Behind the Scenes: The True Story of a CedarWorks Photo Shoot

Life at CedarWorks  |  5 years ago

Behind the Scenes: The True Story of a CedarWorks Photo Shoot

Whew! It’s a wrap. This summer’s CedarWorks outdoor photo shoot is in the can after 2 rain days, 5 days of shooting, 14 different playset and playhouse variations, 50 kids, and about a zillion Goldfish crackers (we’re not even going to talk about how many cups of coffee the grown ups drank).

Every year, we spend a couple of very busy weeks photographing new playset and playhouse designs, but the truth is, a photo shoot takes a lot longer than just the days we take pictures.

CedarWorks is a small company but we sell our playsets and playhouses to families and organizations all over the United States and the world. Since we don’t use storefront locations or distributors, the main way customers get to know our products is through images on our website and in our catalogs, so we have to make sure we have a lot of high-quality, beautiful images that help us stand out from other playset companies.

Getting photos of playsets, however, particularly our outdoor playsets, is a little more challenging than photographing other types of products like clothes or food. For one thing, they are really big. And we have to design and build each one. We can’t just pull a swing set complete with slides and swings and monkey bars off the shelf. Plus, we have to shoot them outside, so there’s always weather to consider--and we happen to be on the coast of Maine, a beautiful place with highly changeable weather.

So we don’t just grab a playset and photograph it on a whim. We usually do one outdoor photo shoot per year, in the summer when the weather is--hopefully--nice, and kids (aka our photo shoot models) are out of school, but we start planning for the photo shoot several months in advance.

If we are planning any new products, or product lines to introduce in next year’s catalog, they have to be designed, prototyped, tested, and approved in time for the summer photo shoot. Once we know what products we will be shooting, we have to find a couple of weeks in summer that don’t conflict with anyone’s vacation plans. While we usually shoot on our property, we have to choose the exact locations and prep them beginning as soon as snow melts, making sure the grass is watered and green, trees are trimmed, and weeds are weeded. The photographers also check the location to know where the sun will be at any given time, so we can position the playsets and schedule times to shoot accordingly (usually morning is best or sometimes late afternoon).

We start lining up families to participate about a month in advance, and we have to make sure we have wardrobe for all the kids. About a week before the shoot, we start putting together the playsets themselves, so there are extra people here, lunches to be ordered, coolers full of cold drinks and big pots of coffee for the early morning.

A couple of days in advance, we iron out all the details from making sure the playsets are positioned correctly and the flags are flying in the right direction to buying sunscreen and snacks for the kids.

And rains. Every year. For at least a couple of days. Or maybe it’s just foggy, but you can’t really photograph a playset if you can barely see it. So we scramble to revamp the schedule, find a rain date, and reschedule the children who were supposed to come that day. But every year the sun eventually does come out, and the children and their parents arrive to play, and the photographers get their shots set up, and somehow it all comes together. Months of planning and weeks of work result in beautiful photographs of smiling kids and gorgeous playsets.

And next year we will do it all over again.