The pandemic offers up new avenues for creativity, and an at-home photoshoot might just be the right thing for you.
Since the pandemic struck, it’s been a difficult time for free-spirited expression. Aspiring photographers and models alike have felt the pain of staying at home, rather than roaming around and finding unique backdrops for photographs to drop on the feed.
Have no fear, because there are ways to create professional and creative shots from home. A great photoshoot is one creative brainstorming session away. And it only takes a few things: camera, backdrop, lighting, look and editing.
It’s 2020, everything has a camera attached to it. From your computer to your phone, with some fancy people using a DSLR or mirrorless camera, the sky’s the limit.
The high price of a professional camera is not a setback, because even a low quality camera can be morphed into a “look.” A perfect example of this is Bella Hadid starring in a Facetime Campaign for Vogue, using the front facing camera. Anything is possible with a creative mindset.
Self Timers for at-home photoshoots are a must, especially if you don’t have a younger sibling hanging around. A true tip is to make the timer for 10 seconds if possible, this gives you enough time to calmly and confidently get in front of the camera and strike a pose.
For the photoshoot I did, I used my parent’s property and my sister as the model. We used a Sony Alpha 6500 which is quite expensive, but it’s very easy to create the same effect using your own camera.
The look entails both the placement of the camera, as well as the style you wear during the photoshoot.
For Sienna Hicks’ a senior and journalism major, the look is about her mood and how she expresses her desires.
“Picking a color scheme is also really important, I usually decide by what clothes I’ve been wanting to wear or what make up I’ve been wanting to try,” says Hicks.
What stands out most to me as a photographer is opposing looks coming together. Some of my favorites are: an elegant dress in a rustic area and wearing a prom dress in a laundromat. These various styles come together in an unexpected art form of self-expression.
Another aspect of the look has to do with the actual camera placement. Want to look like a baddie? Have the camera angled up at you and blur the background to the best of your ability. Go outside, set up a camera against a mailbox while you pose near a tree. Any situation can be easily manipulated into the look of intentionality within a photograph.
Using the phrase “at-home” is a very loose term. At home could also extend to anywhere you are or have been quarantining. For me, it’s my parent’s property in Oregon.
For instance, I took some photographs of my mother for her birthday. The tragic wildfires that had been going on near Oregon had made the air smokey. The only somewhat-positive thing was that the excess smoke helped my mom’s flowers stand out more.
Hicks’ is a perfect example of using her surroundings for an “at-home” photoshoot—in this casemaking magical photographs using the mirror in her room.
The backdrop is all about using space to your advantage. From all of these tips and ideas, this is the most and least important. It truly depends on what look you are aiming to achieve. A general rule to follow is, if you find yourself loving the look of a mirror selfie – just clean the area around you. The photo will focus more on the subject this way.
Lighting, to me, is the most difficult part because the right lighting makes or breaks a photograph. The lighting helps to establish the mood of the photograph, there’s a reason influencers always shoot during golden hour. For the shoot I did with my model, we chose to go with natural lighting at dusk. I put the exposure setting low to increase the grain of the photographs so that they would come out looking like they were taken with a film camera.
The simplest advice I have for lighting is to try your best when checking the settings (especially the exposure settings) and understand it’s a process of “trial and error.” Luckily, if the shoot isn’t what you envisioned, there is editing software that has been created to help the lighting situation.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to use professional lighting. Get creative with lamps, desk lights and natural light, like sunsets. Sometimes all you need is to wait for the golden hour, other times, you can replicate it with jerry-rigging a lamp and duct-taping your camera close to it.
I’m a huge advocate for Adobe’s Lightroom, however, if you don’t have a subscription to the Adobe creative cloud, it’s too pricey for just editing photographs. The free options that are my absolute favorite are VSCO, and the standard photo editing that comes with each Apple or Android phone. Hick’s favorite is Instagram filters, choosing simplicity and barely adding anything to the photographs.
Adding some grain to your photographs will give it that retro feel, similar to a disposable/film camera. Adding hues of blue, red or any color of the rainbow can add to the moodiness of your shoot. Downloading free presets online can also help, if you see turquoise blue water and a tan model—that was born from a free preset applied to Lightroom.
Keep your eye out while scrolling through socials to see what looks you most admire, and through trial and error, you can find a look that suits you perfectly.
Overall, an at-home photoshoot can be anything you want. Even though there are risks of looking dumb on camera- this is quarentine, might as well try something new.