I recently scheduled a personal shoot with model Mallory Landis and hair/makeup artist Andi Summer. As usual I went in the shoot with little to no idea of how I would light/shoot it, and unsurprisingly I went with ghosty, hazy images as I’ve been frequently exploring these past few months. The hazy, semi-solarized duotone shots that I came away with made me quite happy. I haven’t made anything quite like it before and am excited to explore it further.Read More
I brought my Chroma lighting class to the https://santafeworkshops.com this past week and, as you can see, had a lot of fun in the process. Normally I have one day to try to cram in as much color theory and lighting techniques as students can handle, which is exhausting for everyone. This time we had five days together, which meant we could really take our time with each technique, slowly building in complexity throughout the week.Read More
I’m still on a kick of exploring hazy, golden light, with layers of texture. For this shoot with model Rachel Luree, I began by positioning her in front of a 37” octabox, in order to get an ethereal backlight. Next, in order to take advantage of Rachel’s long hair, I laid out a large sheet of glass, covered in a thin layer of coconut oil. I had her stand over the glass with her hair hanging down, and I lay underneath it shooting up. I wanted to give the appearance of her being submerged in water, with her hair swirling around.Read More
In my shoots I aspire to capture something beyond the outer appearance of my subject, and yet it can be quite hard to look past the specifics of a subjects appearance to get a glimpse of their soul. This is why I like to photograph hands. Not only do I find hands to be as expressive as faces, but they come with the added bonus of not being about any one person in particular. They are more universal in that way. As a viewer, you can more easily put yourself in the image, connecting the struggle or aspirations of a gesture.Read More
The RYB color model is comprised of the colors red, yellow, and blue, which are otherwise referred to as primary colors. You can mix them in different combinations to make every other color. Red and yellow make orange. Red and blue make purple. Blue and yellow make green. Many of you learned this in art class as kid. Artists have been exploring compositions of red, yellow, and blue for ages. A prime examples is the painter Piet Mondrian, who worked almost exclusively in these colors for over two decades.Read More
I’m beginning to figure ways to control and manipulate the honey in my Strata portraits. I’m now using a mirror for my honey images, while I still use a large sheet of glass for the oil shots. Rather than cleaning off the mirror between shoots, I leave it laying flat, allowing the honey to settle (and collect dust and grit). Once I am ready to shoot, I stand it up and and dab it with my fingers, which creates raised areas for a few minutes. The refraction from the honey can get really extreme, mimicking the distortion from a funhouse mirror. My favorite parts of the image are the areas where the face/skin begin to split away from the body, as if to disintegrate.Read More
For the past couple of years I’ve begun drifting away from the literal and heading for the lyrical. I am finding myself easily bored with well-lit (and even colorful) images. I find myself longing for the qualities a painters brush stroke brings to a portrait. I have experimented a great deal with using multiple exposures or projectors to add layers of texture and distortion to my images. Though I made images I was happy with, they didn’t feel like they were close enough to where I was wanting them to go.Read More
Here are a few portrait studies that I’ve shot this past week. I’ve really been into shadow and subtlety of light/pose lately (and apparently black and white). I am largely known for my bold use of color, but creating quiet, muted moments is just as important to me as a visual artist— the yin as opposed to the yang.
As of late, my need to explore studio lighting has waned. I still have the drive to create, but I find myself at a place where I am uncertain how to proceed. Light exploration no longer alone satiates my creative needs. There’s no more mystery in the discovery for me. It’s time to push my limits again. I need to get outside my head and my go-to techniques. But how does one simply pull themselves up by their artistic bootstraps? I need something to force my creative hand.Read More
I have been teaching at Photo Week in Dubai all week. Yesterday I got a day off and attended a workshop led by Italian portrait photographer Paolo Verzone. It was not only great to see how someone else leads a workshop, I really enjoyed being a student again. Paolo knows his light. My largest takeaway was how he uses mirrors to reflect sunlight. He taught me that you can bounce sunlight a thousand feet and it’s still as bright as a strobe. He was bouncing sunlight through windows and lighting a subject inside a building, often diffusing the light with a crumpled trash bag (talk about Studio Anywhere). If he’s traveling to a shoot in another city, his first stop after leaving the airport is a grocery store to pick up a cheap mirror.
On my next day off from teaching, I went out to shoot with Abby (a model from one of my workshops), with a newly purchase mirror in-tow. I left my lights back at the hotel, opting to hunt for light. Whenever I found a spot that lacked the light I needed, my assistant Seth was there, mirror in hand, to fill it in with sunlight.
Shelby is one of my favorite people to photograph. She always brings so much emotion to shoots. Going in to a session, I never know what we are going to make. She brought a few black and white garments with her, as well as the idea of making a tear shape on her face. I experimented with projecting a few different images of water drops on her face, but didn’t like the result. I decided to change it up, making simple shapes like circles and lines, which I projected on to her face.
The image of the dot pattern was a bit of a happy accident. During the shoot my laptop was tethered to a projector, with my image files open in Photoshop. For that setup I decided to black out a portion of the file, leaving her nose and mouth unlit by the projector. The fact that her pupil lined up with the dot pattern was serendipitous. When we looked at the back of the camera at the end of the shoot, we both gasped.
When it came to post-processing, I wanted to give the feel of Ming Dynasty porcelain (white and blue patterns). Ultimately I decided to push the whites to more of a peach color.