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Friday, December 24, 2010

When to Keep Going...

I have found myself many times wanting to walk away from everything and do something else. Just put the camera down and return to a daily grind of a 9-5 job where I don't have to worry about managing a business, marketing, and keeping my art fresh and new within a technology driven base. This economic recession is a storm that will take its toll on many of us. It certainly has on me. Hell , I can't even afford a Christmas Tree this year... Recently, several promoters, studio owners, and other agencies have made successful attempts to take advantage of my talent while trying to smite my creativity in the process and ruin me financially.
2010 has been a difficult year. The holiday season has been even more trying due to personal loss and risen emotions of loneliness and destitute.

The storm is upon us. The question we have to ask ourselves is if we are going weather through it and come out from underneath the rumble and despair as not only survivors, but ones who have learned a lesson. I know I will.

And as melancholy and negative as this post may sound, the key point is a lesson to be taught. Oscar winning actor Kevin Spacey says is best in 90 seconds. Chase Jarvis posted it to his blog and I am now posting here.

"To want. To be ambitious. To want to be successful is not enough. That’s just desire…"

Monday, December 13, 2010

Recapping Help Portrait 2010

This was my second year volunteering for Help Portrait. I must say that it keeps getting better and better every year. This go around, the weather decided to cooperate and caravans were organized to shuttle our subjects to and from the the Road Home Shelter. The turn out was great and the day has been the highlight of my holiday season. An amazing group of photographers, hair and makeup stylists, and support staff spent the day turning a downtown night club and dance studio in to a full fledged photography studio where families and those in need could come get a hot meal, a warm coat, and a personal photo session with some of northern Utah's talented photographers.

A special thanks goes out to all those who made this happen, especially to Dave Brewer for stepping up to be the local organizer for the second time. It was great to see some familiar faces and meet the new ones too.

See the highlight video of this year's event.
Video 1
Video 2

Monday, December 6, 2010

Run with the Wild Fashion

Animals have been involved in Fashion Photography as long as I can remember. I've seen everything from polar bears to snakes and even lions implemented into ad campaigns for clothing lines and fragrances.

Robin came up with this concept when she met the owner and driver of a sled dog team. Arrangements were made and the concept of this shoot was born to where we could create a fashion motif with the dogs. Winter had already started and most the canyons/ mountains had already received several inches or feet of snow. This would work perfect for our theme since we associate Huskies with snow and winter.

We set out to Little Cottonwood Canyon and found a nice area which had some large standing rock formations, dead weeds, and enough forested area to block out whatever sky might creep in to my shots. It was vastly overcast. For you photographers out there, this is great for lighting since nature has provided its own natural "Soft Box" or diffusion from the sun's hard and harsh light. With that said, lighting was simple and straight forward, with only a single flash and umbrella needed to light the subjects appropriately.

I forgot my sandbags and needed help balancing my boom arm containing the flash and umbrella. Luckily, I brought my assistant Trevor in as a V.A.L. (voice activated ligthstand) to hold everything. Without him, we would have been in some real trouble.

The shoot went off without any deaths or accidents and I was pleased with the final images.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Don't Give me no Bull...

I had the opportunity to shoot a collaboration with Kelsey again. She had been wanting to do a concept involving her English Bulldog and intertwining a punk or grunge theme.

We headed to downtown on the last tolerable day of the year before the Winter chill took over and shot in front of some neat walls plastered with graffiti. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and we were shooting mid-day when the sun is working against us with harsh light and keeping shadows short. These shots were all captured in the smallest open shade of the buildings' shadows. In some cases we had only a couple feet to work with before the sun cast it's overexposing light onto the asphalt.


On another note, HELP PORTRAIT 2010 is this Saturday, December 4th. Last year was Utah's first year participating in this national non-profit event. I look forward to another amazing year helping out those in need.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fall Leaves

The Wasatch Front of the Rocky Mountains can produce some of most vibrant Fall Colors I've ever seen, given that the snow doesn't arrive first and the temperature doesn't freeze too soon. Unfortunately this year we had a vast cold front move in and "shock" all the leaves into their dead winter state, causing them to fall to the ground before their colors peaked or halting their chromatic change in a mix of a pale yellows and drab greens.

You now have clients running to get their family portraits taken with vibrant Fall Colors. What do you do?

Improvise. Scout, scout, scout, and scout some more. Move to lower altitudes to the wooded parks located in your backyard and valley suburbia. With luck, you'll find some trees with some color left. Utilize some camera magic and shoot with a large aperture and shallow depth of field to turn the background into a creamy, blurred bokeh of Fall color, avoiding the details the drab leaves are displaying.

Anthony is a paramedic / fire fighter I used to work with when I was still full time in EMS. Anthony is an outstanding medic with great skills and a genuine compassion for those who need help. I was excited to shoot his growing family. Their daughter, Claire was a natural in front of the camera and we captured some cute and fun images.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

For it is All Hallows Eve...

I've been wanting to do this concept for over 2 years now. It seemed each October, some other conflict would prevent me from doing it. Well, thanks to a creative collaboration with some very special people, this shoot became a reality.

A little back story with this one...
In recent years, we have all witnessed the increased popularity with vampires, including their myth, culture, and sensual appeal. With popular sagas such as Twilight and HBO's series True Blood, our western culture shows no signs of wavering their undying faith and interest in the subject. What I find interesting is all the different and diverse interpretations of what a vampire should look like, act, and relate with it's prey.
This shoot defines how I imagine vampires would be. No Edward, no glimmering sparkles, and certainly no compassion for the human species. These vampires are professional sirens who can seduce and draw their victims in with their beauty, pseudo libido, and ethereal charm. I imagine vampires are a highly evolved immortal creature that holds great strength, but rarely needs it. Why go to all the trouble of acquiring a meal when their prey wants and desires to be with them... They want to be bitten.
I think of the 3 female sirens from the film O Brother, where art Thou where these females hypnotize and serenade their victims with there beauty and song.

For you photographers reading this, the lighting on this one was a bit more complicated than my normal setups. These images had a minimum 3-5 strobes both bare and modified to accomplish the desired effects. My favorite is the bare flash hung upside down in the curtain to provide some separation.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Getting Classy- Urban Bridals

I've known my good friend Josh now since we were lads in middle school. I was more than enthusiastic during our consultation when his fiance Shelly had decided that she didn't want your typical traditional bridals with some flora and fauna background. She wanted an urban environment with a modern feel.

I went to work trying to get a grasp of her "style" and personality. I decided to go with the ever more increasingly popular fashion approach in which the images could easily be seen in your bridal magazine without a second thought of whether or not they belonged there. Shelly certainly did amazing as we set out to the side streets and alley-ways of Salt Lake City's industrial areas.

All images were shoot with one to two speed lights. This style of bridals is my favorite to shoot as editorial fashion is what I am know for.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Abandoned Macabre

I recently had another great collaboration with Kelsey of Kel-Z Photography. This time she stepped behind her camera instead of posing in front of mine. We found a local designer who made several unique dresses created around a macabre theme. Kelsey provided the location, a little set of abandoned buildings just off the beaten path of a suburban neighborhood. Add three talented models and we were off, shooting away.
Chris and my production team came out to record the whole thing for the BTS video as well as to assist me with my lights.
Take a look at the results.
And be sure to view the video behind this to see how I accomplished these shots.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Photographing Children.. You can do it!

It is in our nature as nurturing parents to love love our offspring and get all googly eyed and joyous when we see them. Hence, taking images of children is a breeze when compared to getting that perfect image of the CEO of a major company that has given you less than 10 minutes of his or her time to get the shot.

From my experiences, keys to capturing amazing shots of children include the following:
-Shoot them when they are most awake, fed, and not in an unusual place
-Get down low... I mean really low... At their level or even lower. Our normal perspective of kids is from up high. Give the viewer a different angle. Get low and make the subject appear larger than life.
-Light the eyes. Make sure their eyes are lit.
-Again, nap time isn't a great time to take photos.
-Have the parent stand behind or next to the camera so the subject will look toward camera and not the parent that is standing 6 feet to the right.
-Do something different. Go in your backyard, school, or park. The same tin wash tub with the cute baby in it has been exhausted by nearly every crappy Box Store portrait studio there is. Do something original. Let kids roam around and be themselves in their natural environment is great place to start.

Monday, September 13, 2010

New Behind the Scenes Video

A simple and short Behind the Scenes Video of the recent Geisha photoshoot I collaborated with Kelsey of Kel-Z Photography. Unlike most of my tutorials that delve into off camera lighting and Strobist techniques, this one focuses on Natural Light and plainly getting out of the house with a concept in mind and shoot away.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Beach Blanket Bingo?

The longer I live, the more I tend to believe I was born in the wrong decade. For this week's blog, I'm sharing the latest Pinup concept I photographed. I went back to Crystal for this one because she has the "look" and true form of what the vintage pinups used to be back in the day.

We headed out once again to the shores of the Great Salt Lake and started shooting away as the sun dropped behind the mountains and eastern shores of the lake. Lighting was minimal and included only a small Flash coupled to a silver reflective umbrella mounted to a boom arm and light stand. Some behind the scenes video was captured and another Strobist Lighting Tutorial should be done soon. As always, stay tuned.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Trash the Dress

75 miles from my home in Provo, Utah there is a group of photographers, models, and makeup artists that get together monthly to share their knowledge, time, and have some fun.
This past meetup was a Trash the dress theme. We had nearly 30+ photographers show up and close to 10 or so models. It was a bit crowded with such a high photographer to model ratio, but most photographers utilize these shoots for networking and fun rather than building portfolios and getting one on one time with a model.

For my setup this meetup, I took a simple one light setup with an old Nikon flash coupled to a convertible 43" reflective umbrella. I hung a sand bag from the light stand to keep from loosing a good flash and radio trigger to the murky depths. We were shooting at depths of knee deep water at times. A strong footing a trustworthy camera strap were a must.

In all, I had a great time and I am excited to join them next month as we head out to the Salt Flats for a shoot.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Kids are Cute

The concept of this week's post is simple. Children... Children tend to be one of the photographed subjects there are. Parents, amateurs, and box stores are constantly capturing images of children. They are always cute, draw the viewer, and parents are attempting to "preserve" that moment in the child's life since they won't be that age forever and most likely will outgrow the shoes their wearing within several months.

These images were simply a few candid shots taken in between setups of a family portrait session of 19 people. These ended up being my favorites of the series.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Shelly + Josh

I have been given the great honor of shooting one of my long-time friend's wedding. Josh and I met nearly 14 years ago in Jr. High School where we used to spend most our summers and weekends fishing the local suburban ponds and rivers in our backyard that makes up the Wasatch Front. While most young men were spending time at Lagoon or the mall making failed attempts at picking up ladies, Josh and I found our leisure hitting the rivers and making attempts of catching fish, all while being surrounded by the pristine backdrop of the Rockies in which we call home. Josh is an excellent sportsman although I've always given him crap about using bait and spin tackle while I pride myself as fly-fisherman and a "purest". However, it always played out that one method proved to be more successful than the other on any given day.-The fish were taking only Josh's lures or only my flies, never both. So usually one of us would get skunked while the other would gloat over their successful day's catch.

Enough of memory lane, lets delve into Josh's and Shelly's Engagement photos. From our consultations with the bride and groom, I found out they desired something a little less traditional than the flowers, greenery, and heavenly sunsets. We opted or a more modern and contemporary look in an urban street setting. We set out to the streets of Ogden one late afternoon. We found some cool walls and some great stairwells to utilize as backdrops. Lighting varied from On-Camera Fill to several umbrellas. I designed their invitation to match the same "feel" as the engagements as well as their wedding colors.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Getting Emotional

Hayley contacted me months ago while I was still working on the Disney film in southern Utah. We finally worked out a schedule to where we could take a few hours during mid-day and head out and shoot.
When I asked her what concepts she was interested in, she made mention of shooting something with emotion. I knew this would be a fun concept since it could potentially give us more latitude than setting up your typical glamor or fashion motif.

While being a Strobist has its perks and advantages, it also has its problems, one of them overpowering the sun in the middle of the day. We were shooting close to noon, and the sun was directly overhead and not a cloud was to be seen in the sky.... So our options were to shoot in some open shade or find some dark, sun-less areas where I would be free to sculpt and create my own light with my speedlights.

We traveled a short distance from the homestead to a pedestrian tunnel that runs under a bridge and went to work. Each frame was captured with the concept of conveying an emotion. I gave Hayley no coaching and told her to simply "feel" what she wanted to convey, which was mostly dark and dreary moods and emotions. This went well with the dark tunnel and the final images are some of my personal favorites of this year's sets.

NOTE: All images were shot with a single speed light coupled to a Beauty Dish.