It has been 3 years since I went to New York City for the sole purpose of photographing a specific area. This time around.. I wanted to work the lower east side of Manhattan & Brooklyn Bridge grid in hopes of making an image that would go up on my wall and find its spot in my first portfolio book. It was a cold 15 degrees with a wind chill around 5. Packed my gear bag with food, hot coco, extra socks and hoodie. I so am glad I did, because I needed it. This lovely enchanting city will never disappoint you. I will be going back to work the same grid this spring. Check out my Vlog and these beautiful images.
Blog ~ Thoughts & Musings
When Sam Vega contacted me about creating a team for a beauty editorial I was beyond excited. I have been wanting to work beside him for a year and a half or so now. He had thought of doing a “do it your self project” which contained huge white card board and silk flowers. I was hooked from the start. I then began to look toward Sue Bryce, Lara Jade and their floral work was they did past year.
We started a mood board with each other and the model. Sam found the Flower design on Etsy and decided on a location (which was his home kitchen). Why the kitchen? It was the easiest option at the moment since renting a local studio would of taken some time. We met up a week before our shoot to start building the backdrop and make the model selection. Thats when I met Sam’s assistant Claudia and friend Elisabeth. Let me say this; It was really cool to be an adult, acting like a kid. We had wine, music, sushi, pizza, cardboard, and glue guns. The back drop consisted of two 4’x 8’ foam boards that I bought at a local sign shop and Sam purchased the cardboard and silk flowers from a local arts and craft store. Just before I arrived the day of the shoot Sam asked me to get some fabric just incase, luckily it was used in one of the final images.
After reviewing multiple talent submissions for this shoot. It was very upsetting on how many people were trying to take advantage or think it was a way to make quick money. Charging $85-$120 an hour with a portfolio, that has selfie pictures and doesn't contain a professional headshot or any images pertaining to the genre we would be photographing. This is not every submission we received but a decent amount. The reason why I am stating this is because if you are a model who is trying to get into the industry, this is not the way to get hired or accepted to do any professional work. Build your book! decide what area you wish to market to and provide quality work so that professionals will take you seriously and refer you to other industry professionals. We decided to chose Kendall. I personally worked with her a few times before when her and I were starting out in the industry. The vibe was always on point and she is a professional who loves and values photography and the many talents that are involved in these type of work. There was no better option to go with in our minds. Kendall has always been prepared in every aspect when we worked together and this was no different. Not to mention she received a call from an agency to schedule a meeting and needed new fresh work. It seemed like fate, the timing was perfect.
By the time I got there the first back drop was already set up and ready to go thanks to the team. At 11:30am we started to set up and started photographing our first look, which would be for the agency Kendall was interested in making a submission to. I also set up two Gopro Cameras as well to record a behind the scenes video. Our goal for the day was to start out with a clean, clean look then gradually work up from a beautiful base to an outstanding final artistic look that showed the talented process of Sam and assistant Claudia. Sam made a beautiful necklace for our third look and used a left over flower as a hat for our 4th look. After 7 hours of shooting, We broke everything down stuffed our faces with pizza and reviewed some of the images. we were extremely happy on how the images turned out and we hope you love the images as much as we do.
I started this awesome journey 3 years ago. I was with my wife buying a new xbox one controller and I passed by the camera section but for some reason walked out with a Canon. Since then my life has completely changed for the better. Even though it is an extremely difficult journey. It has made me a better man, and I am so grateful for the people who supported me and my vision to create beautiful images. I can not stress enough that with out this team I wouldn't be able to do it. It is an incredible feeling when you work with fellow creatives who put so much effort and care in to the same cause.
Photographer: Andrew Bird
Make up & Hair:
Make up & Hair Assistant:
Styling: Sam Vega
Necklace: Sam Vega
Makeup Forever foundation, MAC eye-shadow, Bobbi Brown Lips and Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics for Lips on last look.
Paint strokes using Makeup Forever flash pallete.
BEFORE & AFTER
A little while back I met up with a local wildlife and landscape photographer Antonio plaza. When you have a sec you seriously need to check this guys work out. Click HERE to view his website. We met up at a Dunkin Doughnuts in Marshalls Creek, Pa around 6am. The wake up time for me was 4:30. It took me about 45 mins to get there and since a nice snow squall was passing through it took another hour or so to get to the location.
We wanted to get the sunrise over looking the Delaware river and the Appalachian Mountains. The walk wasn't to bad at all...About 35 min but, with out the snow and heavy clothing (since it was 8 degrees with a -15 windchill) and gear.. maybe a 20 min walk. From there we headed to Raymondskill Falls and another location to finish the day off photographing a beautiful 1/2 frozen water fall. I can not state where these other 2 locations are, and I know you understand why :). I hope you enjoy the video and images from this awesome hike. Remember to share, comment and like. I am so grateful for all the support you give. It keeps me going!. Expect more blogs and videos in the future.
Want a video on something Comment below and I will see if I can make it happen.
Shit! 2015 has been an incredible year, filled with exciting business developments and not so exciting business moments for me. Although I’ve had an amazing year of opportunities and meeting such wonderful people. Lets not forget I Married to my person,my best friend. Not only that; I was blessed to have my favorite wedding photographer Jessica Oh Photography capture the whole moment. Let me tell you if you need that bad ass, free minded, incredibly loving artist freaking book her!!
The main thing I wanted to share with all of you is how some business changes have made a huge impact on my career and my clients this year. The biggest change I decided to offer my clients a full service experience. I experienced so many situations where Cd’s were lost/scratched, computer crashed or to busy to go to the store to print. Instead offering just a digital product. I now offer Quality, tangible artwork to display in their homes as well as offering digital images to share with friends and family seamlessly. The best of two worlds. I want to give my clients the same feeling I get when I look at all the memories of my life on my walls everyday and not worry about searching for them.
I wanted to evaluate every business opportunity with caution – the people I work with, commercial offers, meetings and what shoot opportunities I would take or not take. When an opportunity came around, I seriously asked myself – “What is the benefit and purpose of it!!! and will this lead to other opportunities that will make me grow as an artist and a businessman?”. Previously, I had grasped at every job, every barter– even if it didn’t feel right and often left me feeling disheartened after completing the work and hating my own work. Hating your own work as an artist is something very difficult to swallow. With every commissioned job whether commercial, family portraits, Talent development, landscape. I step back, breath and go at it with the mind set that it has to be fun. My team needs to have fun
Part of my new year plan has been built on the answers I have received from feedback from clients and my peers. I have gained some new clients with the shift and I have lost a lot of clients with the shift. With the jobs I did take led me to more opportunities with my target clients and most importantly, I felt inspired by them. A few highlights from this year; I have been published in the local flair magazine, Dark Beauty Magazine, and on slrlounge.com to name a few. As I now finish up my portfolio from 2015 and I so happy how consistent my style has become and how efficiently I can tackle on location and studio situations. The best part of making these changes has also left me a lot more free time to organize what I want to create, research future clients and strategize for this upcoming year, but most importantly more family time. I plan to also enter in many local competitions and art shows to display my work in a new way. With this new year coming up my focus will be driven to work with more clients commercial and non-commercial who appreciate the art we strive to create. I want to work with the best artists in the area. Not for recognition or praise, but to be inspired and learn from theses amazing artists that God has blessed this world with. In closing I would like to thank everyone who supported, trusted my visions and my awesome clients who keep coming back.
I think one of the hardest things as an artist is whether you do make up, hair, or dance. It is getting yourself or what you create out there to as many people as you can. We pray that someone will see what we created; not for just simple approval but simply to say something simple like "nice" They get it and enjoy it. Most of the time we fail and fail and fail again.
This day we all had a simple goal. The goal was to help another inspiring designer (Jocelyn King) get her work out there by all coming together as artists. A wonderful make up artist Jessica Paseler of JLP Makeup called me and told me the idea and I was immediately excited about it. She found this awesome and beautiful Antique shop right on main street in Stroudsburg, PA. The place was Called Main Street Antiques & Collectables.
The owner is Rex L Hughes Jr. His personality would make you smile once you spoke with him. He was so laid back and seriously has such a warm heart. Jessica and I told him the idea of helping another artist and going for publication and I will offer my services and shoot some of his inventory and he can use the images for his online store on ETSY. His store was beautifully organized. Yes an antiques shop that is organized and BIG!. He not only knows his inventory and where things are placed, but is very well versed in the history and value of these items as if he has a personal connection with them. He treats you like one of his guests as you enter the premises and gives you his complete attention. If your having a bad day this is a place where I would just walk in to get a damn smile.
believe it was a 5am or 6am call time. Jessica found two local inspiring models (Kendall Brady & Amanda Kitzmiller) who loved the idea and was willing to collaborate with us. Before you think about the above picture. We did have healthier options available. Food is very important especially when you have a 16 hour day ahead of you, aslo I love Entenmann's baked goods :).
After about 2 1/2 hours of make up & hair. We packed up headed over to the shop. Once we got on site we met up with Sarah Turner who is also a model out of New Jersey. She drove all the way down just to help out with the project. Kendall also brought her friend Jimmy who ended up being a bad ass assistant that day. The atmosphere was amazing.
This day was nothing short but amazing. As nervous as I was that day the people who were involved made it so much easier for me to relax and focus, rather than try to control every aspect. At the end of the day we didn't get the publication we wanted, but for me the experience, the dedication to help a fellow artist, the laughs and the memories that will stay with me tops it all.
I have a habit of creating long posts on social media mixed with the images that I create. This can benefit me or hurt me. Who knows... or cares, but I will try to explain my vision and post processing the best I can without boring you all or getting to nerdy.
I am not a big fan of writing. This is a new venture for me. In the past year and a half since I took my first portrait till now I have failed more times then I can count, but when I succeed the feeling is that unexplainable. In this time I devoted myself to education and practice. Organizing portfolio work just to shoot or taking a big cut just to try something new. The last few months of this journey has been nothing short of amazing, in the sense of growing as an artist and trying to share my work to everyone who would take that spilt second to view it. I get many questions asking what I like to photograph. Ill take a second and explain what I do. I photograph mostly portraits, fashion and landscapes. Portraits doesn't mean I only shoot models. I photograph seniors, artists and families. I do offer Boudoir and model development sessions as well. Do I photograph a lot of models yes, but it doesn't mean I won't photograph you if you aren't one. Everyone is beautiful in their own way. It is up to me and my make up artist to have you at your best that day.
I am a sucker for just driving and seeing new places. Landscape photography to me is so relaxing and rewarding. It takes time and dedication to get the images I want because Im at the mercy of mother nature. I don't intend to sell any of these images most time. There are some I do set up for sale. Enough about that lets get to the good stuff!
I have many asking what my process is when taking portraits, how I light my subjects and I get the expressions I need. These questions aren't just from fellow artists or photographers, but from clients and possible clients as well. I see more and more clients asking about the retouching aspect, which is good. Clients should know something about the process because it helps them understand that it's not just a click of a button on a camera and it's done. Now it's the same when it comes to the digital darkroom. Some photographers use one click presets and say they're done. Some process their images manually and they are so good at the craft they know how to be consistent when doing so. I, on the other hand use a multi-facited system to combine artistic processes.
Makeup & Hair: JLP Make up
I do use some presets or actions not only to apply an effect, but to make my workflow faster while keeping the quality high and more consistent throughout the images I give to my clients. With these presets or actions I modify them to the way I like them. In reality I only use them to save time from clicking buttons or sliders the same way, every time to every image.
In the image above. I selected my base setting (preset) to the image. This gets me to the starting point automatically. When shooting portraits. Everything needs to come together perfectly for me from the pose, expression and make up & hair. My make up artist saves me so much time on the computer and make the atmosphere so relaxing and fun. If you have the option to have one whether if your a client, model or artist just starting out. Having a good make up and hair stylist on hand is one of the best things you or I can do.
I have been working with my make up artist Jessica Paseler for a litte while now and I absolutely adore her, her passion and dedication to the art. She doesn't cut corners or has the mentality to leave things the way they are and say "he can photoshop it" She knows as well that If we get it right in camera the better off the image will be. When it comes to skin texture, skin and color values. I love keeping it natural!
The image above is after I applied my base. Again when I retouch any portrait my goal is to keep all skin texture, skin tones and keeping details that make the person who they are. I don't use any blurr technique to wash away the skin imperfections. Honestly I think it's just laziness and in this case if I were to do this technique all the freckles that Kendal has will be lost or look muddy.
With the help of my make up artist, along with my subject having great skin. I just had to do minor work on the skin. I call it my quick clean up.. Some healling and clone brushing was used. Most of it was Dodging and burning (Brightening and darkening certain areas of the skin.). This is my normal approach on all of my portrait work. Can I do this all in one program like Lightroom oh yes. I personally like the extra control I get in Photoshop and take that extra step to deliver a quality product. Now as for High end retouching lets say for. print magazines, websites, customized sessions etc.. I have a completely different approach which one image can take me hours to finish.
After my my quick clean up. I also desaturated the background to make Kendal Pop and started my detail work.
From here I start my color grading and giving the image the unique look I envisioned. As I apply these colors and tones along with boosting contrast. I mask away the areas I felt shouldnt be applied to; for example skin, eyes and hair.
The above image is a continuation of my layers for this image with contains more selective color, brightening areas of the image. This part alone I probably redid this section about 5 or 6 times until I was completely satisfied with the results
Once I finished the colors I started working on the eyes. I never over do the eyes. I like things to be subtle. I have the same feeling when it comes to the highlights and shadows of the skin. To give it a little more pop I added snow. The key with snow is to make it subtle where the viewer doesn't get to distracted away from the subject. From here I double checked everything with the image finally I added some sharpening to the subject and saved it back to Lightroom.
I hope this blog answers most of the questions about my process. I also hope you enjoyed viewing the behind the scenes work that goes Into my images. Some photographers hate this process and want to shoot and be done with it. Which is great because they are out more shooting instead of being behind the computer. Some like the full process. I personally love the whole thing from planning, shooting, processing to delivery. It's a great feeling to imagine something, only then to have it come to life and see it through to the end. It is just a wonderful feeling. Next blog I will be showing off some amazing work I did a little while back with one hell of a team at a beautiful local antique store. Hope you all enjoy. God Bless
I was introduced to Rachael Grlica from a former co-worker, she is a Promotional and Runway model and she needed some new work done. Head, and 1/2 body images. This was only my second career headshot session. My goal with capturing head shots is to create a rapport with my subject and involve them in the creative process. This creates a connection before the shoot so the chemistry and mood is already there. While preparing for this session I tried to find inspirational words or images and this is one that really happened to resinate with me.
“The key to a great headshot is expression.. You can have a great lighting set up, you can have a great subject and a killer background… but if you don't have expression, in my opinion you have nothing!” Peter Hurley.
Words of encouragement like Peter Hurley’s and others stick in my head all the time, which sometimes scares me since I don’t have the best lighting, glass nor the best background. If I can get the best out of my client then everything else is not as important. So with that in mind when doing portrait head shots; I remember those exhilarating words and I tell my self NOT TO SUCK!!!
How I Shot It?
Once I contacted Rachael we set up a prep-meeting. I also explained why I do this and how it effects my images in my previous article or check out Slr lounge natural light couples workshop where Pye goes over this process in more detail and better then I ever could. Two weeks prior to the session she came to my house with all the wardrobe and accessory options, needless to say it was a few hours till we picked what we wanted. Doing this really makes me understand her and it shows I care about not only just what I want but what she wants as well. I truly enjoy this process.
I want myself and my client to collaborate as much I can to make sure my client feels comfortable in what they are wearing and how they look, while having the chance to be involved more than just standing in front of the camera. This also allows us to inspire each other.
Just Before the session, she contacted me about finding a beautiful dress by Nicole Miller that she felt amazing in and wanted to include it in our session. I was happy that she felt that comfortable about the session. I can honestly say that if I did not make this rapport with my clients, my job would be much harder. Luckily, she has experience, which never hurts.
My set up was pretty simple with just a white sheet back drop. I separated my subject about 5 feet away so then I would have a nice fall off on the background and It would be easier to modify in post processing since I only have one light. Once my subject was in place I tried many different lighting variants just using the one light. I do this all the time to practice and to see what might be the best the position for the client with the angle of the light. The end result in this specific image I chose to do the Clam Shell technique and also chose to shoot her straight on. I always try to do with every female subject because its so hard to shoot a female straight on. Once I got the lighting set and had her hold the white reflector about waist high. I started to just have a normal conversation with her. I don't remember exactly what I said to get this expression but we were generally having fun and I tend to make fun of my self anyways.
These were my camera settings for this this image:
1/200 sec at f/2.8, ISO 100. I also Had my flash at half power. Here is the image straight out the camera
When importing, editing and exporting I do use the SLR Lounge Preset System and also use photoshop CC for more in depth retouching. If you don't have the preset system I did try my best showing all my setting for you. From here I import my image using the 01-10/ 11a extra soft- skin desat preset and selected the background with the eye drop tool to come close to the white balance I want. I use this for all my portraits as my initial startup.
Once I feel comfortable on my base editing with portraits. I will go import the image from Lightroom to photoshop CC where I will go into more detailed retouching. In my workflow; I always start with the skin first using the Frequency Separation technique. I do have Julia Kuzmenko Beauty actions. This makes my retouch workflow so much smother and consistent. You also find this at the SLR Lounge store.
I create a channel mixer layer then select the Monochrome option and dial in these settings below. This allow me to see all the imperfections in the skin much easier then in color. Since I work on a 15 in macbook pro. It really helps with the eyes. I always keep the red setting at -80 and crank the blue up to about + 100-130.You can also adjust the constant to your liking this will lighten or darken the tones for easier viewing. I also use this channel mixer layer when Im dodging and burning which is my next step in the process.
When I'm done retouching the skin I start dodging and burning the skin and hair. I create two layers for this. The soft layer is for skin and the hard layer is for the hair. My tool pressure setting is about 13% on skin and 25% on hair. As you can see from the picture below I use the same Channel Mixer layer as I did for the frequency separation layers again this makes it easier to view.
The next step I work on the eyes. Magic Eyes are apart of the beauty actions set and its all masking layers designed to do what is listed. This again makes my workflow easier and organized. I start with clean eye whitening and go up each section and setting the opacity level on the layer to my liking. I normally zoom in at 150% on each eye and start painting in what I want with a soft brush.
The last steps in my retouch process are creating a curves adjustment layer to brighten the teeth to the point it looks natural. I create a levels adjustment layer to darken the background.
Lastly I use the smart sharpen technique. Fstoppers.com has a great article and video on how to do this process.
Now that I'm done editing the image in photoshop,I bring it back into light room for my final process of stylizing the image
Now that I have the image in Lightroom I simple applied these SLR Lounge Presets to get this final image. The only tweak I made, is double checking that the sharpening is set to 0 in the detail section of lightroom, which prevents over sharpening.
11a- Portait flatten- light
71e- Vingnette- medium
Canon 50mm 1.8
26in Wescott Rapid Octa box with Beauty attachment plate
36in Westcott 5in1 reflector
Manfroto 190xb pro b tripod and light stand.
Pocket Wizard plus III
Cowboy Studio white backdrop
It is extremely important to be involved with my client and take that extra time with them. I do not “shoot n burn” nor do I rack up a lot of clients in one day at the same location. So if I go over the initial time by a little bit I don’t worry. I try to have a unique experience with everyone. I believe when someone asks you to photograph a portrait of them. They are trusting you to get the best out of them. So showing my client that extra care and attention will be appreciated and hopefully set myself apart, but most importantly have an image that isn't nothing, but something as an artist I am proud of. Be well and keep clicking! To al so see this article and many more. Please visit: