Shooting DH3 Clothing for Mark's Canada

This is a story of how I landed a big client that I've been waiting a long time to shoot for, and how almost everything that could go wrong at the beginning of the shoot did, but we still made it happen... Let us begin.

A few weeks before the shoot, the ad agency for this job reached out to see if I was interested in shooting the upcoming DH3 campaign (DH3 is a Mark's clothing brand). Saying yes was a no-brainer, so we arranged some time for me to sit down with the Art Director & Producer for the shoot to go over the specifics. The 'specifics' generally means "we've never met before, so let's have some face-to-face time to see how our personalities mix and make sure we would like working with each other". Fortunately, you have to be a pretty big asshole for me not to get along with you, and they were far from it, so all was good. Hurdle one passed.

From there we moved into the bidding process, which usually requires some back and forth, especially when working with a new client who has specific needs and is used to handing them a certain way, but we managed to land in a place that worked for both of us. Hurdle two passed.

This is where things get a little rocky. The shoot was to take place in a rather cool, but also rather small brick loft. Knowing that the light would be travelling rather quickly across the sky (the shoot happened mid-December, so the days here are short that time of year) and that we wanted to use some of the natural light coming through the windows, we made plans to scout the location the day before the shoot to see where the sun would be at certain times of the day. I showed up at the location to scout it, but the people who we were renting the loft from never showed up to let me in... I guess we're winging it!

That night I slept like shit, waking up roughly every hour to make sure I didn't miss my 5:30am alarm. Early call times can be less than awesome, especially when you are all jacked up about a shoot. Sleep deprived I got up the next morning and headed to the location.

The crew arrived (we had talent and hair/makeup flying in from LA, Vancouver, and Toronto) and we all made our introductions. Everything is going a-ok. We set up for the first shot, and about 4 frames in the tether to my laptop loses connection. 
Unplug camera - reset laptop - everything seems to be working...
Couple of frames later the camera loses connection again.
Try a different tether cord - reset laptop - looks like were working...
A couple of frames in we lose connection again.
Grab a different camera body - reset everything - hoping it works...
A few frames in and it loses connection again.
At this point it's been about 20 minutes of screwing around and we haven't shot a single outfit. Inside my brain I am freaking out, and on the outside I'm doing everything I can to remain calm but I am pretty sure I am noticeably sweating. We have about 20 people on set, including the client, all watching me, and nothing is working.

So, at this point I give up on the tethering and just start shooting to card. It's a pain in the ass because the Art Director now has to try and see the LCD screen on the back of my camera while were shooting to make sure we are getting what we need, but he's awesome about it and we make it work. 

We also have to rename the files on the fly (as an example: 5CPBDHSP7-C2402_DH_SIGNAGE) so that they can be easily cataloged, which is another reason I was shooting tethered. I sent one of my assistants out to the nearest camera store to buy a card reader, and my digital tech dumped cards after each outfit and renamed the files as we moved on to the next shot. Fortunately I had about 12 memory cards with me (because you never know when you'll need them) so the process worked seamlessly.

From that point on, everything went smoothly. We spent the day chasing the light around the loft, which kept us guessing and would last for anywhere between 5 minutes to 15 minutes before changing again, and had a blast creating work that the client was super pumped with. I'll take that as a win any day.

Here are a few Behind the Scenes photos from the day. I feel like the wide angle makes the space feel larger than it was, but you get the idea:

And here are a few of the images we created:


  • Nikon D800
  • Sigma 50mm f/1.4 ART
  • Sigma 85mm f/1.4 ART
  • Paul C. Buff Einstein heads
  • 10 & 20 degree grids for mimicing sun beams
  • Profoto large deep umbrella
  • Profoto medium deep umbrella

All images edited using my CUSTOM LIGHTROOM PRESETS which can be seen by CLICKING HERE.

And there you have it, so next time you're on set and everything seems to be going south, just remember it happens to all of us. Take a breath, think it out, and make it happen. Thanks for reading.


Shooting Fashion with the Fuji X-Pro2

This blog post going live means the Fuji X-Pro2 has been announced, and if you're here reading this, that likely means you're looking for a little real world info on it. I've had a pre-production version of this camera since the beginning of November so I've had a little time to play with it, but rather than do some huge write up about it I took some time to create a behind the scenes video / small wrap up about the camera which you can view below:

And here are a few of the images from that shoot:

Model: Jeremias

Hair / Makeup: Karen Malcolm

Styling: Lauren Larsen

Assistant: Alyssa Howland

Being that I am not a camera reviewer (all I really care about is if the camera does what I need and if the images look good) I joined up with Chris and Jordan from TCSTV who know a whole lot more about the specs of this camera than I ever will, so that might possibly answer some more of your 'techy' questions.


Some point form notes:

  • It feels pretty much exactly like the X-Pro1.
  • The larger file size is great.
  • I haven't had any way to access the RAW files yet as the only software Fuji could give me wasn't written in English, so I don't know how much DR there is in comparison to the older sensors.
  • This camera is basically the X-Pro1 on steroids.

As always, thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the videos / images.


Raw Beauty | Personal Work

A lot of my personal work over the past year has been shot in black and white. I have this style in my brain that I am trying to figure how to best portray, which is a balance between polished but raw, and sort of intersects where fashion meets portraiture. It's really hard to put into words. Those of you who follow my work will know about the Texture Series that I have been working on for the last year (see it here), well this isn't an evolution of that, but more of a step sideways, riding on that same aesthetic but creating something with a different feel. Portraits like these don't come together without team work, so a huge thank you to Paris Solati for modeling and to Mira Pucchi Maqillage Inc. for doing the awesome hair & makeup.



{ Behind The Scenes }

I created these portraits using what I lovingly refer to as "The Black Box". At the studio we have this huge wall of south facing window light in the front foyer, and I constructed the black box out of a bunch of black foam core. It's held together with c-stands and super clamps so I could move the walls into whatever position I needed in order to shape the light. The photo below shows what it looks like...sort of... it's a tight space so it's the best angle I could get.

All of the portraits were shot with the Nikon D800 tethered to LR, with the first image shot with the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G and the rest on the Sigma ART 50mm f/1.4.



Thanks for reading.

Cheers -Nate

Winter Fashion at Upper Kananaskis Lake

Calgary is a cold city come the winter months, and those winter months seem to last forever, but one of the few perks we have during this time is that locations like this one are only a short hour and a half drive away. It was a wee bit nippy, and there was a lot of time spent warming up in the vehicles in between shots, but our model Elise made standing in the cold wind wearing nothing but a dress look easy while the rest of us were bundled up. I'll hit you guys with some photos, then follow up with some behind the scenes and gear talk.

Photography: Nathan Elson Model: Elise Styling: Odessa Bennett Hair/Makeup: Emilia Photographer Assistant: Sam Hoffe Styling Assistant: Brittany Morrow




All of the photos were shot using the Nikon D800 with a combination of the 24mm-70mm f/2.8G, 70mm-200mm f/2.8G, 85mm f/1.8G, and Sigma ART 50mm f/1.4. For lighting I had one Einstein head with the 64" PLM with diffusion panel attached. I didn't want the lighting to be over bearing in these images, but rather a soft sweep of light to create a little bit of shaping. *Side Note* One of my PLM's was destroyed by a heavy gust of wind, ripping the poles out, so be prepared for that with extra modifiers if you're shooting on location.

Some BTS photos, taken by both my assistant Sam and Hair/Makeup Artist Emilia:



And the team that made it all possible (missing Brittany because she was packing up the clothing in the car):


Thanks for reading. Questions or comments go in the box below.

Cheers -Nate