Getting the Right Pose

  When I first started doing fashion and artistic photoshoots, I struggled with posing the models. If the model was experienced, I didn’t have any issues because he/she already knew how to use her body to create certain looks. Personally, I have a difficult time posing in front of the camera, so it would also make sense that I would have a hard time explaining what I wanted from the model. This was especially true in the case when I worked with people who were uncomfortable being in front of the camera.   In a boudoir photography workshop I participated in a few years ago, the teacher showed us a notebook that was filled with different types of poses. The notebook was divided into categories, such as sitting, standing, and closeup poses. I thought this was a brilliant idea, so I created my own notebook. The next time I had a shoot, instead of describing the pose, I had the model look at some examples. It worked like magic. Since then I have always brought examples to my shoots.   My goal with poses is to find something that looks “natural” for the model. We’ve all seen those awkward photos […]

How to Create a Silhouette Photo in the Studio

  I had an interesting and unusual assignment of creating a silhouette photo for a string quintet. Silhouette photography is beautiful, but it requires planning. I have seen photographers do a few silhouette shots of their clients if they’re doing a photoshoot and the sun is setting. There is usually a short window of time while the sun is setting to get that perfect silhouette look.   Since I knew it would be virtually impossible to have 5 people available on the same day and time for a photoshoot, I decided that I would have to re-create the silhouette look in the studio. The process turned out to be much easier than I had thought it would be, but there are some factors to consider before you plan your shoot.   Background and Composition Before I contacted any of the musicians, I spent some time thinking about how I wanted the final product to look. The client wanted the photograph to be artistic and fit the personality of the quintet. Because I was working with 5 people, I needed to know ahead of time, how I wanted to position them. I also looked for possible backgrounds, so I could make […]

Liliana

    While working on my book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits, I met many incredible people. I first met Liliana at a photoshoot. When I saw her amazing ink, I asked if she would be a part of my book. Since then, I have worked with her on other projects.   Last week, I did a photoshoot with Liliana, and she shared her new tattoos with me. Her latest additions were Gypsy tattoos, beautiful women adorned with elements of nature. Until I saw her new ink, I didn’t even know there was “Gypsy” style. It still amazes what artists can do with tattoos. Body art has grown and expanded so much in the last decade that it will be interesting to see how it continues to evolve in the next ten years.

Tattoos: Art for the Masses

  Body of Art Even though I’ve always appreciated body art, I realized there was a lot I didn’t know about the world of tattoos. While interviewing people for my tattoo book, I developed a deeper appreciation for tattoo artists. Reality shows and social media have done a lot to share the work of these incredible artists, but sometimes these platforms glamorize the industry. I learned about the sacrifices these individuals make to be a part of this industry and community. For example, I never really thought about the fact that they have to work very different hours than most people. In order for them to be available to their clients, they have to work when most people are off work. That means weekends and long nights. Sometimes they have to miss out on family events and vacations. Sometimes their marriages suffer because they have to spend long hours at the studio. Despite these challenges, however, these tattoo artists remain passionate and dedicated to their work. They continually push themselves artistically, and they create amazing art for the masses.   There’s also another aspect about tattoos that I’ve learned to appreciate since studying this burgeoning art form. Over the past […]

My Top Five Favorite Places to Photograph

In the past, I’ve been very grateful to other photographers who have shared locations they have used for their photoshoots. Location shoots are a lot of fun, but they do require some planning. For me, I’ve always looked for places that offer a variety of different looks. I also wanted to find locations in different parts of the greater Phoenix area, so that I could more easily accommodate the models or clients. So without further ado, here are my favorite places to photograph. Downtown Phoenix     I have say that Downtown Phoenix is my favorite place to photograph people. There are so many cool graffiti and other textured walls that make for some awesome backgrounds. Since there have been a lot of construction and changes to the area, I do scout the location before a shoot. For example, there was a really cool graffiti wall and, shortly after I did a fashion shoot there, the art had been painted over. The area that these photos were taken were around Roosevelt and 5th street. This is one area where I haven’t really worried about it being too crowded because there’s a few blocks of nice photographic spaces. If you’re creative […]

Robert Capa: Photographer Profile

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 […]

Project Zodiac

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 […]

Cathy Rankin

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.

Photographing Art

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 […]

Body of Art

  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.