Blogs of photographic adventures.....
EL PASO AND POINTS BEYOND
I had a FANTASTIC trip to El Paso April 17-24.
My plan was to book at least three shoots, specifically, one in downtown El Paso, one in downtown Las Cruces and one in White Sands National Monument.
What actually happened was four shoots in El Paso, one in White Sands and one in Sundland Park NM, and I couldn't be happier with the shots I got or the people I met.
As of Thursday of my Wed-Wed trip, I had no shoots lined up, despite having chatted with a few models before I left. Suddenly, I got a response from Victoria – a high school junior with some modeling gigs already under he belt – who wanted to shoot the next day. We went to the UTEP campus (where my brother the professor had given me a tour on Thursday) and started at the small garden walk around the *** building. Then we went to a few other pretty parts of campus and found some great budding flower trees. We decided to hike up past the Sun Bowl stadium (actually, we went through the stadium and almost got locked in) to the sculpture in the middle of the rotary. That thing was made to be photographed. Got some of my favorite shots up there.
Coolest rotary ever...
Liz Tina is an El Paso musician, and an absolute sweetheart. We met at the Coffee Box in El Paso on Easter morning. We shot there, in San Jacinto Park (where we played with a fountain) and around the Convention Center, where she played me some of her music while sitting next to some purple cacti. She wore some cat ears for a few shots by the murals and really impressed me with her colorful personality.
This adorable, AND she can sing...
Circled back to the Coffee Box immediately afterward and met with Ashanti – a soldier at Fort Bliss who is also an aspiring actress. Man, is this lady in shape! We mainly walked around El Paso street, where we found colorful shops, murals and flowers to interact with. Many people stopped to take in her natural beauty. In front of the History Museum was this fantastically-colored glass wall, which created some surreal-looking shots that are among my favorites.
The security guards in the museum also enjoyed this part of the shoot...
Right after Ashanti, I cruised up to White Sands to meet with Shannon, a model from Las Cruces who was spending the day at the park with her family (that's what people do there, probably because there is no beach for hundreds of miles). It was a little tricky to find her, but she was amazingly pleasant when I did. Deep into the park, we walked a short distance to some semi-secluded dunes. It's a hard place to describe, although it could also be described as “sand everywhere” and that would also sum it up. What was so strange about it was it was like being inside light and heat. The sun was beating down, but the sand was also reflecting upwards, so it was hot, dry and BRIGHT! I did the whole shoot with my sunglasses on, and couldn't really tell if the shots were coming out right while we were there. Shannon is super-professional and willing to try anything. She's also super sweet and knows. how. to. pose.
Now, that's a pose...
Monday, I met with Savauna, who is business-like, but also very cool, and unfortunately for every man on Earth except one, married. She agreed to do a swimsuit shoot and we decided on the Western Playland amusement park as a backdrop. We met in their deserted parking lot and started shooting against the fence with the carousel and roller coaster in the background. Well, of course some workers came out and yelled at us (I'm assuming they were gay, since they felt the need to get rid of a beautiful, curvy woman in a bikini). So, we went to a nearby bridge over the Rio Grande (which is barely a stream in this area), which actually overlooks the park (ha-ha, can't kick us out of a public sidewalk, jerks). Right nearby, we also utilized the bridge and a levee for some variety, but I mean, come one, the only thing in any of the pics anyone sees is Savauna.
If there was conclusive proof of extraterrestrials and Bigfoot in the background of this pic, no one would ever know.
If I were a little younger, I'd be in love with Kyrsten. She's a student who has done some modeling and aspires to do more. Talk about a BEAUTIFUL girl. I mean, just look at her. Her outfit perfectly matched our locations, starting with Tippi Teas (which has great tea, of course), and ended with the Sunset Market, a cool-looking old building in the historic section of El Paso. In between, she also agreed to get a shot I wanted to get since my brother picked me up at the airport. There's a grouping of very colorful buildings in Juarez, Mexico that I wanted to use in the background. The trick was, finding where to get the shot from. I found just two locations where I wouldn't be shooting through a fence, and the best one was in a construction zone. I drove by it several times in previous days, and Kyrsten was willing to take a short hike from a UTEP parking lot, up the pedestrian ramp, across a bridge and into the construction area. There were workers there, who we asked to let us shoot, and we got the shot! I couldn't have been happier with Kyrsten's natural expressions. Just gorgeous.
My first photo taken in two countries at the same time...
The area is absolutely beautiful, and I can't wait to return – hopefully in the fall, and hopefully I'll see all of my new friends again, and make more….
Weirs Beach Roller Girl - April 6, 2019
Sometimes I get asked things like “Why did you drive all the way to New Hampshire just to shoot with Brooke?” which of course I find to be a silly question, because it answered itself.
The types of photo shoots I do are the very things I like to do. They are my soul food, (as in my soul's food, not as in my jerk chicken and mac-and-cheese) and combine several things I love doing, namely: traveling, photography, connecting with friends, creating art, etc…
I can defend spending half a day, a whole day, or even an entire weekend on photo shoots, because, well, it's far more meaningful to me than, for example, making the same trip and spending it doing touristy things like shopping, paying money for amusement parks and things like that.
I went for the second time to Weirs Beach in New Hampshire to shoot with my incredibly photogenic and cute friend Brooke this past weekend. I had visions for a few shots, which I basically got, but we also ran into the fact that the arcade on the boardwalk had not yet opened for the season (so we shot in front of it anyway) and lucked into a colorfully-painted bus that was parked near our second location at the famous Weirs Beach sign. (Somewhere, there exists a photo of me near the sign, when I was about 11, but good luck finding it.)
You WISH it was her phone number...
Brooke is so fun to work with – another of my friends who takes direction, but also knows how to pose naturally. And, boy, did she nail the role. As usual, I left the wardrobe up to my model. I like to give a general idea, but allow them to choose the specifics. It's my philosophy that someone will be more natural and more themselves in clothes that they are more comfortable (stylistically) in.
If you haven't guessed, my Rollergirl series is inspired by the Dire Straits song “Skateaway.” Loosely, though. I wanted to get Brooke near some cars and traffic (per the song), which we did in downtown Laconia. Thankfully, there was very little traffic where we went (which happened to be right in front of a coffee shop in which she used to work, which has great cold brew). So, she was able to skate in the street while safely avoiding traffic.
We lucked out that we had some great light for everything we did, and it was cool, but not too cool. I even drove home with the top down, so it couldn't have been too cold.
Anyway, loving the results, and the pastel colors she wore worked well with the backgrounds, especially the bus...
Update: Since this shoot, I've booked three more roller girl shoots, including one this coming weekend.
THE VESSEL - March 31, 2019
I had first learned of the Vessel when I was coming home from another shoot last fall. I was traveling North on the Hudson Parkway, and saw the about-two-thirds-completed structure off to my right. Admittedly, my thought was something like “what the heck is that?” so I looked it up on the internet when I got home.
Intrigued, I booked tickets in January, and began searching for models to accompany me. I had asked three others before I was on a shoot with Lehla and we decided to do something different (she usually likes being photographed in nature).
We met in New Haven (she's from Rhode Island, I'm from northern CT) and we drove into Manhattan. Traffic wasn't that bad, but we did have to circle the Hudson Yards area four times to find parking. ***Side note: New York drivers are the absolute worst anywhere, but I'll save that for another blog
A short walk to the 'Yards, and the Vessel came into view. It's just a strange thing to look at. It seems small among the surrounding skyscrapers, but huge when you look at it on its own.
Lehla, a head-turner normally, but even moreso in the red, figure-hugging dress she changed into in the ladies' room in the mall next to the Vessel. We expected security to give us a hassle about doing a photo shoot, because the online FAQs seem to indicate that its frowned upon, but they were actually quite helpful and even gave us shot suggestions.
We also expected that climbing up the Vessel's 15 levels would be more difficult, but it wasn't too bad when including 2-3 brief stops along the way.
The views from the Vessel are not the same as those from an observation deck, such as the Empire State Building or Rockefeller Center. There is a nice view to the west of the Hudson and well, New Jersey. But, I bet it's very cool at sunset. The other three sides provide a variety of the newer and older (mostly newer) buildings in the area. I especially like the backdrop to the Southeast, which has nice mix of architecture. (text continues below)
I mean, where exactly is she going?
What's most amazing about the Vessel is that, to me anyway, it looks surreal-ly futuristic in every photo, as if it's part of a set from a futuristic movie, a la Star Trek. From certain angles, the staircases look like they are floating among the Manhattan buildings, as if approaching a celestial temple just out of view.
Naturally, Lehla and I attracted some attention. I got several thumbs-ups from male passers-by and a few people made “helpful” comments, such as “Ooh, a photo shoot,” or “Watch out for the wind.” Gee, thanks. One woman wanted me to take her photo as well, which I did.
The wind was a bit to deal with, and given a choice, I'd go when it was calm. But, the way it played with Lehla's wi-….um, I mean hair…did give us some shots we would not have gotten otherwise. I suppose it depends on how picky you are with your final product. It did also make it tricky to stand and line up shots. Being slightly afraid of heights, my wobbly-ness was not helped by the 20-30 mph gusts with just a skinny railing between myself and the pavement below.
The shots we go, I adore. It dawned on me a couple of days later that this shoot is going to be difficult to top. I am working on plans with the next model I hope to take there. I'm thinking maybe a blue dress next time, but we'll see.
Beam us back there, Scotty!