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Getting Creative Remotely during Covid-19

The coronavirus has forced us all to do life differently.  And us portrait and event photographers are seriously missing the ability to do photo shoots with our clients.  After all, the actual act of taking pictures is what inspired us to get into this profession in the first place.  I don’t think any of us thought, “I want to spend my days figuring out quarterly sales tax, organizing social media posts, or trying to get those late payments from clients taken care of.”  LOL

 I will never forget my college Photography 101 B&W Film class at LSU.  I had always loved taking pictures but this was the first time I had a photo “assignment.”  Having a job of what needed to be captured but with my own creative spin lit a fire in me that never went away.  Sure that fire faded at times.  When I was so busy with a newborn and toddler at home the embers got so small that I wondered if the fire had gone out.  But thankfully, with some reflection & inspiration that fire started to burn bright again.  And it helped me realize that constant need to add kindling to keep my fire burning, in other words- don’t stop being creative with my camera!  

Due to the coronavirus, photo shoots have been cancelled for well over a month now, and I felt like my fire was fading again.  I needed to seek out alternative methods of getting creative.  After all, my kids are getting tired of me documenting their day…and while I love photographing kids, they don’t fuel my creative fire in the same way. 

So I was stoked when I heard about another photographer organizing a virtual photo shoot.  Virtual Photo Shoot?!  How do you take pictures without even being in the same city as your model?  I know it sounds crazy, and it is crazy, but it sure was fun!

So how did this work?  Taylor Oakes, an incredible photographer & model organized it all for an online photography group I’m a part of.  We all logged in live at a scheduled time when she gained safe and secluded access to Neon Demon Studio in Toronto.  She arranged the set-up and posed while an assistant captured her with a web video camera.  As she posed us photographers would request her to get in certain positions or stand in certain areas around the room.  The assistant would read the messages out loud to her as she posed.  While we watched the live broadcast from the safety of our own homes we would take pictures of our own computer monitors capturing shots that moved us.  So technically I was taking pictures of my own computer.  Yea, weird. Scroll down to the bottom to see me in action….from my office desk!

I instantly noticed on the back of my camera how horrible the quality was.  I was getting weird vertical lines and textures showing up in the image from shooting into a monitor.  So then I tried something else.  When Taylor would strike a pose I liked I would capture a screen shot and drag the image into Photoshop as fast as I could so I could jump back to the live video and take my next screen shot.  This eliminated the ugly monitor lines but now my images are maxed out to the size of my monitor at only 72dpi.  The RAWs I took with my camera are huge but the quality is so bad you would never want to see the images larger than a computer screen anyway, or perhaps even a cell phone screen.  Really, I should have shot these at small JPG, no point wasting file size with such low quality.  

A lot could also be said about the outfit chosen for this photo shoot. The full face mask, the poses with her hands gripping at her throat. How does it make you feel?

Did I make any money off this photo shoot? Definitely not

Will I ever print these? No

Will I even add these to my portfolio? Doubt it

But did I enjoy the creative process? Hell yes!  Especially considering I got remote access to Neon Demon studio.  Its 1500 miles away and normally has a rental day rate of $1000, so its definitely not a studio I would easily have access to.  Not to mention Taylor is a bad ass to photograph!

Do I recommend photographers start doing remote sessions with their clients?  No. Its definitely not the same experience and doesn’t result in a quality end piece.  But if you want to do it for fun, or because its your only option, then why not? Just know the quality won’t be great and your client will have to do A LOT more work on their end, either with their roommate holding their phone as you direct both of them, or with their phone on a stand. And not many people have access to a studio right now, so trying to get decent pictures at home with no professional lighting or professional gear just sounds like a mess. But if you want to play around with it for fun, then YES, do it to keep that creative fire sparked.

Sometimes you just have to take the lemons life has dealt you and make your lemonade, or add it to your vodka! 

I would love to hear what you think of this idea and how you have been staying creative or how your daily work life has changed? Please leave a comment, I’m really missing adult interaction so I would greatly appreciate the conversation, thanks!

neon lights remote virtual photo shoot with boudoir Denver photographer Nicole Nichols Photography
This picture represents to me the stress of Covid, the anxiety, the struggle we endure.
covid virtual sexy and weird photo shoot with costume mask at neon studio
Can you feel the virus choking you, making it hard to breathe?!
covid virtual sexy and weird photo shoot with costume mask at neon studio
neon lights remote virtual photo shoot with boudoir Denver photographer Nicole Nichols Photography
pro photographer doing a remote photo shoot
I had my daughter take a picture of me during the photo shoot so you could get a better idea of how it looked on my end.

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