsourced, but is a significant aspect of your production. Art direction involves sourcing inspiration for your photos (I suggest collecting visual examples for this), making sure the photos line up with your company’s image, and ensuring that the photos convey the mood and environment that you want your product(s) to have. And, of course, this all dictates the type of photographer that you will use. You wouldn’t choose a nature photographer for an action shot of a model, for example. Which leads us to the casting…

Your next step involves casting and determining the details of the actual shoot. Your casting may include hiring models, stylists, hairstylists, makeup artists, and, of course, the photographer (to name a few). You may also need to hire a professional retoucher for post-production. Some photographers can do their own retouching, but it is important to determine whether they can do it well. You then need to ascertain whether you will be using a studio or a location for the shoot. If you plan to shoot on location, you will need to obtain permits or permission to use the site, and you should have a back-up plan in case of weather issues. You also need to consider your set. What inanimate objects will you need to complete the shot? What wardrobe or accessories might you need for the models? Is a manicure necessary due to close-up shots of a model’s hands?

Within the location details (whether on location or in studio) it is essential to plan food and beverages for everyone at the shoot and possibly transportation to and from the site. You may even need to provide lodging for the clients, models and/or the crew, depending on the location.

Image selection is an important part of the process. This can occur either on set or after the shoot. If the photographer shoots tethered to a computer, you can see the images immediately as they are shot. This gives you the opportunity to select your images while on set, and it also allows you to confirm that you have everything you need before the shoot is done.

After the shoot has taken place, there is still work to be done. The post-production work includes file management (naming, re-sizing, and delivering the images as digital files), as well as any retouching that may be required. When budgeting for your shoot, it is important to determine whether these costs are built into the photographer’s fee or will be charged additionally.

After taking all of this into account, the big question is can this all fit into your budget? If the answer is no, it is time to re-evaluate some aspects of your plan. Can you get a higher budget? Can you be more specific in your usage? Can you reduce your shot list? What can be done in-house?

And lastly, don’t forget about payment. When are people expecting to be paid? How long will it take your company to pay?

So, here is a quick checklist to help you plan your shoot:

budget
due dates
shot list
usage
art direction
casting
shoot details
location details
image selection
post-production work
payment

Just remember, this is a list of important items to keep in mind, but the descriptions are broad. You will need to tweak the list depending on your own needs for your shoot.

Here is a handy flowchart for your reference:

HowtoProduceaPhotoshoot

01/22/15

Social Media Secrets Revealed | South Florida Blogging Seminar

On February 5, I will be speaking at an ASMP event at Barry University titled “Social Media Secrets Revealed.” The seminar will demonstrate the importance of social media in gaining new clients. I will be speaking about my personal experience in how blogging has helped my photography business. Photographer Rosh Sillars and social media agency owner Scott Coventry are guest speakers as well.

For more information about the event or to register go to: www.Switch2Social.com

12/10/14

E-Commerce Photographer South Florida | Website Product Photographer

Last week, the on-model images that I shot for Cosabella’s Fall 2014 debuted on their website. This shoot is a great example of the synthesis of product photography in still life e-commerce and on-model photos. In this photo you can see both types of images.

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Pajamas are certainly not easy to shoot due to their “comfortable” nature. There is a lot of material to work with and the structure is often boxy, which doesn’t give much shape to the garment. Here you can see the difference between the still life photos of the pajamas and the on-model shots. The still life images show the important details of the garment and the on-model shots convey a lifestyle image to the consumer.

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Still life photos show details of the garment.

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On-model shots convey a lifestyle image to the consumer.

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In addition, two of my still life shots were used in email blasts. For these particular still life images, you can see how there had to be some foresight as to the placement of graphic design or text which might be inserted into the frame, so I purposely left space in the photo to allow for this.

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As you can see, by elevating the photography for your website, you’ve elevated your brand.

11/24/14

E-Commerce Photographer South Florida | Photography Studio South Florida

Last week I moved into a fabulous new studio space. Although my old studio is extremely functional, I was quickly outgrowing it and was quite happy to find this new, larger space. It is an industrial-style studio in Fort Lauderdale’s Art District so the neighborhood is fun and funky and the space has a “New York” feel to it.

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Photo Credit: Gary James

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Photo Credit: Gary James

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Photo Credit: Gary James

Our first shoot took place last Saturday and was quite successful. In fact, all the little details of the studio space helped contribute to the shoot. From the rustic wood tables to the vintage 1913 letterpress to the old fashioned tools decorating the place, all the charm of the studio ended up being perfect as additional features we used in the shoot.

The client was Crown & Buckle, a watch band manufacturer with products made from gorgeous leather and nylon. We had an ambitious list with 35 shots on it which included on-model shots as well as still-life photos. Our mission was to shoot their online marketing imagery that would be used as intro shots, banner shots, e-commerce shots and product shots, as well as for social media and email blasts, so we had a variety of tasks for the day.

The studio has an east-facing glass door that brings in the most spectacular golden morning light. We took advantage of the light as much as possible, shooting the watch bands on the letterpress and the conference table, which were near the east wall. We also did some of the on-model shots there as well.

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As shown on Crown & Buckle’s Instagram page, the morning sun gave us incredible lighting.                          Photo credit: Taffney Lathrop

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The natural wood conference table made an excellent background for our shots. Photo credit: Kristin Stickels

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The natural lighting was useful for the on-model shots as well. Photo credit: Kristin Stickels

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Making decisions with the clients and stylist. Photo credit: Kristin Stickels

The owners of the company had brought quite a few props for us to use for the shoot. Old-style American flags, Christmas lights, their tools, a papier maché mounted deer head, a mounted deer head made of cardboard, scraps of leather, and they even had snippets of evergreen trees Fed Exed down from Wisconsin (because we don’t really have pine trees in South Florida). One of the best lines of the day came from Taffney as she opened the Fed Ex package and got a whiff of the contents. “It’s like Christmas in a box!” she exclaimed.

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Using the evergreens as a festive prop. Photo credit: Kristin Stickels

Motto is the branding agency based in South Carolina that had recommended me to the client. While they were not physically present at the shoot, we were able to send them batches of photos from the shoot for their instant feedback. The studio also had two flat screen televisions with Apple TV, so I was able to immediately show the client the shots I took on my camera from my computer.

All in all it was a great day at the new studio and we loved getting to know the people at Crown & Buckle and Motto.

For the moment, I am testing out the new studio space for a month to see if it is going to fit my needs, but so far so good. I will be sharing the space with The Guild 5 Forty Five members Gary James, photographer, and Kim Grijalva, creative director.