Posts Tagged ‘art’

Shooting Personal Work Results in Booking Jobs You’ll Love

The reality is that being a freelance photographer isn’t always filled with glamorous or interesting jobs. The fact is that most of my time as a photographer isn’t even spent with a camera in my hand. A few months ago Chase Jarvis posted about the realities of what it means to be a professional photographer (Via SwissMiss). If I break up the 12% piece of the pie into fun and/or interesting jobs I’m probably down to 6-8%. That’s why I shoot for myself. Self created assignments with fellow creatives allows me to experiment, control the outcome to suit me and the people I am working with and to just have fun taking photos. Me booking this job was a result of one of those, for-fun, unpaid, self assigned jobs. It’s actually the second “job” that’s resulted from that shoot. We licensed one of the images from the bodypaint shoot to Chef Rubber for use in a full-page ad in So Good Magazine.

Original credit Swiss Miss


It started with an email through my website. A plastic surgeon in Australia contacted me asking if I’d be interested in shooting some artwork that would be displayed throughout his office.  I’m not sure exactly how he stumbled on my work, but he noted reading my blog as well as watching the behind the scenes video I made of Seth’s body paint shoot. His goal was to use the photos to showcase women’s figure and beauty. The photos would be displayed throughout the waiting area, exam rooms and his office.  Did I mention the images would be nudes? It is and was a delicate line. The images would need to be beautiful, tasteful yet remain PG13. If I put my self in the shoes of a woman visiting his office for a consultation, the images would need to spark interest and discussion but not alienate anyone.

My thoughts went to abstract nudes. I’d be able to show parts of the body in a way that weren’t immediately identifiable. My goal was to to use light and shadow to get the viewer to look past the fact that they were looking at a naked body.  I enlisted the help of Marie who is an experienced figure model.





In addition to the abstract images I’d be shooting one main beauty image. I pulled some reference images and we decided on the stark, yet beautiful landscape of El Mirage Dry Lake Bed. Little did I know how challenging shooting out there would be. After months of planning we finally made it out to El Mirage. I booked Megan as our model and enlisted the help of Sura Radcliffe to help with hair and Tiffany Selby to help with makeup. I’ve worked with both of these talented stylists on different shoots and knew they would make me and Megan look great. The hair and makeup process was pretty involved. I’d need Megan’s makeup to read from about fifteen feet away. I also knew that there would be a potential for wind in the desert so I wanted to make sure the hair style was one I could get away with if the wind were to move it around. We prepped from noon until almost 4PM, spent a couple hours in the car driving out to El Mirage and caught the last hour of the setting sun. (Yes eight hours prep/wrap – One hour shooting) Despite a weather forecast to the contrary we were greeted by 20mph winds when we got out to El Mirage. The temperatures made the wind bearable and luckily the wind was blowing from the west. I was able to use the setting sun and wind to my advantage.

A few weeks ago I came across an article about Herb Ritt’s exhibition at the Getty. One of the images noted was this amazing image shot out in El Mirage.  I was at the fabric store a few days later with hopes of creating an image as beautiful.


©Herb Ritts – Versace Dress, El Mirage


We got to El Mirage with about an hour of daylight left. We had taken some wardrobe to experiment with  and plan what we were going to shoot while Megan still had clothes on but I couldn’t run the risk of Megan getting wind blown and ruining the reason we were there. I was there to shoot a beautiful nude. The fabric and drape was a bonus and I figured with the wind howling it might actually work. It allowed me to figure out where I wanted to position her once she dropped the fabric. Turns out my client loved the images of the drape in addition to the nudes.


Megan – El Mirage


We shot both the drape and the nudes as we watched the sun fall like a rock. The sky in the west as the sun set was beautiful, and despite the wind we tried shooting into the wind to see the beautiful sky. We put Megan’s hair up and tried shooting her with the wind at her back. Utter FAIL, that much wind blowing that much hair looked horrible.  In addition to Sura and Tiffany I had my friend Bill to help with the shoot. Even though we had the shot I came for we figured why not break out the strobes. Having Bill there to hand-hold the light was an incredible save because the sun was pretty much down and it was getting darker every second.  We took her hair back down and put her facing the wind. We spent the last three minutes of the shoot using the strobe and once again came away with amazing surprises like the following image.

El Mirage


Despite the challenges, the amount of work and planning that went into it we came away with beautiful images that everyone was happy with. It also reinforced my opinion that if I shoot my own type of work, people will notice. A big thanks goes out to Megan, Bill, Sura, Tiffany and a very trusting client.


Art in the Streets

After a failed attempt yesterday (The Geffen is closed on wednesdays) I made it to the Art in the streets exhibit. I typically use this blog to write about my photography but after the show today I wanted to share my thoughts.

Go see it.

It got me thinking about how incredibly creative some of these artists are; and that I still don’t know what “art” is. I know beauty when i see it. I know that some things move me and some don’t. Throughout the show I realized that art is such a personal thing that I really don’t have to worry about what’s art and what’s not.

I don’t typically consider my photographs as art, others do. For me to walk out the door with a camera with the goal of creating “art” is like me writing a grocery list with my left hand. I may make it to the store and decipher a few things on the list but most will be indecipherable. A comment I overheard today sums it up best. While we were in “neckface’s” installation looking at broken bottles, empty cigarette boxes and other trash a teenager asks his mom “Is this part of the artwork?”

GraceMy Daughter Grace
kid on an ipodkid on an ipod
determined to reach. Installation at MOCAdetermined to reach. Installation at MOCA
neckfaceneckface – “Is this part of the artwork?” – click for large version
lost dogs and cats - MOCA installationlost dogs and cats – MOCA installation – click for large version
Graffit collage  MOCAGraffit collage MOCA – click for large version

Taking photos for the sake of making art

I don’t look as my photography as art. I never have and it takes effort to consider it as such.

Judo Air - Skate Demo - El Paso - circa 1987 - shot with Pentax K1000

circa 1987

I started off taking pictures of my skater friends during middle school. It was fun; I thought it was cool and my friends appreciated great shots of them skating.  My interest in photography waned until my job sitting all day behind a desk forced me to look somewhere for a creative release. I signed up for an intro-to-photography class through UCLA extension and renewed my interest.

During and after the photography class I shot a lot of photos of stuff; mostly street photography, a lot of architecture and the great majority of it was shot at night. I didn’t consider it art – it was just for fun. In my need for further release from the chains of the investment bank I took a week long trip to Paris and came back with 26 rolls of film and a new passion for photography.

The Louver - scanned from film - 2001

The Louvre - film scan -November 2001

A few weeks ago a friend and model posted a request on facebook asking for help from a photographer for an art project. She is building a portfolio to apply to art school and needed help translating the idea in her head. Her idea was a series of shots of her walking into the ocean at sunrise. After a couple emails and phone calls about the project I figured I could help her while still bringing my own creativity and experience to the table. My own goal with the project was to come away with enough coverage and the right frames to be able to tell a story. The following series is my result. (Be sure to click on the image and view the larger version.)

Malibu - 5-6AM March 19th 2010

Malibu - 5-6AM March 19th 2010

To make the shots work meant meeting at the beach at 4:45AM. We met at a beach in Malibu and trekked down to the water using flashlights. It reads better in the large version but you can see the stars in the first shot. It was the first shot of the day and I took it at 5:05AM. We shot for about an hour until I was cold and she was freezing.

Is it art? I’m still not sure. I just like to make photos and tell stories with them.