cary nc

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.  

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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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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They call me MISTER Parker! | North Carolina Photographer

I almost always implement and execute a shoot focusing on three main objectives: The first -- and this is a very important step in my process -- is to  find good available light and if there's none, I create my own using artificial lighting.  Next (second step) is to assess how the light is falling on my subject.  My third step, is to pay attention to the location.  While some tend to obsess over location, for me the location is not something I care about; lighting is more salient to my desired end-result and ensuring a great portrait.

When I have checked off my three main objectives, I then begin to work with my subject to figure out which angles and poses work best for capturing strong, impactful, and flattering portraits.

My subject for this shoot was Orlando Parker Jr.  He impressed me with his easy-going, effortless demeanor.  Just below that calm surface is a man who as Nicole exclaimed, "gives good face!" Nicole, my wardrobe stylist on this shoot said he had the intensity of actor Sidney Poitier, timeless, classic and contemporary all at once.  This was not Orlando's first time being in front of the camera; he easily followed through on direction and did what was required, allowing me to capture the amazingly striking images below.

The shoot was inspired by a movie starring Sidney Poitier released in 1970 titled "They call me MISTER Tibbs!".

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BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO

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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See You Later | Cary North Carolina Photographer

Jessica is leaving town :-(, so this was our see you later photo shoot, not good bye.

Our first photo shoot was almost two years ago, well February 2015 will make two years.  When we first meet I was pleasantly surprised by her bubbly personality, which wasn't the only surprise.  It turns out she was also a dancer, which we quickly incorporated into the photo shoot, as you can see from the video.   Jessica, it was a pleasure to meet you and thank you for supporting me for the pass two years through all my crazy ideas.  Good luck with your future plans I am sure you will be very successful with whatever you choose to do.

With respect to the photoshoot, I primarily used one light source "the icelight" for the entire shoot.  I also incorporated some candle light to add a little mood.  For the full length shot I used one speed light and the icelight to help open the shadows.  The light is the most important element when creating an image so once I had the light right I then moved onto posing.

With posing, I generally pose my subject to fit the environment and once I have the pose right my focus shift to getting a great expression from my subjects.  My goal was to get something timeless and elegant.

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Evolving the Practice | North Carolina Photographer

If you followed my photography over the years, you may have noticed that objects are not often my subject matter.  I enjoy shooting people more than I do objects, however, as an artist, I do not welcome nor do I embrace placing limitations on my art/creations.  I continuously seek ways to augment and improve my skill-set; I still need to practice photographing things I wouldn’t normally shoot.  As a photographer, I believe I can find beauty/art in whatever is in front of my lens.

The first image below is simply a snapshot to display the scene, but I wanted to push myself to develop the scene; the additional 9 images show my vision as it evolved in this instance.

"Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known"
- Oscar Wilde

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Note: There was no photoshop manipulation, this was all done in camera.

There’s Always A First Time: Cary, North Carolina Photographer

The inspiration for this photo shoot was “hats”, yep, hats. I decided to capture images of the model wearing hats two different ways; the first look evoking an era reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn/ Diahann Carroll, Old Hollywood glamour and; the second look, an edgier glam-rock vibe. The juxtaposition of both looks using one model was absolutely brilliant and I thoroughly enjoyed the image capturing process on this shoot. 

Admittedly, all the final images do not include hats and in keeping with the theme of not adhering fully to the theme (Ha!), I went totally off-script with the addition of a car; the images with the car were captured late evening, incorporating the mellow lighting dusk provides.
Our model Sonia had no prior experience modeling, this was her first time on a professional photo-shoot.  Utilizing my knowledge of lighting application and posing, and with Sonia being such a quick understudy, I was able to capture great shots of an absolutely gorgeous model.  Sonia hit her poses as directed like a seasoned model and it was an absolute pleasure working with her.

Thank you to the following very talented individuals for great team work and flawless execution:

videographer: Wayne “Wonder” Meyers
mua: Shannon “Conversionz” Sharpe
hair stylist: Kevin Saunders
wardrobe: Nicole “Polymoniker” Sue
model: Sonia Elizabeth Rivera

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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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Jay Goku James | Parkour Instructor | North Carolina Photographer

Jay James runs along walls, and flies through the air, taking Martial arts and Parkour skills to a new level in his training as well as in various classes and demonstrations! The emblem of his training team ‘Rahyz’ is a symbol of Determination. Jay is a professional Parkour athlete and instructor who teaches weekly Parkour classes, does Private Lessons, and organizes Live Performances around the Cary and Raleigh area in North Carolina!

Look for his videos on YouTube and Contact him through Facebook or email me at rahyz1@gmail.com

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BTS (Behind The Scenes) Video