Whenever I see any mural, graffiti or for that matter, any form of art that inspires thought. My initial reaction is to reach for my camera in order to capture the moment for future inspection. While one’s first instinct would be to back up far enough to capture my subject in its entirety. I often like to take a minute to absorb the subject in order to fully understand what it is that really grabbed my attention in the first place. In the picture posted here, I zoomed in on the lips and nose, as they reminded me of someone I love and respect. While clearly understanding that I was documenting someone else’s art. I felt that my interpretation of it made it okay to do so.
Less than midway through our first session. Angel leaned in and asked “Do you like working with me?” “Of course I do” I quickly replied. Truth be told. Working with her had been the most stress free session I had worked on in recent memory. Secretly, I was glowing inside. Knowing we had laid the foundation for future collaborations. So when the need to work on something new presented itself just months later. I knew I had an ace in my deck with Angel. It’s quite rare when I am so eager to work with someone again so quickly. However, the chemistry and the results of our first session created the desire to work on new ideas and themes together. We’ve already set up a third and final shoot that I’m hoping will give us something useful for both of our portfolios.
It’s not often when I ask a friend to model for me. Let alone, strip down to her bare essentials to help me tests ideas, such as boudoir set ups I’d like to do in the future. So when it came to asking one particular girl to help me out. At the very least, I was fully expecting a flat out rejection. When she surprisingly agreed. I did everything I could to make her and myself feel as comfortable and pressure free as possible. My goal for this particular session was to project a sense of warmth and intimacy. A mix of subtle lighting, varied backgrounds and a great rapport with my model friend. I think we did a great job. And while my setup will need some adjusting. I’m grateful for getting the opportunity to work with someone I enjoy spending time with.
Below are a couple of favorites from my final studio session of 2016. My two hour shoot with Angel was without a doubt, my favorite of the year. While Angel may be somewhat new to modeling, her beauty, grace and ability to change gears effortlessly should go a long way to insure her success. A second shoot is already in the works. One that we are both eager to bring to fruition. Stay tuned.
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.
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.
As I find myself working harder and harder to point my way back towards becoming a full time, or at least more consistent studio photographer. I feel my doubts and insecurities reaching a boiling point. The combination of learning new things while unlearning others that once worked just fine for me and many of the people I worked with. With shoots being booked and sessions coming in. I find myself overloaded with information and ideas. I have to admit, it’s a little overwhelming.
As I was setting up for a upcoming shoot and getting familiar with some new software, gear and switching up backgrounds. I had to stop, take a deep breath and step a bit back to find comfort in some older sessions to remind myself “You got this. You can do this.” I can always go back to the things I already know and relied on, but that wouldn’t get me anywhere but where I already am. In order to grow you have to learn, take chances and try new things. In order for me to continue doing what I love. I have to get past my anxiety fear of failure. To quote a wise green guy. “There is no try, only do.”
During the week or so before our session. Melissa and I spent hours exchanging ideas about our upcoming session and what we were both looking to achieve during the short window of time we’d be collaborating. During that time, she shared a number of images taken by other photographers. None of which, in my very humble opinion did her any justice. Basic things such as lighting and keeping her beautiful eyes under dark shadows. So during the final days before our session, I assured her that while I was just getting back in to studio work. She would leave that day with photos that would put her in a better light.
From the moment we met. I couldn’t help but think”This isn’t the woman I’ve been talking to for the last week or so.” Her presence and personality were glowing. Her beautiful eyes and smile, yet to be highlighted by the cameras lens. There was a look and a spirit I wanted to portray. My goal for the shoot was suddenly revealed. Due to my usual nervous, anxious nature. I tend to talk a lot. In this particular case. I was so intrigued by her story. I just shut my mouth and listened. I was surprised by how many common interests we shared. The chemistry we shared during the shoot eased all of the usual nervous knots and anxiousness I get when beginning a session.Having been raised by a Mother who always appreciated and shared various art forms with me. I grew to love and appreciate women with curves. Maybe it was the Latin influence in our home. I don’t know. I’ve always been one to go with the “Good things come in all shapes and sizes.” Beauty isn’t a one size fits all affair.
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.
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.