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Whoa, time flies! I just looked at the last post I made, November 28th, seems like 2 days ago, but was a few weeks back. The lack of blog posting has been due to a huge volume of work I had after our return from Europe. Since mid-September I have been having a blast shooting, editing, acquiring new clients, and working on a super awesome promo that should be going out in the next few days.
As you can see by the date of this post, it is a Sunday, a handful of days away from Christmas, and I am in the studio writing the first blog post from here in what seems like years. I was in for a good portion of the day working on some light renovations. My studio has always been a revolving set. I have shot portraits, head shots, groups, families, still life, teen, youth, children, babies, and fashion. From 2009 till about 2014 I had been that studio that did a bit of everything, weddings, head shots, families, and commercial work. While running a business that was all over the place I was trying to focus on my portrait/fashion commercial work all the while producing bodies of work for exhibition. 2009-2012 was spent co-managing the studio with my former business partner. From late 2012 till now I have been on my own. There were some highly successful days, long days, fun days, productive days! As I have branched out on my own I realized what I love most is the commercial work. Fashion, portraits, interior and exterior, and travel photography are my focuses. I have reduced the interest in exhibiting my work for the time being as I begin to focus on taking a portion of what I have shot over the last several years and license it for stock usage.
Within the last month I licensed 22 images to a national chain restaurant, The 99. The photographs will be printed and put on display by the creative buyer. I am excited to see the work when it is finally hung. I have begun working with some stock agencies and have a portion of work that is going to be marketed stock usage. During the last few hours I spent resetting, cleaning, and doing light renovations in the studio I found a few bodies of work that were exhibited. It brought back the memories of the last few years. The collections represent ideas that I went out and produced, exhibited, and sold work from. As I look forward to the new year and the new promo that is about to go out, I am reinvigorated and ready to advance my career to the places it has been leading to.
Once the promos have shipped I am going to be doing a post about them. I have spent the last 4-6 weeks working on a print promo, researching some creative ideas and coming up with something that is going to make some creative directors, art directors, etc pretty happy. The cover of the promo has a photo from the following shoot that I did with Alyssa, a model that I really enjoy working with. Alyssa is a actor, dancer, and model. When I work with Alyssa I know what I am going to get and she has something unique that I am pleased to put into my portfolio.
For this shoot we did a bit of dance and fashion. We did 4 looks with minor stylized changes. I asked for this shoot as a location test. There was an opportunity to shoot in a space I have always wanted to shoot in and I requested Alyssa to join me in the space.
I am so anxious to post the promo, but again, not till they are out in the mail! I will also be posting some shots of the studio once everything is hanging, in place, and all the renovations are complete. One of my largest clients has requested the use of the studio moving forward for portrait work, so I am anxious to get some new backdrops in place as well as expand some of the ideas I have had for the last two years.
I hope your Sunday was as productive as mine was!
I often discuss upcoming posts that I intend to make. I tend to do this after I travel to some where cool and make some great images that I want to share. However, when I am back, I usually get slammed with work and it takes me twice as long to post. This has been the trend for the last year or more. It is not because I do not want to make regular posts, it is because I have experienced a new kind of busy. In fact, the last 5-6 months have been crazy super busy.
Just how busy? So utterly busy that I haven't been able to get a whole list of things done, mostly personal work. I have had some major life changes happen, such as getting married on May 23rd. That was kind of a big deal and took up a bit of time, but a very happy kind of work interruption. The kind that makes you happy. I traveled to Florida immediately after the wedding. A small honey moon, as we will be in Italy for almost two weeks in August/September. Fun times to come! You would be able to see in a post made a few months ago that, my now wife, was in the hospital for a few weeks. That was a major thing and took some time away from work. Life happens, right? Sure does! But through it all I have been able to make some incredible images, work on some incredible shoots, meet some new clients, and have had fun.
My drone now has a set of eyes in the sky and I am enjoying that, because that is a thing and within this crazy career of being a photographer, it is not just an occupation, obsession, love, it is my hobby. My drone is a toy as much as it is an economic device.
Over a year ago I photographed Devin. He is a child actor quickly building a resume that is sure to land him much success in the near future. Devin is a great kid to photograph and when we work together, he gets some great images and I get a great addition to my portfolio. The first shoot I did with Devin was for comp cards to get him noticed. He had already done a few awesome projects, including Sex Tape with Camron Diaz. That shoot was in studio. His mother requested we do something different, so we shot outdoors in a location that we both knew and thought would be a great backdrop.
I am very happy with the above photograph. It is a mixed variation of natural and artificial light that I used to create this image. I truly enjoy working on location and combining natural and artificial light.
As a portrait photographer, it is my job to make portraits that capture who a person is. The end result is to get incredible images of my subjects so they can use them as they need. In Devin's case, he needs get images to land him the work that he needs and wants to do.
My day to day work, at the moment is Architecture. I work with agents, brokers, and developers to photograph a multitude of properties. This is where my drone comes into the mix. I am using it to capture landscapes as well as properties, buildings, high end homes. For me architecture is a fun kind of busy.
A few years ago Kelly asked me to do a shoot. We knew each other from school and had connected outside of the classroom. She needed some good shots of her as she was asked to model for a company. I obliged and we had a great time in the studio. Since then I have photographed her a few more times. Recently we had a chance to catch up and do a small shoot.
Alyssa is a super talented model and dancer. I had the pleasure of connecting with her when a photographer I am friends with brought her to a shoot we had. I quickly realized that she was super talented with dancing, but had no idea until the second shoot her and I did. What makes Alyssa so unique is that she can jump into a number of "roles." She can be the face for a portrait shoot, the model for a fashion shoot, the talented dancer for a shoot the encompasses dance and fashion. The super pop art image, her on the ladder in color and black and white is one of my favorite dance images that I have made. It is super fun, edgy, colorful, yet the right amount of dramatic. I have more of those to come!
I am navigating my work and career into the direction I want to be in. It has taken a few years to get where I am, but I can say without a doubt, I am no where near where I want to be. I have a set of goals and ideas for the future and I am taking drastic steps towards them. But for now, while I am in between the hard work and play, I take steps back to just relax and enjoy myself. My job as a photographer is as rewarding as it is fun.
During October and November I worked closely with the owner/choreographer of Eclipse Dance Co to photograph her dancers for a show that opened at the end of November. This project was a bit different than previous dance shoots. Our objective was to shoot for prints that would be exhibited during the show. Each image would feature a specific pose and be suspended within the dance space. The show did not open on a stage, rather a unique event space that exists within a former mill. The title of the show was "Still Moving." It fused the still images within the actual dance. The pieces were site specific, relying on the structural elements of the space to build a stage. The goal was for the audience to navigate around the space while the dancers moved through the space. It was a different take on observing dance.
I really enjoyed the close relationship the dancers had with the audience. The audience became a part of the show with their interaction. At times the dancers swept their ways through observers. It was different, far more different than most dance performances that I have been too. It was refreshing to be a part of something so creative.
In terms of the portraits of the dancers, they were photographed at the dance studio. Over the course of 4 shoots we were able to capture the ideal images of the dancers, the ideal poses, that would fit within the show. Working from a mood board that the owner of the dance co put together, we were able to use her studio space during their rehearsals to capture the images.
In the 4 shoots that we had there was only one major technical issue that arose. How do we film the dancers from above? There was a request to film one of the pieces from above. The film was to be shown while dancers performed the piece. It was going to be a dramatic and incredible forced perspective on the piece. The first shoot we were unable to mount the camera in the right manner. Working with my 5d, I tried a few set ups of mounting the camera above the dancers. WIth no luck I had to abandon the entire process that I sculpted. There was one idea that I had that would incorporate a raised pole that went up and down for one of the dance classes. If I could lift the horizontal pole high enough, mount a camera looking down, all would be good. The next challenge, how do I mount onto a 6"+ pole? It took some serious out of the box thinking. In the end I used my Gopro Hero 3+ mounted with a U shaped bracket and a magnet. I had to do some serious research to figure out of a magnet would work. Why? Welp, simple. Magnets F*** things up. Magnets and electronics don't always work. Don't believe me, go grab your computer and a strong magnet and see what might happen. Once mounted, lifted, I ran the Gopro via my iPad and worked closely with the owner of the studio to ensure the dancers were in the right position. After several takes we nailed it, the dancers nailed it, the project came to a wrap.
The following photos were a part of the show.
The following gallery are a few highlights from the performance on opening night.
A few years ago I had a clever title for a blog that would be centered around war stories from photographers. I began asking around for stories. I asked a few photographers if they had any negative of inappropriate stories they could share. To my surprise I found 2 things. Either people weren't honest and really didn't have any to share or they weren't going to be truthful and tell stories that they deemed inappropriate. I disbanded the idea of the blog and let that go.
I am going to share my story from this past evening. I encountered a very rude, very inappropriate photographer, that caused a public scene and was acting very rudely during a performance I was hired to be at. I will not share the name of this photographer as I feel that it would be beneath me to do so. I will however describe the manner in which he conducted himself that warranted the staff to step in and say something to him.
At the beginning of the the show, during the reception, I observed an older gentle man setting up his cameras. He had two bodies mounted with a wider lens and one mounted with a 70-200mm f2.8. I assumed he was there for one of two reasons, to photograph a specific piece because he was related to someone or because one of the dance companies asked him to be present. At the start of the first piece I observed him sitting on the ground. While I had one camera set to capture a certain angle, wirelessly, I approached my friend whom was running the event. I asked who he was and what he was there for. I asked expecting to hear "media." Something along the lines of a dance publication, news paper, something. She responded with, "we don't know. He just showed up and said he photographs dance and sat down and began doing so." I found that to be odd as one had to pay a ticket price to get it. I was the primary that was there to capture the event for them. They had no idea who he was.
During the intermission he re-positioned himself at a different perspective in the venue. He was asked to kindly stop making photos, even more so when it was discovered he was there to do so for a "book" that he was working on. His goal was to not "sell the photos," rather solicit to the dance companies following the show that he was working on a "book" in the hopes they would agree to be a part of it.
Within a minute the older, not very pleasant looking gentle man made his way from the balcony and directed his focus on where I was standing, talking to a group of people. He approached in a very unpleasant manner and with a very unwelcoming tone said he would like to talk to me. I looked at him and said, "me?" His response, "yea, you," as if I was guilty for doing something. He motioned for me to step aside, essentially asking me to abruptly end my conversation with no notice and give him the attention he was demanding. I obliged out of kindness.
He introduced himself. I shook his hand. Following that he said, "I would like to give you a piece of professional advice." Now I was getting annoyed. Here I was face to face with someone who entered an event with the expectation that they could come and do as they please without asking permission and without knowing who I was, wanted to give me a piece of advice. If it is anything I have learned from watching television shows that rely heavily on drama it is this: If someone wants to "offer advice," they are about to insult you, correct you, or tell you they think they are better than you by explaining something to you that you other wise did not need to know or already knew. I was shocked that someone I didn't know felt the need to approach me, publicly, and express distain when they were in the wrong.
I responded with, "you want to give me advice?"
"Well yea, if you want."
"Sure, go ahead."
His tone changed drastically as he began to point his finger at me. "Next time you are at an event and you have a problem with another photographer you go to them with it and say something. You'd be surprised how easily things would go." I turned red with anger. Not only did he have the audacity to come to me and say this, but to assume that I had an issue. To assume is to make an 'ass" out of 'u' and 'me.' a s s u me...
I responded with, "before you piss me off, please walk away."
"That will only embarrass you," he said.
"You have approached me and accosted me in a public setting and I do not appreciate that. Please kindly walk away." Were the last words that I said to him. His behavior was ill timed, inappropriate, and confrontational. I do not like being put on the spot in such a tone, especially when I was rightfully there, doing my job.
He thought he was a bigger person by approaching me. What he was not aware of, what he did not know, was that the chair of the organization did not want to hear a single camera during the show. My inquiry as to who he was, was to merely ask if he was media, why he was sitting there, and to state my intent that if he was there shooting in that spot then I wanted to be situated in a more ideal location as well. I did not care to be next to him or near him, but to have a better location to capture the show more clearly. I was after all there to capture the performance for the organization.
Having realized that he was not going to get his way, win this round, he attempted to take his frustrations out of me. I was insulted. I was more insulted that he felt the need to act so unprofessionally and accuse me of being the one to have his right to make photos taken away. As one of the other staff members stated, "he didn't even ask if it was ok. He showed up and just started shooting." The moral of the story, the point that I want to convey is this: There is a place and time, a manner in which one can and should say something. There are professional manners that can be displayed. Picking and choosing the correct time exhibits your level of professionalism. Do not show up unannounced with the expectation that you have the right to do anything. Be courteous, respectful, polite, and you will see that things can be granted to you when you act in a more professional manner.
Last weekend I shot some dance in the studio. The moment Sarah arrived I stressed that I did not want to see anything technically perfect. There is a time and place for perfection, this shoot was not one of those moments. One of the most important things for a dancer is to be just that, perfect, well nearly perfect. The pose, the movement, the right position within the dance, etc. Perfection or nearly perfect can make or break a performance. With this shoot, I wanted to convey a sense of portraiture, a sense of fashion, throw in some personality and lights, and we have a shoot. I like shooting dance, like I do fashion. The more I shoot, the happier I am.
The following set of photos are an homage, kind of an inspiration to Edgar Degas. Degas is known for his paintings, be he also made photographs of dancers. His work is both beautiful and iconic. I have had the luxury of seeing some Dagas paintings in real life. Yup. I stood right there looking at his brush strokes. Breath taking, for sure....