Behind the Scenes: Getting Creative with Amy Shamblen

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Hey, Amy Shamblen here! If you follow along on my Instagram (@amyshamblen) then you know that I LOVE color and typography! I’m super excited to let you in on a little behind the scenes on how I created this week’s Creatively Squared challenge #cs_trickortreat. From inspiration to the final image, here’s my steps that I use for all my images!

  1. Sketch it out

When it comes to brainstorming, I like to write random words down that come to my head on whatever subject I’m creating around. Since this week was Trick or Treat, some quick words that came to mind were pumpkin, candy, spooky, and ghost. Since I love color and sweets, obviously I had to go with candy!

I always start with a rough sketch of what I want to do beforehand. I like to incorporate typography into a lot of my work; I was a designer before a photographer and love the merging of the two worlds.

I decided using the challenge name would fun, so I started looking at some typefaces to gain some inspiration. Since I decided to go with candy, I knew that I would need a lot of it in order to bring the idea to life. The thought of lots of tiny objects instantly reminded me of those I Spy books, which was a big source of inspiration, too.  

Once I found a typeface I liked, I sketched it out and refined it until I got a pretty good rough to base my photo on.

2. Gather props!

Or in this case, LOTS of candy! This is definitely the fun part. I wanted something in a pink color scheme, so I picked out lots of candies with pastels. I avoided chocolate since I felt it would stand out from the rest of the bunch and become a distraction.

I made sure I got candies with lots of size variation. The bigger pieces are great for filling in big spaces, and the little ones are perfect for finishing off the edges of the letters.

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3. Lay them all out

Easily the most time consuming part, ha! I keep my sketch off to the side when I start organizing my candy. I first start by separating the big pieces, the long pieces, and the small pieces so they’re easier to locate when I need them. To add a bit more Halloween spirit into the mix, I also used some little bones and spiders from the craft store.

Once they’re organized, I fill in the areas that have lots of space. In this case, the T’s and K were my starting point. I wanted to try something fun with the candy buttons, so I rolled them up and held them in place with some tape.  

After the large areas were finished, I started filling in the spaces with the smaller pieces. I try to find the natural places where something may fit best. For example, the top left of the “R” was a perfect place to put the square piece of licorice. A lot of this process, though, is trial and error to see what works best.

4. Shoot!

Once everything looks pretty good, then it’s time to photograph! I know that it won’t be absolutely perfect at first, but stepping away and looking at it in the camera helps aid what edits to make.

I always use the lights in my studio as opposed to natural light. That’s how I can get those crisp shadows. It also allows me to have complete control over the lighting situation because let’s be real—Ohio isn’t the most ideal place for consistent sunshine. I also use a white bounce card to fill in the shadows of my subjects.

After I touch up some areas that looked a little off, then I capture the final image and get ready for editing.

5. Bring it into Photoshop

I always capture my images in RAW and import them into Adobe Bridge. From there, I can quickly rate them from 1–5 stars and choose the best one. Then, I open up the best image into Camera Raw and play around with the color saturation and luminance to really make them pop.  

I then bring the image into Photoshop. From here, I start fine tuning the image by moving around the individual pieces. Often, there’s a lot of extra space that I can condense by bringing some pieces closer together. This helps form more cohesion within the image. If there’s a lot of extra space, sometimes I duplicate some pieces to help fill in the voids.

Once everything looks fabulous, I crop it down to a square and export it at a web resolution for Instagram!

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Thanks so much for following along on my behind the scenes! I hope you enjoyed it and are inspired to create some fun images of your own!  


Amy is the guest host of our 'Trick or Treat' photo challenge this week (October 29- November 4)

Find out how you can participate here - Creative Challenge Entry Details

You can see more of Amy's beautiful photos on her Instagram account @amyshamblen