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Poster for sale until the night of September 18th: CLICK HERE to buy it.

People ask me how a photo shoot comes together, so I decided to use the latest shoot as an example.

It started on August 27th, when I was at Restless Soul’s Haunted House Complex to film a series of promotional videos for the haunt (see it HERE). Robert Frankeberg, the multi-talented musician, haunter, and co-conspirator of Retro Souls Entertainment (along with his partner Tony Noto, another talented musician and DJ) was my collaborator on the video shoot. Retro Souls is putting on “Blackbeard's Bizzare - A Swashbuckling Good Time!” on September 18th at Katie’s in Smithtown, and between shots we got to talking about how to promote the event. I came up with the idea of a photo shoot and poster with the pirate theme, with two beautiful models. Rob love the idea, but the only issue was the event was three weeks and change away, a promo shoot would have to happen quick to have it out there long enough to make an impact.

Right away I found a model at the haunt with Laura Calandrino AKA Lady Annie Marie. She said she had a pirate outfit, so that was one less thing for me to deal with. The next day I reached out to Lauren Clover, a model, cosplayer, actress, screenwriter, and so much more. Lauren and I have worked together before, and she’s always fun to have on a shoot. She’s also incredible crafty, and I knew if she didn’t have an outfit, she could make one in no time flat. I was very happy when she said she’d do it and create an outfit for the shoot.

Laura and Clover, our Pirate models.

  • Photo: John F. Sheehan Photography (www.jfsheehanphoto.com)
  • Photo: John F. Sheehan Photography (www.jfsheehanphoto.com)

I decided to shoot at a small beach near me that I know to be quiet on most weekdays. Having a spot where you won’t be interrupted or be intrusive to people around you is always a plus.

The beach

Photo: John F. Sheehan Photography ( <a href="http://www.jfsheehanphoto.com">http://www.jfsheehanphoto.com</a>)

Next was scheduling. I work. The models work. We had to find a day when all three of us, and as soon as possible. I opened a Facebook chat with both of them, introduced them, and we were able to nail down Friday September 2nd after 3pm as the day and time that worked best. The plan was to meet at my house, and go over to the beach to shoot. The rest of the week was followed by me praying to the photographic Gods for nice weather that day.

The night before I made sure I had what I would need for the shoot. Batteries were charged, and loaded into my trusty Canon 6D camera and flashes. I put aside all the equipment I was bringing. Since we were doing a run-and-gun type shoot, I was only going to bring a reflector, two flashes and a silver umbrella. This shoot was going to be minimalist as compared to other shoots (like the one I did for Guru’s). I like to make sure everything is prepared the day before, so I’m ready to hit the ground running when we get to the location.

Friday came, and I worked a really long shift starting at 3am in the morning. I got home, made note of the good weather, smiled, and took a short nap. An hour later I woke up ready for the shoot.

Clover was the first to arrive, and went to work on her costume, taking various odds and end and creating a pirate outfit. As she put on her makeup we talked about projects (like Mastic PD, which she and Patrick Devaney are finishing up the first season of) and what we wanted to do during the quick shoot. I try to take any time I can to communicate with the models so we’re on the same page. Laura got to my house already dress, which saved time. As I went over the plan with Laura, my long suffering wife got home from her own long day at work but willing to assist me with the shoot (that’s why I love her).

My wife drove us, and the beach was almost totally deserted except for a couple sitting in beach chairs looking at the water. As we walked passed them, they looked at the models in their full pirate costumes and chuckled. “Have fun,” the man said.

We walked down a little bit and found a length of beach that had a nice view of the ocean. The sun was coming from over the water, so the models would look nice with a backlit look. I took some test shots first. I wanted the models and the sky in the background to be lit perfectly. Often, if you expose for the background the model is too dark, or if you expose for the model the background is blown out as a blob of white. In these situations I like to expose for the background, and either bounce light onto the model with a reflector, or use two flashes in an umbrella to light the models. I chose the flashes, and my poor wife became a portable light stand, holding the umbrella high above her head for most of the shoot.

Behind the scenes, photographed by Sandra Ormsby

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We only really needed one shot for a poster, but I always overshoot. I got Clover and Laura together, with swords, then in separately. My wife pointed how cool the tall grass behind us looked, and we got some shots there. All in all, the shoot took less than an hour.

After we got back to the house, the models left for their respective homes and I downloaded and backed up the files from the shoot. Right away I culled my favorite images, and decided on one for the poster. I added the “Blackbeard’s Bizzare” logo, and the important information about the event.

I sent it to Rob and Tony and waited for their okay, which is actually the most nerve-wracking part of the process. "Will they like it? Will there be changes? Do they hate it and they just don't know how to tell me?" These are the questions that go round and round in my head.

Thankfully, they liked it. On September 4th it was plastered all over Facebook. From "I have an idea" to "Let's share thing like mad!" was about a week, and that's only because of scheduling.

The poster was put up for sale for a limited time only, and will be available until September 18th 2016. (EDIT: No longer available )


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  • Photo: John F. Sheehan Photography (www.jfsheehanphoto.com)
  • Photo: John F. Sheehan Photography (www.jfsheehanphoto.com)

Over the week I worked on the other images I liked from the shoot and posted them as well, always making sure to mention the models, the event, Retro Souls, and Katie’s of Smithtown.

I'm hoping that the poster, and the other photos, have helped get eyes on the event.

I have to thank Clover and Laura for coming in to do this on short notice. I also have to thank Robert and Tony of Retro Souls for believing in me. Most of all I have to thank my wife, because I couldn't do this without her help.

If you have any questions, or want to inquire about setting up a shoot, you can contact me on here.

John F. Sheehan