Whenever I interview someone, I usually ask them about their greatest influence. You can learn a lot about a person from their influences. What qualities attract us? How do these individuals shape our style, workflow, methodology, and etc? Maybe this influential person is someone in our field, or maybe it’s someone we know well. I had been involved in photography for a few years before I had learned about Robert Capa, but when I had watched a documentary about his life, I became fascinated with the way he worked, his courage, and his incredible talent. Capa was a Jewish Hungarian photojournalist as well as one of the founding partners of Magnum Photos cooperative. As a young man, Capa witnessed the violence that was consuming Europe. He was part of a generation that watched Spain fall into civil war and Hitler rise to power in Germany. Capa was undaunted by the danger all around him. For example, during World War II, Capa parachuted with American troops where they were dropped into Germany. Hundreds of paratroopers died and Capa could have easily died with them, but it never stopped him from capturing footage of the war. Because of Capa, we have a glimpse […]
Every year since I was a child, my mother bought Llewellyn’s Astrological Calendar. Besides being interested in astrology, my mother referred to the calendar to know the dates for cutting our hair. For example, if you cut your hair on the full moon in water signs, which is Cancer, Pisces, and Scorpio, it’s supposed to promote thickness. Several years ago, I became friends with a woman who studied astrology and even worked for the renowned Mountain Astrologer Magazine. Through my friendship, I gained a much better and deeper understanding of astrology. I learned that it involves much more than our sun sign, which is the sign we’re born into. I love talking astrology with other folks. When I decided to embark on this photography series, my two main goals were to use models that were actually born in the sign they were portraying and to create my own interpretation so that I wasn’t merely replicating the imagery that I’ve seen so many times for each sign. Of course, like with Gemini, which I have pictured above, there are some elements that I had to include. Gemini is about the two sides of the coin, the twins. However, Gemini is […]
I have had the pleasure of working with Cathy on a few shoots. This shot was taken during a shoot where we were trying to get as many different looks in one session. In just a few hours and using only natural light, we were able to get many different looks. Being resourceful is an important skill as a photographer. I chose to shoot at my parent’s house because their backyard has interesting walls and lots of greenery, which is rare in Phoenix. Overall, the shoot was a success and we both had a lot of fun.
A lot of what I’ve learned about photography came as a result of photographing other people’s art. The nice thing about photographing art is that it can’t talk back to you. If you have to fidget with the lighting or the camera settings, the art is not going anywhere. That’s the nice part. The hard part about photographing art is that involves some interpretation and a lot of precision. For example, sculptures can be photographed from a multitude of angles, and, even the slightest change in the angle makes a huge difference. The face, for example, can look completely different depending on if I shoot at eye level versus slightly below eye level. A lot of the times, unless the artist is specific in how they want the art photographed, I look at the shape of the face. Just like with people, sculptures have a “good side.” Another issue to contend with when photographing art is color accuracy. It’s never going to be 100%, but you can get it really close. Lighting has a lot to do with the color, but a lot of the times the color is further corrected in Lightroom or Photoshop. Color accuracy can be pretty tricky because sometimes […]
I’m naturally a really shy person, but I’m also very curious. Photography has afforded me opportunities to learn about people, various cultures, and different perspectives. As I come to the end of my book, I’m revisiting some of the earlier shoots, when I didn’t know for sure how this project would evolve. I’m so grateful and honored to have met some incredible people through this portrait series. It’s easy to think that we’re all so different that we feel we can’t connect. If anything, this project taught me that no matter how different our lives may be, there’s is always a place to connect with people. We just have to take the time and listen. The black and white photo is from the very first shoot for my book. Angela taught me a lot about what it’s like being a tattooed woman in today’s world. I have been lucky to have worked with Angela on many shoots, and I’m very honored to have her in my book.
Last week I read an article in The Daily Beast about photographer and co-founder of WireImage Jeff Vespa. In the article, Vespa talked about celebrity portraiture and how he doesn’t like to tell his subjects how to pose, as it is not helpful in creating an authentic portrait and posing can mostly be corny, if not annoying and unnatural to the person being photographed. His work, by the way, is exquisite, and, if you haven’t seen his photography, I suggest you check him out. One of the challenges I have encountered with my tattoo project is that I’m trying to capture more than one thing in the photo. I want people to be able to appreciate the tattoo, but I also want them to be able to feel a connection with the person in the photo. For me, connection comes through the eyes. Most of the people I’ve been photographing are not the most comfortable in front of the camera. I can tell almost right away that they’re waiting for instruction on how to stand or pose. Thus, it’s always striking a balance between giving them ideas while not losing the authenticity. I always tell them to stand how they feel most comfortable, and […]
One of the things I like most about my photography are the opportunities it gives me to talk to some amazing people. Since starting my tattoo portrait series, I’ve had the chance to interview a lot of people from different backgrounds and hear their stories about why they chose their tattoos. When I first met Mel, I was a little anxious about asking her to be part of my tattoo project. I’m very shy and, like most people, I’m also afraid of rejection. However, Mel was very laid back and easy to talk to, and she agreed to be a part of my tattoo project. There was a moment, before she started her story, when I could tell she was trying to figure out how much she wanted to share. No matter who I interview, I always try to respect the boundaries of the individual. When Mel began to tell me her story I was speechless. Her tattoo represents her journey to reclaim her body after being sexually assaulted. Every facet of her tattoo, the flowers, the heart, the lock, tells a story about surviving a terrible incident and then overcoming the aftermath. What happened to Mel has happened to too many […]
About a month ago I had a fashion/senior portrait photo shoot with a very sweet girl named Alex. She’s a senior in high school and an aspiring model. Based on her look and the fact we were trying to get some fashion as well as senior portrait shots, I chose the Riparian Preserve for our location. This location is wonderful for photographers because there are so many scenic spots. I’ve done three photo shoots so far at the Riparian Preserve, but you wouldn’t know that all three shoots were done at the same location. The other reason I like this area is because, even when it gets busy, you can almost always find a quiet area. I had a lot of fun at this shoot. One of the reasons that I enjoy outdoor and concert photography is that I don’t have to set up lights. That’s not to say that I don’t encounter lighting issues outside or at concerts, but I resolve those challenges by either changing camera settings or, in this particular case, moving. Alex loved her photos and I’m really glad that I was able to help her build her portfolio with a couple of more natural looking […]
I’ve reached a point in my photography where I actually need a physical portfolio. Most portfolios, I have read, include anywhere between 12 to 24 images. Even though I have shot countless photos, I found the process of selecting images to be quite painful, and that’s not because I’m in love with all of my photos. Unfortunately, I’m one of those people who can pick myself apart to the point of tears. I’m extremely self critical. A little self-critiquing is good, but I happen to be a zealot. In the end I had a couple people I trust give me their suggestions as to which images they think I should include. Sometimes when I’m too close to a project I ask others for their opinion. Oftentimes, they see things I haven’t picked up on because I’m too distracted with the technical aspects of the photo. Building my portfolio taught me that I need to appreciate the journey just as much as the final result.
I was thrilled when I heard that Tillie was open to being a part of my tattoo project. Though I hadn’t met her yet, I had heard about her incredible tattoos. When I finally had the chance to meet her, I was immediately blown away by her body art. Her tattoos had so much color and detail that it was definitely more than your “run-of-the-mill” tattoo. Her arms were wrapped with various illustrations, including an owl, a woman’s face, and a reference to the Harry Potter books. On her thigh, Tillie had what looked like a beautiful painting of Frida Kahlo. The colors were so vivid and the face looked so real that it was almost hard to believe that all of that could be achieved with a tattoo gun. Because of all the aspects of Tillie’s body art, I had to take multiple photos to successfully capture the beauty and intricacies of her tattoos. One of the perks of working on this tattoo series is that I get to meet some amazing people. I really enjoyed getting know Tillie and hear about how she incorporated her various passions into her body art. Our bodies are a blank canvas, but […]