Sunday, January 30, 2011

New Studio and Models

I had a great time shooting today with two new models and once I've shot with twice before. The two new ladies were part of my Sword & Sorcery series and both replied to a casting call I posted due to a last minute cancellation by another new model I had considered for the series. They were both so nice and agreeable, that I didn't have the heart to turn either of them down so I reworked my schedule to include them both and keep my commitment to Megan, the model I'd worked with before.

The shoot took place in a new studio, well a new space actually. It's not ideal for studio photography, but the price is right and it was available. And it worked. It would be better if it had a dedicated changing room with a mirror and if it had black-out curtains for all the windows. Natural light can be good, but not when you want all of your lighting to come from the strobes. The benefits, though, are a cafe/coffee house right next door, a large space and high ceilings, and easy access and parking.

I've got a couple more shoots set up there in the next couple of months, so we'll see how well it continues to work, but for now it seems adequate for my current needs. Of course, when the warmer months arrive, I'll shoot more outside than in so it become less of an issue. Ideally, I'd love to have a space where I could set up the lights and leave them along with adequate storage for my props, but I just don't see that in my immediate future.

The two new models, Lauren and Kim were on time, professional and very easy to work with throughout the shoot. I thought we worked together quite well and I'm looking forward to working with them for the other two parts of the project arc.

Megan is a model I've worked with twice before and I had offered to do a Valentine Day Shoot for her in recompense for her time during our previous shoots. So she brought a variety of outfits to use for the shoot and we did quite a number of pinup poses reminiscent of the 1940's style images.

Megan had a bit more than that in mind though, and I found out exactly what that was when her boyfriend arrived at the studio with her last outfit and prop. You can see one of those images below with with some very preliminary processing.

Jedi Megan

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Finishing the Fae in Us All Project

Ashley as the Autumn Fae (2006)
I've been working on my Fae in Us All project for about 5 years now.  I began planning the concept and interviewing models in the summer of 2006, but it wasn't until October of that year that I actually shot the first model for the series, and while that first shoot yielded some nice images, the project was in its infancy and didn't produce the results that I sought for the final publication of the photos.

So, I went back to the drawing board for a couple of years. I researched and purchased various wings, material, makeup,  and jewelry. I also looked at the work of various artists who specialized in depicting images of fairies.  I also spent time visiting various locations around the state to find locations that would afford both the model and I privacy and an appropriate setting for the various shoots that would comprise the project. Luckily, I also have a good and generous friend who has let me shoot on his property for many of the shoots as well.

Initially the shoots were to include only the seasons and the elements - Winter, Spring Summer and Fall, as well as Fire, Water, Spirit, Earth and Air.  Most have been shot, and in some cases, reshoot, but Winter, Earth and Air remain.  When I resumed shooting in the summer of 2008,  after interviewing a number of models and talking to a number of my more artistic friends, I decided to expand the scope to include any number of expressions of a person's inner Fae, and then the project got its title and purpose.

Lilly as the Woodland Fae
I also looked and my portfolio and determined I needed to add a more diverse selection of models. That fit well with the "In Us All" portion of the concept. The second shoot of the series was the Woodland Fairy featuring Lilly. The shoot was planned with full collaboration with the model with regards to the concept, the costume and the setting. I was much more pleased with the results and I discovered that I truly enjoyed the collaborative creative process, i.e. working with the model as well as others to design the outfit, makeup, hairstyle and choose the various props for the shoot.

In the last three years, I've shot a number of variations on the them - Combat Fairy, House Fairy, Photo Fairy, Pixie, River Fairy, Waterfall Nymph, Garden Fairy, Flower Fairy and so forth and so on. It's now, however, time to wrap this up and move on to other areas of photographic interests. That means I must shoot the final, essential elements of the project I mentioned above during the 1st half of 2011 and start the layout of the book, along with the accompanying text for the images that will be included in the final publication. 

Base design for Winter Wings
To that end, I'm in the midst of planning my Winter Fae shoot. There are a couple of models in consideration for the role, and the costume is essential ready. I'll be using a variation of wings from the to complete the costume, but for this shoot, I'll also be photographing the model without wings so I can add some variations during the post-processing. When the weather warms up and the skies clear enough, I'll shoot the Wind (Air) Fairy and then when we move into early summer, I'll wrap up the project with the Earth Fairy. There are a number of variations that can be done on the latter two Fae and I'm looking forward to exploring those variations with the models. 

If you are a model, or know of one that would like to participate in the project, the window of opportunity will be closing this year. While I have plans for only the three shoots I've mentioned, I'm still open to adding one or two more if I can fit it into the schedule. One I'd particularly like to try is a Rain Fairy, but there could also be a Fae of Music or one of Light.  

Friday, January 7, 2011

Under the Bridge

Audi in the Park
Contrary to popular belief, I do sometimes shoot women with their clothes on, and in fact, I'm hoping to do more of that in the coming year. It's not that I've given up on shooting nudes, but rather I want to explore more along the lines of matching clothing and other props to the outdoor settings or using them to contrast with the scenery.

In the images seen here. Audi and I spent about a half day shooting in Cathedral Park under the St. Johns Bridge in North Portland. We were exploring the park and using the various areas there as settings for different outfits that both Audi and I provided for the shoot.

The park is great for glamour and fashion shoots, and it's one of my favorite places for photography from late spring to mid-fall, or anytime it's reasonably warm and dry. The park has many features to recommend it. The bridge, of course, is the most distinguishing and prominent feature, but there are fields, trees, shrub lined paths, a dock, a sandy beach, the river, benches, lamp posts, stairs, railway tracks, and a lot more.

Under the Willow
One of my favorite elements is a large willow tree near the base of one of the bridge supports. It's large enough to provide a canopy of leaves and branches under which I can shoot a model and provide a somewhat tropical feel to the image, despite actually shooting in the Pacific Northwest. The tree's canopy drapes over an embankment under the bridge and that provides lots of room for shooting. Add a bikini top and a sarong and you get a delightful setting.

The bridge supports also provide interesting structures that add visual interest to shoots. Models can climb on the large concrete platforms to pose--sometimes two levels high if they are courageous and you have good insurance. Walking around the platform can provide varying lighting and different structural elements for backdrops.  The structures are so large that they can be made to become ambiguous in terms of location which allows it scene to appear to be an industrial setting rather than a park.

Now, while I don't want all you photographers flocking to the park to take up my best shooting, if you ever want an interesting place to shoot, you might check it out.

On the Bridge Support

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Updated Deviant Art Portfolios

Reorganized my Deviant Art Portfolios today and changed some of the images out. They're still a work in progress, but I've found them immensely useful for showing my work to potential clients and models.

Swords & Chains: Beauties with Blades and Chainmail
Women & Chains: Strong Women, Beautiful Chains
Sword & Sorcery: Warriors and Magic
Provocative Photo: Fantasy and Glamour Photography

If you have any constructive suggestions, I'm happy to hear them.