One thing I love about photography is that even though I've been doing it for years, I always believe there is room for improvement and growth. With each new shoot, I not only learn more about myself as an artist, but I also get to interact with some pretty special people. This October, I had the opportunity to team up with Creative Crew MT on one of their shoots. This wedding-themed styled shoot featured not only Alicia and Mikayla Castro as our incredible models, but also teamed up with local business, Earth Within Flowers, for the incredible florals.
In case you don't know, Creative Crew MT is a local business run by two amazing gals, Jazzer-Rae and Karis Bedey. They host networking events for models, photographers, and creatives to collaborate in a fun, inclusive environment. I've gotten to go to a few of their events now, both as a photographer and as a model, and it is always a blast. For this particular shoot, Karis and Jazz were kind enough to invite me to fill an empty space, and it was worth every moment!
Now I know I don't exactly post much about shooting with couples, elopements, and weddings, but this type of photography is actually what I am most often booked for (trust me, I'm surprised, too). This past wedding season, I had the privilege of being involved with nearly 30 weddings, whether as the main shooter or seconding and working under other amazing photographers throughout Montana. Fun fact: even though I've been to almost 100 weddings at this point, I still cry at every single one, even the ones where I meet the bride and groom that day. That being said, I still have a lot to learn, especially when it comes to directing more than one person at one time.
Styled shoots, like this one hosted by Creative Crew MT, provide a great opportunity for new photographers to create a portfolio in a risk-free environment, as well as for seasoned photographers to continue to hone their skills and to make connections with other creatives in the community.
The morning of the shoot, I met up with Creative Crew's founders, Jazzer-Rae and Karis, at the parking lot of Blue Mountain here in Missoula, Montana. With hands full of props and gear, we headed up the trail to where our models, Alicia and Mikayla, were already waiting. We were joined by Carin Dougherty, another Missoula photographer, who specializes in boudoir shoots. After a couple of minutes of setting up, we dove into shooting.
Our models were absolutely perfect. Alicia and Mikayla have been married for three years already, so even though this was not actually an elopement, you could feel the love and adoration pouring off of each of them. The way that Mikayla and Alicia interacted created such an authentic spark that really shined through in each of the images. And although they didn't need direction for a second, these were the perfect models to work with at a workshop, as they took every direction given by each photographer perfectly, and really gave each of us the opportunity to manufacture the exact shot we were looking for.
There were two main stations set up: an area with the models, and an area with a flatlay setup. Initially, I think the plan was to have a photographer at each station so that every person could have their space to work, but that quickly evolved. I fully believe that the best lessons you can learn in this industry come from collaborating and watching others work, so before we knew it, Jazz, Carin, and I were all working with the models at once. We all took turns leading and directing, which no only gave us the opportunity to work on our directing skills, but gave us a chance to see how others approach the same situation creatively, and really opened the doors to learn and grow collectively.
Once I felt content with the content I had gotten, I popped over to get a few quick flat lay shots before rejoining the group and grabbing one last shot of our couple popping champaign in the morning fog. It was the perfect way to start the day - being surrounded by new and old friends, celebrating both love and the opportunity to create.
Editing the final images, I wanted to go outside of my normal editing style and really play into the beautiful blues and yellows that were present in the morning fog. I wanted the images to have a light, airy feel, and for the images to be as whimsical and effortless as the experience itself. I was extremely proud of not only the images I was able to capture, but of the image created by Jazzer-Rae, Karis, and Carin, as well. It was an absolute treat watching each of these artists photograph our subjects and I think I was able to learn some great lessons. Here are the takeaways that I learned on our shoot:
You'll Never Regret Stopping for One More Shot - At the end of a shoot, even if you don't like an image, you'll never regret having taken it. On the other hand, if there's a shot you really wanted but didn't know if it would work, or if you have a crazy idea that you are just dying to try, do it! You can't get time back. You aren't going to be able to replicate your conditions, so why not take a brief moment and just take the dang shot?
Take Advantage of Creative Safe Spaces - When you are with a client, you don't always get to take risks and take crazy photos. Getting to collaborate with creatives in a safe, risk-free environment is the perfect opportunity to explore yourself as an artist or to build a portfolio.
Not Every Moment Needs to be Photographed - Whether it is an actual wedding or a styled shoot, sometimes letting the couple share a moment is more important than getting another shot. It's okay to put down the camera for a moment and to allow your couple to just be present within the moment. These moments where I put down my camera are normally where I start crying because it is so important to step back and appreciate the love for how beautiful it truly is. There are some things that the camera will never be able to catch. Cherish those moments.
Ease of Shoot & Prep
Creative Crew MT had this so perfectly set up. You just walk up and are instantly ready to create.
Price of Entry
The price for Creative Crew's meetups vary. For this particular event, I was gifted free admission, but even the events that I have paid for in the past were worth every penny. I highly recommend it.
The one-hour time slot was absolutely perfect. We had more than enough time to explore everything we wanted creatively.
I am so happy with how these images turned out. They are pictures I am truly proud to have created.
This was the perfect styled shoot. It was such a worthwhile experience that I would highly recommend to photographers of any experience level.
Overall Experience: 5/5
As always, thank you so much for stopping by and creating with me. I hope you enjoyed joining me on this shoot. I would love to hear below any shoot ideas you'd like to see in the future or any questions you have for me about modeling and photography! Until next time!
Host/Creative Direction: Creative Crew MT
Florals: Earth Within Flowers
All of the images shared here were taken by me, but if you want, check out the work of the other photographers at the shoot!