Ash Murrell's profile

Lifestyle personal rebrand

I wanted to share with you a case study, this is where I pull apart a photoshoot from inception to creation. This means you’ll see more images here that will be published, in general, a day on set we aim for a specific number of shots, I like to make sure we experiment a little while out there and hopefully capture something about the story that will help with the overall brand or client usage. This shoot was one of the most demanding of my team, we faced crazy flooding, packed roads and a timeline that kept elongating as we pressed on.

They Inc introduced me to Rachel MacDonald, their creative brief was “something county/lifestyle inspired”. This meant beautiful locations and a celebration of food and drink. I met with Rachel, told her some ideas and we worked through the day, the shots we hoped to get and a general idea of the style and feeling.
This year sure has brought us a crazy weather cycle, heat that doesn’t seem to let up and the rain that just won’t let up, just ask my garden (aka the rainforest).  So it came as no surprise when Phil and I set out to photograph Rachel that the weather would show us its best side. Rachel MacDonald came to us wanting a lifestyle/county feel to her brand, the fine folks at They Inc agreed that something almost editorial would be a great way for Rachel to differentiate herself from the number of local realtors. Stochastically Rachel had access to a beautiful cottage, something that may as well have come straight out of a home and gardens magazine. The view was stunning, the cottage perfectly styled in tones of yellow contrasting the overall pale white motif.
We also decided this would be a great time to rent a film camera and get a few film shots. Shooting 120 again, oh how things have changed since then, I’ll return to shooting with film discussion later on, first, we had the road location, a beautiful winding road with constant traffic.

Shooting lightweight we went for the available light, shooting for safety we shot digital first. Then we had the digital up next, it was interesting to see the difference, the viewfinders prism was slightly warped making for a very rough time in focusing, and the overall quality of vision was frankly terrible compared to the luxurious viewfinders of my Canon cameras. It’s been a while since I shot with medium format, and I must say it was an absolute treat, I’ll definitely have to revisit this!

The focus was off in this image, the scans aren’t super high quality but honestly, sharpness wasn’t our primary concern (The modern cameras kill the film cameras in that area, I wanted the overall feel for this lifestyle shoot). Notice the main issue with this camera was the light leak – this will play up more in the latter part of the shoot (to a cool effect).  Working on roads is tricky, we had the stylist Adelaide Utman and my assistant Phil Barnes run a tight ship, gesturing when it was clear for the 25 s descent of Rachel on her board. The goal was a small image showing her joie de vivre and the laid back living that the county has to offer.
The Second location involved some hiking, we trekked from the parking lot to the dunes, which were flooded (see my Instagram feed for that shot!), we realised as the water got higher and higher that the location was a bust, we double backed to the parking lot and quickly moved to location B, it’s always good to have a secondary location ready in case of moments like these. Because we were falling behind we made an executive decision to cut the headshot session short to focus on the lifestyle, we also limited the film shots as it would take so much more time to switch to it.

The film really had an amazing texture for these shots, this is where it really shone. We realized onset at this point that the rented camera was back focused in the prism, and the quality of the viewfinder was rough, so we made sure to shoot extra safety shots with the digital. All the styling and clothing was done by the talented Adelaide Utman, her store Oak Clothing Co. kindly loaned us the accessories and clothing.  We had a brief shoot here, then shot over to the third location, Prince Eddy’s Brewery.

At this point we had fallen about 50 minutes behind schedule, the traffic in the county was far heavier than usual and roadworks and other factors made for slow moving when we hit the road. We lit this area with a wash of light from the octo and a pop from the scrimmed beauty dish, the ambiance there was amazing and we let the whole beach vibe rock the majority of the shoot, and encouraged people to simply mingle and engage, drink some fine beer and get some laughing and giggling going.

We wanted to show the friendly and warm side of the county and keep Rachel as the primary focus, we had discussed using colours, and lack of colour to help draw your eyes naturally to Rachel so it didn’t feel overly contrived. At this point Phil and I discussed the last location as we shot this set, our primary concern was the sunlight and the lack of it as of arrival. We planned on having the sun as the kicker, but with that no longer an option we thought outside the box. Using a CTO gelled Beauty dish at the top of the C-stand we piled rocks atop the sandbags. Using the sun shade umbrellas as overhead light we gelled our lights to compensate for the yellows. Off side, we had the octo as the primary fill and then shot on the tripod at slower shutter speeds to allow for the ambient to spill in.
This was definitely one of the most complex setups we’ve done, food styling, clothing styling, the light was constantly changing and hair was constantly needing fixing. Without my amazing team and amazing clients, these images simply wouldn’t exist. I’m going to close this blog post with a few other images, but in closing, I just wanted to say that the trip down memory lane with film was amazing, and it really shows us how far digital has come quality wise. We still emulate the feeling of the films but now our details far exceed that of yesteryear. Big love to my team, and a high five to Rachel for trusting AMP with film and other crazy ideas!
Lifestyle personal rebrand

Lifestyle personal rebrand