behind the scenes: gmm with amber

1913928_161174275271_4391359_nhow give me moore got it’s start

giveaway is closed: the winner is Sophia Moore!

Brandi and I have been friends for years and years. She’s been my best friend and, kind of unintentionally, we both realized she was good at styling.

So over the couple of years that I offered Give Me Moore workshop, we really fell into a groove that worked for both of us. Brandi’s been amazing! I love working with her and seeing what comes out of her brain. It’s always fantastic!  

Once a month, we share one of our Give Me Moore sessions so you can see a little of the behind the scenes. Brandi shares her behind the scenes on the concept and styling.  I share my behind the scenes as far as what was going on in my head as I was photographing.



what inspired you for the concept of this shoot?

Well I originally wanted to make an entire dress made of magazine paper, but realized once I got into it that I didn’t start the process soon enough.

I probably started the week before & honestly that could have taken an entire month -depending on how intricate you wanted it to be.

The inspiration came from a photo I had seen online of a dress made out of newspaper so that got me to thinking & I decided to try my hand at magazine paper- it was a naive, but daunting task:)

tip for you: be brave; try something you’ve never done and just trust yourself to do what it takes to figure it out


 where did you find this model?

By this time our GMM sessions had gotten some steam & gotten some attention – so models started submitting their photos and info to me. I just kept them on file & when I was looking for a certain look I would call them.

This is the case with Amber- to my knowledge she hadn’t had any modeling experience prior to this- and I was obsessed with her pixie haircut & frame. So I thought she would be a great fit for this shoot!

tip for you: start keeping a file of models that you could contact


how do you organize getting ready for a session?

I’m not a systematic person. As in a A+B=C, nope that’s not how my brain functions. To me the more elements I have to choose from the better -at least with photo shoots that’s the case:)

So I make sure all the big bases are covered like: the model, the location, the style, & then from there I let the natural creative process flow.

I always, always had a GMM bag handy though aka my “bag of tricks” tools: hammer, nails, duck tape, pliers, safety pins, huge industrial strength clip binders, extension cords, rope, chains, zip ties etc you get the idea… Anything that I may possibly need for day of shoot, I made sure I had.

It was my saving grace & I never went anywhere without it! My GMM Bible I guess you could say:)

tip for you: remind yourself that you don’t HAVE to know everything ahead of time; start taking steps and trust that the next step will show up when you need it

where any of these locations planned for ahead of time?

We shot this particular session out at our good friend Heather Sue’s home/farm.

You might remember Heather from a few blog posts back where y’all interviewed her about her epic life- & yes she really is that cool!

But back then we had just met “Sue” through her best friend & photo partner Katie the other “Sue” of the dynamic “Two Suez Photography” team! (They actually live out on a massive amount property where they share a driveway and are neighbors!)

I knew from the first time of visiting out there that we would shoot out there someday because the land is just breathtaking- so much so that Kelly is actually in the process of building right behind them!

Anyway… I digress:) BUT I say all that to say that their farm is magical! So we couldn’t wait to get out there and shoot!

tip for you: don’t be afraid to ask a friend if you can shoot at their home

how did you make the magazine pieces?

I literally took some old magazines and started tearing pages out & just started playing with them- eventually I got the idea of get a cardboard collar – like they give you for your collared shirts if you were to get them dry cleaned- and attached them to that.

I can’t remember if I pinned them or glued them but I remember it being “rigged” for sure!:)

tip for you: don’t worry about something being perfect; trying to figure it out is the first step


where did you find the clothes for this shoot?

The top was actually a vintage bathing suit I had thrifted along one of my thrifting journeys- & the tulle skirt was something I snagged at like Forever 21 or some other lil place in the mall- and the head piece I already had the base, I just added to it.

tip for you: start browsing thrift stores looking for inspiration; if you find something that inspires you keep it in your studio, where you can see it, so that it can inspire you to action


what three tips do you have for creating a similar session?

  1.  Be Fearless! Don’t be afraid to think outside the box -be brave and push yourself to think creatively- if you can dream it- you can achieve it!
  2. Just Do it! Next, be a creative problem solver-think through what you may possibly need or what may possibly could happen. For instance… It started raining this day and I started freaking out about the paper getting ruined… So I looked around and saw and old shipping container sitting on their land & not being used. I asked heather if we could shoot in there- she actually had a few photo props stored in there so I just set up a little scene inside the shipping container- using what I had! Which is the scene of her laying on the vintage sofa! And I had thrifted pretty much all of the clothes.
  3. Networking with friends about what cool locations or resources they might have that they could make available to you. That’s pretty much how We pulled off all of these -friends! Life really is all about relationships!

tip for you: choose one of the tips above and make it your mantra today

what was your favorite part about planning/doing this session?

I think seeing the vision I had in my head come to life!

Our imaginations really are something special and unique! Grateful that I get to “work” and do what I’m passionate about- I mean if you don’t love what you do what’s the point?

I would literally die if I were in a profession that I couldn’t be free to be creative- so I realize how blessed and fortunate I am -to get to do what I love most with the people I love most! It’s a beautiful thing:)

tip for you: let yourself dream and then make it happen in some small way; take the first tiny step toward it today



what lighting set up did you use for the photo of her standing in the tall grass?

I used my standard 2 off-camera camera speed lights. The one coming from her right side (my left), notice it is yellow. I was experimenting with little gel inserts over my flash. This one was yellow.

tip for you: do something you’ve never done at your next session; try a gel or a new lens or a new angle or get closer than usual or more far away than usual



what lighting set up did you use for the photo of Amber on the couch?

We photographed this inside a shipping container. So, like I have talked about before, this gave us subtracted light. All the light was being subtracted on every side, and being forced in only through the opening in the pod. This gives very beautiful light!

tip for you: find a location where you can practice subtractive lighting; search for a cave, a garage, a storage crate, somewhere that makes you do something you’ve never done


what did you say to your Amber to get her to look at the camera with so much feeling?

how did you get her to do such awesome poses and look so relaxed at the same time?

This is such a tricky question! Working with your subject is always a delicate dance.

Obviously, Amber feels comfortable in front of the camera, And she takes instruction well. I also give a lot of instruction and I’m always careful to tell my subjects exactly what I want from them.

Sometimes, you just have the perfect storm when you have a model or a client who is comfortable in front of the camera, takes your instruction well, and magic happens!

tip for you: give careful instructions and ask for specific looks and emotions when you’re coaching a model or subject during a session

did you have all of these shots planned out in your head before you got to the shoot?

No! Never! Brandy had the outfit planned out, as well as the location. From there, pretty much everything we do happens organically once we get going.

tip for you: allow yourself to  be spontaneous and not having everything planned out as you shoot, let yourself have fun


did you have a plan for going to these locations?

Yes! Brandi always scouts out the locations before the shoot. I don’t like to have everything mapped out, but it always gives me peace of mind to know Brandi has a place for us to start shooting.

tip for you: start scouting around town, go into businesses or locations and tell them who you are and why you totally love their shop or gardens, become friends with them so that they day you want to collaborate with them, they will know who you are

as you were going through the editing process, how did you know which images to keep?

I edit fast and go with my gut instinct. Even before I begin editing, I know in my mind what we nailed during the shoot.

When in doubt, I will get a second opinion.

tip for you: listen to your gut when editing, don’t overthink it!


What kinds of things do you say to yourself to make sure

you’re getting a great variety of images so that they don’t all look the same? Or don’t end up shooting the same poses just with different backgrounds?

I have a mental checklist that I go through when I am shooting. It’s almost like a math equation… If I have five lenses, which will give me five different perspectives, I know with changing my lenses, changing where I shoot from, and changing poses, this is naturally going to give me a wide variety of photographs.

I always strive for the final product to have a very wide range of perspective and emotion.

tip for you: make your own checklist, write it out and slip it in your camera bag


how do you come up with so many different poses?

I usually start with one pose, and one will lead to another and then another. I try not to get to laser focused in one space and one look… unless I have something very specific I’m trying to capture.

tip for you: create a list of 10 poses that you can fall back on a moment’s notice no matter what location you’re in


what was your favorite thing about this shoot?

Everything! The model was wonderful to work with, and Brandi’s styling was so unique. It made for a very fun shoot!

tip for you: start looking for someone or praying for someone that could be your creative best friend, who loves creating and styling and who would be up for trying new things

best kelly moore bag for a styled session



The Libby is the perfect Kelly Moore Bag to bring to your next styled session.  Not only does it hold your camera gear, it has plenty of room for the things that Brandi mentioned like hammer, nails, duck tape, pliers, safety pins, huge industrial strength clip binders, extension cords, rope, chains, and zip ties. Click here for more details about The Libby. 




brandi_01meet brandi

Globe trotting. Creative type. Bon Vivant. Design Enthusiast. Salsa Fanatic. Unicorn Chaser. Somewhere Between Beyoncé & Dolly Parton. Glitter is my favorite color.

hiiiiiiii!!! I’m Brandi, some folks call me B or Gypsy Rose…. I hail from “magic town” ( Ruston, LA) but currently reside in West Monroe, LA- where I have dreams of owning a Tiny House Farmhouse Treehouse:) you can usually find me frequenting one of the area’s many junk stores/thrift stores. In my everyday life I’m a creative director/stylist & Director of Operations at Laminin Jewelry by Missy Robertson. I love to work hard and play harder:) please make a point to stop by so I can hug your (virtual) neck and hear all about your mama and ’em:)

IG: @brandibrownlee

Facebook: Brandi Brownlee Howard

Email: [email protected]

tip for you: go follow Brandi right now and get inspired by the way she lives life!

written by (all posts by )

68 responses to “behind the scenes: gmm with amber”

  1. Lodi Srygley says:

    I would love to see Amber walking down the street in my tiny little village in upstate New York! Now that would be art happening!

  2. I love that she has a GMM bag, bag of tricks! My friends call me Mary Poppins because if they need a random item, I probably have it in my purse.

  3. frances says:

    beautiful shots….love the creativity and the eyelashes!

  4. Karli Cope says:

    Love this! What’s your motivation and inspiration while you work on these?

  5. Love love love! My favorite tip was to be fearless. I always worry I will get bad photos or look foolish but honestly no one will see the photos other than me if they don’t turn out so I just need to try to step out of my comfort zone!

  6. GREG HOLLEY says:

    This is a really great and inspirational shoot! I have several ideas after seeing this to try.

  7. Tina Evans says:

    These are beautiful. While I take more nature photos, I do have a question on lighting. Do you ever do a shoot with only natural lighting?

  8. I ljust be the idea of the magazine dress!

  9. How do you get such perfect skin tones in your images?

  10. MaggieB says:

    The use of color and light in this session is so inspiring. The mix of urban and organic is very original and the details push the photos to another level. I can’t wait to try out some of these techniques. The Libby bag has been on my wish list for the longest time!

  11. I absolutely loved the yellow light test and the impact it had on the shot. The creativity of simple magazine pages on a home made collar, gave it a super trendy style and look. I’m learning a lot following Kelly!!!

  12. Give me Moore was the reason I found your work. I’m a photog wannabe, and love your blog! I love seeing behind the scenes and tips. I hope to purchase a bag one day so for now I gamble on winni gone! Thank you for your insight and sharing.

  13. Heidi says:

    I loooove this shoot!!! Where do I get a couch like this? Also, Kelly, did you use a lensbaby or how did you get this tilted / vignette-like effect? very inspiring!

  14. sharon says:

    Fascinating to learn a bit about how you create these beautiful images. Thank you for sharing your talents. Sharon

  15. Lisa Robson says:

    Loved all the information. The container shoot is a great idea!!

  16. These shoots are always so inspiring! I just never get off my butt to do one! But I may actually do it! It was such a great idea!

  17. I really love the way you are collaborating and doing something fun— not necessarily to pay the bills, but to ignite creativity and experiment. There should be more opportunities for everyone to put some of that in their work and lives. Love it!

  18. fgolemb says:

    Beautiful shoot! I love these blog posts. They are both inspirational and educational!! How much time do you spend on editing you photos? I feel like I spend a lot of time on Photoshop editing and am curious if this will lessen over time as my camera and lighting skills improve.

  19. scrapper1958 says:

    Do you ever go into a shoot without a solid plan and just let things ‘happen’? like letting the model just perform for the camera?

  20. I really like the colors & tones in these portraits! Lately I’ve been using my black Kelly Boy on sessions & getting a ton of compliments!

  21. What an inspiring session! Thank you for sharing

  22. Sophia says:

    How and where did people see your work?

  23. I love the best fearless tip, that’s one of the things I want to work on, stepping out of my comfort zone. I love the handful of tools and such carried along too!

  24. nikkidemers1 says:

    I love how you make your vision come to life in these photos. Very inspiring! It took me a few pics to see the magazines you used in her outfit. Love it! How long did it take to come up with that idea & how difficult was it to see that vision realized?

  25. beautiful. thank you for sharing. the tilt shift effect is really gorgeous.

  26. jmlapenta78 says:

    Love the GMM bag idea and the tips, as always, are much appreciated and inspiring

  27. Maria Pisano says:

    Love these fine art feeling images! The outfits are on a whole other level and brings so much art into the pictures!

  28. sxnwphotography says:

    I love the swirly bokeh, was that with a Helios lens? Gorgeous pics!

  29. Jill says:

    Could you say more about subtracted light?

  30. Very inspiring post. Thanks for sharing some of your techniques!

  31. Kelly Jacobi says:

    “Be fearless” – I love this, those two simple words can propel you into something beautiful and unexpected!

  32. Your statement … be fearless…really struck home with me. I have such a hard time getting outside of my own head. LOVE this GMM!!

  33. I LOVE her list of items in her GMM bag! I am also someone who prepares for everything…thats why I’d love my own Kelly Moore Bag to pack my camera and other essentials for my upcoming honeymoon! What better trip accessory than a beautiful camera bag that doubles as a purse a carry on a day bag and everything in between!

  34. Beautiful shot, beautiful model- How do I make myself look this glamorous?

  35. Wendy says:

    Love these as I love all of your work. You two make a great team!

  36. What a beautiful shoot. I recently got a digital SLR and have been looking for the right bag when I came upon your site. I too am a working mom so I am looking for a multipurpose bag. The bags are just what I am looking for and now I just have to decide which one or ones to get! Thanks so much!

  37. Ne-Ne Wright says:

    Very inspiring. Thanks for sharing. Love your work and the collaboration. What do you do when the ideas in your head (well, I guess I should ask has this ever happened) aren’t projected in the final photos after the collaboration. There are times when no matter what I do, I just can’t convert the vision into reality, to match what I see in my mind. How do you over come those challenges.

  38. Your yellow gel insert is SO creative. I love it! Just like you said, I would truly love to be able to have creative freedom in my profession. Did you use a flash for the scenes on the couch? I really need to learn my flash better, thanks for the inspiration!

  39. Hi Kelly! I love reading about your thought process. I’ve got 2 questions for you today. First, how many lenses do you usually bring to a shoot and which ones do you generally use? And second, is you GMM bag seperate from your camera bag or how do you get everything to fit? I love my 2 sues bag but I barely get my 3 lenses in with my camera and no flash. Thanks Kelly!

  40. Dariela says:

    Very interesting! I love the bag you use!! Where can you find inside locations like that? Is there a place to look where they rent them?

  41. So very creative, both the styling and photography. My appreciation of other’s creativity is boundless as I tend to need step by step instructions to ward off disasterous results. So thank you for sharing. I do have a question that is off topic. I have a friend who takes wonderful pictures of his grandson’s various sports activities. I do not know what kind of camera he has but quite often uses a tripod. His camera tends to get extremely hot after being in the FL sun for a few hours. Any tips on providing some kind of shade for the camera? Shade trees are few and far between at the local little league baseball parks.

  42. Gayle Vehar says:

    These sessions are so fun and creative! Thanks for sharing them!

  43. What a fun shoot! I love the style. I like the tip about having 10 poses in mind as a backup. Sometimes I forget them as I go through my process so I refer to my pintrest board to remind me of my favorite poses.

  44. Great insights — including telling us what bag you’d recommend for a shoot like that. I was actually just wondering what bag would be the best for, say, a wedding or hike or corporate event.

  45. i love color and these funky colors and the magazine pages make a very interesting set of photos. I like that you had her in some pictures without the magazine pages.

  46. Maurevans7 says:

    Love reading about these ideas and techniques. Thank you!

  47. I’d love to find a creative half, so to speak. I feel like I actually lose creativity in trying so hard to be creative. It hurts my head!

  48. Vickie Virt says:

    Great tips, photos and bag!
    Many of the tips you gave are spot on in other creative endeavors and field too.
    Especially, just do it..think outside the box.
    I like that you let the plan evolve this is what I do too.
    When I am in the field doing ecology work..we don’t know what we will find. The process evolves. Your bag would be awesome for the things I need to measure, chart, record, photo too.
    And, your tips work for my design and creative side.
    I always carry fabric swatches, paint chips, pictures, notebook, tape measure etc when shopping.
    Your bag, again is perfect for my goodies.

  49. Kiera Reese says:

    Love this shoot! A winner from start to finish. I have a “bag of tricks” myself; I call it my life support bag, because it covers my basic needs in a first world situation. Batteries, cables, scissors, combs, tape… I really love the couch series and subtractive light. Subtly dramatic. Great work!

  50. Great walk through and tips to help us! You’re skin tones and lighting always impress me. I’m still trying to get the best exposure. I think I’m close but always second guess myself.

  51. Thank you so much for pulling back the curtain and letting us average Joes and Janes see how the magic is made!

  52. You both have an amazing dynamic. Sometimes it can be hard working with friends but you two do it flawlessly. I love the advice you give back it really does help with inspiration and creating new artistic ideas which ultimately is the goal. Sharing artistic flare and friendliness is always better! Thank you!!

  53. Love the paper collar! And I totally agree with not having everything planned out for a shoot. I love shooting in a new place — my eye is immediately searching for all the little intricacies such as where the light is falling, or a way to use the unique shapes surrounding me for the next great shot!

  54. Cindy Brooks says:

    Thanks for all the tips! I’m wondering about shooting on location. I live in a beautiful area and so many times I would love to stop to take photos. Many times for the best shot I would need to enter private property. Do you approach property owners for permission? Have you found most of your requests granted?

  55. Cindy Bazzel says:

    I love these tips, the photos and the model are beautiful. I especially love the tip about praying for someone to come alongside. 🙂

  56. Beautiful, even my 4 year old peeking over while I was reading the article said the same. I love the pop of colors from each and every photo. Great job guys!

  57. Brandi has the most expressive eyes. Here face is very expressive too. It’s almost like you can read her thoughts. Your pictures of her are very poetic.

  58. Missy Turner says:

    Gorgeous work! What an inspiration!

  59. rengstrom says:

    love the skin tons and styling!! What kind of off camera lighting did you use?

  60. Love these articles on what makes other photographers tick.

  61. Loved the shoot! What are your back up plans if your shoot is outdoors and it’s bad weather? Do you just shoot with the bad weather or think off the fly and go somewhere else? I love the colors and contrast too!

  62. Diana Camden says:

    What a great duo you make. The colors in these photos are as amazing as the pieces. Thanks for sharing your tips.

    Diana C

  63. [email protected] says:

    i love the idea of just styling with whatever you have on hand, I shoot like that a lot of the time. Thanks for the lighting diagram’s Kelly, it’s always interesting to see how other photographers set up their shots!

  64. I loved this piece you wrote and the photos, as usual, are strong and beautiful. Having a bag of items handy with you on a shoot is a great idea. Thanks!

    Kelly – wondering if you can do a video for us on post production. I’m fairly new to digital having studied film. Post production (which software to use) and how to store your files and backups would be a huge help to learn about. I’ve done some research but you have a way of speaking layman’s terms that I understand. Thanks!

Leave a Reply