behind the scenes at the photo shoot

In October 2009, we rushed home from fall Quilt Market to finish another big project.

I had spent the better part of the year designing, drafting, and writing our upcoming book, Oliver + S Little Things to Sew. The projects had all been tested, the samples were sewn, and we were in the final stages of completing the manuscript. Now it was time to shoot the photos.

The photo shoot was held right in our neighborhood only three blocks from our home, upstairs from the  amazing folks at Edelkoort, who run a forecasting service and who rented us their third-floor space.

The photographer we had selected for the book, Laurie Frankel, flew in from San Francisco with case upon case of equipment. When she arrived at the shoot location, we met her cab downstairs. A giant truck delivered the rest of the equipment, which we unloaded and carried all the way upstairs.

We quickly filled the large, light-filled space with all the props and tools we needed for a three-day shoot. All the shots had been worked out beforehand and Diane, the stylist, had spent days gathering materials, renting props, and purchasing items we would need, plus a bunch of extra materials in case the first ideas didn’t work out.

This is Markus, who was in charge of props but who also proved to be an excellent kid wrangler.

Diane, the stylist, has a great eye, amazing ideas, and even more ideas in case her first ones don’t work out.

Richard, Laurie’s assistant for the shoot, was in charge of lighting and making sure all the equipment was working properly. His adorable son also makes an appearance in the book.

And Laurie, our astonishingly talented photographer, must be the most patient person I’ve ever met. She has an easy and relaxed way with kids, allowing them to be themselves while she magically takes the most engaging photos of them. There were a few instances where I truly didn’t believe we had anything useful at the end of a shoot, and inevitably those sittings (wrong word–in most cases no sitting was done by anyone on the premises) ended up being my favorite photos.

The kids all stayed busy while they awaited their turn. We staggered arrival times and days to keep things running smoothly. S had a great time entertaining her friends, and they were wonderful to work with. We had loads of fun with all the kids. The finished book feels even more personal to me because all the models are S’s friends and classmates from the neighborhood. Looking back at the photos now, I can already see how much they’ve grown since the photos were taken a year and a quarter ago.

Gift bags were waiting for the models after they finished their work.

And then many, many hours of preparing, styling, and shooting ensued.

I’ll show you some of the resulting photos and a few projects from the book over the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned.




  1. Lucinda

    What a fun process to get a behind-the-scenes look at! Thanks so much for sharing. Loved the last picture especially:) So eager for the book to come out!

  2. I can’t wait to see the end result! The process looked fascinating!

  3. What a lot of work i can’t wait to buy my copy.

  4. Angela B

    I am looking forward to the sneak peeks! Thank you for sharing.

  5. This was so cool to read about. I loved seeing the photos of a photo shoot. Can’t wait to see your book.

  6. Thanks for sharing. This looks like a very fun, exhausting process. I love the painted wall/green background. What a great idea.

  7. helen wright

    looks like a lot of fun was had by all!

  8. Rae

    Wheeee! I LOVE this post. It is so much fun to see the behind the scenes stuff. And I can’t wait to get the book!

  9. Wow!
    Totally impressed by all the behind-the-scenes work! What an amazing team (kids included, of course). Can’t wait for the upcoming posts (already pre-ordered the book from…)
    On a side note: Do I spy a doll-size tea party dress in the last picture?

  10. I got chills looking at all of these behind the scenes shots. 🙂 It looks like it was a fabulous experience and I know I can’t wait for the book this spring!

  11. mel

    Hah! Ana Sofia you have a great eye; that certainly does look like a mini-tea party dress!!

    The behind the scenes looks very fun, albeit exhausting! Can’t wait for the book!

  12. Oh how cool! I pre-ordered the book too and am SO looking forward to it!

  13. Reader

    This post is fascinating; I’m bookmarking it so I can read it more carefully later.

    I’m glad to see that you’ve made an effort to be inclusive in your choice of child models, all of whom look adorable. Every now and then, amazingly, I’ll come across contemporary sewing and craft books with a range of models but with no people of color.

    It looks like it will be a lovely book, and I look forward to its publication.

  14. how wonderful! so much fun to peek behind-the-scenes! i am thrilled for you and can’t wait to snatch up a copy of your book once it hits the stands. great work, liesl! xo

  15. Oh my, Ms. Liesl….I do believe I am going to LOVE this book! Can’t wait for it to hit the shelves!

  16. Loving this glimpse of the process – even more eager for the book to come out now!

  17. Liesl,

    Will your book be making a debut in March at “The Nations Largest Sewing show”, Sewing Expo in Puyallup, WA? That is where I picked up my first Oliver + S pattern last year. I would love to purchase your new book and hope to see it there.

    Looks like you have done an amazing job! All the best to you.


  18. Kate S

    I can’t wait for this book! It looks like you all had fun at the photo shoot. Thank you for sharing the behind the scenes with us.


  19. Why does this post make me sad? I guess because I wish wish wish I could have been there with you guys! And its nice to see the behind the scenes for some of my favorite shots in the book.. looks like a fun shoot!

  20. This is so interesting! Thanks for sharing this behind the scenes look. I’m so anxious to get my hands on it! And thank you also for being inclusive with your models — as mother to a brown-skinned boy, it thrills me to know that he’ll be reflected in this book.

  21. Marie-Michelle

    Looks like great fun!

  22. Can’t wait to see the pics! And congrats on being carried by the big four now!

  23. What great excitement was caught in these behind-the-scenes photos, Liesl! What a contagious buzz!

    But, that last photo – that was the best.

  24. lia

    How fun to see what goes on behind the scenes.

  25. Sara Whalen

    Looks like you had a great time. I look forward to owning a copy. You are beautiful Liesl! Sara

  26. Sherrye

    That was so interesting! As a former pre-school teacher, I admire the smiles on everyone’s face. Keeping things fun insures success.

  27. Kathleen

    i’ve always wondered about such things — had NO IDEA how much prep work and WORK were involved in the final ADORABLE product – many thanks for having me as a guest at your photo shoot!

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