Tag Archives: model

2012 Strobist Modeling Workshop

In case you haven’t picked up on this yet, I like to talk and I like to share. All too often, my friends and family have to poke me in the side to get me to shut up. This “word vomit” stems from a drive I have to pass along my knowledge, the small amount I do have, and to share my experiences with others. Ultimately, it is this passion for the things that I love to do, whether it be photography, web development, music, or home improvement, that led me to teaching.

I remember the first time I knew I wanted to teach; it might be a little cliché, but for me, it was the final scene in Mr. Holland’s Opus. My mother had taken me to see it because of our mutual love of music and Richard Dreyfus and we both fell in love. If I ever need a good cry, this is still one of the movies in my “tear jerker” collection that does it every time. I love the idea that one person can impact so many in the world without fame or celebrity outside of a small group of individuals; that is truly powerful and inspiring to me.

As for photography, those who know me know that I push myself to learn, explore, and reach for every scrap of knowledge and experience I can to build that expertise in my craft and to provide adaptation to my creative vision as I move forward in life. While I will always hesitate to say that I’m good at this thing I do (it’s not my place and there are definitely better photographers than I out there), I think I have grown over the past few years. Okay, Mike, what’s the point of all this rambling? Here it is… these things have pushed me toward diving into doing a few workshops and education sessions when I can.

This year, I wanted to take the Peoria Strobist group, of which I am an administrator, and push it to another level of experience. My friend and fellow admin, Lily, and I came up with a schedule for meetups and, for the first time, two workshops. We wanted these to have small registration fees and would be designed to purposely bring in professional models in the hopes that everyone would learn and be educated from the experience.

So that’s what we did! Back in May, I organized and held the first Peoria Strobist Modeling Workshop and it was a total success! We had about 10 to 12 photographers attend and three professional models who were set up into different “stations” that we rotated every 45 minutes to an hour. I was even able to get Rachel, one of my lovely MUA/stylists, to come do hair and makeup. Everyone had a total blast and learned a lot. The portfolio building alone for both the models and the shooters was worth it.

I have a few other ideas for workshops for this year so stay tuned to the website for those. I also hope to hold another modeling workshop again sometime in the near future. In the meantime, enjoy the following images and the “Behind the Scenes” gallery above!

Final Modeling Workshop Images

Want to take a closer look at any of the images on my website? Simply click on the image to enlarge!

As the host of the modeling workshop, I didn’t have a whole load of time to work with the models myself. However, I was able to step in near the end of some of the shoots to snap a few images. With Amanda, our fitness model, I wanted something a little different from everyone else so I had her sit down on a wood palette. I put my trusty SB600 with a Lumiquest Softbox III (my preferred soft light modifier) on a stand off camera right, dialed in my ambient pretty dark and my flash up to 1/8th power, and captured the two shots above.

In case you’re wondering, Amanda wasn’t sweating; I had the forethought to bring a little spray bottle with me and created a little more of a “fitness” look with a little spritz of water! That’s a fitness photography tip if I ever heard one!

To go along with the fitness theme, I asked Amanda to bring along a couple of dumbbells. I used the same setup as above minus the softbox and turned my camera back wide to capture more of the environment. I worked with Amanda to get the right look on her face: determination, struggle, and a little teeth-gritting.

I knew that Amanda had recently been hitting the gym and focusing on her abs (can you believe she has a 6-month-old at home?) so I wanted to feature those during the modeling workshop.

I went back to my glamour roots and had Amanda sport her stylish sunglasses and black jacket, slightly opened to show her torso. Again, I threw the SB600 with the Lumiquest SB III up on the stand off camera left and had her look right into the light. To finish it off, I asked her for the standard “I’m a female badass” pose… hands on the hips!

The last images of the modeling workshop were taken as everyone was packing up. I asked Nick, our grungy outlaw/lumberjack, to run across the parking lot to a pile of concrete for a few last-minute snaps with his sledgehammer.

Once again, I threw the SB600 up on a stand with the softbox, dialed in my ambient exposure (I wanted moody lighting so I went pretty dark on the environment), and pumped the power on the strobe up to 1/4th. With Nick standing up there on the pile, and me being only 5’3″, I had to push the stand up to the very top of its reach, but we got the shots.

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!


The Other Side of the Lens (My Modeling Experience)

Doctor for a Day

Doctor for a Day

I have a local photographer friend who has been shooting a lot of stock library images as of late. The company that he is “working” for sends him these sheets of random images based around a theme like “Eating Pizza” or “Watching Television” including a list of associated images they want produced with descriptions like “small family of four (4), wearing football jerseys of their favorite teams, watching Sunday football.”

With such a wide range of photos to shoot on a variety of themes on a regular basis, my friend reaches out to his social networks to ask for locations, props, and especially, models. I am always curious what he is up to when I see Facebook posts in my News Feed that say something like “In need of a 50’s diner and a small 8-year-old child” or “Anyone have a dog that can jump through a flaming hoop?”

I’m joking, of course… kind of… but he does ask for some random items at times. Last week, however, he was looking for a model to play doctor for a few images and I volunteered. I find that, as a photographer, it is very beneficial to have experience on both sides of the lens. How am I, as a portrait photographer, supposed to help a model or client pose properly or overcome nervousness in front of the camera if I am unable to put myself in their shoes?

So, I spend as much time as I can spare in front of the camera, helping out fellow photographers and gaining some real experience in modeling myself. A special thanks goes out to my friend and fellow photographer, Travis Baillie, for passing me one of the “rough cut” images to show all of you. Please be nice to Travis and not steal his image off my site; it is copyrighted and he’s got one heck of a temper… really…

What do you think? Am I ready for People’s Sexiest Man of the Year?

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