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 a 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 about shooting a test with her for a still and motion test. 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 quietly 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 to 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 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 an 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 to 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 very graciously told me it was a special experience for her. 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. 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 Sasha Models 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.
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.
Sissy walked into to my studio with a swagger and disregard for the establishment. She’s tough in the ring and knows exactly what she wants with an undeniable confidence. I was asked to shoot her for a National Rodeo Association. My job was to capture an image for a PR release. Typically, my objective is to capture an apparent appearance but with this subject, something struck me different. Most people have a preconceived notion of how a rodeo queen should appear. I found a different way. Her clothing options she brought, quickly spoke to me and gave me inspiration to see her through different set eyes. I quickly put aside choices, making an edit of her wardrobe and accessories on the clothing rack, which would play well to her beauty while not taking away from her “Thick Skin”. There were textures, attention to details, and style reminiscent of couture fashion. After talking to her she became more comfortable and opened up which inspired me to change my approach in lighting her. She needed to be outside in daylight under a large overhead diffusion with negative fill underneath her to cut extraneous light. The background was artificially lit “Hot White”, then I pulled back camera back a bit to reveal set to invoke a sense of a fashion shoot. This image was successful because of he collaboration of a team and ultimately having Sissy leaving wanting more and expressing that she really had fun.
Every day I strive to accomplish capturing those uncanny intimate moments of someone’s life. Sometimes you simply don’t. Ultimately the folks who see the work either respond or don’t. I did two treatments with subtle yet complex color and black and white treatment, having pre-visualized the two upon initial consideration of the assignment. It’s my job to capture an uncanny intimate moment with a subject, a fleeting moment, if you will. I was honored to have been asked by Ree and Jun Kaneko to shoot their portraits in my studio. Jun enjoyed reading my books on Avedon and Ritts and we talked about Francis Bacon’s paintings and how his work reflected his tumultuous life – what was in front of him. Jun has been instrumental in The Contemporary Ceramics Movement in America. Over the course of his career he has partnered with industrial facilities to realize large-scale, hand-built sculptures. He taught at some of the nation’s leading art schools, including Scripps College, Rhode Island School of Design and Cranbrook Academy of Art. Jun Kaneko has worked at several experimental studios including European Ceramic Work Center in The Netherlands, Otsuka Omi Ceramic Company in Japan, Fabric Workshop in Philadelphia PA, Bullseye Glass in Portland OR, Acadia Summer Arts Program in Bar Harbor ME, and Aguacate in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. He’s been based in Omaha since 1986. I spoke to a prominent collector of Jun’s work and asked him if the work found him or if he had found Jun’s work. He replied, “I found Jun’s ceramic sculptures and they complement the architectural design of my home in Borrego Springs, Ca. Having a Dango in your home is like having a friend in the room. His red hue is unparalleled in its depth and execution.” During the shoot, McMillian Magnet Photography students came for a studio visit, which I always love. Ree and June were patient while I spoke to the kids about the fundamentals of photography and how it has changed. I told the students to take risks, challenge themselves and embrace new technologies. “Life is game that moves as you play.” One morning after the shoot Ree poured me an excellent cup of coffee as I asked Jun what is inspiring him today. He told me he is going full circle back to Raku firing his enormous pieces in a well-suited kiln South of Mexico that he found through a recent connection. The pieces are smoky with a metallic finish. When you see Jun’s work you immediately identify with his perspective. This is indicative of any artist establishing a point of view. I felt in him a pursuit to constantly refine his technique while feeling like a master of nothing. He never ceases to stop learning in an honestly humbling way.