I’ve been shooting for over twenty years and during my early career I was fortunate to work in the couture fashion and beauty industry. Over those years, I’ve shot many faces and developed an acute skill in recognizing extraordinary talent. I recently met a special young girl with real potential. She’s 5’11 at fourteen years of age. She’s humble and active- known as the “Three point assassin” on her basketball team. It’s humbling to have shot a personal project for her, which you can see in a previous case study. As I anticipated, three major agencies are pitching her to sign. I’ve always like to think of myself as a mentor, explaining the importance of saying no if it doesn’t feel like the right fit. An agencies job is to place a model in the right area that suits her potential as opposed to doing what’s right for their agency. This becomes apparent right away. It’s important when testing new talent to shoot what they look like naturally without hair and make up. Often during casting and presenting talent to client, their portfolios are outdated or over stylized which doesn’t represent what you be may pre-visualizing. This test was shot in the studio a day after a conceptual fashion spot on location with her. I’ve been doing some work for a cosmetic company and I’m excited to work her on this project before her schedule priorities change in a bigger market. My focus is on youth culture including what comes naturally to me and most importantly what I’m passionate about. Some refer to this as a niche, which I think is important to realize. “Passionate thinking is a great way to live if you’re fortunate enough to realize it”. My most rewarding goal is sharing my production depth with respect to younger generations to genuinely help them, whether they be art directors, artists, crew, designers, fashion stylists , street wear designers, musicians, or talent. My door is always open and I enjoy listening.
Still life is one of my specialties in that I have the opportunity to style what I shoot. One of my “Guilty Pleasures” is listening to an object- finding or fabricating background elements for conceptual shots. Lighting plays a paramount role in complimenting still life but shouldn’t dictate the approach. Glenn White is a drummer and fashion designer whose launching a new line, DRMHDFLY, focusing on new trends in “Hip Hop Culture” such as the snap back trucker’s cap and scoop cut shirt. He brought the clothes and accessories down to the studio and hung them on the rack. My initial reaction was to contrast- breaking away from traditional street wear imagery creating what I consider “Objects Of Desire” with high key lighting, styling sculptural forms and auditioning props that have a playful sophistication. Ultimately Glenn gave me complete creative freedom, which is a trust that I respect and rare. I organize my work by deciding which items lend themselves to props then shooting the largest objects first down to the smallest to work efficiently. Still Life is inherently very staged so I like to shoot a set up then reset breaking it apart- moving it in different directions to see perspectives I may not have retentively taken into consideration. Glenn said he’s excited moving forward to the next step producing his line, which is the best compliment I could receive. I’m passionate about every aspect of what I’m fortunate to do so- letting inspiration find me and seeking it. I left Glenn with an idea of shooting a Caucasian blonde girl with intricate big volume braids against a really simple background to show how clothes fit and feel. He’s down with it and we’ll move on.
I had done a motion spot featuring fashion designer, Dalton Taylor at a show of his first complete line. I was capturing a story of the chaos in the dressing room before the show began. One of the models, Kailee Lawerence, had presence- it’s been my experience to recognize good talent. I could tell Dalton was drawn to her as well. I spoke with her agent, Sasha Speiker about shooting her for a still and motion “Fashion Vignette”. I’ve been doing a lot of still and motion projects lately and they’ve evolved into cutting my stills into a moving image spot to convey a subject in a different ambiguous narrative. My goal was to create a four page fashion story of stills and a 2 min motion spot for personal promotion, while using my experience to mentor/direct a fourteen yr old model with real potential. She’s 5’11” and has this quiet sophisticated beauty. Clothes dictate fashion stories, so I thought of a simple story portraying a girl just finishing a performance at a theater next to her hotel room. She was out of costume and unwinding then playfully auditioning different options of what to wear out on the town with her troupe. She ends up staying in and asking herself who she is- getting lost in the window. Pre Pro is paramount in producing stills or motion. Scouting location was first, I decided on a recently renovated Deco Hotel. The owner was very accommodating in selecting the right room to augment daylight with both continuous and strobe lighting. Next I pulled clothes I knew I wanted stick with youthful yet playfully sophisticated apparel. I chose from a dark and neutral palette- feather vests, leather pants, body suits, halter tops with ornately embroidered tights. I worked with a wardrobe stylist to help with handling clothes and a hair and make up artist. I presented a mood board with the clothes and a rough shooting schedule along with a detailed call sheet. The last thing was thinking through my approach and made an equipment list. The day I scouted it was sunny and the forecast for the shoot day a week was cloudy and cold, which became the case. I was prepared and rigged a 800 watt Par light from outside the window through opal diffusion. With such a young model, I knew I have to work with her on taking direction and feeling the clothes. I actually told her at one point just breath, do some Tai Chi with me and embrace how the outfits made her feel. How did the room feel after finishing your pretend “Performance” at the theater adjacent to your room that you could see? What has the reaction to the images been so far? Peers and some friends in high places have very well received the motion spot in the fashion business. Dalton Taylor really enjoyed seeing it after returning to New York. Kailee and her agent were thrilled. It’s continuing to pick up traction as I’m getting to bid on projects for new clients. What I take away is realizing what I pre visualized and having fun collaborating with a good team. It’s pretty special when Hair & Make Artist suggests building from natural to heavier as the piece progresses or when wardrobe stylist auditions looks I didn’t consider. I’m going to use the piece to continue getting it in front of people that I specialize in; youth culture. My focus is on Fashion/Beauty, music, and artists. I’m taking stock in a very extensive early experience in fashion and beauty. My favorite project is the next one. 2:25 min spot- Featuring Kailee with has real potential talent. Wardrobe includes; C. Luce Vest & wool body vest | Bobeau Shirt | Lucy & Co Leather Pants | Christian Louboutin Shoes | Via Spiga tights courtesy of Pretty In Patina. I’m honored that Wonderful Machine included the project in their Wonderful Machine weekly round up.
Needle Drop: Black Sabbath – Planet Caravan (Bambook & Quina Edit) | Objekt- Porcupine
Marcey Yates is a hip hop musician with The Dilla Kids, MC, and promoter. He approached me to collaborate on a project called FreeCoolOMA. The project takes shape as an online magazine that will include photography as well as a video series, called StillMoving which I will direct/DP. The projects intention is to share the idea of escaping societal and internal expectations of self, or freeing oneself from being “cool.” Each issue spotlights a different person who is defining their path independent of expectation and pressure. The first spotlight features Hip Hop artist, JCrum. I called a friend, Alex Kirts, to design the logo. He’s an all around gifted talent and you may have heard him playing bass for the band, “See Through Dresses“. It’s always a team that makes any creative pursuit happen. I’m humbled to tell Denise Ibsen Cole’s story for an event she created called, “26.2″ Steps MiniMarathon”, which will connect folks to “Move Further Faster” in Breast Cancer activism. My approach to take off from recent interview styles I’ve been playing with. I wanted off white to grey backgrounds to focus on subject. I lit it clean with my large “Hot White” technique to open up skin tones”.
I believe that sometimes creativity can come from distraction not concentration. While busy in the fall with assignments, Sarah Ervin, a model told me she coming into town for a couple days and would like to work together. As a photographer it’s important to pursue personal work. It’s the work that reminds me of being seduced by the darkroom at fifteen. I was in a dark place at the time and my immediate thought was to let that energy drive me. I was taken by the notion of shooting still and motion creating beauty story in low-key lighting. I can light high key beauty with my eyes closed but it’s a challenge to light beauty darkly. Now I had two days to produce this, which meant putting together a good team, clothing, accessories, and hair & make up stylists. Having spent most of my early career working in fashion, I knew what I wanted for changes and can be a bit forceful yet persuasive in getting what I’m pre visualizing. The location I wanted was a dilapidated barn, so I scouted several during a storm and was chased off of one property. You have to plan the work and work the plan. Being resourceful, I called a homeowner that lived on acreage with an eclectic taste in art and architecture. I had my location on hold. The plan started to come together and I booked the team, which makes it a commitment. I prepped gear for shooting still and motion with one assistant who could pivot well. Being a tech weenie at heart, I prefer building my camera rigs and handling lighting. My skill set and the team gave me the insulation to focus on directing Sarah into her into this dark character, an apparition haunting my set. At the end of the day the team was stoked to be part of it and I was stoked to be a pat of them. I was very grateful for still being in love with what I do and that’s what made this project a success for me. I was honored that the editors at Illusion Magazine accepted the motion spot on their Webby Award winning site. The project picked up traction- K5600 Jokerbug Lighting contacted me to use in PDN.