portraits

Desert Mermaid with Mary Jane Monroe

I don’t often consider my photos to be very “High Concept” or even art sometimes. In fact i have to tell models I work with all the time that I am terrible with coming up with ideas and concepts. I sometimes even have a hard time calling my artist because of this. I get around this by thinking of myself as more of an improve artist making things up as I go along instead of having a ton of prep time behind something. Lucky for me the recent shoot I did with Mary Jane Monroe had the high concept feel to it because of her own ideas all I really had to do was shoot. One thing that I differently in this shoot was try to implement scenery a bit more in the shots which is something that I  need to work on but came out quite well in the finished product.

 

Getting back into the swing of Modeling with Crystal Sedillo

Sometimes we get away from doing certain hobbies or activities for one reason or another. Heavy work scheduled, lack of motivation/inspiration and sometimes just lack of opportunity all contribute to this. In Crystal Sedillo’s case having a Kid is a pretty legit excuse to getting away from modeling for a little while. I’ve known Crystal for years now and her husband Orlando has done a lot of my tattoo work so when she wanted to get back into modeling I reached out to help get her back into the swing of it. Crystal brings with her a list of Features that compliment my style of photography specifically her tattoo work and her Alt Model Style. Those things works well with the way I like to process my photos, especially the way I use contrast and colors it allow all of her tattoos to really pop. Over all I really loved this shoot and I hope that  I get to work with Crystal again on something a bit more high concept in the future.

Maxine’s Curves.

Anything can and will go wrong on a shoot, it happens and it happens to the best of us. On a recent shoot with Maxine things “went wrong” in that we couldn’t find the intended location, the area we were in had terrible weather and we were losing light pretty fast. When things like this happen it’s important to keep the spirit up and roll with the punches. With the initial idea being scrapped we drove down to Old Town Albuquerque to try and make up for a shoot that didn’t happen and the results were well worth it.

In the car ride (that got extended) Maxine, my assistant/girlfriend, and I had conversations about shooting women with curves (as Maxine obviously does) and how to get the best images out of it and we specifically talked about how it’s not hard to get great images with curvy models. Essentially when working with curvier models you don’t want to hide the curves, you want to highlight them and use them to your advantage. Curves can be incredibly flattering and work very well aesthetically but in order for get them to work you need to know how to pose the model. Posing is important for any model, it’s the basis of modeling in general and every model is different in what works but I’ve noticed that curvier models are very specific. You need to know where their curves are, where they look the most flattering and extend those areas out so that they get more of the attention than anything else.

Shooting curvier models is a lot of fun. It’s not nearly as challenging as you would think it would be and to be honest is more visually interesting to look at. If you want to get better at directing and posing I would recommend working with more models with curve because it makes you more attentive to what you are doing with your directions.

Short and Sweet with Sam.

There are a couple of things that I take pride in as a photographer. One of those things is just always doing constantly solid work but there are a lot of other qualities that my clients and model friends appreciate when I work with them. Those would be my fast turn around times on edits and the fact that my shoots don’t last to long. On average a shoot with me probably only last about 30 minutes. In that time we’ll take well over 100 images and when I get into editing around 20-30 will make the culling but and then only a hand full of those will be posted, that’s just standard. This recent shoot that  I did with Samantha was just that where, we met we shot, we got some solid stuff, I took it home to edit and that all took just about 3 hours in total work time (not including travel time too and from location.) Doing great work doesn’t have to take weeks to do. Simple locations, poses, edits and good work flow can offer a lot to making great images on a short time table and it always impresses people when you can do great work so quickly.

Ave Kateri Machina in the Studio

Photography is sometimes a very misunderstood medium and the laymen of the world would regard it as a very easy craft. Normally that kind of attitude would set me off. But this shoot that I did with Ave Kateri Machina did make it feel super easy. Every now and again you work with a new talent that is so good at what they do it just make everything so simple. Except editing, because I had a hard time narrowing down this take when I got into lightroom.

Girls of Geek: A Grounded, Modern Twist on Disney

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I’m not great at coming up with creative concepts. A lot of the times I have models show up at certain time at a certain place in what ever outfit they pulled out of their closet having done their hair and make up in whatever fashion they felt suited them. Maybe it’s just my style, deciding to work with whatever I’m given and try to create something out of nothing. But lucky for me working with Girls of Geek comes with built in concepts for me to work with. This weekend we teamed up to do a Disney Princess shoot in that had a more grounded twist to it that you’ve probably never seen before.

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Like the million of other shoots I have done in the past I went into this one relatively blind. The location, the outfitting and many other things were completely out of my hands. What I was given was an excellent location that I instantly fell in love with and outfits that looked (and pretty much were) pulled straight out of closets that gave the images a very realistic look to them. A lot of times when shooting cosplay one of the common struggles I have is that the outfit looks like a costume and doesn’t make sense, but the practicality of these outfits made everything make sense in the context of the images.

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You could be forgiven for looking at the images and not realizing the Disney influence in the images right away, especially at first glance but I find that subtlety to adds a level of interest to the photos and brings out the individual personalities of the girls which is what I’m looking for when I’m taking portraits. If you did a sort of blind view test I’m curious as to when you would have the A-HA moment of realization of the theme.

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Like any shoot their was challenges and in photography the #1 challenge is always going to be lighting. My love of shooting on location and not in a studio has the added baggage of giving me set lighting conditions that I have to find a way to work with. In this case, we got a bright mid day sun with harsh shadows. On the bright side (pun intended) the high amount of light let me keep the ISO all the way down at 100 which have the best possible results in terms of image quality. The main way I solved any shooting problems was by shooting strictly in shaded areas which were few and far between but easy enough to find and exploit.

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An added gift at the location was a silo that offered one of the most interesting settings I’ve ever worked with on top of having some of the best lighting I’ve ever experienced. I got all of the controllable elements of an indoor location with the lighting comparable to an overcast afternoon, which is my ideal shooting condition.  My mind started racing with different Ideas that I could possibly do with the location. Not all of them could be accomplished in the time that I had, but it never hurts to keep a few ideas in your back pocket.

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Every shoot I try to do something a little bit different and see what kind or results I can get. In the case of this shoot I played around with the aperture. I always stop my lens down at least a stop to get the proper sharpness. F2.8 has always been my go to on my primes but with all the added light I took the opportunity stop down a bit more to f3.5 and I was blown away by the results. The in focus bits were as sharp as sharp can be and I still got the nice bokeh in the background.

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My favorite part of working with Girls of Geek is the personalities that are mixed into the group. Each of them has a certain quality about themselves that makes them unique but they all mixed together so well to where it almost doesn’t feel like it’s a shoot. It felt like a group of friends hanging out on a Saturday.

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Another thing I enjoy about this group is the ease that comes with photographing them. The value of excellent models often goes under appreciated. Shoots require a high level of collaboration and the better rapport the better the results you’ll get out of the images.

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Editing wise there was very little that I had to do. The main thing I was looking at was the focus. For portraits you need to make sure the eyes are in perfect focus and then work from there. Normally it’s just a few color adjustments and added contrast. I’ll adjust exposure settings until it’s right but nothing ever too fancy.

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All in all this was probably on of the better shoots I’ve had the opportunity to participate in for a while. The results speak for themselves when looking at the images. I couldn’t be happier with this shoot or getting more opportunities to work with the Girls of Geek.

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You can find Girls of Geek all over social media and I’ll leave link bellow. They have also started a new subscription service when where every month they’ll send you a box of goodies. For more info just go to girlsofgeek.com

Social Media Accounts

Twitter: @GirlsOfGeek

Instagram: @Girls Of Geek

Facebook: Girls of Geek

Delina (Cinderella):

Instagram:@DelinaEllise
Facebook: D3lina

Batmanda (Snow White):

Instagram: @Batmanda13

Facebook: Batmanda

Jacqui Daniels (Ariel):

Instagram: @jacquidaniels
Facebook: Jacqui Daniel

Amy Downing (Belle):

Instagram: @teamamy147

Jennifer Heart (Jasmine):

Instagram: @jennifer_heart_

Mother Nature Doesn’t Do Favors: Shooting With Alissa Narvaez

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As a photographer you’re always looking for something new. A new location to shoot at, a new concept to try to bring to life and even a new ways to shoot. But the one thing you’re constantly looking for is a new model to work with. Alissa Narvaez has been someone who’s been on my radar for possibly a year now and after a long wait I finally got the opportunity to work with her in a very casual shoot in Old Town Albuquerque.

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The motivation for shooting with Alissa primarily comes from her creative mind. Looking through her instagram, she keeps a trove of brilliant creative design work as well as some high concept makeup works that she does in her spare time. This was probably the most casual thing we could have shot together considering the immense amount of creative possibilities, but despite being a clearly talented individual this was the first time she had worked with a photographer taking the photos of her. This however was not much of an issue because I’ve become accustomed to shooting with newer models. While my directing skills are not quite up to par, my main goal with any kind of shoot like this is to get the subject comfortable with a camera pointed at them. The rest just takes time and practice.

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Now the big kicker of this whole shoot was the fact that mother nature didn’t want to cooperate. Now that we’re in the long days of summer, I scheduled this shoot fairly late hoping to catch everything right at that golden hour where the sun is low and the light is warm, but nature had other plans. Just as I was out the door to heading into Old Town Albuquerque storm clouds started rolling in. The clouds weren’t so much of an issue, they create nice even and soft lighting. It was the wind that was being a pain. Alissa has a lot of hair and it got caught in the wind a lot. On top of that, the clouds had rolled in so late that I had to bump my ISO higher than I really wanted to. However, my motto for photography is role with the punches; despite the challenges, we were able to tie things together and make some beautiful images.

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Over all it was an extremely pleasant shoot with Alissa and I look forward to continuing working with her as she wants to do more professional shoots. Chances are she’ll be the next Tara and will be working with all the photographers and doing all the photo shoots in no time at all.

Girls of Geek at Geekon: Personality in Portraits.

Photojournalism is my passion. It’s photography in its purest form in that you are capturing moments while you yourself are in the moment. Portraiture, which I also enjoy, doesn’t capture a moment. It’s more or less a staged moment for the sake of creating a photograph. This doesn’t make Portraiture a lesser form of photography it just means that instead of capturing a moment you are trying to capture a personality. My most recent outing of shooting with Girls of Geek is a prime example of this.

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The group had invited me out to a morning of shooting on location with a couple other photographers at the headquarters of Geekon; A locally owned company out in Albuquerque that restores and sells classic arcade and pinball machines right out of their garage. When you have a pitch for that kind of location it’s hard to say no, so I packed up my gear and went out to shoot like any sensible photographer would.

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Once again I was working with many different models all of whom I’ve had the luxury of working with before (most of them at the Gotham Shoot). This at least gave me a level of comfort when it came to shooting with the models and being able to communicate with them. The real challanges came when I changed who I was shooting with.

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One thing I really do love about this group of ladies is that they have such a mixed bag of personalities and characters. There is no shortage of the amount of things you can get out of them. However that means that as a photographer I have to shift the way I interact with my subjects as they change out. Some models I would just give a slight direction to and they would adjust immediately (and just about perfectly,) while some needed almost no direction at all (which is the most desirable feature in a model) and others who I worked with to find what was right for them.

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Normally with One-on-One portrait sessions this process is a lot more streamlined because you can work with that individual as long as you need to and eventually you get into a rhythm where the photos practically take themselves. As challenging as this problem may sound, just adjusting your style to fit the model is easy as long as you try to show their personality instead of trying to make them be somebody that they are not.

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More often than not I see people post portraits where their subject almost look like dolls or props just to show off their knowledge of the technical working of photography or their skills in Photoshop. When it comes to Portraiture it’s important to remember that there is a person who is the centerpiece of your photograph and it’s your best interest to give your audience an idea of who your subject is.

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Photography like any other art form is of course subjective. There a million and one decisions that can be made and each one will change the dynamic one way or another and different photographers are going to make different dicisions. Lighting, toning, posing, ect, all go into the process of portraiture and these decisions dictate heavily what your final product will be.

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This shoot had a lot of physical limitations, the big one being space. There was really only so much room that I had to work with in this shoot which really influenced how I shot the whole thing. For starters most of this shoot was done shooting with my 50mm 1.8g. Normally I’d be shooting with my 85mm 1.8g for portraits but the amount of space I had was keeping me from getting the compositions I wanted on the 85mm. The 28mm made some appearances but mostly for group shots.

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Another big challenge was lighting. Being that it was indoors with not a lot in terms of natural lighting, I brought with me my DIY lighting set up that consisted of a 1K florescent light with a soft box and several different clamp lights. Some of the other photographers had their strobe set ups with them. I haven’t gotten a whole lot of experience with strobes but it’s something that I’ve been wanting to look into, however coming from a video background it has made more since to have a continuous lighting set up as opposed to strobes that really only help in photography and not so much in video.

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Once I got into post production I was upset to find that some of the photos didn’t have perfect focus. In portraiture you always aim for the eyes to be in sharp focus and some just weren’t there. Not all was lost but it’s annoying when you lose a great photo to something that many people will nitpick (which I do a lot).

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In post I never really do anything fancy, just some adjustments in lightroom to the contrast, recovering some shadow and highlight detail and correcting some color and clarity. Editing the full take will take me more or less a couple of hours. Being from a journalism background has conditioned me to try and have fast turnaround times when it comes to editing. Some times I will come back for re-edits to bring fresh eyes to the images, but that mostly comes from boredom. You’ll notice that a lot of my photos ended up in black and whites. This decisions usually just comes down to a decision of feel. Some photos just end up looking better in black and white than they do in color. This is more common when as photo was taken in low light and I had to use a high ISO. The noise looks more like classic grain and then you don’t really have to worry about color detail because there is none. But for this photo it just felt right to have them in black and white. Some might find it annoying but they are my photos so sue me.

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If there is anything that can be said about this set of images and the models of Girls of Geek it’s that they have quite a lot of range. As a photographer I love the different things that I can get of my subjects and when it comes to working with this group I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface. Here’s to more working with them in the future.

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Shooting with New Models: Ashley Perry.

AJA_0072More often than not people always tell you that it’s all about networking when it comes to getting jobs and people finding your work and that’s exactly what happened this weekend when I helped Ashley Perry start her modeling portfolio.

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Ashley was referred to me by someone I did a shoot with a month prior and since she just got into a modeling agency, she needed to get some portfolio images put together. All the photographers her agency refereed her to were very expensive so I cut her a deal.

AJA_0066Working with a new model is always an interesting experience and you never quite know what to expect. Sometimes they can be a bit timid or shy especially around the camera. However, Ashley didn’t have any of these problems; she was very comfortable around the camera, was able to give me different looks and took direction extremely well.

AJA_0031One of the biggest factors in any shoot is the weather during the shoot. The photography gods very gracious in giving light overcast, no wind and moderately warm temperatures giving me everything I needed to just do my thing and shoot. There was one point where the sun was piercing through that clouds but it was at golden hour making for some excellent light.

AJA_0113For this shoot I relied heavily on my 85mm 1.8g lens for most of the shots. I played around with using the 28mm and the 50mm but everything always comes back to my work horse lens. I shot exclusively at f2.8 making sure I got enough sharpness and detail out of Ashley while still getting nice Bokeh (blur) in the background.

AJA_0033As far as post processing goes I kept things very simple. I tried to bring in as much contrast and color as I could while still keeping things natural. I ran in to some issues with Ashley’s tan skin but I normally get around that by bringing in some vibrancy but pulling down the saturation. Other than that I did some spot correcting, but nothing super drastic. When I edit my portraits I try to keep things subtle while at the same time making things pop.

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Over all it was an extremely fun shoot and I’m looking forward to working with Ashley in the future.