We Got This...
Behind the Scenes of the Cover Shoot
Photography by Debbie Porter
For this issue, CKW LUXE decided to do something a little different and asked Debbie Porter of Debbie Porter Photography if she would be up for doing a cover shoot. Porter was game, telling CKW LUXE that although many people don’t realize Houston has the resources for such an undertaking, she knows otherwise. The city is filled with experienced artists she trusts, and she was certain, with them, she could make this opportunity a successful reality.
A number of elements go into doing a photo shoot. Each must be planned and aligned. Porter was generous enough to share her process of getting all the elements in place and the way she did it for this particular shoot using Houston’s finest resources.
The first thing, before ideas or concepts are floated, is to meet with the magazine and discuss how the shoot will be executed. After that is accomplished, it’s time to think about the models. Some are chosen just for the shoot. In this case it was Zoe, the daughter of CKW LUXE publisher, Connie Kwan-Wong. Others may be chosen for their size or ethnicity. Debbie Porter Photography has access to the best modeling agencies in Houston for this purpose. Because Porter works with children on a regular basis, most of the models used on the shoot were available through her personal contacts.
Once the models are selected, the right stylist for the job must be considered. In this case it had to be someone Porter could count on. Summar Salah, the editor’s recommendation, was the perfect choice. With over twenty years of experience, Salah has styled shoots for commercials, print, fashion print, television, and film. Magazines she has worked with include Weddings in Houston, Total Body Magazine, Yellow Magazine, First Magazine, and Golf Digest. Films she has worked on include Playing House and Cook County.
Once the stylist is chosen, the hair and makeup artist must be found. Experience is important. Especially important in this case is how good the artist is with children and if they’ve worked with them before. It was also necessary for the shoot to find someone with an eye for fantasy. Wendy Martin turned out to be the perfect fit. Having worked in the fashion industry for over twenty years, Martin has an impressive list of celebrity clients. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Forbes, People Magazine, Seventeen, GQ, and Vogue.
Picking the right location comes next. Many factors play into making this decision, including whether it will be more effective to shoot on location or in the studio. In this case, the woods were the location option, and it was decided to shoot there rather than in the studio. Shooting in the woods wasn’t the easy option as it had so much going against it: young children in expensive designer dresses, bugs, heat, and a summer setting for a winter/spring issue. In the end, it was all worth it, resulting in mesmerizing shots and happy participants.
Coming up with the perfect wardrobe is the next thing to consider. It’s one of the most important decisions of the shoot because it determines what direction the shoot will take. In this instance, it was decided it wouldn’t be a fashion shoot, but that the children would be clad in beautiful ethereal gowns. After much consideration about where the right clothes would come from, Summar Salah called on her friend David Peck, creative director of Miles David, who supplied the amazing dresses. They and the kids were everyone’s favorite things about the session.
Once the location and wardrobe are settled, props need to be chosen. This decision is sometimes a creative call suggested by the photographer. The magazine may also make suggestions and the photographer will ask her creative team to collaborate. For our shoot, it was decided that only a few were necessary. They amounted to a couple of the “right” chairs and fantasy items. Dream Bouquet, a professional wedding and event florist, created beautiful fairy wings, wands, and headpieces that were the perfect accessories for the fairy-tale gowns. Just to be on the safe side, Porter and her assistant, son Quaid Porter, whipped up a second set of wings for backup. “Having a plan B is always a good idea,” Porter says.
Choosing a crew to help is the next step; it can consist of anyone who wants to help. Of course, having a trained photographic assistant is vital. When children are the focal point, parents are going to be part of the crew providing snacks and keeping their little ones happy.
The final phase is the editing. Sometimes finding the perfect shot is easy, but sometimes you must look closely to find it. Normally, the photographer does the first edit and then presents the client with a few choices. Together, the photographer and client collaborate and come up with the final product that makes them both happy. To achieve the specific look the photographer and magazine are going for, the image is made perfect during post production.