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Behind the Scenes: GMM

Behind the Scenes: GMM


how gmm workshops came to be

giveaway closed—winner: commenter #27 Kiera Reese!

Brandi and I have been friends for years and years.  She’s been my best friend and, kind of unintentionally, we both realized she was good at styling.  So over the couple of years that I offered Give Me Moore workshop, we really fell into a groove that worked for both of us. She’s been amazing! I love working with her and seeing what comes out of her brain.  It’s always fantastic!

For the first time ever, Brandi and I are sharing Behind The Scenes details about our Give Me More sessions.  

Below, we each share our thoughts on how we created this awesome Give Me Moore (GMM) session that was one of our very first sessions!  

This particular GMM has been featured in multiple publications across the country and has had people swooning over it for years.  We really love that so many people fell in love with it as much as we did.

Over the next several months we are going to be sharing the behind the scenes of other GMM sessions also! So keep your eyes open for those, too.

Giveaway! Share your questions, comments, or the GMM session you’d most like to see the Behind-the-Scenes for in the comments and you’ll be automatically entered to win a Kelly Moore Bag of your choice!

how do you come up with concepts for Give Me Moore sessions?


From my Brain!:) Very often I will get these downloads almost like a movie reel- I see them so clearly and it’s that picture or scene that I use as my “blue print” for inspiration.

Other times it could be an article of clothing, a color, a place- I think inspiration can come from anywhere! And then sometimes I literally wake up in the middle of the night with these visions or premonitions – I know that might sound a little hokey but it’s the truth.

I just keep a running list of ideas and notes for different shoots going at all times- when I get those downloads in the middle of the night I KNOW I have to figure out a way to bring them to life & such was the case for this particular shoot.

I woke up one morning with this vision of this young woman who favored Corrine Bailey Rae in a vintage lacy dress in a Secret Garden type setting.

I would say more than a brainstorm, Brandi and I just use telepathy I honestly can never remember sitting down and discussing these things. I usually just tell her to make it happen and give her a budget, and she just makes it happen! She will usually tell me along the way what she is thinking, but for the most part, I give her creative freedom to do what she wants.

tip for you: start noticing things that make your heart skip a beat and begin practicing letting your imagination go wild about how you could use that one thing as inspiration for a shoot

do you create vision boards for each session and each concept?

If so, what are some tips you can give or your thought process for how you created the vision board for this shoot?


I actually don’t use a vision board- not sure if that’s normal or not- but for me and how I’m wired it works. You have to remember all of the GMM’s were pre Pinterest and Instagram- we were kinda before our time I think-

I did everything just out of my brain and made it happen. I think for me, having complete freedom to do whatever, creatively, is the game changer – I feel very stifled if you come at me with a bunch of rules and guidelines. So for me I just trust my creative instincts & it helps tremendously if I’m working with someone who gets that and just lets me do my thing.

I think part of the reason the GMM’s were so successful and some of my proudest work is because of the creative chemistry Kelly and I share. We both know each other’s lane and we trust each other implicitly- I mean it definitely helps that we have been best friends for so long-I know what she’s thinking at all times and vice versa- we literally finish each other’s sentences- it’s like some kind of Jedi super power-ha!

There’s no one I’d rather work with because it doesn’t feel like work- and I think that’s a really rare & beautiful thing- a very special gift- one I don’t take for granted!

tip for you: pay attention to the talents and strengths of people in your life, see if you may notice someone that you could create something amazing with

how did you find the models and great clothes for this session?


I’m a STALKER!! Lol:) Raise your hand if I’ve stalked you??! This is how we have found our best models! At the Mall, walking down the street, parties, etc I’ve actually pondered opening a model agency because I LOVE scouting so much! For this one, I went straight to good ole Facebook;)

I also network like crazy- I tell people who and what I’m looking for- & I just go on a hunt until I find it! But Blythe came from a Facebook search and Eric I knew through mutual friends. The dress I ordered online & it didn’t come in until the day of the shoot! Talk about nerve racking!! I just prayed it would fit her and it did-like a glove! Thank you Jesus! Whew!

tip for you: give your business card to several people this week that you would like to photograph, share why you think they would be perfect, your vision for a session with them, and ask them to call you

what things didn’t go as planned for this session? how did you handle them?


You know- this may sound cheesy but I pray for and before every shoot. I pray that the elements that I have in my head come to fruition and that the details would be handled and after that I trust the creative process & this particular shoot I remember being such a special day-it just felt right -I call it “my zone” I remember there being a high percentage of rain but I prayed against it and the Lord was sweet to honor that request:) the day honestly could not have been more perfect!

Well I’m also a big believer in rolling with the punches and creative problem solving:) the imperfection is the perfection. And at the end of the day “you do what you can do & that’s all you can do” so I try not to freak out if things don’t go as I planned them -I just adjust and go with it & it usually turns out better than I could have envisioned!

tip for you: if you’re someone who frets and worries over a shoot, remind yourself to do what you can and then trust that everything else will work out

As for scheduling and details etc- after I find my model- I usually tell them a little bit about what I want to do -tell them who I am and who I work with and give them my number -so they don’t feel too weirded out-ha! That way the ball is in their court and every single time they call me! I’ve never had anyone not call me -I’m not sure I could handle that kind of rejection-dating is hard enough:) but I totally get why they would not -it’s a weird and crazy world out there, but always feel so relieved when they do call back!

After they call me I then ask them their sizes, height, questions about skin & hair- make sure they are not going to do anything different or alter their appearance in the near future- whew learned that lesson the hard way!:) back in these days I had a very tight budget like between a 100-150$ for each shoot- so I had to get creative:)

Back then I WAS the hair and makeup, stylist, creative director -all of it! Looking back I’m grateful for these experiences because it challenged me to be more creative and to use and work with what i already had-this is where I really earned my stylist stripes! I truly believe that a lot of Creativity is birthed out of poverty!

how do you decide on/find your locations?


Well a lot of times I might go scout a few places beforehand but back in the GMM days we would just all load up in Kelly’s car, me, model, GMM student, equipment, props and drive around until we found a cool or interesting place! I mean thinking back on it I’m sure we looked like the Beverly Hillbillies-but those were some of the best times and we found some killer locations! I mean for goodness sake this ain’t NYC, this is North Louisiana-you gotta get creative! I mean could you really imagine Annie Leibovitz & Grace Coddington doing this?! I get tickled thinking about it!

Yeah we’re kinda the ghetto/southern version of them;) it’s all smoke and mirrors baby! BUT with this particular location we have known it for years!

In fact, it’s probably one of my favorite places on Earth! It’s our dear sweet friend Mrs Carolyn’s house. It’s seriously the Secret Garden house- it’s completely and utterly magical-other worldly! It’s a tiny little 2 bedroom cottage that is nestled in this enchanted Garden- as soon as you step foot on her property you feel like you have stepped back in time-actually I think time stands still there! It’s such a peaceful, happy place- ahhh I get the feels just talking about it!!

And listen it’s nothing fancy but it perfect in every way- and we both (Kelly & I) had been itching to shoot there for a very long time- so when I shared my idea with Kel -we both agreed that the timing was right for this shoot!

tip for you: don’t take yourself too seriously, laugh, see what’s awesome about the way you do your creativity, work, etc.


what three tips do you have for people who are trying to create a styled session like this one?


three tips? Just three?? Hmmmm so much I could say… Let’s see….

  1. I would say trust your creative gut or voice…and fight for it (in a tactful way of course) recently I was on a shoot and I really felt the model’s hair should have been fixed differently -to go with the outfit and vibe of the locale & there was this little voice that kept saying “say something” & I spoke up & the hairstylist re did it and it totally made the image! So trust your instincts!
  2. Anticipate Anticipate Anticpate!!  You have to be 3 steps ahead of the game at all times- you need to come prepared! I had my GMM bag that I playfully referred to as my “bag of tricks” because in that bag I had things like a hammer, nails, confetti, rope, pliers, hairspray, safety pins etc- you get the idea! Anything I may need day of-was in my “bag of tricks
  3. Lastly, STOP comparing & competing! Nothing kills creativity like comparing yourself & your work! It’s debilitating & sucks the life and drive out of you! You just be you and do you! And the rest will come! Celebrate others’ work instead of feeling threatened. Think of ways you could learn from them! God only made one YOU so be YOU & not a poor plagiarized version of someone else!


what gear did you bring on this shoot?


See this post for the gear I brought on this shoot.

I was also using a handheld constant light (video light–you can get it here) for some of the interior shots. I usually keep one of these in my bag with the rest of my gear.

In the images in the bedroom and bathroom (except for the one of Eric alone by the window–obviously lit by the window light) they are all lit by my video light.  

Notice that the light in these images is localized.  The light doesn’t light up the whole room, you can see the light start to fall off and get darker a few feet from the subject.  The light is also much warmer.  (Quick tips for spotting a video light in an image).

tip for you: rent a video light and experiment

What lighting set up did you use for the different images?


During this session, I tried to give a wide variety of lighting and mood.

First and foremost, I’m always going to try to find a great ambient light to use. When we were inside the house, it was very dim, so I just used available window light to light the subjects. I may pull out my flashes, as well, inside to do a little experimenting.

Once I move outside I have a mental checklist that I like to go through so that I have a variety of lighting techniques. Full sun, backlit with the sun, outside using off-camera flash, outside in soft non-direct light.

tip for you: when you’re on a shoot, push yourself to photograph in a variety of light, use off camera flash to the side, back light, open light, full sun, etc. and remind yourself to go down the checklist in your mind when you feel stuck.

did you have all of these shots planned out in your head before you got to the shoot?


I may have a vision for one or two shots, but for the most part, my shoots are spontaneous.

The great part about having Brandi style and plan shoots, is she always has ideas as well, we like to bounce ideas off of each other as we go to make the most of what we have.

When you go into a shoot already having a great location planned as well as a few props & outfits that you know are going to look great, that is half the battle! The easy part for me, is posing and working with the subject.

tip for you: if you have a photo assistant or stylist use them as a resource for shoot ideas

what kinds of things do you say to yourself to make sure you’re getting a great variety of images so that they don’t all look the same?

Or don’t end up shooting the same poses just with different backgrounds?


In the same way that I have a mental checklist for lighting, I also have a mental check list for shooting.

I know I have three or four lenses that I want to utilize, because they all give a different perspective. And within those lenses, I am going to make sure to get up close and intimate, up close and wide, low and wide, low and far away to get a landscape… I could go on forever.

But knowing that I tried to switch things up and get different perspectives, I think this helps my shoots to have variety.

tip for you: pay attention to using more than one lens during a shoot and using your feet to get closer or farther away…practice by shooting one scene with four different lenses and pushing your lenses to do things you don’t normally have them do.

how do you come up with so many different poses?


Maybe this is just how my brain works? I work in shapes, so when I’m working with a person, I see a combination of shapes coming together to create a flattering image.

It gets a little more difficult when you combine two people because it’s just a lot more shapes to have to work together in your mind but with the poses, in the same way I have mental checklist for lighting and perspective, I know I have a list of poses that I will at least try… Even if they are all successful.

tip for you: practice seeing the shapes of people/what you’re shooting, see if it inspires you.

what was your favorite part about creating this session?


I think my favorite part was the entire day and experience! From the models, to the location & natural aesthetic-it was just perfection! It’s so creatively gratifying to see your abstract ideas & concepts come to life! That for me is the BEST part; also the most fun!


This was one of our very first shoots where Brandi planned out the whole thing before hand. I think the realization that we could replicate this and see the same success in the future was very exciting. Plus, for me having worked with paid clients that I had no say so in the matter of what they were wearing, or how their hair looks, this was very liberating to be able to have the freedom to just experiment!


Share your questions, comments, or the GMM session you’d most like to see the behind the scenes for in the comments and you’ll be automatically entered to win a Kelly Moore Bag of your choice!

what is your favorite Kelly Moore Bag?


My favorite KM Bag?? Hmmm… That’s like asking me to choose a favorite child….

Let’s see unofficially, if I’m honest my favorite bag is a bag I’ve been carrying for years- it was a prototype that was a mistake (remember I said I love the imperfect:) the factory made it with the “wrong” material- but I was over at Kelly’s house one day and I was needing something a little smaller so I just went into her prototype closet (yes that’s a thing!) and grabbed it up-changed out the strap and have been carrying it for 3 years now-

Kelly gets kinda of annoyed about it but I LOVE it! It’s a one of a kind -kinda looks me me;) so I’m gonna name it the BB-ha!

BUT I think I’m supposed to officially say the bags that are named after me;)) the B-Hobo & Brownlee bags;) yes that’s my final answer!



Globe trotting.  Creative type.  Bon Vivant.  Design Enthusiast. Salsa Fanatic. Unicorn Chaser. Somewhere Between Beyoncé & Dolly Parton. Glitter is my favorite color.

hiiiiiiii!!! I’m Brandi, some folks call me B or Gypsy Rose…. I hail from “magic town” ( Ruston, LA) but currently reside in West Monroe, LA- where I have dreams of owning a Tiny House Farmhouse Treehouse:) you can usually find me frequenting one of the area’s many junk stores/thrift stores. In my everyday life I’m a creative director/stylist & Director of Operations at Laminin Jewelry by Missy Robertson. I love to work hard and play harder:) please make a point to stop by so I can hug your (virtual) neck and hear all about your mama and ’em:)



IG: @brandibrownlee
Facebook: Brandi Brownlee Howard

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