Scottsdale Four Seasons Cover Shoot

In April I was hired to shoot the summer cover of Arizona Jewish Life Magazine. The shoot would take place at a Phoenix/Scottsdale area resort and feature a members of a local family as the subjects. My first thought was the trouble it could be trying to use a regular family, with two young children, in place of professional models, especially on a warm day in a very distracting atmosphere. There wasn't much I could do about that, however, so my mind wandered off to the controllable aspects of the shoot.


Once the Scottsdale Four Seasons was selected for the location I scheduled my location scout. My schedule wasn't going to allow me to visit the resort at evening, the time the shoot would be taking place, so I was left to select locations and create a shot list based on where I felt the sun would be at shoot time and on reference photos the resort staff had on hand. The staff, luckily, was very knowledgeable and had a great deal of experience planning photoshoots at their resort.

After about an hour tour of the resort's facilities I felt I had a shot list to go off of, where I was going to begin, and how much time I'd allow for each set before we'd run out of light at the final shooting location.

The resort staff was unbelievably helpful, so I had no worries about the locations being ready for the actual shoot. One aspect that was difficult to plan, however, was the subject wardrobe. I wouldn't have any contact with my cover family until the shoot, so I didn't know if they'd have swimsuits for a pool shot, or formal attire for a dinner scene, or if they'd have any change of clothes at all. I just needed to build a lot of flexibility into the shot list.

Day of the shoot-

There was a huge dust storm moving through the area all day long, high winds, possible rain, I was less than optimistic about the shooting conditions.

I arrived early to make sure the details were covered, allow for set up, make sure the shooting locations were properly reserved and clean, etc. I met the cover family in the lobby, they didn't have a change of clothes, but their clothing was passable for most of the shots I had in mind. The kids were younger than I anticipated, and I foolishly worried about that until we began shooting.

I say foolishly because these kids were as close to professional models as any amateur I've ever met, they were mature, respectful, and followed every instruction to the letter. That was an incredible relief. The family as a whole was a huge pleasure to work with.

The weather that had me stressed all day long turned out to be a blessing. The dust in the air actually helped with the lighting, odd as it sounds, and the cloud cover was just enough that I could shoot with just the natural light, yet not so overcast that the light had no contrast. It was a rare, beautiful, day to shoot natural light under the Arizona sun. The wind was rough, we were fighting it with the hair and clothes, but it did help break the heat.

The magazine had a tab running with the hotel for drinks and food for props, as well as snacks and refreshments to the cover models and magazine staff on set. The whole shoot lasted maybe 2 hours from beginning to end, and we covered most of the shot list. I absolutely could not have picked a better group of people to work with, from the cover models to the hotel staff coordinating the finer details of the shoot.

It was a great experience and a great shoot. A huge thank you to the Four Seasons staff and the staff of Arizona Jewish Life Magazine for an incredibly smooth shoot.



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