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May 4, 2015#

The Sash Dress Challenge

True story: Circa 2003 a client turns up to my start up no doors shonky garage studio in the country.  Despite the phone consultation (although if I am to be honest) I probably just emailed her and expected that she would read it.  She shows up for her Glam shoot with no clothes, wearing boy jeans and and a black T-shirt.  I was in that start up business phase you know the one, where her payment meant I would make rent and eat that week. So the reality was I was devastated, panicking about money and I thought there is no way I can let this woman go, I will photograph her in this T-shirt and make it work. I had no clothes I could lend to her so I sat her in the makeup chair acted calm and went inside to freak out while she was getting her Hair and Makeup done.

I pride myself on being a creative solution finder. Basically that means most of the time whenever I’ve found myself in trouble I say “how can I get out of this” and immediately I go into creative solutions mode. I did have a few squares of fabric so I took them out to the studio and I made a dress in fact I made five different dresses kind of half fashion Toga and half sarong. End of story she was happy her sale was not huge but I got paid and made rent and a huge lesson was learned in the art of preparing my client connecting before the shoot and having some basic pieces in the studio to get me out of trouble if this happened again. The Sash became a signature piece in my studio and has stayed there for the last 12 years.

I sent my Assistant/Makeup Artist Caitlin to Joann’s Fabric the other day and gave her $20 to buy something that looks like satin or silk but nothing expensive and nothing to shiny.  She returned with 3 yards of this fabric $3.99 per yard so plus tax the purchase was $14.95.  From this fabric I cut pieces three long sashes in different widths from 6″ to 12′ wide and then I sewed them inside out and then turned them back the right ways (like a pillowcase) and sewed the end.  The VIDEO of me making the sash and styling it is being edited now. Then I made some looks and photographed them for you.  The up shot is I think every photographer can make this it’s affordable and its quite amazing. There are so many options in both fabrics, and color and styling in fact endless designs have fun. You can google infinity dress to get wrapping ideas or just freestyle.  You can use tulle, you can use cotton let the dress draping begin.

The skirt she is wearing is a tube skirt made of T-shirt fabric and has an elastic waist I have small medium and large in the studio they range in price from around $8-$40 depending where you find them I also have a range of slips in Black and Nude as these are basic wardrobe foundations that most people do not have or think to bring

My challenge to you is lets see how creative you can be and post your images on InBedWithSue Facebook group and share your amazing ideas. Here are some ideas to get you started. All of my DIY studio hacks came from actually having to problem solve on a budget but the truth is this is a great creative way to make something and get excited about photographing it.

You will see now how many times the sash pops up in my client shoots.

NOW you will see now how many times the sash pops up in my client shoots over the years.

I found this sash about 7 years ago in a designer store in Sydney I paid $90 for it This is what I modeled the ones I made today on at $5 each

I found this sash about 7 years ago in a designer store in Sydney I paid $90 for it This is what I modeled the ones I made today on at $5 each

I am no seamstress but I can sew a rectangle.  This is my cheap target sewing machine and I love it.

I am no seamstress but I can sew a rectangle. This is my cheap target sewing machine and I love it.

Sew a straight line turn it inside out and then iron it flat. Too easy

Sew a straight line turn it inside out and then iron it flat. Too easy

Kimono top: This is the 12" sash great for Kimono style sleeves. with the 6" sash around the waist

Kimono top: This is the 12″ sash great for Kimono style sleeves. with the 6″ sash around the waist

Ruche off the shoulder: This is the 12" sash I ruched the fabric by twisting it and then pinned the gathers with sewing pins quick and easy

Ruche off the shoulder: This is the 12″ sash I ruched the fabric by twisting it and then pinned the gathers with sewing pins quick and easy

One Shoulder: Simple and elegant the one shoulder sleeve finished with a black ribbon on the waist

One Shoulder: Simple and elegant the one shoulder sleeve finished with a black ribbon on the waist

One Shoulder and Bow: The one should sleeve with a 6" sash tied around the waist in a bow

One Shoulder and Bow: The one should sleeve with a 6″ sash tied around the waist in a bow

Backwards Halter: Around the back and up over the breasts and around the neck in a classic Halter

Backwards Halter: Around the back and up over the breasts and around the neck in a classic Halter

Braided Strapless: The 6" sash around the back twist in the front and then around again repeat

Braided Strapless: The 6″ sash around the back twist in the front and then around again repeat

2 Sash Downwards Halter: around the neck and down then second sash wrap the torso and tie

2 Sash Downwards Halter: around the neck and down then second sash wrap the torso and tie

Low Back shot: Shoulder drape and down the back tie loosely and let it fall.

Low Back shot: Shoulder drape and down the back tie loosely and let it fall.

Off the shoulder and arm wrap simple the best choice to compliment arms

Off the shoulder and arm wrap simple the best choice to compliment arms

I don't like to show my arms but I love the shape of my shoulders so this would be my best choice.

I don’t like to show my arms but I love the shape of my shoulders so this would be my best choice.

April 30, 2015#

“Inches mean nothing . . . but the weight of your words and the weight of your actions are everything”

I was on stage at ClickAway 2014 Salt Lake City teaching Posing.  I asked them not to get me models I would pick my models from the audience.  You see like clients you never know what you are going to get until they walk in your door. I asked for volunteers Curvy, Lean, Tall, Short and I posed the girls simultaneously. I love teaching the very subtle but powerful nuance of movement angles and poses and how different body types do different things. One of my volunteers was Jen Mink, afterwards she was high fived and congratulated for being brave and amazing she thanked me for the wonderful experience and told me she could not believe she had been brave enough to put up her hand. The next day I saw her and she said she returned to her hotel opened Facebook saw all of the photos taken of her on stage and all confidence left her, we talked about how self hate comes up, that voice that tells you you were stupid and not good enough and you shouldn’t have done this and said that and that voice is wrong and it can be changed and it can be silenced. We made a promise right then 7 months ago she would find a way to come to LA and I would photograph her, that happened yesterday.

The video I recorded of Jen is to teach Photographers to pose curves beautifully with power and confidence, but this little clip attached here is for Jen. The Woman the Wife and the Mother.

I want you to know: Your weight is the least interesting thing about you, in fact recently I showed my friends and family an old picture of myself 100 pounds heavier and everyone said the same thing.  WOW . . . I don’t remember you looking like that. Why? because thats not what you see when you look at someone you love.  Thats your partner your children your parents your best friend. You are not the size of your jeans, you are the love you have for others the love that comes straight out of your eyes, you are the laughter you bring, the comfort in your voice the nurturing in your hands, the patience in your listening, the warmth in your hug and the trust and knowing that you are part of my life and I am part of yours.

If you watch this video you will hear me say my Mum taught me a great lesson. Make the BEST of it. Whatever you have, whatever you are faced with, what ever you are going through Make the BEST of it.  Anything you resist will persist. Until you learn from it.  You will not change anything until you learn to accept it, then love it, then you will make the best of it. So if acceptance is about saying this is me now and you can both accept and embrace that, then maybe you can celebrate it. You can learn that self love is acceptance and kindness and forgiveness and grace. That you are worth love and you are worth everything good in this world and the more YOU value YOU the more others will. #existinphotos For you and all the people who love you. Just embrace everything you are and everything you have.

The best part about this little clip is I showed Jen video of her not stills so she got to see her self unphotoshopped in real time and it was glorious to see her truly see her beauty.

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April 20, 2015#

My once spartan & minimalistic studio is now a forest of C-stands & sand bags & head hitting obstacles

Circa 1992 we had a softbox hanging from the ceiling on a pull down arm, it was quite cool you could stretch it down move it about and when you were done you could retract it. Every now and then It would fall down and smash me in the head always in front of clients.  Anyway the deal was 80’s Glamour was done the softbox and the soft vignette were in the trash and we started to shoot Natural light at the time (we were very progressive) we had big sheets of Poly boards (Polystyrene or Styrofoam) The movie industry have used them for decades also known in the industry as Beadwall. It was the era of Herb Ritts and Black n White magazine which back then mostly consisted of raunchy in your face Black n White nudes and 90’s Supermodels. We were evolving you see, that is the essence of being in business for 26 years and studio light was out. I built my brand on Natural Window light (One window – One Reflector) I reveled in it I mastered it, in any condition I could bend light and my settings to make it work.Very rarely do I have to concede to prevailing conditions, well before 3pm that is and lets face it winter light is a killer.

I tried constant daylights again in the early 2000’s when I was in a studio with smaller windows and winter hours were narrowing my ability to shoot before and then after lunch. I hated it. I never considered speed lights or strobes as the one simple truth was IT DOES NOT LOOK LIKE NATURAL LIGHT. The second truth (In my opinion) is when you shoot modern Glamour in Natural Light it looked fresh and beautiful when I would see a normal client (NOT a model – as in not Fashion) in flash light all I saw was 80’s Glamour! a stigma I had fought years and years to not only evolve and revitalize but relaunch. For over two decades I have enjoyed the fact that my only studio equipment was my camera and my Poly boards.

NB: All Home Depots sell Polyboards also sold as home insulation boards you can paint them you can vintage wallpaper them. They are huge 4 x 8 feet but they are light and versatile and they simply are the best reflectors in the world. I prefer the thick ones about 40mm. I have lived and worked in New Zealand Australia and the U.S and have never had a problem finding them although you may need to do a little research as it seems to be one of the most asked questions to me. On 28 days you can see a video of me wallpapering and painting Polyboards.

Vflats as they are known in the ‘Industry’ are made of foamcore or gatorfoam you cannot get these at an art supplies shop they only have small pieces the big sheets that are the same size as the Polyboards are sold at most Photography and Video wholesalers.  They are commonly white on one side and black on the other and very thin. We tape them together to make a V.  Very handy and free standing.  I had never seen a Vflat till my first creativelive workshop up until then for 22 years I had only used Polyboards but the boys bought me some from the local camera shop Glazers and I used them for the first time, now I have both Vflats and Polyboards although I will not be ordering Polyboards in the future the Vflats are easier to move and store and they don’t make that dreadful squeek. This week I called my local EVS and asked if they sold Vflats the answer was yes $17.99 each I order 8 fresh ones to make four new fresh clean lovely Vflats it’s like having a blank canvas.  They do not need to be painted they will buckle that are for reflecting and you can shoot in the Black V it’s one of my signature shots I love how it looks.

This is a perfect example.

Natural light shot on Black Vflat

Natural light shot on Black Vflat so easy to move the V close to the window light or away depending on the day

Foamcore Vflat white side tape with White Gaffer tape

Foam core Vflat white side tape with White Gaffer tape

Foamcore Vflat black side tape with black Gaffer tape leave

Foam core Vflat black side tape with black Gaffer tape leave half inch gap or they will not fold shut

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It was not Felix’s work that first attracted me to learn lighting from him as I met him as an assistant to LaraJade I did not see his work until later, it was his incredible work ethic as an assistant completely there for Lara and then of course his pedigree. Felix has worked with some of the most Iconic photographers in the world and these photographers use lights in a way that most people only dream of. I challenged Felix to replicate my version of Natural light and boy did he. I am now the proud owner of a 250 Elinchrom Strobe with a 59″ Deep Dish Modifier and a Four bank natural daylight Kinoflo and a large Lasolite Scrim. My once spartan and minimalistic white studio space is now a forest of C-stands and sand bags and head hitting obstacles.  For the last 6 months I have been shooting with all three lighting setups equally and frankly I am in love with all three for different reasons.  More on that later, for now here are my setups enjoy Learn to Light on creativelive and here is a list of what I am using. Watch here https://www.creativelive.com/courses/learn-light

Links to products I purchased on Amazon:

Elinchrom’s 59 Inch Deep Inverse Octa This is the modifier Felix convinced me to buy and honestly I love it

Elinchrom’s 250W BRX Multi-Voltage Flash Unit Same with this

Kinoflo mine has daylight balanced bulbs I bought the four but honestly two is enough

I purchased the Scrim from Adorama remember prior to buying this I had used $4 yards of white polyester chiffon its cheap and effective just annoying to hang sometimes and I asked many assistants to hold it up over their heads for a long time.

I feel fully confident of the different lights and how they respond, also what looks best in each setup.  I can replicate the light to mimic natural or with a simple turn bring in more direction and more of a fashion look. I have loved exploring and learning and experimenting.  We need to consider cost and which light is going to work best for you in your space, the look you want and the budget as this investment is a big one but well worth it.  Above all know that if you are not ready yet to make the leap or the commitment your studio can operate just perfectly with Natural light after all I always joked when others were showing off about their light equipment and they asked me what I used I always replied “Oh I use God light” hehe no one ever shot me down.

Backdrop facing window Black Vflats to bounce in light

Backdrop facing window White Vflats to bounce in light

Backdrop facing window Black Vflats to absorb light

Backdrop facing window Black Vflats to absorb light gives your subject more contrast

Natural Window light diffused with a white net curtain bouncing onto a white Vflat reflector

Natural Window light diffused with a white net curtain bouncing onto a white Vflat reflector

Elinchrom 250 Strobe with Deep Dish Modifier bouncing into a white Vflat reflector

Elinchrom 250 Strobe with Deep Dish Modifier bouncing into a white Vflat reflector

Kinoflo 4 bank natural daylight balanced bulbs through a large Lasolite Scrim

Kinoflo 4 bank natural daylight balanced bulbs through a large Lasolite Scrim

Kinoflo 4 bank natural daylight balanced bulbs through a large Lasolite Scrim

Kinoflo 4 bank natural daylight balanced bulbs through a large Lasolite Scrim

Natural Window light diffused with a white net curtain bouncing onto a white Vflat reflector

Natural Window light diffused with a white net curtain bouncing onto a white Vflat reflector

Kinoflo 4 bank natural daylight balanced bulbs through a large Lasolite Scrim

Kinoflo 4 bank natural daylight balanced bulbs through a large Lasolite Scrim

Elinchrom 250 Strobe with Deep Dish Modifier bouncing into a white Vflat reflector

Elinchrom 250 Strobe with Deep Dish Modifier bouncing into a white Vflat reflector

March 28, 2015#

when you find yourself with a backdrop asking for more attention than your client

Take back the contrast or embrace it? I have always run run run from busy backdrops when boudoir photographers around the world were purchasing those black and white damask backdrops I was shaking my head with a hell no.  What happens however when you’re on location and you don’t have a choice.  Do you run from it or embrace it. I posted a photo from this shoot and there was an instant splitting of very strong opinions between like and don’t like so I edited the shoot dropping the contrast and embracing it, here is how I did it and I hope it helps you when you find yourself with a backdrop asking for more attention than your client.

Canon 5D iii ISO 640 1/50s 1.8 (for background and hair blur) 50mm 1.2 lens Light Kinoflo thru scrim Late afternoon light

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Out of camera tones are very soft and neutral, obviously throwing yellow.

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Open in PS and up curves for a little more contrast.

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Open in Alienskin Polaroid SX-70 Blend 75% –  one of my top used like it but keep looking

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Color fading – Color Photo Warm Skin at 40% (definitely like the contrast and color pop)

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Stay in fading Kodachrome 40% with dust and scratches removed subdued and more grungy not a beauty look

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and thats what I stayed with Kodachrome 40% with dust and scratches removed up the contrast a little.  Once I find the tone and mood of an image in editing I generally stick with the same tone of all the sequence of images in that one outfit or backdrop.  I like uniformity it looks more professional and you definitely see consistency which is a good thing.

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Out of camera: Some people would be horrified when images came out so flat and neutral but my camera picture style setting is set to neutral with two stops contrast dialed down.  What I get is an even perfectly exposed image that I can do anything with. Before you flip over that statement my work has always had a flatness and softness to it it is my signature look.  So before you start to preach to me about the RULES remember I don’t follow them.

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I have always been drawn to cold editing I like anything that takes the skin tones slightly away from red which is normal.  I have always liked slightly desaturated images so my go too here was Color Films Vintage Kodachrome 35mm faded (Would you believe a film I actually shot on for years in the 90’s)

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Color Fading Color Photo Warm Skin so I also try the opposite because how do you know unless you try this whole fading set is seriously yummy

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I ended up with this Polaroid 600 Brown Highlights then I went to textures and put a texture over it. Dial back the texture over the face with Protect and drop the opacity of the texture for subtlety

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The texture gives the wallpaper a vintage look there is contrast on her and a more faded look on the backdrop

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Pulled away from wall a little more a nice shallow f/1.8 and soft light on the face

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experimented with the cold tones and then the warms

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I actually finished with this a perfect mix of both this was the warmer of the two with command B plus 10 blue and command M curves more contrast

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Out of camera This was my first light test before I bought a reflector close to her obviously sitting on the edge of under exposed more drama on the face but I really liked it the natural shadow around her face this not what I normally do, you know I like to bring up the face light and flat so I wondered if I edited it a little gutsy and dramatic if I could make it work

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Straight to the polaroid filters because they are the drama filters I like the best

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This was in the Vintage range and towards Cyan

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and then I went Textures used protect around the face and cropped a little tighter

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Tessa is building a model folio to try to get model work I enjoyed being a little bit more fashion in my otherwise glam portrait world and it’s always good to try something new.

March 23, 2015#

Portrait of a Musician

I was lucky enough to photograph the incredibly talented singer/songwriter Caity Copley. I went into this shoot with the intention of capturing new fabulous PR images -leaning more towards a rock ‘n roll vibe rather then glamour portrait. Something worthy of Rolling Stone, this was a great challenge for me I lean heavily on beauty posing but Caity has such a natural confidence as a performer so we started with beauty type shots and by the time we got into the tophat she was fully her true self. Her music style is Piano/Pop so she still has an element of young and pretty in her brand so I just said bring clothes you would actually perform in. Caity has killer hair but we bulked it out with synthetic braid wefts so cheap and so easy to do I actually recorded it so you could have a little tutorial on how to do it it’s both affordable and has an instant result. She flipped over her hair.

Lighting I used an Elinchrom 59″ deep dish octobox modifier on my Elinchrom 250 strobe and one reflector (white foam core board) as my light source. I prefer softness in my images I Love it enter my amazing ND Filter. I can shoot wide open between1.2 -2.8 get that shallow yummy Depth of Field that I get with natural light, I can’t get enough of it lately. I am also very proud of how my new self painted backdrop performed. Have a look:

Canon 5Diii f/1.2 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Turn the light away from her towards the reflector and bounce it back turn ND filter dark as I can)

Canon 5Diii f/1.2 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Turn the light away from her towards the reflector and bounce it back turn ND filter dark as I can)

Canon 5Diii f/1.2 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Turn the light away from her towards the reflector and bounce it back turn ND filter dark as I can)

Canon 5Diii f/1.2 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Turn the light away from her towards the reflector and bounce it back turn ND filter dark as I can)

Canon 5Diii f/1.2 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Turn the light away from her towards the reflector and bounce it back turn ND filter dark as I can)

Canon 5Diii f/1.2 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Turn the light away from her towards the reflector and bounce it back turn ND filter dark as I can)

Canon 5Diii f/1.2 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Turn the light away from her towards the reflector and bounce it back turn ND filter dark as I can)

Canon 5Diii f/1.2 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Turn the light away from her towards the reflector and bounce it back turn ND filter dark as I can)

Canon 5Diii f/2.8 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Nice and close to the backdrop step back from the light a little)

Canon 5Diii f/2.8 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Nice and close to the backdrop step back from the light a little)

Canon 5Diii f/2.8 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Nice and close to the backdrop step back from the light a little)

Canon 5Diii f/2.8 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Nice and close to the backdrop step back from the light a little)

Canon 5Diii f/2.8 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Nice and close to the backdrop step back from the light a little)

Canon 5Diii f/2.8 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Nice and close to the backdrop step back from the light a little)

Canon 5Diii f/2.8 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Nice and close to the backdrop step back from the light a little)

Canon 5Diii f/2.8 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Nice and close to the backdrop step back from the light a little)

 

Links to products on Amazon:

Elinchrom’s 59 Inch Deep Inverse Octa This is the modifier Felix convinced me to buy and honestly I love it

Elinchrom’s 250W BRX Multi-Voltage Flash Unit Same with this

Genus 72mm ND Filter (NB don’t just click and buy this one shop around different brands differ in price but more importantly size of the lens dictates size of the filter)

Caity Copley’s music Because she is awesome

 

Find out more about Caity Copley at:

www.facebook.com/caitycopley

 

 

March 17, 2015#

Chalkboard paint and a Gorgeous Woman

 

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I painted this backdrop and it screamed EIGHTIES I screamed back HELL NO. I wasn’t too worried as the drop sheet had cost $20 and the paint about the same so I thought oh well it’s already primed for another coat.  Then I had the idea to use chalkboard paint so I jumped on Amazon and ordered a quart $19.90 I have always loved chalkboard paint because I love anything matt.

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I had a light plum/mauve left over from my first backdrop attempt so I mixed a little in, I did not want Black Black as I already have the velvet backdrop I made. I wanted a Matt grey black like the Vflat I threw in a little water so the paint would go the distance and painted with a roller.

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I put some water in the empty light color and then threw it on top while it was drying and rolled that out so I could get a light texture all over

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I had left over paint so I painted four of my Apple boxes (A quart went a long way on an already painted drop)

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Painted on Sunday ready for my shoot Monday nice and close to the window light coming in from the left Vflat to stop too much light coming in – White Vflat on the right bouncing light back to her

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Shot natural light 640 ISO 80/s Canon 5D iii 35mm lens.  This back drop is every inch what I hoped for

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This gorgeous woman is 60 years old.  She is a mother a writer and an incredible lady I loved meeting and photographing her.

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February 24, 2015#

Alien Skin Strobe demonstration on Gear Day creativeLIVE

They discount code is active until February 28th at midnight Buy anything AlienSkin 35% OFF you will see my go to is Exposure 7 CLICK HERE use code CRE1502

But the demo video will live on here if you want to download a copy for your self CLICK HERE to get more free creativeLIVE gear day videos

59" Deep Dish Octobox Elinchrom on an Elinchrom Strobe Canon 5D mark iii Background: Black Vflat Reflector: White Vflat

59″ Deep Dish Octobox Elinchrom on an Elinchrom Strobe Canon 5D mark iii Background: Black Vflat Reflector: White Vflat

_B0A1235SX70 _B0A1267BW _B0A1267SX70 _B0A1284SX70 _B0A1289SX70 _B0A1289BW _B0A1296SX70 _B0A1313SX70 _B0A1339SX70 _B0A1348SX70 _B0A1351SX70 _B0A1360SX70 _B0A1372SX70 _B0A1373SX70 _B0A1383SX70

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 6, 2014#

My first LA moment & Shooting the black tunnel

Just another incredible opportunity I had working with Olay to meet and photograph all of these incredible Women. Her name is Alexis Wolfer she is the Founder and Editor in chief of The Beauty Bean and an author of an amazing book The Recipe for Radiance and I got to photograph her.  Probably my first LA moment. I say that because Bruce Grayson International Makeup Guru and Randi Petersen Celeb stylist were there to give Alexis the star treatment and what an incredible day we had.  Congratulations to Alexis.

Shoot tip this is what I have been doing a lot these days.  Since I started shooting on the Oliphant backdrops. I realized when I shoot polyboards and Vflats theres is a natural vignette but the Oli’s are so much larger and if I want more contrast around the client and image I turn the backdrop straight to the window and put a Black Vflat (foam board) on either side as negative fill.  She doesn’t need a reflector as the light is straight to face.  People asked me am I blocking the light? as yes I am standing between the client and the window but its a large window diffused with frosting and or net curtains and I don’t seem to block much light or cast a shadow at all.  This apartment was set up as a studio for the day I knew there was a ton of natural light so I brought 4 Vflats a backdrop stand for the Oliphant and some chiffon fabric to pin to the wondow to diffuse the light if I have to much (this is a problem I am rarely face with TOO MUCH light) Anyway my point is the light direction diffusion and negative fill give me a very Strobe like look and I really like it.

Canon 5D mark iii  50mm lens – natural light f/2.8; 1/250s 640 ISO

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Alexis on Instagram CLICK HERE For Alexis’s Website Online Magazine The Beauty Bean CLICK HERE For Alexis’s incredible book Recipe for Radiance on Amazon CLICK HERE

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