Archive for the ‘Photo Shoot’ Category

We had a birthday!

July 2, 2013

Karin says…

We had a birthday! Or rather, Tees For Your Head had a birthday.

And our cake had one candle on it.

We opened for business on June 22, 2012. Since then, we’ve gone from 18 designs available to 48. We had our first international sale, to England. (France, you flirted with us, and we’re still hoping to date you.) We had our first day of selling multiple shirts. We had our first day of selling multiple shirts to more than one customer.

We still cheer when we get an order. It’s exciting! I love to see which designs people choose, and if I have the chance, I ask how they found us.

Since I’m the marketing department, I need to know what’s working to let our geeky tribe know we exist. Natural search (when someone goes online looking for a geeky t-shirt for a gift or for themselves) seemed like the best moment to catch people’s eye, and it turns out that is when we are getting their attention. Our images are all labeled for SEO (search engine optimization–hey, I started out talking about birthdays and now I’m talking SEO, hmmm) and the images are doing very well in search results.


As a new business, you have to decide where to spend your money. We had two main areas where we spent during this first year: we did a photo shoot for the website, and we paid for press release placement: two releases per month for a year. The photo shoot, done by Ariel Lieberman has been a fantastic investment. I highly recommend her–she’s organized, calm, knowledgeable, and did a great job.


An early contact I made with a tee reviewer said we had one of the ugliest websites he’d ever seen, and if he hadn’t seen the photos of our tees on models, he’d never have realized that they were any good. Okay, then! (We opened with product images on drawings of t-shirts.)

I actually like to get really blunt feedback, since one’s friends tend to be nice and supportive and don’t tell you the hard stuff. (Tell us if you think we’re doing something wrong! Please!) So thanks for saving us from complete disgrace with that tee reviewer, Ariel.

The photos also tie in with the press releases, which have become a vehicle for geeky t-shirt photos. Poifect. The press releases let us tie our keywords to our tees, like “physics t-shirt,” which help people find us, and the releases will live for quite awhile on the web. “Indefinitely,” in fact, which I am taking to mean at least a few years.

Now if I could just figure out how to reach the non-computer-using grandmas-of-engineers, because they need to buy birthday and Christmas presents for those perplexing grandchildren who are studying what?, that would make for a good Year Two for us.

Behind the Scenes: Group T-shirt Shots Outside the Studio and Product Shots

October 12, 2012

Karin says…

Tom and I lived in the work/live spaces where our photographer Ariel and Warren are now, so we knew the next-door neighbors, a Dutch couple. The husband runs research on the evolutionary development of the brain at the University of California Santa Cruz (Frank, did I get that right?), and Marlies does her artwork while raising their (now two) kids.

They have a totally groovy old yellow van, and we used it for a set of photos. It’s sitting in the parking lot right outside their studio.

I am taking far too long to tell the story of our photo shoot, so let’s just carry on and finish.

Ariel had a fun idea, but it didn’t work. Hey, let’s have the models chew gum and blow bubbles!

Turns out that when you’re chewing gum and working on a bubble, you look kind of funny. If you DARE to comment below and request photos of models chewing, I’ll do it. Otherwise, please use your beautiful imaginations. So the gum-chewing scene was the last of our group shots.

Vicki, Heather, Sixto, Juli0: you were incredible. So much enthusiasm for everything we asked you to do! The behind-the-scenes glimpse: there was much laughing and fooling around between shots, and people really seemed to be enjoying themselves.

The final bit of work we had to do: take photos of each and every shirt, on one man and one woman.

Why was that? I confess that this business has kept me awake at night more than once. I was imagining our site, with our great-looking ladies, Vicki and Heather, wearing our shirts. But wait! If (imaginary customer) Steve sees Heather wearing a shirt showing science fiction writers, will he hesitate? Does having Heather model the design mean that the shirt is FOR GIRLS? The horror.

It’s uneven, I know. Girls will buy clothes that are ostensibly for guys, but it’s a rare guy who will wear a skirt.

So we went with every. single. design. on a man and a woman.

We celebrated as Julio, the last model to do product shots, put on his last shirt. High fives all around!

The end.


Behind the Scenes: Group T-Shirt Shots on the Beach

September 21, 2012

Karin says…

We moved down to the beach for the next series. While we waited for the heavy lugging to be done, Ariel did shots of the models on a lifeguard tower, right in front of the Keep Off sign. Oh, my Girl Scout heart did lurch. I prefer to go my own way on a lot of things, but I do generally follow the rules. Keep off the grass? Okay. (This will come into play again…)

Aren’t the models cute? Did you recognize the book Julio is holding? Why, it’s Thermal Physics by Kittel and Kroemer, of course.

And then we went to a spot where I liked the backdrop of the former natural bridge, which has eroded into two narrow outcroppings. (I’m sideways to the scene in the photo below, so you can’t see it here.)

Ariel had brought a drum and a guitar, and there was music and dancing. Very entertaining for the elderly beach strollers, judging by the staring that was going on.

Setting up the photo shoot on the beach for Tees For Your Head t-shirts

At this point, a park ranger truck pulled up and asked us whether we had a permit to shoot. I confess that I have committed a sin of omission. I was not the one who said it was a student project, but I did not correct the person who said that.

I looked it up later, because I wanted to retroactively pay the permit fee. It turns out that there’s no charge; the city just wants to make sure that a commercial photo shoot has insurance. We did! We do! Sorry, Mr. Ranger!

I still feel icky about this. Girl Scout through and through.

Behind the Scenes: Group T-Shirt Shots

September 9, 2012

Karin says…

First stop: an overlook at Natural Bridges, on Santa Cruz’s Westside.

It’s a beautiful, fresh morning with a small ocean breeze. Feel it? Hear those birds and the waves crashing? Smell the salt air? Mmmm, summer in Santa Cruz.

Ariel and Warren set up the lights. The camera was wirelessly connected to them, so the theory was that the lights would fire as the photo was taken. Theory–it took some fiddling to make it work, and it mostly worked. But they had to fiddle all day!

Heather is demonstrating that girls DO like math. Remember this for later when there is a Misunderstanding of Comical Proportions.

But someone’s missing from the photo above: Kim, the makeup and hair person, was standing by with her rolling suitcase of tools.

The crew for Tees For Your Head website photo shoot: models Julio, Vicki, Sixto, and Heather, makeup and hair Kim, photographer Ariel, assistant photographer and consultant Warren

I’m just learning to drive this thing (the blog), and you can see I have a new toy today: links! Shall I stop with four in this entry?

Who’s been to Natural Bridges? The name is for the rock formations at the water’s edge, but the park also includes a large eucalyptus grove where the monarchs migrate in the late fall.¬†Entomologists, do I have that timing right?

Behind the Scenes: The Photo Shoot Begins

September 1, 2012

Karin says…

I was trying not to worry. What if the shirts don’t fit? What if someone didn’t show up? Well, we could just let someone else wear the shirts, pinning them from behind if the size was too big. What if someone couldn’t eat the food I’d brought? Well, I could run out and get some other choices. What if the shirts don’t fit? The info I had on each model was inconsistent, and everyone’s built differently. What if I’ve forgotten something? What if someone gets hurt? (Um, by posing too hard?)

What if the shirts don’t fit?

Kim Guiley ( did hair and makeup and had the early call: she showed up at the studio at 5:45. Brave girl!

Kim preps Vicki’s makeup while Julio and Sixto chat in the studio.

By the time I arrived at 7:30 a.m., Kim was on the last bits of dabbing and fluffing. I met Vicki and Julio for the first time, and reintroduced myself to Heather and Sixto.

I showed them an ad I’d seen recently that had models pouting and posing in self-conscious ways–not the look I was going for. I also had some examples of models who looked like they were having fun, and posing in a friendly, relaxed way.

Aaaaaah. The shirts fit.

In fact, each model fit into the smaller size I’d printed for them. If you’ve got it, flaunt it!

Very soon after that, we piled into two cars and went to a nearby beach for our first group shots. It was fun to see Ariel and Warren get to work on the lighting and the wireless coordination of the camera and the lights, and to see the models spring into action, being all modely and cute and smiley.

I took lots of behind-the-scenes photos and even some videos so you can see what the shoot looked like.

Have you ever done a photo shoot? How did it go? Tell me about it!

Behind the Scenes: Prepping for the Photo Shoot

August 30, 2012

Karin says…

Don’t ask me why I didn’t just ask Ariel what I should do to prep. Instead, I imagined what we’d need, and then I’d email her with each question as I thought of it: what will people eat, and when? How can I prep the shirts and get them to the shoot without wrinkling them? What if the shirts don’t fit right? What if someone doesn’t show up? Can we get the models’ weight and chest measurements?

Patient Ariel!

Following Ariel’s suggestions, I ordered a sandwich tray and vegetables with dip, and planned to bring fruit, pretzels, and water the day of the shoot. I gathered as much info as I could about the models, and made a guess on sizes. We got our rolling rack out of storage, and I assembled it in Ariel’s studio.

We also had a clothing steamer that we’d never used, but it turned out to be simple to set it up, too. We had plenty of hangers that we’d accumulated while we were learning to print.

Over a couple of days, I steamed over 80 shirts. working a few hours per day. Don’t these photos look just like a stop-motion movie? No? Darn.

Shirts for Tees For Your Head photo shoot

Just getting started.

Shirts for Tees For Your Head photo shoot
An hour later.

Over 60 shirts!

These are all the printed shirts. Then I realized we also needed to photograph blanks. We’re thinking we might use the blanks to spoof product shots when we have new shirts but won’t have another photo shoot for awhile.

Back to the steamer for more!

I had a master list showing each model and which shirts they’d be wearing. I used that to put each person’s shirts together with a label so they could keep track of them.

Ha–we’ll see how well that went when I finish this story.

Behind the Scenes: Ch-ch-ch-changes for the Photo Shoot

August 24, 2012

Karin says…

Our direct-to-garment printing process means I needed to order shirts specifically for each model, and they’d have to be printed in between choosing the models and the photo shoot. It was agonizing trying to get more details about the models’ sizes–I had bits and pieces of information, but not the same info on each person, and not enough to really know what sizes to order.

I ended up ordering two sizes for each model. That was over 60 shirts! We couldn’t get them printed in time, so we moved the photo shoot out a month.

Uh oh! When we rescheduled, we found out that Adrian was leaving to study abroad and wouldn’t be available for the shoot. He had such a nice personality in the few minutes we saw him, and a beautiful smile, so we were sorry that he wouldn’t be able to work with us.

The next guy we picked wasn’t available.

The guy after that wasn’t available.

We couldn’t pick anyone too short, because Sixto is 6′ 4″ and we didn’t want a shorter guy to look out of balance. So now we’re constrained by the timing of the photo shoot, by the model’s height, and by whether he’ll fit into the shirts that have already been printed. No pressure!

Finally, we found Julio, who looked great. And he was available.

Ariel has already put in hours on this project, and all we’ve done is the casting. She’s a pro.

Behind the Scenes: Choosing Models

August 16, 2012

Karin says…

So here they are, our beautiful models!

They were asked to do three poses. In the first, they held a paper number that identified them and gave us a big smile.

In the second, Ariel asked them to do something quirky. Sixto, second from the right, repeated “Quirky?” in his Spanish accent (ladies, you will love it–I’m going to ask the models if they’ll answer some questions on my iPhone so, if he agrees, you can all hear it), and Ariel clarified for him. Adrian, on the far right, brought glasses to the shoot as a prop. We loved that!

In the third photo, they could do whatever they wanted. There was always a moment of hesitation before they (sing it with me) struck a pose.¬†Oh, can you tell which pose this is? This is everyone’s quirky pose.

From left to right, meet Vicki, Heather, Sixto, and Adrian. You four have gorgeous smiles!

The only one I didn’t see at the casting call is Vicki, so I’ll be meeting her for the first time at the photo shoot. Can’t wait!

Behind the Scenes – Model Casting Call

June 28, 2012

Karin says…

If you don’t like answering questions, don’t start a business! Here are a few of our recent questions: Do we show models wearing our designs, or drawings of tee shirts? If we use live models, how do we keep up on new designs, and is photography worth the cost? Will guys want to buy unisex designs when they’re modeled by women?

Here are some of our answers: Show our tees both on live models and on drawings. Every few months, catch up on photographing new designs on models. As for the last question above, will you dudes help us out? What’s your opinion about that?

So I put an ad on craigslist for a photographer, and ended up choosing one very close to home. The couple who took over our rented live/work space were both graduates of the prestigious photography school, Brooks Institute. Ariel Lieberman’s photos were beautiful, exactly what we were looking for, and as a bonus, her husband Warren Lee has been involved in all the steps so far.

On June 23rd, I dropped by their studio and saw many of the models who came to the casting call. It was fascinating to see how they reacted to walking into a new situation and being put on the spot. Each tryout lasted about 30 seconds at most, with Ariel taking three photos of each person.

We know most of them had to drive at least a half hour to get to Santa Cruz, and everyone was very poised about getting only a few seconds to show their personalities and ability to take direction. Some looked a little surprised that it was so quick, but everyone stayed professional.

Ariel and Warren prepared a slide show for us of all the models, and we chose our favorites. I’d also asked both of them to let us know what they thought, and their insight was very valuable. Ariel was focusing on things that I wouldn’t have noticed, particularly the models’ ability to respond to her cues for each of the three photos. This will be crucial when we do the shoot–people will have to be able to take her direction and stay on task as we move between locations. Our top picks were the same as three of their choices, but we went maverick on one of the models.

In the next post, I’ll introduce our four finalists!

P.S. Find Ariel’s photography work here:

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