Deborah and Ray, the creative minds behind Palettera Custom Correspondences and good friends of mine, wanted to cooperate on a project that put all of our best talents forward. Palettera has become one of the best custom stationery design companies in the wedding industry and with good reasons. They are a Canadian company that promotes hand-craftsmanship, quality, and originality. They produce beautiful and unique wedding stationery designs in order to make each wedding feel one-of-a-kind. In light of their success, Deborah and Ray started a sister company called Ferris Wheel Press in recent years, which is operated by Ray’s brother, Jimmy.
Concept and Brainstorming
First and foremost, I started with planning out a concept. Since I was so fascinated by the immense quality of the designs, I decided I wanted to depict the illustrations coming to life. I began with meticulously going through their online portfolios to see if there were any pre-existing designs that would be most suitable for this concept. I came upon a card from the Goldfish series and felt it was the perfect candidate for this concept. I then drew a rough draft of my idea and afterwards I started scouting for my future team members.
Building the Team
Building the team is one of the most important steps because these are the people that will be helping to make the concept become a reality. I worked with the people from Palettera and Ferris Wheel Press in order to obtain the cards that I needed to shoot. They were very nice and created for me a black card with gold illustration to precisely match my concept. From the Plutino Group, I invited Jeanie Lee to be the prop stylist for the project. Jeanie was in charge of sourcing the live goldfish for the photoshoot and for creating the water splashes that would be included in the final shot.
Last but not least, Photoflex provided the light modifiers that helped to give the photoshoot that magic touch and helped to bring everything to life, particularly the goldfish.
Shooting the Card
Prior to photographing the goldfish and the water splashes, the card had to be shot. This was done in advance so that I could have time to edit the image in Photoshop. I removed the text that was originally on the card and the placement of the fish had to be altered slightly. The position of the goldfish had to be exact so that the editing of the real goldfish could be seamlessly done so afterwards. I modified the placement of the fish by combining a few images together, however, I had to ensure that the reflection of the light hitting the gold letterpress was consistent throughout the images – this was difficult.
Shooting the Fish and Splashes
Once we had the image of the card, then we knew exactly how we needed to position the real goldfish in the photoshoot. This step was the most challenging since they are real fish, they are unpredictable, uncontrollable, and most of all, harm-able – and we didn’t want to harm them. We gently played with them for two hours and after an entire two hours, we only had one usable frame! It’s important to say that no goldfish were mistreated during the photoshoot or play.
The next piece of the puzzle was to get a good image of the water splashing, the bubbles, and the waves. We kept playing with the water until we captured the perfect shot. We used the Broncolor Scoro in combination with the Photoflex Softbox in order to freeze the movements of the goldfish and the water. This combination gave a brilliant and even light to the scene. While the strobes were quite far away, the Scoro had a 3200-watt power, which gave me just enough light for the depth of field I needed.
Finally, the post-production work! It was really fun to pick from a variety of splash and bubble images to see which one would work best with the composite image. I photographed all the images against a black background since I knew the final image would have a black background as well. This strategy also helped to save a significant amount of time cropping the bubbles out from the background.
I am incredibly satisfied with the end result and so impressed with everyone’s hard work and contribution. Thanks to Jeanie’s expert skill in handling the fish and creating the water splashes. The photoshoot was much shorter than we all predicted. This project was a great addition to my portfolio since I had no animal-related shoots prior to this and it demonstrated my ability to create the perfect composite image.