I shoot tethered on a 60-inch screen—it’s a
great tool for composition and immediate
gratification for those in the studio. I also allow
the student to invite friends, family, teammates
and classmates to the sessions, which makes
for a very fun high school senior event. I keep
the studio stocked with students’ favorite
snacks and sodas, as well as healthy items for
parents and anyone else who wants them.
When all the extras are said and done, I help
pull out of a high school senior the
very best vision of themselves.
My promise is that every
single session is customized
to the individual and is a
unique experience they will
In-studio equipment always includes my
Canon 5D Mark III and 5D Mark IV camera
bodies, Elinchrom ELB 1200, 600RX and
BRX 250 strobes, along with Elinchrom and
Westcott light modifiers, Sekonic light meters
and Pocket Wizards.
On location, I love using my 28-70mm
f/2.8 lens. I use it for up-close, depth-
of-field shots as well as wide to capture
the environment behind the subject. It is
versatile for a single session without having
to change lenses. I also use the Godox
Wistro AD600B wireless strobe, which
allows me to take 600W/s of power on
location in one compact head.
GETTING THE WORD OUT
I market my brand mainly through word of
mouth by the seniors themselves. There is
the occasion when I host events with very
strategic partnerships that are extremely
popular with teenagers, like in popular coffee
shops, shoe stores and clothing stores.
I am a very experiential, high-energy,
personable person. You’ll always hear
me say, “Rock that,” which is my term for
making life happen. It is a part of who I am
and is also what I’m known for. Because I
say it so much, it is very much a part of my
brand, and seniors come to expect it. You
can see it through my processes, shoots,
photographs and how I communicate with
people everyday. So if you’re not ready, you
betta’ get ready!
Shawn Lee opened Shawn Lee Studios in
Detroit in 2009 and is the head of diversity
for Professional Photographers of America
(PPA), as well as the co-founder of Xposure
101 Photography Conference, which hosts
over 300 photographers from around
the country for three days of high-level
instruction geared toward diversity.
He also held Platform Classes at WPPI in
2015 and 2016.
LEFT: Milan loves his Detroit gear, hip hop style and
iPhone. ABOVE: Annabelle’s style is ‘In Your Face’
and without apology. Ripped jeans, green hair and
a jump in the air that makes it all look effortless.
I’m a high-energy
guy, so many of my
portraits will often
have some type of
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