Mallory - The Pool Game

One of my first shoots in the new studio featured the talented Heyman Talent Agency model Mallory B! It represents a mini-editorial story of something gone wrong and the remorse and loneliness which ensues.

I love taking concepts and creating a series which flows together and stirs the imagination! Portraits, Editorials and even Fashion concepts should tell a story!

Ellise - Winter Time

Ellise Limle (Heyman Talent Agency) faced a very cold wintery day to pull off a series of looks in this more commercial fashion series! Her feet were numb by the end but she stayed with it and focused until the end!

The trick about shooting in snow is getting the white balance and still toning the skin! Using a Profoto B1 with a Zoom reflector, I was able to match or even slightly overpower the sun so that the images were crisp and featured the outfits with the background acting as a topic fill.

Hope you enjoy them as much as we did!!!

Claudia - Working with Gels

I LOVE experimenting during test shoots (which I do a LOT!). So I wanted to see how many ways I could use gels - lighting the background different colors, highlighting her hair and face and then create a look appropriate for a magazine ad. Even through in the smoke machine at the end!

Working with gels is much trickier than it appears - in fact, some photographers say it is one of the hardest portraits to do really well (and I don’t believe I’m quite there yet!). Understanding how color compliments, how it is displayed on different skin tones and hair, how different colors affect brightness and how to configure your strobe so that the color is blasted with light, how to use flags to control the spill - these are all things which take a lot of time and tweaking. The model needs to be patient - or you need to spend several hours of setup before they arrive - because an image can go from mediocre to good to great with the smallest tweaks!

If anyone is interested in a portrait in this style, feel free to contact me!

A daughter and her mom . . .

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Relationships, and the connections which create those bonds, is a topic I have been thinking a lot about over the past several months. So when Sheri asked me to shoot her and her mother, I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve now known Sheri for a couple of years and I have shot her in a variety of settings several times over that period. I knew she had a special relationship with her mother - a women from whom she developed her love, amongst other things, of lingerie! You see, Ollie had complications from diabetes a few years ago which limited her speech, but she had a spunk unlike anyone in front of my camera in a long time!

This became a very powerful shoot, where I tried to capture not only their portraits, but also the dynamic, respect and love they have for each other. I remember how I brought up a recollection Sheri shared with me, that her mom had modeled Revlon cosmetics in the 80’s - it was so awesome how humble she appeared but with a twinkle in her eye. She still knew how to turn it on!!! Ollie, you still have it!!!


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A few months ago, a hair stylist name Ashley Sterling approached me about doing a shoot around jewelry hair pieces and I jumped at it! I got an idea to explore dynamics of family relationships in the photo session - but a few hiccups in the bookings found ourselves a bit short of models for the original theme (sister brother dynamics) so we shifted gears which then became the genesis of the theme Sisters. Making some calls, I was lucky enough to have Heyman Talent provide the models, and clothes provided by Idlewild Woman in Cincinnati, styled by Sydney Murdock of Uncommon Stylist with makeup provided by Meg Valentine.

The meaning of sisters can mean so many things - it can be biological, close friends or a cultural race identity. Relationships of three become very interesting following predictable patterns always with a twist! The shoot was an experiment with a lot of people working together for the first time - but it shows what teamwork can do to enhance a photoshoot!

Elizabeth Galbraith - Boudoir as Healing

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I walked into the makeup room and viewed my client, Elizabeth Galbraith of the Newport Costume Gallery, and saw a woman who had a twinkle in her eye, a subtle nervous energy about her, and a the desire to share a story.  This was not an ordinary boudoir photoshoot- Elizabeth came with a purpose and a mission.   She was aware of her curves, her stature and her feelings about herself as a woman and how people may, or may not view her.  But she also had something much more important to explore in this session . . .

She looked at me point blank and said "Would you like to know why I want to do this photoshoot"?  "Yes" I replied. . . . "Because several years ago, I was held at knife point and that incident has affected my life ever since - both physically and mentally.  This photoshoot is part of what I'm doing to help heal myself  - I want to get back to my positive self!   I used to be happy and smiled a lot and since that day, I lost something of myself".   I took a pause and then quietly asked "and why do you want to do a boudoir shoot?".    Elizabeth looked me in the eye and said "Look, I know I have curves, I am not small.   But I want to show the world that anyone can look and feel beautiful in their body with who they are right now!"  

The words popped into my head . .. Yesss . . .Wow . . . what a strong woman . . . I do NOT want to fail this soul!!!"

So over the next several hours, we worked together, very easily, and I strove to capture the gamut of emotions and images which I imagined characterized this wonderful woman.  We didn't turn it into a therapy session - we just shot, talked, laughed, and had quiet moments together.  The session flowed!  At the end pf the shoot, she looked at me with a much larger twinkle in her eye, and thanked me and my MUA Trina Paul, for giving her exactly the type of experience she needed!   I smiled, thanked her very much for the honor of shooting her, and internally, noted that THIS is what capturing the human spirit is all about.

Tony J Harris - Thoughts About Fear

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Just some thoughts from a searching photographer on a hot Sunday in August . . .

Throughout our daily lives, even when danger is not imminent, Fear tries to control us.   It is present in our minds, as individuals, in  groups, across nations and throughout the human psyche.   It is real and yet it can’t be touched, denied, or dismissed.  I’ve been thinking a lot about fear these days - both due to the state of the world we live in joined with its constant "in our face" news updates, as well as in major decisions about personal changes I am considering.

This is not about the fear you have when you are being chased, when a gun is pointed directly at you or you are in the middle of a war.  It is not the fear you have while being raped, molested, and abused.  This is about a different type of fear - the kind that makes you doubt life itself from day to day - the kind that talks to you all the time and tells you you aren't good enough, you can't take chances, you can't succeed.

Fear can consume us - paralyze us in our decisions and limit our potential. . . if we let it.  For me personally, it has probably sculpted much of my life, erasing options because of the fear of the unknown.  For others, fear leads to coping mechanisms, repressed (and not so repressed) anger, withdrawal, numbness and a variety of different actions and patterns we might not do if we did not let it consume us. It often leads to bad or at least limitng choices.

So how do we deal with fear?   We can’t just Turn Off the Switch as they joke about in the Book of Mormon.  We have to acknowledge it, give is some respect, but also understand it is a state of mind and there are other options.   Do I change careers, will my health become an issue, did I get certain genes, am I good enough, what if I fail - these are all fear based thoughts - and they won’t go away.   In Fact, they shouldn’t.  They are what drives us to be better, to succeed, to beat the odds and ultimately, unleash our potential.

I am very lucky to work with actor Tony Harris several times a year.  Tony hires me to photograph different themes to continue to build out his portfolio.   Last month, we were planning on a shoot in a beach setting - something for the summer.  I called him up a week before to go over details, and Tony said “I’m re-thinking the theme of this shoot.  I think I would like to do a shoot about fear”.   Hmmm . .. that struck a note in me . . . both because I have been thinking about the topic in my own personal journey so much lately, but also - how would I capture fear?  We decided to meet in Over The Rhine  to capture a bit of it’s grittiness and we hung up the phone.

That day, we talked more about fear - we are in similar places - looking at potential major life changes but also the possibility of what can happen if we let go of fear.  We both felt that fear doesn’t go away - it can’t be beat.  But . . there is a moment when you realize you aren’t controlled by it .. . .and there is a realization that it becomes a tool to push us on.  And that can make us smile.

Please take some time to peruse the set we captured that day - Tony is a pretty large fellow, and we play with his size to capture the full gamut of emotions around fear - anger, depression, humbleness, despair -and also caught just a bit of the vision and success that can follow when you put fearful thoughts into perspective.  Thank you Tony for the opportunity to explore this with you - I can’t wait for the next session!!!!

Tony Harris

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