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.


No makeup. No hair. No lights. Just natural beauty. #leica

Her name is Zulay Henao and she came to my studio to assist her brother Steven Escobar, a boxer who had booked me for a shoot. While I couldn’t help but notice that she was beautiful, what really struck me about her was how sweet her personality was. She thanked me several times for really putting 100% into the shoot and she was very complimentary about the actual images.

Although I’ve been shooting for decades, great photography isn’t something I can just guarantee to everyone. Photography is an art and by nature that makes it unpredictable. I can guarantee a technically great shot every time, but an artistically great shot? For that I need some magic to happen.

With that in mind, always nice when someone takes the time to acknowledge that magic is happening. Because Zulay had the type of personality where she didn’t feel it somehow lowers her to show appreciation to someone else, I really wanted to shoot her. And despite her having no makeup or hair on set, she allowed me to.

Thank you, Zulay.