Tag Archives: crunk girls

Tuesday Viewsday: Modeling in the Warehouse District

For some reason, I just can’t seem to get motivated these days. Do you ever have that? It’s like writer’s block, but with everything you do. I don’t want to clean the house, I don’t want to write blog posts, I don’t want to edit photos or build websites… I just don’t want to do anything. It’s times like these when I just have to force the motivation. Once you get the ball rolling, then it’s hard to stop until the end. I also find it helps to give myself a reward when I do something productive like ice cream or a nap.

This past weekend, I forced the motivation to finish up the hardwood floors and windows in my living room. I’m only a few coats of paint away from being done and finally moving furniture in. The fiancé is beside herself (I surprised her for Valentine’s Day) and is already planning the final layout of the room. I’m just happy to start using my hands for pushing a shutter button and running a Wacom tablet than scraping old varnish and sanding away old paint.

Quick Sidenote: Whitney Houston
While most of us can remember where we were when 9/11 happened or Kennedy was shot, Saturday, February 11, 2012 probably will be just another date that is mentioned in passing. It’s unfortunate that so many great hearts, minds, and voices, like Whitney Houston’s, go so gently into Thomas’s dark night and so early in life.

I am not sure what caused her death and I’m not sure I care to know, but one thing remains true, no matter what: she was a powerful force in music and she was taken too early in life. I hope that she finds peace wherever she ends up; I figure Heaven’s choir just added a new soprano to their ranks. I know there is, and will be, enough said about her over the next few days, but as a musician, I have to say that while the date of her death may be just another day, her voice and her collection of songs will last well beyond my lifetime and many more to come.


Amanda modeling a new T-shirt


If you told me in high school that one day my best friend will one of the best DJ’s in the United States, I would have said you were crazy. Zoom forward and here I am: the official photographer for one of the most popular DJ websites around, White Folks Get Crunk.

This little music blog, started by my college roommate, DJ Real Juicy, in our small house on Bradley Avenue, has blown up in the DJ world over the past few years as has Juice’s career.

His résumé includes playing sets with Mighty Mi, opening for Steve Aoki and Flo Ride, and playing gigs all over including Cleveland, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Las Vegas, and even Finland!

As friends, Juice and I support each other in both of our crafts, music and photography, so I love trying out new techniques when working on WFGC projects. One of the main areas of the WFGC website is the online merchandise store, but I felt that the images of the shirts hanging on hangers or laying on a floor weren’t really compelling and wouldn’t draw the user in.

I’ve only had a little commercial photography experience, but I wanted to try my hand at shooting some more “action” shots of girls modeling the merchandise. In the midst of developing the Crunk Girl of the Month feature on the website (that story is for another time), I was also able to shoot some great images for Juice’s online web store.

I shot this image of one of my favorite models, Amanda, who has been modeling for less than a year, as the first Crunk Girl and we featured her in the brand new Thunderstruck T-shirt that Juice was promoting. I own one of these bad boys myself; I love this shirt because, unlike most of the WFGC merchandise, the design is very “rock n’ roll” and not as “DJ/club.”

With the T-shirt design as my guide, I decided to go with a location that was a little more urban so we headed into the Warehouse District in Peoria and found a little alley off the beaten path. The golden hour was upon us and I had Amanda try a number of poses, but this one quickly became my favorite.

The bokeh on this image is really nice; the focus is still on Amanda, but we have some industrial, rusted elements in the background, which adds a nice touch to the overall feeling. The colors in the background are also contrasting compared to the black of the shirt and they tie in well with Amanda’s blue jeans as well. I also love the way she is posing – nothing says “badass/sexy” like hands on the hips, weight on the back foot, hips shifted, and looking out like she doesn’t care about anything or anyone. Now that’s some great modeling!

For the photographers out there, here’s a quick posing tip: placing weight on the back leg/foot will make models slimmer in frame.

So what do you think? Got a comment or critique? I’d love to hear what you have to say!


Touching Beautiful Women… Retouching, That Is

Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques Using Photoshop by Scott Kelby | Book Cover As a portrait photographer, I spend a lot of time shooting with models of all shapes and sizes. I also invest a lot of time into not only making great images of these men and women, but retouching those images so my subjects (clients included) look their very best.

Just to stay up to date on new techniques and methods of retouching, I spend a lot of time following different photography blogs, as you can see from my blogroll on the right, and reading a lot of actual books… you know… those things you can buy at Barnes & Noble.

One of my favorite authors is Mr. Photoshop himself, Scott Kelby. When I started diving into photography, he made my list of the top 3 photographers I wanted to meet (Annie Liebovitz and Joe McNally were the others), and, last year, I actually got to attend one of his seminars where the master was teaching himself and we got to meet, chat, and even talk guitars!

Well, I recently picked up his latest retouching book, “Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques Using Photoshop,” and once again, I was blown away. Every time I read or watch Kelby retouch, I completely redesign my workflow.

Since I’ve read that book and changed my retouching workflow over the past few months with other techniques, I thought I would share my first Kelby-fied retouch with all of you, plus a small breakdown of what I did to the image.

The Analysis

Kara (6/30/11) - Original

Kara (6/30/11) – Original

One of the first things that I do when I start a retouch is to take a minute or two to really look at the image, both zoomed out and close up. I mentally “outline” what I feel needs adjusted, whether it is removing blemishes, whitening teeth, removing strands of hair, boosting colors, or anything else. After looking at the Before image here, this is what I felt needed fixin’.

  1. The refrigerator in the background was distracting.
  2. There are spaces/gaps in her bangs.
  3. Eyes could be tweaked and there were very small lines under them to remove
  4. Whiten teeth, make mouth larger, darken her lips
  5. Colors on the shirt and her underwear could “pop” more
  6. Hair looks a little bland… maybe boost color and contrast
  7. Weird shadow “pocket” on her left armpit
  8. Veins on her right arm need removed
  9. Remove engagement ring
  10. Some funky lines on the skin of her legs

Now, let me just say this. Kara is a beautiful girl and a wonderful model. There is honestly very little to retouch on her, but no matter what the model may look like, a little bit of retouching can go a long way toward making a better image. You never know… even the Mona Lisa could have had a massive pimple, but Leonardo left it out!

The Retouch

Kara (6/30/11) - Retouched

Kara (6/30/11) – Retouched

Well, this list may not seem like much, but it took me about 15 to 20 minutes total to get through this one image. What did I do to address these problems? I’ll tell ya!

  1. Background – Using the Burn tool set to “Shadows,” I just “burnt” out the distracting elements in the background.
  2. Bangs – Used a technique I learned in Kelby’s book mentioned above. Made a selection of “good” hair, feathered the selection, then threw it on its own layer and adjusted shape, rotation, etc.
  3. Eyes – Healing Brush and Clone Stamp set to 40% Lighten to remove the dark circles. Merged Layer set to Screen to brighten the eyes and the catchlights.
  4. Teeth/Mouth/Lips – Hue/Saturation layer to whiten the teeth and a Curves Layer set to Medium Contrast at 50% opacity to darken the lips a bit. To make the mouth larger, I used Kelby’s technique of putting a Lasso around the whole area, applying a Feather to the selection, then using the Free Transform to increase the size by 10%.
  5. Clothes Colors – Merged Layer set to Multiply and masked over just the tank top and the underwear. Then I brought the opacity down to where it was bright, but didn’t look unrealistic.
  6. Hair – Curves Layer set to Medium Contrast and masked over the hair plus a Hue/Saturation layer to boost the color slightly.
  7. Armpit – Patch tool
  8. Veins on Arm – Patch tool with a little Healing Brush for backup
  9. Engagement Ring – Lasso around the ring to “lock down” my selection, then used the Clone Stamp tool
  10. Leg Lines – Patch tool and Healing Brush
  11. Miscellaneous – I applied some general skin smoothing and, of course, some of my personal “trade secrets” to the overall look of the image

As you can see, a good understanding of how layers and layer masks work as well as knowing when to use the Patch, Clone Stamp, and Healing Brush tools can really go a long way in any retouch.

Stay tuned for more retouches in the future!

P.S. Feel free to comment and critique the image, but please be kind to the model.

P.P.S. A special thanks to the awesome to Mr. Photoshop, Scott Kelby, for not only allowing me to “borrow” the image of his book above, but also tweeting his response back to me directly! You gotta love social media.

Crunk Girl of the Month

Crunk Girl of the Month, Lindsey

Crunk Girl of the Month – 
Lindsey (March 2011)

One of my many resolutions for my photography this year included pursuing more project-based shooting. I’ve got a whole list of different concepts and ideas that I’m in the process of getting models and locations put together to shoot for, but in the meantime, I’m starting to revisit a project idea I had a few years ago.

My good buddy, DJ Real Juicy, of White Folks Get Crunk, has been having a wonderful run of gigs and publicity over the past couple of years. All the while, I’ve been right there beside him snapping shots for my friend. Not only is it a great way to spend my time practicing some night life shooting, but I usually can pass my card on to a couple of potential models and even clients that might be out at the club.

In light of all of this good success, I am finally taking another stab at a segment for his website called the Crunk Girl of the Month. Based upon the format that College Humor uses for their Cute College Girl of the Day segment, I will be choosing a model for each month of the year and doing a glamour shoot with them featuring some of the merchandise that WFGC has to offer. The photos will then be posted on the WFGC site monthly alongside a set of random, sometimes funny, questions that each girl will answer.

At the end of the year, I’m hoping I can develop some sort of Crunk Girl calendar, much like the Hooters calendar, to generate some money and publicity for my friend and my business as well. We have already shot Miss February and I’m working on the next few months of girls. I have the list set up through June so if anyone is interested in being a Crunk Girl, please feel free to let me know!