New England fashion and beauty photographer

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Pretty in Penguin – Part 1

 

I’ve made an effort to step outside of my geography of Louisville, KY lately in order to collaborate with creative minds and models in surrounding cities.  A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to work with a stellar team in Cincinnati.  I partnered with Pretty Penguin Studios for hair, makeup and styling.  The day was broken into two locations and sets.  I wanted these sets to be on completely opposite ends of the spectrum.  The first set would be a totally natural look using natural light, minimal makeup and very basic styling.  I was lucky enough to have Kevin Kilpatrick let me use his brand new studio in Covington for the first time.  I loved the rustic look of the floor and walls, which added a lot of texture and character to the images.

I teamed up with Natalie Darpel of Pretty Penguin Studios for the hair and makeup for this first set.  The models were Shannon Markesbery and Taylor DiazMercado.  They had really diverse looks and expressions, which made it a fun-filled, creative shoot.  I also had assistance from Kevin Kilpatrick.

As far as technique, I wanted to use the incredible ambient light in Kevin’s studio.  I shot with wide apertures on my 50mm lens.  I used a large reflector on some sets for fill light.

Stay tuned for the 2nd part of this series, which was shot in Angelo’s Pretty Penguin Studios boutique.

 

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A weekend of NAHA

 

 

It took place on a cold weekend back in December.  I worked with two incredible hairstylists (Liz Lane and Matthew Tyldesley) for their entries into the North American Hairstyling Awards (NAHA).  It was a long, creative, fun and exhausting weekend.  We had an amazing team of models and the master makeup artist Isidro Valencia on board to make it happen.  The competition to be nominated for anything in NAHA is fierce and is highly regarded.  While we didn’t get nominated for any category, I think we created some great stuff that weekend.  I learned a lot, and will have a slightly different mindset when approaching entries for next year’s competition.

 

Liz Lane – hairstylist

Category entered – New Hairstylist of the Year

Models – Theresa Krosse, Jessi Neidert and Anita Mwiruki

Makeup – Isidro Valencia

Assistant – Michelle Patterson Gleckler

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Matthew Tyldesley – hairstylist

Category entered – Avant Garde

Models – Anita Mwiruki, Kayla Holts and Megan Ducharm

Dress and designs – Genna Yussman

Makeup – Isidro Valencia

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Isidro Valencia – makeup artist

Category entered – makeup

Models – Jessi Neidert, Theresa Kross and Anita Mwiruki

Hair – Liz Lane

Assistant – Michelle Patterson Gleckler

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The Art of Improvisation

 

To me as a photographer, sometimes the most fun and invigorating shoots are the ones where I have little idea of what to expect.  It’s a controlled form of chaos that can challenge you to be your best creatively… on the spot.  It takes a certain comfort level to do this, and I certainly didn’t start out this way.  But I love walking into a situation with a model, and saying “this is what we have to work with… what can we create with this?”  Of course it helps to have a model like Kayla Holts.  It also helps to have a talented makeup artist like Isidro Valencia. Kayla is a true professional that is engaged in what she does and always brings something new and unique to a set.  She studies her poses, and isn’t afraid to try something that is not standard.  She’s willing to lay in the floor when I say, “Hey you see those shadows over there?  What would it look like if you laid in the middle of them?”  The pictures here are not so much a result of planning, but from communication and interaction during the shoot.  We have full faith in each other’s abilities.  And we’re not afraid to fail, because it’s all part of the process.  These sets were all shot within my building using different light sources (skylights, reflectors, windows, floors and walls.)  I love using natural light in unique ways.  I’ve always said that my building was made for photography.  And when it comes to improvisational shooting, it couldn’t be better.  It’s fun to have people like Kayla and Isidro help me put it to the test.

 

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Oneiric Reclamation

 

Oneiric Reclamation

 

What started out as a conversation among photographers over drinks materialized into the biggest collaborations of talent that I’ve seen in my 5 years of photography.  The concept and idea was simple…. 1 location, 8 photographers, 1 model each, 1 image each.  The concept revolved around 1 word, “oneiric,” which means “of or relating to dreams.”  The planning and coordination that went into it would take months.  Project Oneiric was a way that all involved could contribute and see each individual vision come to life.  For the complete story on the background and development of Project Oneiric, please check out fellow photographer Clay Cook’s blog post http://www.clay-cook.com/post/79418657163/project-oneiric

As the project developed, each photographer was paired up with a team that included a makeup artist, hairstylist and a stylist/designer.  I was excited to be working with all new people with my team (Christopher Caswell, Rick Bancroft and Dylan Kremer).  They are each talented in their own way, and using this combination of styles and backgrounds was something that was exciting for me.  Each photographer was able to choose their own model for the project.  As I thought about what kind of look and skill I would need for the project, I knew that I would need somebody with a diverse look.  It would have to be somebody that could focus on the moment and maintain composure in a difficult pose and setting.  The first name that came to mind was Brooke Taylor.  I had worked with her several times before, and I knew that she would be the perfect fit for the role.

As our team planned the shoot, we knew we wanted something that would fall within the general theme, but made use of the location.  I had shot in the Icehouse before, so I had a couple of general ideas.  Members of the team also contributed their ideas.  We wanted it to be ethereal, but still grounded in reality.  We didn’t want us to lock ourselves into one idea in the case that we wouldn’t have the setting or circumstances to make it work.  We would leave ourselves open to improvisation.  This is something that I’m familiar with, and the creativity style that I’m most comfortable with.  Within our arsenal we had picture frames, smoke bombs, antique clocks, etc.  We refined our ideas up until the day of the shoot, and had a general idea of what the look of the model was going to be.  Christopher Caswell pulled some connections in order to get us a vintage dress and cape that we could use.  The hair and makeup was going to be dramatic, but not overdone.

Finally, the day of the shoot came.  Excitement, energy and anticipation filled the main venue of the Icehouse as teams started working on their concepts.  I think that everybody was in awe at the amount of planning and the visions that were going into each individual set.  I had the time to walk around a bit while Brooke was getting her hair and makeup done.  Sets were being created here and there….. mannequins, carousel horses, beds…. it was apparent that we were all stepping up in a big way for this.  It was a truly impressive sight.  However, I knew that I needed to get my own set figured out, so Michelle Patterson Gleckler and I started scouting for our spot.  I was somewhat disappointed that the massive hole in the wall one of the floors had been covered over.  I had a vision in my head to do some levitation shots of Brooke floating out of the hole.  This goes back to my improvisation comment, and why I almost never lock myself into one idea unless I’m sure of the setting and circumstances.  We climbed floor after floor up the spiraling staircase, and each floor seemed to look the same…. big columns, dusty floors, little ambient light.  Then we got to the 6th floor.  The first thing that I noticed was the floor.  The Icehouse is currently being totally gutted and renovated for loft condos.  The concrete floor had just been jackhammered with the jackhammers still laying on the floor.  This created a scene that I will probably never likely see again.  Additionally, there was a large opening in wall, that was letting in just enough ambient light that I could use for my exposure.  I’m a big fan of mixing ambient light and strobes on location, and this played especially well to our ethereal, dreamy theme.  The next thing was…. what were we going to do with this floor?  How would we incorporate it into our image?  Thoughts ran through my head.  Somehow I wanted to the floor to show action… like something just happened.  It honestly looked like it just got struck by an earthquake, so this was perfect.  I remembered seeing an antique chair in the hair and makeup room downstairs, so Michelle and I lugged it upstairs 6 stories along with my equipment.  We placed the chair in the rocks and at an angle with one of the legs buried in the rocks.  I would have Brooke falling out of the chair, which would require some assistance and the use of multiple exposures.

The team had finished Brooke’s look.  Cell phone pics were taken; selfies were made.  It was now time to rock and roll.  I had let Brooke know what the plan and concept was going to be, and she didn’t seem to be scared away by it.  We had her stand in the chair and Dylan caught her a few times.  They were good images, but didn’t have quite the feel I was going for.  I also wanted the dress to fill more of the frame, so we brought in a fan and placed it directly under the tail of the dress.  That helped somewhat, but I wasn’t quite satisfied with the flow of the dress.  With Chris’ ingenuity of tying the dress to the fan with a piece of fishing wire, we were now very close to our final image.  We changed our strategy a little bit and had Brooke leaning to the left and Chris was behind her holding her up so that she wouldn’t fall.  I reminded Brooke that we only needed one image, and she had to look totally in the moment.  We counted to three and she ripped off 3-4 unbelievable poses; they were so good, it was hard for me to decide on which one we would use for the final image.  Nevertheless, I knew that we had our shot.  The rest would be the easy part.  We had bounced around ideas of melting clocks, floating chairs and beams, etc.  I had Michelle hold these items in several spots so that I could use them to create a composite afterwards and blend them into the final image.  My camera remained on my tripod in the same location and settings for each shot.  At the end, Michelle had a great idea to use a broom to kick up the dust that was on the floor.  This ended up being a key element to the image.  In the editing process, I spent several hours using several layers to create what I thought would be the final image.  There were floating chairs, beams, etc, just as planned; however, I had to step back and question that.  To me it was a cool effect, but totally unnecessary for this image.  I started deleting the layers.  I even photoshopped the clock out that I was going to have melting or exploding.  What I did end up using was the dust.  This gave the image texture, and also made it look as if the floor had just collapsed.  I used 2 different layers to brush it into the right spots.  I used a base layer of the setting to photoshop Chris, Dylan and Elizabeth out of the frame.  Beyond that, the editing was pretty simple.  I used some curves layers and sharpened in certain areas.  It was much simpler than I had anticipated, but it was just right.  We had our image with much less.

I want to thank my incredible team for coming together and each adding their own element of creativity in creating this image.  I also want to thank all the people that came out to support the Project Oneiric event.  Your support means a lot to all of us.  And I’d like to thank my fellow photographers who all came together for the shoot and the event in order to create, support each other and to share this experience.  It’s something I will not forget.

Model – Brooke Taylor

Styling/creative direction – Christopher Caswell

Makeup – Rick Bancroft

Hair – Dylan Kremer

Assistant – Michelle Patterson Gleckler

Assistant – Kylie Rhew

Assistant – Elizabeth Morrison

 

Technical details:

Lighting – Einstein shot into octobox, camera right, 1/8 power.

Camera settings – f/6.3, 1/40, ISO 1250

 

Black and white behind-the-scenes images courtesy of Michelle Patterson Gleckler.  Group shot at the Oneiric event courtesy of Tina Smith.

 

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2 weeks in India

 

How to boil down my 2 weeks in this country to a blog post….. it was quite a challenge.  Although the majority of what I do is fashion and modeling photography, my initial roots and inspiration lie in travel photography.  To be able to place myself in foreign locations and countries and to be able to document it with my style of photography is very rewarding to me.   It’s a departure from working with hair and makeup artists and styling teams…. it’s just me, a foreigner, living in the experience and interacting with the people of this country.  I view the portraits as a reflection of that interaction.  For the viewer, it’s part documentary, it’s part creativity, and it’s very much a chance to experience a country through my eyes.

I chose India for this trip because the history, culture and architecture have always been amazing, and somewhat mystical to me.  The people that I talked to that had gone said that it was a “powerful cultural experience.”  It did not fail in that aspect.  India is a land of extremes.  These extremes are often juxtaposed in the most powerful ways…. the man who was washing clothes in a polluted river at the base of the Taj Mahal…. the people that drive scooters and motorcycles past cows down narrow streets that are thousands of years old.  India is ancient…. it’s mysterious… yet, it’s fast-paced and evolving.  It’s a country that proudly retains it’s multi-layered cultural heritage, yet undeniably is impacted by outside influences and ideals.  It’s also a country that struggles with the real world aspects of learning how to sustain over 1 billion people, each with dreams and goals, just as we all have.  This is what I wanted to capture…. all aspects. Some of these pictures were fun to take, some of them were awe-inspiring… some of them were difficult, emotionally.   My goal with travel isn’t to be pampered, it’s to experience.  India is majestic, dynamic, crowded, frenetic, passionate… and larger than life.  These pictures are how I experienced, how I saw, how I felt…. this country on the other side of the planet…. India.

 

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Firestarter

 

Photography – I am always searching for new techniques and ways to express fashion through a different style of image.  I especially love working with in-camera techniques in order to create a surreal effect that puts a different spin on a fashion image.  Some ways to do this are by manipulating time, motion and color in order to create a “painterly effect” with the ambient lights in a setting.  In the past, I had done gigs in clubs where I would use an extended shutter speed and rear-curtain sync in order to create motion and blur with the ambient lights in the club.  Recently, I saw an fstoppers post on how this technique could be applied to fashion image, and I wanted to try it out.  I assembled a team of high-caliber creatives and the images below are the result of everybody coming together with their own talents and contributions.

During the shoot, I knew that I wanted to experiment with all different types of motion blur.  I did not know beforehand what the dresses looked like, and when I noticed that the silver dress looked like it was on fire during the shots, we went with it in a totally improvisational style.  It took a few frames to key in the right exposure time and power on the constant lights that would give me a good even exposure between the strobe and the constant lights; however, once we had it locked in, Kevin cranked up Prodigy’s Firestarter during the set, and what we created is what you see here.    All said, I am very proud of what the team accomplished that day.

For a detailed description of the technique, please refer to the fstoppers link…. www.fstoppers.com/shooting-with-mixed-studio-lighting 

Model – I was lucky enough to have Jessi Lynn Neidert of Sigal Models for this shoot.  Her energy and creative style was perfect for this shoot.  The fact that she also does photography gave her a keen intuition on what type of shot that I was going for.

Hair – “my inspiration was texture. So many women have the most beautiful natural curl, and either never wear it or just don’t know how to style it properly.  I wanted her curl to look natural and like it grew out of her head that way.  I first curled her hair with an extremely small iron (1cm to be exact) and combed it out with a boar bristle brush when I was complete to create a soft look for the curls.  From there I carefully molded the hair into shape until I found something that spoke to me.”  Liz Lane – hairstylist and artist – Lunatic Fringe – Cincinnati, OH

Makeup – “This shoot was a mix of emotion. I wanted there to be a balance of a piercing edge with a subtlety femininity. In the first look we used a heavy contour for the complexion with a soft cut crease eye. Matte touch and the Airflash CC primer from Dior at Sephora saved my life for this one. The brow was kept short, straight, and sculpted, while the lip was soft and elegant. The hair balanced everything perfectly, thanks to Liz. The second look was all about the edge. I wanted to have everything be sharp and hard with a vulnerability that comes from the eyes. If you notice, I played a lot with the under eye area, adding and subtracting shadows until she looked like she could take on the world… but only if you made her. The brows were a fiery orange that I blended into her skin to give a lifted look in the form of undertones. The lips and cheeks were almost metallic to give her that plastic flawless-like skin. My style is all about enhancement. It’s important for me to always keep some of the model’s personality on their face, something that they can relate to so that they might be able to elevate their mood to a point of being fierce, bold, soft, elegant, feminine, masculine, or whatever the particular shoot calls for. I always love working with models that have good skin. It makes everything look so much better. Jessi was a dream especially with a talented photographer, hairstylist and designer behind her.”  Hank Walton – Education Director – Dior

Designer – “I never decide on a collection until after I search for fabrics. I fall for fabrics and I start imagining the designs. I don’t draw prior to the collection or even make patterns. I just drape the fabric and see what happens.  The same goes for the gold dress in this shoot.  I loved that fabric and I wanted to do something special with it.  Persian writing is beautiful.  My inspiration for that dress basically came from that.  So hours of hand carving went into making that dress.  The blue dress has basically the same concept but a different design.  I also love see through fabrics. So using a see through fabric made the carvings even more appealing.  So that’s all I can say. It’s all imagination.”  Azhand Shokohi – www.azhandshokohi.com

Special thanks to Kevin Kilpatrick of Epic Design House in Cincinnati for letting us use his studio space for this shoot.  For photography or graphic design, please check out their work at www.epicdesignhouse.com

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Amie and Rusty wedding

 

It was a rainy day in October, and it couldn’t have been better….

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A Labor of Fashion

 

There was an evening in early summer when I was sitting in Matthew Tyldesley’s backyard discussing future photo shoot concepts.  His backyard was in the process of being re-landscaped.  I mentioned that it would be a great idea to do some type of fashion theme in his yard.  Matt hesitated because he said that his yard was not finished.  My response was that it was perfect, and that the concept would be that the models were doing actual yardwork, but with a very editorial and glamorous style.  That is how our concept began, and the wheels were set in motion….

Photography – Josh Eskridge

For the photography and look of the shots, I wanted to do this set in the middle of the day with harsh sunlight.  I would use high-powered strobes to match the power of the sun.  For all of the sets, I used either a Paul Buff Einstein with a white beauty dish or a ringflash.  This would give me a very spectral light that would provide good detail and contrast and that I could really bring out in Photoshop in a stylized way. As far as composition, I shot wide for most of the sets in order to stay true to the theme.  I didn’t want to disregard the setting by shooting close-ups.  There were plenty of compositional challenges with this….  yard ornamentation, power lines, etc.  I did not intend to photoshop these elements out.  I loved the challenge of harmonizing the model in their settings, but still composing in a way that boldly drew attention to them.

Hair – Matthew Tyldesley

“For this project I wanted to create a look that I thought would work, given the unconventional nature of the editorial. The look was soft, clean and with minimal volume and with soft waves using a 1-inch marcel iron using an off-base placement. The male model’s hair was styled with volume straight back using a Denman brush and gel.  I hope the viewer feels excited, energized and seduced.  Thermal heat-Stylers, as well as a lot of finishing hairsprays were vital for sustaining the shape of the hair, especially when dealing with the heat and humidity on that day. We had a great set of models for this collection and hairstyles were created to compliment each model’s features.”  Matthew

Makeup – Isidro Valencia

“I approached elegance and simplicity in these looks, focusing on the intensity of color. I used dark eyeshadows and dramatic eyelashes, then I used nude lip colors and a touch of blush followed by bronzer all over the body, thus creating a radiant look.”  Isidro

Wardrobe and styling – Matthew, Isidro and Josh

For the outfits, we wanted the swimsuits to be very styled, one-piece suits, that would match our editorial look.  We created a Facebook group page weeks ahead of the shoot and collaborated finalizing the looks.  The swimsuits had to be special ordered, as you would not find these at your local mall.  The shoes were by Steve Madden and Vince Camuto.  For our finalized look we wanted the models to have a very pristine and polished look that would contrast with the manual labor theme that we were going to be portraying.

 

“A Labor of Fashion” was published in the 2013 “Indian Summer” Issue of Vigorè Magazine.  The issue can be accessed by clicking the link below.

http://issuu.com/vigore/docs/vigore_magazine_september_2013   

Vigore

 

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It was a Vince Camuto swimwear kinda day

 

This would be my third shoot with Tiffany Cline.  Tiffany is an amazing model with so much determination to be successful in modeling and everything she does.  This motivates me as a photographer, because I know that she’s going to give all her effort in a shoot.  Having done an 80’s fashion shoot, and then a casual shoot in Central Park, when Tiffany and I planned this shoot, we decided to go for an editorial feel with high-end swimwear.  This was a look that I was confident that Tiffany could pull off.

Photography – The fashion inspiration for this shoot would come from multiple places, but I drew mainly on shoots from Vogue with Jennifer Lopez and GQ with Jessica Biel.  I wanted a combination of studio and outdoor.  The indoor sets were done in my loft against a white background.  The first sets used natural window light with a large reflector to the right to get an awesome bounce light on Tiffany.  The other sets, I wanted a harsh light that replicated the sun.  So I used a single strobe, placed far back to produce hard shadows against the backdrop.  For the modifier, I used a simple 7-inch reflector.  The strobe was an Einstein shot at 3/4 power.  Camera settings were f/10, 1/160, ISO 100. The outdoor sets, I used natural light with a reflector.

Hair and Makeup – For the shoot, I collaborated with master makeup artist, Isidro Valencia.  Isidro gave details on his process, which I have included below.

“Hair – Wet hair looks sexy and stylish and sexiness is what I was looking for with this shoot. The hair was easy to do. I applied gel from the top down. Starring from the hairline, I worked back to the crown of the head, scrunching the gel into the hair, then blended it in using my fingers and a wide-toothed comb.

Makeup – I brought the girl from the beach to the studio.  After I prepared the face with primer, concealer and foundation, I created a radiant look using a cream luminizer, bronzer and a flattering shade of blush on the apples of the cheeks. I applied shades of gold highlight along the cheek bone, brow bone, nose and other high points of the face adding luminosity and sensuality to the skin. Eyes & lips were easy, breezy and modern. For the body I used one of my favorites products from NARS cosmetics, “Body Glow”, giving the skin a bronzed, radiant, natural glow.”  Isidro  

 

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Post-Retro

 

Jade Brownfield and I met while working the red carpet together at the Maxim red carpet Derby event in 2012, and in the back of my mind, I knew that I wanted to work with her at some point in the future.  Upon seeing her again at the 2013 Maxim event, I knew that then was the time to ask her.  She said yes, and I started thinking of concepts that I could do with her.  I keep a working list of ideas and concepts that I have in mind to do in the future, but I’m always open to hearing other people’s ideas and incorporating those when possible.  She said that she had always wanted to do a pinup shoot.  This is something that had not crossed my mind, honestly, due to the fact that pinup has been done and perfected by so many other photographers.  Knowing that my style was different, though, I was sure that I could put my own spin on the pinup theme.  Part of that confidence lies in the fact that I have a creative and talented team that I work with that is capable of bringing a fashion concept to life, but in our own way.  I have done several vintage shoots that had an editorial feel, and that was the direction that I wanted to take with this shoot.  However, I didn’t want to lock it into specific decade, per se.  Actually, I wanted it to be hard to pin down a decade so as to make it more timeless.  I even wanted to give it a futuristic flair, akin to a “Jetsons” look.  The idea was retro, but futuristic, but still pinup… but still fashion. The Post-Retro concept was born.

As planning was developing for this shoot, I had done a test shoot with another amazing model, Megan Ducharm.  The test shoot was more casual, but we got excellent results.  I knew that I wanted to see how she would handle a more stylized concept.  I pitched the idea to her about this theme and she was on board with it.

When considering a location for this shoot, I knew that I wanted something that was going to offer a lot of options.  I wanted the shoot to progress through several looks, and I wanted a combination of indoor and outdoor.  I wanted a pool as well.  Isidro knew a couple of friends that had houses with pools, and we spent an evening checking them out.  This is the planning and time spent before a shoot that people don’t see, yet is so critical to the final outcome.  When I saw Craig Scherman’s home, I knew that we had found our location.  The pool was huge, and it offered the possibility of a lot of different compositions, and more importantly, clean compositions.  The inside of the home, to me, was even more spectacular. The structure of the home had skylights throughout, which was great for natural lighting.  There was also a lot of vintage decor that I could use that blended perfectly with our theme.

MAKEUP – I brought on master makeup artist Isidro Valencia for the shoot.

“I focused on providing drama to the eyes. I wanted something dramatic and colorful. The use of eye shadow color is an easy and straightforward way of making eyes pop. This was a way to bring attention in their eyes.”  Isidro

HAIR – Matthew Tyldesley was my hairstylist of choice for this shoot.

“For post-retro I really got to experiment with hair inspired by the the 1960’s and 1970’s. I got to create several looks that were more exaggerated to reflect my own style and to make the collection feel current. The looks utilized lots of heat styling expanding on traditional roller placement and finishing. It was important for me to study the model’s facial structure to get the right balance. I also used custom extensions to create density, length and dimension. For my alternate looks, I used hair pads and a lot of back combing to create large silhouettes that were reminiscent of the time period. The hair is such an important factor and I want the viewer to see the beauty and seduction of the styles that both model bring to life.”  Matthew

WARDROBE – For the wardrobe and accessories, Genna Yussman was extremely helpful by providing that for the shoot.  And the looks of the outfits could not have been better for the theme.

PHOTOGRAPHY – As far as my approach to the photography techniques, I wanted to take advantage of the location as much as possible, but have a natural interaction with the models during the sets.  Although I never lose sight of what the light is doing in a setting, I had an intense focus on getting unique compositions with the location.  This involved using all 3 lenses I had in my bag, using different vantage points, shooting on top of ladders, through furniture, hanging off of porch railing, etc.  As far as light, I used natural light for all but 2 sets.  Indoors, I loved the natural light provided by the large windows and skylights, which gave great overhead, diffused light.  The only time that I used a strobe indoors was when I fired a light through a large glass panel behind Megan to blow out the background.  Outdoors, I took advantage of the cloudy day, and used natural light.  For the last set, I used an Einstein shot into a white beauty dish.  I wanted to get a high fashion look that was very sharp and crisp.

Overall, I consider the shoot a success, and I’m very lucky to have worked with these beautiful and talented people.  I always say that they make my work look good, and this shoot was no exception.

 

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Magic on Michigan Ave.

When Cathy Dod contacted me asking me if I would be interested in shooting her daughter, Lauren, she stated that the 14-year-old “is quite photogenic.”  I receive a lot of messages like this, so when I clicked her link I expected to see somebody with little to no experience, but had some shots perhaps that had been captured by friends and relatives.  To my surprise, what I saw as a well-established model, who had a clear direction of where she was going with her portfolio.  Her confidence and camera presence were apparent, and I knew that we would add to each other’s portfolios.  Coincidentally, I was traveling to Chicago the following week for a business trip, and I had planned on spending Sunday evening exploring the downtown area along Michigan Ave.  It was opportune that Cathy had contacted me, because now I was able to meet some great people and had an awesome time capturing images in the historic Hilton Chicago and surrounding area.

As a fashion photographer, shoots like this are fun to challenge myself with.  I was not able to bring much equipment with me on the flight.  I was barely able to fit my reflector into the suitcase.  Due to Chicago traffic, I showed up a little later than I had anticipated, which cut out any opportunities to scout locations.  This shoot was going to be free style….. totally improvisational.  We see, we create, we have fun and we move on.

We started with a quick warm-up session in the hotel room, then ventured out into the hallways on the 10th floor.  There was no shortage of interesting light and compositions that I could use within the hotel.  When we made it down the the lobby, I was blown away by the palatial Beaux-arts architecture.  We went from room to room, capturing what we could, until we stumbled into one of the most impressive rooms that I’ve ever been in… the grand ballroom.  I did not know the history of the room and the hotel until after the shoot, but I knew at the time that we were very privileged to have this setting to use.  As impressive as our surroundings were, my approach to how I incorporate and use those surroundings for a shoot remained the same.  A location establishes place, but is never the “focus” of my shoots.  I use light, lines, colors, etc to draw attention to the model in the most creative way that I can.  I look for unique vantage points and compositions.  Once we were done with the ballroom, we made our way outside and worked our way around Grant Park.  The weather was perfect; there was a slight overcast, which gave us great diffused light to work with. Again, I could have put Lauren in front of the city skyline to take some images that showed that I was in downtown Chicago, but I wanted to keep the focus on her.  We used the grassy areas and the fountain, and worked with different poses and expressions.

When the light was finally dying down, I was content at that point with what I had captured.  We made our way back to the hotel and upon crossing the street, I saw something that had caught my eye before, but was much more attention-grabbing now…. the marquee light on the side of the hotel.  We walked underneath the light.  I worked with Lauren on a couple of shots and was getting great images, but I felt like there was something more powerful that I was not capturing.  It was then that I noticed Lauren’s reflection showing up on the smooth surface of the granite wall.  Reflections are a very powerful compositional element for me, and I was sure there was a powerful shot here. I just needed to find the right angle to incorporate the lights overhead and the reflection in the wall.  I lowered myself down so that I could shoot up towards Lauren, and asked her to look over me towards the road.  The image we captured there at that moment was my favorite from the whole day.

I was truly blessed to work with some beautiful and talented people that day.  Lauren was amazing to work with.  She was very comfortable in front of the camera, and knew her lines and poses well.  But the expressions are always what distinguish models for me, and she had the confidence to really create the looks I knew she was capable of. Andrea Pascalau is a talented photographer in the Chicago area that was great to work with and a huge help with many aspects of the shoot.  Roxana Alexandru did an awesome job with makeup, and is somebody that I will be shooting as a model at some point in the future.

I would highly encourage anybody to check out their work and portfolios below.

Model – Lauren Dod – http://laurendod.weebly.com/

Wardrobe and assistant – Andrea Pascalau – https://www.facebook.com/corseiphotography

Makeup – Roxana Alexandru –  https://www.facebook.com/RoxannaAlexandruMakeupAndHairDesign

Special thanks to Cathy Dod for reaching out to me, and also for the Blackhawks shirt!

 

 

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Shades of White

 

 

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Shades of White is the result of an intricate collaboration and melding of talents into one creative statement.  The concept started with a general idea, an “all white shoot.” White is the sum of all colors combined.  It’s an absolute. Our goal was to take that absolute and break it apart to show the power of nuance, yet remain bold in expression.

Each individual on my team for this project is each masterful in their own right….

Hair and styling – Matthew Tyldesley – Matthew is an integral part of any shoot that I do with him because of his level of creativity with anything that has to do with hair, and his level of engagement with anything that he commits himself to.

“For Shades of White I wanted the hair to be as diverse as the wardrobe and to really showcase contrast within the theme established by our team.  I spent a month making custom hair extensions to build the shape of the models hair and used pastels extensions placed in varying placements to create dimension.  I also used two of my custom-made wigs that showcase both styling and design.  Hair was coiled around varying styling irons to create texture and form for each look.  I hope the viewer is taken to a place that is dream like, surreal, beautiful and unique.”  Matt

Makeup and styling – Isidro Valencia – I have worked with Isidro Valencia for roughly two years, and I’m always impressed by the unique ways that he can combine colors and his careful attention to detail.

“Sometimes it is hard to match a dark skin just with one shade. The secret is to mix two or three shades to come up with the perfect tone.  Before foundation I applied primer to the models face to help the concealer and foundation glide on smoothly.  The goal in this photo shoot was to push my makeup skills over the top… to make it unique, distinct and bold.”  Isidro

Wardrobe, styling and accessories – Genna Yussman – Genna was the perfect artist to fill this role.  She is known for her ability to create fashion out of any material, which really took this shoot to the next level.

“From the windows, the walls, the ceiling to the floor Shades is a clothing line of Amor!  The ingenuity of producing this series consists of using textiles that can be found in any modern home, but has to have that certain je ne sais quoi.  In creating these very unique garments, stepping outside the box is a must as a designer, and remembering to not stay inside the lines is also important in the evolution of any artist.  Ideas for art come from everything, everywhere, at any given time, and it is only our imagination that allows us to open up that window to let people see what it is that we see.”  Genna

Model – Aubé Jolicoeur – Born and raised in Haiti until she was 9, Aubé has been featured in Vogue Africa, Marlene Haute Couture fashion lookbook, etc.  She has walked in Derby City fashion week and Dayton fashion.  She is known for her runway walk and creative poses.  Modeling is a part of who she is, and it’s a way to express herself.  She will be moving to NYC  later this year to pursue her passion.

Model – Anita Mwiruki – Anita was born in Tanzania, and moved to the US when she was 7.  She recently started modeling and has discovered that it is a way to express herself.  She’s very diverse, and can fit the commercial look with a smile, but also likes to get crazy with hair and makeup with shoots that tell a story.  She also loves fashion, and has started her own fashion blog.  She will be walking in her first show in NYC this year.

“Style is more than just clothes that you wear, but it speaks to who you are.”  Anita

Special thanks to Chris Diaz for assisting with this shoot.

 

Shades of White appeared in the summer white issue of Vigore Magazine, an international fashion publication, based in New York City.  To access the issue, click this link…

http://issuu.com/vigore/docs/vigore_magazine_summer_2013?e=3235647/3990738

Vigore

 

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