Harbor Style Magazine sent me out a while ago to photograph a Girl Scout rally for their upcoming cookie season. Sure, send someone who has no self-control with food to the Holy Grail of cookies! I was hoping for some free samples and I warned my wife that I might max out the credit card before I got home! Someone one has to buy these cookies to keep these girls in business! It sounded like good logic to me at the time…

My mission was to photograph three girl scouts that sold the most cookies last year in our area. This sounds simple enough. Walk in, talk to the troop leader, gather the three girls that I need and get the photos, easy right? Well, as some of my faithful readers know this wasn’t without the “adventure” factor. When I arrived at the location I gathered my gear and found the cafeteria where the rally was going to be held. The doors to the cafeteria were locked and only certain people were allowed in while they were setting things up. I was the first one there and got my gear set up so no one would be waiting on me when it came time for the photos.

At this point, I’m walking around looking at the students’ artwork that was displayed on the walls to keep myself entertained. Before the long, the troop leader showed up and we met. I explained that I needed the three girls photo for the magazine. She was very helpful in corralling the folks that were needed. Now, as some of you know, I have a Golden Retriever instead of children. Every time my wife and I go down the cereal isle in the grocery store we are proud of this fact. But, it was then I realized that I really had no way to connect with these girls that I had to take photos of. The usual jokes that I sometimes use for CEOs weren’t going to fly in this crowd. Also, two of the three girls were self conscious of having their photo taken. Part of this career is that you have to think at lighting speed for solutions so your subject doesn’t think you have the I.Q. of an ant. Then it hit me. As I’m placing my lights around the first girl, I told her that she looked great in her uniform and that she was all set to strut her stuff on the runway. At this point, I’m not sure if that is a good thing to say to younger girls or not, but it’s all I had. They appeased me with a light chuckle and I started to fire away. Here is what the lighting diagram looks like:

 spencer pullen photography harbor style magazine march 2013 cover girl scouts layoutHarbor Style Cover, March 2013 – Lighting Diagram – Spencer Pullen © 2013 All Rights Reserved

As far as the set up goes, it doesn’t get much easier than this. I had the camera on a tripod fitted with an electronic release. I also used my secret weapon for my lens, my 50mm f/1.4. For the lighting part of the scenario, I put a Nikon Speedlight on a light stand fitted with a shoot through umbrella. The flash was in slave mode and the pop up flash on my Nikon D300 set off the flash wirelessly. I placed the umbrella as close to the girls as possible, making sure that it wasn’t going to show in the frame. This set up is easy and gives you great results every time. Here is what the final product looks like:

 spencer pullen photography harbor style magazine march 2013 cover girl scoutsHarbor Style Cover, March 2013 – Spencer Pullen © 2013 All Rights Reserved

So I’m thinking that all is well, I got in and I’m going to get out unscathed. The troop leader looked at me and asked if I needed any more photos of anyone else. I told her that we were good and I proceeded to pack up the gear and get ready to leave. Then the unthinkable happened. They unlocked the doors and in a flash I was surrounded by hundreds of girls! I had never been to a cookie rally before so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Here were girls in tan uniforms, brown uniforms and blue uniforms. I was totally out of my element. I felt as if I was just dropped into the biggest cereal isle ever made! Later my mother informed me that there are different levels of Girls Scouts, there are Daisy’s (blue uniforms), Brownies (brown uniforms) and Girl Scouts (tan uniforms). I’m glad that my mother was a Girl Scout so she could explain what happened! I stayed for a few minutes just to see how this was going to pan out for the poor parents of all these excited children. It wasn’t long and the troop leader took control and they started their rally.

I went back to the car and put the gear away. I sat in the car and I couldn’t stop laughing. I said “Holy Crap! That was something!” and left. When I got home I was really upset at myself, I FORGOT THE DAMN COOKIES!

If you would like to see this month’s or any Harbor Style issue for free, here’s the link: www.harborstyle.com.

Until next time…

Keep Your Glass Clean


  1. I saw last week that you got the cover of Harbor Style again this month! Great photo! Too bad about the cookies, though.

  2. Great shot, Spencer. The lighting was perfect and what a great smile on the little girl. Congrats on getting the cover.

  3. CONGRATULATIONS on yet another great shot. You captured a wonderful smile this little girl had along with her pride and innocence. You got it all!

    But hey Spencer, HOW COULD YOUR FORGET THE COOKIES?!!!!! 🙂

  4. Wow – not only a great cover; but, a fab photo. I’m sure that the family is excited with the results – talk about a winning smile——

  5. What a Fantastic Photo!! This little Girl and family will cherish that forever.. Many Congratulations for a making the Cover again…

  6. Congrats on the cover! Too bad Harbor Style doesn’t have a category for best teacher and/or best photographer in the Harbor’s Hottest list! You’ve got my vote!

  7. Great cover. Loved the muted colors in the background which helped make that young lady stand out. Suggested cookie eating diagram: 1. set up box(es) in corner of shoot 2. Eat one under umbrella between each subject (cookie or box) 3. Repeat

  8. Spencer

    This was a fun shoot. I was just as amazed as the public that they used this for the cover. This is a good thing though. I’m sure that the girl’s family is excited and I’m sure this will help cookie sales! I appreciate everyone’s kind comments and I’ll keep posting quality content. Thanks…

    Keep Your Glass Clean


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