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.
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.
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!”