Beauty and the Dish

Iya-7695Iya II-7734We were about a half an hour into shooting and I wasn’t really happy with the results I was getting from my strip box. We took a short break as I fished for one of my umbrellas to replace it with.  After a somewhat thorough search, I couldn’t for the life of me, remember where I had stashed it. I looked up and there was the beauty dish that had been sitting on my Ikea Expedit unused for months. Hastily,  I grabbed it and with the help of Iya, changed the light.

As I took the first few images with the Beauty Dish I immediately noticed the warm glow and how her smooth, young skin shined.     I fluctuated from using the Dish as the the main and only light to using the soft box as a fill light and adjusting the amount of light coming from soft box. The results were instant.  It was only the second time I’ve used the Beauty Dish since purchasing it back in December. I felt really comfortable using it at different distances and degrees of power. Having a patient model allowed me the time to adjust and play a bit. I was so inspired by some of the images captured that I did something I haven’t done in almost ayear. I got prints made. In talking to a seasoned pro at Duggal.  He gave me some useful tips to get even better results in the future. I can’t wait for the opportunity to put them into play. Until then…

!No Pasaran! @ Maxwells

I’ve been pretty busy this week and haven’t been in the best mood. Bone chilling cold weather tends to do that to my fragile psyche. However I did want to see !No Pasaran! who were playing Maxwells tonight. One of my absolute favorite current bands that have been kinda floating under the radar and keeping a low profile. A Jersey Politico Punk three piece  that have a sound reminiscent of Fugazi and Quicksand with a little element of jazz and a lot of distortion thrown in. Maybe I’m a little off with the Jazz but what the hell. No one’s paying me for this shit.  Some of my favorites shots have a little bit of blur and were taken without flash. Anyway, the interview I did with them is 2009 can be found here. Check it out.

Get Fit!!!

2010 has been a year when I left my comfort zone and tried a lot of new things. Fitness is something that interests me on a number of levels. By combinig my love for lighting with tone, the peaks and valleys that muscle create. There’s so much you can really do artisticaly. Jess and I had been planning to get together for weeks with no concrete plan or script for what we were doing. I wanted to do something but I wasn’t quite sure of my approach and tecnique. As the day approached Jess and I stayed in contact through email and the thing that inspired the most was her energy and  excitement about getting together. Jess is pretty small in size. Standing only five feet, one inch high.  But she more than makes up for it in personality and overall presence. Jessicas specialties include Fight Coreography, Stage Combat, Stunt Work and Par Kour. She’s also an Actress, Make Up Artist and Writer. I had a great time working with her. I only hope ashe had as much fun as I did.

Jessica and Judy

Every now and then a model or client asks if it’s okay to bring a friend or chaperone along for safety purposes. It’s something I wasn’t always comfortable with but understand and allow with one condition “They know their place and stay out of the way.” Their safety and sense of security is paramount. Most of the people I work with are complete strangers and with all the craziness that goes on in this world, who wouldn’t want a security blanket? On this occasion Jess told me she would be bringing her Mother Judy along. Her description was quote “She’s sarcastic, cynical and jaded, but tons of fun.” My reply “Awesome, I think I like her already. Though she did possess all of those characteristics. She turned out to be a complete sweetheart. Often reminding me of a cross between my own Mother and my Aunt Ruth. She sat and chatted while eating her sandwich but not once did she interfere or get in the way. As Jess and I finished I coaxed Judy out from behind the camera and got this shot. It was a pleasure meeting and working with them both.

Santa Night Year II

Wow, after months of consistent posting I’ve totally let December get away from me. Blame it on the crazy season. A time when advertisers try to convince us that diamonds and cars wrapped in big red ribbons are what our loved ones expect to see under the tree every Christmas. It’s been a busy month for me shooting and making plans to see family. About a week ago I volunteered my camera and dignity  to the now annual Santa Night. Caroling, raising money and a little hell for the New Jersey chapter of the Cervical Cancer Coalition. My good friend Mandy Weiss, along with others, do an amazing job. Here are some pictures I took along the way. Check out the page to see what you can do in your area and do what you can to get involved. .

Stoppin' for Fresh Cuts in Montclair.
Stoppin' for Fresh Cuts in Montclair.

Aren't they cute?
They be Elfin'.
That's Mandy in the middle.
My Favorites
Pity the Bus Driver.
"Did somebody call the Fire Department?"
"Did somebody call the Fire Department?"
Elves in training.
No one said volunteering was without it's risks and injuries.

Hope everyone has a great Holiday and remembers there’s always time to help others in need.

The Switch

My shoot with Tara had all the makings of disaster and even confrontation. Scheduled for 4:00 p.m., the shoot and her make up artist didn’t arrive until 5:00. But that was just the beginning . Every other model I’ve ever worked with has done their own hair and makeup so I really have no experience dealing with a MUA. Having no experience with one, I gathered it would take five, maybe ten minutes tops. (Not even close.) Time passed and five minutes turned into a half an hour and then into a full hour. I tried to keep my cool but I was steaming. That and the fact that there was makeup everywhere. I was done. Ready to throw them the hell out.

6:00 p.m. came and they were finally done. I was going to do a very quick shoot and get them out of my place. As i started shooting I noticed the makeup artist shadowing me with her pocket camera. It was as close as it could possibly come to me completely losing it. “You can’t do that!” I barked. This is my work. She barked back “This is my work too.” The stage was set for a complete blow up. However, calmer heads prevailed and I explained “This may be your work. But this is my studio and my rules.” “I’m sure I’m a better photographer. If you want pictures, I’ll be taking them.” I don’t know what happened. Everything switched. Within second Tiffany (The MUA) and I were gelling. We were BFF and working together. She contributed by making suggestions on wardrobe from time to time. We were communicating. Tara was a pro throughout. She was quiet and very sweet. Things ended so much better than they started and everyone went home happy.

Later that night I told my wife Kayuri and smiled. Knowing full well my history with my temper and sometimes confrontational nature. (Going as far back as working at Sears Portrait. I had told customers who pushed me to the edge off on occasion.) She said “I’m very proud of you.” I’ve grown a lot in recent years. It’s important to grow as a photographer. I’ve seen a tremendous amount in the last two years. But growing as a man. Learning to be a problem solver and be a better communicator feels really good. Seeing that growth makes me proud. Maybe I’m finally growing up.

Girl From Ukraine

Many is the time that the best pictures came at the very end of the session. You’ve executed your game plan and you’ve got everything thing you need. Suddenly one of you says “Hey, what do you think of…? or “Can we try?” Such was the case with Rocksolana.                  Our shoot was brief but gave us a number of different looks and moods. Hers was my last session of the day. I was exhausted but she brought enough energy for both of us. Roks was really hyper during the shoot. Rarely did she sit still long enough for me to compose.                       At one point I jokingly asked if she was on something. It was all emotion and energy. She kept asking about props and items I didn’t have like the kind of cigarette filters you see in those film noir pictures from back in the day. She loved my hats but seemed flustered when they didn’t fit. None of this was the least bit annoying. She was entertaining to say the least. We were blasting everything from AC/DC to Blondie to the Rolling Stones and getting along like old friends.     I had my share of  technical problems along the way too. My shutter wasn’t cooperating and the battery on my receiver went dead on me.    Regardless, we got some great stuff in a short time. As she was packing up I noticed her pair of doc martens in the corner. “Lana, wait a minute. Don’t change that dress.” I gave her my idea and though she questioned the contrast she put them on. As she was lacing her docs up I stopped her.    “Wait, leave them untied.” Within a matter of minutes we got these shots. I don’t have a habit of posting a lot of shots from one session but these just work in telling the story.     Roksolana is gorgeous. Her dark flowing hair and long legs. A smile that conveys a sense of innocence and wonder. Her eyes are big and wide open to the new experience of living in New York.

5 Pointz w/ Slone.

We headed out to Queens this afternoon to do some exploring in Long Island City and Astoria. Our first stop was 5 Pointz  where we checked in to see what new pieces had gone up and which ones had survived since our last visit. The more often I go the more I find myself  talking  to both the visitors and artists. Talking about art, paint and the spots I might have missed or perhaps would like to share. Today I met up with Slone (That’s him posing in front of his latest piece) and talked a bit. We exchanged info and if things go as planned I’ll be tagging along one day to shoot a piece in the making.

The Beauty of Tanu.

I don’t get to work on many morning sessions these days due to conflicting schedules and the fact that most of the models I’ve met are not exactly morning people. This was not the case with Tanu . When we first exchanged schedules for the week, she suggested 9:00 AM. “Whoa, I said. Perhaps a bit too early for me to be at my best. We settled on 10:00 Am agreeing it would still give us plenty of time to get things done. When I met her at the PATH my first impression was her pictures didn’t even come close to conveying her beauty or personality. Tanu was awesome and our session conveyed it. Her expressive eyes and lips had me  pausing to catch my breath. An absolute professional and a pleasure to work with. We stopped here and there but for the most part, we never really got off course. Tanu was born and raised in New Delhi India and lived in Brooklyn, NY before moving to Long Island City.

I hope to be doing a lot more morning sessions in the future. We’ll certainly see. I can’t think of many better ways to start the day.