• Comedian Kevin Tate Loosens Up!

    Over the past several months I have cast a much bigger net and have stayed busy shooting a wide variety of people.   Recently I was asked to photograph the up-and-coming comedian, Kevin Tate after being contacted by his manager with the request to capture Kevin’s more personal side rather than his “performer” side.  Challenge gladly accepted!

    When Kevin arrived at my studio I learned (like myself) that he is originally from Detroit and we hit it off immediately.  We talked about basketball, baseball, growing up in the “D”, our musical tastes and life on the road with comedians Bill Bellamy and Mike Epps.

    After a few minutes of talking I could tell he was being himself and it was time to capture Kevin just being… Kevin.

    Thanks for taking a look at my update.  I am still very much around and am still enjoying the ability to make great images.

    He was a starting guard for the Wayne State University Men's Basketball Team.

    He was a starting guard for the Wayne State University Men’s Basketball Team.


    I simply asked, "Do you want to go for a swim while you're here?" and he said, "HELL YES!".

    I simply asked, “Do you want to go for a swim while you’re here?” and he said, “HELL YES!”.


    A candid shot of him laughing at one of my stupid jokes about Winnie the Pooh.

    A candid shot of him laughing at one of my stupid jokes about Winnie the Pooh.


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  • Renovating the Photography Studio

    Since moving to our new house here in LA I have been not only renovating our house but have had the great pleasure of renovating the small, but useful studio on the property.

    The renovations to the house are massive and costly but the changes to the studio are merely cosmetic and much, much easier… thankfully!  Over the course of a couple of weeks I was able to put in a new floor, re-paint the entire studio and add some great lighting modifiers and features.  Here are some pics of the great new flooring:

    Model and Actress Ashely Nedd

    Ashley sitting on the OLD floor


    Studio Photography, Maria Breese Seth Hancock Photography Los Angeles

    Wilhelmina Model, Maria Breese posing on the NEW floor in the studio.

    One other big deal (at least to me) is that I was also able to get my old, broken down and beaten up fan fixed.  I was able to buy a Mole Richardson Wind Machine for $25.00 at Hollywood Rental’s yearly sale of old equipment.  They sell C-Stands, Apple Boxes, Scrims, Lights and many other goodies.  While waiting in line to check out I asked one of the workers if they had any Wind Machines.  I was happy to learn they had one left but the blades were broken and the Wind Machine needed some love.  So, I gladly bought it for $25.00 and took it to Mole Richardson for repairs.  After waiting about a month and $1700.00 later, I had a completely new Wind Machine.  They re-painted it, cleaned off all the gunk, put on and calibrated new blades and replaced the motor.  Check it out –

    Mole Richardson Wind Machine Repair and Purchase

    Here’s my newly refurbished Mole Richardson Wind Machine

    Now while you may think that’s A LOT of  money to spend on a wind machine you have to understand the new ones sell for over $9500.00 and the older ones (like I have) sell for about $4000.00.  I think spending $1725.00 for a (essentially) brand new Wind Machine is pretty dope.  I am happy to have it and it makes a really nice addition to the studio and the overall renovations! 🙂  And, I added the best studio fridge I could find… and it goes up to 11!

    Marshall Amp Fridge

    The best damn studio fridge I could find. I love this!

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  • I’ve Only Cried for Two People I’ve Never Met

    If you’ve ever been around me you know that I am a MASSIVE Prince admirer, fan, zealot, devotee, junkie and, um, nut!  I first discovered Prince back in the early ’80s when I was just a pup.  A black friend of mine, Ronnie Nance, came to school one day wearing a Prince “Controversy” shirt.  The only reason I point out that he was a black kid is because most of the other people I was around while growing up white rednecks and they exposed me to a lot of country and southern rock music (to my disdain) but they did also expose me to Queen and for that I am forever grateful.  I had never heard of this guy named Prince but I liked the shirt (the picture was the album cover) and I liked the idea of controversy and I did whatever I could to find a way to listen to Prince.

    Prince controvery shirt

    This is almost exactly the shirt Ronnie Nance wore but his was white

    I remember calling one of the urban R&B stations and requesting a Prince song.  I think I waited for what seemed like hours listening for the DJ to say the name Prince so I would know which song was his.  Then, there it was and I heard the song “1999.”  From that point forward Prince had his funky, quirky, eclectic and mesmerizing hooks deeply implanted in me.  As a classically-trained musician I was starting to fall out of love with all things classical piano and realized I didn’t have to play Bach, Beethoven or Schubert anymore.  I could use my talents to play something that had me shakin’ my booty (sorry for the visual here), movin’ my feet and really groovin’ with a song rather than trying to stay with the rigid structure of classical piano.  Clearly, even at an early age I didn’t like to follow the rules. 🙂

    Fast forward through high school and college – I was still an ardent fan of Prince and bought everything he put out.  Hell, when I was in college I found a great music store where one of the workers was just as much of a fan as I was and he would hook me up with bootleg recordings… LOTS OF BOOTLEG RECORDINGS!  I had tapes and tapes of Prince sitting at the piano by himself just playing and singing, CDs of recordings Prince did for other people, Outtakes from sessions, Live recordings and many other items.  Unlike most college students who spend much of the extra money on beer my extra money went to buying Prince recordings.  I couldn’t get enough of him and his songs and would study his intricate music more fervently than I would the scores from Bach, Beethoven and Schubert!  I still have some of those bootlegs, rare collectibles and recordings.

    Prince Rarities, Bootlegs and Collectibles

    Here is what’s left of my Prince rarities, bootlegs and collectibles. It’s a much smaller collection than what I once had.

    Please understand that his music was what mattered to me more than anything else.  I heard all the rumors about his life while being a fan.  I heard about his sexual exploits and/or preferences, his massive cocaine habits, his random firing of employees/musicians if they crossed him and so on.  Frankly, I didn’t care about his personal life or love life or anything else for that matter.  I cared about the music.  Oh, and what great music it is!  I could get lost in so many of his songs and most of what enamored me were the songs that weren’t the hits.  To this day my FAVORITE Prince song is the b-side to “Raspberry Beret.”  The song is entitled “She’s Always in My Hair” and if you don’t know this song or have never heard it then you are really missing out on one of the most powerful guitar riffs Prince ever created.  It still captivates me whenever I hear it.

    The worst part about being a Prince fan (at least for me) was that he never played live in a city close to me during his tours.  Well, let me rephrase that… when he did tour, my places of residence always seemed to be at odds with his touring schedule.  I may be traveling the country for work and he would be in my hometown the week I was traveling.  Or, I would arrive at a city just after he left.  This went on for about 14 years until I FINALLY was able to see Prince live while I was living in St. Louis.  It was on the “Emancipation” tour and when he walked on stage I started pointing to the people around me and shouting “there he is!”.   It was pretty embarrassing now that I really think about it.  But I LOVE live music more than ever listening to a recording.  Live music brings out the personality and idiosyncrasies of the musician (often times it shows how bad some musicians are too) and no one is better live than Prince.  I ended up seeing him live 8 times before his death and the best show I ever attended (even though it was an incredibly mellow show) was when my wife and I ended up in the FRONT ROW of the Troubadour to see an impromptu Prince performance.  I was able to bring my wife to all of the L.A. shows and she instantly fell in love with Prince’s live performances.  We were fortunate enough to see him perform with Maceo Parker, Candy Dulfer, Sheila E., Mary J. Blige, Janelle Monae and the legend, Stevie Wonder.

    Prince Show at the Troubadour

    Here are the instructions for the Prince show at the Troubadour

    Prince Show at the Troubadour

    Prince at the Troubadour on May 11, 2011

    When I learned about his death,  I cried.  These were not just little tears but some big “HOLY SHIT THIS IS REAL” tears because of what his music meant to me growing up and through much of my adult life.  His music was my soundtrack and in many ways still is to this day.  I do have to admit that I had a bit of a falling out with Prince’s newer music in the early 2000s when he became a Jehovah’s Witness.  The music seemed less authentic, more forced and uninspired and perhaps my musical tastes were changing as well.  I did enjoy watching Prince evolve throughout his career but during that time, sadly, he lost me.  I am happy to say that he was winning me back and his last few albums were full of life, sound, inspiration, funk, rock and soul.  I think the world lost an amazing musician and I am (selfishly) sad because I will never get to see him perform again and at some point the hundreds of songs in his vault will be released and there will be no more.  I am also saddened to think about how future generations will only know the “hits” and never get to see him perform live as well.  So long Prince and thank you for touching so many lives including this humble one!

    Oh yeah, the other time I cried this much for someone I never knew… Freddie Mercury (arguably the greatest front man of any Rock ‘n’ Roll band in history).

    The greatest front man to ever lead a Rock 'n' Roll band. Long live Freddie!

    The greatest front man to ever lead a Rock ‘n’ Roll band. Long live Freddie!



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  • How I Got This Shot – June Lake at Night


    Night photography, photographing stars photographing mountains, landscape photography

    Silver Lake, CA on a moon-less night to photograph the night stars and reflections in the lake

    Whenever I am not photographing people I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to get out into the California landscape and photograph the mountains, water, sky and, lately, stars.  I have really fallen in love with following the moon phases so I can photograph the night sky during a New Moon.  That was the case here.  My wife and I love driving up the less-traveled Highway 395 on California’s eastern side and seeing all the sights along 395 like Lone Pine, Big Pine, Bishop, Mammoth, Mono Lake, Bodie (Ghost Town) and Bridgeport.  There’s something romantically haunting about the area.  I can’t quite put my finger on why I love the area so much but I just do… it speaks to me and resonates with me.  I think one of the reasons I admire this area so much is that it reminds me how small I really am in this world and in this life and that I am just here for a very short time (compared to the amazing landscapes and history of the area).

    We planned a trip around the December holidays to get away from LA for awhile and to just take in the beauty and awesomeness of the area.  We went to Mammoth and did a little tubing and wanted do ride some snowmobiles but the weather hadn’t provided enough snow at the time.  But, we’ll be back and will have that chance to get on the snowmobiles in January or February.  That being said, I love to photograph the landscapes of this area and to take a break from a year of photographing people.  Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do for a living but it’s nice to just set up the camera, admire my surroundings and try to capture the amazing beauty in a photograph.

    We drove up to and stayed in June Lake, CA (about 9 miles north of Mammoth).  I had never stayed in June Lake before but was blown away by this quaint little village at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  It’s gorgeous (or as the kids say… GORGE!!!). 🙂  Upon arriving I immediately noticed “Oh! Ridge” (see below) and there’s a reason it’s called Oh! Ridge; when you come over the ridge and see the lake and mountain you cannot stop yourself from uttering “OH!”.  It really is that awesomely beautiful.

    Oh! Ridge – Photo credit by The Haven June Lake and IshCreatives.

    So I waited until the perfect night where I could see stars and the Milky Way and the wife and I started driving around June Lake, Mono Lake and Silver Lake looking for the right opportunity.  Unfortunately the wind was not cooperating at June and Mono Lakes.  The slight breeze was not allowing me to get the reflection on the water and I really wanted that to be a part of the shot.  On a whim, I said that we should check out Silver Lake to see what was going on there and if there was any opportunity to get the shot.  When we arrived I noticed that this lake is protect on all sides by rolling hills and mountains.  The water was so still and clear that I stepped in the water thinking I was still walking on rocks.  At that point I knew I had the right location.  The moral to this story is to move your butt and explore your options.  A 10 minute drive allowed me to make this image when I was on the verge of walking away and not getting the shot I wanted of this beautiful, inspiring landscape.

    June Lake, Landscape Photography, Milky Way Photography, night photography, photographing stars

    Getting a great shot of the Milky Way around June Lake, California

    It’s important to use a tripod, use Mirror Lock UP if your camera has the setting and a shutter release cable.  Also, I am including the incredibly useful 500 Rule PDF in this post for use when and if you want to photograph the night sky.


    • Nikon D3s Camera
    • Nikon 14-24mm 2.8 Lens
    • Really Right Stuff Tripod and Ballhead
    • Nikon Shutter Release Cable
    • Flashlights (only for adjusting settings on the camera)
    • My “500 Rule” Guideline for Night Photography Available for download 500 Rule*

    *The 500 Rule for Night Photography is a set of calculations for use with specific focal lengths in order to get the best exposure without getting blur from moving objects (like stars) during the earth’s rotation.

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  • How I Got This Shot – Broadway Ballerina Stephanie Kim

    Broadway Ballerina Dancer Stephanie Kim Body in Motion Cool Photographic Lighting

    I have been wanting to do a shoot with a ballerina for quite some time.  When Stephanie contacted me asking me to make some images of her I was ecstatic since I have had several ideas for a ballerina shoot floating around in my head for almost 8 months.  The main idea was to capture her in motion and then freeze her at the end of the shoot.  I have seen, hell, we all have seen too many shots of ballerinas in static poses.  Beautiful poses, of course, but static and a little cliche at this point.  The biggest issue is to find a location with fresnel lights and the space to capture her overall motion.

    The location for this shoot was at a place with a massive stage and stage lights.  These are constant lights, fresnels with various colored gels on them (red, blue, neutral, purple and green).  Once we arrived at the location I started scouting the stage and lights to see the overall space with which I have to work and how best to bring my vision to life for Stephanie.  When I talked with owner of the location, Steve, I was informed that all the fresnels are on a board and can be individually controlled.  After I learned this I was running up the stairs to the control room to start playing with the various combinations of colors and intensity so I can make my vision come to life.  After a little trial and error I found the right combination of lights that I wanted to use for the shoot.  They were a combination of red, blue and neutral (lights without the gels).

    The whole purpose of making certain I had constant lighting for this shoot is because I want to create the motion with the constant lights and then freeze her with the strobe lights at the end of her movements.  By running up and down the stairs to the control room for the fresnels I wanted to make certain I had the overall look I needed for the “moving” parts of the shot.  I knew the strobes I place at the end of her movements would freeze her motion and I wanted to keep those lights daylight balanced (no gels or coloring) to create a nice “POP” or separation from the other lights.  I am also a HUGE fan of late night infomercial barker Ron Popeil and his “Set it and Forget it” mantra.  So, by setting the lights to get what I want allows me to just focus on the ballerina, her moves, expressions, gesture, etc.  The more you can learn about “Set it and Forget it” the easier it is to make the photos you want.

    In case you are not aware of the infamous infomercial from Ron Popeil then you can see it below

    I truly believe in the “Set it and Forget it” principle especially when it comes to something like this type of shoot.  That way I can focus on getting the image we want from the shoot.  The finished shot above was the SECOND in the process.  The first shot (below and in RAW format) was used to get the feel of the shoot.  And, when I first started I only set the camera to a :02 second exposure.  I quickly learned (after one image) that I needed to be in BULB mode with my remote trigger so I can pop the flash when she finished her movement.  I say that because by only letting her move for :02 seconds limited her in her movement.  It’s like trying to time, to the EXACT tenth of a second when she will finish her movement.  Rather than rely on chance, I stood back and watched her movement and then let go of the cable release as soon as she finished her movement.  In the image below you can see a little bit of trailing movement but in the image above you can see her more clearly and crisply.  That’s because I fired the flash as soon as she was done with her movement.

    Broadway Ballerina Dancer Stephanie Kim Body in Motion Cool Photographic Lighting

    This is the first, RAW, image from my shoot with Stephanie. This image relied on timing and chance rather than precise firing of the strobe. Fortunately I recognized that and quickly changed things a bit.

    Perhaps some of you are wondering why I just didn’t make one image of her with the fresnels and then another image from the strobes and then combine them in Photoshop.  I could have done that and did, for the purposes of this blog, make images to demonstrate how those images look separately.  But as you will see, I believing getting the image right in camera and in one shot saves me a TON of time in post production.  Plus, why make extra steps when I can get it right in camera and have a better, more organic image.  The sequence below shows what the images look like with just fresnels, just strobes and when I made one single image from getting it right in camera.

    Fresnel lighting to create movement in a photograph Broadway Ballerina Dancer Stephanie Kim Body in Motion Cool Photographic Lighting Broadway Ballerina Dancer Stephanie Kim Body in Motion Cool Photographic LightingLastly, I wanted to provide a quick description of what gear I used, the settings and the lighting set up for the shoot.  Please feel free to ask any questions or comment on this process.  I would love to see your images like this as well.


    1. Nikon D3s (Manual Mode)
    2. 70-200mm 2.8 Lens (Manual Focus)
    3. Really Right Stuff Tripod and Ballhead
    4. Bulb Mode for Shutter
    5. Aperture f8.0
    6. Nikon Shutter Release Cable
    7. Had model stand in roughly the finished location of her movement and pre-focused
    8. Rear Curtain Sync
    9. Broncolor Move 1200L Pack (both lights)
    10. Broncolor 5-Foot Octabank
    11. Westcott Bruce Dorn Strip Bank


    Stephanie-Kim-Lighting-DiagramUntil next time…


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  • Photo Shoot with “Two Broke Girls” star Matthew Moy

    I always like getting the phone call or email from people asking me to photograph them. Heck, it’s why I do what I do. But I have to say I was completely blown away when I was asked by Matthew Moy from the hit Sitcom “Two Broke Girls” to make some new images of him for his own portfolio.

    Matthew Moy Two Broke Girls Kat Denning

    This is a great image of Matthew as it shows off his wonderful personality.

    We met through a mutual friend and when Matthew saw my work he instantly wanted to work with me and I was utterly flattered.  In talking with Matthew initially it was clear to me that he wanted some dramatic, more serious shots of him.  After all, his character on the television show is a great supporting character who is, at times, the butt of the joke.  But, hey, that’s his character.  With that in mind, I wanted to make something GRAND for him and he gave me carte blanche to come up with something that was different, unique and dramatic.  That was easy because I know different, unique, funny and dramatic.

    I sat down and started coming up with some ideas after watching a couple of episodes of his sitcom.  While watching I noticed he never really had a love interest or came off as a “ladies man” (again, that’s just his character) so I wanted to give him something that was a bit of a departure from the character so people can see the real Matthew Moy.  Someone who is playful, funny, smart, sincere, humble and just a really nice person.  That said, I started racking my brain trying to come up with some ideas and then it hit me… let’s make Matthew Moy THE ladies man and have some fun with it in the process.  I ran the ideas and concepts by Matthew and he was completely down with and excited about the shoot and various concepts.


    The first concept was to do something a little more “tame” in the sense of positioning Matthew as a bit of stud.  At the same time, I wanted to throw in some humor with the concept as well.  So the first concept was all about Matthew being surrounded by beautiful, scantily-clad women who were worshiping this man.  But, I still needed some humor in the shots so I scoured the interwebs looking for the funniest book I could possibly find.  That’s when I found the book “How to Live With A HUGE PENIS” and I knew I had to incorporate this book into the shot.  When the was presented to Matthew and he was fine with the idea I knew we were going to have a lot of fun that day.  That hardest part was to get all six female models to create the right facial expressions in each of the shots (without laughing) so they would be believable… over the top and campy, but believable. Here are the three images from the first concept.


    Hugh Heffner Matthew Moy

    This is a reproduction of a famous image of Hugh Hefner from the 1960s.

    Matthew Moy Two Broke Girls Ladies Man

    Matthew Moy being surrounded and worshiped by the beautiful models.

    Matthew Moy Ladies Man Two Broke Girls

    Oh the problems Matthew Moy must face

    The second concept was to create more of a “vibe” with Matthew and the models.  In the three images above, the models are wearing more traditional lingerie and that was done on purpose to create scenes that could be viewed as more “timeless” than from a particular period.  After this series of shots the models changed into more current or trendy lingerie as to create the “Party scenes” from the shoot.  I have to thank one of the models Christine Idiivil for putting me in contact with Clare Bare Lingerie.  As an aside, Clare was so awesome in CUSTOM MAKING the lingerie for each model.  I had to send Clare each model’s measurements and she cut and sewed each piece to accurately fit each model.  Once I had the second set of clothing I could create a completely different scene/vibe for Matthew and the models.  I added the AMAZING sofa from Circa Vintage Rentals here in Los Angeles as well as a nice painting of kittens from Hollywood Cinema Arts as well as bubble machine.  Here I was wanting to put a more modern spin on the ’90s rap videos while still positioning Matthew as a really strong, dynamic figure in each shot.  I also had Matthew change clothes so he could fit into the scene and make it even that much more believable.  Here are a couple of images from that set up.

    Matthew Moy Two Broke Girls Photo Shoot Party

    This was the party shot and my homage to some great ’90s and early 2000s videos.

    Matthew Moy Two Broke Girls Photo Shoot

    Changing the overall look of the shoot just by changing clothes.

    The third and final setup consisted of Matthew in some solo shots.  I, once again, had him change clothing into something more sophisticated for the final shots.  I left the sofa and moved it away from the back wall a bit, took down the painting of the kittens and tweaked the lighting.  The idea for this shoot was to match the lighting with his personality and what I was trying to convey.  For the shots of him with a more serious tone I drop the third of the three light back a bit (by a stop or two) to create a mood.  When the shots were more playful and fun I brought the light back up to create a more fun, playful scene.  Then, about an hour into the shoot, my wife shows up with one of our dogs, Rocky.  Rocky is a two-year-old Doberman who LOVES attention and has a great personality.  He was getting attention from the female models who stuck around and so I thought I would ask Matthew if he would want to pose with Rocky.  Again, he said YES!  I love clients like these who are down for anything that may work.  I made some of the images of Matthew by himself as to keep the dramatic lighting and then brought in Rocky, boosted the lighting a little more and made some images with Matthew and Rocky.  I think you can see personality in all of the following images.

    Matthew Moy Two Broke Girls Dressed Up Serious

    Matthew Moy getting a little serious in this great set.

    Matthew Moy Actor Two Broke Girls Photo Shoot

    Matthew Moy showing off his more serious side.

    Matthew Moy Two Broke Girls Kat Denning

    This is a great image of Matthew as it shows off his wonderful personality.

    Matthew Moy Two Broke Girls Dramatic Actor Pose

    I love this powerful, candid image of Matthew Moy.

    All in all, it was a great day.  Matthew Moy has to be one of the nicest people with whom I have worked and his attitude made this day possible.  If he hadn’t been down for any of these ideas then I think we would have made some great images but nothing like what was created in concepts 1 and 2.  So awesome to work with people like him.

    For all the lighting people out there, I just want you to know I created all of these images with 2-3 lights.  Overhead was a Profoto Pro Globe with a Profoto Acute B600R pack attached (all for overhead, ambient lighting).  The key and fill lights were from a Broncolor 1200L Move Pack.  A five foot octabank was the key and 3’x4′ Chimera Medium Softbox was the fill.

    Here’s a little Behind The Scenes Video of how these were made and how much fun we had that day!

    I want to thank the following people for their hard work, positive attitude and dedication for making this shoot a reality:

    Adam Horner – My friend and trusty assistant

    Tracey Taylor – Great MUA and Hair Stylist

    Models – Crystal Brooke, Kenzie Harr, Shannon Dee Lewis, Christine Adams, Paige Feddersohn and Zenani Che.

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  • DIY – Profoto Pro Globe (complete with testing)

    I just made my very own DIY Profoto Pro Globe.  Here I talk about HOW I did it, TESTING it to light a large room and WHAT I found out about the overall light color and usage.

    I love my Profoto lights as well as my Broncolor lights.  But, one of the biggest issues I have found is that I am always balking at spending what seems to be outrageous money for some of their great modifiers.  For instance, I have wanted to use/own the Profoto Pro Globe for a couple of years now but I am often taken aback by the nearly $700 price tag.  Sure I can get it without the mounting ring for $370.00 but, really, what’s the point.  I would still have to affix it to a light and the globe is glass so that’s certainly not a DIY project.  And, forget about getting the Broncolor Balloon Lamp.  That modifier costs a WHOPPING $1481.05.  Why the extra $0.05?  Because it’s Broncolor… oooooh!

    Profoto Pro Globe
    Broncolor Balloon Lamp

    With those outrageous prices looming over me I started looking at how I can create a Profoto Pro Globe without spending almost $700.  I went online and saw this guy making an DIY Pro Globe and I thought, “Hey! I can do this too!”  Here’s his video on Vimeo – Pro GLobe DIY.  So I went to Home Depot, got all the pieces and parts, disassembled one of my Profoto Speed Rings and started the project.  I am specifically creating this Pro Globe to work with my Profoto Acute B600 R pack.  I set aside some time today to create this Pro Globe and use a product I have been coveting for quite some time now.

    The Set Up

    At Home Depot I bought the acrylic globe, some bolts, nuts and washers.  I already had the drill and drill bits.

    All the pieces and parts needed to make my own Pro Globe

    Then I disassembled the speed ring so that just the base of the ring was ready for usage.  I then realized that the speed ring and bolts would fit inside the opening of the acrylic globe and I would use the bolts and washers as a way to secure the globe.  Here’s the image after I drilled the holes in the speed ring base and began to screw in the bolts.

    Profoto speed ring with bolts already in place for mounting to the DIY Globe

    Once I screwed all the bolts into the speed ring (flush with the speed ring but not tight – that will be done later), I placed the ring onto the globe and started to put the washer and nuts onto the full assembly.  In all honesty, I had to have my wife help me put the nuts and washers on since my hands are a little too big to do that process.  Here’s what it looks like assembled.

    Here’s the Pro Globe with the Profoto speed ring attached

    And, now, with the Acute B head in place.

    Profoto head in the DIY Pro Globe

    Here it is with the modeling light illuminated.

    Here you can see the globe illuminated by the Acute B 600R modeling light for my DIY Profoto Pro Globe

    The Test

    So for the test I wanted to put this thing to quick use and see what I could illuminate.  Our bedroom is the perfect place to test this light.  Since our bedroom faces southwest we get a tremendous amount of light in the bedroom.  In order for my wife to take her occasional (well, almost daily) naps she bought these curtains that block about 95% of the outside ambient light.  I wanted to show how dark it is in our bedroom at 3:30pm here in ALWAYS SUNNY SoCal.  The first shot is what I normally like to set the camera for studio shoots and the second image is opening up the camera by five total stops to show there is ZERO difference in light getting into the camera.

    Camera – Nikon D3s, 1/250, f8.0, ISO 200

    Camera Nikon D3s, 1/60, f2.8, ISO 200 – increased the ambient by two full stops and aperture by three full stops.

    As you can see, it’s SUPER DARK at 3:30pm in our bedroom that faces directly where the sun is shining into our bedroom.  That done, I turned on the Profoto Acute B 600R and set the flash power to half (300w/s).  And started firing away just to get a couple of shots.  The first I purposely framed so that the light would not be seen in the image.  All of the following three shots are SOOC (Straight out of Camera).  The camera settings are like the original black photo (Nikon D3s, 1/250, f8.0, ISO 200).

    First shot of the Pro Globe. No other lights were used and the Acute B600 was set at half (300w/s) power.

    Next I wanted to do a really wide shot (Nikon 24-70mm lens set to 24mm) to see what the overall light looks like in the room.  Again, this Pro Globe is the ONLY light being used as the Acute B 600 pack allows for only one light.

    The second shot is much wider (24mm) to show the coverage the DIY Profoto Pro Globe has in a large room.

    The final shot is, once again, a tighter shot.  I believe the 24-70mm lens is somewhere around 55mm.

    The dogs are playing and completely oblivious they are my test subjects for the DIY Pro Globe.

    The Takeaway

    The overall assembly time took less than I had imagined and was pretty easy once the screw holes were created AND I saved over $500.00.  The light is great and does an amazing job in illuminating a room. I am so happy I finally took the time to do this.

    My biggest concern going into this was more about light color/temperature and how this acrylic globe would affect the overall color temperature.  I do understand that the overall light color is going to come from the Profoto Acute Head but I was hopeful the acrylic globe wouldn’t alter the temperature. The images above from the test were taken straight out of camera and when I brought them into Capture One Pro after the quick test I wanted to instantly look at the temperature.  It should be noted that I shot these three test shoots with the White Balance set to AUTO.  The result is all three images came in at 5200k in color temperature and was without any custom white balance.  For a straight test shoot I think this color temperature is pretty satisfactory.

    The next step is to put it to the test in a real world shoot and that will take place next week!  If you want me to make one for you then please don’t hesitate to contact me.  I can make one for most lights on the market.

    Until next time.



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  • One of my favorite “Strangers” – Marcelle

    I often get asked about the people I met and what they wrote in the journal. Most times people ask me how I was able to get people to write something so deep, personal or meaningful. I often say, “I just gave these people a platform for their voices to be heard and they took advantage of it.”

    Sometimes I asked people personal questions. Sometimes I asked people funny, silly questions. It all depends on their personality and how they acted around me when I approached them.

    Here is Marcelle. Marcelle has an infectious smile and is someone that I could have just talked with all day because of his personality. So in talking with him I asked about the fact that he has several jobs, is a husband and father. I wanted to know if his life had turned out the way he wanted and since everyone got asked a different question I had to come up with something creative. His question was, “If you could go back and tell 15-year-old Marcelle what’s important in life then what you would tell him?”

    Meet Marcelle in Buffalo, NY!

    Marcelle has one of the best smiles of anyone I met along the journey.

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  • Anatomy of a Photography Promotional Mailer

    The real marketing behind "10 Minutes with a Stranger"

    The real marketing behind “10 Minutes with a Stranger”

    As many of you are aware I spent most of my 2013 working on a personal project called “10 Minutes with a Stranger” where I drove across America meeting, photographing and interviewing 150 random strangers.  Ultimately this got turned into a book.  I know, you all know that stuff.  But, did you know this personal project wasn’t turned into a book to be sold (although I did sell some of the books to the people who were clamoring for one).  It was actually created to be a promotional piece that got mailed out to 150 Photo Buyers, Photo Editors and Art Buyers/Producers with ad agencies and several magazine companies in New York, Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles.

    I think you can imagine just how incredibly daunting of a project this can be.  Sure, not only was the process of photographing people, selecting the 30 of the 150 people to be featured in the book, hiring a designer, printing the book and then having a company design the packaging a daunting task but now that the book is complete and the packaging is done I have 150 book and packages sitting here in the living room waiting to be assembled and shipped.  So even though I completed the road trip and photography work in August of 2013, I still had several months of work ahead of me to complete the entire project.

    This is the space I created in my apartment for the books to go into once they arrive.

    On January 8th, 2014 I received 8 boxes of books for the promotional delivery.  The following day I received the mailing packaging.  Fortunately this was one box but all 150 pieces were flat and had to be assembled.  On top of that I had 150 personal notes to write to each person receiving the book.  Yep, it’s a lot of work but it’s well worth the effort to help raise my work, my personal project and, well, hell.. ME… above the clutter that has become part of being a professional photographer nowadays.

    Here are 5 of the 8 boxes of books for the massive marketing project of mailing out the book

    The first thing I did was to start the part that would provide me the least amount of mental challenge and that was to assemble all packaging for mailing.  Once that was completed I worked with my team to determine who would receive this mailer.  After that, I asked my wife to pick up some mailing labels from Office Depot on her way home from work.  By the way, after that night when she brought the labels home my wife went on a business trip and was gone for about a week.  I did all of this on my own without the help of my wife or team or assistants.  This was something I wanted to do and complete on my own.

    The packaging took so much time to put together but once I got going I became a one-man assembly line.

    Once the packaging was done and the labels were printed it was time to move onto writing personal notes to each person receiving the mailer.  That took about two days to complete and organize.  Then it was time to assemble the packaging with the book, the personal note (and envelope) and sealing each package getting it ready for mailing.  That process was broken up into thirds.  I would work on 50 at a time and then take a much needed break.

    Taking a break from putting together the marketing packaging. Of course I had to watch Hardcore Pawn!

    Finally, after 4 days of working to complete this mailing all 150 pieces were complete.  So now what to do?  I tried going onto USPS.com to buy and print shipping labels (yes, I had to pay for all the shipping too).  But, to my tremendous disappointment the USPS site wouldn’t take credit/debit cards at that time as the system was down.  So I did the next best thing and went online to schedule a pickup.  Fortunately I was able to spread out the pick ups over two days (I know the USPS was grateful for that too).  But since there was no postage I had to walk to the post office and work with the people at the 104th Street location to get labels and pay for postage.  Needless to say the people in line behind me were SCREWED but I didn’t care because this is one of the most important things I, or any photographer, could do.

    Outside my apartment on a cold, January day in NYC helping the USPS load my books for delivery.

    At the end of the week all pieces were in the care of the USPS and were mailed to 150 people.  As a follow up, I have heard from several people about the book and have garnered some pretty great press about the book.  When I was sitting by myself putting all of these together and working my tail off to get these mailed I often wondered if it’s going to be worth it.  Well, I can attest that it was very much worth it and it’s something we as photographers MUST do.  There is no one helping us in so many facets of this business.  It’s a very solitary business but the harder we can work to separate ourselves from the insane clutter that is part of our profession then the better we will be in the long run.

    The cart is empty and the packages are now in the hands of the USPS.

    Not everyone who received a book has contacted me and I am not disappointed by that because I do know that those people now know who I am and may be keeping the book handy just in case they have something that comes up and my work may be exactly what is needed for that shoot/assignment/campaign.  Marketing is KEY to rising above the clutter.


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  • The one person who (unfortunately) could not be a part of my series “10 Minutes with a Stranger.”

    Chris Hardwick, Walking Dead, Talking Dead, 10 Minutes with a Stranger

    Here’s the great Chris Hardwick. His question was, “Since you have been able to do so much with your life, what would you change about anything that has happened?”

    During the course of my trip across America I met so many wonderful people. One of the coolest people I got to meet was Actor, Comedian, TV Show Host Chris Hardwick (Talking Dead, After Midnight, Stand-Up Comedy and countless other things).

    While attending a comedy show with my friend Jeannie in Salt Lake City I got the chance to meet Chris. He asked what I was doing in town and I told him about the project. He was really, really curious about the project and so I asked if he would be a part of it. He said, “Yes.” He said that we could do this after his stand-up show (which is incredibly funny, smart and entertaining by the way). We met in the lobby after the show and I had about 3 minutes with him. I asked Jeannie to hold the light for me and we knocked out three images so he could go. I am not really happy with the images but they worked for how quickly we had to work and stick with the overall look of the series.

    Sadly, Chris could never be a part of this project and not because he’s a celebrity. I have a signed release form from him and his agreement to be a part of this. However, after looking at all the images from the trip my team and I decided not to have him as part of the series (either in the book or on the website) since there are no other celebrities in the series. Therefore, since we wanted to keep with a theme of just the “everyday” people I met along the journey, it wouldn’t make sense to have someone like him in the series as it would or could possibly throw off the overall flow of the series.

    Even though I couldn’t have Chris in the series I do really appreciate him taking the time to be a part of this series and spending a short amount of time with me. He’s a really nice person!

    I think making a series of a celebrity “10 Minutes with a Stranger” could be next on the agenda! 🙂

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