April 14 2022 – Kathryn Wepfer
Cleaning up a leaky toilet…
Changing the light bulb back and forth between the bathroom light fixture and the set lamp…
Collecting dirty diapers from our littlest models…
I always imagined fashion photo shoots to be quite glamorous affairs, but it turns out it feels more like daily mom life - managing orchestrated chaos, responding to the unexpected, and sometimes cleaning up a bit of poop!
In the early days of thinking about Fulcrum, a friend from the fashion industry told me this:
Great photography can sell bad products, and mediocre photography can sink great products.
Although I hadn’t thought through our brand imagery yet, that comment really struck me me because I know how persuasive great imagery can be for me as a consumer. When a brand nails great photography, the products come alive for me in a way that I can really imagine them integrated into my life. I also believe that a brand’s imagery provides a critical opportunity to communicate its values and showcase the types of customers it seeks to serve. And so with all this in mind, I knew from early on that I wanted to prioritize photography for Fulcrum, but how to make that happen as a startup brand with a limited budget has always required some creativity!
So how exactly are we approaching our imagery as a brand?
I want to give you a look behind the scenes of a recent photo shoot we produced for two new styles that will launch in the coming weeks. It was our second ever shoot, and we were definitely more knowledgeable than we were for our first shoot last year, but it was still a labor of love to produce! We’re a startup trying to create big-brand imagery on a shoestring budget, so we had to be really clear about our priorities and remain creative in our approach. Here’s what we did:
Wore our mom hats: There are so many details to think through and scenarios to consider when producing a shoot like this, much like the constant analysis, planning, and juggling that goes into daily mom life. I tapped into those skills to create a detailed plan with every contingency I could think of, and to make sure we came prepared with all the essential props, tools, and wardrobe essentials we could want to have on hand…and then of course it’s all about the snacks! I made sure we had plenty of snacks and drinks to keep us going through the shoot!
Asked for help: We only use real postpartum moms in our imagery to ensure we have an authentic look and feel. The goal is for any customer to look at our imagery and see some part of herself represented. To do this we rely on volunteer models, and I am so grateful to the amazing moms who modeled for us this weekend. Thank you!
Put our money into the right photographer for us: When we were planning our very first shoot, I reached out to a variety of photographers, many of whom came recommended to me, and who all had beautiful portfolios. We chose to work with Stacey Vaeth Photography and have continued to work with her for our second shoot. She’s an experienced and skilled photographer, but most importantly she really understands the vision of the brand and we truly enjoy collaborating with her.
Experimented with our aesthetic: We went with a simpler aesthetic for this shoot, with less of everything – jewelry, props, backgrounds – and let the clothes stand for themselves more. The goal is to introduce some small visual variations and get feedback from our customers about what they prefer so we can create with their preferences top of mind in the future.
Improvised: Remember that detailed plan I was so proud of? It’s a super helpful exercise, but we always expect that virtually nothing will go according to the plan. And then there are always a few surprises…First, the toilet started leaking. I mopped it up and we tried to employ a “if it’s yellow let it mellow” policy, but that is a little awkward in the company of people you’ve only just met!! Then I realized the one prop I forgot was a lightbulb for the lamp we were using in our desk shots – an essential item. There was one light bulb in the whole studio where we were shooting – in the bathroom light fixture – so I shifted the bulb back and forth as needed. Again, awkward and not ideal, but we made it work. And after a week of gorgeous weather, it got cold and cloudy for our outdoor shots, but the models braved the chilly temps well and it forced us to be very efficient with our outdoor shots!
There were pleasant surprises too! Dads showed up with babies and it made the shoot a fun family affair. We decided to incorporate the babies and they stole the show! I didn’t plan that and it was a great value to the day.
We’re still learning every day, from the little things to big productions like this shoot. I’m really proud of what we produced this time and am most grateful to everyone who helped turn the vision into reality. I can’t wait to share the photos soon – stay tuned!