Reaching Outside Of Your Comfort Zone


These past weeks have seen us drive through some stunning vistas, from arid deserts to lush cloud forests. It’s been an amazing photographic experience and one we won’t be forgetting anytime soon.  There are still dozens of great shots we can’t wait too share with you. I’m just waiting for JP to bury his head in Lightroom and post-process them!

My favourite images from the Sutro photoshoot.

You might have noticed a shift in style with this photo series; shot in the Sutro Forest in San Francisco. It’s a long way away from landscapes!

JP’s photography has typically been something he’s pursued on his own. On this trip though, we’ve started working together to plan shots and find locations. This collaboration helped us notice a desire to shift to a more ‘storytelling’ style of photography. One where we rely less on the location and more on a concept developed from our crazy imaginations. .

Enthused with our new mission, we set off to buy a few lighting essentials for our studio-in-a-backpack and get cracking.


So it turns out planned shoots require a lot more planning than we thought. We settled quickly on a theme we could best describe as an ‘edgy version of princess gets lost in woods’. While we’re pretty happy with the final product, we screwed up plenty and learnt some great lessons.

Instead of brushing these learning’s under the carpet, here’s an outline of what went right, what went wrong and how it’s encouraged us for the next shoot!



  1. Location:This was shot in Sutro Forest, San Francisco and is exactly what we were looking for. A lush cloud forest with greenery from the floor to the canopy and a strong chance of atmospheric fog.We visited the site a few times. First to pick specific locations in the forest to shoot and then a second time to practice poses and lighting setup (just wearing normal clothes – no duct tape!).We planed the shoot day inline with the weather report to increase our chances of catching the fog at its densest. This meant a pre-dawn wake up but had the added benefit of encountering less people walking us while I was half naked!
  2. Lighting:Using purely speed-lights is hardly best practice (but it does make for a lighter kit!) and will take some mastering. We took a bunch of practice shots the day before and studied them to determine what worked and what didn’t. So by the time we had me up on the tree or in the middle of the forest half naked and freezing, we were prepared.A cool tip for anyone trying to pack light: white plastic bags make great diffusers and have the added benefit of keeping your speed lights dry!


  1. Character Clothes and Makeup:The loose ‘fairytale princess that is lost in the forest’ theme was enough to have us head to the thrift stores and pick up a white dress and some other odds and ends. But it wasn’t a complete enough identity. The lack of clarity on the outfit and makeup, both of which we made the night before, left our photos looking a bit confused.It’s essential to fully flesh out a character’s backstory before you can materialise them.
  2. Character Emotion:As soon as I got into the forest, it was hard to get into the head of the character as I didn’t really know who they were meant to be. We sort of assumed the correct emotion would fall upon my face just like magic but it seems that magic isn’t created by accident; it requires deliberate thought and planning.

The Pinterest board we created for the shoot is here for anyone who wants to take a peek.


So in the end, we let ourselves down with vision and story line. We’ve since spent hours discussing what went wrong and what went right and have become obsessed with the idea of capturing emotion in our next shoot!

Hopefully this has helped inspire you to move out of your photography comfort zone. It’s tough but hugely rewarding. Good luck!

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