Friday, October 30, 2009

Old Friends

A few weeks ago I posted a comment on Facebook that I wanted some people to come by the studio to take some pictures. My day had fallen though because the models that I had arranged for were unable to make it to the shoot. I get a message from Aaron (top picture) that him and Adam (bottom picture) would be able to come by and have some pictures taken. I had not seen or heard from Aaron or Adam for about 10 years. It was great getting to see them both again.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Nashville Co-Op Studio

Calling all Nashville Photographers!

Photographer Michael Gomez is hosting a meeting at Studio Daylight on Monday November 9th to talk about ideas for a Co-Op Studio.  This is an amazing idea.  To find out more about it


Friday, October 23, 2009


Assisting is probably the best way I know of to get into the professional photography world. Assisting allows you a rare glimpse into the world of professional photography. I get e-mails all the time from people that want to assist me. When I get one of these e-mails if I have time I always invite the person to go out and get a drink or coffee with me so we can get to know each other and that I can get a grasp for their experience. The strange thing is that about half the time the person never actually responds back. The first thing I look for in an assistant is some passion. My life is art and I have a passion for what I do. I want to see that passion in the people around me.

I started off my career as a photo assistant and it is still a large part of my business. I have been assisting fellow photographers for about two years now. In that time I have seen many photo assistants come and go. Some straying from photography all together and others that hit it big in their own photography. I think that assisting is one of the most valuable tools for a young photographer. It allows you to learn the ropes of the professional photography world. You learn the business side, the lighting side, the camera side, the client relation learn everything and you learn it fast. You also teach. You teach the photographer you are working with about their self and their personal style. You always bring something of your own to the shoot. One of the biggest lessons you can learn from assisting is that good photography is often a team effort. An effort shared by wardrobe stylist, make up artist, hair stylist, assistants, photographers, production assistants, location scouts and countless others. That beautiful photo on the cover of Vanity Faire this month did not com from the effort of just one person but a team of people that worked together for a common goal.

Now for some actual tips:
1. Be on time! Really folks the first rule is to show up on time. If you are late espically on the first day this is bad. It is not that hard to plan ahead and be on time.
2. Be on point. Be ready to move when the photographer needs something. Always be thinking ahead.
3. Always keep busy. On a set their is always something that needs to be done.
4. Bring an assisting kit with you. I genearlly carry a knife, a multi tool, gaff tape, AA batteries, cell phone, extra CF and SD cards, sharpie, and some paper.
5. Be quiet on set. The photographer is usually trying to convey detalis to the model also if you are speaking to much you might miss a critical instruction.
6. Know your role. Generally their is a 1st assistant 2nd assistant take your cues from them. The job is the technical nitty gritty so the photographer can focus on the creative.
7. Going with be quiet on set, never push your own agenda. You are their for the photographer not social hour with the client. Don't talk to the client about your own work that is very poor taste also a quick way to get kicked off set.
8. Have a good attitude. Do what the photographer says with a smile. Serve him. Take care of his needs first.
9. Be positive. Be positive about the shoot at hand. Be upbeat and fun. If we are out in a swamp full of misquotes chances are that everyone knows this don't complain about getting bit, life will go on.
10. Ask questions. If you don't understand an instruction or know what to do exactly just ask. Not knowing something can cost extra time and money. If you put up a light wrong and it ends up falling on a clients head because it was not safety tethered... you get the picture ask questions.
11. Be willing to really dig in and work. If that means cleaning the bathroom and windows then do it. It will go a long way. Also be willing to help on personal projects.

This is just what I have gleaned from working as an assistant and a photographer over the last few years. You are welcome to add to the conversation. This is a photography community and everyone can take part.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

U.S. Senate

A few weeks back, I got the call from a political consulting firm to do a shoot for a U.S. Senate candidate that is running for one of the Florida seats. They wanted a quick head shot of the candidate. And by “quick,” they meant 45 minutes total! They said that they needed shots on white, grey, white with a flag in the background, grey with a flag in the background and a causal shot.

So, I had to do some serious advance planning about this shoot. Since we were only going to have 45 minute window, I knew that we would have to pre light the set. I had a crew of three assistants working with me that day. We arrived at the location an hour early (7AM…ouch). I had provided everyone lighting diagrams beforehand so that everyone was on the same page before they arrived. We shot all of the looks on a white cyc wall. We positioned the lights and the candidate far enough away from the back of the cyc wall so that we could turn the wall grey. For lighting, the key was to have a nice traditional portrait but I wanted to give it a little edge. We used a large octa box to camera left tabled at a 45 degree angle. We positioned another light with a grid and a diffuser on it so that it would be aimed at his eyes to give nice bright eyes with nice iris color. We positioned two rim lights to help him pop off the back ground with nice highlights. We lit the flag with at 20degree grid spot. We light the background with two lights to give it a nice even white, and then turned them off to go grey. We also needed a little bit of fill light, so we added a reflector.

Since everything was planned out and diagramed, we were able to get the shots in the time allotted.

Moral of the story: plan your shoots beforehand, especially if you know you will have a limited time window. Showing up early is always a good idea, as well.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


A few months back I had a shoot in Eastern Kentucky. I had a long day of shooting booked throughout Eastern Kentucky. I made stops in 4 different towns that day to shoot. Each shoot only lasted about 30min and then I would have about 30min to 1hr drive time to my next location. So I had plenty of time between shoots to roam around these small Eastern Kentucky towns. I found some amazing textures in the historic parts of these small towns. Above are two of the frames I took. The first is just a wacky sign that had amazingly vivid color. The second I was walking though the town and heard the faint sounds of a bluegrass band. I walked towards the sound and a bluegrass band was performing live on the town square. This second pictures sums up my trip.