I am Rachael Connery, an upcoming Jamaican photographer. Welcome to my journey. Shutter Counts is a platform I’ve created to not only document my journey, but to also share my knowledge and progress as a young photographer. I am not a pro, but I like to believe I’m on my way and I want to take you with me. Journey with me to get the inside scoop on: ● Equipment I use ● What I’ve learned ● Being creative on a shoe-string budget Let’s go!
People often see the end product of a photoshoot and instantly think it’s easy work – just the click of a button. Oh, how we wish it were. The truth is, there is a lot of work that goes into the planning of a photoshoot, so today I want to take you behind the scenes of my most recent project.
STEP #1 – THE IDEA
Before you can do anything you must have an idea, right? Some kind of inspiration even if it’s not 100% concrete. For me, ideas usually come from a location or an outfit that inspires me. For this specific project, I was inspired by a dress I’ve had for years, but have never worn. I also added another outfit that matched the theme of the photoshoot. I then tried to find locations that I would cordinate with the outfits I chose. Lastly, I reached out to a model I thought would fit perfectly with the look I was going for.
STEP #2 – PLANNING & ORGANISNG
After getting the main elements of my shoot, I created a mood board and a brief outline to share with everyone I planned to work with. We agreed on date and time, a location to meet up, hair, makeup etc.
STEP #3 – JUST GO SHOOT!
Now it’s time to bring everything to life! My lighting assistant and I went to the location a couple minutes early to walk around to get ideas of the kind of shots we could get, where the best lighting was, possible angles, etc. When the model arrived we jumped right into it.
First outfit: Tailored shorts with dress shirt. The model changed into the first outfit (this happened in the car), then we started shooting. It started off a little awkward as this was my first time shooting around so many people. We were in the middle of New Kingston with many vocal passersby. We eventually got used to the environment and found a few great spots.
Second outfit: A backup plan. Things don’t always go as planned and for this reason, you should always have a backup plan. Upon organising the outfits I had a feeling that the dress (which was supposed to be the main look) would probably be too small for my model. I was hoping that it would fit, but I also brought a backup outfit just in case. Turns out the dress was too small. Womp. We went with the flow and changed into the backup outfit which turned out better than expected. We found another location close by and got the final shots.
STEP #4 – WE’RE NOT DONE JUST YET… TIME TO EDIT
Post-production is extremely important. This is where the most time is invested. You get to fix what you don’t like or enhance what you like. I try to keep my retouching pretty simple. I often clean up blemishes, but I don’t go overboard to the point where the models don’t look like themselves. I use Photoshop for retouching and colouring, then I take the photos over to Lightroom to sharpen and enhance lighting.
STEP #5 – PUT YOUR WORK OUT THERE
After all this hard work, you don’t want to keep these beautiful photos in storage, do you? This is where I struggle the most. I take forever to post photos, but I always ensure that I send them to the model and everyone else who collaborated. Here are some of my favourite shots from this photoshoot.
Photography has always been an interest of mine since high school. With a background in visual arts, I’ve always had an eye for detail and composition. My biggest struggle though, was that I couldn’t afford a camera. Bomber. This takes me to the topic of Smartphone Photography. As a beginner, you don’t need a fancy, expensive camera to make magic. You can use what you have, and everyone has a smartphone. In 2016, I experimented with my good ol’ Asus Zenfone taking random photos for fun and focusing on the basic techniques. I did the best I could with what I had while following dope photographers on Instagram and Youtube. During all that , I was constantly doing research on different DSLR cameras I wanted to purchase. I knew I was ready to take the next step.
UPGRADING TO THE HIG GUNS!
In summer 2017, I made a huge splurge and bought the amazing Canon 80D and the handy 50mm prime lens – after much saving and sacrifices of course. For the rest of that year I practiced capturing people to basically figure out the type of photography I was interested in. During this time I was way too shy and insecure to share my work with anyone. I continued to learn about my camera and taught myself how to edit photos.
In summer 2018, I got a bit more serious and started organizing more photoshoots with people I know. I was still unsure of what I wanted to do, but I was more confident. A few months later I transitioned my personal Instagram account (IG:@raeyconnery) into a photography account and voilà, I finally started sharing my work.
FINDING MY PATH
In December 2018 (yea… just two months ago) I collaborated with an upcoming Jamaican stylist (IG:@styledlumarve) for a fashion photoshoot. We brought a whole bunch of clothes, shoes and jewelry to the location and dressed the model on spot.
That experience was a defining moment for me. I instantly knew right then and there that I want to be a fashion and editorial photographer. Crazy right? It’s funny, because one of my dreams, for many years, was to be a fashion designer. That dream died, but my ‘passion for fashion’ lives forever. So what better way to merge my talents? Since then, my vision has been more clear than ever.