Posts Tagged ‘Santa Monica’
A few years ago I made a slideshow using photos from every assignment I shot during the year. The idea stuck and has become a great way for me to reflect on what I did right and what I did wrong during the year. 2012 was both challenging and incredibly rewarding. All of those experiences brought one theme to the forefront – Family is Everything. And by family I’m not limiting myself to the family I was born into or married into. It’s the people that I have chosen to surround myself with. This year we have had the warm blanket of family wrapped around us when we needed it and we were able to be that same blanket of warmth and strength for others when they needed it. This year was life-changing for so many of our friends and loved ones.
Over the past couple years I’ve skipped using photos of my family in the slideshow, after all they weren’t paid assignments and so many were just snapshots. This year I’ve included them because my wife and kids are my world and are definitely the most photographed subject in my life. I also opted to include more than one image from the assignments. Limiting myself to one single image per shoot didn’t represent the scope and the fruits of my labor.
As with every slide show I always struggle with music. Each year I want to use a song that I fell in love with during the year. This year there were a couple of contenders.
Mumford & Sons – I will wait
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Thrift Shop I dare you to not bounce your head while listening to this song. I was bouncing my head for a couple weeks before I even listened to the words.
Ryan Adams – From The Ashes In January NPR streamed a pre-lease of this entire album. I listened to it over and over until the day it was released. Go buy it directly from his label/website.
Walk the Moon – Anna Sun This is probably my favorite song on the album but I opted for Tightrope becaue it matched the tempo I wanted for the slideshow.
For those of you that supported me and helped me create this year I owe you a world of thanks. Without you I’d be stuck behind some desk.
As a photographer I get to watch and participate in a lot of momentous occasions. Whether it’s a wedding, birthday or birth it’s an incredible feeling to contribute to a family’s history. I love that my images will be cherished for a lifetime. Knowing that the photos I made will outlast me is pretty cool. Earlier this week I was referred to Jordan by a friend. Jordan was planning on proposing to his girlfriend and wanted a photographer to document the occasion. Other than my own proposal this was a first for me.
I met Jordan at Palisades Park about 30 minutes before Suzy was scheduled to arrive. In addition to having flowers ready Jordan had arranged for a car service to pick her up and bring her to the park. We waited. I didn’t want her to see me when she arrived so I stayed about 100 feet from Jordan. Being that this is north Santa Monica I think most of the people thought I was a paparazzi. Jordan would shoot me texts with updates.
Suzy arrived just in time. My heart was racing. I was excited for Jordan and Suzy and needed to make sure I got the shot. It worked out perfectly. When everyone around us figured out what just happened they started clapping and cheering.
The following is a slideshow of the proposal.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A few weeks ago I shot Ryan and Holly’s wedding on Main street in Santa Monica. They decided before we met for the first time to discuss their wedding that they wanted a “first look” photo shoot. For those of you unfamiliar with the first look is; it breaks the old tradition of the groom not seeing the bride before the ceremony. During a recenty seminar someone commented that the tradition of not seeing the bride before the ceremony dated back to arranged marriages where in many case the bride an groom had never met before. I guess you can’t bail on a wedding if you meet the bride at the alter?
So why break tradition and see each other before the ceremony? It serves a couple purposes. First and foremost it allows the bride and groom to share a very tender moment together; and by together I mean not 50 feet away from each other. In this case the first time Ryan saw his soon-to-be bride in her wedding dress they were surrounded by their friends and family and he got to appreciate and acknowledge how special a moment it really was. The first time I saw my wife Robin on our wedding day she was about 100 feet away and I didn’t get much time to appreciate how great she looked. By the time she was standing next to me at the alter I was too busy trying not to cry and then it was time to get married. With Holly and Ryan we planned to document the moment and for them to have some time to enjoy it.
With Holly and Ryan I wanted to make sure that I could get Ryan into position, blindfold him and then have Holly remove the blindfold. It worked like a charm. The photos speak for themselves.
The other main reason to do this is to better enjoy your wedding. This is your big day; this is the party and celebration you have spent months planning; these are your closest friends and family. When a bride and groom see each other before the ceremony I typically shoot a lot of the formal bridal portraits after the first look. This saves time after the ceremony and allows the bridal party enjoy part of the cocktail hour.
For all of my photo shoots there is a pre-production meeting or consultation. We’ll talk about the goals and mood of the shoot; what the images will be used for; who’s the intended audience; styling; location; lighting; props….the list goes on. I have found that it helps the shoot and the end result by discussing all these items before we even pick up a camera.
Once I bring the camera up to my eye there are hundreds of questions that go through my head. First and foremost it’s technical information like the shutter speed, aperture, ISO setting, white balance, focus, framing and lighting. After that I have so much more to consider. How do you look? Are you relaxed? Having fun? Do you have a natural smile or expression? How’s your hair? Your makeup? Your wardrobe? Does the shape of your face look better from a different angle? What’s going on with the background? How did the sun going behind the clouds affect my exposure? Is the flash firing? The list of questions and concerns goes on.
On Monday all of my experience and knowledge went out the window. I couldn’t recall most of it; I was a like a dear in the headlights but in this case the headlight was a camera pointing at me. I finally booked a session with a photographer to get my own picture taken. Over the past couple years several friends and clients asked why I didn’t have a photo up on my site? Even social networking sites like facebook and linkedin were lacking in the photos-of-chuck department. So I finally booked a session with a great local lifestyle photographer named Christian Romero. He was able to work within my budget and his work was loose and relaxed.
I’m not trying to come across as an actor or a model – just a photographer that sometimes has to endure the same pain you feel when you step in front of the camera. The last photo I really liked of just me was shot by our incredible wedding photographer Selima Ani. The day after my wedding I shaved my head so the photo isn’t exactly accurate anymore. Do you know of anyone using a less than accurate photo to promote themselves or their business? Ever been the victim of head shot fraud? Been on an internet date where the person just didn’t live up to their photos? I can help.
The experience with Christian on Monday reinforced why personality and rapport has so much to do with getting great shots of people. Remember the glamour shots scene in Napoleon Dynamite where Deb is taking Uncle Rico’s picture in the mall?
I know that a lot of my clients don’t enjoy being in front of the camera so my goal is to make your experience as painless as possible.
If you are in need of a new photo for your website, business card or facebook page I’m hosting an event on October 1st to provide clients with a quick, painless and affordable way to get updated photos. Call me to discusss the details or click to see examples and read more about it.