Soft, but Dark

For this soft, but dark nighttime look, we turned to the marvelous Honey B.  In her NYC studio, she creates looks like these on the regular for her personal clients.  Her step by step breakdown follows.

Photography by John Ricard, 917 848 4197

Anastasiya, “before.”

Photography by John Ricard, 917 848 4197

Photography by John Ricard, 917 848 4197

Eyes: Glitter

“I wanted a darker look, but not just the black and grey smokey look.  I wanted it to be soft but dark  I started with blacks and browns but I added some maroon and burgundy to really give it a more striking color,” says Honey B.

Photography by John Ricard, 917 848 4197


Photography by John Ricard, 917 848 4197

“Sometimes you get a little fallout from the glitter and it shows on her cheeks.  You can use a fan brush or powder brush to clean it up,” says Honey B.  Here, she uses a blush brush to wipe it away.

Photography by John Ricard, 917 848 4197

Photography by John Ricard, 917 848 4197

Photography by John Ricard, 917 848 4197

Lips: Metal

“I had had Anastasiya apply the base color herself to get a lot of pigment on her lips. She can apply a lot more pressure than I can.  After she did the base, I relined the lips and cleaned them up a bit, with a bit of concealer,” says Honey B.  Here, she lines the lip with black liner from LA Girl.

Photography by John Ricard, 917 848 4197

Photography by John Ricard, 917 848 4197

Eyelashes: Pressure

“When you’er applying eyelashes you want to apply the glue for the strip and then count about 30 seconds before you apply the lashes to her face,” says Honey B.

Photography by John Ricard, 917 848 4197

Final Look.

Photography: John Ricard

Makeup: Honey B.

Model: Anastasiya


Night On The Town




Makeup artist Athena Montague

asia201603_jr0023Athena begins by applying Dean Mars foundation in Medium Dark using a Mac Foundation brush to smooth it on.  “I love this brush because it has an airbrush effect,” says Athena. asia201603_jr0034After using the brush to apply the highlighter, Athena uses her hand to pat the foundation, “to give it a more set look.”asia201603_jr0038

Using the South Beach makeup stick (highliger)  from Nars, Athena prepares the cupid’s bow and around the lip so it pops more when she applies the lipstick.


“Next, I use taking Mac eyebrow pencil in the color Stud, and I’m lightly drawing on the eyebrow because she doesn’t have much there,” says Athena.


“Taking an angled eyebrow brush with a little concealer from the Mac palette  I’m defining the eyebrow with the concealer,” says Athena.


Using a Real Technique blush brush and a little bit of a cream blush, mixed with a Bobby Brown blush, Athena ensures that the cheek will pop in the final look.


“I’m using a very fine detail brush under the eye to apply the  Nars shadow stick.  It is  a deep dark chocolate color,” says Athena.  “They are going to discontinue this color,so I would jump on it,” she adds.


Using the Nars shadow stick. “I  want to get as close to the eye lash as I can because I will be adding lashes and I want to give it a nice, full look.”


The final look.  Suitable for a night on the town.

Photography: John Ricard

Makeup: Athena Montague

Model: Asia 

Spring Beauty: Lilacs and Pinks

Stylist: Brendan Dowling

Model: Lauren Casaranova

Theme: Basic Beauty

Ushering in the Spring season with a dash of lilac and pink, Brendan breaks down his process for springtime beauty, “The goal here was to achieve a soft and easy to duplicate look. Runway looks are very severe, edgy and not easily duplicated by the everyday woman…or most everyday women may not even want to duplicate these looks. One of the runway looks that proved to be pretty and wearable was from the Naeem Khan Spring 2016 Ready to Wear Collection. Naeem Khan highlighted pretty pink lips and soft, delicate looks that are perfect for showing off beautiful skin that has been taken care of all winter long. Springtime is a time of rebirth and also a time to be inspired by all of the colors that bloom around us. In order to highlight great skin illuminated by the perfect makeup is your crown! The hair that frames the face should be just as soft as the makeup. What better than curls? In order to keep your curls intact it is important to have the right styling tools and products. Read below:


A nude base-concealer pallette.


Conceal and highlight. Fresh and healthy skin is a great base for makeup application.


Soft curls being created with Marcel Curling Iron


The Marcel Iron is great for creating curls but the curling technique is all in the wrist.


Spraying hair with volume control in order to promote volume in hair.


The crucial hair flip! This is important for achieving the volume that is essential for a curl do.


Sexy Hair is achieved with the right curling spray.

Lauren photographed by John Ricard

Lauren photographed by John Ricard


Tell us your thoughts about the Perfect Spring Look.



Financial Planning – It’s NOT All About the Benjamins

Certified Financial Planner ™, James Townes, Photographed by John Ricard

Certified Financial Planner ™, James Townes, Photographed by John Ricard

I recently held an executive portrait session for Certified Financial Planner ™, James Townes.  These sessions for me, provide an opportunity to gain insight into someone else’s world.

As a financial planner, James’ main focus is that while we are in our money earning years, we should consider our, “obligation and responsibility to pass our wealth on to future generations.”  I found it interesting that James defines wealth as more than just money – he views our intellectual capital and human capital as equally important, especially for future generations.

James believes that we must pass on to our future generations, “the story of our lives.  Everything from the confederate flag coming down from the South Carolina capital grounds to the election of the first African American President…family histories, stories about how our parents, grandparents and great grandparents survived to get the family to where we are today -It is our challenge to carry that story forward for future generations.”

So we must be focused today on a transfer of, “financial capital, human capital and intellectual capital to those who are not yet born.”

And how will we accomplish this transfer?

James said, “Appropriate comprehensive financial planning is the cornerstone.  Understanding where your money is spent, making sure that we address contingencies in case something bad happens to us, ie. disability or pre-mature death.  Having a plan to invest disposal income, in the stock market, in real estate and making sure that we have contingency plans.  We need to make sure that we have an estate plan in place, regardless of the size of the estate.

If each family member has the guidance and knowledge from trusted professionals to accomplish these tasks, we then begin to focus on our family.  The patriarchs and matriarchs of the family must begin to discuss how this family wants to pass on all of the traditions and stories of their families as well as the financial capital.  The family must teach each subsequent generation the reason, purpose and mission of the family estate and how it should be managed by each generation for the benefit of the entire family.”

This information really affected me on a personal level since, I must admit, I haven’t taken these steps.  I spoke to my wife about it and we are certainly going to begin making sure that our finances are in order so that our 10 year old daughter and her (eventual) children can benefit from all the steps my wife and I are taking today with our careers and finances.   I had also asked James if it is ever the “wrong” time to begin financial planning.  For example, if someone is in debt.  Should they wait until the debt is resolved?  James said, no.  Financial planning should begin immediately, no matter what the state your finances may be currently in.

So I thank James for giving me the opportunity to not only create his portrait but also for passing on some insights into what I need to do to get my finances and all my other forms of capital, in order for my future generations.  Should you wish to contact James his information is below:

James E. Townes, Certified Financial Planner™

(Special thank you to the CALIBR group for their assistance in setup up the portrait session).

The Value of Test Shooting on a Regular Basis

Mixed Martial Artists will tell you that the battle isn’t won in the ring on fight night.  It’s won in the long and grueling training sessions that take place in the months before the fight.  Spend enough time punishing yourself in training, and the fight itself is just another day at work.  As artists we have our own battles that we wage regularly.  And while they don’t involve us being punched in the face, they do present their own special form of torture that causes us to lose sleep, feel less than our peers, consider quitting and getting a real job and worst of all think about buying that new lens to solve all our problems with the swipe of a debit card.

But we also have our own training sessions that prepare us for the big fight.  They are known as test shoots.  For me, a test shoot might involve my working with a full team of model, hair stylist, fashion stylist and makeup artist, or it might involve my working with just the model alone.  It doesn’t matter.  As much as I value having a strong glam squad, there is no guarantee that I’m going to produce interesting work just because I have a lot of people in the room.  So I’m quick to schedule a shoot without glam.

The test shoot is a time to be creative.  There is no boss.  No creative director.  No agenda.  Ok, maybe we prepared a mood board in advance and emailed that around in the days before the shoot.  But its just as likely we didn’t, and minutes before the model arrives, I’m asking the team, “So what are we going to do today?”  Sometimes, it’s just me and the model and I’m asking her that same question.

But this is where the battle is won or lost because I’m always trying something new.  This is where I’m coming up with new lighting techniques, new poses, new themes.  I’m working in an environment where failure is very much an option.  But it’s through the repeated failures on the test shoots, that I slowly gain one new technique here and another new technique there.  By the time I’m tasked with doing a real shoot, these new techniques are a natural part of my shooting process.  The battle has already been won before the artist or creative director steps on set.  The victory is mine -or rather the victory is everyone’s.  And nobody had to get punched in the face in the process 😉

Lighting and Posing Workshop at Unique Photo

Marissa Zando photographed by John Ricard at Unique Photo

Marissa Zando photographed by John Ricard at Unique Photo

I’ve presented photography workshops at Matt Sweetwood‘s Unique Photo in NJ, many times.  It’s an interesting shop that is modern in its approach to stocking all the latest and greatest gear, but old school in its customer centered approach to doing business. My first ever visit to the store came many years ago when I was staying overnight at a Newark hotel as a judge for a beauty contest.  The Fuji XE1 had just came out and I hadn’t had a chance to see the camera in person.  I was close to the store -(well closer than I am when I’m at home in Brooklyn, at least), so I called to see if it was in stock.

When I arrived in the store I told the salesman that I wasn’t buying today but I did want to see the camera.  I told him that if I bought it, I’d be using it with my Leica lenses.  I asked if he had an adaptor for me to try that out.  After some digging, he ultimately produced an adaptor that I could try out.  He knew I wasn’t buying anything this day, but he still made sure I could try the camera out in the configuration that I needed.

That’s a pretty big contrast to say, BH Photo in NYC. I’ve been shopping there since I was in college but somehow not one person in the entire store knows me today.  It’s great that they have every single item you need in stock, but there are times its a bit frustrating at times to have to wait on line for several minutes to be seen by a salesman who receives my order and then prints a slip of paper for me to give another salesman who will actually go on to retrieve the item.

In a few weeks Unique is presenting their 3 day photo expo.  This is always a lot of fun.  I love the large working space with ability to tether to a LCD projector.  I love how helpful the staff is when it turns out I’ve forgotten gaff tape or a tether cord.  I love how people certain familiar faces show up every single time I present at Unique -even though they force me to keep coming up with new jokes and new lighting techniques so as not to bore them 😉

Unique brings out some really strong talent to give presentations on everything from social media to lighting to posing to running a photography business. I’ll be presenting on 2 days:

Friday June 26, 3:15pm-4:15pm “Lighting for Beauty”

Saturday June 27, 4pm-5:30pm “Advanced Studio Lighting Techniques”

It’s something that I really look forward to.  Not just giving my presentations, but also attending the presentations of people like Natalie Kita and Rick Gerrity which I’ve attended in the past, and will attend this time as well.  Below is clip from one of my recent presentations at Unique. Hope to see you in a few weeks!

How to Put Your Inexperienced Model at Ease

I met Danielle at a jiu jitsu tournament where she was a competitor.  Although she was comfortable on the mat having someone try to break her arm or choke her out, I could sense that despite her being interested in doing a shoot, she was nervous about it.

Danielle Kelly photographed by John Ricard

This shoot was part of my “Model Test Monday” series, where I do a model shoot every Monday.  Sometimes I utilize a full team of hairstylist, makeup artist and fashion stylist.  Other times it’s just me and the model.  For a test shoot, either scenarios.  This day it was me, Danielle and makeup artist Jessica Rios.

Here are 3 steps I took before and during the shoot to make Danielle as comfortable as possible.  Note, these tips are best suited for a shoot where you don’t have a specific agenda -perhaps a shoot where you are testing new lighting techniques.

1) I allowed the model to wear whatever she likes.  I didn’t give Danielle any clothing advice aside from suggesting a tank top be included in her selections.  This is risky in that I might not like any of the outfits, but I knew there would always be things I could do with lighting and composition to keep the viewer’s attention away from the wardrobe.  But allowing Danielle to shoot in whatever she felt most comfortable in, would help give her a sense of control and comfort.

2) I gave the model input into the hair and or makeup styling.  Often, the creative direction is decided long before a model is even selected for a shoot and by the time we are on set, the model has zero input.  This wasn’t the case here.   I was open to shooting pretty much any look.  So rather than saying to Danielle something like, “I’ve worked with Jessica dozens of times and she has already selected a great look for you,” I told her, “You and Jessica can decide on a look for you today. I’m fine with whatever you both agree on.”  This helped to give Danielle a feeling of control over the shoot and helped insure she would project confidence in the looks we were shooting.


3) I allowed the model to make the image selections.  Normally, unless the model has paid for the shoot, she isn’t the one deciding which images are released.  However, when I’m doing frequent testing, and I’m make sure to keep each test to 4 hours at the most, I’m not as vested in each individual shoot as I might be if I were shooting only once every couple of months.  I wanted Danielle to be comfortable with anything we shot, so I told her, “At the end of each look I’m going to let you look through the images and select any images that you are ok with releasing online.”  I didn’t look over her shoulder as she made her selections.  And honestly, it didn’t even matter to me if she was going to not select a really strong image.  I knew Danielle would likely be contacting me a few months down the road asking if I had any additional images from our shoot, and by that time, I would have another 20 shoots completed anyway.

All of these small steps on my part resulted in not just our creating strong images during the shoot, but I also earned Danielle’s trust.  This will pay off tremendously, should I decide to call her another project in the future.

Marissa Zando for Astound Magazine


Photographer: John Ricard / Model: Marissa Zando Hair: Britney Powell /  Makeup: Jessica Rios /

Photographer: John Ricard /
Model: Marissa Zando
Hair: Britney Powell /
Makeup: Jessica Rios /

Photographer: John Ricard / Model: Marissa Zando Hair: Britney Powell /  Makeup: Jessica Rios /

Photographer: John Ricard /
Model: Marissa Zando
Hair: Britney Powell /
Makeup: Jessica Rios /

I met first met Marissa at Unique Photo where I was presenting a seminar on studio lighting.  She was 17 at the time, but she did a great job posing in front of 20 or so photographers who were present.  By the time we shot this spread a couple of months later, Marissa had tunred 18.  I think my model release was the first one she ever signed for herself.