Behind the Scenes of The Understudy

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A few months ago when I was in the middle of a portrait shoot I got a call from my lady friend saying that the short film she was doing makeup work for wanted a photographer to do production stills and of course I said I was game.

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Being put in a behind the scenes had me right in my element while at the same time brought it’s own set of challenges. The biggest of these challenges was that I had to avoid getting in the way. That seems like that would be fairly standard for shooting stills on set but when you what was so unique about The Understudy was that it was shot all on steadycam in one take following a central charter through the intricate inner workings of theater (and everything that can go wrong on opening night.) This meant I had to work quickly on the fly and well out of the way.

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After the first couple of runs I got a clear sense of where I could and couldn’t be for all of my shots, what were the best vantage points and where the most visually interesting element were going to take place. What turned out to be most special aspect of the set was just how much was going on that the video camera wasn’t capturing. Makeup, costuming, line rehersals, vocal warm up, set dressing and the built tension that you feel before curtain opens were all happening as the single camera was rolling for a straight 8 minutes.

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Great photos always come out of great challenges and shooting behind the scenes of the Understudy provided just that.

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Albuquerque Comic Expo 2014: Street Photography on the Show Floor.

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The Albuquerque Comic Expo has now came and went and there are a tone of photos to share from the show floor. Like Most Conventions I spent most of my time shooting in a candid fashion carrying myself as a photojournalist. ACE was so kind as to present me with a press pass for the event giving me free range to shoot where ever whenever (within reason.)

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For this event I shot exclusively with my 85mm 1.8 on my D600 Shooting at f2.5 and 1/400 of second, changing my ISO depending on where I was and the lighting that was present. On the show floor my ISO was at about 3200 and in the lobby it was dropped to about 800.

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My 85mm has always been my workhorse lens. I like having the short telephoto length to where I don’t have to be getting up in people’s faces but I can still be present in the scene. Many street photographers like using a more standard focal length like a 50mm or a 35mm. For me those angles are a little to much on the wide side. If I was confined to a tighter space I would probably use a 50mm but I didn’t want to be getting into peoples faces with my camera. I wanted them to act natural at the convention.

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The greatest thing about these conventions is the visual variety. People will dress up as their favorite comicbook, video game, Anime or movie characters, They’ll wander around the show and look at all the artist and vendors selling their merchandise and they’ll interact with each other in unique ways giving interesting Juxtaposition.

ACE-81I always leave conventions 1. exhausted but 2. pleased with the experience. I always leave making a couple of friends, taken tons of good images that seem to get a lot of people’s attention. And that alone makes the exhausting 3 day work weekend all the more worth it.

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Albuquerque Comic Expo 2014: Preview

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We are now officially a week away from the Albuquerque Comic Expo (ACE) and just like last year I will be there all three days with my camera equipment on the show floor documenting everything the show has to offer.

Last year ACE was my introduction to shooting not only conventions but doing photography in a candid and unique way. One thing that I do differently from most photographers at conventions is that I take a run and gun approach. I move around, I don’t stop my subjects and I try to capture moments as opposed just posed portraits. It’s a fairly unconventional style of photography when it comes to comic conventions but people seem to always enjoy the results.

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Though I enjoying shooting in a candid style at conventions it’s not uncommon for people to stop and pose when they see the camera pointed at them. I don’t mind this in the slightest. I try to take more of the street photographer mentality of capturing candid moments but obliging  people who want to pose in their cosplays that they’ve worked so hard on.

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On top of covering the show floor I also take posed portraits of my lovely cosplay friends. Most of them have worked very hard to put multiple outfits together for the convention and I’m always happy to oblige.

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This year I’m hoping to show off how much I’ve improved as a photographer in the last year. I’ve learned a lot of different techniques, rules and concepts that  I didn’t know a year ago. So if you thought the pictures from a year ago were good get ready. Because shit is about to get awesome.

See you all at ACE.

 

Photos from Denver Comic Con

 

For just over a year now I’ve covered Convention that have graced the fair city of Albuquerque and I have enjoyed quite a bit of success at photographing the show floors of the conventions.  Through my work at convention I’ve made friends, connections, and even a small following. However over the weekend I stepped out of the pond that is Albuquerque to shoot at the biggest convention I’ve ever had the privilege to covering at Denver Comic Con.

I got the opportunity to go to Denver when my buddy Seth M Beyers (@ThatSethMBeyers) got us approved for Media Badges for the Podcast/ soon to be media company Nerdout Hangout (Nerdout Entertainment) The essential plan was to drive up to denver with all  my gear film, interview, photograph repeat through the whole weekend. Needless to say I’ve done that an now I need to sort through everything and make it into respectable content. All the photos have been taken care of but the footage may take quite a bit of time to get turned over. But without further wait here are the best of the best photos from Denver Comic Con

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Taking Photos with Minimal Equipment.

As you dive deeply into the craft of photography and accumulate thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment, you start to over analyse your needs when you go out shooting. Often times you might end up packing your entire lens collection when you really only end up using one or two; you may pack a tripod even though you’re not sure if you’ll need it for any long exposures. This typically leads up with you carrying loads of equipment strapped to your back weighing you down when you really could have just gone with the bare essentials.

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This Memorial Day, I went on a hike with my girlfriend up in the Sandia Mountains of Albuquerque, New Mexico and I decided to only take my D600 with the 28mm 1.8g lens attached along with a strap and a 32 gig card with me. What I wanted to accomplish with this was to work with what I was given on the trail and not get caught up in what lens I should have on the camera. It also made things much easier traveling light, considering how treacherous the terrain would turn the further up the trail we got.

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Now it should be known that I’m not a landscape guy when it comes to photography. I often times prefer working with people as subjects, whether that be  a model or a pedestrian that I happen to get a candid of, so I don’t always know what to look for in a nature situation.  I knew I wanted to capture intricate details, so I knew I wasn’t going to be working with shallow depths of field. I kept my aperture set at f8 and change my shutter speed and ISO accordingly for what the situation was. It was a bright sunny day and around noon so I was able to keep my ISO below 400 and my shutter never dropped bellow 1/125 of second.

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The biggest difference I noticed between shooting portraits and shooting nature is that background had become the foreground and how I composed images had changed from finding what angles work to to finding how all the elements in the frame worked together.

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Overall it was an enjoyable experience only working with the basic materials of a body, lens and a memory card and the results were pleasing enough, even though I don’t have much experience in landscape photography. I encourage anyone that the next time you go on a leisurely shoot to leave the big bag of equipment at home and just go with a body and lens and see what you can do with just that, and not to worry so much about being prepared for every situation.

Photo-shoots Should be Fun.

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Since I started shooting portraits I’ve started to notice how slight details effect the image. Backgrounds, location, time of day, present light, wardrobe, hair makeup, Space, Ect. But there’s one detail that really makes or breaks the success of a photo-shoot, and that would be  how easy the model is to work with. This isn’t necessary to say that some models are awful drama inducing divas who are impossible to deal with but it’s a manner of personalities working well together. I’ve been with some models who have been very stone like doesn’t interact well and sometimes require some extra effort to get the photos out of them. There are others who are just the opposite and approach photo-shoots as play time and just like to be free and crazy which to a photographer who is looking for moments, like myself, is perfect.

This last week I did two photo-shoots with two people who really find themselves on the side of just having fun of shoots. Tara and Francesca are two people who I have worked with before in the past and they have been two of my favorite people to work with. Neither of them take themselves too seriously, they’re both incredibly humble and over all just fun people to be around. And as an added bonus they’re good looking.

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The first shoot last week was with Tara who is not a model by trade but certainly has the talent and look of one. She’s tiny, adorable and her biggest strength she has no fear. We did our shoot in downtown Albuquerque and her adventurous spirit was beautifully on display throughout. Our goal was to just move around find interesting locations and goof around with the camera. This lead us on an adventure all around downtown, into a park and hijacking the Hyatt’s lobby.

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Her willingness to move around, try something new, and even take risk during shoots makes her such a pleasure to work with. She has a lot of good stories she’s easy to talk which makes making a connection with your subject all the more easy. It makes shooting a much all more enjoyable of an experience.

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Now onto the veteran, Francesca. She’s been doing modeling much longer than I’ve been shooting and has been a great asset to my photography. She’s always eager to go on a shoot she knows how to pose herself and give different looks and she takes direction very well.

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Francesca is very fun loving, and playful and as result tries to pear pressure others into doing shoots with her (Which is fine by me.) She’s also not afraid to try something new and will take direction like a champ. We did our shoot down by Tingley Beach in Albuquerque and we wanted to get that “it’s now summer” feel. Out doors, Near the Rio Grand river, Trees all around and plenty of opportunities for something different.

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What Francesca does so well is being confident. She know she looks good, she knows what she’s doing and when the camera is on her she is always active in front of it. Sometimes you need to bottle her up to get the shots of her but once you get on the same page as her the magic happens.

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Both of these women are incredible people both in front of and away from the camera and I enjoy having them around. The truly represent what I enjoy about portrait photography. Their patient, daring, receptive, and most of all gorgeous. They’re amazing to work with and I can’t wait to get them in front of the camera again.