Beauty Test Shoot with Ella and Kylie

Model: @kyealexis | Model: @banella | Fashion Stylist: @desyreenicole | Nails @tiana_hardy | Makeup: @beautyqueensandco | Hair: @alstyling

The model in the first 2 images, Ella, wasn’t originally part of this shoot.  She was only there as a friend of the stylist.  When one of the agency models cancelled at the last minute, I drafted her into the shoot.  She had never done a shoot before and was understandably nervous. I explained to her that she needs to accept the fact that she belongs here in front of my camera.  Often you see a model’s comp card and decide to book her.  When she arrives, she’s not what you expected and you’re only shooting her out of obligation.  If someone drafts you for a shoot right there on the spot and you aren’t even a model, then you have to appreciate the reality that you do indeed belong there and you’re not being photographed out of some sense of obligation.

The second model, Kylie is from Wilhelmina (Miami).  As you can see from the final image, she’s packed and ready to go South.

I’ve been trying to add a manicurist to all my tests lately.  Nails have become a big thing over the past couple of years.  Also trying to experiment a bit more with color.  For the past year or so, I’ve done most of my studio work on white seamless.  Channeling my inner Avedon, I suppose…  But lately I’ve been going back to a little color in my lighting.  Still can’t seem to make myself pull out a roll of pink or red or blue seamless from the closet though.

So many great little moments happening all around you on the subway.  You just have to be focused on finding them.

The art of being invisible to you subjects.  I’ve gotten pretty good at it over the years.  Although I must confess, it would be easier if I were using an iPhone. Shooting with a manual focus Leica isn’t the most discreet approach one might take to shoot strangers.

More from the streets and subways of New York.

Shooting the streets and subways of NYC is nerve wracking.  And yet I’m drawn to do it on a semi regular basis.

Visited the African Burial Ground National Monument with my wife and daughter for the first time a few days ago.  I really respect the people who protested against the city just building over the burial ground when it was first discovered years ago.  Often it seems easy to dismiss anyone who is outside holding a sign and screaming, but sometimes when you look into it you realize that protest is a vital force in keeping cities, governments and people on the right path.

I’ve been Marcelo Garcia’s photographer for the past 4 years.  Pictured above is Bernardo Faria, one of several world champions who teaches and trains at the Marcelo Garcia Academy.  Shooting is tricky because I like to see the emotion on the face, but often that isn’t possible. It’s not like I’m posing anybody…  I also try to capture clean submissions or control positions  It takes quite a bit of bending and crouching to get a nice low angle.  Sometimes I’m not sure which is more difficult, grappling or shooting people who are grappling…

My daughter has hijacked the Nikon J1.  She’s comfortable carrying it around for the day.  Something about it being white is appealing to her, I think.

The close up image of my wife is taken by my daughter with the J1.  The profile pic was taken by me using the Leica M9.  I really love the way some of my Leica lenses flare when you shoot into the sun.

The second of my “Why We Create” series.  This one was easier than the first since I already had an abundance of images of Mitch Jackson.  I’ve worked with him for years, documenting his process of publishing his first novel, “The Residue Years”. This video features some images taken in Portland, OR where Mitch read at the prison where he had previously been incarcerated.

I also added some black and white images into the equation this time.  I’m enjoying shooting those on the Fuji XE1.  It’s a poor man’s Leica for sure, but it’s doing OK along side my M9.  My favorite part of this video is where Mitch reveals that his mother was a bit upset by the character in his book that is based on her.  Mitch really dug deep in writing this first novel.  I’m excited to see where he goes next.

My wife loves Target First Saturdays at the Brooklyn Museum.  It’s a free evening of art, performance, dance and debate.  The wine is expensive, but since a glass of wine is so well suited to museum gazing, it’s worth the expense.  This Saturday, I used the visit as a chance to experiment a little more with my Fuji XE1 -a camera that I bought for $250 as a supplement to my beloved Leica M9.  

There are times -mostly any situation in low light, where the M9 just isn’t up to the task.  I got the Fuji to fill in whenever my M9 is inadequate.  I’ve also had my mind on shooting black and white lately.  The Leica Monochrom M is on my radar, so until I secure one of those, the Fuji XE1 will be set to black and white most of the time.  

This evening, there was a presentation on natural hair.  More and more African American women are embracing their natural hair these days.  Photographer, Michael July, who recently published a book called “Afro” spoke.  There was also a hairstylist who styled some of the ladies from the audience who had natural hair.  I don’t know the name of the young lady pictured above, but she was beaming with pride after the hairstylist worked her magic.