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Jewel Images

Last year, I was honored to participate in the Tether Tools video series: How I Got the Shot. Each video showcases amazing photographers from a wide variety of genres. I was featured for one of my competition images called Kiki and Butterflies. I’m sharing the following Q&A (from Tether Tools) for a behind the scenes breakdown of how the shot was achieved, and the gear I used to get it.

What was the concept of the shoot?

The idea for the shoot was inspired by the subject, her personality and her youth. I wanted to convey a sense of  feminine innocence, but also inject strength and independence into the image. The monarch butterflies are fiercely determined little creatures. With their long migration patterns and invincible instinct, stand out coloring and their delicate appearance; they perfectly represent Kiki, my model. She embodies all these qualities beautifully, so what better way than to photograph her being adored by them?

What setup and lighting did you use to get the shot?

The shot was take-in studio using two Profoto D1 Air 500watt strobes. Modifers included a 1’ x 3’ strip bank and grid as a hair light and Profoto 5 foot octobox as the main. It was photographed on a custom Oliphant background using an antique chair. Her outfit was created using a nude sheath, and orange tulle was simply wrapped around her body.

What was your biggest challenge?

Working with 5-year olds can naturally be a challenge, however Kiki was a sweetheart. Most kids want to immediately smile because their parents have trained them to do so for a camera. My challenge was to get her to relax through the shoot and just perform with her stunning eyes. Getting the butterflies to behave wasn’t easy either though! Nothing like a little scotch tape to help you out there. 

What type of post-processing was involved?

Post processing was done with a fine art technique of strategically dodging and burning all the highlights and shadows in the image. After bringing the image into post, I realized I did not like four butterflies and reduced it to three. Plus, I replaced her arm and hand with a more pleasing pose which forced me to alter the stick she was holding as well. Her eyes were enhanced using dodge and burn and the overall tone of the image was brought down to create a rich/moody look. Finally, a texture was added to create a final style.

What was the logistics and/or gear needed to achieve this shot?

Gear used was a Nikon D5 camera with a Nikkor 85mm f1.4G lens. Strobes were triggered with the Profoto Air Remote.

Who was involved and how did they play a part in the shoot (ex: makeup, assistant, digital tech., etc.)?

All hair, make up and clothing was done by myself here at the studio. Part of the creative process for me is to design what my subject will wear as this helps define and create the story. Although our studio pug, Porter, did feel the need to contribute a little! You can see him hanging out as we shot. Kiki LOVED him.

Watch the full BTS of the photoshoot here and comment below for feedback or questions:

Also, be sure to join our FB group for more discussion on everything business for professional photographers.


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