This year has been busy for me with photography, and I’m grateful for all the people who’ve helped me advance both in skill and opportunity. One of the coolest people I’ve had the pleasure to collaborate with over the last few months is Sascha Hughes-Caley, a talented actress/artist/model who provides not only a fabulous boho-chic aesthetic, but also a savvy creative eye to our shoots.
The photos from the below set were taken in Great Falls, VA (a location that Sascha found). Essential to tying together the look was the makeup done by the skillful Libby Nye. Both Sascha and Libby styled the shoot and provided terrific artistic perspective.
Model: Sascha Hughes-Caley
Makeup: Libby Nye
Photography: Jason Dixson
Last week I teamed up with model Samira and makeup artist Soo Park (makeupon.me) for a series of beauty shots.
Samira’s exotic beauty and emotive style, paired with Soo’s impeccable makeup artistry, made this a fun and exciting shoot! We did a number of wardrobe changes and modifications to the makeup. I really love how everything came out and am happy that I paired up with this excellent and creative team. I also had a lot of help from my wonderful GF. Below are a few images from the shoot:
There’s something about beauty shots that cuts through all the stuff that can over-complicate a portrait. Don’t get me wrong, working with a team to put together intricate themes and stories is fun and often has it’s purpose, but sometimes it’s just not necessary. Depending on the shoot, simply having a model in front of the camera without factors that may distract, like intricate backgrounds or flashy clothing and accessories, can intensify the connection between the model and someone reading a magazine, glancing at an advertisement, or browsing a blog. The model and her characteristics that are meant to be distinguished, in this case her makeup, become the story.
Goal of this Shoot: I teamed up the talented makeup artist Jenny Rostami to photograph samples of her work. One of the main goals of the shoot was to exhibit Jenny’s “nude makeup” work (for those of you like me who don’t wear makeup, this is makeup with a natural look). Beyond this Jenny worked in a couple other modifications of the makeup. Our goals for the photos were: simple, clean, and tack sharp. Jenny was an absolute joy to work with and her makeup work is truly amazing!
Model: Jenny and I had the pleasure of working with Lea, a stunning model from Germany who’s natural charisma and piercing gaze made every photo look practically flawless, making it insanely difficult to choose among the final shots!
Lighting Setup: I used a 36-inch Westcott Apollo softbox with a Canon 580EX II speedlite as the key light, softening the short light shadows with a white reflector. We threw in a simple paper background from Calumet Photo (smoke gray), we were ready to go! The initial shots put the softbox at 45 degrees to Lea’s right, but at some point I repositioned the key light to be directly in front and slightly above Lea, positioning the reflector under her chin to soften the shadow.
The aim of the setup was to evenly light Lea from the shoulders up, highlighting Jenny’s terrific makeup artistry as well as Lea’s natural beauty. To avoid harsh shadows, I put the key light as close to Lea as possible. This makes the light source larger relative to Lea, “wrapping her in light” to reduce harsh shadows, and lets me dial back the speedlight so that I don’t over expose areas of her face and create “hot spots.” One of the the hardest things about this setup is getting myself close enough to get the shot without blocking the light coming from the softbox. In the next photo you can see me leaning in under the softbox and above the reflector to get the angle I want.
The entire shoot lasted about two hours, including Jenny’s makeup time and the actual shots. We were both really pleased with the final shots, even before going into post-processing.
Post-Processing: In my experience, post-processing beauty and fashion photos takes a lot more time than other types of photography (events, landscape, travel) because of the meticulous attention to detail that goes into the final product. My workflow goes something like this:
The camera is tethered to my laptop throughout the shoot, downloading the photos directly to Lightroom 4.
After the shoot, I adjust the color temperature and even out the lighting in Lightroom.
The photo is exported into to Photoshop to correct for blemishes and any anomalies in the shot.
The cleaned-up photo is exported back into Lightroom. We’ll call this the “clean edit.” A copy of the “clean edit” is exported to one of the Nik Software suite applications, depending on the look I’m going for. For this shoot I relied heavily on Nik Color EFEX Pro and Silver EFEX Pro.
The photo exported from Nik is brought back into Photoshop, along with the “clean edit.” The two photos are blended together using layers, bringing the best qualities from the stylized photo exported from Nik and the clean edit.
Okay, enough talk (that last part is for all the photo geeks out there, and to remind me what I did when I forget in a couple weeks)! Here are a few of the finished photos. The first two I consider “clean” in that they have been edited to look natural and are without any stylized edits. The second two are a bit edgier, and use the details of Lea’s skin and natural beauty to create texture and contrast.
Last month I did a catalog shoot for Jill Stuart in New York City, specifically for the Jill Jill Stuart dress line. The photos will be used for online catalogs as well as the look book that the sales team shows to buyers that come into purchase dresses for distribution. The shoot took place at Jill Stuart’s corporate offices in NYC and lasted about half a day.
The Setup: Since I was coming from out of town, I had to travel light and since this shoot was indoors in a controlled-lighting environment, speedlights and shoot-through umbrellas (to modify the light) were the most compact and travel-friendly way to go. Throw in a paper backdrop and we were ready! Speedlights are not a one-size fits all solution but given the nature of the shoot and the travel, it was a simple and effective setup.
To trigger the flashes from a distance, I used my trusted Cowboy Studio wireless triggers. Considering you get a pair of transceivers and one transmitter for $28 on Amazon, they’re a steal! Also, for the price they’re shockingly reliable and reportedly have a range of up to 100 feet—to-date I haven’t had a problem with them.
Post-Production: Basic corrections were made for exposure, color temperature, and restoring detail in lighter dresses. However, one major edit in each of these photos was the expansion of the gray backdrop to fill in the dimensions of the photo. This is a very cool trick that I picked up from Scott Kelby at Photoshop World 2012, and I highly advise this approach when you don’t have the space for a huge backdrop. We used was the Savage Widetone Slate Gray 53″ x 12 yards backdrop which is only $26 at B&H. This is a very affordable and easy to transport paper roll, but 53 inches is not nearly wide enough to fill in the camera frame when taking full length shots of a (tall) model. Solution: Use content-aware scale in Photoshop! To do this, simply use the marquee tool in Photoshop to select only the gray background (and as much of it as you can) on either side of the model, turn on content-aware scale, and stretch out the background until you’ve reached the end of the image canvas. Then do the same thing for the other side of the image and voila (!), you now have a 9 foot wide instead of a 5 foot wide backdrop.
Our model that day was Jennifer Daniel, who was exceptionally graceful in front of the camera (and not to mention patient with the dozens of wardrobe changes she had to cram in).
Here are the final products of two of the dresses:
I want to thank my friend Harriet Jung, a talented Assistant Designer at Jill Stuart, for making this connection and taking care of so many of the details. Along with her, I also want to thank Lana Rybak, Director of Sales, and the other folks involved with this shoot (including Jill Stuart interns Andrea and Ga) for making this happen, coordinating the wardrobe and looks, and making sure the shoot ran smoothly!
Last week I was in NYC photographing Alan, a photogenic twenty-something NYU graduate student living in Brooklyn. Alan’s main objective for the shoot was to capture photos with an “urban feel.” With his background in urban planning and given our surroundings, this wasn’t difficult to accomplish.
To be totally honest, the logistics of the shoot came together at the very last-minute. We knew only two things; 1) we wanted a view of Manhattan in the background and 2) we had only one morning to get it done. To shoot from Brooklyn with Manhattan in the background, and to avoid harsh lighting and shadows, we had to be out there at sunrise. The tough thing about photographing at sunrise in the summer is that sunrise is at about 5:20 am! By the time we got to the Brooklyn Promenade (late start) we had only around 10 minutes before the sun would be up so we scrambled to get into position, setup the lighting, and start shooting.
After we finished at the Promenade we knew we could get a few more shots from the awesome morning glow. We ventured to Washington Street and Brooklyn Bridge Park to get some shots with the Manhattan Bridge and city in the background.
All-in-all this was a fantastic, and exhausting, shoot. Once we saw the final result it was clear that the early morning hours and sleep deprivation were well worth it!
On Friday I photographed the American Cancer Society Cure by Design event at the Ronald Reagan Building. I have to say, it was spectacular! Every aspect and detail was so well done and designed. The food was delicious, the decor was elegant, and the fashion show brought joy to people’s hearts as well as shared the stories of various cancer survivors. It was all truly an inspiration.
The description from the official event page:
Cure by Design is an event in which the fashion, design and retail communities join forces with the local corporate community to benefit the American Cancer Society. The focus of this special evening is a fashion show that spotlights designer fashions and, more importantly, the cancer survivors who model them. These survivor models are living proof of the strides we are making in the fight against cancer, and their vibrant smiles portray a message of hope for the cure.
The money raised at Cure by Design enables the American Cancer Society to fund cutting-edge research, early detection and prevention education, advocacy efforts, and life-affirming patient services. By supporting Cure by Design, you are partnering with the American Cancer Society to help cancer patients in your community.
I started off photographing in the very swanky VIP lounge which was designed by my friend Ginger Rodriguez. Then I moved downstairs to capture the highlight of the night, a fabulous survivor fashion show and a silent auction which raised more than $26k for cancer research and services!
Yesterday was the Business of Fashion Networking Event at The Rooftop Rockville, hosted by Red Hue Boutique. It was a lot of fun and the models were pretty fabulous, as were the designs. Everyone really had a great time and there needs to be more fantastic events like this one. Great job to all the models, Red Hue, Joel Castillo, and everyone else who put the event on!
Below are a few shots from the evening, but more shots can be seen on the Facebook album for the event!
It was great weather this past weekend so Lina and I decided to head down to Old Town Alexandria to check out the scenery and take some shots. By the time we got there it was overcast so we played with lighting and shied away from the typical Old Town scenery for photos.
I really like how they turned out, and it helps to have a fantastic model :-). Here’s a couple of the shots:
Last week I teamed up with creative director Joel Castillo to shoot a series of promotional fashion photos.
The shoot took place outdoors at Brookside Botanical Gardens in Wheaton, MD and was a ton of fun! The models were absolutely stunning (this set features Amanda Jackson, Briy Gilgeous, Kaleigh Cohen, and Kate Salerno) and were great to work with! We got a lot of amazing shots that will be used in advertisement and program materials—for now here’s a quick teaser of some of the photos the day.