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:
A long over due post—A couple weeks back I photographed Trey Anastasio, guitarist and vocalist noted for his work with rock band Phish, performing at the Fillmore Silver Spring. The photos were shot for the the Brightest Young Things (full article here).
The concert over all had a real positive energy and chill vibes and was a lot of fun! Below are some shots from the night, but check out the rest and the full story at BYT:
Last month I teamed up with Sascha, a fun and energetic actress and model, for an outdoor shoot on the C&O Canal in Georgetown. I’ve always wanted to do a shoot on the C&O at sunset, and Sascha was the perfect person to collaborate with on this! Shooting with her was a blast (except for the mosquito attacks), and she even did her own hair, makeup, and wardrobe!
In the shots below I was going for a more “commercial” look, while still maintaining a natural vibe. The warm sunlight filtering through Sascha’s curly, blonde hair helped create this feel. To balance the luminance, I lit Sascha with a 50-inch softbox (without it, she’d just be a silhouette).
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.
A few weeks ago I photographed my friend Manny in my “outdoor studio,” a nearby driveway with a brick wall covered in ivy. The area has plenty of privacy and aside from freaking out the neighbors with the flash going off (when its dark out they think it’s a lightning storm), it’s a pretty convenient place to shoot.
I usually don’t do a lot of nighttime portraits, since the lack of available light can make it difficult to illuminate the area surrounding the subject. But for this shoot I decided to shoot in the dark, especially since I had just received a Westcott Apollo 50″ soft box. The rig uses a pair of two Canon 580ex II speedlights, which are attached to a pair of Cowboy Studio wireless triggers, to increase the output of the light from the softbox.
In the above photo you can see the lighting setup. Below are two of the finished shots:
Last week I shot some photos of the awesome and photogenic Lauren Sloat in Meridian Hill Park. The shots were taken right before sunset.
One of the challenges was to get a diverse set of photos from one location. In this instance, off-camera lighting made a huge difference in the mood of the photos. Below is a preview of the shoot, with two very different lighting styles resulting in dramatically different results. I have to run but I’ll cover the lighting in my next post!
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!