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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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

Steampunk | Fayetteville, North Carolina Photographer

A photographer friend of mine Rico Allende-Goitia invited me to join a Steampunk photo shoot that he was hosting with a few models and other photographers in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  My primary focus of this photo shoot as with all my photo session is the light, then the pose and finally getting a great expression.

On this shoot I used a combination of strobes, speed lights and of course national light.  

All the images below were very deliberate as I was going for a specific look in every shot and to ensure I get what I was looking for I posed every model.


Farrah Helen Beck

Maria Celeste Sallie (also was MUA and Hair Stylist for all modesl)

Nicolette Grenier

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Bridal Portraits @ Duke Gardens | Durham, North Carolina Photographer

There was a great deal of preparation associated with this photo shoot.  The goal was to help build the MUA's wedding portfolio.  On the day of the shoot, I had nine people depending on me to produce wonderful images --- before every shoot I experience a small dose of nerves --- I know what images I want to create but how will they actually turn-out always concerns me; simply put, I hope I don't suck :-).  The nervous excitement dissipates after I take the first image and I allow my creative process to take hold and do what it does; produce high-quality, artistic captures resulting in excellent, professional portraits.

When we arrived at Duke Gardens, I wasted no time; I almost immediately started shooting with Kelly Tada.  I captured some amazing images in the parking lot.  It was a small challenge working with three different "brides" back to back and I enjoyed every moment.

I want to thank the team whose hard work produced so many amazing images:

mua: Stephanie Sekhmina
hair sylist: Andrayah Poncè
crystal jewler: Emily French
wardrobe stylist: Tina B KonTroversi
designer: Sonique Stephen
model: Lindsey Carrier
model: Kelly Tada
model: La'Meshia Le
video assistant: Nika Austin
video assistant: Agnes Lichanska
assistant: John Austin

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