Cover Shoot With Kandee Johnson

Barbie. My childhood idol. I’ve always wondered if she existed in real life. Now I know that she does, her name is Kandee Johnson. :)


Dreams do come true folks! Finally I met her and got to know her a little bit when we shot her cover story in August.

Barbie isn’t anything I’d imagined before. She’s so much more. She’s not only this pretty face in beautiful dresses (although I loved Barbie even when I thought she was just a pretty face haha). This Barbie works hard like only a few people do nowadays while balancing between family and work life. It takes so much dedication and sacrifice to get where she is today an that needs to be recognized. Because it might look easy but it’s not.

I hear it so often from people: “Oh, I’ll just start putting up videos on Youtube and be famous and successful in a minute.” Not so fast my friend… Let me tell you, I’ve only been following her for a couple months but man, this girl does not sleep! She stays up all night to create and edit content for her channel. Not to mention the crazy schedule she is on. And she is still able to be nice to people with a huge smile on her face. Now that’s is what I mean by hard work.

“Work hard, stay humble, be kind.” My favorite quote. That about sums up everything she is and does. I love that Kandee didn’t forget where she came from and her sweet personality.

If someone, than she deserves being famous and being invited to amazing events around the world and to be showered with gifts. This experience has made me adore her even more.

The Location

We were set to shoot at The Palm Baum which is an amazing little pink house in Palm Springs, CA. The house is available for rent and is the most ideal location to have a bachelorette party. It was the perfect house for the Kandee shoot, we loved every little detail of it. Check out her website for more photos, it’s worth to click!

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Photos by The Palm Baum

Photos by The Palm Baum

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Rebecca, Kandee, myself & Kalynn on set

Rebecca, Kandee, myself & Kalynn on set

The Team

Working with talented industry professionals is key to achieve the look and quality of the images I was planning for. This shoot’s team has exceeded my expectations.

Here is the list of amazing people who made this happen:

Art Director and Co-owner of Locale Magazine - Reilly Kavanaugh @reillyek

Hair - Chris Dylan @chrisdylanhair

Makeup - Spencer @paintedbyspencer

Styling - Teresita @bornorigingal

Photo Assistant - Rebecca Thacker @rkthack

Behind The Scenes Footage - Bradley Blackburn @bradleyblackburn_com

Director - Kalynn Nguyen @kalynncnguyen

Writer - Marissa Stempien @paperandlights


About The Shoot

Our day with Kandee and her team was like hanging out and having fun with our friends. Everyone was so nice and easygoing, which is a breath of fresh air in this industry. Some photoshoots can be very stressful, there are a lot of factors that can make them stressful like the shortness of time, or if something goes wrong, technical difficulties, someone being late or didn’t even show up or bad attitude, etc.

We knew that LOCALE magazine required us to shoot at least 5 different looks utilizing different scenes for each one. It was so hard to narrow the options down. Teresita has brought an amazing selection of dresses, which could’ve been enough for the entire team to wear for a weekend! And those rooms! It was very hard to not shoot in all of them with every little prop we found.

We ended up shooting in 3 different rooms and 3 outdoor locations around the house. Everything worked out perfectly with the outfits that we’d previously picked for Kandee and she’s been so patient and nice throughout the 5 hours we spent there. The glam team Spencer & Chris were changing her hair and makeup for every look to make the photos diverse.


THE Lighting SeTUP & my gear

For lighting the different scenes I used a layered technique where a beauty dish or a huge octabox was my key light and either the sun or my other light was the fill light.


Outdoors I only used 1 artificial light to overpower the bright Palm Springs sun and give more depth to the image. At some areas we used reflectors to dim down the power of the sun. The only setup where I used natural light only was where we shot at the front of the house with the cacti whisk was in shade that time of the day. I wanted to create different vibes for each set so decided to skip the strobes for that one.


Inside the rooms I bounced my fill light from the wall & ceiling and had an octabox directed at Kandee from a 45 degree angle.


The lenses I chose for these photos were the Canon 24-70mm II USM 2.8 and the Canon 50mm 1.2 which is one of my all time favorite lens. The camera I used was my Canon 5D Mk IV. Also one of my favorite pieces of gear that I use almost every time is the Spider Holster to make sure my hands are free while I still have my camera close to me. Before knowing about the existence of it, I used to put my camera on tables, on the floor or the makeup counter and always forgot where it was. I looked like a fool running around looking for my camera all the time. Well, not anymore.

The only thing I didn’t do this time was shooting tethered. We had to move between locations so fast that I figured it was easier for me to skip it this time. It all worked out at the end of the day.

behind the scenes video - full version

Enjoy this little video that gives you a little glimpse of our day:

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