Photographer Does Photo Shoot at Lowe’s, Takes Beautiful Photos in “Ugly” Locations

photoshoot in Lowe's

Montana-based photographer Jenna Martin is known for her underwater and fine art photography, but when she recently got together with frequent model Rachelle Kathleen, they decided to go for something different. What would happen if they chose an “ugly” location as the backdrop for an impromptu photo shoot? It was this challenge that saw Martin and Kathleen—in a sequin evening gown—turning home improvement mecca Lowe's into a glamorous set.

“The point was to challenge ourselves,” Martin writes on her blog. “I wanted somewhere with horrible lighting and limited backdrops. Somewhere that made absolutely no sense for a photoshoot.”

Before they got started, they set out a few rules. First, they had to work with what was already there—no artificial lighting or props. Second, they couldn't rearrange the displays or make major changes. In one instance, they moved a cart to the center of the aisle, but otherwise, everything was shot as is. And lastly, they'd respect the other customers in Lowe's by not shooting if anyone was in the background. Thus, they mainly stuck to areas of the store without shoppers, which wasn't difficult considering it was almost closing time.

photo shoot unusual location Lowe's

Before they got started, they wanted to make sure they wouldn't encounter any problems. When an employee approached to ask if they needed help as they entered, Martin let him know they were looking to take some photographs and asked if it would be a problem. Lucky for them, there was no issue. “I was just wondering why she was so overdressed for a trip to the hardware store!” the employee told them. And the reaction of other customers? “Aside from the first employee, we ran into a couple customers and one more employee,” Martin tells My Modern Met. “They all said something along the lines of ‘Photos, here? Cool!' Everyone was super nice and friendly.”

The duo focused on a few different sections of the megastore—paint, lighting, the aisles, and the garden center. Martin cited the aisles as the most challenging to photograph, especially as she didn't want to rely on close up shots during the entire session. “I thought shooting close-ups for all the photos would be cheating a bit, and I didn’t want to just blur everything out.”

But happily, they ended up finding something to work with no matter what the location, proving that a little creativity can create magic in any situation. And who knew that Lowe's could be so glamorous? Their PR company better give the ladies a call.

Jenna Martin - Ugly Places Photo Shoot - Lowe's

Overall, the experience inspired Martin and Kathleen to continue experimenting with locations—they just recently did another shoot at a tire store. Martin hopes it gets others thinking as well. “I hope it inspires people to explore some locations they otherwise would've skipped. Some locations are little gold mines, and even if you don't get anything out of it, it's great to experiment and see if it sparks something for next time!”

Photographer Jenna Martin and model Rachelle Kathleen recently crashed a Lowe's home improvement store to carry out an impromptu photo shoot.

Lowe's paint samples

Their first stop was the paint samples, where the colorful samples provide the perfect backdrop against Kathleen's evening gown.

photoshoot in ugly location photoshoot in ugly location

Martin's unedited and edited photographs demonstrate how she compensated for the poor lighting in post-production.

Jenna Martin - Ugly Places Photo Shoot - Lowe's


photoshoot in Lowe's

Next, they hit the lighting section, where Martin challenged herself to shoot a background with mixed lighting.

Lowe's Lighting Section photoshoot in Lowe's photo shoot unusual location Lowe's

Though differences in color and brightness—mixed with shadows—were challenging, one thing they didn't anticipate was the difficulty in the fact that the lights were hung high up.

photoshoot in ugly location


photoshoot in ugly location

Then they made their way to the aisles, where bad lighting and an aesthetically boring background made it their biggest challenge.

Lowe's hardware

Lowe's Home Improvement

photoshoot in Lowe's


They took on both a wide and skinny aisle to see how the compositions would differ.

photo shoot unusual location Lowe's Jenna Martin - Ugly Places Photo Shoot - Lowe's

With time running out—the store was closing—they ran to the garden center, which actually had the best lighting in the store.

Lowe's Garden Center
Jenna Martin - Ugly Places Photo Shoot - Lowe's


photoshoot in ugly location

The duo had such a good experience with the Lowe's challenge that they are already trying different locations, like this tire store.

Jenna Martin: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Blog

My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Jenna Martin.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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