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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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