Photos Featured on and Razors Skates

/ 16 June, 2014 /

Been a little busy lately between gigs and the latest ONE issue dropping last week, though I did sneak a photo onto's Exposed page featuring USD AM skater, Steven Cortes.  Been meaning to submit photos to them for quite some time now!  This one seemed in line with the film-feel I get from  their overall content.

Then there's Razors Skates (one of the biggest skate companies) which over the weekend picked up a photo of Becci Sotelo from her ONE Spotlight Interview of her doing a mute air over a quarter pip hip.  It ran on Instagram and over the weekend scored a little over 900 likes.  Not too shabby given rollerblading is a small sport!

Spotlight Feature in Digital V.4 of ONE Magazine

/ 12 June, 2014 /

I let out a sigh of relief yesterday as I popped onto Facebook to see ONE Magazine had finally dropped their latest digital issue online.  I thumbed through the issue, read through the editor's note and B-lined straight to Becci Sotelo's article.  I was approached by ONE to shot these back in February, realistically with only a couple days to meet up and shoot them.  Still, I'm pleased with how the photos turned out!

It was a bit surprising to learn through the editor's note that this was ONE's first Spotlight feature of a woman since they started up back in 2006.  Which, is a nice feeling to know I made that happen!  Just makes me think there are a few more women I'd like to snap photos of!

When Taking on Internships, Don't Forget....

/ 11 June, 2014 /

I was driving around the other day, thinking about the odd path I've taken to working as a photographer and the unique set of tech skills I've built up along the way.  Maybe it's me turning 30 in 2 weeks.  That or things have been going extraordinarily well lately.  However, I couldn't help think I might have achieved more if I had done a few things different interning in my early 20s.

One of my first internships was under a photo representation agency that I don't think is around anymore.  I did 2 times a week, stayed as late as the actual employees, did what I was told.  I just didn't ask too many questions.  Why are we doing this, to whom is this going out to, how do you reach out to magazines?  I never even asked to be a free 3rd assistant on a shoot.  I didn't drive then, which I hate to say it, turns off photographers who need heavy gear hauled, items picked up, and shoot in strangely remote locations that public transportation just won't touch.

1st lesson, don't be afraid to ask.  You're there to learn and they know it.  That and it's free work, so don't be afraid about being let go.  The experience is all that matters, so make it count by asking everything and anything you can think of.

I ended up leaving that internship only because out of the blue, the LA County Museum of Art wanted me to intern with their Digital Manager.  I told the first one I'd be back.  Turns out after I left, most of the staff had moved onto greener pastures.  Which left me with zero contacts or references.  Which is my 2nd lesson: Always ask for personal contact information before you leave an internship.  You never know who might leave.  You're stuck with the name of a place, with no way to verify you ever worked there.

This goes along with my next point.  My last internship was at a renowned photo studio not too long ago.  The staff had seen numerous interns come and ago, so there wasn't a propensity to get attached.  Which I hate to say bled into the tasks they were given or information they should know.  I was the oldest person interning, but I asked question after question, asked for demos of how to put cameras and workstations together, noted gear, you name it.  By the time I left, I was surprised at how little the other interns knew.  They did things but had no idea why it was done a certain way.  It was baffling that I had to show interns how to do things or where to find things, being an intern myself.  The staff handed me off orders because of that.

Which, is my 3rd point.  Treat this like a real job.  Give it your all and take in all you can.  If this is the field you want to get into, it's best to pick the staff's brains and show how competent you are.  I'm surprised at how many rental orders I put together now that I think about it...but noting all of their gear lead me to put together a working duplicate of their setup.  It's a great starting point when looking to establish yourself as a professional.

At this junction in my life, I had already had a handful of internships.  I left on positive notes yet assumed I had solid references.  However, as I said, people leave.  And even if you get contacts, they might not respond.

The work around is to get a solid letter of recommendation.  Don't assume you'll get one at the end of your internship.  And try to ask 2-3 weeks before you depart as things come up and honestly, people get lazy.  A boss or person of notable status would be great, but if you don't report directly to them or work with them daily, then they won't know what to say about you.  You'll get a generic template with no meat.  Pick someone who knows your work ethic, works with you daily.  Sometimes, that's the photographer you're working for.  It might be the 1st assistant.  It might be the camera prep technician.  Just make sure that person is affable to you.

I once asked a boss I barely saw for a recommendation who didn't really care much about me to write one up. What I was given was written in 5 minutes, the day I was leaving.  It shows too.  I wouldn't hire me based on how half assed it was.  On the other hand, his subordinate worked with late at night with, putting together cameras, testing gear, standing shoulder to shoulder with, wrote a glowing recommendation.  It told any future employees exactly what kind of employee I was and what I had under my belt.  That's what you need to make it to the next gig, job, internship.  It's what I needed too!

Lastly, I just wanted to say never be afraid to tell a photographer what other skills you have.  My background in PR, compute repair, health/medical knowledge, schooling in literature have all come in handy at one point or another.  Every employer of mine is surprised I know as much as I do.

Hopefully, these thoughts guide some photographer hopefuls towards an easier path that I had starting out.  Looking back, you wish someone could have just laid it all out.  But that's life and that's what the internet is for today!

On The Up & Up

/ 22 May, 2014 /
I've been quiet on the blog front a month or so now, juggling a few things on my plate.  Let's see what's been up!

I have two editorial features in two different magazines featuring photos of the same guy.  Which has meant working double time on the weekends to capture what I need.  Can't say which magazines as neither is official and I have no idea about the release dates.  It's just meant zero time to myself up until recently.  Plus side is I've had access to a few other characters I'd never get to shoot otherwise!  Some killer shots I'm happy with that I need to pitch around.

There's the polaroid project I've been working on which is due to get some exposure on the Impossible Project soon as I get the time to respond to some questions.  They were going to feature photos of mine from their Silvershade Tour, but that seems like it was placed on the backburner. Oh well!  Plus side, scanned a few months worth of photos in two late night sessions.  Updated my portfolio to reflect the new body of work.  Sent off my polaroids to a few magazines for the fun of it.  We'll see how that goes.

As I said, I've been working on my portfolio site.  Surprisingly, that takes up a lot more time than I thought it would.  I'll look, rearrange, look through my archives, edit, and add new photos.  There are a number of photos that have sat and with fresh eyes, you see them for what they are finally.

It paid off though to work on that as I applied for a photo assisting internship with photographer Vijat Mohindras on Monday and ended up landing the gig on a Wednesday.  I start on Friday.  Pretty damn awesome.  It's part PR, photo assistant, and admin work.  My work life summed up right there!

So that's what's up here.  There are a few posts I've been meaning to write.  Maybe I'll draft something up over the weekend...

Thoughts on Prepping Gear For A Shoot

/ 02 May, 2014 /

A friend of mine who's just starting out as a photographer posted this video up the other day, which of course I had to click.  After watching it, a few thoughts popped up how he prepped his gear in relation to how I had learned it while working at MILK Studios.  There isn't a set standard for prepping and packing gear, though there were things that I would have done differently.

He cleaned his lenses with canned air.  Which...was amiss to me.  That stuff leaves residue on lenses.  Not something I want to clean off my lenses.  You'd use a rocket blower here. One blow to the side to remove any debris in the blower, then dust your lenses.

The best practice though is to brush off dust from your lenses, blow off debris, wipe, and blow again.  I highly suggest a lens pen because it cleans lenses perfectly usually.

While you're at it, give your cameras a sensor cleaning.  Most today have build in cleanings, though if  you had a particularly windy shoot last time or switched lenses a lot, it can't hurt.  Pop your camera into manual sensor cleaning mode, hold it upside down and over your head, then blow along your sensor and innards. Don't touch the sensor though..eep.  Good rule is to take a flash onto your camera body with a short lens, turn it out of focus, and shoot into paper a few times.  Take the photos into Lightroom/Capture One/Photoshop and drag your curve down to near black. You should be able to see the dust on your sensor.

If it's stubborn, get yourself some sensor swabs and sensor cleaner.  Youtube it and it'll save you the $65 it costs to clean the gunk out.

Then there are the 4 cameras with only 2 chargers.  Maybe he had his batteries charged up already.  With that many cameras (backup, a 2nd or 3rd shooter), you'd expect to see 8-12 batteries.  MILK would send out each camera with 3 batteries bare minimum.  Granted that was accounting for a grip.  With that many batteries, I'd expect to see 4 chargers + on the power strip. Time is a luxury and I want to get those camera batteries pumped and ready to go asap.

I'm sure he did this already, but something to do is clear your camera settings each time you shoot.  Nothing like going out and forgetting you're shooting at 1000 iso in daylight.

Mind you, this guy is happy the way he's doing things.  Who am I to say anything?  It works, it works.  That's all that matters.  It's interesting to see how a few months working in a digital camera preparation department changes how you set up for a shoot.
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