How I broke into the commercial world

Happy February friends!

This post has been on the tip of my tongue for months now - and I'm so happy to share it with you! One of my most frequently asked questions is,

"How did you get into shooting commercial work?"

One of my first favorite stock images - and the face of SheStock for a while!

One of my first favorite stock images - and the face of SheStock for a while!

When I first started taking pictures, I was always photographing my friends and the crazy things 15 year olds could get themselves into. Even after I started my wedding & portrait business, I continued to shoot people, especially teenage girls and young women, for the sake of fun and fashion. Before interning with the incredible Barb Peacock, she sat me down in her perfectly Pinterest office, with vanilla candles glowing, Bon Iver humming softly in the background, and a hot cup of tea, she said, “Lena - you should be shooting stock.”

Behind the scenes on a car wash stock shoot (in Barb's driveway!) - Props to anyone that recognizes my second shooter on top of the car, Jenny!

Behind the scenes on a car wash stock shoot (in Barb's driveway!) - Props to anyone that recognizes my second shooter on top of the car, Jenny!

What is stock photography?

Everyone recognizes those cheesy photos of businessmen shaking hands across a desk and pretty women laughing while eating salad. Yup, that’s stock! Stock photos are images ready to be licensed by companies for commercial or editorial use. Example: Bank of America needs a photo of an Asian couple with two kids hanging out in their modern living room, they log onto, search and find an image, and it’s printed on their brochures next month.

In the commercial world, the models and even the home or location needs permission to be sold (they signed a model or property release saying it’s A-OK). Old school stock photos have a pretty bad reputation, but there’s an amazing new wave of stock that’s high quality, lifestyle-driven imagery that kicks ass! You wouldn’t know that 80% of my portfolio on my website is all available to license for stock, would you? Go check out the work of the photographers at ImageSource and SheStock, the work is inspiring!

Behind the scenes of one of my biggest stock shoots! What a production!

Behind the scenes of one of my biggest stock shoots! What a production!

And, stock relates how?

I signed with SheStock shortly after I turned 18, followed by Getty Images that summer, and ImageSource the following winter. I shot my ASS off from the end of high school onwards, submitting hundreds of images to these agencies for license. I was getting monthly statements telling me fragmented information about who was buying my photos - The New York Times, Hearst, Conde Nast, Microsoft, AOL - I was floored! Granted, most of those were selling for online use for $0.49 an image. And then my cut was 20% of that. But what a pretty penny it was (literally)!

Once my images began circulating around the internet in a more widespread way, luck took over, as it usually does. The snowball effect is VERY real. An editor at The Boston Globe saw an image of mine through Getty, then reached out to me to shoot the COVER of the April 2015 edition of Boston Globe Magazine. I screen all my calls, so I remember ignoring the unknown number at 10am on a Sunday, immediately listening to the voicemail, then FREAKING out!

My best friend and her boyfriend in a very embarrassingly titled Cosmo article (my first Cosmo feature though!)

My best friend and her boyfriend in a very embarrassingly titled Cosmo article (my first Cosmo feature though!)

Save! All! Your! Tear! Sheets!

Save! All! Your! Tear! Sheets!

I kept screenshots and tear sheets when I found my work floating around. I don’t see the end product of 99% of my sales, because that's just the way stock works. But stumbling upon a published photo feels like a surprise party and Christmas and rolled up in one! (See surprised CitiBank face below)

One night, I got a frantic text from my friend Cam (one of Barb Peacock's sons) - “Lena! I’m in a Citibank ad!?!” I had no idea what he was talking about. About a year before receiving this text, I traveled to Chicago for my first spring break and did some stock shooting out there as well (making it a business trip, hello write-offs, but that’s another blog post). We stayed with Cam's brother and his roommates. One of the roommates happened to bank with Citibank, and saw Cam larger than life on the wall one winter day. I flew to Chicago a few months later and took tons of selfies with it!

From Cosmopolitan articles to AT&T ads, I built up a commercial portfolio and used the experience and tear sheets to pitch to companies I wanted to shoot for (Successful examples of me reaching out to shoot: Urban Outfitters, Blaze Pizza, Free People).

Shooting at Fenway Park for the opening of Blaze Pizza

Shooting at Fenway Park for the opening of Blaze Pizza

I now regularly shoot commercial, editorial, and fashion work!

Shooting with Urban Outfitters Boston - we collaborate at least once a month!

Shooting with Urban Outfitters Boston - we collaborate at least once a month!

Pool party stock shoot! Sometimes you gotta just jump in.

Pool party stock shoot! Sometimes you gotta just jump in.

So that's the interesting trajectory of how I went from shooting weddings and babies to commercial and editorial fashion work!

More questions? Always down to chat!

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Free People x Summer Style

Last week, I had the pleasure of collaborating with Miss Juliette Luchini, amazing stylist and social media manager for Free People Boston! "I have four girls coming!" she exclaimed: YAHOO! Sami, Olivia, Priya, Juliette and Alondra strutted their beautiful, confident selves all around Cambridge. On the way, we stumbled across a sassy gaggle of geese (I mean like 50+) and a baby bunny, too! Here's to Free People's 2016 summer line!

Jennie // Free People March Feature

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”

Marcel Proust

Last weekend, I had the immense pleasure of shooting some products from Free People’s new spring line for their Boston area retail stores. It couldn’t have been a more gorgeous, sixty degree day outside, and Jennie brought the rest of the sunshine with her infectious laugh and gorgeous bouquet of sunflowers. If you ever need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, take a stroll through the Fenway Victory Gardens. These little garden plots sit in the sunshine in the middle of the city, but it is always filled with serenity and quietness. Everyone involved was thrilled with the results, and I'm excited to say that I'll be working with Free People again in the future! 

What should I wear? // The wardrobe guide

Contract signed, shoot booked - that was easy! But wait - oh no... like a salty ocean wave, uncertainty hits you:

"What should we wear?!"

Never fear! Here is a handy guide to help you through the process!


White shirts and khakis? Not anymore. Find a palette and coordinate using that - if you love light, bright fabrics in photos, then creams, whites, light pinks, and beiges will look great. Mix and match tops and bottoms in that color, but have some of the family in jeans, one in a cream lace dress, another in khaki pants and a patterned pink button up. I'm not as much of a dress girl - I buy them and never end up wearing them. BUT, when I'm being photographed, I'm usually in a dress. I LOVE the way dresses photograph whether it's in a field or in a city.



Solids are great, and so are patterns! The trick is to coordinate them well. Majority solids, minority patterns. Coming with your partner? Mix a patterned dress with a pair of jeans and a solid button down. Or, if she's wearing a solid colored dress, he can wear a plaid shirt with grey pants. When in doubt, especially for guys - plaid is always a yes. Thin stripes are great, too!



Textured clothes look fantastic on camera. Instead of a plain button down, think about wearing one with a textured stitch and little speckles throughout. Lace is my favorite texture - it photographs SO beautifully! And sweaters? YES! Fuzzy knitted sweaters for the chillier months give outfits delicious texture.



Especially in colder months, layers are great. They add great dimension to photographs. Wearing cardigans over a blouse, a jean jacket over a dress, textured socks coming out of boots... it gives you a second look without having to change clothes. Steer away from any kind of formal wear for adults. No dressy shoes or dress pants, NO ties... but for kids, suspenders on little boys and bow ties make me melt! Dresses and bows on little girls are way too cute, too. 



It's important to think about the environment you're being photographed in when it comes to colors. Across the board, I recommend lighter and more neutral colors. Creams, pinks, beiges, mustard/golds, and whites. These colors look especially fantastic for golden fields and forests. Natural settings = earth tones. If you're running around Boston with me, pops of color are fantastic! The city is more grey/blue/silver, so a bright pop of mint green with an orange statement necklace and some bright heels is great! Go with a color slightly off from the color wheel - mustard instead of bright yellow, maroon instead of bright red, navy instead of blue. Stick with lighter, not darker. No the time to wear all black! And above all - NO neon. It makes color casts onto your face, so steer clear!



The funny thing is, shoes aren't really seen much - unless they stick out like a sore thumb. This is not the time to wear Nike's! Classic sneakers like Converse or Vans are always in style, sandals for ladies but no flip flops unless we're kicking it at the beach! Cute boots are a must for the chillier months. 



Most frequent comment I get about wardrobe after a shoot - "Crap, my bra straps were showing!" I'll always let you know, but to fix this beforehand, if you're wearing an off the shoulder shirt and want them in the photos - great! If you don't want your straps peeking out - wear a shirt that from every angle in the mirror, doesn't pop out. This includes from the back, sides, and front. Wear a strapless bra if it's a problem shirt/dress or if it's the band by your underarms showing, wear a bandeau over your bra.



You want your clothing to compliment YOU, not the other way around! Choose something you feel absolutely amazing and totally comfortable in. Your smile, your laugh and your face is the main event, not the clothing. The clothing compliments you and your personality! You're bright and bubbly and love polka dots? Show me polka dots! Preppy and love all things nautical? Hand over the J Crew catalog.



NAILS - Ladies, HAIR ELASTICS! Remember to take them off your wrists. Have your nails clean or painted, nothing in-between! Chipped polish will show when I take close-ups. Bring chapstick or lip gloss to reapply during your shoot, even non-tinted makes a wonderful difference :)


Coordinate, don't match perfectly.

Pick a color palette and run with it

Mix solids and patterns

Texture = great

You can never go wrong with a mix of creams, pinks, beiges, mustard/golds, and whites + LACE

Leave running shoes at home, wear cute + functional shoes

Low stress - wear what makes you feel amazing.


Claire // Young, Wild & Free

It's my pleasure to introduce: Claire. A blonde haired Kansas gal, photographer and fellow photo major, amazingly sassy girl with a great sense of humor and enough teenage attitude to supplement the both of us. 

I'm naming this shoot Young, Wild & Free. That's what I already call my commercial body of work and book, because that's the essence of what comes out of my heart when I shoot with people my own age. This shoot with Miss Claire earns that title as well, and I'm incredibly proud of all of these.

Our drawing teacher had a bouncing baby boy (congrats!) - but instead of canceling class, he got us a substitute. So, we decided not to go to the five hour class for "an extra day to be free and explore your mediums more." Claire and I attended a photography lecture by Jem Southam, here all the way from England (which was fantastic) then headed out the door into the sunshine and paraded around the North End waterfront. Best decision I've ever made. We had a blast, and I got some of the most kickass shots of my life! That's what I call being productive and artistic. Also - if you haven't heard the amazing news that happened yesterday as well, you can find out what it is here!

I love you all so so much.