You never know what kind of doors your are going to open for yourself by being willing to just say yes to something you may be a little uncomfortable with.
When my friend and kickball teammate Meesh asked me I would be available to come photograph her work event I went ahead and said yes, but I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that I was a little nervous about the job. See, Meesh is a make-up artist who works for MAC Cosmetics. I find when I am photographing other artistically-inclined people I am always a little intimidated. I don’t know why I feel this way. Obviously if they asked me to photograph them they like my style but I just feel this extra pressure not to disappoint.
Here is my friend Meesh working her make-up magic at said event:
Meesh described the event to me a little bit before hand. She told me that the artists at her store were being divided into teams and were being asked to make-up a model according a theme they were each assigned. These themes involved a time period and an adjective. For example, her team was assigned the theme “Medieval Alien.” She said she just wanted to make sure that she had photographs of her work on her model but if I could walk around and photograph the whole event that would be great as well. Upon arriving I was asked by the event’s coordinator to walk around and capture the process of each model being made up as well as the artists working. I had no idea the level of documenting I was getting myself in to.
The event turned out to be what they call a “Gallery Night” which is an opportunity for that store’s artists to showcase their work to other make-up artists in the area. There were five models, each with a team of 3-4 artists working on them according to their individually assigned themes (“Medieval Alien,” “Future Opulence,” and “Victorian Asylum” to name a few), in addition to a slew of other artists who came to the event to view their work. It was packed!
The work was incredible. Between the phenomenal make-up work on the models, the flawless make-up on the artists, and the extremely friendly lighting that a cosmetics store offers, I was able to capture some of my favorite images I have ever taken. Time for a portfolio update!
Get ready for an explosion of sample images from the event because I just couldn’t narrow down my favorites any further. These few images don’t even begin to cover all of my favorites but here are a few ordered from earliest to latest so you can appreciate a little bit of the process the artists went through in making their models up. Enjoy!
And just to follow up on my first sentence from this blog entry, “You never know what kind of doors your are going to open for yourself by being willing to just say yes to something you may be a little uncomfortable with,” my work at this event did open a unique door for me! After sharing my images with the artists I received a call from the event coordinator who asked if I would be available to come do head shots for approximately 80 MAC artists at an upcoming training event in addition to a couple large group shots of said artists that they plan to print hang in their local executive office. What an amazing opportunity! Blog entry covering that gig to follow…
While I’m on a blogging roll I wanted to present my third installment of photographing good-looking men for charity. Meet James August (can you guess which month we’re going to give him in the calendar?):
James joined Anthony for his shoot at the CSULB campus in Long Beach. James showed up ready to work! Apparently James is no stranger to the whole firefighter bachelor auction scene (who knew such a “scene” existed) so we had a pro on our hands. However, this was James’ first foray into the world of firefighter calendars so as you can imagine he was anxious to get a good shot and wanted to see previews along the way. He kept telling me he wasn’t liking what he was seeing when I would give him sneak peeks at the camera’s LCD and I was convinced he and I were not looking at the same images. I told him to trust me and let me work my magic. I asked that he withhold judgement until I sent him the polished-up best of the best via email in a few days.
I think it is fair to say he changed his tune when he saw the final images in their full glory. He nailed it. In addition to getting some great-looking photos I think we also very much captured James’ cheeky personality. His smirk in the first image below says it all:
And another joint shot of James and Anthony for good measure. I had jokingly suggested before we got started with the shoot that I would get them in the fountain by the end of it. Upon wrapping things up James saw the fountain and asked if I had been serious about the whole fountain thing. I told him if he was game I was game. He was and talked Anthony into it as well. Great success!
Without further ado I wanted to share my second installment of photographing shirtless life-saving men for charity. Meet Anthony Venti:
Once again my request to do the shoot at his station was denied (I can’t really blame them, can you imagine the amount of crap they would get from their buddies for doing a shirtless calendar shoot at the station?). When Anthony told me he lived in Long Beach the CSULB campus immediately came to mind. It was primarily all the brick buildings, which create sort of a fire station type look, that made me think of it but when I got there and scouted it out before Anthony arrived I was rewarded with a very wide variety of locations we could use for the shoot.
Anthony came well prepared with his turnout and plenty of props including a Hallagan, which is a really mean looking, crowbar-like tool that firefighters use for forcible entry and such. A great and unique prop for the shoot!
See this mean-looking tool in the first shot of Anthony below and enjoy a few others of my favorites from the shoot:
Lastly, Anthony kindly scheduled his shoot in conjunction with his buddy James’ shoot (blog entry for James follow) which allowed me to get a couple joint shots for the calendar. What’s better than one sexy firefighter? Easy, two sexy firefighters! Enjoy one of their joint shots below:
As promised, here is my first installment of photographing handsome and fit firefighters for charity. Meet Jimmy Gonzales:
The station was out of the question for the shoot so we headed down to the Balboa Pier, a location that is always easy to work with for both me and my subjects.
Unfortunately Jimmy did not have his requisite turnout on hand for the shoot. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this term (I know I wasn’t until I started working with these firefighters), a turnout is part of a firefighter’s Bunker Gear. These terms are used to refer to their system of outer protective clothing. “Bunker gear” and “turnout gear” can refer, depending on the context, to just the pants and boots, or the jacket as well, or the entire combination of personal protective equipment and personal protective clothing. The terms are derived from the fact that the pants and boots are traditionally kept by the firefighter’s bunk at the fire station to be readily available for use. There you go, you learn something new everyday.
But I digress. Jimmy did still come through though by having a sledge hammer and backboard in his truck (of course, who wouldn’t just happen to have those items in their truck??). Those items served as excellent props for the shoot.
This was my first attempt at a sexy calendar-type shoot and if I do say so myself, I think we succeeded! Thanks to Jimmy for being a great sport and a stellar model. Here are some favorites from the session:
The 11th Annual Firefighter Bachelor Auction & Calendar benefiting the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation: Newport Beach, CA
Whenever I get a text or Facebook message from a friend asking when it would be a good time to talk to me on the phone about something I immediately feel dread and concern. I don’t know why that is where my head always goes. I don’t tend to be a pessimistic person but for some reason I feel like if someone needs to have a planned phone conversation and doesn’t tell me what it is about in text it is some sort of bad news. My husband will also tell you that I hate surprises. And what I mean by that is I actually LOVE surprises SO much that I can’t handle the anticipation if I know one is coming. It kills me. By the way, he loves to torture me with this whenever possible, particularly on my Birthday and Christmas. But I digress.
So when my friend Jaclyn sent me a Facebook message asking when it would be a good time to call I am pretty sure my response was “now” so I wouldn’t have to anticipate what this conversation was going to be about. Fortunately she didn’t keep me waiting long. She started the call by telling me about this charity event she was planning and telling me all about the good cause and all that jazz. I of course assumed at that point she just wanted to talk on the phone because she was going to ask me for a monetary donation and didn’t want to do so coldly via text or FB. I actually appreciated the thought.
But as she got into her pitch, “I know you are really busy, and I don’t want to impose…”
I realized that she wasn’t asking for money.
She continued, “we need a photographer for the event and I love your work and I was wondering if you would be willing to volunteer your time as our photographer?”
I was liking the sound of this. I always love a good reason to take photos. But then it got even better.
“We want to do a calendar for the event, do you think you could help us with that? And if you want to talk to Kris [my husband] first that is fine because the firefighters will probably be shirtless and such.”
Oh, I think I can find the time to volunteer my efforts (and fortunately I already knew Kris would be 100% supportive). I quickly responded, “I’M IN!”
Stay tuned for sneak peeks from my photo sessions with these eligible life-saving bachelors and calendar participants!
Here are the details on the event:
11th Annual Firefighter Bachelor Auction benefiting the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation
Saturday, July 13th, 2013
6:30pm VIP Admission | 7:00pm General Admission
CP Restaurant and Lounge
2800 West Coast Hwy | Newport Beach, CA 92663
This is a LADIES ONLY event!
At the event, twelve single firefighters show off their abs for more than 300 professional, single ladies, to help raise funds for their favorite charity. Ladies place their bids for a spot in the group date with their favorite firefighter. There will be dancing, drinks, appetizers, a silent auction, and HOT, HOT, HOT firefighters, sure to make you blush!
General Admission: $35.00
VIP Admission: $75.00
Tickets available for purchase HERE
VIP tickets holders will attend the exclusive champagne reception with the firefighters before the event starts, and receive an amazing goodie bag!
All proceeds support the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation (AARBF) whose mission is to enhance the quality of life for burn survivors and promote burn prevention education.
The Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation (AARBF) is a California-based nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing burns and fires and providing services to those who have been affected by a burn injury. AARBF brings together health care providers, firefighters, emergency workers, burn care professionals, burn survivors and others to enhance the quality of life for burn survivors and to make burn injuries a thing of the past.
Like my previous entry, this shoot came to me as a result of my habit of walking around my CrossFit gym with a camera in my hand about as often as I have a barbell in my hand (ok, that’s a lie, the camera is in my hand far more than a barbell). Another fellow gym member and new friend of mine approached me in need of some new corporate head shots.
Andrea Marr is a engineer who periodically needs a head shot for documentation to go along with projects she is a part of and like most professionals these days she has a LinkedIn profile she actively uses for networking. She told me she was not happy with the image she had been using for years and was ready for an update. She mentioned she had been looking through some sample head shots online and found a few that she liked in particular. I asked her to send those samples over so I could get a better understanding of what kind of head shot she was looking for. There are a number of different ways to do head shots of course, from the standard, artificially lit, photo studio type shot with a generic backdrop to more casual and contemporary outdoor natural light shots. While there is a time and a place for the photo studio shots, they are not what gets me fired up. I would never hesitate to go that route if that is what was called for, but what really gets my creative juices flowing is when I am given the opportunity to take my clients outside and use natural lighting and take advantage of unique backgrounds and interesting textures.
Much to my excitement she sent me a batch of four samples, all outdoor and naturally lit, along with the following comment: “So I realized they all have something interesting going on in the background…” PERFECT! We were a match made in heaven. Andrea didn’t have a location in mind so I took her to one of my favorite shooting spots, Balboa Island, where we walked around the alleys, chatted it up like old friends, and periodically stopped when we saw a background we liked or a texture we thought was particularly interesting, all while taking advantage of some beautiful Southern California weather and natural light.
Here are just a few of my favorite shots from the session:
As a practical matter, I tend to prefer landscape orientation over portrait. I don’t know that I can even articulate why, but just love me a good wide shot. Knowing my camera affords me a lot of pixels to work with I purposely shot all these images in a landscape orientation leaving a lot of interesting background (blurred of course, so as to not distract from Andrea, the subject of the shoot). Taking advantage of all those pixels I was able to give Andrea the choice of what she preferred, sending her all the images in this landscape orientation I enjoy so much, and also cropped down into a portrait which tends to be more standard for head shot use.
Here is a sample one of the images above cropped down into a portrait which also happens to be the image she selected for her LinkedIn profile:
And one last portrait, just because I thought Andrea looked so pretty up against the greenery in the background of this image and I actually preferred the portrait over the wide shot for this particular location: