Why We Create: Carmen Lilly, fashion stylist.  @stylecarmen

I met Carmen when I was the house photographer for BET’s 106 & Park.  She was the stylist for Rocsi Diaz, who is now a host on Extra.  I used to watch Carmen use her phone to photograph Rocsi’s look of the day during commercial breaks on set.  It seemed to take her forever to get it done and the photographs weren’t very good.  While the iPhone camera is indeed amazing in most situations, it failed at capturing the correct white balance in the mixed lighting setup at BET.  So I offered to take the look of the day images for Carmen.  I felt BET should have these images as part of their daily take anyway.  

Carmen left BET about a year before I did, but we always stayed in touch. We’ve done a few shoots at my studio.  You can find a goth shoot we did if you scroll to my previous posts from the past few months.  Carmen is an amazing stylist with true vision.  Like me, she lives in Brooklyn with her spouse.  She has a daughter who is about 5 years younger than mine, and when I see her, it makes me miss the days when I could just pick up my daughter (literally) and carry her with me wherever I wanted to go.  (These days it’s more like, “Do you want to come with me into the city?”)

This video is part of a series I’m doing called, “Why We Create”. I love the combination of stills and video but it takes forever to shoot the content and even longer to do the edit on the computer.  The images of Carmen and her daughter run for maybe 10 seconds in the video, but they took me hours to shoot.  But I’m choosing to make this video series.  Can’t really complain about the workload 😉

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.

I recently acquired a Nikon J1 for $250.  It’s a remarkable camera if you’re willing to shoot in full automatic mode.  It’s small, focuses accurately and nails the exposure correctly more than 9 out of 10 times.  it’s quiet and fast.  Problems arise when you attempt to shoot manual or make exposure adjustments.  The controls aren’t we’ll suited for that.  At $250 on Amazon and eBay, it’s a great deal however.  

The most interesting thing about the camera though, is the super slow motion.  It shoots 400 fps and while the resolution is low, its still fascinating to see the world around you frozen in time.  This subway clip was my very first time using that mode.  Subway has always been a part of my street photography.  I can’t wait to shoot more of these slow motion subway scenes using the J1.

After years of experimenting with different methods of producing video, I believe I’ve finally produced something I’m really proud of.  Its a 1 minute profile of makeup artist and model, Nikki Phillip.  The theme is “Why We Create”.  What makes the video different from anything I’ve produced in the past, is the use of still images in rapid fire sequence to serve as b-roll.  It’s a way of doing video, without really shooting video.  I’ll be pursing this method with other subjects and I’ll see where it takes me.

Video was shot using the Fuji XE-1 while the still images were take with the Leica M9.

I shot this about 3 years ago.  It’s a profile of an artist named Hea-Von.  At 10 minutes its rather long, but it was hard for me to cut it down to even this length.  i’ve often struggled to really find my voice in video production, but this time I came pretty close.