Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles’
The great thing about being a photographer in Los Angeles is that there is no shortage of attractive people willing to model. I came across Kyle’s photo on a friend’s Instagram feed. I asked for an introduction and it turned out Kyle was just starting to get involved with acting and modeling. This was his second photo shoot.
I started shooting behind the scenes video during shoots (while the model was in hair and makeup) to give me something to do. On most occasions a model will spend 60-90 minutes in the chair which gives me a lot of free time. The more I shoot and edit this footage, the more I learn. I learn by doing. I’d make a video and get to edit and realize it would have been better if…. Next time I made sure that “if” was taken care of. On this particular occasion it meant getting some more action direct to the camera as opposed to finishing the video with stills from the shoot.
This was shot back in June with Jordan Colton and Stacey Ellis. stacey has recently started a new venture. Be sure to check her out at Ellis Salon
Hiring a photography consultant has been on my to-do list for a while. My goal with working with a consultant is to review and update my portfolio as well as get help with marketing. About a year ago I started the process of finding a consultant but work got so busy that I decided it wasn’t the right time. A few months ago I started the process again and interviewed two different consultants. Because I had never worked with a photography consultant, my goal with the interview was to gather information about what was involved with the process, how long the process would take and how much I should budget for the project. Of the two consultants I spoke with I went with Sherrie Berger. My decision was based partly because she’s local to LA but mostly because we found a good rhythm during our initial conversation that I felt she would be a good fit for my personality and my goals. Sherrie described her “program” as organic, which in the end meant that without starting down the path it would be hard to predict where we would end up.
For our first meeting she came to my office which was hugely beneficial. We started with a review of my website which led us to discuss and review various shoots in my archive. We spent a couple hours reviewing my work and discussing my business. Having someone else critique my work was a bit uncomfortable. It had been years since I sat down for a portfolio review and although uncomfortable, it also meant that the dread of a stagnant website was coming to an end. Unlike a portfolio review where someone is looking at the 20-30 images I deemed worthy of review, Sherrie was able to look at entire shoots and pull images I had skipped over or didn’t think were right for my portfolio. In addition to reviewing archived shoots she was able to suggest options to consider for my next shoot. Over the course of the next month we worked together to fine tune my portfolio and website. It’s still a work in progress but in that short time period we completely revamped my website by digging up gems in my archive as well as scheduling new shoots. The plan was to work together on a month-to-month basis and as the month was coming to an end my schedule for the following month wasn’t going to allow time to commit to Sherrie’s assignments so we took a break. Having the flexibility to start and stop the process was invaluable.
Despite Sherrie leaving me with assignments to work on I found that not having her to coach, encourage and motivate me made it easy to put off my homework. It’s incredibly similar to working with a personal trainer at the gym. Sherrie kept me motivated and more importantly she kept me accountable.
The broadway play The Color Purple is heading to London and Attitude Magazine needed help with portraits for their article featuring producer and songwriter Stephen Bray. In addition to his early work and collaborations with Madonna, Stephen helped create the music for the play.
As with any editorial portrait I never know what I am walking into. Will there be light, interesting settings, room to work? Lucky for us Stephen’s home and studio had all of the above. After introductions I asked if I could look around the house for places to shoot. We knew going in that the studio would be one option, but I was immediately drawn to Stephen’s wall-display of records and knew his front porch would be a great option for a simple portrait.
I had Deney Tuazon assist me with the shoot. Having an assistant around for these types of shoots is a huge help. In addition to help with the gear and set up I find having someone stand in while I test my lighting set-ups invaluable. For all three looks we set-up and tested the lights while Stephen got ready. In the end the magazine went with the studio and indoor portrait for use in the story.
When I shot this photo. I was working for free. Seth painted the wall for free. I paid for the supplies and installed the wall, for free. Seth used his own paint. Seth painted the wall on a separate occasion from the shoot. I shot and edited the video for free. Kyara was paid, but if this were a circus she would have been paid in peanuts.
From that free shoot we licensed this image to chefrubber.com who ran it as a full page ad in So Good Magazine. We split the money and got a nice tear sheet out of it. Seth sold a print at an art show. A plastic surgeon contacted me for an assignment after seeing the video of the shoot. His website and office will be decorated with images shot by me. My lab will make hundreds off my prints. A fine art framer in Australia will make thousands when they frame the prints. All in all I can directly correlate about $50,000 in income as a result of that one FREE shoot. Don’t get me wrong, not every test and for-fun shoot results in income. If there isn’t value in working for free I wouldn’t do it.
More than any other industry I can think of the the creative industry is built on the backs of free labor. It goes by numerous names: tests, trade, TFP, TFCD, intern, spec, portfolio, for credit, for my reel…We all do it. As long as I find benefit in working for free I will continue to do so. As I mentioned, I’m getting paid, it’s just not always in the form of dollars.
If you haven’t already read Malcom Gladwell’s book The Outliers he introduces the concept that excellence comes from practice, lots and lots of practice. He refers to it as the 10,000 hour rule; excellence comes after practicing/doing for 10, 000 hours. As a freelance creative how am I supposed to reach 10, 000 hours unless I create my own assignments? How does a photographer, filmmaker or graphic artist practice? By working for free.
I first learned the value of working for free when I interned during college. I interned for Merrill Lynch and learned first and foremost that I DID NOT want to be a
stock broker financial adviser. The next lesson I learned was that interning is about building relationships, not “learning”. I didn’t gain knowledge at Merrill; I made contacts. Those contacts and relationships led to me getting a job and building a successful career as an analyst.
When I was first started to shoot I needed subjects. I started with my friends, then I moved on to testing with models, makeup artists and stylists. We would work for trade; I’d shoot images for our respective portfolios and in turn they would model, style, do hair, or makeup for me. It’s a win win. I get to practice my craft, experiment, test new equipment all while building relationships and making new contacts. Am I working for free? Yes, but there is a huge intangible value I have gained by doing the work. First and foremost I got better at photography. In a lot of cases the relationships I made led to paid job. I shoot for free only when I know there is some value in me doing the work. If you can’t see value in doing something similar, might I suggest a new pair of glasses?
When I’ve got a model in hair and makeup for 60-90 minutes there’s only so much that I can occupy my time with. Lately I have taken advantage of the time and shot behind the scenes video. The only downfall is that when hair and makeup are finished and I pick up a camera to start shooting stills, the video suffers. The behind the scenes video covers the first of four different looks we shot.
Stacey Ellis was in for hair and makeup. She wanted to start with a finger wave of sorts. Since Adriana’s hair was going to have a very polished look we dressed her up in a little H&M tube dress to give it a bit more of a fashion edge.
The following photos show the progression for the rest of the shoot. We got a bit more dramatic and fashion oriented. Loosened things up a bit and then went up with the hair and back to traditional beauty portraits. To see more of Stacey’s work check out our previous work together or on her website: TheBigBangsTheory.com