Posts Tagged ‘my photo biz

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?

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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.

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

31
Jan
11

photographing artwork – the sopwith camel pilot

Today, I spent an enjoyable morning with this wonderful early 20th century oil painting.

This is a portrait of William Y. Bogle, Jr. His son, William Y. Bogle, III, is a friend of mine. I’ve yet to meet WYB IV and V – number five is now in boarding school in Connecticut.

This portrait was painted in 1925, when Mr. Bogle was 30 years old.  During World War I, he had wanted to serve in the U. S, military, but was too young, so he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and had a distinguished career piloting the famous Sopwith Camel airplane, pictured here.  

 He did land a plane in a tree once, but walked away with just a few scratches on his face.  The portrait, to me, shows a sophisticated and dapper young man, war-weary yet wise to the ways of the world.

The painter was a Danish artist, with the distinguished name of Johann Waldemar de Rehling Quistgaard (1877-1962).  The artist’s name appears clearly in the bottom right corner.

This painting is very small, measuring just 5 7/8 ths inches by 4 3/8 ths inches.  The detailed brushstrokes are pretty amazing.

My assignment was to photograph the painting and make some prints.  Working with such a small painting is tricky.  My photograph appears above. I made several prints for my friend Bill, including one that is 13 inches by 19 inches – almost 10 times the area of the painting.   The print is tack sharp and shows Quistgaard’s skill with a brush, perhaps even more clearly than the actual painting does.

How did I shoot the painting?  Here was my setup:

I propped the painting up, placing it on a white foamcore background. You can see how small the painting is – note the arrow pointing to it. Using a very sturdy tripod, I aimed straight down at the image.  I shot “tethered” to a laptop, so I could check that the image was in sharp focus. See the laptop screen, zoomed in of Mr. Bogle’s face. The face in the painting is just over an inch tall. 

Two lights were used, set at about 45 degrees.  This avoided glare bouncing off the surface of the painting, but was a sharp enough angle to show the texture of the painted brushstrokes.   The camera was mounted with a pro-level Nikon 105mm macro (close-up) lens that provides absolutely amazing clarity and sharpness. 

I love shooting artwork.  Do you have an old family portrait – or any other artwork – that you’d like to have photographed?  I’m ready!

12
Jan
11

couples shoot

Recently I had the privilege of shooting with Brad and Kandi, the couple pictured here.  Sadly, Brad and Kandi live on opposite sides of the globe, but they were together over the holidays. I’m hoping these images will make the long stretches when they can’t be together a bit more bearable.  We did a variety of fun and serious poses.  This is a terrific couple who clearly care for each other very deeply. Who knows what the future will bring for them?  My guess is they’ll be living much closer to one another before long!

08
Jan
11

1940’s glamour headshot

Faithful readers will recognized Tori – a friend and a wonderful model I’ve worked with before, for example here.  In this shoot, we were going for a 1940’s glamour look – think Hollywood publicity still for a movie star.

A couple of notes about the image.

I used just one small light, about 5 feet to camera left and aimed down from above. This gives a very high contrast and dramatic look. I converted the image to black and white with a special software, Nik Silver Efex Pro, which provides a film-style effect to a digital image. Finally, I cropped the image as a perfect square. The square crop isn’t used much today, but it’s a classic and goes well, I believe, with the feeling of this picture.

As always, your comments and questions are welcome.

07
Jan
11

my photo in “usa weekend” – this weekend!

So, it’s a big rush for a photographer to have an image published in the newspaper. It’s an especially big rush if the picture is in over 700 papers around the country!  This image appears in “USA Weekend,” a Sunday suplement magazine published by USA Today.

I took the picture above of three dynamo women, Maggy, Pam and Sharon, who have a cooking blog called Three Many Cooks. Check it out here.

For this image, we had in mind a “Charlie’s Angels in the kitchen” look, so I had Maggy and Sharon turn towards the outside.

These amazing women are starting a weekly column in USA Weekend this weekend. Check it out, including a short video (and, of course my photo of them with a photo credit!)  here.