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One-On-One Workshop With Charles Jere | Cary, NC Photographer

My intent and focus in this one-on-one workshop with Charles Jere, was to inspire and motivate him to create great portraits.  In an effort to gauge his needs, and gain a sense of what his expectations were for this session, I encouraged Charles to discuss his concerns, and ask any pertinent questions relating to photography.  Our dialogue was in-depth and centered-on: what he has done so far, ways to build upon his skill-set, and where he wanted to see his work eventually.  We chatted – minus photography gear - for over an hour about his specific concerns.  After our discussion, I reviewed some of the images from Charles’ portfolio and provided my feedback on each one.

Our model for the day was Steven Muncy.  Great job, Steven!  We appreciated you joining us.  Prior to the workshop, Steven had expressed to me that he wanted portraits for social media and his website.  With that in mind, I decided to incorporate capturing great head-shots and portraits into this session, thereby providing how-to and education for Charles.

It was an extremely hot day.  Usually, I would utilize several different areas during a location shoot; in an effort to minimize moving around too much in the heat, I decided to stick to the shaded areas of the park out of direct sunlight.  My goal for this entire workshop was to create some amazing portraits, which we did at this one location, a park-bench.  Given that we were in the shade and I wanted to use the park as the backdrop, we had to deal with two different exposures. I brought out my speedlights and demonstrated how to properly balance speedlights with ambient light.

It was a pleasure having Charles attend my one-on-one workshop, thank you so much.  I hope you are able to use the tips you learned during our educational session to create your own amazing images and portraits.  Steven, thank you for being our subject.  Wayne Myers, as always, great job capturing the awesome footage for the BTS video.

The behind the scenes video will be released soon.  To be notified immediately when it's released, please subscribe to our YouTube channel.

If you want to attend one of my workshops, please become a member of my meetup group and RSVP for any workshop that you are interested in.

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One-On-One Workshop With Mario Guzman

In this one-on-one workshop with Mario Guzman, I explored 4 different lighting techniques:

  1. I used the sun as the hair light and the reflector as the main light 
  2. I used the sun as the main light and the reflector as fill 
  3. I used the omega reflector as our main light and the speed-light as the hair light 
  4. I used the flash as the main light and the ambient light as fill.

For more on these techniques and other educational/useful tips, you may view my YouTube channel.  Mastering these techniques requires repetition and proper application.  That's right!  Practice.  If you don't intend to put in the hours it takes to enhance your technique and augment your skill-level, you may as well not invest any finances in attending workshops; without thorough investment and dedication, you will not gain any additional knowledge or get any better at your chosen craft.  With the advent of smart-phones, and the smorgasbord of social media, it has become commonplace for some individuals to be easily convinced that they are photographers.  So, what makes you a "professional photographer"?  Better than the millions of "photographers" out there?  It's certainly not the camera or all the gear you have or even knowing lighting.  What gives you the edge and finesse, is your hours of work and mastery of all the techniques that encompass being brilliant at your craft.

While I am not a master photographer, I take pride in the earnest I apply to curate my craft and the work I put in.  In these one-on-one workshops, it's my goal to inspire attendees, show them techniques that I have learned overtime, which have worked for me, and instruct them on posing techniques that will bring out the best in their subjects. 

Thank you to Milica Guceva and Quionna Byrant for being our wonderful models for this workshop.  I also want thank Thang Ryan Le for assisting me on this workshop.  Big thank you to Wayne Myers for BTS video.  Lastly, thank you Mario Guzman for attending, I hope you were able to walk away with some valuable information that you can apply on your future photo shoots.

Here's what Mario had to say about the One On One Workshop:

"Being in this workshop with Ernesto was a great experience. Ernesto took the time to teach skills like using sunlight to illuminate the hair using a reflector as the main light. As a beginner in portrait photography, I thought that sunlight is used as the main light. Seeing the results of the techniques that Ernesto taught me I realized how great it is to manipulate light. Also learned how to use the sun as the main light and reflector as fill light. Ernesto is a great photographer and teacher of photography. I participated in some workshops with him and it's always a great experience."

One last point, light is light, you can create great images with just a camera and any beautiful quality of light, so don't get caught up with expensive lighting equipment.  In this workshop, you will notice I didn't use any expensive strobes; I used the sun, a reflector, and a single speed-light.

If you want to attend one of my workshops, please become a member of my meetup group and RSVP for any workshop that you are interested in.

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BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO

Water Beauty | Cary, North Carolina Photographer

I learned a great deal during the execution of this photo shoot, but before I dive into those details let me explained the concept behind this session.  This shoot was simultaneously anxiety-inducing, and exciting.

Hairstylist, Sheereese Cromartie, contacted me and proposed an underwater photoshoot, to which I replied I had no experience doing and I quickly recommended another photographer.  I would rather recommend a fellow photographer than undertake a task I have no prior experience with.  I have completed numerous personal projects that are suited to, and augment my skill set.  Sheereese and I work very well together and we decided on a shoot that involved water, just not entirely underwater.

Once we agreed upon how we would utilize our chosen medium - water - I started a model call on Facebook; Leah Lewis one of the models answered the call.  I then reached out to Mara Virginia Wuliger our second model and she was interested and wanted to do the photoshoot.  Sheereese reviewed the models’ portfolios to ensure they had the look she was aiming for.  I then reached out to Amani Asad, a talented MUA I’ve worked with in the past and she gave me her availability for the photoshoot.

The team was now in place, so it was just a matter of us executing the vision and me capturing the images as envisioned.  On the day of the shoot, I inflated a kiddy-pool and filled it with water.  I asked Mara to get into the pool so I can test the lighting.  After I viewed the first shot, I modified my angle from the top to the side, and I was very happy with the composition but the lighting not so much; I tweaked the lighting until I had the desired result.  

When the models were ready with hair and make-up, I took some test shots in the pool; Sheereese who was the hairstylist on the shoot, reviewed the images to ensure we were on track to creating the images she envisioned.  With lighting and angles looking great in test shots, I continued with the creative process.

From a post production perspective, I believe this was the first time I was so hard on myself with respect to the final product.  I’ve never done this before, but I asked two of my trusted and very talented colleagues, Benjamin Scott and James Thomas, for their feedback on what they thought of my final edit.  They were very accommodating and provided valuable feedback; turns out, I really was viewing my images too critically, and with a couple minor tweaks, the final edits were awesome.

While I’m aware these types of images have been done before.  I’m a portrait photographer, this was my first foray into the arena of beauty photography, and I’m pleased with the end-result.  

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BTS (behind the scenes) VIDEO

Geisha Fashion Photo Shoot | North Carolina Photographer

Concept photo shoots are very fun but at the same time very challenging.  When I decided that I wanted to do this Geisha photo shoot I had to decide do I want to go completely traditional or more fashionable and I leaned towards an hybrid fashionable / a little traditional.

Once the decision was made on the direction of the shoot, I reached out to my creative director aka Carlton Eliza Charles to help me do some research to locate reference images to determine wardrobe, mua and hair.  Having reference images is very important especially when working with multiple creatives as it helps to put everyone on the same page.  I then reached out to Shannon Sharpe for MUA and Tina KonTroversi for styling who both agreed to work with me on this shoot.  However, I still needed to get an hair stylist, so Shannon was able to introduce me to DaNia Pebbles King who is a wonderful hair stylist and she also agreed to be part of the shoot.

Motivated lighting, is a simple term used to described a lighting style where the light sources main goal is to imitate existing light sources, such as a window light or computer screen light.  So for me I literally use light to motivate how I pose my subjects.  For me, coming up with poses before stepping on the scene, examining how the clothing moves or understanding how my subject moves in my mine creates a disconnect.  My preference is to allow the environment to dictate the pose.  I enjoy the organic process of working towards and developing poses on the fly.  Do I recycle poses, am I influenced by other poses I have seen in magazines or from other photographers on the web, of course, but my goal is to push myself to create something that fits the environment for that subject.  On this shoot, I felt I did just that, which was created organic unique poses that fit the environment and my subject.

In conclusion, I want to thank the awesome team below because without them this photo shoot would not have happen and for that I am forever grateful...go TEAM!!!

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Team:

PROMO - BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO

Harper Bazaar UK March 2015 Publication

First of all I want to say congratulation to Vesela Zarankova who is an amazing fashion designer I had the pleasure of working with in March of 2014, please check out the blog posting for all the images from that shoot.  Vesela was featured in the March 2015 Harper Bazaar UK publication and they choose to include one of the images from our shoot together.

Being published in such a well established magazine is no small effort and I am extremely humble about this wonderful news.  So what does this mean for me? It means that I acknowledge this recognition, but I also understand my work is not done.  I have to continue to push myself to improve my skills and knowledge as an artist.

So I will close with how I started this blog, congratulations once again Vesela Zarankova you certainly deserve it.  Also, I have to say congratulations to Maemae Renfrow who was the model in the image.

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New Year's Eve (N.Y.E) Portrait Session With Nicole

It's the holiday season and I get extremely restless when I am not creating images for a long period of time. This season I was out of commission as generally I have a full house with family visiting for the holidays. About a year or two ago I decided to start taking portraits of my family members as the end results are two-fold: 1) I get to create images, which is what I love to do; and 2) It gives them a beautiful portrait for the holiday season. Win, win!

Now, getting to the subject of the title "New Year's Eve (N.Y.E) Portrait Session With Nicole".  After Christmas my wife reluctantly agreed to do a one-on-one portrait session with me, which was incredibly generous of her because she absolutely dislikes being in front of the camera; the same is true of my daughter "the struggles of a photographer :-)."

My goal for this session was to capture something elegant, fashionable, and timeless.  From a posing perspective I wanted something simple and not too contrived.  In order to gain and hold a moment of Nicole's attention -- her attention-span is almost non-existent -- she insisted on having a companion, her companion of choice, a couple glasses of wine, which I decided to use as a "prop" in the final image.

From a lighting perspective I decided not to go with natural light, I used three strobes to give the feeling of natural light in the first two images.  The last dramatic dark-moody image, I used one strobe with a reflector to give the appearance that the light source was the lamp.  Although I did use strobes I wanted to balance the strobes with the ambient light throughout the entire session.

Lastly, I captured the entire quirky photo session with the admittedly eccentric Nicole on video, she often forgot we were recording, as is evidenced by the final-cut.  To view the fun video, please press play and enjoy!

Again, Happy Holidays and have a Happy New Year! 

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BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO

10 Minute Portraits | North Carolina Photographer

With a limited amount of time and no desirable location I setup Jay in front of my garage door to create the below portraits.   

With every photo shoot I have 4 things I check off in my head.  Lighting, posing, composition & expression.  The process is really quick because I have done it for so long.

1) Light -- I like to work quickly and efficiently, so my go to lighting source is natural light.  I look for the best source and quality of natural light.  If the natural light is terrible and I can't move my subject then I would introduce tools to help with the quality of the light on my subject.  Of course the tools used on every photo shoot does vary, it could be an artificial light aka strobe or speed light, a bed sheet to help diffuse the light, a video light etc. whatever it takes to get a great portrait.  That said, with these portraits I used all natural light.  

2) Posing -- giving my subject a reason to be wherever they are ensures my subject looks natural and comfortable.  In the case of Jay, he was in front of my garage door with a cool jacket, so I thought, what would I do in front of my garage door with a cool jacket and I believe the answer was just look cool.  The word "cool" could mean something different to everyone, this was my interpretation.

3) Composition -- knowing what to include and exclude in your portrait is critical to ensure your viewer is not distracted with other subjects that's not the main focus of the portrait.  Playing with angles, shapes etc helps to create an interesting composition that's pleasing to the viewer's eye.

4) Expression -- My last check mark is the mood and emotion of the portrait.  This last bit is the soul of the portrait it helps the viewer to connect with the subject.  Having the best lighting in the world, the best posing and a great composition means nothing; if there's no emotion, no spark and no mood in the portrait.  In these portraits I wanted to express how cool he was in this awesome jacket, so that's what I aimed for and hopefully achieved.

From a post processing perspective, when I was reviewing the images they all just screamed black and white to me.  Simple, no distractions and timeless.  Here's a secret, I love creating beautiful portraits but I hate post processing :-).

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Sonia | North Carolina Photographer

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BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO

The Secret To Creating A Dramatic Image | North Carolina Photographer

"...I really like your work maybe you can give me some tips to make a more dramatic picture".  

So the above question was posted on the video below from one of my YouTube subscribers.

What makes a dramatic picture? Images can be interpreted differently depending on the viewer.  Some would argue that it's the awesome lighting, colors, subject position, composition etc. that gives an image the WOW factor.  Well, for me a dramatic image is simply the emotional connection I get when viewing an image.

Now I did provide what I believe was a practical answer to his question (see comments under the video for the answer), but after a few days of thinking about it, I figured maybe there's a simpler answer.  A great image is not created because you simply point your camera and take a picture, it takes patience, experience and knowledge.  Of course, you also need practice, understand how to manipulate light, and knowing how to use your gear, etc. However, if you don't start the creative process, you will never get that dramatic image.

For each photo shoot I do, I simply pick a location, it may not be the most desirable location, but ultimately the quality of the light guides me to that specific spot and then I start creating images.  I work with my subjects to try and pull out their personality and incorporate that into the image.  Will those be the most dramatic images?  Maybe, but once the creative process begins my percentage of getting that one dramatic image (hopefully more) increases greatly.  

There it is, that's my advise on creating a dramatic image.  Do not be intimidated or overwhelmed by the thoughts behind your creative process, just start!

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Farrah Helen Beck | Raleigh North Carolina Photograher

Assistant: Sonja Swanson

Video Assistant: Agnes Lichanska

Model: Farrah Helen Beck

Hair & MUA: Deatrice Snuggs

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BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO

Natural Light Workshop 2014 | Cary North Carolina Photographer

On May 17th, I held a natural light workshop in Cary, North Carolina.  The workshop was done between 2pm and 4pm, which is not the most ideal situation to create images.  However, I knew with the right poses and specific directions we would create some amazing images.  Agnes, Nika and Jim were the 3 photographers who attended my workshop, I hope you all learned something new, thank you for attending.

The models that attended my workshop were Jessica Delovely who I have worked with in the pass and Seema Lateef Aziz.  Jessica had to leave early, so I didn't capture as much images I wanted to of her, which is why Seema dominates the below.  In addition to modeling Seema did the hair and make up.  Seema was a trooper and was very easy to work.

If you are interested in attending one of my workshops, please contact me.

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Harish Wedding Anniversary | North Carolina Photographer

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Vesela Zarankova 2014 Fashion Collection | Cary, NC

I was extremely honored when clothing designer Vesela Zarankova asked me to produce images for her 2014 fashion collection.  The images will be used on the web store for Nineteenth Amendment when they launch in May 2014 and on her website.   Vesela's collection is classic and very elegant, it looked absolutely amazing on the model.  During the consultation she wanted a clean and classic look, as the focus was on the clothes.

On the day of the photo shoot I had so much fun working with Vesela and the very talented model Maemae Renfrow, they both made the experience seamless and wonderful.

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Tornado Distraction | North Carolina Photographer

Today Wake County area in North Carolina was on a tornado warning and the message I got on my phone actually said "take shelter now", which was very scary and reminded me just how unprepared I am for such an event.  We had some heavy winds but thankfully the tornado did not hit our hometown in Cary.  Naturally after the warnings were over and I was trapped in the house I decided to grab my camera and test some lighting.

Here's the behind the scenes look at how I made this image.

Impromptu Beauty Shoot | Raleigh NC Photographer

My friend Shereese Cromartie is a talented hair stylist, whose bragging rights include New York Fashion Week.  When she contacted me to do an impromptu beauty shoot, I was immediately interested.  I've worked with Shereese in the past and knew the quality of work she produces --- she creates some amazing styles.

Shereese was in town on business and decided to maximize her travel time by quickly organizing a photo shoot focused on soft, natural looking beauty shots.  I put the word out for models and MUA and received responses from two beauties, Jessica De lovely, recently featured in BeautyBliss magazine and Kaley Morrison, who walked the runway in Redress Raleigh fashion show; no MUA were available on short notice, so the models did their own make-up.

Below are images from the shoot.

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Strong Portraits | Cary, North Carolina Photographer

I love creating strong, powerful and memorable portraits.  Click here for the holiday special.  

These images were shot and edited by me.

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Holiday Promotion | individual or family portraits

Holiday promotion, get beautiful family or individual portraits for the holiday season at a promotional rate. This promotion expires at the end of December 2013, but if you book now and you are unable to schedule a photoshoot between now and December 2013, we can schedule your session in 2014.  There's limited space, book your session now before time and space expires.

snake handler photoshoot | north carolina photographer

MUA Stephanie C contacted me to do a photo shoot including human and snake models -- immediately my interest was piqued!  

Stephanie contacted the models for the shoot and Eric Smith provided the serpent stars: Choke Norris (Colombian Redtail Boa)  and Uloopi (Ball Python).

The shoot took place on location in my home studio.

Models: Lista Duwyenie-Hodges, Rochelle Camacho, MUA Stephanie C, Choke Norris and Uloopi

Hair & MUA: Stephanie C

Fashion stylist: Polymoniker

Snake handler: Eric Smith

Jewelry: Emily French

BTS video: Jordano Rastelli

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BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO