How We Take Our Pictures

We’ve all had moments in life where somewhere a new door opens, or a new relationship begins, just at the right moment when you needed it to, and you’re always beyond grateful for the timing of it all.  And that is the theme of this week’s blog post.  We get asked from time to time about how we go about taking pictures for our website, blogs and social media, so we felt like it was a good time to reminisce a little on that topic and then introduce to you our wonderful photographer who takes our photos!  We actually really failed with photos for a long time prior to meeting her and some of our “attempts” now make us honestly laugh out loud!  Ahhh, the struggle was real.


Let’s begin by taking you back in time to 2015.  We had hired a team to build a small website for us and just when that website was almost ready to launch, those developers asked us the very simple (and painfully obvious) question of how we were going to source our photos.  Now as two newbies still trying to get our arms wrapped around inventory and merchandising a mall store and surviving the holiday season (did I mention we first opened on Black Friday – BAD IDEA), we honestly hadn’t had a second to breathe let alone figure out this small but massively important detail.  Using stock photos from vendors (where they provide copyright free images) works sometimes, but our problem was not all the vendors that we worked with provided them.  And even more than that, we wanted it to be a consistent look across the board.  So we went straight to Google and prayed we could easily figure out an easy but effective way to shoot all the products we had in out store.


And purely for your entertainment value, I want to share how that went for us.  We thought we were SO super clever because we ordered a huge roll of the background paper that you find in photo studios to serve as our backdrop.  At the time, we were operating out of a temporary brick and mortar location in a suburban shopping mall but decided that we could make the back corner of this store space our own photo studio.  So we taped up our background paper and then threw a camera up on a tripod with the attitude that we were Annie-Freakin’-Leibowitz and started snapping away.  Bear in mind, the only lighting we had was uber flattering fluorescent lights and neither us knew the first thing about photo editing.  How could any of this go wrong?  But it did.  Oh, so wrong.


Even in a black and white filter, one can see this is not going to be good, LOL!

After shooting almost everything in stock over the course of a week, we finally had a moment of brutal honesty and admitted that there was not a single attractive element to any of the photos.  They promptly found themselves deep in our computer’s recycling bin and we were looking for a plan b.  We logically decided that it was “only” the lighting tripping us up and getting outside in the natural light would surely provide the high-class photo quality we were trying to attain.  Again because we were in a brick and mortar mall location, the backside of a JCPenney entrance became our go-to photo shoot locale.  (I am literally laughing out loud again reliving this moment in our lives!!).  While the natural light “helped”….it definitely wasn’t enough to overcome our lack of photo editing skills – AKA, me moving color sliders around until I absolutely ruined any potential a photo had.  Still at this point, we didn’t have any other game plan so onward we went, marching outside in full looks and our tripod, pretending we didn’t notice the weird look from shoppers and employees heading into JCP.  I have to believe mall security watched us on their various security cameras with a bag of popcorn and probably died laughing.


This was one of our best JCP photos we ever took!


Then one day, a woman came into our store to browse around and our prayers were answered.  Though the course of small talk, she mentioned that she was a photographer, if we ever needed help in that area.  UMMM –> so much so!!!  I scribbled down her name and contact information and could hardly wait for Alli to get in to share the news with her.  Let’s just say, the rest was history.


A group shot with Diane!

The talent behind the camera is Diane Wattenhofer, she’s the owner of Diane Adair Photography and a fellow tall girl.  She is the most supportive partner we could possibly ever ask for and honestly we want to take this moment to brag on her.  Not only is she a godsend with our photography and up for literally any idea we throw at her, but she is an incredible landscape and nature photographer.  Her Instagram page is a beautiful display of many of her images, and she also compiles them into annual calendars of different themes that you can buy from her Etsy shop here.  AND, she does senior pictures and family sessions, if you are local and looking for someone to take some for you!  She is the kindest soul and so easy to work with!!  She also often showcases her work locally – currently she has an exhibit up in the Excelsior Chamber of Commerce!  Again if you are in that area, you should swing in and take a peek.  🙂


One winter we wrapped Alli’s face up to highlight some scarves – any good reason to pull this photo back out I’m all about, haha!


People are sometimes curious how photo shoots work for us, so we wanted to share a little more insight on our process.  We try our very best to take photos weekly, just to keep our content fresh and usually we schedule them about a day or two in advance because that’s just how life works for us right now.  Also because the weather here can be so bipolar.  Typically we take the vast majority of our photos outside (except for when the cruel MN winters absolutely don’t allow for it) and we rotate between various locations in the Minneapolis area.  Like other bloggers can attest to, usually there are onlookers and people milling around while we shoot, which can be a little uncomfortable at times.  On top of that, we almost always have my toddler daughter running around in the background, so in between a quick smile and pose, one of us is chasing after her!  And at the risk of sounding totally un-glamorous, I will also tell you that we are often changing our outfits in public bathrooms and if those don’t exist, then the backseats of our cars.  Actually, a few weeks ago, Alli sent me a link to an Emily Schuman blog article where she was showing some behind the scenes footage of a photo shoot for her Cupcakes and Cashmere line, and we loved it because she was changing behind stairwells and around corners too!  That’s 1000% the life we live!  Usually when I can’t find something I want to wear, I head straight to the my car to see if it got left in a pile in my backseat post-photos!


This is exactly what our shoots look like!

As we have gone through this journey, we are reminded always that we have been truly blessed to have crossed paths with so many remarkable people, and we would be completely remiss to not express our appreciation for those who have extended a hand and helped us so much along the way.  Diane is certainly one of those people.  And to those of you who have expressed interest in shooting with us – don’t fret!!  Now that the weather has turned, we are working on a game plan to try and get as many people involved as we can.  🙂  So if the thought of public bathrooms and an audience watching aren’t terrifying to you, we are hoping to pursue this soon, haha!  <3

Thanks for reading!


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