Recently, we broke out of the house for a quick, socially-distanced photoshoot near the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve near Lancaster, California. It felt so good to do something creative after self-isolating in the house for the last two months, even though I had some Quarantine Projects keeping me busy. Here's how we planned and executed our poppy field photoshoot.
It All Starts with a Location
This year's poppy bloom in southern California was not as spectacular as last year's, but the fields near the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve still looked quite beautiful. Truthfully, it wasn't really on my radar until I saw someone else's photos from the area. After seeing a friend's drone footage of the area on Facebook, I got in the car and made the 1.5 hour drive up to Lancaster to location scout for the perfect spot to hold a portrait session.
It was quite nice to leave the city for awhile. The dusty dirt roads and poor cell signal was a quaint reminder that there is more to life than that which exists within the confines of the noisy, bustling LA urban sprawl.
I came across three potential locations, each one better than the last. After the third, I knew for certain I had found my spot: a quiet hillside with a small outcrop of trees and brush. Little did I know how important those little trees would be by the time of our photoshoot.
Planning the Outfit
Our model, Tanya, was thrilled to be the subject of our photoshoot. We coordinated some outfits over text. We really wanted to contrast the beautiful bright orange colors of the poppies, so we chose the colors lavender and navy blue for the outfits. Tanya also brought along a beautiful patterned dress and some spring-themed hats, which I thought would add some nice variety. She also brought some prop flowers that really accentuated the theme for this shoot.
If there's one thing I learned about planning photoshoots, it's that you can count on things never going exactly according to plan. Or maybe I'm just cursed and I don't know it yet. Two days after location scouting, we made the 80 mile, 1.5 hour drive to our location only to find that the area was experiencing wind gusts of up to 25 MPH.
Not only would this prove a serious challenge to the structural integrity of our model's hair, but the poppies which I had been in full-bloom only two days ago were now withdrawn and hiding from the winds. It was quite discouraging, I must admit. Still, we had come this far, and now there was no turning back.
The saving grace of our shoot was the fact that the location we chose was the only place on the entire hillside that had a small outcrop of trees and brush, which formed a natural windbreak for us if we huddled close to them.
I initially chose the location because of the scenic variety, but because of the winds we spent most of our time shooting just by the trees. It was creatively limiting in that sense, but they did preserve the shoot and we got some stunning images out of it.
I'm happy with the outcome of the shoot, and I even learned something new that day: always check the wind speeds in addition to the whether on the day of your photoshoot! Here's what we captured from the session:
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