Charleston, SC-based Chad Savage specializes in lifestyle and product photography, a combination that requires authenticity, connection, and highly-detailed images. While both of these specialties require a different approach, Chad’s array of skills was the perfect match for a portrait project that led to a product shoot.
The project came about when Chad worked with Becker Chicaiza, founder of luxury Greenwich, CT salon, and his husband for a couples portrait session. The two enjoyed Chad’s personable nature and the soft, intimate tone his photos conveyed and hired him to bring a radiant feel to their new haircare line, Be Chic.
It was great working with them, as we started off with a couples shoot and I was able to meet them on a more personal level from the onset.
Becker had been working to create his haircare line for three years prior to meeting Chad and was ready to take the next step in launching his luxury Parisian-made product. While they knew the style and feel of the shots requested, they trusted Chad’s commercial expertise to lead them in creating lifestyle and product imagery for the website.
They granted a lot of creative freedom, which helped to allow for more engaging and enjoyable images.
Chad worked with Becker to craft a mood board of images for each product, and he continually returned to this visual source while working on this project. Be Chic’s line features gold embossed product packaging that Chad drew inspiration from throughout the series, matching the earthy hues and sun flares to the bottle’s label. He ventured to Folly Beach on James Island, where the natural dunes and coastal plants set the tone for a raw and organic feel.
They gave me a mood board of images they liked for each shoot, which I used as a foundation for outlining the direction of the project.
When highlighting Be Chic’s hydrating hair products, the client wanted to capture them floating in a body of water. Unfortunately, the water off the Atlantic Ocean is not crystal clear, and Chad had to seek a chlorinated pool that could provide an alternative aquatic environment.
I spent the day in the sun, on my own time, finding the right shot. It took a while to set up the lighting that I felt properly did the job, but it was an enjoyable problem-solving experience.
The salon products are composed of natural ingredients, such as Aloe Vera, Meadowfoam Oil, and Oryza Sativa (a type of rice), so the client wanted to stage the shoot to include plants that spoke to its organic origins. As some of these products are difficult to obtain, Chad searched for more common household ingredients — like coconut flakes and oil — that still mirror the product’s composition.
I shopped for different ingredients that made up each product to surround them with, but some of them were fairly hard to pick up at a local grocery store.
The client knew from his couples session that Chad could create intimate shots and they wanted the images for this project to showcase the product in a lifestyle setting with beautiful scenery and talent.
The client preferred more detailed shots that filled the frame, while still directing the viewer’s eye to areas of the image needed.
I learned a lot about product photography through this project. I saw how important the small details are surrounding the product – sometimes more so than the product itself!
Chad’s favorite images from the series were those touched by the golden hues of the sun while shooting at the beach. He enjoyed utilizing the sand’s movement in the wind, which mimics the feel of flowing, beach-swept hair.
I felt that the images of the products backlit by the sun, with the sand following down, were the most unique and exciting.
The hope for many photographers is that one project with a client will lead to more, even if the ensuing asks are vastly different than the original assignment. In this instance, Chad’s personability allowed him to forge a bond with Becker and his partner, leading the couple to go back to Chad when they needed more work done. Versatility and affability go a long way in this industry, and Chad having both attributes in his back pocket led to additional work from a newfound collaborator.
Photographer: Chad Savage