Jenna Martin Blog

Ugly Spots, Pretty Shots: Lowe’s Photoshoot

November 19, 2017 101 Comments

 

Lowe's Photoshoot

A few weeks ago, a model friend of mine, Rachelle Kathleen, and I were planning to meet for a fun little photo shoot. Instead of searching out the usual beautiful locations around where we live, I had the idea to do just the opposite. I wanted to go somewhere “ugly” by all conventional photography standards, and then see what we could do with it, and Lowe’s seemed like the perfect option.

The point was to challenge ourselves. I wanted somewhere with horrible lighting and limited backdrops. Somewhere that made absolutely no sense for a photoshoot. Our local Lowe’s Home Improvement Store hits all those points. Before we went in we decided on a few rules:

1.) We had to work with whatever was already there. I brought in just my camera, without any artificial lighting or props. She simply brought a small bag with a couple outfit options.

2.) We couldn’t rearrange the displays or make any big changes. In one instance (as you’ll see later) we moved a cart from the side of the aisle to the center, but then put it right back. We’ve both spent years in the service industry, we weren’t about to leave the workers with a trashed store an hour before closing time on a Sunday night.

3.) We’d stop shooting if anyone was in the background. We didn’t want to give anyone any reason to complain, so we went to a spot that was completely empty of customers, and if someone did show up, we lowered the camera until they were done browsing and left the area.

Of course if none of this was allowed we would’ve left, but as soon as we walked in an employee asked if they could help us and I asked, “We were just going to take a few photos, is that okay?” He replied, “Of course! I was just wondering why she was so overdressed for a trip to the hardware store!” Since they were about an hour from closing the store was almost completely empty, though anyone we did come in contact with was super friendly, if not slightly curious. We had a few people stop and watch, but that’s to be expected anytime Rachelle models anywhere. The girl just can’t help but stop traffic.

And this is what we got! I’ve included the cell-phone pic of the actual location along with each photoset, so you can see what we were working with :). You can see more of the photos on my Instagram, and more behind the scenes shots here:

Lowe’s Location 1: The Paint Samples

I have to admit, I have always wanted to shoot in front of these paint samples, so as soon as we walked in the door I made a bee-line right to them. I’m excited I finally got to shoot in front of them – these shots turned out to be some of my favorites!

Location Shot:

Location 3: Paint Samples

SOOC:

Lowe's Photoshoot - Paint Samples (Before)

Edited:

Lowe's Photoshoot - Paint Samples 1

Lowe's Photoshoot - Paint Samples 1

Lowe's Photoshoot - Paint Samples 3

Lowe's Photoshoot - Paint Samples 4

Lowe’s Location 2: The Lighting Section

I was also excited for the lighting section. I’ve always been a fan of shooting straight into the light (though I’ve heard it’s a bit of a no-no). The main problem were the lights were so much higher than we thought…or maybe we’re just a lot shorter than we realized (we’re both barely 5’4″).

I knew the light itself was going to be pretty horrendous, with all the different colors, brightness levels and shadows, but I was excited to give it a shot. You can see in the second photo what it looked like straight out of camera.

Location Shot:

Lowe's Photoshoot - Lighting Section

SOOC:

Lowe's Photoshoot - Lighting Section (Before)

Edited:

Lowe's Photoshoot - Lighting Section 3

Lowe's Photoshoot - Lighting Section 2

Lowe's Photoshoot - Lighting Section 4

Lowe's Photoshoot - Lighting Section 5

Lowe’s Location 3: The Aisles

We knew we couldn’t avoid the aisles. Photographically speaking (is that a word?), they were awful. Horrible lighting, lots of plastic surfaces, really nothing that would be considered aesthetically pleasing, but that was the point. This was the essence of Lowe’s, and we wouldn’t have been doing the challenge justice to steer away from it.

Also, yes, we know you aren’t allowed to sit on the carts. An employee was there and gave us permission to keep shooting. Like I mentioned earlier, we were in a pretty big hurry, so she was sitting on that cart for a total of maybe 6 minutes, so calm the hell down, it’s not like we were dancing on them.

And yes, we know there has probably been something pretty disgusting spilled on them at some point, but we really couldn’t care less. Rachelle and I have shot nude in abandoned buildings full of spiders, bats and bird shit, a dry cart really isn’t much of an issue.

We shot in both the larger aisles and the skinnier ones. Here’s the larger aisle:

Location Shot: Aisle 1

Lowe's Photoshoot - Aisle 1

SOOC:

Lowe's Photoshoot - Aisle (Before)

Edited:

Lowe's Photoshoot - Aisle 1 (2)

Lowe's Photoshoot - Aisle 1 (1)

Location Shot: Aisle 2

Lowe's Photoshoot - Aisle 2

Lowe's Photoshoot - Aisle 2

Lowe’s Location 4: The Garden Section

I would’ve loved to spend more time in the garden section, but the store was closing and we were running out of time. We spotted a cluster of fake shrubs and I had her kneel down in front of them so I could fill the frame. It’s too bad we had to move on so quickly – this was actually the best lighting we got out of the entire store! If we had been there in the daytime, it probably would’ve been even better!

I knew I wanted to edit the finished photo with a kind of moody, wintery look. So even though the raw image really wasn’t too bad, it still needed some adjustments to get to what I wanted it to be.

Location Shot:

Lowe's Photoshoot - Garden Location

SOOC:

Lowe's Photoshoot - Garden Center (Before)

Edited:

Lowe's Photoshoot - Garden Center

Overall, this was a really fun challenge! Not that I’d invite an actual client to ever do a Lowe’s Photoshoot (I mean, never say never), but I was pretty happy with the result! Horrible location for the win! Next time you see an awful spot, maybe give it a chance, you never know what you might end up with. 🙂

Make sure to subscribe HERE for our next “ugly” location shoot (hint hint, it has something to do with cars), and follow me on Instagram to see more from this shoot and some of my underwater work. You can also follow me here to see all my before and after shots, and Rachelle Kathleen here to see more of her modeling and makeup projects!

 

101 Comments

  1. Reply

    Jim

    November 19, 2017

    Great concept, great execution! I enjoyed this article.

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 19, 2017

      Thank you Jim!

      • Reply

        αмєєя αℓi (@ameerali19)

        November 28, 2017

        phots are great and concept is fresh, i won’t agree witht the term Ugly place

        • Reply

          jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

          November 28, 2017

          Thanks! Maybe “ugly” isn’t the correct term since people can’t seem to understand I’m not describing Lowe’s itself. Lowe’s isn’t an ugly place, but an “ugly” place in terms of what people look for in photo composition.

  2. Reply

    amanialshaali

    November 20, 2017

    This is so cool. I love those pictures and I love how you edited them 😀 especially the chandeliers one, that must’ve been tricky.
    Now I kinda wanna try doing something like this :p

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 20, 2017

      Thank you so much! And you totally should I’d love to see what you come up with!

  3. Reply

    Nicole

    November 20, 2017

    I am in love with the light section photos. My while childhood getting drug into hardware stores I always hung out in the light section. I really want to try with my daughter. Gorgeous photos!

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 20, 2017

      Thank you so much Nicole! I hope you do!

  4. Reply

    Shay

    November 21, 2017

    I absolutely loved these pictures!! They speak to me in another level, I honestly didn’t think in doors pictures without studio lighting could look so good! If you don’t mind me asking how did you edit these?

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 21, 2017

      Thank you Shay! The editing is a bit in-depth to explain here, but long story short there was a lot of color correcting and then adjustments of the shadows and highlights. Hope the before and after photos helped!

      • Reply

        Cinthia

        November 22, 2017

        Hey love your work and editing would like to ask if you don’t mind what program or website would you recommend me to use for something like that??

        • Reply

          jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

          November 22, 2017

          Thanks Cinthia! I use a combination of Photoshop and Lightroom :).

  5. Reply

    Kay Bee

    November 21, 2017

    This is so creative and beautiful Lowe ‘ s should hire you

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 21, 2017

      Awww you made my day 🙂

  6. Reply

    JS

    November 21, 2017

    It’s an excellent concept. Lovely photos, LOVELY Rachelle Kathleen. Though, especially on the photo with the trees, I tend to prefer them in the original colors. However, I doubt I’d have known that without the SOOCs to compare, as I also liked the ones that didn’t have those.

  7. Reply

    Amy M.

    November 21, 2017

    Love the idea.. may I ask which Lowes u were at.. just a city/state.. just curious..

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 21, 2017

      Thanks! And I’m actually trying not to mention that, the employees were super nice and friendly and I don’t want to chance anyone getting in trouble :).

  8. Reply

    Stacy Ancel

    November 22, 2017

    AMAZING work! Brilliant idea! Just because I’m too curious, did the Lowe’s employees stop and watch?

    • Reply

      Stacy Ancel

      November 22, 2017

      Never mind. Just read your reply above about Lowe’s employees

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 22, 2017

      Thank you! And one did, but they were very nice and friendly :).

  9. Reply

    Jon Cancelino

    November 22, 2017

    I did the same concept at Ikea with a model and 4 looks back in March. 😎

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 22, 2017

      So cool! Great minds, eh? 😉

  10. Reply

    Siouxsie Hazel

    November 22, 2017

    Hello. What software are you using for the editing process in general? This sounds like a hobby that I could get into. Thank you for sharing your art!

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 22, 2017

      Hi! I use a combo of Photoshop and Lightroom. The adobe subscription is $9.99/month and you get both! 🙂

  11. Reply

    sam

    November 22, 2017

    omg your work is just way too amazing. such an inspiration to create a masterpiece out of normal situation. love it! mind to share what app u use to edit the pic? is any filters needed to create pics like that by any chance?
    Keep up the great work tho!

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 22, 2017

      Hi Sam! Thanks so much! I actually didn’t use an app or any filters, I edited each photo in Lightroom. Hope that helps!

  12. Reply

    sol

    November 23, 2017

    what camera do you sneak in here? 🙂

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 23, 2017

      Haha a Canon 5d Mark III 🙂

  13. Reply

    Septi

    November 23, 2017

    Gorgeous picts !!! If u dont mind What applicataion do u use for editing those pict ?

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 23, 2017

      Thank you! These were all edited with Lightroom and a little Photoshop 🙂

  14. Reply

    amy

    November 23, 2017

    Wow, you are an real expert! I enjoyed it 🙂
    (By the way I think the order of the SOOC pict and Edited pict in Location 4 has changed… I’m sorry if it is not.)

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 23, 2017

      Thanks Amy! ha and nope, they’re in the right order (the brighter one is the SOOC), but the SOOC was just pretty good there! Crazy, huh?

  15. Reply

    Branding Punto y Aparte

    November 24, 2017

    Nothing like a fast 1.2 lens to blur all the ugliness of any location. Very beautiful shots.

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 24, 2017

      Thanks! These were all mostly taken with a 50mm 18 though, one of the cheapest lenses out there ;).

  16. Reply

    Mark

    November 24, 2017

    My favourite is definitely the colouring swatches shots, super stylish. The last one where Rachelle is holding the swatches and looking at the camera screams “who me, I always come to the diy store dressed like this”… Fabulous.

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 24, 2017

      Haha thank you! We were kind of going for that. We wanted something a little ridiculous, because why not? 😂

  17. Reply

    Stephanie Lane

    November 24, 2017

    Can I ask what lens you used? And what were your settings?

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 24, 2017

      Sure! I used a 50mm 1.8 for most shots (one of the most versatile, inexpensive lenses out there, in my opinion), and then an 85mm on a couple. The settings changed for every location.

  18. Reply

    Mahi

    November 24, 2017

    In the last one I liked sooc. Great work

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 24, 2017

      Thanks so much! I really liked that one too, I was surprised it came out that good!

  19. Reply

    lrh

    November 24, 2017

    With all due respect, I would never do this. It’s always been explained to me that you seek out the BEST with any shoot you engage in, ESPECIALLY one you’ve been paid to do. You seek out an ideal location with a good background & lighting etc so as to maximize your chances of excellence. If you find yourself in suboptimal conditions & you accept the challenge of making the most of it, that’s totally understandable, but to go out of your way to seek out suboptimal conditions as a “challenge.” You NEVER and I mean NEVER do that. EVER. You ALWAYS make excellence your goal. ALWAYS.

    In fact, I’m so serious about this, I would refuse to do this “`even if the client asked me to do it.“`

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 24, 2017

      And with all due respect, what a horrible, awful, practice. The best backgrounds and lighting are not always available. Sometimes you just have to shoot in a shitty situation, absolutely nothing you can do about it. What do you think wedding photographers do everyday? Not every venue has amazing light, and not every wedding takes place at exactly 7:00pm with just the perfect amount of cloud cover. Sometimes a wedding photographer is shooting at noon is straight sun with wind blowing hair in the bride’s face. They have no choice but to adapt.

      And you don’t learn how to adapt unless you put yourself in these situations. To expect to only shoot in perfect locations is so unreasonable it’s borderline insane. Your skills don’t improve, your outlook doesn’t improve, your work doesn’t improve. The only way to push yourself is to step out of your comfort zone.

      Good luck shooting in optimal conditions your whole life, that sounds boring as hell.

      • Reply

        lrh

        November 25, 2017

        As I THINK I stated, although I may have not, I do understand doing this sort of thing if it’s for PRACTICE, if as you said non-ideal situations come up & it’s either do the best you can or else do nothing, when of course doing the latter isn’t a choice you want to make if it’s a paid-for shoot, and so you therefore practice shooting in non-ideal situations so that you are prepared if such occurs. In that case I can see it, although I’d practice doing so for a “non-shoot” if you will.

        However, if it’s an actual shoot of considerable importance and I have the choice between shooting in harsh noon-day sunlight with no shade OR shooting in quality shade that filters out the harshness, I am ALWAYS going to do that. ALWAYS. That is especially the case if I have promoted myself as a professional.

        In fact I recently shot wedding photos for a mutual friend as a courtesy. It was at a location that doesn’t provide good lighting opportunities and sure enough harsh noon-day lighting resulted. My photog friend assured me that she herself, when pressed to shoot at that spot (as had occurred on occasion), warned her clients the results would not be as good and that she would not be held responsible for the subpar quality which resulted. I did the same thing. I wasn’t ugly about it, same with my friend, but that’s the idea–you want GOOD shots then seek out GOOD lighting and GOOD backgrounds, ALWAYS. You can call that “boring,” but to me striving for excellence is NEVER “boring.” Thank you, respectfully.

        • Reply

          jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

          November 25, 2017

          And that’s where we’ll just have to respectfully disagree. I wouldn’t dream of telling a wedding client, “Sorry, but your photos aren’t going to be that great because the lighting is bad.” That’s not their problem. It’s not their job to find perfect lighting and location. It’s their job to get married, and my job to produce amazing caliber work no matter how awful the location is. That’s what professionalism is. You can’t blame the situation for subpar work. No matter what, show up, and take good photos.

          This entire thing was for practice. Rachelle isn’t a professional model, she’s a friend of mine. This wasn’t even a planned shoot, it was complete spur of the moment. It essentially was a non-shoot.

          That’s what’s so funny about it getting as much traffic as it did – it was just a little thing to kill time, ironically, lol.

        • Reply

          ewa sztajnic

          November 26, 2017

          with all due respect LRH i would never hire you and i would hire Jenna Martin in an instant.
          i know that she would do an awesome job even if the conditions were really bad.
          i work with photographers a lot and i understand challenges very well and i also know that there is no space for “star” attitude with deadlines and client’s expectations.
          bravo jenna, awesome attitude, what an amazing talent and idea. bravo.

  20. Reply

    VB

    November 25, 2017

    Thank you. I found the time you took to do this article really instructive and helpful (especially the sequence of the location shot, then the SOOC then the finished result). Great work.
    I find a lot of post-processing, beyond basic corrections and adjustments, that I see done on the web is not to my taste. I’d usually prefer something much closer to the SOOC. These are beautiful examples of PP done well.

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 25, 2017

      Thank you so much!! Post processing is so subjective to the viewer, that’s so nice of you to say it’s well done. Made my day!

    • Reply

      lrh

      November 25, 2017

      Just a practice and/or a “non-shoot,” huh? Ok. Maybe that would cause me to change my mind on it a BIT. I still tend to think that ANYTHING I shoot, other than a snapshot over a dinner party where it’s pretty much impossible to get anything of quality anyway and it’s basically just for remembering that you were there. Still, as I said, practice so that you know how to deal with those subpar situations is something I can understand.

      I will say that I would never tell a would-be client that, hey, I’m going to get amazing photos no matter what. I would tell them I will do my BEST, but hey, if the lighting is horrible, that’s that. Just as my friend, who is a professional, told her clients “if you insist on having the ceremony here, the photos won’t be as good because the lighting is awful,” to me that’s totally appropriate.

      I don’t believe “the customer is always right,” sometimes they’re wrong–not that you’re going to be harsh & blunt about it, but they are. It’s not “wrong” for them to want to be married at a given location due to convenience, sentimentality or whatever reason, but if they are wanting “great” shots and the location they want won’t be conducive to it, then they get what they ask for. The photographer knows what works, they’re the expert. In like manner, I would never, say, show up at my dentist having followed NONE of his flossing/brushing advice & then expect them to perform a miracle in spite of it, I’d merely expect them to do the best they can within reason given the situation. That my teeth aren’t pearly white–that’s MY fault, they told me to brush/floss and I didn’t.

      I’m willing to do minor touch-ups in post-processing–color-correction, cloning out moles on faces etc, but I’m not spending HUGE amounts of time cloning out LARGE amounts of background clutter and performing shadow-highlight corrections when it could’ve been avoided had my advice been followed–unless they’re willing to pay a significant amount extra for it. Maybe that will net one fewer clients, so be it.

      • Reply

        jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

        November 25, 2017

        Yeah, I’m not much of a “client is always right” person (hence why I no longer shoot weddings), but if they want to get married in a junk yard, I’m definitely going to make it look like the most amazing junkyard ever ;).

  21. Reply

    Chiumeister (@chiumeister)

    November 25, 2017

    Beautiful subject is only accentuated by ugly setting. Time tested wisdom.

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 25, 2017

      Thank you so much!

  22. Reply

    Steve Greenwood

    November 25, 2017

    Great shoot! I enjoyed it even though fashion photography is not my thing.

    Rule 1: know the rules
    Rule 2: know when to break the rules

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 25, 2017

      Thanks so much! And hell yeah! 😉

  23. Reply

    Bill Morgan

    November 25, 2017

    Great idea, wonderful shots, beautiful model, although in general I preferred the SOOC shots over the edited versions. Most of the edited shots look blown out and unnatural. Still, it was an excellent project. I’d love to give it a try myself. Can I borrow your model? 😉

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 25, 2017

      Haha absolutely! She’s amazing, isn’t she? And yeah I tend to push the highlights – I love blown out shots for some reason. I have friends push the darks, and love a moodier look. To each his own! 🙂

  24. Reply

    Ebrahim Saadawi

    November 26, 2017

    That’s a lovely idea. I love the work and effort thanks a lot! It’s just that I think: your samples simply rely on telephoto compression and shallow depth of field/shooting wide open to isolate the background and increasing overall exposure. Nothing more. For example I’d like to see more samples of the same concept but with wider shots, artistic composition of the elements, framing, re aranging the location, standing positioning, etc. I hope the message gets across. Again not depreciating your work it’s amazing and thank you heaps!

    Cheers from Egypt.
    Dr. Ebrahim Saadawi

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 26, 2017

      Hey there! If I had actually planned this shoot, I would’ve love to do more of that! That’s why we did that in the aisles, to get everything. When we try this again in different locations, I’ll definitely be trying to do a lot more than I did in this shoot. This was just a fun thing to pass the time – had I known it would be getting as much traffic as it did I would’ve put more effort into it! 😂. Thanks for commenting!

  25. Reply

    Robert Nurse

    November 27, 2017

    Hi Jenna! This was a marvelous idea and the photos look great! In scratching my head trying to find projects, I might give this a shot (no punn, LOL). Just one question about the shots with the lights. Was the model standing on something to get up that high?

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 27, 2017

      Hi Robert! She was! I had her stand on the edge of a cart so she would be raised up a bit – that’s why those ones are all closeup, I didn’t want to get the cart in the shot! 🙂

  26. Reply

    carywhittier.com

    November 27, 2017

    Jenna! great idea and very nice results! loved that you documented the scenes before & after your magic! and great lens choice! keep up the great work & inspiration! -cary

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 27, 2017

      Thank you so much! Glad you stopped by!

  27. Reply

    Mr. Brightside

    November 28, 2017

    Next challenge, ugly model in beautiful place, not so easy now is it.

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 28, 2017

      You basically just described all of wedding photography…which I did for years. So actually, I think it is. 🙂

  28. Reply

    MN Photographer

    November 29, 2017

    A super attractive model that holds herself well in front of a camera can make any place 10x better. Replace the model in these photos with someone ‘normal’ and these suddenly aren’t ‘amazing’. (I don’t mean to be negative… this article does a good job of illustrating how you don’t need sterotypical ‘beautiful’ backgrounds to make images work, I’m just pointing out that if your subject is striking, the background is less important… this task would be much more difficult with a normal looking dude in sweats who has a awkward smile.)

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 29, 2017

      The funny thing, is as a photographer, out job is to make any subject look beautiful (at least in conventional portraiture). Even if I had an ugly guy in sweats, when he is in front of the camera it’s my job to make him look amazing. That’s essentially what portrait photography is.

  29. Reply

    Umang Gupta

    November 29, 2017

    Which camera you used for this project?

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 29, 2017

      Hi! I used canon 5d mark III. You can use a much lower quality camera for something like this though if you’d like!

  30. Reply

    CPG

    November 29, 2017

    (Visited 52,071 time, 52,073 visit today)

  31. Reply

    vasile

    November 30, 2017

    it is not called “place-ography”, it’s photo-graphy, so when the light is beautiful you could draw nice pics with it. …the model has her merit too.

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      November 30, 2017

      Exactly why I chose somewhere where the light wasn’t beautiful. No windows, no natural light, only directly overhead fluorescent light. Non “photo-graphy” lighting, if you will.

  32. Reply

    Jeremy Smith

    November 30, 2017

    Very nice and what a great creative challenge. Love the edits except the last image — I think that SOOC shot is outstanding (price/info tag not withstanding) and sets a lovely mood vs the dark edit. Nice work!

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      December 2, 2017

      Oh man, that last one is my absolute favorite!! Difference preferences I guess – thanks for commenting! 🙂

  33. Reply

    Alfredo Richardo Haurissa

    December 8, 2017

    This is brilliant! Really love it

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

      December 9, 2017

      Thanks so much!

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