fashion photography

Behind the Scenes - Exposing Your Foundation

Sunday night during dance practice, our instructor Cory forced everyone to stop dancing. Then she said "I want you all to remove the styling, and I ONLY want to see your footwork." It was so frustrating, challenging, and probably the best exercise she made us do. She then said, "if you begin to draw attention with your styling to cover up your footwork, you're not making yourself a better dancer."

DEEP! Seriously! Do we exaggerate something to draw attention away from the foundation of our work?

I have rewritten this thought. Over. And. Over. I hope y'all can understand what I'm trying to say. There is a) your technical foundation (understanding the technical aspect of photography and b) your personal style (how you use light, your composition, your editing ... opening PANDORA'S BOX here!).

So how do we challenge that?

Find where in your work you can push yourself. What might make you uncomfortable, but you can still hold on to your style? This could mean location change, new posing, or maybe using manual focus. Then ask yourself, "I changed ______ and _____, but what stayed consistent in my work?"

My challenge was to test a little bit of both. Hannah (model and photographer) and I met, planned our concept, and shot within 5 days of our coffee talk (I'll share that session later ;). Stepping out of my comfort zone (for me) was with the first look Hannah and I did. Goodbye soft, romantic, gentle styling. My posing and composition were tested -- I pushed for rawness... more hardness. And for foundation, I decided to use manual focus (moments at a time). What stayed the same? My intimate composition and details. This is how I always, always, always shoot. Yesterday's shoot affirmed it, despite a change in environment or styled look.

So stop for a second and go back to the basics. Find at least one thing to pull you out of your comfort zone. Pick a model/friend who you can be vulnerable with to let them know you want to try something different. This is not to change your style, but in fact it's to discover/affirm WHERE your foundation and style are. When Cory asked us to stop styling with our hands and arms -- it completely exposed our foundation: our footwork. Styling is the creative, more personalized part (that we all LOVE) -- the branding ... and will only be more thrilling when your foundation is strengthened.

My next challenge is creative location shots during a session. I love people and intimate details, so I tend to zone in on that & forget the buildings. Or an entire portrait session on manual focus. Test subject anyone? ;) What's challenging for you?

Inspiration and Creation Behind Menswear Fashion Shoot

So how did this even start?

First, there was an email. I was contacted by Alex (model) about collaborating on a shoot. When it comes to fashion, I have to have a theme or concept so I asked if he had any ideas in mind. He sent me some of the following photos that inspire him...

Then it hit me. Literally, it just took an understanding of his direction and I flew with it.

These photos, to me, had very common themes: relaxed, effortless, and masculine. And for some reason, the FIRST thought in my head was -- musician/song-writer concept.

#1.) Concept - done

#2.) Inspirational board - Piano. I couldn't get that idea out of my head so I did some research. And that's when I found the glorious session with Robert Pattinson on Vanity Fair. Hey, hey, I'm calling the CONCEPT glorious -- not Pattinson boy.

k, done!

#3.) Make it happen. Find creative team, location, pick a date, and organize the little details (props, info sheet, etc.). Making it happen is sometimes the hardest part :)

The creative team only consisted of one other person aside from me (photographer) and Alex Lasheen (model)... Alexandra Evjen. Alexandra of AVE Styles was incredibly important to this shoot. A stylist, even when it's not a fashion shoot, solidifies the concept and picks articles of clothing that will enhance not only the theme, but the individual wearing the clothes (and as a result.. the photos!). I was blessed to have such a hard working and dedicated team.

Once I got permission from Geoff Trachtenberg to use his breath-taking home -- I was ready to go!

.... Well, almost.

The video. This is a bit hard to explain because Jose himself has asked me "where do you get these ideas from?" And the truth is, it's deep in my nature to be a story teller. I mean, that's the epitome of my photography. What I CAN explain is that the only way you can make this happen is with a storyboard.

Going off of my "musician/song-writer" character, I already knew the emotions I wanted Alex Lasheen to portray. He's a frustrated, in love, song-writer that dresses savvy without even trying. And he plays the guitar. I WISH I had a piano, but hey -- it worked out with the "effortless" idea. The plot line came to me from the character concept: a day in the life of this musician who struggles to write a song.

The next important element to this storyline is MUSIC. And that, my friends, is a personal thing. Driving home when I was in high school, I would glance at my rear view mirror and pretend I was part of a music video. Oh, the ideas I had. When music came on in my car, it just penetrated my emotions so strongly. My secret wish... to film a music video. I never in my wildest dreams imagined I could get this close with a photography camera. Staying up late with Jose and spending another set of hours the next day -- I found James Blake. When I heard the song, the images started to just POUR into my brain. I was already creating the video!

I wrote everything down. Model wakes up, messes with hair, shots of him on bed. Model starts to get ready for his day, etc., etc. Why I chose to film it the way I did? That's just my style. Intimate, up close, and with a shallow depth of field. I am constantly thinking about transition shots as well -- this is KEY to piecing a story together.

Once Alexandra showed me the outfits she styled for Alex, I could adjust my storyline based on her selection. However, keep in mind that this structure is to allow the concept to grow organically. I simply guided it -- just like my photoshoots. You set the mood, and the moment unravels itself. Do not force anything.

So... that's how this whole project evolved. How my ideas evolve. Hopefully that gave you some insight into my creation of a photoshoot :)

(In case you missed it yesterday, make sure to visit Monday's post with the fashion video :)

Rustic Winterland Fashion: Jeannie

It all started here, and now is ending here. My Rustic Winterland series that is. Some of you might wonder, why did she split all the models up into individual posts?

Because... they each represented such different styles and I photographed each of them differently. As models, they might be dressed with similar a "theme" -- but they certainly don't have the same look. Jeannie is a perfect example...

I can't even begin to tell you how natural this girl is in front of the camera!

Some of my absolute favorites..

Ana and I kept making America's Next Top Model jokes like, "Now we know how Tyra feels!" because I literally would take 2 frames and Jeannie just nailed it.

It is the best feeling as a photographer to have a model bring to life the exact concept you had in mind...

Model: Jeannie (The Agency AZ), Styling: Whitney Alexandra, Make up: Kristy Brown, Hair: Michelle Fink

With that, I have to give huge props to Jeannie and the entire crew for pulling together a vision that I could only hope would come close to this. A thank you to photographer Michelle Herrick for believing in my vision and helping me bring this concept to life.

I came home elated and exhausted. Since moving to Phoenix I've had to put myself out there and with that comes rejection and success. By no means has it been easy, but it's moments like these that motivate me to continue pushing forward. Are there risks you're wanting to take? DO IT! Because even if you just get a 'no' -- you were willing to take the risk, and that alone is a victory. Just don't let the no stop you.

Only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go, only as deep as I look can I see, only as much as I dream can I be. -Karen Ravn

Rustic Winterland Fashion: Zuhaila

You say Rustic, I say Antlers. Rustic. Antlers. Rustic! Antlers!

I have no idea why I made that a cheer, but it's clear that I'm excited about these antlers. And with that, here's the third installment of the Rustic Winterland shoot, with Zuhaila...

Zuhaila, like Anjelle, has gorgeous, wavy bronze-ish hair. Such beautiful features for the rustic look :)

This girl definitely channeled J Lo....

Model: Anjelle (The Agency AZ), Styling: Whitney Alexandra, Make up: Kristy Brown, Hair: Michelle Fink


Next week we will wrap this incredible collaboration up :) Weren't the antlers fun?! I wouldn't mind using them again for a summer-styled shoot. Amazonian woman, you say? Hmmm.. ;) Happy Friday guys :P Hope you're enjoying these!

Rustic Winterland: Anjelle

Continuing with our Rustic Winterland series, we're moving forward with Anjelle who has the perfect features for this theme! Long bronze hair, tan skin, and gorgeous green eyes!

Love the braided band with her wavy locks and the color that the sunlight gives her hair :)

Work. It. Anjelle. I told you...

... made for this theme!

Model: Anjelle (The Agency AZ), Styling: Whitney Alexandra, Make up: Kristy Brown, Hair: Michelle Fink

You're gorgeous girl!

And alas, my vintage roses have made their appearance ;) I love being able to blend my props with the theme. Speaking of props... there was one prop that I was dying to get my hands on for this shoot: antlers. For those of you raising your eyebrows at this point -- you'll just have to trust me. Or you don't... but if you stick around for the next session, you might understand why :) Hope you're enjoying the series!