How I Got the Shot with Zach Sutton

Posted by: on Sep 20, 2017

How I Got the Shot with Zach Sutton

Zach Sutton is a Los Angeles Photographer specializing in Headshots, Portraits, Events, and Weddings. Zach’s passion is to simply take great photos that contain an style unlike other photographers. He is available for hire for portrait sessions, headshot photography, wedding photography, commercial photography and event photography in Los Angeles, California and the surrounding areas. Zach Sutton also travels to various parts of the world for photography – check the blog to see if he is coming to a town near you.

Zach Sutton is an internationally published photographer and instructor that has had his work featured at Fstoppers, Retouching Academy, WPPI, Phototuts+, photofocus, Digital SLR Photography Magazine, Profoto Blog, Creative Live, Canon Imagination Blog, and more.


The concept of the shoot was pretty simple; I wanted to create some photos inspired by some of my idols, like Sue Bryce. Much of my work has a lot of punch and contrast, so I’m continuously intrigued by those who can create images with a painterly-like style of elegance. Upon booking Amirah and Amiririosd, two twin models here in LA, I knew I wanted to do something that was a bit different than my usual advertising influenced work while working with a dream team of talented stylists and artist to help it all come together.

Setup and Lighting

Because I was working with a big team, I wanted to go big for everything. With a wardrobe stylist, makeup artist, and hair stylists all working together it’s required to be shooting tethered, so they can watch their work in real time, without being distracting to me behind the camera. Sticking to the ‘going big’ mentality, I also chose to use a Phase One XF 100mp system, to ensure that my files would retain all the detail I’d need. The benefit of using a system like this is that I can shoot wider and then zoom in to get beauty photos for the makeup artist, detail shots of the hair, and wider shots of the wardrobe all in one go. For lighting, I chose my favorites, with the Profoto B1 systems to ensure I had plenty of light, without the problems of cables running through my already tight studio space.

Diagram of a photo shoot

The lighting was simple, to ensure I had nice soft light falling onto everything in the photo. I went with the Profoto XL White Umbrella because it can provide soft and even light, and minimize the shadows that harshly modifiers might case.

Benefits of Shooting Tethered

Tethering was so important for this shoot because of how limited space we had. Often, I think people tend to believe that you tether when you have plenty of working space, but I believe that the opposite is true. By tethering, I was able to shoot, and focus on the lighting, composition, posing and all the other elements of a shoot, without having my team of talented people breathing down my neck to see the shots. Using tethering, I was able to set the tether station off to the side, and let the makeup artist, hair stylist and wardrobe stylist all see the photos as they come in, mark their favorites, and not be a distraction or in the way of the shooting process, while still being able to do their job.


For something like this, the post processing was pretty dramatic. With the help of my frequent retoucher Susan Rockstraw, we were able to take the 100-megapixel files, and edit them in a multitude of ways to help compliment the work of everyone involved. When working with such a large team, it’s important that everyone who is donating their time and hard work gets that they want and need from the shoot. So my philosophy is always to overshoot, and make sure you can over deliver on what people need the most.

Logistics and Gear

When it came down to the logistics of a shoot on this size, communication is the most important key. Making sure your stylists are all on the same page, and that concepts can be easily shared and distributed is of the utmost importance. While the gear will physically take the shot, it’s the concepts that help it come to life in the first place.

Collaboration and Team

All of this shoot couldn’t have been possible without the help of my team of talent. Sienna Gross (@siennagross) was on makeup, Jarad Reed (@jtouch) was on hair, the wardrobe was put together by Darryl Anderson (@changeofwardrobe), and while I photographed, I got help in retouching from Susan Rockstraw (@suerocks.retouch), and Pratik Naik (@solsticeretouch). Video was done compliments of Dylan Patrick (@dylanpatrickphoto). The models were Amiyah and Madison from LA Models.

How I Got the Shot Second Edition

To download this, and 11 more How I Got the Shot guides, download version 2 of the How I Got the Shot Guide at Each educational article features a different image, behind-the-scenes video, as well as a detailed breakdown of how the shot was made.