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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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Paradigmatic Menswear - The Classic Man Editorial | Raleigh, North Carolina Photographer

The concept for this photo shoot is: the enduring paradigm and nuances of well-tailored men’s suiting, that distinctive and unrelenting model of the well-dressed gentleman; timelessly iconic and prolific, if you will - perennially contemporary, always fashionably relevant, and consistently classic, yet modern with clean, sharp lines and remarkable tailoring.

The goal of the creative director and wardrobe stylist - Nicole aka Carlton Eliza Charles - was to showcase men with unique features, well-groomed facial hair, suited up and looking dapper. Nicole’s extensive and consummate research led her to tailored men’s suiting; she then infused her own aesthetic to finesse the concept and implement the vision.  With her network connections and substantial budget, she was able to source a great shoot location, and provide high-quality items for the wardrobe options.

The venue was available for shooting for three hours, and we had three models to work with – small window of time, with the expectation of yielding great results.  Upon arrival at the shoot venue, I quickly determined what type of images I wanted to execute and where.  Initially, one image I knew I wanted to capture was a shot with one of the models walking into the venue; so, I setup my lights for that shot.  Once that image was created I pretty much knew where I wanted to go next, and the creativity kept flowing.  My main light for that shot and all the other subsequent images was my Westcott 43 inch Appollo Orb.  Generally, I try not to plan any poses, lighting, etc. before a shoot, because the environment most often impacts and guides my decision process.  Common 414 incorporates great ambient lighting in their decor, and I didn't want to dilute the ambiance so, with every image, it was important for me include what makes that environment so unique and special.  Although this was a very short photo shoot, we had a great deal of fun; everyone worked as a team and we executed perfectly.

Thank you, to the following individuals; I cannot reiterate enough the importance of a talented, multi-faceted, and supportive team as an essential aspect of a successful photo shoot:

  • Wayne Wonder for capturing the BTS video, which will be published in the near future.
  • Anthony Coriale and Najee Fevecque - were behind the camera, they assisted our videographer, Wayne with capturing the wonderful BTS video coverage that will be available shortly, be on the lookout for that.
  • Palani Mohan - who was super attentive to every detail, and was very hands-on with everything I needed to help create the images.  
  • Chenee Jones - this was my first time working with this very professional and knowledgeable MUA. She came prepared with a checklist of questions for the models, to allow her to gauge any allergies or skin issues she should be aware of prior to make-up application.  She laid down some subtle and impressive make-up applications.
  • DaNia Pebbles King - was the hair stylist on this shoot; I’ve worked with her before, she is always a pleasure to work with; very confident and talented.  She is always keen on team collaboration and input, to ensure the images match the concept/vision.
  • Nicole Sue aka Carlton Eliza Charles – whose burgeoning talents as creative director and stylist were evident with this shoot.  She did an amazing job; with her networking connections, and substantial budget, was able to source venue and wardrobe. 
  • Brian Whitley – first time model and really great at it.  He was generous enough to grant access to the venue for shooting.
  • Ravon Derelle Johnson – he has some modeling experience and is one of the most laid back, easy-going talents I’ve had the pleasure of working with.
  • Darius Ruffin – this was his first time in front the lens as a model and he was awesome.

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 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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Mike & Susan Couple Portraits @ The Marriott | Raleigh Photographer

Coordinating this photo session was such a pleasure.  Susan has over 200 couture evening gowns so finding wardrobe was not an issue.  My only job on this photo session was to ensure I made the couple look their best.  Mike was very supportive of his wife and extremely patient.

We were able to obtain permission from the Marriott in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina to photograph in the lobby.  I have photographed in that lobby before, therefore I challenged myself to not repeat the same images.

Working with this couple was simply a breeze, thank you Mike and Susan for such an amazing photoshoot.

I also want to thank my team, they were vital and help made this shoot a success.

Videographer:

  • Wayne Wonder

Assistants:

  • Mario Guzmman
  • Thang Nguyen

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BEHIND THE SCENES TRAILER

 

FULL BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO OF

HOW TO POSE COUPLES

Workshop | Night Portraits 2015 | North Carolina Photography

In this workshop we focused on using 3 light sources to create beautiful night portraits.

  1. On Camera Flash - This was our very first setup.  I demonstrated to the attendees how to effectively use this light source to create an image with depth and dimension.
  2. Constant Light - Our second setup.  This light source is very efficient, effective and fast.  On most photoshoots this is my go to light source.  It's very simple, what you see is what you get.
  3. Ambient Light - Our last setup.  This light source is very similar to constant light however; not all ambient light is good light and we focused on how to properly use this light source.

Thank you Alex for stepping in and being our subject for this workshop.  Below you will find a few images from the workshop.  Also, thank you to all the attendees of this workshop.

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

Alex Portrait Session | North Carolina Photographer Ernesto Sue

Alex was very accommodating, he patiently sat while I calibrated the lights to match the scene and his features.  Working with a male subject is very easy, all they want is to express the traditional qualities of a man which is strength and to look cool.  With that in mind, approaching posing and lighting was easy.  Lighting for me is not about illuminating the entire scene, it's about defining depth in the image with light and shadow.  My images must have some depth, it cannot be flat. 

Please check out the behind the scenes video that shows how these images were created.

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BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO

Raleigh Denim Workshop | North Carolina Photographer

I simply loved this assignment, this was amongst the best photo-shoots I did for 2014.

Carolina Style Magazine did a feature article for their Winter Book on husband and wife team Victor Lytvinenko and Sarah Yarborough, co-founders and designers of Raleigh Denim Workshop - curators of hand-made jeans in downtown Raleigh, NC.  Lawrence "Sir Byron Laurent" Spivey interviewed the design-duo for the article.  My assignment was to capture images of the environment, behind the scenes interview, and portraits of the designers/owners in their work environment.

I’m always enthused by these types of assignments, as this is where I would eventually like to take my career; working with more magazines to showcase my creativity and augment my portfolio. I was most excited about the portraits and I aimed to maximize the allotted-time with the designers/owners.  Directly after the interview, I outlined and discussed with the couple, my vision; it then took me about five minutes to execute – they took time out of their work schedule to accommodate the photo-shoot and interview, and I wanted to be sure it was time well spent, meeting the magazine’s requirements, without anyone feeling rushed.

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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

Carolina Style Magazine Winter Book Publication | North Carolina Photographer

I started out 2014 not actively seeking to be published, so I was extremely honored and surprised when Carolina Style Magazine reached out in November of 2014 and ask me to be part of their limited table top book publication title "The Winter Book".  At the time I had another photo shoot lined up but it didn't fit the theme that they wanted which was Raleigh Street Style, so I quickly had to change the photo shoot and the players to accommodate the theme.  In addition to the Raleigh Street Style featured in the book I was also asked to do a second photo shoot for the owners of Raleigh Denim Workshop which was also included in the book, I will be releasing those images on another blog post, so stay tuned for that.

I reached out to Shannon Sharpe at Conversionz Makeup Studio, Nicollette Grenier for the female model, Caleb Provan for the male model,  Tina B KonTroversai for styling, Nicole Sue who was the Creative Director and the key person that helped provide the vision for this shoot.  To help complete the team Wayne Myers was also behind the camera capturing the awesome footage in the below Behind The Scenes video.  Lastly, assisting with lighting, gear etc James Thomas and David Spector generously step up to the plate to offer some incredible help on set.  Without this awesome team this shoot would not have happen in the short space of time it needed to happen, so for that I am very grateful to everyone that participated.

I mentioned the "The Winter Book" on another blog, so I will be repeating myself a little bit.  The Winter Book was put together for fashion collectors.  The book has over 200 pages of striking visual fashion editorials from Charlotte, Charleston, the Raleigh / Triangle area and New York City.  This is a limited edition book so it's poised to be a fashion collector's item.

Thank you to Carolina Style Magazine for considering me to be part of this awesome publication and thank you to the great team who helped made it happen.


Carolina Style Magazine Key handles are:

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BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO

Vision | North Carolina Photographer

Sometimes vision or the lack of it makes an interesting subject.

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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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brooklyn artiste the honor-rebel jah humbly | north carolina photographer

When Jah asked me to do a photo shoot for his album cover, to say I was honored would be more than a slight understatement.  Jah is an absolute joy to be around; quiet and good-natured with an ample and impressive knowledge of history and contemporary events, which he draws from while continuing to hone his performances.

Brooklyn, NY reggae artiste Darryl Herbert’s nom de guerre Honor –Rebel Jah Humbly, accurately and aptly embodies his personality and singing style.  With his musical band “Judgement “(sic), he has an impressive amount of songs to his credit, including the electrifying, controversial and debatable “Tumbling Down” produced by Judgment Productions (sic) for Gold Cup Records.

Jah first became interested in “conscious” reggae while attending high school in his native Trinidad.  After moving to the U.S. he began performing with “Judgement” (sic) a reggae band formed in 1999 with founding members Ras I-Jah aka Eternalfiyah and Ras Sharky.  

Honor-Rebel Jah Humbly has remained as his name incisively implies, humble and staying the course of bringing his message in his music; he captivates his audience with his soulful and syncopated cadence while showcasing lyrical prowess with a potent mix of self proclaimed militant sound and righteous fury.