Posts Tagged: small business

I SCREAM for ice cream: photography campaign


“I SCREAM” was created for a Quenelle, a boutique ice cream shop that has been expanding their presence with new locations – and thanks to the quality of their product – has limited marketing efforts.

This creative commercial photography campaign would give them a high-end polished look worthy of their product, infused with the delight that ice cream brings. We were ultimately able to create a campaign over many different mediums from one half-day shoot. A delicious success!


THE SHOOT: We invited Quenelle customers (and brought in a few select models to round out the diversity) to join us for a day of screams and smiles in front of the camera. It was an infectious day of fun – and we added the element of animated GIFs to the setups to 1) expand the marketing usage and 2) increase the “fun” of the piece. The great side effect was that it helped the non-models feel instantly more comfortable as they had an action to complete.

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We felt the GIFs captured the energy so well, that we used them to animate the main tiled images, which was an added benefit as so many of the shots were worthy of publishing, we needed 3 groupings to accomplish it.









ON THE TECH SIDE: In order to quickly accommodate 32 people of varying ages and group sizes, we shot on white sic – enabling me to manipulate the color schemes more quickly in post for each setup.

THANKS: Huge props to Producer Pam Elliott for seamlessly scheduling model and non-model alike, and keeping the atmosphere fun and friendly. Thanks also to our intern Trevor Dalton and to Ric Serena who assisted on set, ran B camera grabbing some video footage of the fun, and were both forced to eat a few servings of ice cream as well. Kudos to Bobby Lory who quickly drew the Quenelle logo so that all participants could leave their mark .

And it couldn’t have been possible without Quenelle, the models and John, who hand-scooped each artistic serving.

A delicious day!

CZAPPA: TV Repairman and Artist

In the ten years we’ve lived in Burbank, California, I must have passed ARC TV & Repair over one hundred times.  The handful of art pieces in the front window always caught my attention, but I assumed the artist was a friend of the shop owner.
After Jen wrapped up her HOMEGROWN photography project, showcasing small business owners in Burbank, she received a phone call from Bill Czappa, owner of ARC TV & Repair, asking if he could be included in her next round of photography.  She returned to our office after shooting with him and urged me to meet him and consider shooting another [ahr-tuh-zen] project installment on him.
I didn’t have lofty expectations for the end product when I made the commitment to shoot a short piece on him, mostly because I didn’t know how much time I would be able to commit.  However, during my first b-roll shoot with Bill at his garage studio, we got to talking unofficially (I didn’t have location audio with me that day because I hadn’t intended to shoot interviews), and Bill mentioned that he’d always thought Van Gogh had it easy compared to some artists, including himself.  With this passing comment it became very clear the direction and tone the documentary would take.  I was hooked.
In the month that followed, I spent a few hours here and there with Bill. At his garage studio. At his repair shop/gallery. For one of Bill’s recounts about a gallery experience, I wanted to come up with a clever way to visually tell the story.  His retelling was lengthy and required quite a bit of trimming to make it fit.  Because I only shot his interview with one camera, I didn’t have the luxury of a second camera to cut away to.  In addition, I felt like cutting to random b-roll during this story felt unmotivated.  So I took a cue from Bill and decided to use a “different material” than video to tell the story.  I decided to tackle stop-motion animation for the first time in years.  With our awesome intern, Odessa, we cut characters and shapes out of construction paper and created a rudimentary animated sequence to accompany Bill’s humorous art gallery story.
There is nothing like watching an animated sequence come to life.  The icing on the cake was hearing the sound design from my long-time collaborator, Durand Trench of Sasquatch Sound.  All of us were in his office laughing like children.  I have a feeling it won’t be our last animation.
The next step was a crucial one and somewhat fortuitous.  I had been editing the film with no music.  It’s been an exercise of mine recently as I try to avoid temp love (the notion that some producers/directors/editors fall in love with their temporary score so much that they’re unable to appreciate the novelty of an original composition), and I wanted to provide the composer an opportunity to come at it with a fresh perspective.  For this project, I asked Paul Bessenbacher (PB) of Emoto Music to consider scoring the film and gave him the first right of refusal.
Near the end of my picture edit, PB released a track from his then forth-coming solo piano album titled, Equilibrium.  On a whim, I played the track against a section of the film and was blow away.  Everything worked.  Timing.  Tone.  Moments.  PB had independently and coincidentally created the perfect piece for a film he’d never seen.  From there, PB provided some of his other existing tracks for me to place against my sequence to help him determine the tone I was going after.  I was willing to forsake my exercise at the request of the composer, especially considering it was his music.  Eventually, he composed an original score that differed significantly from the temp music he’d provided earlier (save that initial piano track, Bloom, which we both felt was perfect for the film).  I will admit I had a brief moment of temp love the first night, but it only required one more listen of the new score to appreciate the creative approach and cohesiveness it brought to the film.  The musical collaborative process is one of my favorites in filmmaking, and I’m fortunate to work such talented composers like PB.
We went back to Bill’s garage studio to record some additional sound effects for the soundscape of the film, and from there Durand tackled the mix.  This was his first mix for a theatrical setting, and he nailed it.  Sidney Lumet wrote he hated the mix process.  I’d have to disagree with him.
Passion projects can be a bit tricky.  There is a balance you must strike between making something the best you can make it and respecting the  time of your creative collaborators.    At the end of the day, you want have something you all can be proud of.  I think CZAPPA is a prime example of achieving that goal.

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HoMEGRoWN: KleanSpa

We’ve been pretty busy around here, but there are still more businesses to share from our HoMEGRoWN photo series! So, in honor of National Small Business Week, here’s the latest… this time on Jennifer Hardaway at KleanSpa.

First, I have to admit, I’ve been dying to make my own scent ever since I stepped into the shop. That DIY attitude, helped by a scent mixologist (I think I just invented a title) could only mean great things.

Jenn is an incredible salesperson. Not because she’s big on sales, but because she obviously LOVES her products. And they actually hold up to all of the excitement! From innovative scents in perfumes, colognes, soaps and lotions, KleanSpa puts you in the scentual driver’s seat.

I asked her for a word of advice on starting your own business, and here’s what she said:


Our conceptual image features a blending of Orange Blossom and Sandalwood.  Makeup artists had fun gluing on earthy materials onto our model, and the finished product is full of tiny details that beg to be found.

In her tiny workroom, it was a great challenge to keep everything as light, airy and colorful as she, and her business are. I think we absolutely got it! all the way down to incorporating her orange & green colors in the concept image.




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PHOTOGRAPHER:  Jen Serena, Serena Creative

MODELS:  Elle Jane Hounsell &  Chris Pavlik

HAIR & MAKEUP:  Alexandria Storm & Miss Cassanova

WARDROBE STYLING:  Drelyn, Beyond Image


Learn more about the HoMEGRoWN project here.

HoMEGRoWN: Audrey K

The first business owner I approached for the HoMEGRoWN project project was Audrey.  I had worked with her on a campaign celebrating all of the different body types that women can have, and knew I wanted to highlight her for this project.

Her store is full of beautiful things… to wear, to look at, to covet. Audrey is queen of customer service and wants everyone who enters to feel special and well cared for.  (And a side note… her window decorations for the Magnolia Park holiday event always rock!)

Audrey felt a little self-conscious during the photo shoot (as she’s usually doting on someone else and not the center of attention,) but she handled it with grace and a winning smile. I count myself lucky to have worked with her, and wish only great things for her future.


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For her conceptual image, I wanted to combine her retro fashions that have caught up with trends for today. The model is the same on the magazine cover as the one holding the magazine. My only regret is that you can’t see the beautiful neckline on the dress designed by Audrey in the image.Conceptual+image+for+Audrey+K+Boutique-+bringing+retro+fashions+into+today

Photographer: Jen Serena

Portrait Subject: Audrey K, Audrey K Boutique

Model:  Elle Jane Hounsell

HAIR & MAKEUP: Alexandria Storm, Miss Cassanova, Ciara Pisa

WARDROBE: Audrey K Boutique & Drelyn, Beyond Imaging

HoMEGRoWN: Tony’s Darts Away

Happy New Year!

To kick it off, let’s raise a glass at the next stop on our HoMEGRoWN Burbank small business tour: Tony’s Darts Away.

Located dangerously next door to our studio, it’s our favorite local pub, with an all-California craft brew lineup (including Tony’s own Golden Road line) and bar fare that’s worth writing about (including truffle tater tots and vegan sausages.)

We met Tony a while back when we were gearing up screenings for our film, MIle… Mile & A Half, and even discussed having our release at his Golden Road location. So, it only seemed fitting to include one of our favorite entrepreneurs in this series, and even with his busy schedule, Tony was game.

I only had 12 minutes to shoot 4 different setups with him, and although he says he’s not comfortable in front of the camera, he came off as cool and friendly as he is in person.

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For the conceptual photo, I commissioned Sara Macias of Eclectic Visions to craft a dress made of Golden Road beer cans. The vision was a modernized Americana with our model holding one of TDA’s signature franks. Using all practical elements, including poly-fil clouds and turf, the post-process helped create the hyper-reality.  The dress & image will soon be on display at Golden Road so keep your eye out for it, should you stop in for a bite or drink.


And here’s the initial design for the dress.


Photographer: Jen Serena

Portrait Subject: Tony Yanow, Tony’s Darts Away

Models:  Elle Jane Hounsell

HAIR & MAKEUP: Alexandria Storm, Miss Cassanova

WARDROBE: Sara Macias, Eclectic Vision & Drelyn, Beyond Imaging

HoMEGRoWN: Frenchy’s

The next stop on our HoMEGRoWN Burbank small business tour is at Frenchy’s. The hip, rock-n-roll salon features pin-up decor and tatted-up stylists, and the owner, Lacey Walker always makes you feel welcome.

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Frenchy’s stylized conceptual image focuses on their “cutting-edge style.”

Sorry, I had to say it.



Photographer: Jen Serena

Portrait Subject: Lacey Walker, Frencky’s Beauty Parlor

Models:  Elle Jane Hounsell

HAIR & MAKEUP: Alexandria Storm, Miss Cassanova

WARDROBE: Drelyn, Beyond Imaging

HoMEGRoWN: Romancing the Bean

Special thanks to Kerry Krull for hosting the HoMEGRoWN exhibit at Romancing the Bean. You can check it out at 3413 W. Magnolia Blvd. Burbank, CA 91505


In her honor, we begin sharing the individual small business stories, environmental portraits and conceptual commercial photos there.

When we first moved to Burbank, Romancing the Bean was a small shop on Magnolia. Kerry’s loyal clientele, fueled by great coffee, atmosphere and customer service, prompted her to open a larger shop in the media district. When the rent became too high, we were afraid we’d lost this Burbank staple. Lucky for old and new comers, Kerry has revived the place on Magnolia in an airy and welcoming space sure to keep the lines long.

I was honored when she agreed to be a part of the project, even if she didn’t exactly know what she was getting into.

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This conceptual image was one of the fastest to come to me… how else to describe Romancing the Bean, than with a couple spooning in a bed of coffee beans?


PHOTOGRAPHER:  Jen Serena, Serena Creative

MODELS:  Elle Jane Hounsell &  Chris Pavlik

HAIR & MAKEUP:  Alexandria Storm & Miss Cassanova

WARDROBE STYLING:  Drelyn, Beyond Image


Learn more about the HoMEGRoWN project here.

HoMEGRoWN: Juxtaposing intimate portraits of 11 small business owners and conceptual, commercial images of their product or service, local photographer Jen Serena shares her view of Burbank with a nod to its creative role in the big picture.

H0MEGRoWN: Photo Exhibit celebrating small business

Personal projects always end up being bigger than you imagined, and HoMEGRowN was no exception.

Six months in the making, I wanted to start a project that would mean something to more than just me. I wanted to give quality, stylized, professional images to businesses that might not be able to afford such a thing. And what better way to share my diverse styles, than by bringing together diverse subjects, all tied together by being wonderful small businesses in my hometown of Burbank? It was a challenge well worth taking on. HomeGrown_forIG


Small business owners (SBOs) are a special breed. They’re passionate enough to take on the 24/7 lifestyle of striking out on your own, brave enough to accept the potential failures, smart enough to look past them to the big picture and just crazy enough to keep going despite it all.

Reaching out to local businesses and sharing stories; being able to connect with them in those few minutes of shooting time, just reassured that this was the right project to give my time.

I had a very small kit with me so that I could move quickly thought the 3-4 setups per location, (often during business hours and shooting around clientele,) and varied the images from standard portraits to more abstract images of the owner in action. The 30-60 minute session included a brief interview and discussion of the conceptual ideas.

As a portrait photographer, you have to establish an almost immediate trust with your subjects.  They will only be with you for a few minutes, but they’re allowing you to share your vision of them with the world. I think only 1 owner actually liked having their picture taken. The others varied from strong dislike to downright panic, but all truly appreciated the process once it was done.

After shooting the SBO environmental portraits, I set to the task of creating unique concepts that would be more artistic interpretations of their product or service.  I pitched a few ideas to the owners and once we decided on a treatment, I searched for the right team to bring it to life.  They would have to create 10 unique looks, and move quick enough to complete it in one day.


My first big break for the project was finding Sara Macias, an incredibly talented costume designer who made a reality of my ideas for a beer can dress and waffle cone bustier. The designs fit perfectly with my vision, and she delivered on expectations in a big way.

Finding the right models was key – they had to be versatile – illustrating sweet, intimate moments or Hollywood glamour to fashion and conceptual looks. I was thrilled with Ella Jane’s ability to morph into each look, and Chris gave us the energy and professional strength to delver each image. In fact, some of the visitors at the exhibit only realized it was the same model after looking throughout he series a few times!

My linchpin was Alex for Hair & Makeup. From the beginning, I knew she was the one I couldn’t do without.  Over the years, she has always created unique, often magical, looks, and her addition of Edica Cassanova to the team, brought the best synergy – their skills being evident in each image. And lest I forget, when testing for models, we shot the magazine cover featured in one of the setups. and for that we have hair and makeup artist, Ciara Pisa, to thank.

Our wardrobe stylist, Dre, was able to create styles from a very limited kit – including crafting two dresses within minutes, on set.

Knowing we had only one day with my full team, I constructed setups that could allow us to move quicker (with some heavier lifting in the post process.) Each set-up was timed to maximize the talent on-set and still achieve the end goal.

I’m so proud to be associated with the small businesses and the team highlighted in the project. It’s a wonderful mix of collaboration & art; and what’s better than that?

I’ll highlight each setup in upcoming blogs, so stay tuned! They’ll be rolled out in order of favorites voted at the exhibit.