Thursday, September 13, 2012



Back on June 25, I received an e-mail from the Manager of LUSH Home & Boutique in Bakersfield, asking if I would be interested in donating my photographic services in exchange for advertising as part of their Drop Dead Gorgeous Model Search.  Without hesitation, I agreed to do the shoot and waited until the Winner was announced on September 1.  The field of potential Models was pared down to 5 and the contest went into full swing.  I completely forgot about my commitment until one of the contestants posted on a Facebook Group to vote for her.  As I reviewed the finalists, one really stood out and I cast my vote for her.  In the end it was the right choice, Joy won the contest and now it was time to uphold my part of the deal.

Kortney, LUSH Manager and I began the arduous process of coordinating a convenient shoot time, along with Hair, Make-up Wardrobe and Location.  After several options we managed to decide on a date and solidify all the details.  Time was of the essence since LUSH was planning to use one of the images for a billboard.

I asked my friend Teresa if we could shoot at her studio, since I needed an area for the Hair and Make-up Artist, Wardrobe, LUSH staff and of course Joy and her Mom.  I always enjoy having Teresa on the set, she has an eye for detail that I forget since I'm focused on lighting, composition and conversing with the model.  I brought my 2 Einsteins and an Alien Bee 1600, I almost brought my Ring Flash, too.  As far as modifiers, I brought my Beauty Dish, Grids, snoots, barn doors, reflectors, 86" PLM and ...  CRUD!!! I left my strip boxes at home!!!  No worries barn doors and grids will work perfectly as kickers.  I began setting up and opened up my 86" PLM when I heard a "SNAP".  Last November, Drew and I went to Hart Park and took some photos of him and his Scion tC, when the wind caught my PLM and dumped it on the ground.  No big, it worked throughout the shoot and I was able to pack it up without incident...until today.  So there went my big fill light.  Teresa to the rescue, she happened to have a fairly large umbrella that I used to bounce light.
I asked Drew to attend the shoot in the event I needed a Male Model.  TANGENT - being Filipino, I'm only 5' 5", and my "ex" is 5' 3", this doesn't bode well for Drew reaching 6'. Further, the pictures of Joy were always 1/4 shots, so I had no idea that she is 5' 9" and with heels closer to 6' 2".  Being short, I've accepted the fact of my stature, but we all got a huge laugh when I had to take a meter reading on Joy.  I contemplated on using my step ladder so I could reach her chin.
As the shoot started, Joy was a little stiff, but once we started moving around and changing things up, she relaxed and got into a groove.  We shot for about 3.5 hours and went through 4 wardrobe changes. The make-up artist from E AVEDA Salon did a really nice job in changing Joy's make-up as we transitioned from wardrobe to wardrobe.
At the end of the shoot, Teresa suggested we use her gold fainting couch for some closing image and we wrapped up with Joy reclining on the couch.  It's sessions such as this one that makes me enjoy photography and the entire collaborative process.  We definitely captured some really nice images and I'm thankful Kortney and Lindi had faith in me.
Repose in Red

What Did I Learn?

  • Create a checklist of the equipment for the shoot - The night before a shoot, I always move the equipment I plan to use to a specific area in my garage.  I then mentally walk through the set-up of the lighting by identifying the gear.  I set out my Strip box, but at some point I moved it back to storage.
  • Test All Equipment - Don't assume that your equipment will work after being stored.  Test it!!!

Once again, a huge thanks to Teresa, of HyeStyle Studio for all her assistance in every aspect of the shoot. Thanks to Drew for being patient even if he was only in three images, Kortney and Lindi from LUSH, and Tawney from E AVEDA Salon.  Of course, I can't forget to thank Joy's parents for having not only a beautiful daughter, but also a very professional and courteous young lady.

BTW, If you live in Bakersfield, keep an eye out for LUSH's Billboard, featuring Joy on Calloway near Rosedale Hwy.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


A year ago a co-worker mentioned that his wife started doing Polga and immediately my mind thought of shooting one of her classmates at a Gentleman's Club, or at least mimic the environment of a strip club.  Then recently a fellow photographer shared some images of a model he planned to shoot and I noticed she was friends with my co-worker's wife on Facebook and had some Polga pics on her profile page.  I messaged Eddy and asked if she would be interested in shooting with me.  We talked about wardrobe and routines and decided it made sense to do a test shoot first.

My co-worker's wife is now an instructor at the Pole Fitness facility and after speaking with the owner, we received permission to shoot there.  The space is rectangular and deeper as opposed to wider, which limits the amount of space when shooting horizontally.

I brought my travel kit: Manfrotto Nano Stands, 3 speedlights ( 1- SB900 and 2 - SB600s), HONL Gels and Grids. Basically I shot at 1/200 to kill the ambient and used the SB-600s as rim lights and the SB900 gridded to resemble a spotlight. Based on our test shoot, I need a couple more speed lights and a fog machine to help add dimension to the lights.


On the day of the shoot, I ended up using 5 speed lights with Lavender and Rose colored gels and switched to my brolly since the grid was a bit too narrow, even with it backed up.  I also brought my Alien Bee 1600 to help create some ambient light for some Motion images.  Eddy brought three outfits and assorted high heels.  Also, she did her own hair and make-up, which again is one of the requests I have of models I shoot.

We shot for about three hours and my co-worker's wife was a GREAT help with the fog machine and keeping her eyes focused on detail elements, i.e. clothing, hair and other things I'm not looking at while composing and lighting.  Most of the images are shot with the rim lights one stop above my key light.

By the time we approached the last hour, we were all getting tired and some of the things I tried to capture motion wasn't working.


What Did I Learn?
  • Look for a space that's a bit larger - I needed to get more separation between the pole and the backdrop, but with the narrowness of the space it was hard excluding some of the existing background elements from creeping in
  • Set my speedlights farther apart - I kept the speedlights about a foot apart from each other to give the illusion of more lights based on the field of view.
  • Buy a couple more speed straps - Since I borrowed Brian's speed lights I ended up using rubber bands to affix the gels to the speedlights, but there was some light leaks.

A big thanks to Diana for letting us use her studio, Michelle for helping out in a multitude of ways and Eddy for seeing my vision and working with me regardless of all the crap people have given her about the images.  More images can be found FLICKR site or my Facebook Fan Page