I recently worked with Ghost Soul Trio, an indie-pop band from Columbus. Since music is such a huge passion of mine and especially because I lack the skills to create songs of my own, I always embrace the chance to visually collaborate with musicians. Though we only had an hour to work with, we came away with a range of visuals that mirror the vibrant notes that are so present in their music.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
I’ve been experimenting with photographing reflections in mylar for four shoots now, and I’m finally starting to get the hang of it. In order to get a good range of movement in the mylar (which translates to warped reflections), I set up an oscillating fan nearby, and turned it on to the lowest setting. The effect ranges from minimal to so abstract that you can’t even tell what you’re looking at, so there’s a bit of luck involved. Every time the fan would pass over the mylar, it would ripple like pond water after a rock was tossed in, so I basically shot like hell and hoped for something good.Read More
With these latest Strata portraits, I have started to do partial oil applications, leaving larger portions of the subject visible. I have used a number of application techniques such as blotting with my fingers, blotting with a paper towel, or smearing with a paper towel. I can’t deny how heavily these are influenced by the work of painter Henrik Uldalen. I also started giving the images a cyanotype treatment in post, which I really like. I think it gives the images an older feeling. My aim is for these portraits to not feel like they are from a specific time or of a specific person, but rather capturing a mood or feeling.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
I, for one, am someone with a limited imagination. What I mean by that is that I need to get my images looking how I want them in camera so all I have left to do is color grade them. So if I want a lens flare or glitch or haziness in my image, I need to introduce that element into my shoot. All that’s to say that recently I’ve spent quite a bit of time scavenging ebay for broken or flawed camera lenses.Read More
I’ve been working with oil and honey for several shoots now. I’ve also tried shooting through plastic wrap, which has a really nice texture. Though I really like the texture of the oil shots, I want to figure out how to show a bit more of the subject without making it too literal. I also want to try out implementing color into these.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
I recently read the short story, “The Machine Stops”, written in 1909 by E.M. Forster. In the story he lays out a dystopian prophecy wherein humans live under the earth’s surface (the surface is no longer inhabitable) in pods barely larger than themselves. They get everything they need through the machine, including sustenance, entertainment, and communication with other people around the world. Remind you of anything?Read More
This past month I have begun working on a new series, the working title being Strata. I am dealing with obscuring my subject by shooting through a range of different materials. Though I am still early on in the exploration and not sure how exactly it will evolve, my goal is to capture the nature of humans at a spirit level, rather than make portraits of a specific person.Read More
I can think of no better element in a photo shoot than creative freedom and trust. I had precisely that in my shoot for Barron’s last week in Atlanta. Annie Chia, the photo director, sent me a handful of photos of music groups such as Nirvana, The Rolling Stones, and the Velvet Underground as direction for my session with the three investments consultants. The shoot was already off to a great start.Read More
Photography is light. The term comes from the Greek words for “light" and “drawing". But I’d argue that equally important to light is its opposite, dark. Without darkness, there would be no concept of light— nothing to which you could set light apart. Personally I am someone who spends a lot of time focusing on the darkness. Though some might call that unhealthy, in my opinion it makes it that much beautiful when I happen to encounter light.Read More
As a portrait photographer, the thought of creating a balanced composition with your subject, pose, and background is no easy task. Once you factor in the added layer of color, achieving balance in an image is even more tricky. If only there were some kind of system that could be used to determine how much color to use in a composition to each balance…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
This was my third time teaching at Gulf Photo Plus and my second Photo Week (since February 2018!). It’s always a whirlwind of a week, teaching five workshops in seven days, but super rewarding. Here are a few images that I took throughout the week. I can’t wait until next time.
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.