Archive for September 2009

What I’m thinking about & getting my own head shots

For all of my photo shoots there is a pre-production meeting or consultation. We’ll talk about the goals and mood of the shoot; what the images will be used for; who’s the intended audience; styling; location; lighting; props….the list goes on. I have found that it helps the shoot and the end result by discussing all these items before we even pick up a camera.

Once I bring the camera up to my eye there are hundreds of questions that go through my head. First and foremost it’s technical information like the shutter speed, aperture, ISO setting, white balance, focus, framing and lighting. After that I have so much more to consider. How do you look? Are you relaxed? Having fun? Do you have a natural smile or expression? How’s your hair? Your makeup? Your wardrobe? Does the shape of your face look better from a different angle? What’s going on with the background? How did the sun going behind the clouds affect my exposure? Is the flash firing? The list of questions and concerns goes on.

On Monday all of my experience and knowledge went out the window. I couldn’t recall most of it; I was a like a dear in the headlights but in this case the headlight was a camera pointing at me. I finally booked a session with a photographer to get my own picture taken. Over the past couple years several friends and clients asked why I didn’t have a photo up on my site? Even social networking sites like facebook and linkedin were lacking in the photos-of-chuck department. So I finally booked a session with a great local lifestyle photographer named Christian Romero. He was able to work within my budget and his work was loose and relaxed.

I’m not trying to come across as an actor or a model – just a photographer that sometimes has to endure the same pain you feel when you step in front of the camera. The last photo I really liked of just me was shot by our incredible wedding photographer Selima Ani.  The day after my wedding I shaved my head so the photo isn’t exactly accurate anymore.  Do you know of anyone using a less than accurate photo to promote themselves or their business? Ever been the victim of head shot fraud? Been on an internet date where the person just didn’t live up to their photos? I can help.

Chuck Espinoza - Shot by Christian Romero

Chuck Espinoza - Shot by Christian Romero

The experience with Christian on Monday reinforced why personality and rapport has so much to do with getting great shots of people. Remember the glamour shots scene in Napoleon Dynamite where Deb is taking Uncle Rico’s picture in the mall?

Click to see the vid of Deb and Uncle Rico – Napoleon Dynamite

I know that a lot of my clients don’t enjoy being in front of the camera so my goal is to make your experience as painless as possible.

If you are in need of a new photo for your website, business card or facebook page I’m hosting an event on October 1st to provide clients with a quick, painless and affordable way to get updated photos. Call me to discusss the details or click to see examples and read more about it.

Chuck 310.922.5094

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Beauty Retouching

As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, my post production work adds a lot of value to my photography. There will always be photographs that shouldn’t be retouched. But in commercial photography my goal is to capture and present the best image possible. In regards to portraits that could mean reducing wrinkles, shedding a few pounds or just removing a blemish.

In the case of Devon, we have a beautiful twenty-something year old. Great skin, amazing eyes and a great figure. Yet with a little help I can make sure that the image she presents to agencies and casting directors is perfect. It’s the industry standard and to be expected.

Before and After Beauty Retouching in Photoshop

Before and After Beauty Retouching in Photoshop

In some cases my clients want more extensive retouching done. Many people use their photo their website, social networking sites and other marketing materials. The goal of a professional business head shot is to have an image that conveys trust, strength, success and friendliness. The following shot of Barbara demonstrates that there are ways to improve upon an image without taking it too far.

Before and After Beauty Retouching

Before and After Beauty Retouching

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Photoshop and Architectural Photography

Photoshop and architectural photography go hand in hand.

Here’s an example of a recent shot of living room. Because of the level of the camera and the height of the ceilings I needed to tilt the camera up, resulting in a  keystone effect that give the appearance that the walls are leaning in.  Although many people don’t register this immediately, subconsciously our brain knows that walls are supposed to be vetical and that something is off. This perspective distortion can be corrected in a couple ways. The first is to use a tilt-shift lens like Canon’s new 17mm ts-e ($2300).  A tilt shift-lens allows you to correct the perspective by moving the axis of the lens. This lens is not only expensive but has very limited uses. The alternative is to correct the perspective using Photoshop or a similar editing program.

Unedited image Canon 5D and Canon 16-35mm 2.8 lens

Unedited image Canon 5D and Canon 16-35mm 2.8 lens. Walls are supposed to be vertical.

Here’s the result after some work in Photoshop. Not only have we corrected the keystone effect but we have brought back details in the windows cropped out the window and walls that were in the foreground of the original image.  The wall and window didn’t add to the image and were a bit distracting. By removing them we have brought the viewer into the warmth and luxury of this great living room and it’s spectacular views.

Image corrected and edited in Photoshop

Image corrected and edited in Photoshop

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Photography and Computer Technology

A few weeks ago I was in computer hell. I’ve known that my computer was on it’s final legs for a couple months but there was always a reason to put off the upgrade process. Eventually it caught up with me and one of my hard drives to crashed. This happened during a week I had three jobs scheduled and I needed a stable computer to edit the images on. Over the past eight years I have built my own computers. It’s not as hard as it seems and it allows me to customize the system to suit my needs and future growth. It can be a pain in the ass but so is transferring all your work and files from your old computer to a new one.

Because of the time sensitivity of the three jobs I had that week, Robin convinced me to buy an off the shelf computer. I bought the fastest HP they had, brought it home and it crashed during the “Welcome to your new HP” process. Eventually I got it up to speed but continued to have problems with it. A few days later I was back at the store to return the HP and buy parts to build my own computer. Weeks later I now have all my files in the right place, almost everything is backed up and the computer is working great. How does this relate to photography? I can’t do my job without my computer.

For family photos I use kodak’s online service to make prints. The colors is great, the prints are cheap and they make it pretty easy to order prints. A friend complained to me that he hated kodak because the colors were always off. He’s wrong; the colors are off because he thought his camera was smart enough to make all the right decisions. All my photos are edited in Photoshop, even the point and shoot family snap shots. Why? Because sometimes it’s about capturing the moment and not worrying about my camera settings. But the main reason is that the computer is my digital darkroom and the photos I want on my walls and in the albums as well as the images I deliver to my clients are the result of my camera and lighting skills and also my work in Photoshop.  What I do with my camera is only half of my job as a professional photographer.

Prior to starting this post I was working on some images I shot at a family get together a few weeks ago. The first image is posted as it was shot without any post production work. The white balance is off, the bright sky is distracting, the colors are flat and the photo isn’t sharp. If I upload this to a photo lab the print will look equally bad.

Image as it came out of the camera - Canon 5D and 24-70mm 2.8 Lens

Image as it came out of the camera - Canon 5D and 24-70mm 2.8 Lens

I cropped the image to get rid of the blown out sky, corrected the white balance to compensate for the color of the setting sun and the all the green grass in the frame, bumped up the contrast and color saturation, burned (darkened) the foliage, added a slight vignette to bring your eye to the center, straightened the horizon and sharpened the image.

Image edited in Photoshop

Image edited in Photoshop

This is the level of work I put into all my images. Some photographer’s feel that it’s a waste of time since their clients aren’t going to buy every picture. To me it’s about providing a level of service and professionalism that my clients don’t get when they ask their nephew to shoot their family portraits. Over the next couple weeks I’ll write more on how Photoshop helps me produce the quality of work my clients expect.

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Manhattan Beach Family Portraits and Holiday Cards 9/26, 9/27 & 10/11

A few months ago I was introduced to Phyllis Calza who owns broadcastingbaby.com, an online stationary store based in Manhattan beach.  We talked about several ideas to offer our customers a great value in holiday cards and professional photography and after I shot her family portraits she was convinced that we would compliment each other well and that we should work together.

Together we have put together packages that will enable our clients to get a great family photo and send out unique holiday cards to their friends and family. Packages start as low as $210 and includes the cards and the photo shoot.  Packages vary based on the number and type of cards ordered.

We will be hosting the family portrait event at Polliwog Park in Manhattan Beach on September 26th and 27th and at the Beach on Saturday October 10th. The following page will provide some details on the shoots and examples of the cards offered http://chuckespinoza.com/holidaycards/

Please call me at 310.922.5094 to schedule your appointment.

El Segundo - Boyce Family

El Segundo - Boyce Family

Tracey and Carley - Polliwog Park

Tracey and Carley - Polliwog Park

Manhattan Beach Pier

Manhattan Beach Pier

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