New England fashion and beauty photographer

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A Morning with Miranda

 

 

I make it a point to go to Chicago at least a couple of times a year to do portfolio development shoots.  I’m fortunate enough to have made friends with creative talent there, as well as in other cities.  I think that it is important in one’s creative growth to step outside of your area and network with people from other regions.  I’ve worked several times with Andrea Pascalau of Corsei Photography.  She played many roles that day, from assistance to styling to location scouting.  She let me use her incredible space in Lacuna Lofts on the west side of downtown Chicago.  Our model was Miranda Berggren, who was amazing to work with.  Being a photographer herself, she was very intuitive to what I was looking for with certain looks and settings.  She has this ability to come up with unique poses, but still look fierce, yet graceful… bold, yet beautiful.  I highly recommend checking out her photography fanpage, Miranda Ann Berggren Photography.  She has an artistic eye, and I’ll look forward to seeing her creative vision grow in the future.

I was also lucky to work with Chelsea Blair of Chelsea Blair Beauty Artistry.  She did a phenomenal job with the looks, and was a blast to work with.  She is in the process of moving to Nashville, so I would recommend reaching out to her if you’re in that area and looking for quality fashion hair and makeup work.

 

 

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Kimberly and Christopher – After All This Time?…. Always

 

On June 7th, 2014, I was fortunate enough to be the photographer for a fellow friend and photographer of mine, Kimberly McClellan Woods.  It was a magical day, inspired by the story of Harry Potter.  It started with a bridal session in my loft, then a walk around historic Old Louisville.  The ceremony and reception were in the Glassworks Building in downtown Louisville.  I want to thank Gary Barragan for stepping in to assist and 2nd shoot for me this day.  Some of the images below were taken by him.  I also want to thank Kat McKyle for rocking the bridal makeup and hair.

Harry Potter love theme and inspiration:

When I asked Kimberly about the Harry Potter theme, she related her wedding and love for Chris to the following…..

“Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears. ‘After all this time?’ ‘Always,’ said Snape.'”

“When Snape confesses his continued love for Lily, he shows that his love is still strong, and no amount of time or distance can break it.  That is a true love story.  Chris and I, (Ok mainly me) wanted to share the same love that Snape had for Lily. We didn’t do the traditional wedding because our love isn’t traditional.  We made a vow, the unbreakable vow in fact, to promise that our love isn’t temporary.  Our love is like magic.  It never really leaves us.  It is strong, and we will love each other… always.”

Kimberly

 

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Pretty in Penguin – Part 2

 

This blog post is the conclusion and the counterbalance to my earlier post, Pretty in Penguin – Pt. 1.  I had the opportunity to work with a great team in Cincinnati.  I reached out to Angelo Axel Culvert of Pretty Penguin Studios in order to get some ideas rolling on how this shoot would look and feel.  I wanted the day to have two distinct sets and two entirely different looks.  I was working with two models that fit the bill for that (Shannon Markesbery and Taylor DiazMercado).  Part 1 of the day would be a minimal styling, natural look, and Part 2 would be an over-the-top glam look.  I wanted to shoot the 2nd part in Angelo’s studio and make use of the space, working with clothes racks, windows, etc.  We wanted it to have a sense of controlled excess.  The confined space worked great.  It was just a matter of making sense of the chaos.

I had a great team with me on this shoot to make it happen…. Models – Taylor DiazMercado and Shannon Markesbery, Hair and makeup – Angelo Axel Culvert, Assistants – Natalie Darpel, Johnny Ritter and Kevin Kilpatrick

The image of Shannon Markesbery and I was taken by Angelo Axel Culvert.

 

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Hangin with Hayley

 

While I like shoots that involve a hair and styling team, sometimes I love shoots where it’s just me and the model and we just see what we can create….

 

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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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