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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Bulk Up Your Book

Producing personal photos on a budget

Bulk Up Your Book “I hate this one…I'm over that one…Oh, that one can go.” I was reviewing my portfolio recently and these were the comments I was making to myself about some of the images that were in it. They didn't fit with the styles that were emerging from my current work, and others, well, I was just sick of some of them. I needed to replace those useless pictures with fresh ones that were more indicative of the type of work I wanted to do in order to create a book that displayed a more cohesive style.

My initial goal: to create stylish imagery, complete with clothing, props, hair and makeup, in cool locations. My secondary goal: to spend the least amount of money possible.

Frugal But Not Cheap

To do it the right way, I knew I'd have to plunk down some cash, otherwise it would be a waste of time and effort, but I really didn't want to break into my savings. Mitigating the costs for personal shoots can be a difficult but not impossible task. It just takes a little initiative to creatively produce something for a fraction of what a normal paying gig would cost.

Favors are the biggest discount of all. If you have a friend with a studio, big apartment or house, or an interesting-looking yard or garage, they may be open to letting you use their space for your shoot. If not for free, then try to negotiate a fair price with them. Bring a bottle of wine as a thank-you or take them out to dinner. A print of the finished image tends to be a big hit as a show of appreciation and helps leave the door open for other shoots down the road.

The shots on these pages were the product of a combination of favors and some well-placed cash. The scene with the people sitting around a living room was done at my friend's place for a bottle of Grey Goose vodka, and the shot with the girl by the car was at a welder's shop in Venice, Calif., called Elco Welding. That location, in particular, was a gold mine. Every corner of the joint was a good shot—it's owned by two brothers who have been in business for 30-plus years and along the way have collected cars, sculptures, antiques and signs, so the place was filled with amazing props. I was fortunate (maybe it's because I'm a woman), as they usually rent out the space to bigger production companies for thousands of dollars; I managed to work out a $200 fee for the use of the shop for the day, and I also gave them a print.


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