Keep it Simple.

MRSA (1 of 1)With no studio, studio gear and just the basic camera body, flash and a couple of lenses available. I’ve had to get a bit more creative with my lighting and backdrops. And just as doing with less has created more opportunities than problems. Finding and booking test shots seems just as difficult in the Northwest as it was in New Jersey and New York. On my first shoot, I took photos in and around the corporate apartment I was temporarily staying in. Being that it was a sun soaked day. We retreated indoors, taking full advantage of the more subtle lighting its interiors offered. As we moved from point A to point B. I couldn’t help but feel relaxed and confident. Recalling the nervous knots I often get while working in the studio. And while I can’t wait to start booking more sessions with aspiring models, such as the one seen here. I’m not quite as eager to get back to studio work.

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Adventures in Lighting

While many portfolio sessions require weeks of planning and idea sharing. Others can be brokered with minimal planning  and just a few key exchanges. Such was the case with Lauren. New images to show off a new look and style that adds an artsy edge to an already fetching body of work. During the two hours we worked together. My goal of recreating a look that was based on my love of black and white Hollywood Film Noir. By moving the main light around I was able to create the shadow and depth that once went missing in my studio work. With little to no instruction, I followed Lauren’s movement and changes to capture a number of looks and moods. In the end, the results had me recalling what drew me to my earliest experiemnts with photography and black & white film. Below are a very small sampling of what we captured.

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All the Right Ingredients

Having worked with Iya numerous times during my years of shooting in my cramped Hoboken home studio. I’ve been eager to have her over to the Loft to close out my new portfolio in a much more open and for lack of a better word, lofty space. Having someone who was both a friend and an experienced model at my disposal initially felt like a no brainer. However, her inquiry regarding my providing a makeup artist and/or stylist threw me in to panic mode. And while having one of the industries best makeup by stephanie perez living in the adjacent loft went a long way to ease my tensions. Trying to book her only days in advance  was a bit of a challenge. In the end, the m.u.a’s assistant Karen not only stepped in. She amazed. As beautiful as Iya looked walking through my door. *&^%$% had her looking like an absolute goddess. Going forward as a photographer, I hope to incorporate the use of a make up artist and stylist. Knowing that I have such fantastic options at arms reach is very reassuring.I highly recommend you take s look at Satephanie’s site. I assure you, you’ll be inspired.
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The Best Things are Worth Waiting for.

When I originally posted a casting call on Model Mayhem back in early May. I had no idea I would be getting such an overwhelming response from models interested in being a part of my upcoming portfolio. Yet, as I sought through the thirty or so candidates. I found a seldom few that really fit the overall feel and aesthetic I wanted to convey. As I worked through May and June with the people I had chosen. I kept in mind the ones that I was unable to immediately book due to their busy schedules and location. There was one by the name of Emily whom I would wait patiently for the right time to come.

Almost two months later, to the date, that time would come. When I went downstairs to greet Emily. I immediately noticed she was even more beautiful than any of the images in her portfolio would tell. Her big smile and upbeat personality were a welcome sight on what had already been one of the most oppressively hottest days of the early summer.

As quickly as our session started. I knew that the wait and a more detailed description of what I was looking to accomplish with the session made for an even better session than I would have ever hoped for. Her ability to move and change expression effortlessly was incredible. Emotive, expressive and flat out gorgeous. She put life in to all of the looks and vibes I was hoping to convey. Along the way we explored new lighting techniques, utilized my new canvas background and even found some use for my almost extinct CD collection. Thanks to Emily for making every image count.

Getting There

Last night I sat down with a friend and fellow photographer to navigate last week’s sessions and decide on which ones were best suited for social media. The two pictured below really put the hook in me. Not that they were the best or they fit a specific project or portfolio piece. What really caught my eye was that their close resemblance to the photographs and artists who first inspired my love and appreciation for art and photography. The basic lighting and concepts that seemed so out of reach back then.

In my recent months of shooting I’ve been urged to google images and visit sites such as Pinterest and Instagram to create look books.Forming ideas and creating templates for photo sessions have become blueprints for getting exactly what I need from each session, model and shoot. Telling a model in advance, “This is what I want to shoot.” or “Can we do this?” has been a great way to inspire both myself and the person I’m working with. In the end, it allcomes down to good communicstion, preparation and proper execution.

Fun with Teegan

This past Thursday I had the chance to work with Teegan on what is becoming my new portfolio. The New York by way of Florida model was a pleasure to be around. With my voice not holding up as much as I would have liked. My friend and current studio director Kevin provided much of the verbal communication. During shooting there would be moments where Teegan would just provide a look that knocked me off my feet. So much so that I had to shout out “Gorgeous” “Fantastic: or “Beautiful”. Each time her eyes and smile would light the room with an incredible smile and a thank you. Just pure joy to work with and be around. With each session I feel my anxiety lessen and my attention to detail grow. Making me feel grateful for the opportunity to get back to the things I love. Learning new things while adding new layers to the template. The left and middle images were shot on a new Fashion Grey seamless. The right was taken shot on the roof with a reflector.

If you have the chance please check in with my new instagram account Here

You can also check out my progress on my official website Here

Adding to the Blueprint

In building a new portfolio I’ve been trying to show consistency in both my lighting and settings. The blueprint started with using a two light set up consisting of a beauty dish and a fill light fitted with a 72′ inch umbrella. As the sessions have progressed. I’ve tried to add a new element to each session. The project started using a seemless background for the majority of the session before quickly moving to a concrete column (L) that separates the kitchen from the living room. On to the foyer which features a giant black / chalkboard wall before finishing up with a few outdoor shots, typically on the roof. It’s a pattern that’s built from one shoot to the next. One that’s rendered improving results with each try. Today’s session with Kristina was more than I could ask for. Great looks, makeup, style and personality to match. On top of all the studio fun. She helped me overcome my fear of heights by simply showing her own.

Results from a not so Fun Shoot.

Results from Friday’s  grueling two and a half hour shoot. There was zero chemistry between myself and the model. No adherence to the sessions theme or goals. Just one angry looking model.

Back to Basics

While my prior studio session helped me get on solid ground as far as my studio lighting was concerned. This weekends session with Audrey allowed me to take things a bit further. During my previous session I took full advantage of lighting the background from behind with a soft box  while lifting the shadows  at 45′ degrees with my new Photoflex 72′ SRP umbrella. This time around, I added a beauty dish that really highlighted the models skin and features while adding depth to the images overall quality. Moving the lights around and playing with photography’s rule of thirds More on that Here Most important was Audrey’s presence.  With a sense of grace and an intuitive nature to know what I’m about to say before I utter a single word. She has made our annual studio sessions an opportunity to grow and learn while having an absolute blast. As the years comes to a close. I’m beginning to see where the next year might take me creatively. From here, the view looks pretty damn good.
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Gut Reaction

Over the Summer I began to really kick up my game when it came to better marketing myself. I worked on my resume, checked listings daily and regularly updated my website with new images. Within a matter of weeks my work began to pay off as freelance opportunities and contract work began to come my way. I was doing the kind of work I hadn’t done in years, while engaging in new opportunities. During that time a few offers came my way that would provide steady work and income in the future. One particular opportunity was working as a freelance photographer at a nearby studio two to three days a week.

As the week before the interview progressed we kept in touch via emails and phone calls. I did my share of research on the company and felt pretty good about the opportunity that was being presented. When I was asked to bring a portfolio and my camera.   I realized the only printed work I had available was my Boudoir Portfolio. Audrey-4257When I asked about it, the woman on the phone seemed to stumble over her words. “Um, I don’t know.” “That’s not what we do here.” “I have to….. ask… the director.” I informed her that I had a website that would perfectly highlight that side of my work or I could quickly whip up a digital port worth presenting. Still, she stumbled. For some stupid reason I felt bad. That my recent work was being deemed dirty by someone I had never met might seem silly now. Yet, at the time, I felt as if I was being looked at as some deviant smut peddler who hides his portfolio behind some oversized rain coat. A couple of days past and I got the call that the interview was set and they were looking forward to meeting me. I was relieved. I was ready.

Though the studio I’d be working out of was about forty five minutes from me in nearby East Brunswick. The interview was set up at the companies main office in Connecticut. So in the days prior to my appointment, my wife and I planned our day around the interview. As I entered the building I was impressed with the stone walls and lofty ceilings. As I sat there waiting to be called I eyed the modeling pictures on the wall. The lighting, the style, the models. All standard, but nothing all that inspiring. Then I began to notice the clientele coming in and out of the offices and studio. It immediately reminded me of all the scams you see where some company promises the world and all it’s riches to a naive family who’s convinced their child could be the next… insert child star name here _____________________. I decided to stay, listen, ask questions and make an informed decision after everything was done.

As I was ushered in by the attractive secretary and introduced to the my interviewer, the douche chills immediately began to build. Dressed in black from head to toe with slicked back, black hair with enough product in it to supply an entire city block. He spoke quickly in a thick Russian accent about the shooting process. Audrey III-4277    “It’s not how many shoots you do in a day.” “It’s about the looks” “You need to shoot five looks.” “See, look, look, look, look, look.” “Five looks.” Never once asking me questions like someone interviewing you for a position. Finally he says           “You brought portfolio?” I placed it on the counter and he quickly flipped through without much eye contact. “Good, good, good.”   “I like.” Before he asked me any questions he wanted me to shoot a client waiting in one of the studio rooms.  I’m already planning my escape plan. I’ve always prided myself on trusting my instincts and listening intently to what my gut tells me. At the time, my gut was telling me “Scam, bam, no thank you, man.”

Finally, I excused myself from his sales pitch long enough to ask a few questions of my own. Questions about the general age of the clients, the companies they work with and other general curiosities. Audrey III-4187He became even more elusive and led me towards the studio where the shooting would take place. Knowing full well that the pictures I would be taking were going to be used by the company without them ever paying me. “Thanks, but no thanks.” I replied and walked out. When I met up with my wife a few minutes later I told her what had transpired. Being the amazing woman she is. She told me not to worry. “Always listen to what your heart tells you.” Hopefully, the lessons I learned from this brief exchange will not soon be forgotten.        1.Trust your gut. 2. Never let anyone make you feel uncomfortable about the kind of work you do and love.                  3. Never do anything you don’t feel right about doing.               Until the next debacle.