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Need creative ideas for assisted living shoot

SkipperlangeSkipperlange Member
edited December 2013 in technique & style & stuff

It's a bit of a vague question but I'm doing a marketing shoot at an assisted living residence next week and trying to think of some creative ideas re composition and lighting, etc.... in hopes of avoiding same old-same old flat stock shots. You've seen them: smiling clients and health care workers, elderly residents happily having lunch, playing cards or exercising in the gym. They are fine shots but they are tired and predictable. I'm hoping for something different in the mix -- slow shutter speeds? Different angles? I want viewers to say 'These are great shots.' They will all be pre-staged but I can change it up and tweak to bring them from mundane to 'wow'. Any ideas? I will have speed lights that can be on or off-camera. I have umbrellas if necessary. All inside. Thank you!


  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited December 2013
    1) For something a bit zany & out of left field, see if you can get a few of those white 'Phantom of the Opera' masks and have a few of the residents wearing them, take some shots, then get them all at the same time to just lift them up high enough, still attached to the back of their heads to reveal their faces and they should be really laughing naturally.

    You would need to be quick to grab the shots once lifted as for sure they will be laughing, and tell a few of them beforehand not to look at the camera when lifting, but look at each other as they 'reveal' themselves to one another.

    The theme being: "You are not anonymous when you stay with us!" type of thing.

    2) Also, along the same theme lines, have a group of them, maybe 2-3 deep, huddle into a corner, backs to camera, take some shots, and on a signal have them all turn to the camera and get them to out-fling their arms, the ones at the back into the air, the ones in front just really out-stretch their arms in front and a little down to stop blocking the faces behind, palms up in a welcoming gesture.

    Again to show them laughing and 'revealing' themselves to the prospective clients.

    3) If there are any couples/husband-wife, maybe have them sitting on 2 chairs, slightly apart but close enough so they can hold hands, between them, backs to camera, looking out into a garden maybe.

    Theme: "You may have matured over the years but love still exists".

    You'd need to make sure here though that if looking out into a garden, you try as best as you can to retain the ambient and light them up....

    OR .... expose very carefully for the outside, try to isolate them in the center of the window/doorway or better yet on a verandah, and just a tiny blip of light onto the back of them so they are more in silhouette style.

    maybe also . . . have the couple sitting on chairs facing each other, close enough to have their knees touching and just holding both hands and looking at each other.

    Theme: "Ya never know ya luck when moving here" (sorry, tongue in cheek on that one)

    4) Have a beer after the shoot, you will need it. :)

    Actually see if they are able to maybe have a group with some champagne glasses [filled with the real thing or a softdrink with similar coloring] all toasting each other.

    That should sort out the mundane shoots to the "residence with a difference".

    That's it from me, all done, all silent, no more bids, SOLD!

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    1 more :)

    Dancing, have a group dancing, but you need to be up a ladder and shoot down, and have them all looking up to camera.

    Never seen that done, maybe.

    re masks above, if hard to get maybe just some theater colorful masks you could get at any costume/theme stores.

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited December 2013
    Just thought of one, it's really borderline but appeals to my humour.

    Have a group guys around a 'card table', green cloth, and have one of those old 'kerosene lanterns' in the center of table [better get a 'dummy' one with tungsten candles in it] with cards all over the table, and real money, poker chips, also get some of those 'visors' they wear, like a baseball cap with no top, but here's the kicker, big fat cigars, smoke/fog machine and just take ambient/darkish lighting.

    That would be a *kick-ass* shot IMO. ha!

    Theme: Don't tell Grandma what Grandpa is up to. ooops, sexist? Who cares.
  • Thanks Trev! Very cool ideas. I may try a few of them. The shots do have to reflect real life so as much as I love the smoked-filled poker scene I'm not sure the ad people would go for it. I do like it though and don't think it's sexist. Maybe some variation of it would work. Love the others as well. The dancing idea would totally be in keeping with activities there and nothing says young at heart like dancing! The Phantom idea is fun and good too since there's a nice stage and auditorium there and that's one room we'll be shooting in. Thanks again.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited January 2014
    Skipperlange said: The shots do have to reflect real life so as much as I love the smoked-filled poker scene I'm not sure the ad people would go for it.
    It was tongue-in-cheek, but I thought of those silly 'poker dog photos', around a smoke-filled card table.

    If there is a stage, good place for you to stand up on shooting back over a 'dance shot'.

    Let us know how it goes though, would like to hear if the 'Mad Men' liked any of the ideas.

    If so my PayPal account is: Trev@ideas_r_us.ideas.com :)

    Good Luck seriously though.

  • Ok, well it's a great idea for a different type of shoot. Thanks again. I'll send you some New Year's chocolate chip cookies to your PayPal account. I'll let you know how it goes.
  • Actually see if they are able to maybe have a group with some champagne glasses [filled with the real thing or a softdrink with similar coloring] all toasting each other.
  • Good idea. Thank you. I know they don't want pix to be seasonal, depicting for instance New Year's, but it could be anniversary or birthday or something.
  • So here's the update. It went well for the most part but in retrospect there are several things I would have done differently on every front -- lighting, posing, composition, etc....

    There was almost no room for creative composition on my part. The shots were conceived well before the shoot and I was there to get them. That said, I think one thing I might have done differently was take control of the shoot better. If I saw something wasn't going to work I should be been more assertive about saying so and recomposing it to get the concept they wanted yet with a posing or background or composition that I felt would work. I have found that, as a photographer, being told what to shoot and how to shoot it is a recipe for disaster. Another similar drawback to the shoot is not having enough time with each shoot. I did not feel I had enough time to figure out what lighting set-up was best and to set up enough lights -- and to arrange the subjects and backgrounds -- to get the best shots I could get. It was a little like walking in on an ongoing activity and capturing it as it happened, games, classes, etc....Fine if it's an editorial shoot but for this (advertising and website) I think you need to stage most of it and take the time to get it right. Clients would much rather have three fantastic shots than 100 mediocre ones. So I think taking control of the shoot was something I did not do well enough. At the same time, I've worked in medical settings before, and with staff and clients not accustomed to doing this, and they don't have all day for you to get the lighting right. So it's a balance.

    Still, there was a lot of material and I got a lot of nice shots so overall I'm pleased. Too many bad ones though and so that's just a waste of everyone's time. I am going thru the 'I wished I'd done this differently' thoughts.

    I used on-camera bounced flash with BFF (black foamie thing) a lot and for many locations it was enough as there were a lot of white walls. I also used speedlights on lightstands bouncing into ceilings and walls. That worked well a lot. Some shots didn't work as well (re lighting) as I'd hoped and I need to figure out why and if umbrellas would have been better.

    There were no dancing or theatrical shots and no eating or dining shots. So couldn't experiment with those.

    Thanks again for all the help and suggestions!
  • TrevTrev Moderator


    In hindsight, you know already that you should have been a bit more assertive and try to arrange things your way.

    However of course being elderly, they probably did not see it as being conducive to moving them around as much, but certainly future shoots of any nature you just need to tell it like it is, politely of course.

    As long as you got enough range of shots they can't complain, after all they told you 'how/where' to shoot it.

    Glad it worked out in the end for you.

  • Thanks Trev. It is a balance. I like to think I have enough know-how to get it done however a clients wants it done. But in the end what's important is that they get the shots they want and that they are of high quality. I often find myself saying to myself 'Don't object or tell them it can't be done their way. If you can't do it their way they'll find someone who can.' Like everything, you have to know the difference. I was hired not long ago to take photos of a business and, for convenience, they had me come at the same time as a videographer and essentially piggy-back on him and his shots. I'm sure they thought it made sense logistically rather than schedule two shoots. I knew from past experience it wasn't a great idea, video set-ups are different from still set-ups. Plus video always has priority for some reason and this began as a video shoot. So I was at times literally shooting over his shoulder. I should have said up front it wasn't a good idea. I needed to be in charge of my shots and I wasn't. So I know my shots suffered and I never heard from them again, it was only last fall but I'm sure I'm done with them.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Yep, bit like an anaesthetist telling a doctor how to operate, both entirely different skill sets, but yet in the same business.
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