Behind The Scenes: The Making of Priime Styles

We here at Priime are extremely proud of the fruits of our collaboration with our authors, having created dozens of high quality styles that capture the aesthetic of each photographer. Each style has been brainstormed, developed, and tested over many hours and many photos to ensure that the styles are of uncompromising quality.

I’m Loren Baxter, designer and co-founder here at Priime. In this article, I'll show some behind-the-scenes of how we make our styles and what they are made of.

The Idea

First, we work with our authors to come up with an idea for a style. It should fit under the general look that they are known for. Do they shoot landscapes or portraits? Bright and clean, or faded and moody? What element of their photography makes them unique? Stephanie Crown has white skies over contrasty landscapes. Pei Ketron does crisp travel photography and loves interesting textures. Rian Assaaf shoots moody, faded, saturated landscapes. My co-founder, Art Chang, shoots sunsets. I am known for… well I’m not known for anything particularly, but since I build the styles I get to sneak some of my own in there when I see a gap.

Sometimes, we use moodboards as a tool to really pin down someone’s style. We take their photo feed (usually on Instagram) and group the photos with similar looks. This gives us a clean visual representation of their different aesthetics that we can discuss as a creative team.

Alex Strohl styles brainstorm
Alex Strohl styles brainstorm

We keep iterating on and discussing this document until everyone agrees on what we’re going to build.

The Development

I won’t give away all our secret sauce of how we make styles, but I can tell you it involves a lot of work in Photoshop. Photoshop is a super powerful editor that lets you do just about anything under the sun. That’s great for us, because our styles are complete edits and can involve complicated filter chaining underneath. We painstakingly flesh out edits that capture the soul of that aesthetic, making sure to get everything right from exposure and contrast to the characteristic tonality, luminance, and color behaviors that harmonize to create a style.

Maybe we’re obsessive, but a lot of thought goes into the creation process-- both from us and our style authors. We’ve studied the looks of photographic film, but we haven't stopped there. How do professional colorists grade movies in theaters today? How does Wes Anderson achieve such a specific look for each of his movies? What does color theory tell us to do when we have blueish shadows? What colors harmonize well with the natural blues of the sky, or with the red/oranges of skin? How do we emphasize those?

Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom
Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom

We also use effects to achieve specific goals. When a style wants excellent skin tones, there are a few different things we can do to enhance that, particularly by controlling the reds and oranges. When we're looking for a bright, clean style for interiors, there are ways to kick out the warm or cool tones that usually play across white walls due to improper white balance. We do this with Red Gaskell's Corner style:

Meanwhile, for Alex Strohl's Fir style, we emphasize the lush, dark green shadows of a pine forest.

Basically, we use every trick in the book, as well as many that we developed with our authors, to achieve some pretty amazing and specific effects.

The Story

Priime styles are much more than filters. Each has a photographer behind it who has their own life, their own story, and their own artistic voice that they have developed over years. The styles are a translation of this voice, and allow you to create the same mood in your own work. Whether you’re shooting inspiring sunsets, emotional portraits, calm interiors, or anything else, we work to have styles that can help you tell the story that you want.

Kelly Victoria's Synesthesia was inspired by this condition, where crossed synapses can lead to mixed senses such as hearing colors or tasting sounds.

Thematically, each author needs to have consistency across their work. All the styles from one author have a common thread running through them that ties them together. Art Chang is known for dazzling sunsets and beams of light. Kelly Victoria shoots with a moodiness and intimacy that is great for portraiture. Alex Strohl captures magnificent natural scenes that depend on the beautiful tones found in skies, rivers, forests, and rocks.

And Joshua Allen Harris takes muted shots of New York and beyond that love the play between light and shadow:

Joshua Allen Harris style brainstorm
Joshua Allen Harris style brainstorm

We work with these photographers to make a set of styles that are variations on a theme, spanning a variety of different situations that you might find when photographing similar things.

Finally, we create the descriptions and the galleries that come with each style. These are designed to show and tell you what they are intended for and how to use them. It’s important to us not to have a long list of mostly-anonymous filters that we tap aimlessly through, trying to find a fit. Of course, any style can be used on any photo and part of the fun is finding new and unique combinations. But we wanted to have something more specific than that.

My style, Spirit, was developed from portraiture I did last year where I kept running into blacks, whites, and greens while trying to find portraits that captured something special about the subject.

The Launch

Finally, when a set of styles are ready to go, we get to show them to the world! We work with our photographers to promote their styles. All of our authors share in the revenue from sales of their work - it is important to us to create a sustainable and fair environment, and to support the people involved with Priime. Too often, photographers and other independent creatives aren’t treated fairly in the world of business, and we work hard to do it the right way.

The most satisfying moment for us is watching the #priime hashtag on Instagram and elsewhere on the internet grow and seeing the amazing work that people create with Priime. We’re a small team of photographers participating in the community that we love, and seeing Priime really work is the greatest reward.

I hope that sheds some light on the process here at Priime. We hope you keep showing us your beautiful creations as we continue to push forward on making the world of photography better.

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