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Sneak Peek at my photo shoot with Accidental Bear blogger Mike Enders

Video Link – Accidental Bear Gets Fashionable

Inspiration: Richard Avedon

 

 

I don’t think there is a photographer working today that hasn’t  paid homage to Richard Avedon at some point in their careers.  He is on almost every list of the most influential photographers of the 20th century with a career spanning over sixty years.

You know his work, you’ve seen his images but perhaps didn’t know they were taken by him.  His photos captured the image of America that was style and fashion; helping to shape the way the world viewed us and the way we viewed  ourselves.   He brought a fresh perspective to portraiture by capturing sides of his subjects so rarely seen in the public eye; and he shot EVERYBODY.  His portrait collection includes almost every famous or influential figure of the 20th century.  His work in fashion was groundbreaking, often capturing movement and emotion rather than stiff poses.

I think the most fascinating bit of Avedon history is not how many famous people he photographed, rather it’s his beginnings that interests me the most because I think they were pivotal in helping him develop his style.  His first job as a photographer was in the Merchant Marines where he took identification photos.    I can’t help but think about how those days must have felt to him.  Every day he had people pose, motionless, until he snapped a photo on his old Rolleiflex Camera.  How many thousands of stiff boring photos did he take?   It’s no wonder he demanded movement and personality from his subjects!  Perhaps his style was born partly from the technical experience he gained and out of rebellion for taking the same photo every day for two years.

What jobs are we doing now that are, unbeknownst to us, preparing us for great things?  Something to think about….

 

 

The five simple tips for a successful photoshoot

So you don’t have the budget for a team of wardrobe, hair and makeup stylists to get you ready for your shoot?  No problem!   A little creativity and some planning will reap huge rewards in the quality of your images.  Just remember there are FIVE things you must have for your shoot:

  1. Have a goal
  2. Have a wardrobe
  3. Have good Hair and/or Make up
  4. Have energy
  5. Have fun

I’m going to poke some fun at my friend Phil’s expense to show you want I mean.   Phil and I have been friends for quite a while and he has my eternal gratitude for gladly volunteering to be a test subject whenever I had a crazy shoot idea.  Because of these informal creative outings we’ve always had a pretty relaxed attitude when it came to shooting.    A few years back Phil wanted to take some photos that he could use for his acting/modeling career – something vaguely reminiscent of an Abercrombie and Fitch Ad.  I left it to him to put together his wardrobe, work on his muscles and we had a few rough ideas on where we wanted to shoot.  We didn’t have a very specific goal but we thought our plan would be good enough. When the day came to shoot I showed up to Phil’s house and we went through his wardrobe.  We picked some stuff from his closet but to be honest, some of the items were fished out of his dirty clothes hamper – So, we did our best (not very successfully) to try and put together a few looks.  We threw some product in his hair, stuffed his wrinkled wardrobe in his backpack and headed down the street to shoot outdoors.   Now Phil, for his part had been working VERY hard to be in shape for the shoot.  He worked out constantly and didn’t eat much so his Abs would show up in the shoot.  His Abs looked great but the problem was he was so hungry that he could barely concentrate; after about a half hour I lost him to fatigue.

So to recap – we were going to shoot an Abercrombie and Fitch Ad on a budget with a dirty wrinkled clothes from Old Navy, flip flops, a model who was so hungry he was ready to pass out and photographer who only had a vague plan about where to shoot.   Needless to say it wasn’t a very productive outing.  We did manage to get a few nice shoots but for what we vaguely set out to do, it was a bust.

 

 

Cut to – 2 years later.  Phil wants to do another shoot.  He wants some stock commercial modeling images for his portfolio. I decided to approach the shoot the same way I would with any client.  We had a consultation.

The first thing we did was to HAVE a set of GOALS – specific shots he needed.  It turned out to be 3 shots in 3 different locations which is do-able but a very long and potentially exhausting day.  I prepared him for the day and explained exactly what he would need to do to have the day be a success. I picked 3 locations specifically to lend credibility to the shots we had planned and for the quality of light at the time of day we were planning on shooting.

 

The next thing we did was talk about HAVING A WARDROBE.  I had him start pulling pages out of magazines and online publications so he could see how wardrobe stylists were dressing guys his age in stock photography shoots.   There are tons examples on how to dress and style yourself for photo shoots, all you have to do is look for them.  Professional stylists can put together complete looks but also know which colors photograph well and which ones do not.  They know how to choose colors that might pop out of a background or conversely steal the focus in a shot.   There is a great online tool you can use to start putting together boards of images that you find while surfing the web; it’s a new web site called Pinterest .  It’s the perfect place to share inspiration and lay out projects. I highly recommend you check it out.

Once we went through Phil’s wardrobe it was obvious that he didn’t have much in the way of commercial wardrobe.  SO, armed with images he collected and some advice from me, he went shopping.  ALL professional stylists will pull looks from different stores to style their shoots.  They bring LOTS of choices in both style and color so they are prepared for different backgrounds and models.   MOST of those clothes get returned by the end of the shoot.   Phil bought his 3 complete looks for his 3 shots as well as plenty of options.  While he did keep some of the items, he ended up returning most of what he bought so wardrobe didn’t have to cost him a ton of money.

We made sure he had GOOD HAIR and/or MAKEUP.  He got his hair was cut a week prior so it had time to settle and he was able to get used to styling it himself.  This is something I recommend to everyone.  Make sure you don’t make any drastic changes to your hair the day before your shoot.  If you’re going to die it or get it cut do it at least a week before.   He also bought some simple make up for men.  You can get it an Macy’s – I recommend going to the MAC cosmetic counter and Macy’s.  They will be happy to find just the right shade of concealer and powder and even teach you how to use it.

Helpful tip for both Men and Women:  Go to Macy’s a few hours before your shoot and they will most likely do your make up for you.  Professional Makeup artist for free!  Just don’t overdo it.   And if your budget allows for the added expense, I can arrange for a hair and makeup artist to be on set for your shoot.

Since we had very specific GOALS I was able to plan out our day;  the shoot would take  9 hours total. We schedule breaks and brought plenty of food and drink so he would HAVE ENERGY.   In fact, I recommend that you keep your schedule light on your shoot day so you arrive relaxed and ready to HAVE FUN.  Get plenty of sleep and drink lots of water starting a few days before your shoot – it will help clear up your skin and minimize the bags under your eyes.   Try and avoid tanning beds or spray tans AT LEAST a week before you shoot.  Eat frequent small and healthy meals to keep your blood sugar up.   Thankfully this time around, Phil didn’t starve himself and lots of energy when he needed it.  We had a great shoot!   – it was lots of FUN because we were prepared and most importantly, we got ALL the shots we needed.

 

So there you have it –  Five simple tips to help you get the most out of your shoot.  Remember, whether your  a commercial client with a big budget or you’ve saved up money for a shoot for yourself,  Every shoot I book includes consultations and email follow ups so that you feel completely prepared.   Let’s make some beautiful images!

 

 

Inspiration: Dorothea Lange

“One should really use the camera as though tomorrow you’d be stricken blind. To live the visual life is an enormous undertaking, practically unattainable. I have only touched it, just touched it.”

Dorothea Lange

 

We all have our inspirations; whether they be artists, writers, photographers, spiritual leaders or just people in our lives that show us who we’d like to be in the world, or who we’d like to be artistically.  Dorothea Lange is one of mine.   At a time when women just barely won the right to vote, Dorothea Lange had a career as a commercial portrait photographer in San Francisco in the 1920’s.  When the depression hit in the 30s, she took her camera to the streets and started documenting the breadlines, strikes and hardships of the San Francisco residents which lead to her most important work with the Farm Security Administration; collaborating with her second husband, Paul S. Taylor she documented the mass exodus of American farm families making her images some of the most recognized symbols of the Great Depression. During WWII she documented the forced relocation of Japanese Americans to internment camps.  Her collection of photo negatives totals over 25,000.

As a photographer, I can’t help thinking about her story. About the drive it took to follow your courage and convictions across the country.  About her relationship with Paul Taylor and how dynamic it must have been to have accomplished so much together.  To me she embodies a spirit so rarely seen today and one of the most important women of the 20th century.  She inspires me to not only be a better photographer, but to be a better person.

source: Dorothea Lange Fellowship

Welcome!

It’s a cold rainy Monday afternoon as I sit down to write the first blog post on my new web site.  I’m in a quandary; I didn’t want to launch my new site without having a blog entry to kick it off with, but I’m not sure exactly what one writes in an inaugural blog.  Perhaps I will say this: welcome to my new web site!  The site was built by my good friend and very savvy web guru Matt Clower.  Besides the new visuals and big beautiful gallery images, it’s interactive, mobile compatible and connected to social media.  I invite you to write comments, visit my Facebook and Twitter pages and if you like my work, please pass it on.

In the mean time, I vow to do my best to keep this blog updated fairly often about art and photography so book mark it, RSS feed it and check back often.

Until then have fun browsing the site!

Joe