This article is the first of 3 about my recent trip to Los Angeles. 3/13/19
I worked hard to layout a schedule in the weeks and days leading up to my arrival in L.A. I coordinated with models and my friend Rome, an R&B artist that I have photographed before. I have had images of Rome on my website since the first time we met and I photographed him. Its been a few years. While planning my trip I let him know I was going to be in town and we should shoot. He was eager. He was anxious. He was excited. He was looking for some updated work of himself and left all the ideas and creativity up to me. I built a mood board around him, his styles, and of course reflective of his talents and industry. I set the foundation for a great shoot and the last thing I needed were locations. I contemplated a studio. I looked at the options for renting and decided against it and to stick the the theme in the mood board, which was an urban, city vibe. Not that banal grungy urban cliche we’ve seen shot to death, pun intended. Not having a vast data base of locations previously scouted, I had to take some time to scout once I arrived. That was priority number one after checking into my Airbnb, get out, see, create, and document locations I was going to use.
For whatever reason I checked the weather 48 hours before I was flying out. It must be a force of habit when traveling to check the weather. Well, once I slid the screen open and pulled up, Dark Sky, I was met with gloom. Nearly an entire week of rain in the forecast. I dropped the phone into the cup holder with an echo that mimicked my now re-adjusted mood. What the F*** was I going to do. I had planned two big shoots outdoors and was hoping to film my entire week with outdoor shoots. I took a few hours to think of what I was going to do. I needed a back up plan for both outdoor shoots. One of the shoots, TBD, To Be Discussed, in the next post, will spot light a schedule change and the location. Well, if ever there was a wrench thrown at anyones plans, it was at mine and it was right then and there I knew I was going to have to flex some creative muscles and figure something out.
As I mentioned above, I thought for a hot second to rent a studio for Rome. That thought crossed my mind because some of the images I pulled were location/studio based. I ultimately decided against that because I wanted something location based. I wanted to shoot in LA, embrace LA, and get an LA vibe in our images. So the studio wasn’t something I was really pushing for. Rome had a date on his books and that wasn’t going to change. I wasn’t going to request a schedule change and disrupt his busy life so we could get something better. The problem was rain. The solution, make it work. If I was shooting a big production with a massive team and big dollars at stake, we wouldn’t be rescheduling unless hell itself was hailing stones down on us. Even then, I would still roll with it. With rain in the forecast and knowing it wasn’t likely to change, I set out to scout some locations that would be ideal. I decided to check out the arts district. Until then, I never visited that area. I have seen some youtubers shooting in that area so I figured I would check it out.
I found a gem. A spot that made me go, “WHOA this is going to work.” I wanted to stay very clear from any wall that was saturated with artwork and graffiti. Again, avoiding the banality of the urban landscape. But but but but, this wall spoke to me. Flashy. Vibrant. Ultra. Portra. The right amount of saturation that would yield something spectacular. I was like, this, this will work. I took a photo of the wall, pulled up GPS on my phone and got my location and made a screen shot. I would end up spending two hours doing this. I was happy with my choices and knew that I would have some great images to work with. I had enough locations and ideas that I could create enough images for Rome that he would be able to use them on a multitude of platforms. The next hurdle was styling the shoots. The stylist I was hoping to work with couldn’t get her schedule to sync up with ours. No worries. I got this. I did. I did just that. I sourced the looks myself and built a wardrobe based on his style and the mood board I curated. To be confident I had enough looks I made a stop at one more place and found a crew sweatshirt. When I saw it was like Indiana Jones seeing the holy grail. Gold light was shinning from the rack right to my eyes. The entire room went dark as the gold radiated out, calling me, begging me to photograph it. This shirt not only was going to make the shoot, it literally was artfully made just for my above mentioned location. I don’t know how or why, perhaps it was just the timing of things, but something aligned and I knew I was on to something. As amped as I was about this shirt and the location, Rome shared that same feeling when we arrived at the spot. Gold.
With the locations, some great looks pulled, all I needed was a clear day. That was asking for to much. Even though my cameras are weather resistant, I really didn’t want to shoot in the rain. The only ones that can’t work in the rain, my Sonys. I wasn’t concerned about the rain like that. I was concerned about shooting in the rain and getting soaked. I did bring a single waterproof jacket with me, but when the talent is getting soaked, thats a problem. Lets roll with it. Lets see what we get and what we can produce. Yolo, right? That is exactly what we did. We went with it.