The primary client for this assignment was Marie Claire magazine; the brief was to document a cross-promotional event co-produced by Marie Claire/Hearst Publishing, Michael Kors, and Girls Who Code. Because all of the involved brands wanted to use these images as social media content, marketing collateral, etc., the copyright and usage licensing had to reflect the unlimited publication of these images by the brands, as well as publication in Marie Claire magazine. With so many stakeholders, the pressure was on to create work that could be effective for everybody.

This event featured a cocktail party followed by keynote speakers; the clients wanted documentary photography that captured the ambience and energy of the event, followed by individual headshots of attendees against a white background.

I used my handheld cameras to document the party, observing the following criteria:

  • Attention to salient details, e.g. champagne, catering, DJ's, client branding and logos
  • Pleasing, natural colors, with a modern aesthetic in accord with Marie Claire's standards
  • Shallow focus when possible
  • An inconspicuous, documentary approach
  • A reasonable cross-section of the attendees, smiling and interacting, where possible
  • Images of the speakers engaging the audience, and the reaction of that audience



Before the event started, my assistant and I set up a narrow white backdrop and lighting package in the corner of a small backroom at the Michael Kors location. After the cocktail party, keynote speeches, and panel discussion were completed, I invited attendees back to the white backdrop mini-studio, where we captured headshots of individual people. Because these were individual headshots, we were able to keep our footprint reasonably small; if the client had required group photos against white, a much larger area with a more extensive lighting package would have been necessary.

The primary aesthetic goal for these headshots was to appear authentic and flattering: no retouching, no filters, just real people looking their authentic best. A few of the absolutely essential elements are as follows:

  • A crisp, pure white background with no shadows or color artifacts
  • Flattering skin tones of all pigmentation and complexion
  • Eyes that are bright and sparkling
  • Sharp focus with crisp detail
  • Clear eyeglasses without any distracting reflections
  • Plenty of negative space around the subject, to allow for maximum flexibility in later cropping, as cropped below



The clients wanted rapid access to these images, so they arranged to have payment-in-full at the event. Upon receiving complete payment for the work, these images were processed and uploaded as Hi-Resolution JPEG files to my password-protected web gallery within 14 hours of wrapping the shoot, allowing instant downloads to any person in possession of the password. The equipment utilized included Canon and Hasselblad cameras, yielding resolution far greater than 4k, with each full-resolution image measuring approximately 20-60mb. Marie Claire used a file transfer service to access the print-resolution TIFF images, publishing them in Marie Claire's Luxe Issue. All clients were provided with explicit licensing, allowing them to use these images for unlimited promotional publication. The only restrictions would be on reselling these images to a 3rd party, as I retain the copyrights.

For more information on payments, licensing, and professional photography business practices, I highly recommend this book from The American Society Of Media Photographers.