Pandemic Playtimes

Here it is November, closing in on December 2020. We’ve been “flying solo” since around March. No clients, no real work to speak of, but Sammie and I have been keeping our creativity alive with what we have called “pandemic playtimes”. Just some studio shoots of various things. It seems the mask themed shoot a few months back was a great hit.

You know, grab a few props and a mask and have at it. We brought out the smoke machine, some colored gels, and a simple gray background from our good friends at Kate Backdrop.

All of this being “trapped” inside adds so much stress to your life. We live in Florida, where we should be on the beach. I am not a subscriber to all of the hysteria, but we know the virus is very real. For Sammie, with her blood cancer, it could be instant death. And… since I tend to love her very much and want to make art with her for the next 50 years or so, I’d like to keep her healthy.

So, all of that being said… I hope you all find time to live, love, laugh and make art! Keep the spirits up. We will get through this!

Where can you learn lighting?

Every week I hear these questions on various groups and pages around the internet. There are so many resources out there now, and most are free. I normally tell people your personal style will define your lighting or your lighting will define your style.

First and foremost, I have gotten a LOT of information from Creative Live. It is a subscription service but worth the cost. You can literally learn anything from studio setup to fashion photography on there.

Then there is YouTube…. the ultimate free source. My favorites are Gavin Hoey, Chris Knight, and Joel Grimes just to name a few.

Home Studio Essential with Gavin Hoey:

Great material from Joel Grimes:

What lighting do I use?

I get this question twenty times a week. First off, let me say that if you are new to photography, think about what your end goals are first. Do you primarily shoot children’s photos on a set where you want everything lit at once by a giant light source? Are you shooting high end portraiture, or boudoir where management of light is critical? It’s all about your end goal.

Secondly, I am not a gear snob. I am not being endorsed by anyone. I like things about everything from ProFoto to Wescott, to Alien Bees. They all have their spot in a budget range. Don’t fall into the trap of having to have thelatest rage because some photographer says he can see 25 degrees of color temperature difference between strobes. It is all BS.

My lighting of choice right now is the Newer Vision5 and Vision4.

The Vision 5 is a battery powered strobe, with full remote capabilities that retails for about $370. I tested one for a month and then bought three more. They are built in China and re-branded by Neewer. To some, that is an issue, but to me, I could care less because they work flawlessly for the budget minded. They also utilize the Bowens mount which gives you an easily accessible, endless supply of modifiers. Another bonus is they are HSS capable!

I also use the Vision 4, which is the little brother of the 5. It is not HSS capable and is not remotely adjustable with the Vision5 remote. (I hear that there is a fix coming for this)

They are just over $200. I use them mainly for backdrop or hair lights. Again, batter powered and very portable so they really come in handy.

I started out my photography days with the likes of Speedotron. You can get a set of Brownline strobes on eBay for under $500. The same goes for a decent older Norman system. Neither are bad for a beginning studio photographer.

Then, we have the venerable Alien Bees. There isn’t a light out there that can beat these for bargain and versatility.

They can be found on eBay for under $200 up to $400 depending on the one you are getting. (be that the 400, 600, or 800) They are remote triggered, but do require a power source for each light so it does make portability a bit of a pain. If you are shooting in studio all the time, you will fall in love with these. They are not remotely adjustable, so you do have to go back and forth to each light, but in a high volume production studio where you never change lighting, these are the best you can ask for on a budget.

Last on my list is Godox. I won’t dig into them much here for one simple reason. They are the “rage of the day” because some guy on Youtube says they are. The prices come in above Neewer for a less functional unit, so I will leave that research up to you!

In love with Kate!

Our first Kate Backdrop

For the most of my photography career I have never liked shooting indoors, or with backdrops. That is until recently when I discovered Kate Backdrops. My reasons have been many, and the #1 reason was dealing with wrinkles and storage. Kate has solved that problem!
This particular backdrop is item ZJ-HJ17417-E-1. From the moment you open the package you notice the difference. The material is virtually wrinkle free. The printing is some of the best I have seen, and the texture that it renders when being photographed is like nothing I have seen.

Love the texture in this backdrop!

Stay tuned for upcoming shoots with more Kate backdrops as we’ve just ordered our second one.

Pandemic Change…

Just a bit about what you will and won’t find here. I am different, I am odd, some say eccentric. I don’t fall into a path, mold, or expectation. I definitely cut my own path, and never apologize for that.

I am inspired by the old fetish master like Irving Klaw, Robert Harrison, Eric Stanton, Leonard Burtman, John Willie, and Gene Bilbrew.

In modern day art, you will find Ken Marcus, Erik Kroll, and Roy Varga among my many influences. I am enthralled by the art that these people have created and by the stand that they have all taken against the “norm” of society. Proof that you can create art that is YOUR art, no matter how society tries to sway you.

Credit: Ken Marcus

I discovered my love for fantasy art in my teens, but as they say, life got in the way. I could barely afford batteries for the camera back then, much less the film to shoot everything that I wanted. In the late 90’s I was able to escape those bonds, marry my muse and chief inspiration officer, and start shooting what I really enjoyed.

So during the big pandemic lockdown of 2020, I’ve bought some new props, new camera gear, and have been doing many hours of late night research on the great photographers that paved the way for odd people like me. They had a vision and they brought that vision to film and digital media. Some were even jailed for it! (Gotta love the US in the roaring 20’s)

At any rate, I hope you enjoy watching and seeing what art we produce next!

How to prepare for a shoot!

  1. It’s all in the face… I don’t care if you’re flat as a wall or have curves for days if you’re good at making faces that’s all that matters…
  2. Props make a huge difference…in all pinup pics the main focus is the gal of course…but sooner or later you will run out of poses… that’s where props make a world of difference… plus they are fun and you can play make believe.
  3. Always have a backup plan I don’t care if it’s a backup outfit or a backup location you always have to be ready… ha-ha one time a gal showed up in what she was wearing and 1 other outfit that didn’t match… yeah those are the rough ones.
  4. When it comes to hair and makeup leave it to the professionals… I mean personally I don’t know jack about hair and makeup. I just tell my gal to make’m pretty… but in my experience if your gonna go all out and make the effort to take pinup pictures… go that ‘lil extra and be sure to get a hair and makeup person.
  5. Get an old Varga pinup book or an old Bettie page pinup book something with alot of pictures… And sit in front of a mirror and try to make the faces that the gals make…its all in the face….that’s what tells the story…and that’s what makes the difference between a good picture and a bad picture…some people cant make all the right faces…
  6. Make a cd with all your favorite songs and have the photographer play it while you pose… It will help you relax and make it more fun
  7. Ok this one sucks but it makes a world of difference on outside shoots…practice posing while looking towards the sun without squinting… I know its hard and you might see dots after… but it helps a lot without door shoots
  8. When posing try to move gracefully from one pose to the next this will give a better transition from each pose and help to make sure you don’t miss the subtle details of each pose…if you move to quick you’ll get blurry pics
  9. You would think this one was common sense…but if you know that you will be shooting that day try to be freshly shaved….you would be surprised how many spiky pits I have to air brush…
  10. This one is for the hair dyers…this rule applies to all gals with colored hair, but blonds are usually the ones that break this rule…. always try to have freshly dyed hair for a shoot… it’s a pain to Photoshop roots.
  11. Nude shoots…trust me hun we do not care what you look like naked… it’s funny when a gal wants to pose nude or semi nude and they are trying there best to make sure the photographer or the crew doesn’t see anything…trust me no one really cares we just want the shot…. it’s all about being professional and the time you waste being shy can be used to take a great pic…
  12. Always have double stick tape… it’s great for those shots where you want maximum cleavage but don’t want any nipple slips.
  13. Try to limit who you bring along to your shoot…most photographers don’t mind if you bring a friend as long as they don’t get in the way… it’s always good to bring a friend cause you never know the guy could be a psycho… personally I prefer gals bring a female friend. Cause it’s kinda awkward to have a gal half naked or dressed sexy and the boyfriend is there watching you…
  14. Try not to party too hard the night before a shoot… some girls forget this and show up hung over…..
  15. When modeling for the first time try to do some warm up shoots first… this will help relax you… as for me I usually have the gals save the sexiest outfit or their favorite outfit for last since usually by that point they are well relaxed.
  16. Always try to be on time or early for a shoot I know this just seems obvious but you would be surprised how often gals are late… especially in cases like mine where I like to shoot right at sun set… if your late 1hr… I can’t be faulted for the picture quality… when shooting at sun set you have maybe 2hrs of perfect light at best… so if your late your pictures will be effected.
  17. Try not to bring a camera along when you model… most photographers will allow a few souvenir pics… but you have to understand any pics taken at a shoot are property of the photographer unless given permission.
  18. Don’t ever get a big head… I hate when gals hit me up and feel that I should be honored to work with them… I treat every gal the same I don’t care who she is…
  19. Have fun with it… it’s funny cause it’s when a gal is most silly that we get the best pictures. It may feel lame to make those Betty Boop faces but sometimes they come out the best… the more animated you are the better.
  20. You have to adapt to what’s around you. A good model can make anything look good. I once had a gal complain that a car wasn’t curvy enough for her.
  21. When posing try to keep your tongue firmly pressed against the roof of your mouth… this will help make your face slimmer and cut down the double chin action.
  22. Every one gets nervous from time to time but try not to self medicate. It sucks when you’re shooting a gal and she’s super high or extremely drunk. I mean I understand you might want to take the edge off… But know your limits cause it’s not gonna look so hot when you turn out cockeyed in your pics
  23. If you are serious about being a pinup… but you love tattoos and feel you must get some ink done try to stay to 1 side of the body… that way you can shoot traditional pinup from one side and edgier stuff from the other… You want to stay multi dimensional.
  24. Amber Marie-“Point your toes. Nothing ruins the smooth, swan-like grace of a lady’s legs in nylons than a 90 degree ankle. The higher the heels, the closer to god!”
  25. Always… always have the matching set… You have no idea how many times a shoot has not gone the way it was supposed to cause the gal didn’t have the matching set of bra and panties…this is very important…
  26. Smile with your eyes… As the old saying goes “the eyes are the windows to your soul” and you must learn how to use your eyes to express the feeling or emotion you are trying to portray. Work on your expressions…remember its all in the eyes.
  27. Here is a good tip when posing for a pinup shoot face the camera but have your eyes face the light furthest to your right or left. This lights up the whites of your eyes and gives of an effect that you have sparkly eyes since its bouncing that light back at the camera.
  28. No clear heals. I can’t tell you how many gals have shown up with the striper shoes… I mean if your dancing on a pole they are perfect but unless you plan on doing a booty clap for some $1’s then I suggest you leave them at home…unless its a fetish shoot then its fine.
  29. Have a freaken clue… Ok so I always get gals who just show up the day of their shoot with whatever they tossed in a bag, and they say ” I am open to anything whatever you want” I am sure that they think this is a great thing for me a chance to have free range and all. But you see, its not. When I do a shoot I plan every thing from the outfit to the background down to any detail that may affect the image. So when a gal shows up with no plan /no ideas it really is more of a pain and they are most likely going to end up with just a plane paper backdrop. Which isn’t bad just not original or one of a kind.
  30. Ok this one is one of the things I hate most. Now let’s get it straight the one on the left is a corset. It shapes it flatters it has boning, it’s amazing. The one on the right is a big rip off that every one has in multiple colors and looks good on almost no one; it’s basically a glorified tube top. I personally hate them and refuse to shoot any one in them… So please invest in a real corset and lose the tube tops