Misha Nonoo x Snapchat Live Lookbook
A client, designer, producer, two models and a full creative team. Sounds like the usual setting for a fashion shoot right? Now imagine that set up but instead of the usual digital SLR replace it with an iPad Pro. I would never have imagined 5 years ago shooting a live fashion shoot on what is essentially a giant mobile but times are changing and in my opinion – in an exciting way. So many creatives are now using the latest technology to keep up with this fast paced industry. More and more designers are turning to social media as this is where their target market has their eyes. Snapchat is essentially the next generation of consumers for many of these fashion brands.
My recent collaboration with designer Misha Nonoo was incredibly fun. As a photographer who grew with the digital age in photography and social media I embrace change as it comes. Challenges like this are always fun and give unexpected results. The shoot was a live lookbook for Misha’s new ready to wear Fall 16 collection (which is absolutely gorgeous!). The process was unique – I used the iPad Pro and captured each look in the Snapchat App, being sure that everything was perfect in camera before passing the iPad to the illustrator, Ana Strumpf. Ana then worked her magic, illustrating using the Apple pencil and only using what was available in-app. On some shots we used a custom made Geo-filter which meant we had to match the illustration to pose and overall feeling.
I had to let go of the desire to control every technical issue and focus more on the creative direction – there’s no way to control white balance etc within the camera! Instead, my role was to focus more on the creative direction – being sure that I produced what Misha envisioned for this shoot. On shoots like this it’s about connecting everyone and making sure everyone understands the limitations but also what is possible. Voicing my opinion to the model and keeping a conversation open with Ana (the illustrator) was important. As the shoot progressed I realized quickly that there wasn’t any hesitation allowed – you either run with the shot you took or you have to go with the next. The decision whether to cull or keep was quick. There was no editing or filters allowed in-app. This raw process was a little nerve-racking but the flow soon became obvious and very fun once everyone got the hang of it!
Originally when I thought about the lighting choice on this shoot I immediately thought natural light would be the best option, simply because it’s easier for everyone. After having a conversation with the team, we all realized that there’s too many uncontrollable variables – sunlight moving throughout the day, controlling harsher light, weather changes. It was much safer to go with a controlled environment to keep consistency within the shots. I chose to use continuous lighting vs strobe for obvious reasons (try syncing a strobe to an iPad!).
I decided to use Broncolor HMI lighting (specifically the new FT system) because I needed a large powerful source to recreate daylight and the flexibility to shoot video. The key light was the HMI 1600 paired with the Para 133. The Para was used to create a sculpted light and wrap around my subject. However to fully create that ‘natural’ look I was aiming for I decided to use a large scrim in front of the light with a full stop diffusion. The effect without this would have been too intense.
I added a second light, the Bron Kobold 800 HMI slightly below my key for leg fill. To make this light less intense I paired it with a 4×4 softbox – this gave a slight fill to the legs (I always find it’s important to light legs separately especially when my key is quite high up).
Even though we are aiming for consistency with light and white balance – it’s almost impossible to get right in every shot because we’re shooting in the Snapchat camera. To ensure we got the best option each time we compared a finished snap with the one we were currently shooting. Knowing that white balance would be an issue, we added an orange gel to the key light to make it slightly warmer and less cool. Everything we did was step by step, making sure that each tweak was monitored to make sure we got a perfect in camera result.
Lastly, two white v-flats (or polyboards) were added to give a little more fill to the set and to the sides of the model. The choice for using these over lighting the edges were because we didn’t want the set to feel overly lit and fake.
So why didn’t we take the shot on the SLR to control the technical part and to get better images? Well, the whole point of the shoot was to capture the show ‘live’ with an instant upload, a slower process would have gone against our initial idea. This was a raw photo shoot, on Snapchat. It’s expected that it’s going to be an instant upload and not perfect.
We did shoot some SLR content for future content posts on social and yes, the difference is incredible! However, I am very happy with how the shoot turned out (regardless of the limitations) and honored to have been a part of a unique idea with Misha and her team.
The shoot process was a good reminder to get everything right in camera and to be SURE that all details are checked. It made me flash back to the DigitalRev YouTube episode I did in Hong Kong where I was challenged to produce a street fashion shoot with a toddlers toy camera – quality is important but the idea even more so. What sells your work as a photographer is your eye. Your eye and ideas are what you are remembered for. Your work isn’t great because you own the latest DSLR or an expensive lens, it’s all the work you do before you even arrive on set and how you bring the puzzle pieces together on the day of the shoot. There was a ton of work that went into producing this shoot and the unique idea and talent that came together on the day is what people remember.
View the entire Snapchat lookbook on the Misha Nonoo Instagram here.
Bron 1600 HMI with Para HR System (Para 133HR)
Bron Kobold 800 HMI with 4×4 Softbox
Westcott Scrim Jim with one stop diffusion
2 x White V-flats