Genlux Winter Fashion + New Video!

I was asked to shoot an editorial for the Los Angeles Fashion Magazine, Genlux. Genlux Magazine uses me on a regular basis to shoot for them and they are one of my favorite clients because of their extreme trust in my vision. In other words, they give me a lot of freedom to shoot what I want to shoot, which makes them a dream client! I’m going to take you step by step through the process of this shoot, giving you my technical info and the background details on how I planned and set up this shoot. You can click the link above to watch the video first, or you can Read on!

The Video

In the very beginning I was given two guidelines: the theme for the Winter Fashion issue, which they decided on calling it the Art Issue. And I was given 8 pages. First things first. Since there was a theme, I had to come up with a concept that went along with that theme. I decided on exploring the idea of The Muse, the artists model as inspiration and catalyst. After settling on the idea of The Muse, I then had to find the perfect girl! One perfect girl/muse! Also given the stipulation of needing 8 pages to fill, I had to keep in mind that we would possibly go with 8 different changes of clothing. So those were my initial guidelines and then I got to work.

The first thing I did was find the girl. I contacted Elite Models, LA Models, Photogenics Models, and Ford Models. I scoured the internet and was sent some cards by some of the agents. Stephen Kamifuji and I looked through websites together on the phone, choosing around 10 that we liked and then settling it down to the ONE. The choice of models often times will depend on who’s available, who’s in town and then who is willing. Some girls that work a lot may not be interested in doing editorial. That’s not the typical case, but you will find it happening from time to time and it can be frustrating. You think you’ve found the perfect girl and then you find out she’s just not interested in doing the job; either it doesn’t pay what she’s interested in getting or she just doesn’t need one more tear sheet in her book.

We finally settled on a girl from Ford Models named Angela Michelle. I think the thing that stood out the most for me in choosing Angela were the beauty campaigns in her book. Her face is undeniably gorgeous! And she has a classic beauty look. She has the ability to go the “Hollywood ’40′s Glamour” look. Which is how I wanted to shoot it. I must interject here that I had the preconceived idea that I might turn the shoot Black and White in post and do selective focus on the pictures. I wasn’t 100% sure I would go that route, but that idea was in the beginning stages of prepping for this shoot.

After we settled on Angela, I then went about the tedious task of finding the perfect stylist. A fashion photographer needs a lot of “best friends” on their shoots but if we’re going to call someone your best best friend (BFF) that would be the stylist! Hands down, this is going to be the person who can turn a shoot into either a mediocre fashion lay out or a fabulous high fashion couture lay out! You need your stylist to have the ability to thoroughly understand your concept. If I say couture evening gowns and she shows up with mid-length cocktail dresses from local labels, she obviously didn’t listen or just didn’t get your concept. It is SO important to spend time before hand with your stylist, sending her pictures if you have to, going over it on the phone a few times so that she really gets EXACTLY what you want. I settled on a new girl that I hadn’t worked with before because A: I liked her book. B: I liked her agent and I knew her agent would stay with us through out the prepping stages of the shoot. and C: in our first phone conversation, she got it! Robyn Goldberg from Artists by Timothy Priano was my stylist for this shoot and she did an amazing job! I can’t wait to work with her again!

After choosing the stylist, Robyn Goldberg, I then chose the hair and make up artist. Again, I chose them because of their portfolios. Make up was a cinch, I didn’t need to prep her with any information before the shoot because we weren’t doing anything terribly out of the ordinary as far as make up was concerned. I went with Lusine from Artists by Timothy Priano. As far as the hair was concerned, though, I did need to speak with the stylists’ agent regarding the hair styles for this issue. I wanted her to be able to replicate the Hollywood Glamour style hair styles, somewhat period looks, and her book, while it was strong, didn’t really have anything in it to depict that look. Her agent got back to me that Stephanie Pohl was sure she could pull it off, and I just went with my gut on it because, again, I knew that her agent wouldn’t mislead me on this one.

I was lucky to have an artist’s studio at my fingertips. My best friend, my own personal (BFF) is an amazing artist who happens to have a nice painting studio in her very own backyard (yeah, I’m a lucky girl) and she was kind enough to let us invade her space for the day to shoot the 8 page editorial.

So location was set. Hair, make up and stylist were lined up. The model was booked. What’s left to figure out?

My lighting! The part you all are waiting patiently to read now. If you have been reading my blog in the past, I would hope you have gotten that I am a “less is more” kind of lighting geek. And I didn’t vary from my theory on this shoot. I went to the studio, even though I’ve been their a million times, but I never went to “LOOK” at it in the context of shooting in it. I studied the available light coming in from the huge double doors to the South, the skylight coming in from above and the way the light fell and spread over the walls and floor without ANY additional lighting. From there I could figure out what lighting I would need to enhance the already beautiful available “Studio” light. After all, this shoot is for the art issue and the story is about The Muse, hanging out in a painting studio, ready to pose. I wanted the available light to convey the natural setting of the studio. But I did need extra lights to be able to pick up the details in the clothing and to give the model and the clothing that Hollywood glamour lighting. I settled on Profoto gear, because it’s the best! I went with a medium sized Profoto soft box and Profotos’ beauty dish. While the beauty dish will light only the upper frame of the model, I knew I was going to use longer shutter speeds to allow the day light to “fill” the rest of her body. I chose the soft box because I wanted a soft wrap around lighting effect that would blend well with the gorgeous available light already in the studio. Why use a space that has incredible available light and then just take in a bunch of artificial lighting gear and over-light the whole damn set?? It would knock out the the “feeling”, the real-ness and ultimately the beauty of the actual shoot. Does that make sense?

I used my Nikon D2Xs to shoot the story, interchanging my 24mm with my 85mm where needed. You will notice under the pictures I put the details on which lens I used and a what f-stop and shutter speed. I used my trusty pocket wizards, because they just never fail me!

We had an 8:30 call time. Everyone was on time but the model and the client! But that was okay, it gave us all time to set up our gear, test out lighting and get to talk a little with my crew. Since it was the first time we all had worked togehter, it was nice to have a moment to get to know them a little better and it also gave us a chance to talk about the shoot.

The video tutorial really shows you how I didn’t have much space to shoot in but still, we made the most of it and the end result is pretty nice! I varied between using my soft box and the beauty dish, and pretty much dragged my shutter so I could get some of that delicious available light into the camera and on to the image!

All in all, I think it was a successful day! And we’re getting ready to do it again in a few short days!

Harper’s Bazaar Arabia October Issue

My first Harper’s shoot from my recent trip to Dubai

Last month I was in Dubai where I shot for Harper’s Bazaar Arabia again. In two weeks I shot 4 editorials and an additional “What Bazaar is Wearing” feature as well. Working with fashion editor Sally Matthews is always a treat because she’s not only a very cool girl, she’s got a great eye for fashion and we have very similar tastes. My first shoot with Sally was a “Gothic Abaya” editorial. An abaya, which literally means “cloak”, is a loose over-garment, like a robe that is worn by some women in the Islamic world. I think it’s a common misconception here in the West to think that the traditional clothing worn by the Muslim women are simple, rather plain or ordinary looking. Well, that’s just not the case and we set about in this shoot to convey the message that some of the traditional clothing worn by women in Saudi Arabia is quite beautiful and often times, very glamourous.

Sally has the great ability to find exotic locations that haven’t been shot in before in Dubai. And so we found ourselves in a resort located about 30 minutes outside of Dubai. The area was more dense in greenery than most Dubai hot spots, which is what Sally wanted because she was looking to do a very Goth-like, forest story with the Abayas. I had the good fortune to work with the talented Kate Goodwin, who had just flown in from London the night before to do the hair and make up. And our model was the gorgeous Masha who was an absolute delight to work with. Tall, thin, gorgeous and man, she could move! We had a grip of equipment with us but ended up using reflectors for most of the day. Dubai is pretty bright, even in a dense garden or tree-lined area. I mean, after all, it is in a desert! So additional flash in the outdoors would have taken the story in a totally different direction. I made the decision to use the natural light and add reflectors when needed to bounce in some even fill. Dubai not only is pretty bright, in September it was very hot. Temperatures were up in the 100 degrees Farenheit!! We had to take mini breaks in between shots because it was too hot to move on quickly to the next shot. But even given these small obstacles, we were able to pull off the 8 page spread with absolute no problems. That’s pretty much due to working with a professional team that pulls together to make the best possible shoot against any and all odds! And that’s why I love working with Sally and make up artist Kate. They jump in and help out and there’s no ego or drama. So important when you’ve got elements against you (sun, rain, heat, mosquitos, etc.) and time restraints (8 pages in 5 hours or you go in to paying overtime).

I had every lens in the kit on this shoot, but ending up using the 85mm and the 50mm throughout the day. We changed lenses in the air-conditioned house and guess what obstacle we had to deal with when going outside where the temperature was 100 F? Yep, the lenses fogged up. So any filters had to be taken off quickly, the lenses had to be wiped off carefully, filters had to be put back on and then the shots needed to be shot quickly because the model was going to faint, running in that heat! Although Masha didn’t complain once! In fact, she was ready and willing to go longer with each shot because she loves doing what she does and she is indeed a real trouper!

Shooting on location has it’s obstacles. Shooting on location in Dubai definitely wasn’t easy but the moral of the story is when you have a great team that works together instead of against each other, you end up with a great shoot and a feeling of accomplishment. As we rode home in the early evening light, exhausted from the sun and rush to get all shots done and done well, we all had a smile on our faces because we knew we had accomplished it! And that to me is a great feeling and something I sort of “live for” as a photographer.

I have more editorials to blog about and those will be coming up shortly here on the blog. I also want to give you all a heads up. In response to a ton of emails and requests, I will be doing workshops again next year in 2012. I will have 4 next year. A Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall Fashion Photography 2 Day Workshop. I’m working out the details now and will post it along with a link to order the tickets coming up very soon. The first one will most likely be in January and it will be held in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. So look out for that if you’re one of the people who is interested in attending. Happy Shooting!!