Sneaker test BTS

When I have the time I like to test ideas or new lighting. Last week I had a chance to photograph two pairs of shoes. Before I wore my new kicks out and about I prepped them for photos. I carefully laced them and stuffed them with leftover plastic grocery bags and used a wooden skewer to prop the tongue of the shoe up. The day's leading up to the test shoot I covered some cardboard in drywall paste to create a textured background. I used an old box and roll of white seamless paper to create an environment for the shoes to float in. I purchased a white piece of styrofoam to use a base for the shoes. That with wooden skewers I could elevate the shoes for a floating effect. I used a bare Profoto B1 to light the shoes. You do not need a lot of space to create small still life images like these.

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I am set up In my kitchen, I pushed the table against the wall to create an open space to shoot in. I like shooting tethered. It gives me a large screen to work with and the ability to use live view while I style. This might not be the most impressive studio on the planet but it was enough room to make the ideas in my head come to life.

After shooting I adjusted levels and did a little color correction due to the color contamination created by the colors of the shoes. The red puma created a red color cast on the white paper. A few quick brushes with the desaturation tool made it disappear.

Freelance Photographer-Full Time Dad

I no longer get upset when childless people say they do not have time. I was that person for most of my life. I would say my time management skills have improved since becoming a Father. Time is relative and is not experienced the same by others. I will say it has not been easy working out babysitters and work schedules. We have been lucky enough to not need daycare. Which is very expensive and creates constantly sick little ones. However, being freelance resembles being unemployed at times. At least that is the joke. It has allowed me to provide care for my daughter for over a year now. I get to see her grow up and learn, she is currently playing with a diaper box in our mud room.

When it comes to shooting days I have an extra bit of pre-production with hiring the most important crew member who will never make it to set. Our group of grandparents and babysitters are my first call when I need to lock down a date for production. I can say that single parents are badasses and I cannot imagine doing it alone.

I know that having children is not for everyone. I knew I want to have kids and it would interfere in some way with my career path. If anything it has made me more deliberate with my actions. I cannot afford to make decisions without careful thought and planning. I have another life to take care of and nurture. I need to consider her needs as well as mine.

Eleanor has become my most photographed subject this past year. How could she not? Her Dad is a photographer and she has been in front of my camera since she was minutes old. I am not sure what the future holds but I will stay hopeful and enjoy every moment with my little lady. I know sooner then later she will have grown up and have a family of her own. I will cherish every chest nap I have left and hope I a make her proud.

7 tips for looking your absolute best in a corporate headshot/ staff photo/ social media profile

Just about everyone I have photographed that is not a model loathes having their picture made. Hell, most of my photographer friends dislike being in front of the camera. A few simple tips will help you get the most out of your head shot session.

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  1. Wardrobe consultation.

    This image will be a professional visual representation of you. This is not the time to wear your favorite band T shirt, ironic graphic Tee, or your pajamas. The focus is you, and we do not want to distract from that. The clothes you choose are secondary to your smile and expression. Sometimes patterns and stripes can cause a wrinkled effect (or moire) that is less than desirable on small screens. That is not always the case, but it’s something to consider when picking your wardrobe. You should feel confident in your clothes. This helps to make you feel better in front of the camera. Once you have your clothing selected, be sure everything is clean, pressed and/or steamed, and fits you well. It may have been a few months since you last wore your favorite dress shirt or suit jacket. I cannot begin to count the times I have had to run out and purchase a new shirt for a wedding or event due to a less than amazing fit!

  2. Shiny skin.

    Your forehead can become a reflector for the studio lighting being used to create your portrait. I normally have finishing powder that I’ll brush on before the session begins, but you can help out. For the men, wash your face with a cleansing wipe just before you shoot. Ladies, a bit of foundation and concealer will do the trick. If you enjoy riding with the windows down on a hot day - consider using the A/C. A sweaty mess is never the best thing to photograph - unless you just won the super-bowl.

  3. Make up and hair

    If you have the budget, I recommend hiring a hair and make up professional. They are accustomed to working with strobe lighting and have professional make up that works the best. If that option is not available to you, keep it natural. This is not the club or a big event at a fancy restaurant. You might look great, but is it appropriate for your headshot? Do you have long luxurious hair? Bring your styling accessories, or at the very least have a brush. Guys, make sure you have worked your hair product in throughly so we do see pieces of it in your images.

  4. Your best side

    If you hate having your picture made, i’m sure you have learned over the years what your best side is. Sharing this information will make your photographers life easier and hopefully put you at ease. Some people have a crooked nose or a small eye. This can be cheated and camouflaged with perspective, posing structure, and the angle of my camera.

  5. Glasses

    I wear glasses regularly, and if you do too, you should wear them in your portrait. We can always get an option without them. That being said, make sure you clean the devil out of them! Bring your cleaning solution and a micro fiber cloth, ensuring we do not see spots and dust particles that will create distractions in your images. Secondly, make sure your glasses are fitting properly. You want your glasses back, and flush to your face. We want to see your eyes!

  6. Whoa! Chatty Kathy.. Zip it.

    I get it. You're a little nervous. Remember, you hate having your picture made and you have told me 5 times already. Pictures with your mouth open or making a silly face do not make the optimal head shot. Take a moment to relax. Take a deep breath, and exhale. Plus, I will be chatting with you before we shoot. I enjoy meeting people and learning new things. Chances are we have something in common, and once we connect, we will be friends just hanging out making some great images.

  7. Smile! Smile! Smile!

    Sometimes a smile can look forced - especially if I keep asking you to do it. I will try and make you laugh or tell you a story that sparks some joy. You can also think of something funny in your own life. Did your child throw a whole roll of TP in the toilet? Did your significant other do something stupid? That way we can capture a genuine expression, which always looks better. How will you choose to smile? Lips closed or open? We can shoot a mix of both and select the best version of your smile.

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When life hands you lemons...

It was Thursday January 4th, I was printing liability waivers for the weekend of aerial portraits I had coming up. When I get a text from my studio mate that our studio was on fire. My reply. Call the fire department! turns out it was the suite next to ours that caught fire. For years the space was rented by a church, when they moved out a carpet recycling company moved in. The new tenants hired an electrician to work on their power needs, when the breaker box arched and caused the piles of carpet to ignite. The fire department arrived and started to fight the blaze. They smashed our sky lights and pumped enough water to saturate the cinder block wall that divided our space.

The fire damaged the building and I had to reschedule the aerial shoot. I was a giant stress ball. I had another aerial rain shoot coming up in two weeks. I was without a studio and a plan. I racked my brain on my options, cancel this one too? What studio is available and affordable? How will I build my rain set? Can I pull it off? I was stretched. With the help of my wife and a few close friends and a ton of A clamps it worked out. I built my rain set, photographed 17 strong women, and learned I can do anything with hard work. I gained more confidence in my ability to produce under pressure.

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Mouth Sounds

Daniel Howie is a multi instrumentalist and all around good guy. We met when we both played in local bands during the mid to late 2000s. I remember hearing his band Sugar Glyder on 90 minutes the local music radio show hosted by Divakar. We ended up playing a lot of shows together and supported each others as audience members. It was a great community of people and players. Now many of the venues we played have been torn down or have called it quits.

Daniel’s new project is a solo effort called mouth sounds. While Mouth Sounds instrumentation finds its foothold in electronic elements, Howie’s cutting vocals soar free and clear from vocal processing typical of the genre.

We had the chance to create branding images for his upcoming record. His rose colored glasses are a homage to his Aunt who taught him how to play the piano. This instruction and support set him on his musical journey.

Testing... Why I do it.

If you don't use it, you lose it!

I love testing with local creatives in the same way I love to jam or improvise with my musician buddies. You are free to create and change things instantly. You brush with hard light and the shadow sharpens. The stylist adds the perfect element to still life scene and your image comes together. That is a rather romantic way to look at the process. However without continued practice and performance you will lose your chops. It ok to get frustrated during the process you will learn what works, what doesn't and when to apply it.  Which is why I test. Practice makes perfect!

Last week the fabulous Stylist Jessica Anderson and I had a little jam session. I got some sets and surfaces together. We used our personal props and few extras to make 6 images in an half day of shooting. We chatted and caught up on life while exercising our creative skill set, no spotlight or stress from a AD or Client. We walked away with pride and made new work to showcase out talent. 

BTS of the last set up for the day. 

 

“Without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind.” 
― Johannes Brahms

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Kurt Leuschner- Friendship at 36,000 feet

Friends since middle school Kurt and I have had years to make memories together. Kurt is a Pilot, veteran, a trustworthy friend with a sometimes dark sense of humor. In the almost 20 years of friendship we have played rock shows, partied, laughed at our own stupidity and supported each other as groomsmen. He now occupies the sky in a A321. An office at 36,000 feet getting you, your mom, and friends everywhere they want to be. He is based in NYC, Lives in another state and it always on the move. My first question is always.. Where are you now? When I am lucky enough to see him in person, we always get dinner or coffee. Any chance to catch up and weigh in on how life is treating us. Being friends for so long it is like talking to a brother. We can talk about the realities of our lives, not the Instagram life. I am glad we still keep in touch and the last time he stopped by I made a few portraits of him after dinner. 

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Questions with Shago Elizondo

Still keeping with the friendship series, just in a slightly different form. Shago and I have been friends since high school. He is a few years younger, however you get to know all the musicians in a local scene. We would always catch each others band live or I would go see him compete in the king of blues competition at Guitar Center.  We sat down and had a little interview about his journey and life as a working musician. You can catch him tearing up the guitar on tour with Fantasia Barrino. 

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Friendship Series

Chan man the chandy-gram. Another Tour brother and frontman of the now defunct band The Verdict. Chandler Martin is currently the director of the non profit Road to Hire. Offering technology & Sales career training, professional development and job placement for recent high school graduates in the Charlotte metro area.

I remember first photographing Chandler in high school, for a documentary project for my photo class. It was the battle of the bands and my band was playing as well. We became friends later on and he too was on the breaking the news tour. Jason was his drummer. He is an extreme talent with an incredible voice and knows how to make a catchy melody.  

Fun fact I introduced him to Thai food while in St. Louis, we had time to kill before for a show and went walking around town. 

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Friendship..

 What makes it work? I often think how did it get so lucky to have truly great friends. All friendships are forged with different materials or experiences. For me, music and bands played the biggest role. Dreams of being a rock star with a new hit band, veins of competition and lots of late nights. Out of that time I met some wonderful people and made a lot of memories.  As I got older and priorities shifted I felt I needed to start creating moments with my friends. So a portrait series seemed fitting, sort of my own personal "where are they now". 

 

First up. Jason Howie. He is my unofficial big brother and a fellow drummer. We first met in Boy Scouts. Later we played in the local music scene and did a joint tour. Our bands teamed up and hit the road for a month. I was 20. Now 11 years later. Jason is still the same super talented, funny, smart and caring gentleman. Only now instead of rocking behind the kit, he is saving lives and fighting fires. It was great hanging out at the fire house to make this portrait, the rest of the squad joined after some jokes about "Howie" the male model. 

Lighting Test With My Lovely Wife.

On my days off I try to experiment with lighting tools and control for use in upcoming jobs. I had been meaning to use my Matthews standard reflector for sometime. I used a C stand to hang a weathered canvas and a medium roller to hold the silver reflector. I used my canon 5d and 50mm 1.4  as well as a 24-105mm f4. The sun is the key and I positioned Andee to be back lit for some images and then bounced the sun in to area of open shade for one. I used the reflector to simply bounce some light her way. Varying the distant and angle of the reflector gave me some different qualities of light. I would say it was a success. 

Still Life Test

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of doing a test with Matt Tuttle. A very talented stylist based in NYC but a North Carolina fellow like myself. We talked for a few weeks about doing our spin on a golden age dutch masters still life. Matt found some amazing props and after a trip to the fish market and grocery store we had everything we needed. I was using a sinar X 4x5 studio camera with a rollei 100mm lens and a leaf 75s digital back tethered to Capture one pro. Lighting was one extra small chimera soft with grid, powered by a broncolor A4. I used a mixture of flags, fingers and fill cards to shape the light.  Images coming soon. retouching is always the time consumer. 

Kit Walters

Mr Walters and I go way back, like high school photo class. I feel blessed to be surrounded by so many talented people. Music has been apart of my life since I can remember. Playing in bands is what defined us in high school. Kit has gone on to accomplish a lot since those days and I was glad we could still collaborate in a slightly different way. Kit had a vision for a promo shot and this was the result of a few weeks of back and fourth chatting. Check Kit out at www.kitwaltersmusic.com

Mark Eckert. Drummer, Engineer, Producer

I had the privilege of helping Mark create promotional images for his brand.

Mark Eckert is seriously talented. You would be hard pressed to combat that statement. So, let me introduce your new best friend. Mark has an uncanny knack of wanting more out of life then the average person. He is sometimes to hard on himself but for good reason. This kid is on fire. Can't stop won't stop. check him out on instagram @markeckert.