hair stylist

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. 

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.

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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

Edgy Fashion | Raleigh North Carolina Photographer

So, here’s a photo shoot where I was tossed a few curve balls and how I was able to address and navigate each one.

First let me thank the incredible team that made this photoshoot happen.

Demetra was our hair stylist and wardrobe stylist on this shoot. If you ever have the pleasure of making her acquaintance, you will quickly realize there’s never a dull moment with her; she keeps the energy high and is acutely tuned in and anticipates the needs of her team members.

Shannon Sharpe was the make up artist on this shoot.  She is always affable, wearing a smile, easy to work with, and willing to do what it takes to complete the vision.

Vivian Powers Ramge, and Miguel Angel were the models.  This was my first time working with both Vivian and Miguel; they were both professional and attentive.  They never complained about poses, and trusted my directives.  Miguel was very dedicated; he got separated from our little photoshoot team motorcade as we made our way to the venue.  Instead of giving up and leaving us, he parked his car and was picked up by Vivian’s mother at an agreed upon meeting spot.  We were able to complete the shoot without losing anyone and compromising the vision - with one exception, Shannon our MUA; sadly she didn’t make it to the “other side” with us. Twelve-gun-salute for Shannon.  Until we meet again, my friend.

Wayne and Najee, they are the permanent team, but they do deserve credit as well.  Wayne did a really great job with capturing behind the scenes video. Najee was an incredible assistant with lighting and video.

Let’s get into this shoot.  Initially, the idea for this shoot was parkour with fashion.  However, the parkour model was unable to participate.  Given that I had all the resources lined up I decided to change the theme of the shoot; the new concept became: an edgy fashion shoot.  With the new concept, I needed a new male model and Miguel stepped-in and was a welcome addition.

Downtown Raleigh - our venue on the day of the shoot - was also hosting Iron-Man Raleigh, as a result, downtown was completely blocked off.  More on that later.  After we navigated - thank you, Demetra - the Iron-Man Raleigh event with all the resulting road-closures and detours; we were faced with yet another challenge, my original location had construction work going on.  So, once again, I had to come up with yet another location that would work well for the team, all while communicating with and corralling the remaining team members who didn’t make it to the original location, and getting everyone to the new location to start shooting.  Whew!  Stay with me.  The new location from a lighting perspective was not ideal for me, but I decided to play the hand I was dealt.  I ended up working with direct harsh sunlight, which would have been a problem for me if I had never worked with direct sunlight before.  Understanding posing and the light, helped me navigate this not so ideal situation.

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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Preview of BTS Video

Full BTS Video

Beauty Workshop 2014 | Cary North Carolina

On Saturday February 8th, I hosted a group of six great photographers at my home studio for a beauty workshop.  The workshop was very hands on, they got to construct the photo shoot from start to finish.  They worked with strobes, modifiers and models.   They pretty much put together every component required for this shoot, which I believe is the best way to learn.  We worked with 3 strobes and a speed light.  The modifiers were a combination of soft boxes, a beauty dish and bare bulbs. 

After the photo shoot, we grabbed some lunch and networked with each other.  We then quickly proceeded to post processing and I discussed my thought process when working with beauty images in photoshop. 

We had 3 incredible models Jessica, Claire and Julia, they all did a wonderful job working with 6 different photographers, well 7 if you count me :-).  Doing the heavy lifting, on the hair we had the wonderful Shereese Cromartie and on MUA we had the incredibly forgiving (inside joke about me) Deatrice Snuggs.  Without you ladies this day would not be possible and for that I thank you.

Overall this was an incredibly rewarding and successful workshop.  We were able to exchange a great deal of information and we made some wonderful connections.  I have learned a lot from this event and for that and many more I am grateful.

Below you will find one of the images from the workshop, I will be posting more on this blog post but I just wanted to get this post out to thank everyone for the awesome team work.

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Claire Daniella

Jessica Douglas

Julia Manchester