Skylar Bartlett Talks Creative Process
From confetti to T-Swift dance breaks... it sounds as fun as his bold, bright images look
One of my favorite brands to work with was TAKE5. I had seen some of my Instagram friends working with them for a few months and it was honestly one of those times where I was waiting by my e-mail thinking please pick me, please pick me, please pick me. Their latest rebranding of the TAKE5 wrapper and their colorfully quirky aesthetic felt very on-brand for me. Plus, I love chocolate so… It was a win-win.
Creating content for TAKE5 felt like playing a game and I had to win. Here were the rules: 3 photos. Show off the bar, merchandise, and/or any of the ingredients that go into TAKE5. Stay colorful and bright. Engage with your audience. And in the words of RuPaul, don’t screw it up.
Phase 1: Brainstorm!
The funnest part of any project for me is sitting down at my sketchbook and dreaming up ideas. This usually involves blasting Taylor Swift and multiple dance breaks. In the beginning, no idea is too big, until I start to factor important questions. What is my background? Are there props? How am I shooting this? What time of day? Will there be traffic getting there (so important living in LA)?
I knew off the bat I wanted to do an epic leap at one of the famous colored walls in Los Angeles. I also knew that I wanted to go beyond the bar, and incorporate TAKE5 merchandise and the ingredients into my photos. I had a TAKE5 baseball tee, but what would make that pop – balloons maybe? And the ingredients… A halo of pretzels? Can confetti be involved? Confetti should always be involved.
Once I have a semi-clear grasp of what I want to create, I make a schedule the night before the shoot. If I don’t make a schedule, I feel like a lost puppy the next day. But I’ve learned that when making schedules, it’s important to leave openness for spontaneity, as a lot of magic happens in the moments I don’t plan.
Phase 2: Shooting!
Here’s a secret – most of my photos are taken at sunrise or sunset. I hate shooting in harsh light, but since all of my photos are out in LA, I find the best light to be when the sun is barely in the sky. Getting up early is not fun, but do it for the gram, right? I’m basically nocturnal at this point.
It’s always interesting to me to see the different timings of photos. Some take one try and some take dozens. Balloons will always take dozens. I had 24 balloons and the wind was not letting me have my way that day. All of the strings were getting tangled, my hair was blowing every direction, and I almost flew off an 8 floor apartment building. But during one of those dozen takes, I had a decent pose and the balloons stayed still. I won the shot!
My favorite concept during brainstorming that didn’t work out like I planned was a halo of pretzels. It was indoor which had tricky lighting, I couldn’t line up the pretzels just right, and I ran out of hair gel so it was a bad bad hair day. I try not to cry over spilt milk, or in this case spilt pretzels, so in one of my fleeting moments of randomness, I grabbed a confetti wand I had in my closet and went outside. I had one chance to get the flying confetti, and somehow, I won that shot, too! Funny how life works sometimes.
Phase 3: Editing!
I like to keep my editing mobile, but in emergency situations, I’ll bring photos into photoshop for some readjusting. The Rainbow Leap was an emergency situation! There was a massive sign blocking a big part of the wall and I wanted the colors to be as close to ROY G BIV as possible.
Back on my iPhone, I use 3 main apps: TouchReTouch, Snapseed, and VSCO. TouchReTouch is for any minor cloning or erasing, Snapseed I use for structural and detailed edits, and I end with VSCO to have a consistent filter that matches the rest of my gallery (C3 and S3 are my go-to’s!).
If you’re reading this far, I’m sure you can guess by now that I won the TAKE5 game. The most rewarding part of all of this is when a brand genuinely loves your photos. No matter how many likes you get, how many followers you have, the best part is when someone tells you “I love what you do. Good job.” I may not be the biggest or the best, but as long as I treat every job like it’s the biggest and best, I end up winning every time.
Major thanks to Skylar Bartlett for this article. You can (and should) follow him at @skyzzle.
Creative Community Director at Snapfluence.
There is often a pen stuck in my hair.