How To Get The Most Out Of Your Shoots

Whether you’re hiring a model or someone has hired you for a photoshoot, efficiency and time management is extremely important. You want to get the most from your shoots. With digital cameras there is no excuse not to get more than what you actually need.   As a musician, I’ve been to my fair share of shoots. Some photographers were so unorganized that I spent an entire day sitting around just to be photographed for a few minutes. They were horrible experiences. No one likes to have their time wasted. The biggest reason that photographers have stressful shoots is that they don’t do enough planning ahead of time. Obviously things may happen on the day of the shoot that are not within your control. However, if you put some thought into what you want to get out of the shoot, you’ll be able to adapt more quickly.   I’ve listed a few tips that other photographers have shared with me. It may seem like common sense, and that’s because it is. There’s a lot to think about when you plan a photoshoot, and sometimes certain logistics get lost in the planning. It happens to everyone. That’s why it’s helpful to […]

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 […]

Every Picture Has a Story

  Sometimes serene photographs I post on social media have a funny or awkward back story. I almost didn’t get this photo. It was a fluke that I was at the right place at the right time.   In 2016, my father had won a cruise to Alaska. My mother hates to travel (and share a tiny confined space with my father, she would add). I went on the trip instead, and I had one of the most amazing experiences photographing scenic landscapes. I don’t usually photograph nature, but I developed an appreciation for wildlife photographers. So much of the beauty of wildlife photography depends on perfect timing as well as a really expensive and heavy telephoto lens.   On the morning of our disembarkation, I was sitting in my father’s room playing on my phone. He suddenly shouted, “Get your camera! Hurry!” I fumbled for camera and, when I stumbled out onto the balcony I saw this beautiful lighthouse against a backdrop of  majestic snow-capped mountains and heavy clouds. The ship was cruising, so I had to work fast. I felt like all thumbs as I adjusted my camera settings. I took as many pictures as I could until […]

A Year in Review

  At the end of the year, I take some time to review my work and reevaluate my goals. I’m certainly not one of those people who does New Year’s Resolutions, but I do like to hold myself accountable and make sure that I’m using my time wisely to accomplish everything I want to do. During my review, I list what I think went well and what I would like to improve in the future. When I was a graduate student, I worked with Susan Griffin, a writing mentor and renowned feminist and author. Every time she looked at my writing, she would first tell me what I did well. She explained that it’s just as important to know what you’re doing right because you want to build on that.   Looking back at the past twelve months these are some of the strengths and weaknesses I found in my own work.   Strengths 1.) An education in self-publishing: I had to wear many hats this year because I had to learn about the process of designing, printing, selling, and marketing my book. I’m by no means an expert, but the education I got this year will be extremely important […]

Working with natural light

    When I first started doing photography, I did a lot of photo shoots using just natural light. It was nice to focus on composition and getting familiar with the camera, without having to deal with a lighting kit. I feel that if you try to focus on too many things, it can feel overwhelming. Now that I’ve been doing photography for a while, I’m much more adept and comfortable incorporating studio lights.   Before you plan your photo shoot, there are some factors that you should keep in mind.   Time of Day The mornings or late afternoons tend to offer the most flattering light. The sunlight is not as intense and it’s not directly overhead, creating distracting shadows on your model’s face. I have done shoots in the middle of the day, and you can make it work. The most important thing is to be aware of the shadows. Shadows can create a cool effect. Just be patient with yourself and get creative. The second photo is from a shoot I did at a junkyard. It was the middle of the day, and I was really struggling with the shadows. Eventually I made it work, but I […]

Zach, US Navy: Tattoo Interview

In the past decade, tattoos haven’t just artistically evolved, but they have become so popular that many industries have changed their policies regarding body art. The military is no exception. In honor of Veteran’s day, I’m posting a portrait from my book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits. Zach got his tattoo in honor of his time in the Navy as well as his love for the sea. The tattoo on his chest is the Greek God of the Sea, Poseidon. Zach also enjoys snorkeling and spear fishing.   I’m always grateful to have the opportunity to speak with soldiers and veterans. I know that as a civilian much of what veterans experience is outside of my paradigm. Nevertheless, I think it’s important for me as well as everyone else to be a good listener and honor what they have done for this country. Thank you for your service, veterans!

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 […]

Concert Photography: Heavy Metal vs. Classical Music

My first foray into photojournalism was concert photography. Because I was a heavy metal musician for many years, I got assigned to a lot of metal concerts. These were some of the toughest assignments because heavy metal bands like to create an ominous, theatrical atmosphere with red, purple, or blue lighting. It took me a while to adjust to such low lighting. Even though it was a challenge, I still enjoyed the process and in the end I became a much better photographer.   Recently, I was hired to photograph the East Valley Youth Symphony. From a photographer’s perspective, this environment is very different from rock n’ roll and heavy metal. At a rock concert you have the photo pit and three songs to get all your photos. However, with the symphony, you have seated guests and the musicians sit close together. Being discreet and quiet is of utmost importance. Most cameras make a noise when the shutter is released. This means you don’t want to shoot when the music is really quiet. Following a dress code is also important. Wearing black or dark colors is advised so that you don’t stick out and distract the audience from the performance. […]

Wanderlust

Before I became a photographer, I thought I wanted to be a full-time writer. In 2012, I graduated from California College of the Arts with a Masters in Creative Writing. I do love to write, but I found it could be very lonely work.   After I wrote my first novel, I decided I needed to take a break. During this break is when I started interviewing and photographing people with tattoos. I loved combining my passion for writing with photography because it gave me the best of both worlds. I’m an introvert, so I don’t necessarily hate sitting in a room by myself for hours working. However, I like how photography allows me to collaborate with other people. Plus, the process of photography is generally much faster than writing. For example, I spent three years writing my novel, whereas I could photograph and interview someone and see the results within a few hours.   Patience is indeed a virtue when you’re an artist, but sometimes it’s nice (and perhaps necessary) to see something to completion. It makes you feel like you’re moving forward in life. I still love writing fiction, but these days I’m more focussed on photojournalism.   […]