Holiday Looks with Nicole

The most important part of shooting in San Francisco is to pretend to not be cold. I know, I know, we don’t have snowstorms, the cold is relatively mild, and to us anything under 60 degrees is cold. Even so, I think we generally have it pretty good with nice, mild weather, and because of that we never quite get acclimated to the cold.

But the show has to go on and I tend to have several shoots at the end of the year before it gets colder and the rain starts coming down.

The Location

Not quite the Financial District in San Francisco, but very close. This is a narrow streets with a bunch of boutique shops, and a decent amount of parking. A good variety of places in the same vicinity.

For the last look, we also made a quick pit stop at Ferry Park.

The Model

Nicole, who is an all-around wonderful person and is very easy to work with.


The Shoot

I often stumble across people on Instagram and when I saw Nicole, I really wanted to shoot with her. She has a nice look, a wonderful sense of style, and I felt that we could create good shots together. I reached out and we were able to set a day to shoot.

I had shot around the Transamerica Pyramid before but it had been some time ago and I wanted to revisit it. This particular area can get busy if there are events, but for the most part, there’s only light foot traffic.

I shot with one monolight and soft box and used that for the entire shoot. Since I was mostly going for a clean look, I kept the light at lower power and I was just really looking for some fill light. For these kind of shoots, I’m mainly looking to make the model stand out from the background. You can do that by using a lens with a large aperture, which I do, and I also like making the model a little brighter than the background. This helps to create separation with light and also depth, to keep the focus on the model. Because the day was overcast, it was fairly easy to get the kind of lighting that I wanted. I’m not always a fan of overcast days but it sure does make it easier to light things.

We started shooting the dress look on a small street between Jackson and Gold street. Then we moved up to Gold Street for a few shots. I typically like shooting in the middle of Gold Street but I can’t recall whether I didn’t because there was a car, or whether we had gotten plenty of good shots already.

We then shot the two next looks by the boutiques on Jackson Street and along Hotaling Place. There’s a lot of variety in this very small area and there’s something to fit almost any look. You can spend a whole day shooting here and not run out of variety if you’re shooting different looks.

For the last look, I wanted to get less of a city environment so we moved over to Ferry Park. I’ve shot around this park often but not from this direction. Although the park is just one block, you can get very different looks depending on which direction you shoot from. It was more colorful than I expected it to be so it was a nice surprise. Although it was early, it was starting to get cold and we didn’t spend a lot of time in this last location. By this time, we had gotten a lot of good shots and a lot of variety so it was well worth the time.

Check out the behind the scenes video and the final shots below.

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