Posts Tagged ‘model’

Working with new models

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.


Jordan Colton Motion Portraits

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


The power of working for “FREE”

Kyara Tyler with body paint on custom damask packdrop painted with Krink by Meex1 (seth Wilder). Full page ad for in So God Magazine

Kyara Tyler

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 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?



Behind the scenes of a beauty shoot



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:




Loose fashion

Beauty Portrait



Annelise Jorgensen





Developing a photographic style

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.