Inside a commercial shooting, a conversation with Caleb & Gladys

Caleb & Gladys are known for their surreal and dramatic take in creating images that are visually stunning yet always aiming to redefine boundaries. Their studio is based in Singapore and in this rich conversation they will share interesting informations on how a commercial shooting is done. I suggest to envision their incredible online portfolio. 

I have to admit that one of my favorite works is “The Wallflower for Vogue Italia”.



– Caleb & Gladys how do you start your studio?

Both of us majored in completely different fields in school (Gladys in Economics and Caleb in Business IT) and only picked up photography as hobbies during that time. We met during a party and almost instantly hit it off. In the following week we went for a date and chatted over wine, in exchanging ideas we realised how similar our taste and sense of aesthetics were. We thus decided to embark on a new artistic direction as a team. Throwing out everything we had shot previously, we did many shoots to come up with a brand new portfolio.


– Why Fashion?

The attraction to beautiful things is definitely the key, and fashion encompasses so much of that – the ideas, the clothes, the people, the energy and so much more. What we really do love though, is creating a story from our minds. The process of bringing to fruition an idea, putting together what we envisioned and the freedom to express our messages and thoughts through our photos truly keeps the adrenaline strong. We also love the fact that every shoot is a new adventure to explore with different creative minds on set. It is never monotonous and routine.


– Can you tell us what has been your artistic evolution?

For us, paintings, movies and music – be it new or old – always keeps us inspired with new stories to tell. We are quite the style chameleons, constantly evolving with new ideas to keep things flexible and creative. However, we always make sure to inject our own dramatic flair and touch to every picture to make it our own.


– Can you describe from beginning to end how a project – let’s say a commercial shooting – is made?

Firstly, we sit down with the client and art director to understand the project, discuss the plans and throw in our input. Once the direction of the shoot has been settled, we follow up with the casting of models where the most suitable person with the right face, body and sometimes skill is picked for the job.

We also decide on the appropriate hair, make-up and styling team with the forte best suited for the look we want to achieve. The preparations for props and locations are also done concurrently. Throughout the process, we have to make sure everyone is on the same page and knows the details to prevent any miscommunications.

On the day of the shoot, the beauty team would commence on preparation of all props and set would be done and make-up and hair is done. Then the photo shoot commences, as soon as the first shot is taken amendments are made in terms of make-up, styling and lighting. After the photo shoot, photos are picked by the client, edited and finally submitted.


– What part of the process excites you the most when you start a new project?

It’s got to be when the first shot is taken for the project, thats when we get to see the fruits of our labor becoming a glimpse of reality and that really brings on the excitement.


– How do you choose your incredible light effects and clothes?

It all depends on the story we want to tell, and we would have a vision in our minds of how the photo should turn out. From there on we would also discuss with the client and stylist and bounce off each other to create the balance. It is often easy to overdo by assuming that the crazier the lighting and clothes, the more impressive the photo will be but sometimes less is really more.


– From all your projects which is your favorite and why?

There are many memorable ones but one of our favorite shoots was with ELLE India, when they came to our home country in Singapore to shoot a spread. We had a great team and ample time to shoot. We had a shot where we wanted  the model walking down an alley and the birds flying up right in that moment, so we had our crew throw bread to lure the birds in. A bunch of the crew lined up on both sides and on our count, everyone shouted and stomped loudly to scare the birds to flight.


– Which fashion magazine do you love the most and why?

Vogue Italia is one of our favorites due to its boldness to express ideas.


– Which books and blogs do you consider valuable for a fashion photographer? 

In terms of technicalities any of the fashion photography books that teach the basic lighting diagrams and explanations are great to start with but we feel that the greatest resource that anyone can feed on would be themselves. Only by exploring your options and testing it out during a shoot, you will truly be able to master it as reading from an example is never the same as the real thing. However, it is certainly important to know the basics of lighting techniques and equipment before you can know how to maneuver them into your own style.

Constantly stay inspired by and absorb the essence of different forms of art are something that would set you apart from everyone else. Fashion blogs and books on fashion designers are great to start with, to read about how these people are inspired by.



I want to thank Caleb & Gladys for this rich interview, if i had more space probably i’ve continued to insert their works, i hope that you’ve found this reading entertaining and useful; and if you’re working on something new don’t hesitate to launch your creative idea on the platform. 

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