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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Falling out in Ponchos

I have sat and waited patiently for the fall colors to start showing up, so I could shoot some fall apparel. If you are familiar with the cliche "a watched pot never boils" ... well the same thing applies to watching leaves change color. I have booked and scheduled 3 fall shoots but I don't want ot execute them too early or they'll just look like late summer photos. Finally... it happened, I drove down some familiar roads and saw the change. One of my fall shoots i have on schedule is an indoor shoot with a super busy model that I am just dying to work with again. My other model is a teenager still attending school so that one must be carefully planned. But the third one, the one you see in these pictures, sort of just fell in my lap out of sheer coincidence from networking. I met the model, and found her features striking and her name so unique that we definitely decided to use her nickname; Sa (pronounced SAW). This would be Sa's first modeling assignment but she wasn't too nervous, and the conversation flowed. We browsed some magazines to see what was currently trending. We found the look we wanted as far as makeup goes. I whipped out my iPhone, shot a photo and sent it to the Morina, owner of Moxie Glam ( Now that we had an idea what to build the wardrobe around we decided to go and take a look at some wardrobe based on the ideas I had in mind. The first outfit was fitting of a fall look like no other and probably complimented the makeup idea we wanted to use, but something just wasn't quite right with it. And even though it looked great on Sa, it failed to appeal to me for some strange reason which only the photo gods could answer for. looking around, and looking around, we kept adding to the look. Before long it just looked like rush hour traffic, it had become so busy. I need a stylist and I need one right now, is all I could think. Then i saw it!! A plaid ladies poncho with brass buttons. I had just read an article in Glamour about how 70s inspired ponchos are turning out to be the biggest trend of Fall 2011 New York FashionWeek. The look excited me, and I saw my vision. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with Sa.
On the morning of the shoot, I was already being challenged with a downpouring of Good Ol Seattle rain. I decided to switch to an alternate location which would give us a little protection from the rain and afford us to get at least a few useable shots. Phong aka PHD Photography, my 2nd photographer/videographer showed up a lot earlier than I had anticipated and this was good. We discussed the shoot more in detail due to the weather. He was definitely okay with it, and this is one of the things I really appreciate about Phong, because he is really laid back and flows with the ideas. This also gave us an opportunity to discuss a project that Phong will be the lead photographer and videographer on. The makeup was a bit complex so I knew this was going to take a while plus the model had quite a distance to drive to the location and I-5 traffic is never ever forgiving about this sort of thing. Finally she arrived, and we went to the first shoot location, only to find the access chain locked. How could this be?? I had driven out a few times to survey the area and there was never a locked gate across the road. As it turns out, the weekdays are the only time access is permitted. Nonetheless, we proceeded to the 2nd location where we did have coverage from the rain, but this location only gave me decent headshots and I just couldn't envision my full wardrobe here. After enough of the headshots, we drove to the 3rd and final location. Phong began to laugh hard. Because he knows the area a lot better than I did, he informed me that we would need waders to shoot in that area because it was all marsh and wetlands, but clear as day it was there. Luckily enough I had Phong with me on this day because he knew another area close by, which turned out to be a small park surrounded by this very wetland. Since the rain was coming and going I decided to introduce the leopard print umbrella as an accessory. I think it really added a new dimension to the photos and we had fun capturing some great images, and Sa was very happy with what she viewed on the camera while we drove back to where we had left her and Phong's vehicles parked. As I began to drive off the skies opened up and the rain fell really hard. All I could do was think "Wow". Not sure if I was wowed by how hard and constant the rain fell or wowed about the images I was going to be editing tonight.
Equipment used:
Nikon D700
Nikon 85mm f1.4 (manual)
Tamron 70-200 f2.8
ISO 400, S/S 1/60 sec, Aperture f4 and f8 (you can determine which ones was shot open and closed by looking at the bokeh on the background).

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Highschool Photographer picks up on shooting fashion early

NOTE: "These photos were not taken by me (except for the one photo of Ms. Ange Smith, the upcoming fashion photographer). These are her photos. Taken because she wanted to learn first hand what it would be like to do what I do everyday."
Reflecting back on my high school days, I remember our school photography class consisting of cameras made of cardboard boxes which you dropped in a mailbox and a few days later you got some dark, grainy horribly exposed photos mailed back to you which you turned in for a grade. The advanced photography class learned how to develop film, and worked on the school paper and yearbook. I never made it to the advanced class and today my business is photography. Ms Ange Smith, a highschool senior with aspirations to become a fashion photographer is suppose to begin a 8 hour session of "shadowing" me and observing how I create my art. But I wanted her to walk away with more than just an insight of being a photographer, so I gave her the best seat in the studio. Instead of shadowing Bluestill, she would become me, and walk away with the experience none of her classmates would have. A full understanding of what it takes to meet a prospective client, arrange a shoot, set it up, direct it, and shoot it. And if that wasn't enough, I decided to videotape the entire episode to give her some real bragging rights and one heck of a resume, because if my client liked the images, they would be used on their website and printed on their brochures and business cards. And young Ms Smith would not find out how much responsibility she was about to take on until she walked in the door to meet me.
I watched her eyes grow as big as saucers and then dinner plates as I explained to her what she was about to endure. "This is no reality TV show. This is real business and real serious business". She seemed a bit wobbly as we approached the client's store, but then she put on her game face and took her charge. The client did not hold back from telling Ms Smith her expectations and that the merchandise she would be shooting was brand newly arrived and she needed the images as soon as possible. Ange took notes every time the client spoke, as she had been instructed to do, and this pleased me. Ange then introduced Phoebe, the model for the shoot which she would be using to the client, and proceeded with wardrobe selection, accessory matching, and fittings. Afterwards, we left the client's store to discuss where and how we would shoot the wardrobe. Satisfied that we were ready, we called it a day. The next morning came quickly as I went down my checklist ensuring that I had everything ready to go. I picked up the model and proceeded to the shoot location, where Ange and her parent arrived only moments later. As we waited on the makeup artist to arrive, I took the opportunity to familiarize Ange with the Nikon D700. we then set up and metered our lighting for two of the three sets where we would be shooting. The third shoot was a possible outdoor shoot, but just in case the weather changed we had planned a third location as a backup. Finally the makeup artist arrived and he whisked the model off to get her ready. Ange took this opportunity to get used to the weight and operation of the camera by shooting photos of the makeup process. Then the moment had arrived and Ange placed the camera settings on the previously recorded settings from when we had metered the lights. Her nerves got the best of her at first, but as she calmed she begin to shoot some pretty impressive shots. Satisfied we moved to the next outfit and the next set, and she did even better shooting this session. As the model changed into the 3rd and final outfit, I checked outside and the weather was looking pretty ugly, so we made a split decision to shoot the alternate location indoor. And a good thing because before we finished it, rain was pouring outdoors. By now, Ange was used to the camera and metering the lights, and she moved around like a pro capturing her visions. Finally it was all over. As we broke down equipment, repacked wardrobe and took accountability for everything. We then sat down and had an after action review of the shoot, and viewed the images. Now it was time to edit. Ange was familiar with photoshop, but it is impossible for me to teach or even expect her to be able to edit these photos to the liking of the client. However, from looking at what she had captured, I knew that the edits would not be difficult because she had captured some amazing photos and taken highschool photography to the next level. I asked Ange a few questions which she replied " I thought the overall experience was a real eye opener. I didn't expect to be so involved with the makeup and wardrobe as I really was" "The first thought about the equipment I used, was really expensive, but I could tell that the more I got used to the camera and its settings that it got easier as the went along" "The biggest lesson I learned was how the equipment came together to make the shot happen. All the lighting and camera angles make a big difference". I then asked Ms Smith if she still wanted to be a fashion photographer, and she replied "yes, more than I did before this experience".
It makes me feel good knowing that this project turned out to be a huge success in inspiring a young girl to follow her dream, and I felt like I was giving back to the community in a really good way. In closing I would like to thank my client and very good friend Julia Jones and her employees at A Little Touch of Magick ( for allowing a future photographer to experience something she had only thought about but never had the opportunity to achieve until this act of kindness. I would also like to extend a special thanks to Jordna Peflr for the wonderful makeup job you did. The model and the photographer spoke well about your work and your skills.