Posts Tagged ‘Chuck Espinoza’
My commercial portrait work has a definite vibe. It’s typically well lit; there a sense of emotion and I always want my subject to look beautiful. It’s a style I’ve fallen into over the years. When I first started out in photography I heard about the need to have a style, but didn’t know how to get one. Without knowing it, my style found me. In most cases when I am shooting portraits I want emotion over everything else. I want sexy and sultry yet still commercial.
Every once in a while I look at other photography and ask why cant mine look like that? I’m drawn to moody, uncontrived photos; very spur of the moment, filled with life or mystery. Sometimes I go out and deliberately try to shoot in a style that’s not my own. But there’s this force-field that pulls me back. My experience, knowledge and what I know resonates with the people I have photographed pulls me back to my comfort zone – well-lit and pretty.
This happened on my shoot with Taylor. I’ve known and been working with Taylor since 2006 . Unlike our previous shoots where I was driving the shoot, she called me with a concept that suited her needs as an artist and musician and the direction was out of my norm. When a client approaches me with a job that is a different style from what I do I always ask for reference photos. When I saw her reference images I thought quirky, edgy, snap-shots. Even though that’s not my style she felt comfortable enough to come to me with her concept knowing that I could take her input and produce photos that matched her goals.
When I started to get serious about my photography I took a class/seminar about building a portfolio. This was in 2005. I had been shooting long enough that I had amassed a body of work that I thought was worth showing and wanted someone else’s opinion on how best to present my work in hopes of booking jobs. The class was worthwhile and I left with some good information; I also left with some misinformation. I don’t remember hearing much constructive criticism during my portfolio review. One note was that I was shooting too many landscape images and if I wanted to shoot for magazines I should shoot more portrait shaped images to match the layout of magazines. When I think back to my “skill” level in 2005 and look back at the photos I was making around that time, most of them were shite and it makes me wonder about the validity of her advise during my review. Did she not want to tell me my photos sucked because I payed for the review? Or because I was in a “class” with other photographers on the same level were mine were slightly better than the rest?
The photography industry is rife with people ready to give advise and tips. Some of the advise and education is free and invaluable. Some costs money yet is still a huge value. Look to CreativeLive and Strobist for great and usable photography know-how and education. One is free the not really free but a huge value. Along with an industry of photographers trying to sell me advice there are tons of trade magazines with full of industry “standards” and suggestions…How to show your work, what to put in your portfolio, how much to show.
In that portfolio review in 2005 the photography consultant cautioned about showing more than one image of the same person in my portfolio. Up until recently I adhered to that but as of late I call bullshit. Case in point; Devon. I met and first shot Devon in 2009. In the past four years we’ve shot together six times and every time we’ve worked together we both come away with great images.
There are a handful of other actors and models that I share the same experience with. When I’ve got a relationship with someone and we work well together I tend to work with them over and over since I know the results will be great. Why not show multiple images of the same person in my portfolio or on my website? That rule was dumb.
I bring this up because as I grow and learn about myself and my photography I have begun to make my own rules based on my own experience and information.
As much as I hate updating my websites I’m due for an overhaul. Stay tuned and plan on seeing more than one image of the same person. Especially Devon.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our son Charlie’s birthday was on November 28th. And like most second kids the amount of effort that goes into documenting his life is slightly less that that of our first born. Hence I am getting to his slideshow a few weeks late.
If you’ve got 5 minutes and like Jeff Buckley enjoy what Robin, Grace and I have shared over the past year.
I spent days trying to find the right song. This song says nothing about my relationship with Charlie; other than it’s beautiful and I’ve loved it since the first time I heard it in the summer of 1994.
In cased you missed it here’s the slideshow I made for Grace’s first birthday.