Whether it’s your full time job or something you do alongside the 9-5, being a blogger / Instagrammer / influencer type takes up a lot of time. Between hair and makeup, styling, photography, videography, editing, writing and social media, even a hobby blog can start to feel like a major time-suck.
Well, where there’s a need, a smart person will create a market, and branding photographer Jade Hicks has done exactly that with her suite of time-saving services for bloggers, vloggers and influencers. She was kind enough to invite me on one of her ‘Secret Shoots,’ a half-day of concentrated content creation in a secret location in the UK or abroad, to find out how this kind of photoshoot works and what it offers.
Thinking of the ‘gram, I went along to the Sky29 penthouse with a suitcase of outfits and bits of tech to meet Jade and her camera. Here’s how we got on.
Overcoming my awkwardness
One of the first things Jade does before she even meets a Secret Shoots client is sets up a Skype call to discuss their channels, their brand, and any challenges they’re facing. In my case, I talked about how I was doing well in terms of Twitter, writing commissions and keeping Gadgette well-stocked with fresh content, but that self-consciousness was holding me back from doing more content that includes me, which is why I haven’t really taken to Instagram or YouTube.
Like many bloggers, it’s a case of awkwardness, anxiety and insecurity (plus some choice troll comments in the past, and weight gain from battling my eating disorder). Jade is brilliantly down-to-earth and understood exactly where I was coming from, and we ended the call having a good laugh and feeling like friends. Which helps a lot when you’re going to be changing outfits and posing in front of someone!
On the day, Jade made sure I’d been fully briefed on exactly what to expect and how to prepare, which is invaluable for someone with anxiety. I piled all my favourite clothes (that still fit, ha ha) into a case alongside all the gadgets and products I hadn’t yet had a chance to photograph for Gadgette, did my hair and makeup (though Jade also had a make-up artist on set for touch-ups, or the full works if you want) and tried to squash my nerves into the heels of my shoes.
Swish swish, snap snap
I’ve been to countless photoshoots, appeared on live TV loads of times, and yet I still feel like an ubernerd when someone points a lens at me. Remember Chandler’s camera smile? Hi.
Thankfully, that down-to-earth humour from the Skype call is also Jade’s secret weapon in the flesh. She quickly surmised that I’m actually a really smiley, even giggly person when I’m relaxed, and made it her mission to capture that in some of the shots alongside the more studied “I’m one of those Instagram types, behold my contour” faces I was trying to do.
The aim of the half-day shoot was to get as much usable content as possible, so we rattled through all my outfits, different hairstyles, various backdrops and lots of products. Here are some of my favourite shots from the day:
As someone who never finds the time to do the visual side of posts, it was a revelation to rattle through so many in quick succession. Sounds daft, but it had never occurred to me to do all the photos at once!
I also felt a lot more at ease about appearing in the photos myself, particularly because Jade has such a talent for making people look their best. We had a real laugh on the shoot and I could happily have stayed all week.
I would wholeheartedly recommend Secret Shoots to anyone with a blog or an Instagram that needs a bit of a visual upgrade. Jade provides the unedited shots (so you can put your stamp/filter on them) digitally and I had them within 24 hours of the shoot.
The photos look incredible and considering it was a single shoot on a single day, there’s so much variety. Jade is amazing at picking multi-use locations so your shots don’t all have the same background.
Bonus: see if you can spot me in the Secret Shoots promo video!
Enormous thanks to Jade for generously inviting me along, and for my brand new Twitter profile pic which has had more compliments than any other one I’ve ever had.
Fancy your own Secret Shoot? It’s not cheap (Jade is a professional), but so worth it as an investment in your content. Sign up here.