Saturday, 22 March 2014

The first shoot but not the last...

No studio?  No problem.  Well, maybe a small problem.

It was due time for me to get started on my portfolio.  To wrap up this Diploma program in Professional Photography, I needed to complete a portfolio with five or six images for my final assignment.  My tutor is going to be critiquing these so I needed to ensure I applied everything I'd learned and make the best I could with what I had.

The challenge, my studio was no where near constructed.  The framing is done but there's a ton of work to do yet.  I need to get moving though so along came the trusty, spacious and somewhat workable basement.

I made do with not only not having my 24' x 26' studio of the future with 11' ceilings and tons of space to move around but being restricted to a 12' x 12' space with 9' ceilings in what is actually the workout room.  Carpet made for challenges as I had to come up with something for a solid floor so the chair and model wouldn't poke right through the seamless paper.  The walls were close and the ceiling was actually strewn with boxed in ducting that made for extra challenges.

What I did have was the amazing help of my wife, Nicole, who we'll call my lighting assistant... oh and hair stylist, set coordinator and beverage filler.  I certainly could not have pulled off this first shoot without her.

So, I had a temporary studio space, all the lighting and props I could ask for, great help and a cold pop.  What was missing?  Oh ya, a model!  (All of the images below were photographed and touched up by me.)

And along comes Jennifer (Jen).  We've known Jen for almost exactly 10 years.  She used to babysit our little girl with her twin sister Danielle and now has grown into a stunningly beautiful young woman.  Who better to help me launch my photography career and help me start my portfolio.  It didn't take much convincing either and she was a natural in front of the camera.

And so the shoot began.

Well, needless to say, Jen and I were both equally nervous.  I really didn't want to disappoint her even though she knew I was just starting out and she wanted to do her best to support me.

We worked with everything from a six foot octagon softbox to a 16" beauty dish.  I also did some clamshell shots with my larger softboxes.  There's certainly a lot of my gear I didn't use and some stuff I could certainly make use of in the future.  Nicole was instrumental in holding silver reflectors where I needed them and white reflector cards to fill in the shadows.

My favorite of the entire shoot was this headshot taken of Jen wearing a boxing robe.  It was one of those images that I just couldn't help but be giddy over.  I have to feel it is my finest work!

Jen was a natural!  She had a smooth and subtle smile that worked very well for beauty photography.  Her features were perfect and she had eyes that kept burning out the sensor on my camera!  No, not really but she was amazing.

I tried a few shots like Jen in this cocktail dress acting like she was just putting her shoe on before going out for a night on the town.

In every shoot, it's always important to get that token high-key beauty head shot.  This one is similar to one I did with my daughter, Ally, some months ago but in that particular shoot I used a softbox as a background and blew out the background by firing a strobe into the softbox.  For this one with Jen, I instead firing a strobe at a seamless ultra white paper background.  I liked the look it created but to be honest, I didn't get the wrap-around effect I got from the shoot with Ally.  Next time I'll go back to using the strobe and softbox as the background.

This final shot was a rare treat.  Jen has recently added some beautiful tattoos to her body.  Closely managing decency and privacy, we were able to help Jen get into position with her back to me and I fired a dozen or so shots with her looking in different directions.  My favorite ended up being this one, even though her hair covers a bit of the tattoo.  Nicole was instrumental in helping to arrange Jen's hair and I would give her cues on what I needed in placement of her feet, arms, etc.

I learned so much from this shoot!  There are a lot of things I'll do different next time and it will be so much easier to have more strobes set up with more light modifiers rather than having to fight with it all during the shoot.  I also can't express enough how much I'm going to enjoy having more space!  I can't wait until the studio is done and I can really start to create some masterpieces.

Now on to the next piece for my portfolio; product photography... coffee!

Saturday, 15 March 2014

The next first last chapter...

I know I am a lucky man.  I've known it for a long time.  This knowing comes from the overwhelming support I get from my wife as I chase one dream after another.  But I'm honing in...

Many years and many miles were spent on the seat of a motorcycle.  I've traveled through the mountain passes of the "Going to the sun highway", I've dodged herds of buffalo running free on the way to Yellowknife and I've traveled the same routes as Jay Leno winding through the top rated twists and turns of southern British Columbia.  These trips created fabulous memories but there was always something missing.  While my wife always supported me chasing my passions and dreams, it was never the same without her at my side.

Memories and dreams like these are meant to be shared and experienced together.  Working away from home, I really couldn't bring myself to ditch my family for yet another extended period just because the activity is something I love to experience.  I gradually found that I was riding just to justify the fact that I had a $15,000 machine sitting in the garage and that I should use it.  It was time to call a spade a spade and say good bye to a "passion" that had actually migrated to more of a "hobby".  I sold the bike and focused on my time at home, feeling an odd but welcome sense of relief.   Motorcycling is now a part of my past and no longer will be a part of my future.

But I'm a dreamer, creator and visionary.  My employers have always come to know it of me, my friends chuckle as I'm constantly on the go and my wife watches as I'm still chasing my dreams.

Which leads me to my real true passion; the creation of my vision through a camera.  I've been photographing for years, collected the gear and moved from one style to another.  I've learned a ton from experience, educated myself with books and video courses and most recently completed a diploma program in professional photography.  Now is the time to put all that to work and pull what's in my head out to create images I can share with the world.

I struggled with what to create first.  I have too many thoughts of what I could compile and the amazing moods I could create.  I've played with different styles, from capturing events and sports to photographing landscapes and nature.  The more I played and practiced, the more I felt I needed more.  I needed the ability to control the light, set the mood and create the message.  I needed to work with people.  I needed to push the limits of creation.  I needed... a studio!

And so, the next dream (or chapter) of my life begins.  My wife, being the amazingly supportive person she always is, graciously gave up ever again being able to park a car in the garage and the journey begins...

I invite my friends and family to join me on this journey as I create what I have chosen to call "Studio Works by Russ Webb".  I'm not planning to shoot family portraits (although I won't turn them down), I only plan to do weddings to fund the more detailed project work and I really have no interest in capturing events or sports that no one truly appreciates.  I have a vision I want to create and I will share this with the world through my images.  My style will become my brand!

Check back often as I share the journey and growth of what I hope will be a great chapter to the rest of my life.