fashion photography

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:


  • 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:

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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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.

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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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, 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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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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