Hand model, business owner, and content strategist Melissa Tolentino speaks on shooting at the Parlour.

We sat down with Melissa Tolentino, a lead content strategist who moonlights as a hand model. Discussing the recent photo shoot with photographer Olivia Van Dyke at the Parlour, Melissa touches on the importance of differentiating your brand on social media, using movement in product shots, and creating mood boards.

The Parlour’s patio is a Yaletown summer staple. Melissa and Olivia recently had the opportunity to shoot the Parlour’s summer cocktail list, and the results are incredible.

Melissa Tolentino: “A big reason why these particular photos turned out so well was because Olivia and I collaborated on the shot list together. We work together a lot – -which is good, because we work really well together.” 

Was there anything you found challenging about this shoot?

MT: “Usually, there’s a lot of other people, but we didn’t have anyone else on this shoot. We thought it would be simple but I’ve learned that when you’re working with food something will usually go wrong. Products will melt, something won’t photograph like it’s supposed to, and so on. But, even though it took a little longer than expected, the results were so great. And, Olivia and I work really well together. We both style the sets, and I was helping out as her photography assistant. Oh, and Mike from the Parlour’s team helped us out as well. He’s the other hand model, the one you see making the drinks.”

What was the inspiration behind this photo set?

MT: “When we shot it, we knew summer was almost here. The items the Parlour chose to feature look like they were made for patio season. The big punch bowl? It would be so fun to have that on a patio table with all of your friends.

And, all of the props involved were summery, like citrus and florals. I prepped for the shoot by putting together a mood board which Olivia referenced. Before I make any shot list, I always make a mood board.”

Melissa’s mood boards are extensive, created with keen attention to detail. They make her projects essentially “dummy proof” so anyone can step into the project at any time and know exactly what is happening with the shoot.

How was this shoot different from others like it?

MT: “Olivia brought a few different backdrops and we shot inside and out, using shadows in a lot of our photos. The action shots though, are really what made things look so good.

“Social media is a necessity for all businesses now. And often, when you look at businesses accounts, their social content all looks the same. Ask yourself, what’s special about your content? You need something that will pop out. You want people to know what that photo tastes like. You need these images to speak to you. Differentiate yourself from other businesses like yours, and let your audience have fun through your feed.” – Melissa Tolentino, Content Strategist