ernesto sue

Ordinary People – Extraordinary Style | Raleigh North Carolina Photographer

Andrayah Ponce a talented hair-stylist, contacted me to shoot clients for Garnish Hair Studio in Raleigh, NC.  Andrayah and her colleagues wanted to capture images of their clients depicting them coiffed and representing their professions, while showcasing hairstyles worn by everyday people/professionals that mirrored street-styles, as opposed to the involved and artistic hair done for magazine and runway.

I know I’ve stated this before, but I feel like this shoot by far posed the biggest challenge for me to date – I know, until the next one comes along and I make the same statement.  So, what was challenging about this shoot you ask? Well, get into this - I had two locations to work with.  The first location Solas, was a three-story building with multiple shooting options and a three-hour time-allotment in which to capture images, with whom I thought at the time would be 10 subjects. The second location was a gym, which turned into a logistical workout because we had to move all our photography gear and crew to the new location.  Seven of the 10 subjects were present on the day of the shoot, allowing me to maximize the 3-hour window I had.

When you have a great location with multiple shooting options and 7 subjects, where do you begin?  Well, start somewhere, just pick a spot!  Generally that spot is dictated primarily by lighting, but in this case I planned on creating the light, so location guided me and then lighting.  I selected my first subject and started working the location, the light, and posing.  I got a little carried away with my first subject and veered off schedule a bit.  Each subject required a different shooting location and a different lighting setup, AND I’m allowing for approximately 10 minutes per subject to capture images; therefore, I had to figure out lighting and posing before I even took my first pictur.  This was a fast-paced photo shoot and very challenging from a lighting perspective.  

Fortunately, I work well under pressure – this photo shoot certainly put that to the test.  I was extremely humbled by this experience because it presented me with a solid base on what works and what doesn't with respect to a fast-paced, multi-subject photo shoot.  One other note worth mentioning, I have encountered stories from celebrity photographers who have about 5 minutes to work with multiple talent and I am convinced I now know what that type of high-energy environment feels like – with heightened expectations of flawless execution and delivery.  No pressure, no sweat. Right! Yep! Pressure and sweat will be present and on you through the very end and wrap-up of your shoot; just get in and hold on!

Acknowledgement to the following creatives for realizing the concept; I cannot reiterate enough the importance of a talented, multi-faceted, and supportive team as an essential aspect of a successful photo shoot:

Stylist:

  • The entire team at Garnish Studio did a great job with styling the hair for all the entrepreneurs. (Candice Motley, Tish Cotton, Christine Woods, Donyata Simpson and a big thank you Andrayah Ponce)
  • Amani Asad did a phenomenal job with make up on all the female entrepreneurs.  You can contact Amani for services at Makeup Artistry by Amani.
  • Cheneè Jones did an outstanding job with make up on all the male entrepreneurs.  You can contact Cheneè for services at Cheneè Jones Artistry.

My Direct Support Team:

  • Michael Richardson and James Burke - this was my first time working with both of them and it felt like we were working together for years.  They both did a great job with lighting, thank you both for all your assistance.
  • Anthony Coriale was behind the camera, he assisted our videographer, Wayne with capturing the wonderful BTS video coverage that will be available shortly, be on the lookout for that.
  • Wayne Wonder for capturing the BTS video, which will be published in the near future.
  • Nicole Sue aka Carlton Eliza Charles – whose burgeoning talents as stylist were evident with this shoot.  She did an amazing job styling all the entrepreneurs. 

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The Divine Feminine | Raleigh North Carolina Photographer

I was asked by Shannon Sharpe to attend her annual Summer photo shoot, not as a shooter, but as an event coordinator, to provide any needed assistance/tips as an experienced photographer on the day of the shoot.  The event was held at Common 414 downtown Raleigh.  I was not scheduled to shoot and this was not my concept, however, Carlton aka Nicole, who was a stylist that day, asked me to capture some images of her work; she wanted the two different photography styles to be captured for her port.  Since I had not planned on shooting at this event, my game plan was simply to use the available light around me.  I didn't use any off or on camera flash to capture these images.  The images of Ai were all created using the venues lights, and the images of Shelby were created using natural light.  

A little background on the theme which was conceptualized by Wesley Yuan Shang (the photographer Nicole styled the models for at the event) and Carlton Eliza Charles aka Nicole Sue:

Yoruba spiritual beliefs are held in parts of Nigeria and Benin, some of which were introduced to and remain a mainstay in some western cultures.  In Yoruba belief, God (Olodumare - the divine creator and supreme energy) has many faces or states of existence, resulting in a pantheon of entities/Orishas.  Among the pantheon of Yoruba Orishas (deities) are Oya and Oshun; they each embody one of the manifestations of God (Olodumare) and are aspects/representations of the divine feminine energies:

  • Oya - a rapid, transitional energy; goddess of winds, tempest, change, transformation, and renewal; she is a fierce warrior, protector of women, and guardian of the realms between life and death. She is the Orisha of rebirth and new life.
  • Oshun - a calming, love energy associated with sweet, fresh waters and rivers; she heals the sick, watches over and provides assistance to the disadvantaged.  She is a progenitor of song, music, dance, fertility, and prosperity.

Acknowledgement to the following creatives for realizing the concept:

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Carolina's Most Stylish 2015 Book Publication | Cary, North Carolina Photographer

I am so stoked to finally release these images which were created for, and published in The Carolinas’ Most Stylish 2015 book by Carolina Style Magazine.  This is my second time being published in Carolina Style Magazine, the first being The Winter Book.  You may pick up your copy of The Carolinas Most Stylish 2015 book here.

Tomris McDaniel is the Triangle Market Editor for Carolina Style Magazine and she was the Styling and Creative Director for this shoot.  My first time working with Tomris was in December of 2013, where we worked on creating an Easter Theme marketing image for Carolina Style Magazine.  That first shoot thought me a great deal, specifically the importance of working with a great team.

So, a little background on this shoot: Tomris reached out to me about this project in February of 2015.  The theme of the shoot was Spring/Summer, however, it was about 9 degrees outside and although we can make it look like Spring/Summer through an image, it would be extremely uncomfortable weather to work in for the model with summer attire on.  With the weather in mind, we decided to do the photo shoot in my home studio aka my garage.  We choose to use bold colors to help sell the theme of Spring/Summer.  Tomris was very disciplined about the direction of this shoot, from the clothes to the colors, to hair and mua; everything was deliberate, which was perfect for me, she and I think alike concerning areas and aspects of project management.

Tomris introduced me to three new awesome and professional individuals, whom I had never worked with before.  Although I had no work experience with the new creative team, as we had not collaborated prior to this project; our focus was cohesive and harmonious, resulting in a seamlessly executed vision with great images.  

Demetra Angelis of the D-Spot was the hair stylist on the shoot, yeah, what can I say about Demetra that I haven’t said already?  She’s without a doubt, a good-natured, creative, bundle of energy, and I absolutely enjoy any time spent with her.

Amani Asad was our makeup artist, very quite presence; watching her create is sublime.  Amani is focused and her artistry renders a measured flourish.  

Mara Wuliger our model for the day: this young lady embodied classic elegance and takes direction very well; no ego-tripping, just an amazing person.

James Thomas, a talented beauty photographer as well as the one of best people to provide assistance on a shoot, was on hand to assist me with lighting and being my test subject :-).  He helped with implementation and execution; and I am extremely grateful.  Thank you, James.

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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.

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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

Contempo-Retro: Pinup 2.0

Nicole Dodson contacted me in December 2014; she expressed interest in doing a pinup photoshoot.

I never did a pinup shoot before, so I researched some concepts on 500px.com, which was not very helpful. I searched for ideas on the Internet, but it wasn't until my creative director, Nicole Sue showed me images of contemporary pinup model Dita Von Teese, and old Hollywood images of starlet Cyd Charisse, was I able to jump-start the concept. The decision was made to do a mash-up imagery of vintage and contemporary pinup styles. The end-results were brilliant, beautiful portraits!

Inspired by those images, I started organizing a talented team to assist with executing and realizing the concept.  It can be difficult at times to convey to others what your expectations are without using tangibles and visual aids; especially when utilizing electronic communications such as email and Facebook messages, things can quickly get lost in translation.  I adhere to having a vision that I can thoroughly articulate and present to others thereby minimizing any occurrences for confusion.

The team consisted of Shannon Sharpe who did an amazing job with the MUA and was our generous host for this photoshoot.  Andrayah Ponce did an outstanding job with the evolving hair styles.   Wesley Yuan Shang and James Thomas, two very talented photographers in their own right provided assistance with this shoot.  Wayne Wonder, also an amazing photographer, was the videographer who captured all the footage to help viewers understand how the creative process unfolds behind-the-scenes on the day of the shoot. Nicole Sue was the stylist and creative director for this shoot; her vision for this high-fashion, contemporary spin on pinup was key to implementation and final execution of the concept.

My process for this shoot was the same as with my other shoots.  I had an amazing location but I focused on finding good quality ambient light, because although I had all my strobes, I really didn't want to anchor myself down with lights.  My primary tools for this shoot were ambient light, the IceLight, a video light and one speed light (no modifiers).  All the model’s poses were my idea and they were all organic; perhaps I could have come in with predefined poses but given I had not met with Nicole prior to the day of the shoot, and I did not use the location before, I had no idea what poses would have worked.  Nicole did a great job!  She went with all my suggestions, which was great for me because if you don't have a willing subject the images will show it.  She put all her trust in me and the team to produce high quality images which will be proud additions to our respective portfolios.

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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

Sonia | North Carolina Photographer

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BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO

Conversionz Makeup Studio's Annual Photo Shoot

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Photographer:
Ernesto Sue

Video Editor:
Ernesto Sue

Video:
Wayne Wonder

Stylist:
Nicole Sue

Stylist Assistant:
Charlene Banks

Models:
Jessica Lamarre
Farrah Helen Beck
Nancy Tuck Nickel

Hair / Make Up:
Donnicia Whitsett 
Shannon Conversionz Sharpe

Assistants:
John Wooley
Zack Umphrey

Location:
Mosaic

BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO

Workshop | Environmental Portraits | Raleigh, North Carolina

Everyday I am enjoying creating images on location.  I enjoy the challenge and I love the fact that I never know what type of image I will get because I use what's around me.  The below images were captured at a workshop I held on July 19th in downtown Raleigh North Carolina.  In this workshop we worked with natural and artificial light to help create images with our model Jessica.   

Adley, John & Jessica thank you for participating in my workshop, you all made it very fun and educational for me.

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BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO