Working with Chupi, an incredible homegrown Irish jewellery brand, has been one of the highlights of the past year. Not just because of the shots we created, which we are all immensely proud of, but because of the brilliant people I get to work with to make them.
I’m a huge fan of not just the brand, but Chupi herself – she’s one of the most genuine, driven, ambitious, heart-centred business owners I’ve ever met. As anyone who follows the brand on Instagram (where they have a whopping 79k followers) knows, she has a great eye and takes brilliant shots (most of what you see in her stories and on her feed are by her), so working with her is a dream, as she loves photography and really appreciates what goes into a photo.
These shoots also cemented my relationship with crazy talented stylist Lesiele – working alongside her so often these past 12 months (we collaborate on a monthly DIY shoot for Irish Country Magazine as well as work for other lifestyle brands) has been another huge highlight. From our very first shoot together we just clicked.
One thing I constantly find is that styling is still a hugely misunderstood aspect of many brand and lifestyle shoots. I’ll often be approached by brands who point to pics in my portfolio and would love to create similar imagery, but don’t realise how absolutely vital to those images the stylist has been. I work with a stylist on the vast majority of my lifestyle shoots and they are as much a part of the final image as anything I bring. It’s very much a collaboration, which is a huge part of what I love about lifestyle photography to begin with: it’s a team effort.
Lesiele sources all the props – some from her own collection and many sourced specifically for each shoot – and we’ll work together to decide on everything from the angle and backdrops to how many flower petals is too many in a given picture. As well as being a total pro, with a great eye for detail and endless number of savvy, smart styling hacks, Lesiele is also a phenomenally kind, thoughtful and positive person so I feel very lucky that we get to work together as often as we do.
The Chupi team, Lesiele and I have done three multi-day shoots together now, so we have built up a lot trust and understanding. There’s such a great energy on these shoots (helped by our playlists, which vary from 90s R&B to Dua Lipa’s finest) and you really feel everybody is working to ensure every single shot lives and breathes the Chupi brand. Some behind-the-scenes snaps below!
Another great thing about this project is the brief: Chupi had recently brought wonderful Zoë on board to head up marketing, and she’s our point of contact leading up to each shoot, clarifying the purpose behind each image. The shots were intended for the Chupi website and to be used across a range of digital platforms, so we planned, styled and shot them with that mind in; for example, leaving plenty of negative space for copy so they could be easily used as web and newsletter banners. As the photography landscape changes, it’s so important to really think about where you see the images being used, and to not try and make one photo work in absolutely every scenario – what kills it on Instagram may not work in a print magazine story, or on the homepage of your website and vice versa. Chupi’s team understands this better than most, and it’s been wonderful to work to such a clear and specific brief (Zoe is phenomenally organised) and to then see the images be brought to life on the website by the talented digital team – some pics below of our work live on the site and in an email campaign.
And that’s it! Thanks again to the great team, credits for everyone below and looking forward to sharing more shots as the year unfolds.
Zoë O’ Connell
Nathalie Marquez Courtney