north carolina photographer

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.  

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BTS (behind the scenes) VIDEO

Geisha Fashion Photo Shoot | North Carolina Photographer

Concept photo shoots are very fun but at the same time very challenging.  When I decided that I wanted to do this Geisha photo shoot I had to decide do I want to go completely traditional or more fashionable and I leaned towards an hybrid fashionable / a little traditional.

Once the decision was made on the direction of the shoot, I reached out to my creative director aka Carlton Eliza Charles to help me do some research to locate reference images to determine wardrobe, mua and hair.  Having reference images is very important especially when working with multiple creatives as it helps to put everyone on the same page.  I then reached out to Shannon Sharpe for MUA and Tina KonTroversi for styling who both agreed to work with me on this shoot.  However, I still needed to get an hair stylist, so Shannon was able to introduce me to DaNia Pebbles King who is a wonderful hair stylist and she also agreed to be part of the shoot.

Motivated lighting, is a simple term used to described a lighting style where the light sources main goal is to imitate existing light sources, such as a window light or computer screen light.  So for me I literally use light to motivate how I pose my subjects.  For me, coming up with poses before stepping on the scene, examining how the clothing moves or understanding how my subject moves in my mine creates a disconnect.  My preference is to allow the environment to dictate the pose.  I enjoy the organic process of working towards and developing poses on the fly.  Do I recycle poses, am I influenced by other poses I have seen in magazines or from other photographers on the web, of course, but my goal is to push myself to create something that fits the environment for that subject.  On this shoot, I felt I did just that, which was created organic unique poses that fit the environment and my subject.

In conclusion, I want to thank the awesome team below because without them this photo shoot would not have happen and for that I am forever grateful...go TEAM!!!

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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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Vision | North Carolina Photographer

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

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