On Location in Target and IKEA
Shooting on location is always a challenge for any number of reasons — light, weather, on-lookers. Since I've had my studio, I haven't worked outside or in other locations very much. But, the recent popularity on social media of maternity and engagement shoots done in big box stores made me rise to the challenge: could I shoot a dancer in a Target or IKEA (or both)?
Fortunately, Shaelynn Estrada of Houston Ballet was visiting Philadelphia recently and agreed to be my test subject. If we were kicked out of Target then we'd just head to my studio and do dramatic portraits. But we were really hoping shooting in Target and IKEA would work.
I was particularly worried about being asked to stop by store employees. When I tried shooting in Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market once, the dancer and I were told to stop immediately since it was an "eating establishment" and the (male) dancer was shirtless. I was also told to stop shooting outside of a children's museum once because it simply "wasn't allowed." So, I expected the store employees to ask me if I was taking professional photos (uh, no, of course not) or to just tell me I couldn't take pictures in their stores. Surprisingly, no one batted an eye, even when we rearranged furniture and accessories to create a less cluttered space. I intentionally wanted Shaelynn in regular street clothes and not wear a leotard and tights (or tutu) to help prevent her from attracting too much attention to our project. Though when she was posing in Target, several on-lookers were in awe and thought she was a store mannequin.
We spent two hours in Target and then headed to the IKEA nearby. The most difficult aspects about shooting in IKEA were the spot lighting and the enormous hangtags that are on every single item. I had to either hide the tags or edit them out, and they're not small! Fortunately, in the sample bathroom where I photographed Shaelynn in the tub, the only visible tags were on the shower curtains and I was able to carefully tuck them away.
All the lighting was ambient store lighting—no flashes, no strobes. Making the existing light work for us was a challenge, but a good and fun one.