Arabela and Elle are the innovative brains behind Weekend Creative. They do their creative magic in a light-filled studio in San Jose, California. This creative powerhouse has redefined the boundaries of artistic expression, breathing new life into brand photography and stop motion.
It all started when they were teamed up for a local magazine. Their combined creativity was too expansive to remain within traditional roles, and this inspired the birth of their own brand, fittingly named Weekend Creative, a business that initially only had the opportunity to shine on weekends. Over time, their creative endeavor blossomed, allowing Arabela and Elle to dedicate themselves full-time to their artistry.
As creatives, their focus is on creating unique, playful concepts, transforming ordinary product photography into an extraordinary visual feast. Their creations have not only captured the attention of product brands but also the admiration of the creative community at large.
Arabela and Elle generously share their knowledge, experiences, and insights through behind-the-scenes content, practical tips, and photography courses. They also provide production documents and frameworks, an invaluable resource toolkit for photographers at all stages of their careers.
Discover more of Arabela and Elle and how they infuse product photography with unforgettable fun and creativity.
Hey Arabela and Elle! We’d love to know how both of you got started as product photographers.
Hi! We are Arabela and Elle from the Weekend Creative. Arabela is from San Jose, California while Elle is originally from Pleasant Hill, California. But today, we're now based in San Jose.
For Arabela - I got started in photography when I was really young after I took a fun Polaroid manipulation class which sparked my interest in imagery. I always knew I was creative but felt like I had to find a more traditional stable job. In college, I started off studying criminal justice but very quickly pivoted to advertising with a photography minor.
For Elle - I had a long journey in college starting off as studying to be an elementary school teacher, changing to wedding planning, and then ending on graphic design with an art history minor. I was working at a local art magazine in college doing graphic design and some social media photography when I met Arabela in a photography class.
We ended up working at the local magazine together and started shooting fashion editorials together, and naturally fell into the roles of Art Director (Elle) and Photographer (Arabela).
We were getting tired of creating for someone else so we decided to do some personal projects for fun. We reached out to some brands to see if they needed any images and that’s when we got our first job for It’s It Ice Cream.
With that project, we got paid barely anything but it helped us realize that this is something that we could do. We ended up starting our business after that, working on the weekends (hence our name), and eventually, quitting both our jobs to go full-time.
Our business turned 5 in January and we are so grateful for all the places it’s taken us!
What are some things people might not know about you?
What equipment do you currently use to produce your content?
We currently use the Canon 5D Mark III, ours is 7 years old and still works like a charm. The lenses we use the most are Canon 50mm 1.2L, Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG (Canon Compatible), Canon 24-70mm 2.8L II, and Canon 100mm 2.8L Macro.
We also use the Profoto 500W/s D1 Air Studio Monolight Kit which we LOVE, and we’ve used this kit for years and it's never failed us.
Our tripod is the Manfrotto MT190CXPRO4 Tripod with the Manfrotto 484RC2 Tripod Head. Some additional Manfrotto accessories that we use are the Manfrotto 131DB Side Arm to be able to shoot overhead.
Once we realized that we could convert one of our c-stands into a tripod, we bought the Manfrotto 234RC Monopod Swivel Head and the Manfrotto 014- 14 Rapid Adapter to be able to attach our camera and therefore have a lot more space to style our scene without the stand getting in our way.
Shooting tethered is a must for us so we have both the tether cable and tether block from Tether tools and we use Capture One for live view. You can get the full list of our equipment and tools in our guide here.
Do you have a favourite lighting setup?
We mainly shoot with one light and reflectors, we love bright, hard light where we get to play with shadows in our work. Typically we use one of our Profoto D1 strobes with a zoom reflector to help direct the light and create even sharper shadows and then we use white cards to bounce light from the opposite side. We like to think that our lighting style fits our name - it's punchy, fun, and playful, just like the weekend!
What are your three favourite props to use?
It's basically impossible to choose but we use our pieces from Moodelier ALL the time. We spray paint them or change the colors in post so they're super versatile. We also have some fun concrete blocks we got off the side of the road that we use often haha.
What is your best advice to share with aspiring photographers?
The best way to learn is to play, play, play! The more that you practice all aspects of your process (pre-production and post - not just shooting) the better and more confident you will be. When we were first starting, we would pick a random product and then shoot with it using whatever we had on hand and those images led to some of our first client projects. You have to be okay putting yourself out there.
It's also so important to learn how to price your work and avoid working for free as much as possible. Oh and never work without a retainer (also called an advance) and signed contract!
Your IG content is really fun, any advice for creatives wanting to produce this type of content?
Thank you! We have always shared BTS and our process on Instagram and we think that's why our account has grown and people feel like they know us. Just don't take yourself too seriously and only post the work you actually love and want to do again in order to draw in the clients that you want.
How do you keep learning and evolving your skills?
Education is so important! We do have several courses and downloads that we created for photographers including courses on Capture One and set design, a commercial photography contract template, a proposal template, and much more. You can see all of our resources here.
We also made two courses with Domestika, one on product photography, and one on freelancing. You can see those here.
There are also some other awesome courses by friends of ours on Domestika that we would recommend - Creative Photography: Defining Concept and Color, Studio Product Photography: Color, Styling, and Editing, and Street-Style Fashion Photography for Beginners.
Where do you find inspiration for your own work?
We have so many people that we look up to who we have had the honor of becoming friends with over our journey. There are too many to name but a few are Little Drill, Colors Collective, Diane Villadsen, Claire Xue who owns Moodelier, and Lizzie Darden.
and lastly, we'd love to know - what's next Weekend Creative?
We're currently working on a pricing guide and a retouching course that will be released this summer!
Thank you Arabela and Elle for inspiring us to bring life to our product photography with these unique and playful concepts.
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