Shooting with Girls of Geek

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One of the biggest hurdles you ever have to deal with in the world of photography is working around schedules. More often than not shoots get cancelled because one party or another has something urgent come up or they end up having to work on the day that is scheduled or sometimes you try to organize a shoot and it just never comes to fruition because calendars just don’t line up. That seems to be a common thing when it comes to my efforts to work with the Girls of Geek, but lucky for me I finally got my opportunity.

AJA_0012 Girls of Geek is group based out in my hometown of Albuquerque NM run by Delina Ellise, seen above as Harley Quinn. They place themselves square in the center of geek culture and do a lot of promotional work for events such as Comic Convention which shouldn’t come as a surprise given the name.

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I’ve been aware of the group for some time but didn’t have a real connection to them until my friend and often subject of my photography Cheese Cake Panda became part of the group and through her I became a sponsor for their recent calendar. At the beginning of the year during Albuquerque Comic Con Delina approached me about doing a shoot for the group at the convention which I was excited for but unfortunately due to scheduling conflicts (as foreshadowed) we never got around to it.

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Now fast forward a couple of months; after I whined online about wanting to do a shoot because I had been too busy moving and I had gotten the itch in my shutter finger, Delina contacted me and we finally got around to getting something set in stone. We decided on a batman themed shoot (in case you hadn’t noticed) downtown taking place between 10am and 1pm.

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Going into the shoot I was giving myself an unnecessary amount of anxiety about the potential shooting condition. Shooting in the middle of the day presents some very challenging lighting conditions so I had borrowed a gold reflector from my work and asked a few of my friends to help out. It ended up being a bit over kill because the tall buildings down town provided plenty of shade to get even lighting and we were able to find excellent locations. Over-preparation aside, it was nice to be able to get anything I needed from my girlfriend Emilie, my coworkers Anissa and Kendra, and my photographer-in-training friend Nina in any given situation.

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Being that we went with a batman theme for the photo shoot, the urban environment of Albuquerque’s down town was perfect. The only unfortunate thing was the tone of the lighting. It’s hard to do low key shots in the middle of the day without any kind of strobe lighting (which I’m not geared up for, nor do I have a high level of expertise in flash photography).

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The girls themselves were excellent to work with. All of them have varying degrees of modeling experience so their ability to take direction and give different looks without any directions made shooting with them a smooth experience on top of being an enjoyable one. Having good models to work with is highly underrated.

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What I loved so much about working with this group was how well their personalities melded together and their ability to work together in photos. A lot of the time the Girls of Geek came up with their own ideas for poses, props, and scenery and my only job was to capture the moments.

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A big gauge of the success of a shoot comes down to how much fun is had during the process. If anyone, be it the photographer, the models or anyone else is in a sour mood it can effect the whole dynamic of the photos. Luckly this was never a problem. Energy was never low and it felt as if everyone was having a good time. I look forward to working with the Girls of Geek again in the future and possibly doing even bigger projects

You can find them online at girlsofgeek.com or follow them on twitter, facebook or instagram

Roundhouse Kick: Day at the New Mexico Legislative Session.

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New Mexico is at the tail of end of the 60 day legislative session and for the most part it has just passed me by. I’ve wanted to go all semester for the show I work for (New Mexico in Focus) but regrettably I have class all week so it was impossible for me to get up to the Round House. However because it was spring break I requested to tag along as a production assistant, but I ended up doubling as a Behind the Scenes photographer because that’s what I like to do.

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We went down the day after the controversial “Right-to-Work” bill was tabled in commodity before going to the Senate floor, so we went in to discuss the death of the bill considering that huge amount of attention that it had accumulated. Surprisingly we found many of the people we needed for these interviews, such as a sponsor of the bill and someone who as been avidly against the legislation, within a few minutes of getting there.

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The thing I enjoyed most about going to Santa Fe was getting to watch my producer Sarah Guestavus, professor/Corespondent Gwyneth Doland, and graphics master/cameraman Antony Lostetter work in such a fast paced and stressful environment, something that they handled collaboratively and masterfully to the point where it could only be described as awe inspiring.

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Like anything else in a production field there is a lot of time spent sitting around with nothing to do, and this trip was no different. At a lot of points it felt we were just waiting but it was an excellent opportunity to get to know some of the people I work with. I get to spend a lot of time with the other student employees who are some of the most talented people I have ever been around, but the upper level employees have so much more expertise and it was a treat to get to pick their brains.

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Shooting at the Round House was an interesting experience. Dealing with people moving around and recording in rooms with heavy amounts of echo left a lot to deal with. However we managed very well in the conditions and some of these problematic conditions let the recordings feel more organic.

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To cap off the day we got an interview with the New Mexico’s Secretary of Education, Hanna Skandera to discus the controversial PARCC testing that many students have protested taking.

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I’m glad I finally got to go out to Santa Fe this semester and hopefully next time I’m out there I’ll be actually reporting on the legislative session and am not just going along for the ride.

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Shooting with New Models: Ashley Perry.

AJA_0072More often than not people always tell you that it’s all about networking when it comes to getting jobs and people finding your work and that’s exactly what happened this weekend when I helped Ashley Perry start her modeling portfolio.

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Ashley was referred to me by someone I did a shoot with a month prior and since she just got into a modeling agency, she needed to get some portfolio images put together. All the photographers her agency refereed her to were very expensive so I cut her a deal.

AJA_0066Working with a new model is always an interesting experience and you never quite know what to expect. Sometimes they can be a bit timid or shy especially around the camera. However, Ashley didn’t have any of these problems; she was very comfortable around the camera, was able to give me different looks and took direction extremely well.

AJA_0031One of the biggest factors in any shoot is the weather during the shoot. The photography gods very gracious in giving light overcast, no wind and moderately warm temperatures giving me everything I needed to just do my thing and shoot. There was one point where the sun was piercing through that clouds but it was at golden hour making for some excellent light.

AJA_0113For this shoot I relied heavily on my 85mm 1.8g lens for most of the shots. I played around with using the 28mm and the 50mm but everything always comes back to my work horse lens. I shot exclusively at f2.8 making sure I got enough sharpness and detail out of Ashley while still getting nice Bokeh (blur) in the background.

AJA_0033As far as post processing goes I kept things very simple. I tried to bring in as much contrast and color as I could while still keeping things natural. I ran in to some issues with Ashley’s tan skin but I normally get around that by bringing in some vibrancy but pulling down the saturation. Other than that I did some spot correcting, but nothing super drastic. When I edit my portraits I try to keep things subtle while at the same time making things pop.

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Over all it was an extremely fun shoot and I’m looking forward to working with Ashley in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snow in the 505

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Snow might not be that uncommon in late February in certain parts of the northern hemisphere but in Albuquerque if it does snow it’s usually no more than a half inch sheet and will be gone by the afternoon. So when we get 8 inches over two days a portrait photographer like myself needs to take advantage.

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Now getting a model to do a shoot at the last minute can be a hassle but lucky for me, my lovely girlfriend Emilie was more than willing to be my subject out in the bosque.

AJA_0037Normally in complex weather conditions you get an excellent side effect with overcast acting as a giant softbox in the sky.  The problem was is that the sky was only partly cloudy so we didn’t get the soft light I wanted 100% of the time, making shooting a bit challenging. Lucky for me though, I was able to keep my ISO at 100 making for optimal image quality.

AJA_0032One thing you might be noticing from the images is that there is a lot of light being reflected upward. This was an added effect of the white snow on the ground reflecting the light back up at Emilie.

AJA_0117The snow allowed for some unique aesthetics that we don’t get a lot of where I’m from and I’m grateful for the opportunity. But to be completely honest I can live without the snow. It makes it hard to move around and the cold makes it limiting in terms of wardrobe. If it could just be in the upper 60s with constant overcast I’d be in my own photography heaven but we can’t always get what we want. But you know what we all have work with what we’re given and when you’re given something different you owe it to yourself to try it out.

 

 

UNM Journalism Boot Camp: Photo Essay

The University of New Mexico’s Communication and Journalism Department hosted their annual Journalism Boot Camp where they get many media professionals from all over to come to give their insights on the industry and educate aspiring journalist on the things they need to know to do the job in the modern era. I spent weekend capturing the event and the different panels over the weekend.

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Associated Press reporter Russell Contreras discusses how to cultivate sources and how to get the best information out of them.

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KUNM News Director Elaine Baumgartel educates students on the challenges of vetting sources amd getting to the truth.

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Editor for the New Mexico Business First Rachel Sam and various other editors from local papers elaborate on the avenues that college gradates can take to find employment in the journalism field.

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Veteran Reporter Sam Donaldson interacts with UNM students discussing his experience in news media.

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Photographer Steven St. John captures moments from Sam Donaldson’s key note speech with the boot camps attendees.

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Investigative Producer for KRQE Jeff Proctor presents the differences in reporting between the mediums of television and print and how they come together online.

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Journalism student Rebecca Cox listens to a lecture on visual presentation’s in the press and how each publication has its own style and restrictions.

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Seasoned Photojournalist Mark Holm directs an activity that teaches students to become stronger storytellers in a collaborative way.

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Andrew Oxford of The Taos News (left) Nicole Perez and Robert Browman of the Albuquerque Journal explain to UNM students the process of reporting breaking news.

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Howl Reporter Brianna Gallegos checks her phone while in between panels at the Journalism Bootcamp.

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Daily Lobo Photographer Kanna Mammadii sits in for a panel on visual presentation.

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Public Square Producer Megan Kamerick and Crime Journalist Robert Browman setting up the presentation for their panel on breaking news.

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Carlos Ayulo from the St. Louis Post-dispatch discusses covering a national story when you only have the resources of a local paper.

TLE Records Promotional Shoot.

An upstart record label and recording group out here in Albuquerque, New Mexico recently approached me about getting professional photo shoots done to be part of a promotional package that they are putting together to shop around for interested parties. The photos were meant to be done in a stylized GQ fashion.

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