About Heath

It was a love of photography that inspired Heath Robbins to leave his job as an agency executive and travel the world with a camera in hand. More than twenty years later, it is his love for food, people, and making pictures, that continues to fuel his commercial photography career with focus and passion. For every client and for every shoot, Heath sets out to capture moments, tastes, and emotions that pull people out of their everyday, and straight into the moments that he creates.


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Entries in commercial photography (4)

A Different look

Sometimes I just have to shoot something differently. Sometimes an assignment comes along to let me do just that.

A couple months ago I was shooting for Yankeee Magazine and had the great pleasure of meeting and photographing Diana and Vojin Vujosevic who own Pain D'Avignon a restaurant and bakery down in Hyannnis. The way I approached the Yankee shoot impressed Diana and she approached me at the end of the day and asked if I would shoot some images at Pain D'Avignon. They did not have a shot list or an agenda (except to get in a couple of food shots) she just wanted me to explore and shoot whatever I felt would communicate the feel of the restaurant and bakery.

After scouting their place I felt it had this old world feel, very European. However, even though the bakery and the restaurant are connected  they each had a slighlty different feeling to them so I thought overall pictures wouldn't really communicate what it felt like to be sitting there. I suggested to Diana that I shoot lots of detail images and shoot in black and white or very desaturated color to give it that old world feeling. 

She loved the idea, so I put together a suggested shot list and off we went. Here's a sampling of some of the images I created.

Shooting for yourself.

If you're in my business you know that you have to continually shoot personal work in order to stay fresh and conitinue to develop your creativity. Otherwise your work will begin to suffer simply by virtue of doing things the same way over and over. Sometimes the personal work you shoot is everything you hoped for and more, sometimes it's more a way to discover new directions or techniques but either way you continue to learn and grow.

I recently set up a lifestyle shoot to capture some images of teenage fun. I decided to push the envelope a little and use real people instead of professional models. Using real models can sometimes be a gamble which is why when I go this route for a client I always hold a casting session ahead of time in order to see how the people will react on camera. I've shot real people many, many, times but in this case, I decided not to have a casting. Instead I chose to use two teenagers I knew and then push myself to get the images out of them that I wanted. To push it a little further, I decided to use my daughter Isabella as one of them, which if you're a parent you know that choice can be just like shooting personal work - sometimes it's everything you hoped for and sometimes it's not :).

In this case, it was everything I hoped for. I have photographed Isabella before but never like this and never for 3 hours straight. She was terrific and her friend Alafair was fantastic. The two of them took direction beautifully. The cast was stellar, particularly since the weather wasn't what I hope for and I had to use strobes which can slow down the action and the pace on a shoot like this.

Big thanks to Coco Grace who did their hair and make up and to Liz Parsons with Team Artists who did their wardrobe , to my awesome producer Kristin who makes everything happen so all I have to do is show up and to my assistant Christian who is always hustling. Here's some scenes from the shoot along with a few of the final images:

Thats my girl Isabella, in make up heaven with Coco

Liz in a cloud of steam making everything look perfect

Alafair's turn

Isabella checking out the lighting tests with me that we did while they were getting ready producer ever!

Christian caught me thinking. I included this picture here because it reminds me a lot of my father, memories of him in my mind have him in this exact pose.

Bogey's new best friend our intern Sara who in addition to making my dog happy all day hustled to help make everything happen.


He calls this the "light stand dance".

Here are some of the final images:



"Out of Control" Goes Viral

A few years back I set out to illustrate the concept of being "out of control". I created an image of a woman surrounded by the total chaos of her 5 children (with another on the way). We had so much fun shooting it and almost every female art director with children of her own would say "that's my life!". Having kids of my own and being completely type A, it's an image near and dear to my heart.  I have always loved the conversations it incites.

As a comercial photographer, the reach of the images I create is usually limited to the media buy of specific clients and to those potential clients reviewing my work online or in private meetings with my rep, Jenna. It's not usually like the "Ultimate Dog Tease," with millions of hits on YouTube...Until last week when we got a front row seat watching this "Out of Control" image take off on a ride around the internet.

It started with a friend of Jenna's who emailed her that she saw the picture on a blog. Then, Sunday, night another woman reposted the image on her facebook page. By Tuesday it had received 40,516 likes, 7,065 comments, and been shared 27,844 times. It was, at first, really exciting for us to witness. We actually watched as, every couple of minutes, people were posting comments like these:

It was all very cool and gratifying to watch, particularly in real time, until we realized that there was no credit on the image, no reference to us whatsoever. All those people, downloading to their desktops, sending it to friends and simply loving this image that took so much time and effort to produce and no one was the wiser that we created it (Speaking of credit: many thanks to Tui Stark for the fabulous prop styling, Erin Charest for the awesome wardrobe and Cynthia Murphy for the spectacular hair and make-up!).

What ensued was an all day effort, on Jenna's part, to get credit for the image and to harness some traffic back to our website. Unbelievably, it was very difficult...We understand that not everyone has money for imagery they are using and that there are even people in the world that feel they shouldn't have to pay for any of it, regardless. But, that's a whole other conversation. Giving credit is easy, however, and with a small amount of effort you can usually find out where the image came from (try a site like to start). 

This conversation about the internet and copyright has been going on since the begining of the world wide web and since I am sure you have heard the arguments over and over, I'm not going to get into that here. What I would like to point out, though, is how valuable that credit can be to any artist. In the end, Jenna was able to get that credit for me as well as links back to our facebook page and As a result of this post we received 760 additional visitors to our website and our facebook "likes" were up 46%. That kind of attention and the possible leads can be just as valuable as financial compensation.  So, in this case, it all worked out and we're happy so much excitement was stirred up on facebook....and that 40,000 people like the image as much as we do!

 Here is the image. Feel free to re-post it... just make sure my name is on it :)



"How did you do that?"

Quite often I get the same question from people about some of my bigger lifestyle productions: "How did you do that?" The answer is of course a little more complicated and detailed than I could explain here but I thought I would give a general explanation of one one of my favorite shots.

The thought process:
For years I had this image in my head of a middle school dance. For me that was back in the late 70's and I can always remember the bleachers in the gym, the way the guys held the girls and vice versa, the glow of the exit signs in the dark, and the horrible food and punch. One day when going over some of the wordplays I saw "YeaHRight" and the idea of a geeky guy and beautiful girl came to mind. Right after that the image of the dance came up and I knew I had to make the image.

The pre-production process:
This stage is critical for a smooth production. I never skimp here, to do so invites disaster the day of your shoot.

My first concern is always location. It can make or break a big production. Where is it? How much will it cost? Can it be lit the way I want the shot to appear? Is it available when we need it? Are there any restrictions? When I have only a short period of time and I have no idea where to find it, I hire a good location scout otherwise I go straight to areas I think might have it. In this case, I went straight to our high school in Dover/Sherborn and luckily it was perfect. Had it not been we would have started calling all the schools in the surrounding towns and asking all the questions above. Once I found the location I went back a second time with my assistant to map out our lighting plan and all the equipment we would need.

The second most critical piece is talent. If you need a certain look, or your models to be able to pull off an expression,emotion or some kind of action you have to do a casting. I always try to do my own castings. I like to see the models in front of the camera and I make them do exactly what I will need from them on the actual shoot day. I look for whether they are comfortable or versatile. If they seem awkward, stiff or uncomfortable they dont make the list no matter how gorgeous they may be. Never cast from comp cards!!! The models always look different from their cards. On one shoot that was cast that way the client chose a kid who showed up missing a front tooth and then refused to smile. Ended up taking hours to coax one out of him.

For this shoot not only did I cast but I put them in a similar lighting situation and made them dance together

I was looking for whether as teens, they were comfortable getting close to each other as well as a look that would clearly show the stretch of the pairing.. both of those things might be tough on a 15 year old so I had to seem them do it ahead of time. Why I do the castings personally, is because the casting shots don't always convey the potential of every model as was the case with this shoot.

The final piece of this is picking your crew. Good stylists are so critical for a shoot of this size. We talk in length about style, the overall look of the shoot, do we want it to be over the top with humor? Should it feel 70's or contemporary? What should they wear? Whats in the background and so forth. For this shoot we hired Verne Cordova.

He is a master at props and wardrobe and does both equally as well! He never fails to surprise me with something on every shoot that I hadn't thought about before hand and it usually is a huge contribution to the shot. That's what makes a good stylist, great! Not to mention that he has everyone laughing all day long.

The production process:
For hair we hired Alyssa Vachon and for make up Audrey Berman. Good hair and make up stylists are needed for obvious reason but I always look for ones that can understand the look I am going for.

The final piece is your assistants and producer. Your assistants need to be hard working, fast and organized. In my case they work full time for me and if we hire additional freelancers then my assistants are in charge them on set and tell them exactly what we need. Your producer needs to be organized and everywhere at once. Is the client comfortable? Is lunch arriving on time. Does everyone have directions. Is everything set with the location? The talent? Jenna, is of course, all of this and more. She is the ultimate task master.... right down to making sure I always have a cup of coffee close at hand!

After that I start shooting and I just keep talking with the talent moving things here and there until that image that was in my head shows up on my monitor. The more meticulous you are on the pre-production the faster that happens.For this shot it came rather quickly.

For more production stills of this shoot you can go back to the blog I posted in May of 2010