My Instagram Account

07-17-2016 Manya K5168IManya K..jpgFor years now I’ve been  aware of Instagram, but had no idea as to what it offered or what I’d find. In all honesty, I thought it was an app. where people uploaded their selfies and pictures of meals from their mobile devices. Thankfully, through  conversations with my brother and a close friend who’s been mentoring me. Not only was I open to investigation. I was flat out prepared to dive in to the deep end of the pool. Since opening an account, I’ve been posting regularly and building a small, but steady following. More importantly, I’ve found inspiration and ideas by following my favorite photographers, magazines and modeling agencies. And just as I’ve built a following with Photogeek over the years. I hope to grow and share with Instagram. Below is a link to my account. I’ll be posting work from my sessions regularly.

Follow me on Instagram

 

Catching Up with a Dear Friend

When my long time friend and favorite expatriate messaged me that she would be returning to New Jersey for a short, yet important visit. I knew the odds of me seeing her this time around, let alone catching up on her three years in Germany were about as good as the Cleveland Indians winning the World Series. Still, any chance to see such an old and dear friend was worth taking. Imagine my surprise when she was both available and looking forward to indulging me in one of my truest passions, studio photography. The hours we spent together were more of a gab session with me sneaking in a shot or two whenever I could.

Mandy (1 of 1)

Having met Mandy in the parking lot of a strip mall adjacent to my high school when I was sixteen. The likelihood of us ever becoming friends seemed improbable to say the very least. Yet, despite being polar opposites we became trusted, close friends before long. Supporting one another through sickness and health.Through the good times and bad. She’s been a huge supporter and influence on me as a photographer and as a volunteer to worthy causes. She’s one of the few people in my life who crosses the lines between friends and family. One’s that, no matter the distance or time. Remain, unspoken, an integral part of my life. And as my Mother put it “Damn, that woman does not age.” Looking at this picture. I think it highlights both her beauty and unwaning strength. I’m incredibly grateful for having the chance to catch up with her. One of Jersey’s best, no matter where she goes.

 

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.
Fave (1 of 1)Annual (1 of 1)Age (1 of 1)

A Slight Change of Plans.

The lights and backgrounds were all set up the night prior to the shoot. The pre shoot nervous knots were kicking and screaming and the beautiful woman scheduled for that afternoon arrived on time. Ruth2The dye was set. Or so I thought. As the session began, the communication I shared with my model began to taper off. She seemed antsy and uncomfortable under the lights and during the moments I tried to keep a comfortable distance from my subject. She seemed to object, asking that I sit closer. Before long I realized it was the studio setting that made her feel overly self conscious and uncomfortable. Before I could suggest it myself. She asked if we could shoot in natural light. I wholeheartedly agreed and from there on we were cookies and milk.

NaturalAfter a short break we restarted. Finding a balance between window light and that of my external flash. And while I have come to detest using external flashes indoors. I found a nice way to bounce it properly to avoid those ugly shadows created when using it directly.                I’m extremely happy with my new surroundings.     The loft offers a nice balance and barrier between my work and living space. In the future, I’m going to have to work on defining and ultimately, separating the two. Until then, I have plenty of room to improvise.

Ruth3

Ongoing Project

Back in 2013 I started a project very close to my heart. Bringing some of my favorite local musicians and artists into the studio for a short bull session and some time under the lights. The concept is a simple one. Photos built around conversation about common interests while chilling out to some good music. Add or subtract a tasty beverage, a favorite musical instrument or article of clothing. Leave the posing guide and glass smiles for the posers and just snap when the moment calls.

On this particular day I had my buddy Frank from the New Brunswick’s Holy City Zoo stop in after work. I met Frank and the band around the same time I started my music blog               United By Rocket Science in the Spring of 2011. Since then we’ve formed somewhat of a mutual admiration society.  His band has been featured on the blog numerous times. He’s also served us well as a contributor from time to time. Needless to say, I count him as a friend. 

Like many of the musicians I’ve met through doing the blog. Frank represents somewhat of a paradox. A complete animal on stage. Frank is intelligent, laid back and soft spoken in person.             As we began our session, Frank sheepishly asked “What do I do?” “Nothing” I replied. It was just a chance for me to get to know him a little better than I already do. Most of the people and friends I ask to shoot are ones I rarely get to really talk to in an intimate setting. I see them at bars, shows and on the stage.                 These sessions allow me to speak the best was I know how. Getting to know the people who make the music I love is a pretty special opportunity. Thanks Frank.

Frank VFrank II Frank III Frank

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.

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…