Behind-the-Scenes of a Lifestyle Photo Shoot for Pure Fix Cycles


Last weekend I did a lifestyle photoshoot for Pure Fix Cycles featuring my friend, Diego, biking around the beautiful city of Charleston. I want to share what I did well and what I could do better on so you can learn from and/or laugh at my experience.

Establishing shot: so the viewer knows we’re in Charleston (the most beautiful city in the country).

The story:

Lifestyle photos are valuable to brands because they associate them with a cool, believable, and relatable experience. Thus, I have three tasks: make the story cool, make it relatable, and make it believable.

Making the story cool was pretty easy. Charleston is beautiful, the weather was beautiful, Diego is beautiful (and well-dressed), and the bikes are beautiful. The overall experience of biking around Charleston on a beautiful spring day is what makes the story cool though, and so that was the focus. It’d be easy to slip into photographing lots of details or portraits, but they aren’t the point. The experience is the point.

Making the story relatable wasn’t too hard either. It’s not an alien-like model staring intensely at the horizon while biking up the Himalayas; it’s a normal good-looking guy biking around a beautiful city. It could be anyone. It could be you.

Making the story believable is the most important element (and the hardest). It’s believable that Diego would go biking around on a nice day and than relax at a park and by the water, but would he really just sit there doing nothing? He probably would’ve brought a book or a friend, but I doubt he would sit at the park doing nothing AND at the battery doing nothing. Maybe one, but not both. This area has the most room for improvement.

Almost used this photo, but I don’t like blown highlights. The sky is not the color white. Still, would’ve been a good transition from biking > park.
Considered having Diego use my bookbook as a fake book, but decided the vintage look was too unnatural.
Alternate ending photo. Almost used it, but decided I wanted the water in the background for context.

Editing:

When I edit photos I want them to look good, of course, but I also want to have a cohesive feel across all the images, even if they’re taken in different locations and lighting situations. This can be a challenge, because if I simply copy and paste the edit I use on Diego leaving his house on to Diego at dusk, it’s going to look very different since there’s a two-hour time gap between the photos. I think I did a solid job at reconciling the different lighting in each location, though. I don’t think it’s the most beautiful edit I’ve ever done, but it’s good.

What I’m really proud of is my photoshop work on this shoot. I opened up almost every one of the final images in Photoshop either edit skin or remove a car/person/sign. I don’t think it’s noticeable in any of the photos (until I tell you I photoshopped them, of course). Here are a couple before/afters:

Can you spot the difference?

Where I want to improve:

My biggest weak point was my lack of planning. If I had planned beyond the theme of “A Day in Charleston”, I would’ve gotten better photos. Run-and-gun is always a bad idea. I’m not talking about location-scouting or narrowing down timing to the minute, I’m talking about intentionally the itinerary in a way that makes sense. The story could’ve been stronger if I had included a backpack for Diego so he could read at the park instead of just sitting there (over half of the shots are Diego just sitting somewhere pretty). I also could’ve started at a coffee shop and had an extra photo or two of him drinking coffee (or reading) in a cool spot instead of starting outside of some random person’s house that we couldn’t go enter.

Didn’t really need another shot of him on the bike.
The first person perspective was cool, but unfortunately I wasn’t consistent with it and didn’t include my bike in any of the other shots. Planning, man. It matters.
I liked this image, but didn’t want to over-do it. We only need a few photos to understand that he hung out by the water.

Overall, I feel good about what I have: fifteen solid photos about biking around the city of Charleston. But, I’m excited to grow from the experience and do even better next time.

Most of the above images are outtakes so I’d love for you to check out the final selections and give me your thoughts. If you liked this article, hit the recommend button below! And if you didn’t, send me an angry tweet about it. ☺