Virginia has had a lot of things going well for me. Stable job doing video production, a comfortable home life with a wonderful support system, and I’m the healthiest I have been in years. But if there is one thing it lacks it is the lack of connection with the modeling/cosplay community that I had back in Albuquerque NM. Going back home offered me the wonderful pleasure of working with a group of girls who I always have a ball shooting with. The Girls of Geek were always my favorite part of shooting in Albuquerque. Weather we were aiming for Nerdy or Sexy it is always great being around them. The best part of shooting with them is that it never feels like a photoshoot. It feels like a bunch of friends to goof around, play dress up and have some memorable pictures taken to commemorate the event. I’m happy to be living in Virginia, but as long as these girls are still in Albuquerque I’ll probably be finding my way back out there.
A year ago I did a shoot where I helped my friend Jacqui Daniels Get started on her makeup portfolio with a shoot where she introduced me to Feliz. The shoot was themed to be a very high fashion glam look. It featured a lot of gold and so for the edit I wanted that gold look to shine through so that became a main focus of the editing process. Balancing out colors is always a challenge but what I always find works best for portraiture is to lower the saturation by at least 30 and that counters anything drastic that you do with contrast or the white balance. Other than some basic retouching and softening on the skin all the photos really came together
To check out Jacqui’s makeup go to https://www.facebook.com/makeupbyjacquidaniels/?fref=ts
You can see more photos of Feliz on instagram at https://instagram.com/flzmrtnz
To try and find some new means of creating content I decided I would start making these videos that show off my process of editing in Adobe Lightroom. This set with Jacqui Daniels was something I did a few Months ago but figured it would act as a good test run. In this set you will notice one big thing that needs adjusted and that is white balance. All the images were taken in shade and came out a very cool color. Ivy is a much warmer feeling character so I needed to move the white balance to reflect that. Another thing you will notice is that I didn’t have to do much correction on Jacqui’s skin. She is a very talented Make Up Artist and know what she’s doing with makeup and skincare making my job as a photographer easier in post. If I don’t have to do a lot of skin retouching I’m not going to. You can check Jacqui’s stuff out here as well as her instagram and her Make Up Page. Bellow you find the original gallery I have posted.
Albuquerque is the city that I have grown up in and it’s a city that has a personality all its own. When you talk to any of the residence of the 505 you’ll hear a lot of things but the most common statement is about how “diverse we are.” While it’s easy to mistake that statement for talking about racial demographics what we they really mean is that we’re diverse so many different things. Culture, Climate, architecture, personalities attitudes the list goes on and on. If I was asked to describe Albuquerque I’d have to tell them you’d just have to go and experience.
My favorite thing about Albuquerque (aside from the food, go get yourself a green chili pepperoni pizza from Dions and you’ll know what I’m talking about.) is all the creative individuals that populate the area. Muralist, Musicians, Hair stylist, Models, Photographers ect. All can be found in the area and they all bring something unique to their craft while at the same time being very identifiable as that Albuquerque style.
The other day Albuquerque was blessed with one of it’s few overcast days that photographers like myself only dream of and I decided to passive aggressively post that I wanted to shoot and to my surprise got a response from one of my favorite models Jacqui Daniels. Like many of my impromptu shoots, we put together a very loose meeting plan not really having any big ideas and met at her hair stylist, Martino’s shop so we could coordinate from there. Martino was one of those previously mentioned creative individuals who was as much of an artist as he was an entrepreneur bringing in other creative individuals to try and come up with new crazy ideas that stand out from the ordinary. In his studio his brother also does Tattoo work, there was another individual screen printing t-shits of a skeleton Billy the Kid and a Virgin Marry with the Zia Symbol. While I was there they had the off the wall Idea to Screen Print the Virgin Marry they had onto a white tie. Something so simple being done in such a New Mexican way.
Once Jacqui showed up we decided on having her put one of the freshly screen printed shirts and heading around downtown and shoot in front of some of the local street art. at this point a lot of the glorious overcast had burned off and I was left with some challenging lighting but I managed as best I could. We would later move on to City Plaza where I remembered a location that had very stellar lighting. It was almost a tunnel were at the end was spot where windows from a building was reflecting really soft light down which was nothing short of perfect. there was also a wall that had a reflective surface that called for some creative ideas.
Jacqui of course was nothing short of a perfect model always flowing to different looks responding to adjustments and over all just being good at what she does. The best part about working with someone like Jacqui is being able to bounce ideas off her and her openness to try different things as we go along. That openness to different things really helps the process along and over time can lead to incredible results. Like most shoots all the best shots came toward the end of the shoot being that we both figured out what was working and all that fine tuning eventually paid off.
My favorite thing about this shoot was how it started as just spur of the moment lets meet up and shoot kind of thing and it turned into a larger collaborative endeavor and that sort of highlights what I love best about Albuquerque. When people collaborate with one another amazing things happen.
Out in a little corner of the Albuquerque Convention Center way from all the warm and low tungsten lighting lays a stair well with a corridor that hold giant windows letting in all the natural light you could ever want. That’s were I was able to transport the Girls of Geek to get some shots of them as Alice in Wonderland Characters for the last Day of Albuquerque Comic Con. I enjoyed how each one of their outfits made since next to each other but could stand alone on their own as identifiable characters. I love working with the Girls of Geek and working with soft natural light so this set of images in my mind are almost perfect.
I’m not great at coming up with creative concepts. A lot of the times I have models show up at certain time at a certain place in what ever outfit they pulled out of their closet having done their hair and make up in whatever fashion they felt suited them. Maybe it’s just my style, deciding to work with whatever I’m given and try to create something out of nothing. But lucky for me working with Girls of Geek comes with built in concepts for me to work with. This weekend we teamed up to do a Disney Princess shoot in that had a more grounded twist to it that you’ve probably never seen before.
Like the million of other shoots I have done in the past I went into this one relatively blind. The location, the outfitting and many other things were completely out of my hands. What I was given was an excellent location that I instantly fell in love with and outfits that looked (and pretty much were) pulled straight out of closets that gave the images a very realistic look to them. A lot of times when shooting cosplay one of the common struggles I have is that the outfit looks like a costume and doesn’t make sense, but the practicality of these outfits made everything make sense in the context of the images.
You could be forgiven for looking at the images and not realizing the Disney influence in the images right away, especially at first glance but I find that subtlety to adds a level of interest to the photos and brings out the individual personalities of the girls which is what I’m looking for when I’m taking portraits. If you did a sort of blind view test I’m curious as to when you would have the A-HA moment of realization of the theme.
Like any shoot their was challenges and in photography the #1 challenge is always going to be lighting. My love of shooting on location and not in a studio has the added baggage of giving me set lighting conditions that I have to find a way to work with. In this case, we got a bright mid day sun with harsh shadows. On the bright side (pun intended) the high amount of light let me keep the ISO all the way down at 100 which have the best possible results in terms of image quality. The main way I solved any shooting problems was by shooting strictly in shaded areas which were few and far between but easy enough to find and exploit.
An added gift at the location was a silo that offered one of the most interesting settings I’ve ever worked with on top of having some of the best lighting I’ve ever experienced. I got all of the controllable elements of an indoor location with the lighting comparable to an overcast afternoon, which is my ideal shooting condition. My mind started racing with different Ideas that I could possibly do with the location. Not all of them could be accomplished in the time that I had, but it never hurts to keep a few ideas in your back pocket.
Every shoot I try to do something a little bit different and see what kind or results I can get. In the case of this shoot I played around with the aperture. I always stop my lens down at least a stop to get the proper sharpness. F2.8 has always been my go to on my primes but with all the added light I took the opportunity stop down a bit more to f3.5 and I was blown away by the results. The in focus bits were as sharp as sharp can be and I still got the nice bokeh in the background.
My favorite part of working with Girls of Geek is the personalities that are mixed into the group. Each of them has a certain quality about themselves that makes them unique but they all mixed together so well to where it almost doesn’t feel like it’s a shoot. It felt like a group of friends hanging out on a Saturday.
Another thing I enjoy about this group is the ease that comes with photographing them. The value of excellent models often goes under appreciated. Shoots require a high level of collaboration and the better rapport the better the results you’ll get out of the images.
Editing wise there was very little that I had to do. The main thing I was looking at was the focus. For portraits you need to make sure the eyes are in perfect focus and then work from there. Normally it’s just a few color adjustments and added contrast. I’ll adjust exposure settings until it’s right but nothing ever too fancy.
All in all this was probably on of the better shoots I’ve had the opportunity to participate in for a while. The results speak for themselves when looking at the images. I couldn’t be happier with this shoot or getting more opportunities to work with the Girls of Geek.
You can find Girls of Geek all over social media and I’ll leave link bellow. They have also started a new subscription service when where every month they’ll send you a box of goodies. For more info just go to girlsofgeek.com
Social Media Accounts
Instagram: @Girls Of Geek
Facebook: Girls of Geek
Batmanda (Snow White):
Jacqui Daniels (Ariel):
Amy Downing (Belle):
Jennifer Heart (Jasmine):