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Valentine Day Photoshoot BTTS

By @ijyoyo | Feburary 01 2020 | Envision


Today we did a photoshoot in Milwaukee Wisconsin at the Northern Lights Studio. This photoshoot was a combination of a regular photoshoot and a valentine day photoshoot.

We had planned this photoshoot in January. I arrived a few hours early (in an uber) to get the lighting setup and got my camera compared for the studio conditions. I had previously bought the rose petals off of amazon. Although 1500 individual petals seemed like a lot of petals, I was surprised when they spread them out for the valentine photoshoot. Something to keep in mind later on.

The video behind the scenes includes me setting up the shoot. Out of respect for Tee I did not record during the photoshoot. However I believe these photos turned out great.

Studio locations

Finding and deciding which studio to work with is important to me as a photographer. I love collaborating with the individual studio owner and talking with them. A couple things I think of right away when figuring out which studio I want to book (since I don’t own my own), is availability and accessories.

Availability means when the actual studio may be open. It also may be important to get this down because it is dependent on me and the model to decide when we want to shoot. There is also an aspect of natural lighting that will affect our shots.

Oftentimes many studios are only open for the weekend, which may make it more difficult to shoot during the week in the morning. Finding a flexible schedule is helpful if you are busy during a weekend. If our schedules don’t exactly match up it is best to find a studio that can aid that. In this case the Northern Lights Studio had availability in the daytime. In this case the natural lighting was not an issue, which I will explain further.

Some studios have the availability for natural lighting shoots. Natural lighting from indoors is very powerful if you understand the different times of days to take photos. Whoever some times are not as desirable for shoots. This particular shoot needed soft shadows but visible shoots. The whole shoot was meant to be a “warm” photoshoot. To define this is to have a very soft, pleasant look, no harsh shadows, no stark contrasts of light.

Studio lights can aid natural lighting, however I believed everything needed in this shoot could be sufficient with only studio lights. The need for natural lighting would have to be in the correct direction. The natural lighting at this time would be out of our schedules and would be hit or miss with an overcast day. It’s always good to understand light to compensate for different times of day however. I would be interested in trying studio photoshoots at night with natural lighting and studio light to supplement it.

Praising the Northern Lights studio, their studio has a fair amount of lighting available at disposal. They have professional pro-foto gear or lighting gear that make lighting a scene easier. Some studios do not provide as much lighting gear, however I knew this was going to be an essential part of the shoot.

Given the “warm” authentic mood I wanted to get off, I wanted to make sure to get soft light into the images. I setup the lights similar to a few images from our mood boards. I also set up a camera where I would eventually shoot and posed myself in those positions to make sure the lighting was correct. I often have done this in other photoshoot areas such as landscapes and self-portraits to get an idea in my mind what the images will look like. This is helpful to get straight to shooting and to contain on with different outfits- or if one outfit extends. This is generally for flexibility, but doesn’t necessarily happen each time. Correct lighting really is dependent on the art that is being created. There are so many elements to lighting and the actual moodboard. I like to get a sense before I even start shooting , Which kind of lighting would look best in this situation. This can start even before the moodboard is put together. The idea is to think of lighting that will enhance an idea and make logical sense. This is often why photographers set up shoots at different times. It is common for photographers to setup photoshoots at golden hour for soft skin and an orange glow to images. It is also common for photographers to set up photo shoots during the afternoon to get stark contrast, harsh light. This can be mitigated with external flashes, reflectors and countless other instruments.

Another important part of the shoot was a secondary mood board idea. This idea involved Tee to lay down on a black backdrop. A couple important parts of this included the angles, and the contrast between the subject and the background.

The angle was important because I was likely shooting down and on the ground towards the subject. I need to light her without getting sharp contrasts. Changing the height of the light was also important to getting great lighting. I setup two lights semi perpendicular to each other to get the side profile of the subject and the other to use as a key light. I then once again set myself up as if I were to get my photographs taken.

The other part of this was setting up the Valentine petals to fill the frame. I only needed to fill the frame in these cases. This wasn’t a video where I would need to set it up differently. Also sparingly I had recognized I might need to add more petals in photoshop. This was not something I was worried that was impossible, but rather something tedious, that didn’t need to happen if I planned correctly.

In this case the amount of petals was an issue, however this was fixed by spreading them out as much as possible and filling the frame strategically. I only added in petals once or twice to the final image. Although more could have been added, I believed adding more would become a huge distraction in the eternity of the photos.

Getting the shoot done.



The Northern Light Studio was also great because it included a dressing room right by the studio that allowed for easy outfit changes and great lighting in the dressing room. This made it easy to move on from one outfit to another. After each intra-outfit I would spend my time reviewing the images, reviewing my settings and making sure everything was smooth.

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A post shared by Northern Lights Photo Studio (@northernlightsphotostudio)

Reviewing settings in camera is important to make sure no artifacts are on the lens, correct settings are implemented. I usually scroll through them if I am just using my camera, but it is also handy to bring a laptop or device to view them larger.

I should emphasize that music is a huge part of my life. So listening to really anything can help a shot's energy. Some common types of music I listen to include are pop, hip-hop, alternative, EDM, dance. Although I won’t list all the music - I listen to a bunch of types that deviate from the norm just mention country, electronic italian, jazz . When others share their playlists during shoots it can be a fun way to learn more about them and make the whole shoot feel more comfortable.

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A post shared by Isaias (Yoyo) Photographer (@ijyoyo)

A part of photoshoots that I think many photographers overlook or don’t notice is the time and energy people put into getting ready. This includes finding cool outfits, hair styling and doing makeup. I should mention a bit of my background here. I grew up with 3 other sisters each older than me. At the age of 10, there were times where my sisters would spend hours getting there makeup done. I got used to the idea of them spending so much time getting ready and respected it in a way. Later on two of my sisters went through beauty school and they brought home different makeup kits.

They went from manikins and other people to eventually me, just for fun. I would say I have a larger vocabulary of eyeliner, brushes, shadows then most people. Perhaps i’ll learn some more in the future to aid me in photoshoots where makeup and stylists are not present- or even when they are. Nevertheless, photoshoot time also includes the preparation in this field.

The final part: Editing



The editing for this shoot was known to be longer than previous shoots. I knew I might need to add back in petals and possibly remove artifacts on the studio backdrops. However I found that these were very minimal.

The editing took about 3 days. I wanted to make a quick editing and tagging process because Valentines day was so close. I wrote down what I needed in each outfit. Some general guidelines of what to fix may have been hair strands, black brackets (must remove hair ties), scuffs and artifacts in the original images, and correct skin color. These are all generalizations that take many different levels of editing.

Taking and editing photos for the past 4 years has given me a lot of perspective and experience of what to look out for when editing photos. I first started editing when I was about 12 years old and have found many tricks in editing software like photoshop. This shoot actually brought out what I love about editing. The actual photo taking and the post-processing. I have learned quick and effective techniques to remove oddities, and get the correct lighting.

Editing these images each took around 1 hour per outfit. This included correct lighting and mood affecting the lightroom. And then retouching in photoshop. I said previously that it took about 1 hour per outfit, I usually copy the lighting effects on one image to the others to streamline the process, and then do the same thing to any other images that look similar. Getting the lighting correct in camera is important to reduce this time. Included in the affecting of the mood includes adding tone curves, adding color tones to the image and emphasising a style of my own. This style takes a bit of adjusting to each photo.

Retouching in photoshop- if asked or if the moodboard requires- includes correcting skin colors, background and other distraction objects in an image. This is important in editing these portrait photoshoot photos.

What’s Next

Thanks for reading this article of a valentine photoshoot. Hopefully you learned about the photoshoot behind the scenes process. We took this photos on a day in January. Make sure to watch the behind the scenes videos if you would like to see the live footage. Happy creating!

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Email Contact: ij@ijyoyo.com

Milwaukee WI, US 53211

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