Archive for the 'My Photo Biz' Category

19
Jul
11

My Barbies

OK, I have two Barbies in my studio – a blonde and a brunette.  It’s interesting to see the reactions of clients when they see them. Some will ask about them – others seem a bit concerned but can’ t quite bring themselves to ask. So why does a grown man have Barbies in his place of work?  Good question!

I use them for lighting practice. Later this week, I have a fashion shoot where I will use new gear and a new technique for wraparound  backlighting, which you can see in this picture.  It’s very helpful to practice with the Barbies so I don’t have to take as much time setting up with a live person.

Actually, if truth be told, I love my Barbies. There, I’ve said it! They’re very patient. They don’t complain if I try ten different ways of shooting them – or fifty. They seem happy with the music I choose.  They can hold a smile and their makeup never needs touching up. And the Barbies have definitely helped me to become a better photographer.

But they do need names now. Can you help me with this?

05
Jul
11

video critique of family portrait

Today, this family portrait of mine was critiqued by Craig Tanner of The Mindful Eye. Craig has been an important mentor and teacher – and friend. I’ve taken two workshops with him and hope to take more. His website is a terrific free resource of inspiration and teaching about photography.

Here’s the video:

http://www.tmelive.com/Features/TheDailyCritique/2011/July/04/TDC-0704.html

26
May
11

Dance Skirts!

This week, I had the pleasure of photographing dance skirts for my friend, Neeta Maniar. Neeta and a partner in India have a business selling beautiful Indian dance skirts. Their website is Taal Dancewear.  The images we shot will go on the website soon. For the shoot, Neeta brought in six models and over 20 skirts – a big production for my modest-sized studio, but somehow everyone fit in!

For each skirt, we shot one full body image, usually in a dance pose, and then one closeup shot of the lovely waist bands. Both images will appear on the website, so Taal Dancewear’s customers can really see the beauty of the skirts.

All of the models are experienced dancers and most had danced together many times.

For the lighting, I had two lights on the white paper background and two lights in front on either side, to provide a fairly soft, low contrast overall lighting setup, which I felt would be appropriate for the website.

I know very little about proper dance poses, so Neeta was just behind me, checking the view from the camera and coaching the models on the poses she wanted.

Neeta and the models could see each image on my laptop as we went along – a big help in getting just the right look.

The shoot was great fun for me and I think for the models as well. I truly hope these images will lead to a big jump in sales for Taal Dancwear!

In a few of the pictures the models hammed it up a bit. Wonder if this one will make it to the website? You can see more images from our shoot here.

06
May
11

the best laid plans…..

Recently, I took this photograph for Fairfield Insulation Co. Emily Johnson-Russo, of mootsa design was working up a marketing campaign for the company. By the way, Emily is terrific to work with and she is a great designer as well  – do check out her website and blog.

The company wanted to replicate an image that was taken in the early 1950’s, shown here:

We scouted out the location a few days ahead of time. The assignment was to shoot the employees in their warehouse space in Norwalk. The warehouse is a big, cavernous and dark space – a nightmare to take pictures in. There’s a large overhead door leading into the warehouse. My plan was to have the truck and the people right in the doorway so we could use the sun to partially light them. I’d fill in with strobe lights and shoot from the parking lot, about 30 feet from my subjects.

Everything was set and I felt comfortable with the plan for the shoot. But…

On the day of the shoot, it was raining – steadily. I couldn’t very well have my camera and lights out in the rain. So, we went to Plan B and moved everyone back towards the rear of the space, so I could get just inside the doorway. Thankfully the space was big enough to accommodate the move.

But I worried about having enough light. My big studio lights could have handled it easily, but what I brought with me were three small Nikon speedlights (SB 900’s). It took a while to figure the lighting setup, which is why I always come extra early for a shoot like this.  As shown above, we had plenty of light.

The Fairfield Insulation folks are a great group and act like a big, happy family. It was a pleasure and privilege to photograph them.

26
Apr
11

dogs in the vineyard!

A couple of years ago, I had the privilege of photographing some wonderful oil paintings to go into a book. The paintings are by Stuart Ferrell, an amazing painter of dogs – and other subjects. The story revolves around some dogs who go to work for an actual vineyard in Virginia. The vineyard, now under new ownership, has decided to use the image above for a wine label. I can’t wait to taste the wine!

In the picture above, the dogs, who have been hired to guard the vineyard, are asleep as a variety of creatures and critters look on. If you’d like to buy Stuart’s fabulous book, contact her at stuartcferrell@gmail.com.

Faithful readers know how much I enjoy doing headshots, and there are some lovely headshots in Stuart’s book, including my favorite one, below.

14
Apr
11

an actress talks about her shoot

 A photo shoot can be intimidating for any of us, even those that are used to being in front of the camera – or on stage. In my studio, I’m aiming for a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere – this helps in creating engaging and natural images. Recently I had the pleasure of shooting with Alisson, a very lovely and accomplished actress. Alisson was kind enough to offer to write up her experiences of the shoot:

Alisson one

“A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to sit for Blake as a model.  While I had done some “modeling” before (it’s kind of a stretch to call it that—I had lots of photography major friends in college who needed someone, anyone, to take pictures of), it had been years since I did more than a casual shot for Facebook. 

Blake and Maria Dominici, a fabulous makeup artist, made the process fun and stress-free.  The three of us and Sam (an 8th grade student who was shadowing Maria as part of a career mentoring program at her school) talked through the ideas for the shoot—what Blake was hoping to accomplish, what I was looking for, and what Maria could bring to the table.  Blake started prepping the studio, and Maria started working on my face. 

Alisson two

I’d never had my make up professionally done before, and now each morning is a disappointment at my own abilities compared to Maria’s.  But she gave me some great pointers, and after Maria worked her magic and I looked in the mirror, I could not believe what she accomplished.   

Once I was made up and outfits were chosen, the shooting began!   Blake’s studio is neat, welcoming and only slightly intimidating (I had seen those big lights before), with big windows and beautiful natural light. 

Alisson three

By connecting his digital camera to a laptop, we were able to look at the images as we went along – shown immediately on a big 17-inch screen.  Not only was that helpful to me as a model to get the right pose (“Ok, I see—I need to keep my shoulder low”), it was also very reassuring—“Wow!  That’s a great shot!” 

 It helped me feel more involved in the process.  I felt like the photos were something Blake was creating with me, not of me.  Additionally, I got to choose the satellite radio station! 

The first order of business was to create a headshot I could use (as a community theater actress, I always need new headshots), which Blake was happy to provide.  It was a great way to ease into the day, as the photos were mostly me sitting and trying to keep my head straight.  Easier said than done at times.  But Blake was very patient with my crooked gazes. 

Then came the beauty shots.  The straps of my dress pulled aside for a classic bare shoulder look, and these amazing lighting effects Blake created—I looked flawless.  I was shocked, truly shocked, at how I appeared on the computer screen as he flipped through the photos.    Maria stayed in the room to reapply powder and help however she could, which made me feel quite comfortable and supported. 

Another change of outfit, beautiful red lipstick applied by Maria, and a green background—now some fashion work.  The idea of shooting fashion style

Alisson four

photos terrified me (um, no one is about to mistake me for a runway model), but it was nothing like I feared.  A cute dress and encouragement to smile and make funny faces ensured I had a blast.  And some absolutely beautiful shots came out of it. 

A final outfit change and more fashion full-body shots.  For this last look I refluffed my hair and got to work.  Spinning, laying down, sassy faces, and playing with my skirt ended the day with a final round of fun photos.

My day with Blake was filled with lights, lipstick, yummy cookies, hairspray, music, beautiful photography – and fun.  Blake and Maria were professional, patient and casual yet focused.  We were chatting and laughing throughout our time together.  It was a great day.  I cannot wait to go back for my next shoot!”

Alisson five

12
Mar
11

man does not live by bread alone…

This week I had the great pleasure of doing a shoot with my good friend, Lisa, who is a baker extraordinaire.  Lisa is a professionally trainer baker of artisanal breads, scones, biscuits and cookies. If you have not tried any of Lisa’s scrumptious creations, stop by Darien Cheese & Fine Foods (website). You’re in for a real treat!

This shoot was about shapes, textures, colors and depth of field. We purposely kept the compositions very simple. In the image to the left of Irish soda bread, we used a fairly harsh light, to bring out the shine in the glaze on the bread. Also we were emphasizing the contrast between the smooth board and rough texture of the bread.

In the image of the bread in a cooling tent, we wanted to show a bit of the reflection off the glass, but not have it be overwhelming. This is a matter of trial and error as you move lights around. Thank goodness for digital capture – there’s no cost to shooting hundreds of images, if need be.

I love Lisa’s post-modern red bread box.  It looks like it might be something the Jetsons would have in their kitchen. While shooting it, I kept wondering if it might take off and fly around the studio. Luckily, it stayed put.

Lisa and I shot her breads for about three hours. We used just a few props and stayed with the blue paper background. We’d take a shot, move the bread a half-inch to the side and shoot again. There’s a lot to be said for keeping things simple while taking pictures. You can slow down and really concentrate on the shapes and textures.  So many images we see today are too busy and frenetic. I find the photographs Lisa and I created to be somehow calming.  Please see more images from this series on my website, here.

“Man does not live by bread alone.”  This sentence appears three times in the Bible, in Deuteronomy and the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.  And to be sure, there is more to life than bread. But I have to say that, when I eat a slice of Lisa’s flax bread (pictured below), all’s right with the world and there’s not much else I long for!