Alex Kirts is capable. He’s a bass player in See Through Dresses, designer, and tech weenie who can take a part the amp he plays through. Kirts approached me to do some portraits of the band. He told, “Just make us look cooler than we do”. I pre visualized shooting the group as individuals in a sort triptych anamorphic format lighting them in a kind of “Varga girl candy” high key technique. Alex explained the album artworkwas composed of mostly black and white design elements and wanted my portraits to reflect the concept. Creative collaboration is what drives me and I decided to light low key “Candy” by using gels on all lights in pastel blue, green, and indigo. The band consists of Nate Van Fleet, Sara Bertuldo, who create enigmatic melodies while Alex Kirts, and Mathew Carroll drive the velocity in the bottom end rhythm. They all came to the studio one night, where I turned up some deep house and we joked for quite a while before shooting. Ultimately we all had fun, which is what it’s all about. Most importantly after extensive post work, I realized what I had pre visualized and they were stoked. See Through Dresses is printing the album artwork now. “Horse Of The Other World” is due to drop in June 2017 on their label, Tiny Engines. I’m fortunate to receive a first listen. The music conveys growth in production as it’s very well recorded, mixed, and mastered.
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 Often during casting and presenting talent to client, their portfolios are outdated or over stylized which doesn’t represent what you be may pre-visualizing.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.
Black glass is the most challenging subject to photograph. It was actually the name of an intimating class while I was a student at Brooks. It has to do with making the incident angles of reflection your friend and not your enemy. On a cold winter day I got a call from an art director to shoot a custom classic “Muscle” car. He explained the scope, which included a wide shot, front, back, and some details of the exterior and interior. He wanted to see some options of cars and ended up choosing the only black one presented, a Mustang. Lighting and still life are two of my specialties so shooting a large black mirror was thrilling. Custom car owners don’t talk about how much they’re worth but rather how many hours they have into refurbishing them. Many of them weren’t that enthused about taking their “baby” out of winter storage despite a fee. I increased the fee, insured covered transportation, and offered prints to persuade them to let us use their car. Originally the AD told me we had roughly three weeks to produce the project. The next day he explained it needed to be done in three to five days during a forecasted Polar Vortex… At that moment you have to embrace the chaos and handle the situation. As he described the shot list I immediately began breaking down logistics in my head. I was going to need a studio or stage with at least 50- foot 2 sided cyc walls and a ceiling grid with trusses and plenty of breakouts for power. My source would be a 10’X30’ bank with twelve strobe heads and six power packs, all of which would have to be neatly dressed inside and above the light. When shooting cars, they are rarely actually started as it’s best to use vehicle wheel dollies and jacks to position the car in relationship to the source, once it’s rigged and taken out or up above. The studio I chose had what I needed; it was normally used for film production with massive black duvetyn stage curtains to cut all extraneous light and reflections. Cyc walls and floor were green for chroma keying and needed to be white along with red rosin paper to protect the floor. I had to build time in pre production to accommodate this along with rigging the light bank and pre-lighting. Time is a commodity that is non-negotiable and always a variable to deal with on any photo assignment. Well, it got the best of my very capable crew and me during the pre-light day as a wintery mix and rigging became significant issues. I had originally allowed for five hours that quickly turned into ten. More time costs more money and if you’re going into overtime cost was time and a half for crew and electric fees; I realized that I would be lucky to break even. As a professional, I draw from experience to maintain tenacity no matter the time or cost. Early on the morning of the shoot day I got a call from the driver transporting the car telling me his semi was not starting due to the sub zero temperature. I had two other options on stand by, but fortunately the car finally arrived. I had hired a vehicle specialist to detail and move the custom black mirror into position and we began the shoot. I crushed the clock and pushed the boards which provided more coverage which was a small win. At the end of the day despite a late arrival and many obstacles leading up to shooting, creative and client had fun and were pleased with the results. The key was listening to the AD and tactfully auditioning my own ideas during pre production. I tend to be hard on myself, always wishing I had approached it differently and usually end up being fine with the work then look forward to the next project.