Archive for July 2012
This week I had Devon in for another shoot. This is the sixth time I’ve worked with Devon over the past three years. I love working with her because she’s amazing at what she does. When someone is that good in front of my camera it makes me look great. For all our previous shoots Devon did her own hair and makeup. Most models have enough exerience that they know what’s needed to get a certain look on camera.
A few months ago I saw some dramatic before and after glamour photos from photographer Sue Bryce. Sue’s business is a bit different than mine in that she is a modern-day version of glamour shots. Remember the store in the mall that your mom or aunt went to? Sue’s take is modern and beautiful. Real women + great hair and makeup + an amazing photographer and her clients leave with amazing and timless glamour portraits. Hearing Sue speak and seeing her photos sparked enough interest in me that I wanted to do something similar. I wanted to see a transformation. My starting place is quite a bit different than Sue’s “average woman” client. I chose Devon because she is amazing in front of the camera. She epitomizes what I want from every model I work with; confidence, beauty, emotion and sex-appeal; and she’s got all that without the fancy hair and makeup.
I enlisted the help of Sura Radcliffe to help with hair and she recruited her friend and colleague Stacey Ellis to help with makeup. My reference point and inspiration was the glamorous portraits of both modern-day and past film starlets like Scarlett Johansson and Bridget Bardot. We wanted a vintage feel to start with; knowing that we could build on the hair and makeup and bring it to a modern day glamour look. The following images reflect the progression of the day.
During the 45 miinutes that Devon was getting her hair and makeup done I shot some behind the scenes video. The following shows the progression from start to finish.
First off I have to wish my beautiful wife Happy Anniversary for six glorious years. Second a big thanks goes out to our wedding photographer Selima Ani. It feels a bit special that Selima doesn’t shoot weddings anymore, it’s like our wedding photos are limited editions. To this day I can look back at our wedding photos and know that it was money well spent and that we hired a great photographer.
What prompted me to start this post was my daughter Grace. We have three albums that have all the 4×6 proofs from our wedding. She was flipping through the albums and got to a print and blurted out “this one is all blurry”. How do you explain to a four year old that the blur was on purpose and made with a gimmicky toy called a lens baby. Selima had a second photographer on our wedding day and he had a lens baby. Second photographers are in a great position, they are there to fill in the gaps and take advantage of not being in the stressful position of having to make the shot. They can take time and be creative and find interesting images that the main photographer might not have time to make. This shot of Robin’s aunt fixing the bow on our flower girl’s dress in a great moment. Too bad it’s blurry. Or is it artsy?
I chose Selima after looking at my friend’s wedding proofs. She shot Josh and Jenica’s wedding on film and as I flipped through hundreds of proofs I could see consistency and great classic photography. As a photographer we all fall into gimmicky traps every once in a while. I can look at some of my early wedding photos and see cross processed and selective color. Gag. I feel embarrassed. Maybe we eventually stop with the gimmicks once our skill level reaches a certain point or when we develop a style of our own. Remember wearing Z Cavaricci pants, acid wash jeans, parachute pants, rockin the collar up on your polo shirt? You know what all of those items do? They date the photos. I don’t want that stamp on my images and I’m glad Selima was strong enough to make classic photos that still stand six years later.
I love magazines. I love flipping through and looking at the images that inspire me; images that motivate me and push me to create. Unlike most people that subscribe to magazines for the content I subscribe to look at the photos. The editorial content is icing on the cake. I subscribe to magazines because of the photographers they hire. Want to know why I subscribed to Fast Company? It’s because of Jake Chessum. I was browsing a copy in a doctor’s office and loved his portraiture. It was fun, it was real, it was honest and personable. It turned out that I really liked the editorial content of Fast company. It’s smart and current and educational and despite the fact that I don’t see Jake’s name in the magazine any more I still subscribe. Why subscribe to Vanity Fair? Annie Leibovitz. Why would I, a straight married guy, subscribe to Elle and Vogue? Testino, Thompson, Richardson, Lagerfeld, et all….
In our house we subscribe to a lot of magazines. ( PDN, Rangefinder, Fast Company, Inc, Esquire, GQ, Interview, American Photo, Real Simple, Parenting, Us Weekly). If my wife had her way I’d be limited on how many we get. Why? It’s not because of the expense…magazine subscriptions are generally pretty inexpensive. But I have stacks of magazines scattered throughout the house and in my car. I even have magazines dating back a few years that I plan to look through. For me it’s more than the act of flipping through. I rip out pages and keep them for reference. Think of it as old-school Pinterest. Having tear sheets around during photo shoots helps to communicate a vibe, emotion, hair or makeup style that I might not otherwise be able to put into words.
So what’s the asnswer? NextIssue. A new app for my iPad that gives me access to magazines for a flat monthly fee. At first glance it seemed novel and cool. For a monthly fee ala netflix I can get access to ~40 magazines. A 30 day trial and and upcoming vacation motivated me to give it a shot.This is based on my 12 hour review of the app and so far I’m stoked.
Before NextIssue, my experience with iPad versions of magazines hasn’t been spectacular. The idea of paying an additional subscription fee doesn’t interest me and some of my experiences with iPad versions of magazines has been disappointing. Lately I’ve found a few magazines are coming around and giving me access to the iPad version if I’m already a print subscriber. Amazon is even packaging print + Kindle subscriptions. With NextIssue I now have access to a ton of magazines in a convenient, clutter-free, eco-friendly and beautiful package. I might actually be able to stop ripping pages out of magazines soon.
The opposite scenario from the last post about having the opportunity to scout locations is editorial portrait photography. For the most part it’s either budget or time constraints that don’t allow for location scouting. That’s why I test. Over the past few months I have been throwing myself in situations where I go to someone’s apartment or a location of their choosing and try to make situation work. Its my job as a photographer to be experienced and prepared enough to walk into any location and make great photos. On location photography always has it’s challenges. Lighting is probably the biggest challenge, although with enough gear it’s easy to overcome. The next biggest challenge is backgrounds.
In March I wrote about my shoot with Devon. Her apartment was roomy and had great elements and decent natural light. A few weeks ago I went into Hollywood to shoot Kasia. She had mentioned that she had a pink apartment so I figured it would be a great place to shoot portraits and capture a bit of her personality. Before I packed up I asked her about natural light in her apartment and she mentioned it didn’t have much. I brought small speedlights as well as my Elinchrom Ranger. I showed up to find out she lived down the street from a hugely popular hiking trail in Hollywood. That meant parking sucked. I drove around the couple blocks near her place a handful of times and finally settled on a space a block away. Because of the distance and the weight of the Elinchrom (a 35 pound pelican case) I opted to leave the ranger in the car. I took my rolling camera bag (about 40 pounds and a light stand bag. When I got to her apartment I realized I’d need to make a second trip because I’d need the power of the big strobes.
For the first look I used the strobes to fill the room with light. The shots looked a little too safe so I moved her to the frame of her patio door and used natual light. The shots were a bit more dramatic and interesting.
Space in Kasia’s apartment was limited and the pink wall was so defining it was time to move on. We walked around her building and found a couple of interesting spots. These shots were taken in the hallway of her apartment and the elevator. I wanted to add a bit of variety.