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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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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

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.

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Preview of BTS Video

Full BTS Video

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

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 TRAILER

 

FULL BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO OF

HOW TO POSE COUPLES

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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Team:

PROMO - 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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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

New Year's Eve (N.Y.E) Portrait Session With Nicole

It's the holiday season and I get extremely restless when I am not creating images for a long period of time. This season I was out of commission as generally I have a full house with family visiting for the holidays. About a year or two ago I decided to start taking portraits of my family members as the end results are two-fold: 1) I get to create images, which is what I love to do; and 2) It gives them a beautiful portrait for the holiday season. Win, win!

Now, getting to the subject of the title "New Year's Eve (N.Y.E) Portrait Session With Nicole".  After Christmas my wife reluctantly agreed to do a one-on-one portrait session with me, which was incredibly generous of her because she absolutely dislikes being in front of the camera; the same is true of my daughter "the struggles of a photographer :-)."

My goal for this session was to capture something elegant, fashionable, and timeless.  From a posing perspective I wanted something simple and not too contrived.  In order to gain and hold a moment of Nicole's attention -- her attention-span is almost non-existent -- she insisted on having a companion, her companion of choice, a couple glasses of wine, which I decided to use as a "prop" in the final image.

From a lighting perspective I decided not to go with natural light, I used three strobes to give the feeling of natural light in the first two images.  The last dramatic dark-moody image, I used one strobe with a reflector to give the appearance that the light source was the lamp.  Although I did use strobes I wanted to balance the strobes with the ambient light throughout the entire session.

Lastly, I captured the entire quirky photo session with the admittedly eccentric Nicole on video, she often forgot we were recording, as is evidenced by the final-cut.  To view the fun video, please press play and enjoy!

Again, Happy Holidays and have a Happy New Year! 

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BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO

Sonia | North Carolina Photographer

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BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO