Model Shoot – Emily

DSC_6574 Edit1Meet Emily.  She’s a beautiful lady with a lot of class.  She was very fun to work with as we practice getting boudoir style shots.

I’ve been working on directing models lately and I think I’ve come a long way, but I still need to work on it some.  I think I want to concentrate on expressions so I can help the models have more variety in their looks.  If anyone has any ideas I’d really appreciate your feedback on helping the models with different looks and expressions.

Essentially, how do you take a girl who has never been a model and get her to look her best.  To smile with her eyes and look alluring.

I’ve been having a few tough weeks with regards to being sick.  I ended up getting 3 different colds one right after the other.  This last one ended up moving into my lungs as Bronchitis and has really kicked my tail.

With all the junk in my upper lungs I’ve had wracking coughs that leave me nauseous and out of breath.  Top that off with not enough sleep and I haven’t been treating myself very well lately.  Most of my issues are over with and I’ve been forcing myself to go to bed earlier for the last several days.

I hate going to bed early because it always feels like I do more when it’s late than I do early or during the day.

Model: Emily
MUA: +Rachael Keresey
Hair Stylist: Donna Latino
Art Direction:  Lexy Page
Photography:  Bob Jones

I see in shades of color and tone

Many times, when I’m doing a photo shoot with the models, I’m already visualizing what tones would look nice with them. I don’t always like simple color or black and white. Often, when I shoot, I will preview capture in a toned color.

To my thinking, the red tones in this image capture an elegance and enhance the fire in her hair. Posing the model with her eyes closed creates a dream quality and the Dutch angle creates a tension and also ads to the surreal look.


What I look for in “friends”, “Likes” & +1′s

So, I look at my profiles on g+ and also Facebook. I see a lot of people trying to add me on G+ and also on facebook. I look at these areas very differently because each group has a different purpose.

Facebook. To me there are 3 kinds of people on facebook.

1. Potential clients. People who keep an eye on my work and want to work with me but don’t know how to ask. They are probably afraid I will judge them as not being good enough for my work. The truth is, I work with new people all the time.
2. People from a distance that like to keep up on what we’re doing. They look at my ideas and sometimes use them for inspiration – or even what not to do in a photo shoot – LOL
3. Guys who want to look at the pretty girls I work with.

How I see Facebook. I like to stay active on FB so I can keep people aware of me. I want to stay relevant in the industry in the CNY area. I accept most friend requests from potential clients, however if some guy tries to friend me from Canada, I will most likely ignore or delete the request as it’s a waste of my time. If you are someone I know or someone I SHOULD know, shoot me a message and I’ll add you, but for the most part, I’m not here to feed your need to see a pretty girl.

I also have a small niche of real “Friends” & “Family” there and I keep in touch with them.

What I’m looking for on Google+. The photography community is very active on G+ It’s very humbling to be on there and listen to well known photographers from Photoshop User magazine like Scott Kelby and RC Concepcione. These guys have the skills, knowledge and contacts that help me to learn as much as I can.

I think the thing I appreciate the most is their willingness to share and teach on a daily basis. These guys live and breathe what I love to do.

There are so many other people out there who have inspiring photos and are very skilled. It’s humbling to look at some of their work and the try to emulate their skills.

What I’m NOT looking for on Google + So, I get a lot of circle requests. I look at people and I have to decide if I want to add them. My main criteria is do they have an interesting and ongoing portfolio of work. If the answer is yes and it’s not just a bunch of snapshots of them and their drinking buddies, I will add them.

I also tend to go out and delete people who are no longer relevant or doing interesting work.

Inspire me

I want to feel emotion. Show me the way with your art. I want to wake up every morning and feel good about what I do. Is there anything that gives us more freedom than our expression?

Show me a study in lighting and different expressions. I want to see passion and fire. It’s that unattainable something that stirs my creativity. I see it out there and hope that I can find it, but I never quite reach that point where I can feel it.

The hair and makeup are always perfect. You look beautiful and, I know it’s my own fault that I can’t quite get it, so I keep plugging away.

It’s a frustration. Frustration is good because it tells me there is something I can correct. But, I’m just not sure how to correct it.

Movement. I want a dancer who will dance like no one is watching. I want a model who smiles and cries and laughs and can do intense emotions in front of the camera.

I look at 1000′s of photos a week and still I can’t see that one thing I’m looking for. Many shots out there, take my breath away, but they’re not mine.

I want to be inspired. To look at my photos, and laugh and cry and feel intense emotion.

Where I find my inspiration

I want to talk about how I find inspiration.

The fact is, I spend countless hours just looking at photograpgs & video. I look at various types of media including TV, magazines and the internet. So how does this spur creativity? Well, as I watch any tv show and youtube video, I try to watch for the artistic side. I notice lighting, composition and I observe how a scene goes together.

On the internet, I use various Web sites such as 500px. There are countless examples of great and inspiring photography there. This site is even better than sites like Flickr. The quality of photography is simply outstanding.

I collect great examples on my pinterest account – Visit here – to see my galleries. Notice how organized these photos are. Each of them in only specific categories.

Someone who wants to be an artist needs to train their artistic eye. Look at thousands of photos and decide what they like about it. When you study a photo, ask yourself, what do you like about it and why. You should also ask yourself what you might do differently. Even small details like the position of the subject and the composition.

Another inspiration point is actually music. When listening to music I like to visualize a scene in my mind. How would you visualize the music and lyrics if you could create a music video?

Plan your shoot

How do YOU plan and execute your photo shoot? Here’s what I do with mine.

Set design
Choosing the right model

Concept: This part entails sitting down and deciding what genre I am going to do. All of my projects have a specific theme or concept. I use pinterest to really drill down and pick shots I want to do.

Lighting: I like to have a general idea for lighting. Some of my shots have 1 light, while others will have up to 10 lights. It helps to visualize the set and plan that out. Draw it etc.

Wardrobe: We have some in the studio, but for the most part the model will bring their own. One thing I try and do is have the model email me photos of their wardrobe – just so I know they understand my concept.

Hair and makeup go together. I try to pick the correct looks for each model. I’ll literally flip through hundreds of photos until I find one to use for inspiration. Of course, it helps that I have a really killer team for this.

Set design: This is where a lot of creativity comes into play. We use everything from a plain white background to a fake room in our studio.

Choosing the right model: This is harder than you think. Obviously, her look and personal style has to fit the theme of the shoot. Always discuss every aspect of a photo shoot and especially wardrobe.

Some other important parts of the photo shoot include the gear list – including the camera and lenses. Ladders and also food and water for the entire team. We don’t use a caterer, but we bring subs or pizza for a full day shoot. Sodas and water is always on hand. I like to ask the model what type of music will inspire her for the shoot. I like an upbeat tune and as long as it’s not too extreme like Marilyn Manson, I’ll listen to just about anything.

During our photo shoots, I’m usually running slide shows on my pc to keep us all on track and motivated.


This shot is from a recent trial/practice for a magazine shoot.  For the final shoot, we used 5 models, 2 makeup artists, 1 hair stylist, 2 assistants, and 2 photographers.  The overall theme genre was alternative.

When we held the trials, we felt that this model had a look almost too much girl-next-door.  However, we decided to go ahead and user her.  He main advantages in this shoot were that she is quite tall and her proportions were perfect for the theme.  Also, with her engaging style and willingness to follow direction, she was a perfect match for this shoot.  Finally, the fact that her personality really is a girl-next-door sweetness, then all of the elements for a perfect shoot were there.

For the setup, we used 2 lights.  The main light was camera left with a large plm and a second light for fill with a softbox to the camera right.  For some of the shots, we used a 22” beauty dish to the camera right.  The background was white seamless paper, but we had her approximately 4 feet from the background which turned it to almost a gray.  For most of the shoot, we metered the shots at f11 although we sometimes kicked things up to as high as f16.  The fill was approximately 2 stops lower.

Our Team
Lexy Page:  Art Direction & Creative Consultant.  2nd Shooter
Donna Latino:  Hiar stylist & Creative Wardrobe Design
Rachael Keresey:  Makeup & Creative Wardrobe Design
Cassandra Ramsden:  Makeup
Melanie Jones:  Primary Assistant
Natalie Teal:  Model
Bob Jones:  Art Direction & Photographer

Photo Concept:  Test shoot in preparation for an upcoming magazine shoot.  The theme/genre is Alternative

Model:  Mallory Otis
MUA & Stylist:  Rachael Kersey
Hair & hat designs:  Donna Latino
Creative concept:  +Lexy Page
Photography:  Bob Jones


A moment of clarity

In every photo shoot, there’s this one moment of perfect clarity. When the shutter clicks and the shot is just “THERE.” I look for that moment and it always happens when I’m totally in my head for the shoot.

It’s like walking through a rose garden in the autumn. When the flowers are all dried up and then you come upon 1 rose that continues to bloom.

Many times when I do these shoots, I switch to Black & white preview. I want to see what I’m capturing at the most basic level. All my images are in camera raw however so the color is captured as well. But this image just works so well in B&W.

Model: Carly
Makeup: Jamie Sue
Hair & Hairpiece: Donna Latino
Set Design & art Direction: Lexy Page


Test shoot

This photo comes from the second model we are testing for an upcoming project.  We are running a full-on test for an upcoming photo shoot.

I was having a bad morning.  Me and Lexy were working full bore on our setup and it took literally several hours for the lighting to work out.  Then we put the model on the set and in my mind the wheels came off.  After shooting for a while, I let Lexy shoot her first sequence, but it was obvious that something wasn’t working for me.

After Lexy was done with her shooting, I decided to pull 90% of the set apart and rearrange the lighting slightly.  I don’t get this way very often, usually it’s just a point of tweaking the lighting.

So, finally, after pulling everything apart, things just started to come together.  We had her standing instead of siting in a chair and it just seemed to work better.

In this image I had pulled an image from the internet for inspiration.  The lighting worked and the pose worked and finally it all came together.

Model:  Erinn Wilcox
Makeup Artist:  Rachael Keresey
Hair stylist and Hat designs:  Donna Latino
Primary Assistant:  Melanie Jones-Beauchesne
Set design & Art Direction:  +Lexy Page



Off Topic – from Oakwood Cemetary


On November 11, 1982, the Haggerty lion was placed in Oakwood as a memorial to Michael Charles Haggerty who died at age 14 in an auto accident in 1974. His brother Thomas, who was two years younger than Michael, was an art student at Syracuse University when his parents asked him to create a special and original memorial. Michael had always liked lions and his mother thought a lion would be appropriate – a friendly protector, inviting but with claws. Thomas began work on the monument in the summer of 1981. He formed the clay image in his garage, spraying and wrapping his work each night. After this initial phase, the large figure was moved outside of his home and his work was supervised by an SU instructor. After a year’s work, the 620 pound bronze statue was ready for placement. Michael had originally been buried at St. Mary’s in DeWitt, but the authorities responsible for the diocese cemeteries objected to the monument. Michael was then reinterred in a special spot at Oakwood with the lion standing guard. Many people do not know about the Haggerty lion because it is situated in a wooded area and during seasons with leaves, it is well concealed. The lion can be found across the road from the Chapel. At the corner where the woods begin is a small trail which leads about 20 feet up a small incline to the monument.



Why I use a light meter

Why I use a light meter in the studio.

Many photographers don’t use a light meter. I prefer to at least start the photo shoot with the meter. It’s a jumping off point that helps me to create a balance in the shoot. Later on, I do tend to try different flavors.

The main reason I use a meter is that when I work with strobes, my modeling light can only give me an estimate for coverage. For most strobes, the modeling light is maybe 100 watts but the flash from the strobe is much 300+ watts in some cases.

So, why doesn’t the eyeball mark 1 work for me? Well, when you trigger the strobe, it pulses for a brief fraction of a second. That split second isn’t enough to visualize where the strobe is going to cover. You really can’t visualize the intensity and falloff of a flash of light on a subject.

What I do is take several meter readings on my subject in order to get an idea for coverage and shadows. Even when I’m shooting beauty close ups, it helps me to understand where my highlights and shadows are going to be. I’ll admit it’s not a perfect solution either.

Finally, I have also found that a meter isn’t exactly where I probably will shoot. I usually find myself going either 1 stop brighter or darker than the meter. This comes partly from the differences between a meter and the camera sensor. But it’s also a matter or taste. The meter give you a baseline for mid key lighting. The artistic choice comes from either exposing higher or lower than what shows on the meter.

A word about collaboration

I  want to talk a minute about collaboration. So many times photographers around here don’t want to work with each other. We see each other as competition. But the one thing I’ve found in the last few years of collaboration is that you learn from each other.

See, if we had some big name photographers that shoot fashion & glamour, I’d try to apprentice with them. But we don”t. I find myself instead working with other people at the same level as myself, and yet still learning a lot. I can watch other people and how they shoot and learn what works and what doesn’t.

We also work as art directors for each other helping newer models to try new things.

You need to work as a team so that each person can push each other.