Posts Tagged ‘beach’

I want you to have something you can touch

I currently have 585 photos on my iPhone. I love my iPhone. It’s an amazing tool to have in my pocket; so much so that it’s the camera I use the most when I’m not being paid by someone.  When it comes to dragging a seven pound chunk of metal to Grace’s ice skating lesson I’d rather just reach into my pocket and pull out my phone. If you think the quality isn’t up to par, the following photo was printed at 20×16.  I bring this up because, like me, the majority of my clients have hundreds of photos on their phones and in their digital library that they never do anything with. If you are like me, most of those images don’t see the light of day. Maybe a couple end up on a blog or on Facebook, some end up on Instagram but for the most part they are left in digital purgatory and after a few months the special moment you wanted to document is lost. I took it as we were heading out the door to have our family portraits shot.

Like most two year olds, Charlie doesn’t smile for the camera. He gets uncomfortable and goofy and often moves his eye-line away from the camera. This moment was special because both of my kids looked great…at the same time… and in the same photo.  I love seeing this every time I walk in the door. It’s a reminder and a keepsake.

Charlie & Grace – 16×20 Gallery Block – shot w iPhone 5


When it comes to hiring me to shoot your wedding, children, family portrait, fill in the blank; I want you to leave with something you can touch and cherish. This is a 16×24 Giclee canvas I recently made for a client.


16×24 giclee canvas


In 2011 I started using this image of Tutu  in my promo material. When Tutu’s mom saw the mounted 18×12 print she loved it. I asked her what she did with the CD of files she purchased from me; she confessed that she hadn’t made time to do anything with them.  Life is full; we all get busy….I want your experience with me to be easy and result in photos hung in your house that make you smile when you stop to look at them.


Tutu – Manhattan Beach 2010


I shot this (riveting) video to show the results of one of the hard cover press printed books I offer. This is the fourth book in a row I’ve made for this client and when I dropped this off she remarked how special they are and that  she loves having them to look back on.


By handing over a disc or a digital file I am handing you work. It means you have to make the prints, buy the frames, frame the prints, send Grandma a copy of the prints…..I don’t want your experience with me to be sullied by the stress of  added work after the shoot is over. This is the reason I offer the products and services that I do. I want you to enjoy your photos. Granted clients still want copies of their digital files which are available, but as a photographer I want you to have something you can touch.





Manhattan Beach Family Portraits

As I start planning my family portrait shoots for the holiday season I started digging for images to use for marketing materials. Phyllis suggested I use my year-end slideshow and then I figured I’d start fresh since a lot of those images aren’t family portrait based. The following are images shot from 2009-2011. The great thing about shooting family and children’s  portraits over the years is that I get to see kids grow up. Towards the end I’ve grouped images of kid’s I’ve shot over the past couple years. Enjoy.

I’m now booking appointments through October. Mini shoots are $150 and individual sessions start at $250. If you want to kill two birds with one stone you get the mini shoot and 100 cards from Phyllis for about $300.

2009-2011 Family portraits from Chuck Espinoza on Vimeo.




Taylor at the beach

This week I hooked up with Taylor for another shoot. I met Taylor back in 2006 and we’ve shot together a couple of times. In 2006 I was early in my photography career and she was a student who was just starting her acting and modeling career.

Taylor - 2006





Dancers with Beauty and Grace

As part of an ongoing series and to test some new equipment I have enlisted the help of dancers. My goal with the shoots is to learn about my new Elinchrom Ranger as well as to document the extraordinary ability and grace that these dancers have.

Ryan Marks

Kelley Koski

I also shot a time lapse of my shoot with Kelley. It includes a few more edited images. The shoot lasted about 30 minutes; it’s shown here in 46 seconds. Yes, I did use my daughter’s wagon as a cart on the sand.


Elinchrom Ranger Plus Pocket Wizard Equals Insanity

A few weeks ago the idea popped into my head to buy a battery powered strobe. This wasn’t the first time I thought about buying one. I’d looked into portable strobes on several previous occasions but could never justify the expense. I’d rented some Profoto 600Rs for a couple shoots that left me cursing mid-way through a shoot when I ran out of power. In this case I knew I had a job coming up that would require a battery powered set-up. I’d need enough power to at least keep up with bright sunlight. I could spend $400 renting a package for the one shoot or I could invest in my own.  I opted for the 1100 watt/second Elinchrom Ranger RX with the S head and the PocketWizard ST4 transceiver to pair with my TT5s.

With the  PocketWizard ST4 I’d be able to sych my camera faster than 1/250th of a second which would help in bright sun. I spent a couple days making sure I was buying the right Ranger and flash head. I came across a lot of articles that referenced this set-up using Nikon bodies and I also came across a couple mentions that photographers hadn’t been able to match the fast synch speeds with Canon bodies. I figured that with a couple stops plus 1100W/s I’d be fine.

As soon as I got the system I fired it up and tested it out. I was looking for synch speeds over 1/1000 sec. I was a bit disappointed when it was clipping at 1/640. Instead of messing with the TT5s settings I upgraded the firmware on my TT5s and the new ST4. Immediately after my upgrade I was synching at 1/8000.  This past monday I finally had a chance to test the system during a real shoot. I am pleased to report that it was everything I had expected and more.

When I get new equipment I go out and test. I need to use it, learn about it and know what it’s capable of. When I show up on set for a job I better damn well know how to use my gear and learning on someone else’s dime is a recipe for disaster.

A few years ago during a swimsuit shoot with Kelley we started talking about her dance skills and I mentioned not being able to capture a graceful jump shot with a dancer up to that point. After a few warmups she was pulling this type of jump off with little effort. I managed to capture this shot at 9 in the morning with the help of a big reflector and a couple small Canon speedlights.  After the shoot we vowed to shoot again.  When I got the Elinchrom she was my first call.

Kelley Koski March 2010

Kelley Koski March 2010 – F10 1/500

Unlike our fist shoot, this wasn’t about great morning light and beautiful swimsuit shots. This was about her dance ability and grace. We scheduled the shoot for 3:30 PM. I figured it would be bright but the sun would be over her shoulder and bearable. My goal with the Elinchrom was to fill in the light from the front while maintaining the blue sky.

I opted to use the lower powered flash socket which only puts out 366 watts/second. I was able to shoot as much as she could jump without having to worry about recycle times. Since this was my first test with the pack I didn’t know how much I could push it. I didn’t want to be caught holding the bag after running out of power half way through the shoot. The following shot is unedited and shown as-shot in camera.

F4.5 1/2500 - Shown as-taken and unedited

F4.5 1/2500 – Shown as-shot and unedited

We ran though a couple outfit changes and once we got to the last set I figured I could up the power and not worry about running out of steam. The Ranger has a power indicator, but out in the bright sun it was hard to read and I didn’t know if I could trust it. I switched to the full-powered socket and upped the power.  I knew I wanted to try to overpower the sun but wasn’t sure how successful it would be. The image speaks for itself.

F22 1/1000 - Shown as-shot and unedited

F22 1/1000 – Shown as-shot and unedited

Part II

Turns out I had power to spare.

I had a second shoot scheduled the following day with Ryan Marks. We would be trying to capture the same type of image; although his shoot was scheduled for 11AM. I wanted to see how much power was left in the pack so I didn’t charge the battery before Ryan’s shoot. I figured I could swap out the battery if I needed, but once again I wanted to see what the pack would do.

Since the sun was mostly overhead for Ryan’s shoot it was a different look. I needed the light mostly for fill. Once we had some great shots I pushed the pack and overpowered the sun. I made it through the shoot and still had some power left.

Ryan Marks - F13 1/2500 - Shown As-shot and Unedited

Ryan Marks – F13 1/2500 – Shown As-shot, unedited, at 12 noon

I’ve come home from both shoots overjoyed at the results of the photos and the Ranger. More test shoots are scheduled.

A couple footnotes. I ordered an Elinchrom EL 19374 Ranger Adapter to connect the ST4 and Ranger. Turns out one is included in the package. I couldn’t get my Sekonic Light Meter to trigger the ST4. In fact I couldn’t trigger the St4 with my Plus IIs either. I was able to trigger it with another TT5.  I would have LOVED to use my new 5D, but the TT5s would not synch higher than 1/200 with my 5D Mark III. Pocket Wizard hasn’t updated the firmware yet since the Mark III is so new and in high demand.

** David from PocketWizard cleared something up for me. The ST4s default is to receive info via their “Control TL” signal and not the standard pocket wizard channel. This can be changed using the utility which would enable triggering the ST4 via my Sekonic and/or the Plus II. They also expect to have their hands on a 5D Mark III this week and start working on a firmware upgrade.


Shooting personal work keeps me sane

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. I’ve started to scratch out a couple blog posts over the past month but each time I start a job comes up and takes precedence. This week I vowed to shoot for me. Shooting personal work keeps me sane. When I end up working on shoots for other people for weeks at a time I can feel the itch to go out and shoot a concept I have control over.  Family portraits, TV commercials, architecture, Galas, receptions and pretty much every other paid job means my client is running the show. I often have creative input on my jobs but photographing people giving speeches and shaking hands doesn’t give me the satisfaction of going out and making great photographs.

This week the stars lined up and I got to shoot with three of my favorite models. I enjoy working with them because I know we’ll get great results and I’ve developed friendships with them over the years.

Eva was in town visiting from Germany. We’ve tried getting together for a shoot every time she’s in LA, but it’s only worked out once since she moved away a few years ago. I met Eva in July 2004. To put the history into perspective; I got my first DSLR in August of 2003. I looked back at my archives and she was the 17th model I worked with. Needless to say in the summer of 2004 I was green.  Despite being a novice we got some great shots that still stand today. Since 2004 we’ve worked together a handful of times and I’ve always been happy with the results.

This week I wanted to shoot and I knew if we got together the concept for the shoot would work itself out. We ended up with some great fashion images and my style of a beauty portrait. If you call it a head shot and I take offense. I tend to think most head shots aren’t true representations of the person. Head shots are sales tools, portraits are personal. I want my photos to be true to the subject.

Eva - Santa Monica Pier - July 2007

Eva - Santa Monica Pier - July 2007

Eva - boxer - April 2005

Eva - boxer - April 2005


Eva Portrait shoot August 2011

Eva - Portrait

Eva - Portrait August 2011

I also got to work with Tiffany Selby this week.  We met in April 2009 after spending months trying to get together to shoot. When the day finally came it proved to be challenging. We were scheduled to start with swimsuits on the beach and then head to my place to work on fashion and portraits. We were blessed with beautiful blue skies but the temps had dropped down into the 50s.  We figured since we were there we’d give it a shoot. I got my first shot off at 8:20 AM and by 8:44 we had shot two looks and were packing up. One of those shots ended up as a centerfold in a magazine.

This week we made the same plans. Start on the beach and then head to my studio (read my garage) for fashion and portraits. After our shoot she did makeup for a friend’s niece, an aspiring model.

Tiffany - El Segundo April 2009

Tiffany - El Segundo April 2009

Tiffany - beauty portrait

Tiffany - beauty portrait - April 2009

Tiffany - fashion look

Tiffany - fashion look August 2011

Tiffany - fashion swimsuit look - August 2011

Tiffany - fashion swimsuit look - August 2011

I also managed to shoot with Neyla. She is in town visiting from London and, like Eva, we’ve tried to get together when she’s in LA. This week our schedules matched. I met Neyla in April 2007; at the time her name was Stephanie but that’s her story. In 2007 I shot a friend of hers who referred me to Neyla. We had a great shoot and vowed to do it again. A few months later she saved my ass. I had scheduled a shoot in Pasadena and enlisted the help of a makeup artist and a wardrobe stylist. The model flaked. A complete no-show. I didn’t want our efforts to go to waste so I called Neyla early that morning and asked her help me out. She rallied and the results were amazing. Like Eva and Tiffany the images from that day still stand.

Neyla’s trying to get a new portfolio together and when she showed me her concepts they were in-line with what I wanted to shoot. We had a great time and came away with a lot of amazing photos.

Stephanie Fashion & Portrait Shoot - May 2007

Stephanie Fashion & Portrait Shoot - May 2007

Stephanie Fashion & Portrait Shoot - Pasadena

Stephanie Fashion & Portrait Shoot - Pasadena May 2007

Neyla - beauty portrait - August 2011

Neyla - beauty portrait - August 2011

Neyla fashion look - Studio lighting - August 2011

Neyla fashion look - Studio lighting - August 2011

Relationships make for great photos. It’s one thing to meet a perfect stranger and work together as professionals with the same goal of great photos. But when there’s history and a relationship between the model and the photographer the level of comfort and trust help to make the images even better. Add the fact that all three of these women are great models and I had a great week.