Mike Bell, a portrait session.

Mike Bell, a sound engineer from the Bay Area, has been rockin’ dreadlocks for nearly 10 years.
So when it comes to creating a really unique and equally awesome portrait, he fits the bill perfectly.

I’ve actually known Mike for a long time – and we’ve talked about shooting something in the past. I’m glad I waited until now to actually shoot since I’m much more skilled at this point than years ago when I first talked to him about it.

I wanted to create a gritty, darker, almost rough appearance in the shots. Something that would emphasize both his dreads and beard. And judging by the comments that people have already began making on my facebook albums, it looks like we accomplished just that.

This was the original concept. Clean. Simple.

Next we tried this shot. It was something Mike had seen in the past and wanted to try. Came out pretty cool actually.

I really like this side profile shot with his hair up. I felt like the treatment and border gave it a lot of added character, too.

The last thing we tried was a shot with a hooded sweater. This was TJ Lauters’ idea. He was on the set doing some behind the scenes photos and taking some video.
Here’s one of the behind the scenes images that TJ snapped while filming.

This was how I created the image up top…

TJ is currently working on a short video clip of the shoot. I’ll either be posting that here, or to my Facebook page (or both) as soon as it’s done.

Come back soon! I’m discussing three different shoots with three different models right now for this week.

Hollywood with Melissa Meza

Last Friday I spent the afternoon in Hollywood shooting with Melissa Meza. Melissa is someone who heard about me through a friend, liked my work, and drove down to LA to shoot. Extremely flattering when clients enjoy my work so much that they travel (or have me travel to them) any distance that’s more than an hour drive.

Melissa is a dancer and needed some new headshots. We spent the first half the of the time shooting those – which ended up in a lot of laughter and story telling. See, Melissa is just one of those girls that smiles ALL the time. Definitely not a bad a thing, but trying to take a serious looking headshot just really doesn’t work because of that.

But we still managed to get some really nice, casual, images.

And Melissa has gorgeous hair – which you really can’t go wrong with when shooting.

Afterward we took some images that were a bit more styled and fun. She wanted to get some street-feel dancer-esc photos. Unfortunately we were only able to use one of the outfits that she brought. Bummer : ( I know

The photos still turned out great. Melissa wanted a darker higher-contrast feel to them. So we played to that and finished off the shoot before she had to get to her dance course in West Hollywood.
We had a fun time though. Hope you guys dig the photos.

Next up will be some more portraits – or possibly sports.
So I’ll see you guys back here soon.

A little sportbike rig shooting with friends.

We’ve been having some great weather here in Southern California recently. So about a week ago I went out with some friends to do a little rig shooting on sport bikes.

We ended up having a really chill afternoon out riding. Tons of great clouds left over from the recent weather patterns that have been blowing through the area, and a warm sunny afternoon without much heat at all.
Since I had rented a fisheye lens for BMX photos the two days before this shoot, I wanted to make sure to get as much use out of the lens as I could. So I hit up my buddies here to see if they wanted to try various shots.

We started with a few passes up and down the highway for some motion images of riding. I shoot and ride one-handed for those types of shots, and found that it was much harder to use a fisheye this way than my 16-35 f/2.8 that I normally would use.
For the rest of images I used my rig arm and remotes to create those photos.

I’ll just go right into sharing those now.

First up was Al.
All of us ride recreationally, so none of have full riding suits like Adam who I did my last rig shoot with. The images came out great though and I’ve been experimenting with various types of editing for different looks.

This was a quick shot as Al left to do a second pass. That’s me in the background taking a shot with the remote that’s in my hand – Frank and Nolan are sitting on the curb.

This was the shot we ended up liking the most. Al leaned just enough to look toward the camera as he passed.

Next up was Nolan and his girlfriend Serena. The sunset added a lot of great color his gunmetal grey CBR600RR.

I was worried the rig arm would be too short for these images, but it ended up working pretty nicely. At least for a crazy skewed-angle type shot. Haha!

Last up was Frank and his white 600RR.

We also tried this shot of both Al (left) and Frank (right) riding together since they both have white bikes.

The final shot of the night was one of Al. This is actually shot by me while riding alongside him on a Yamaha R1.
I have the camera rig mounted low on the swingarm and am firing remotely while riding. (the remote is taped to the gas tank)
Definitely one of my favorite shots from the afternoon.

Here is how I created that image. I’m on right, Al is on the left.
Thank you to Frank for the photo!

Here’s a short video compilation from clips that Frank shot that afternoon! Mostly just him goofing around and cracking jokes. But you get to see a little bit of how this shoot was done.
I’m going to pick up a Flip camera or something soon so I can start creating more behind the scenes videos for you guys.

And here are a few more images from earlier that afternoon that I took.

I think it’s funny that every time we go riding Serena only happened to bring heels that day. But, we don’t do anything too crazy or fast..

All of us before heading out to do rig shooting. Frank is there, just behind me… whoops!

This was shot by Serena. So now I have a photo of me riding too! Woo hoo!

Hopefull you guys all enjoyed the images. Sorry for the delay. This past Friday I went down on the bike in a turn. It was low speed, but I hit some dirt/gravel as I was turning from one street to another. I hit my helmet in two places on opposite sides as I rolled. Always wear protective gear people. You never know what could happen. I’m fine, just a little sore. Bike is good, just some scrapes and cosmetic damage.

Check back soon for more upcoming shoots!

BMX, with Sean Logan

I wanted to share more images of BMXer Sean Logan with you guys as promised.
As I talked about in my last blog update, I spent part of last weekend at the jumps with Sean Logan and Eric Hough. It was great to have a couple hours to just work on getting some great images that not only looked good, but were also accurate trick shots timed correctly on both Sean and my part as the photographer.

Unfortunately I don’t know the names of the tricks that Sean throws, there are a lot of names to remember and between all the shooting we did I simply lost track.

This was earlier in the afternoon. On bright, hotter days these jumps have much more of a harsh yellowed desert look. But we had some great clouds to work with this past weekend.

The only bad thing about these jumps is that they’re surrounded by power lines – which I try and remove from some shots.

This is shot from the handlebars with a fisheye lens. I’m thinking a mounted shot in a jump like this could potentially be pretty awesome. But Sean said he tried it and it didn’t work well. Bummer.

Toward the end of the day we moved locations slightly to take advantage of this tree at sunset.
All the shots we did here came out great.

This was one I shared in my last post, but I’m sharing again..

Coming up will hopefully be more images of BMXer’s Eric Hough and Cody McKenna. I’m just waiting on them to sort through the images I took so they can tell me which are the best shots (in the BMX world) – because they look for things in their technique that I don’t notice.

So check back soon!
I’ll also have photos and video from my motorcycle shoot to share with everyone.

Startin’ off 2011 with Sean Logan and Eric Hough

First post of the new year! And I’m startin it off with some BMX!

This past weekend I met up with two BMX stunt rider friends, Sean Logan and Eric Hough. Despite everyones crazy schedules, I occasionally have the chance to meet up with them while they’re in town and practicing.
It had been a fairly slow week for me (mostly email and client follow-up after the holidays), so I hit up Sean to see when they were practicing next. Well Friday afternoon Sean called and said he was on his way to the jumps in Burbank – so I grabbed my gear and headed out.

Most of the afternoon shots typically are some variation of this… bright, sunny, hot out. Even though it was in the 60’s I was still out in a tank top because you get hot sitting around all the dirt in the direct sun. Above is Sean throwing some tricks for the camera while Eric films.

As the sun got lower in the sky I was able to get a bit more creative with the shots and color. While Sean is pretty happy with any image that is timed well, he’s always down for photography that looks great too… which you’ll see at the end of this post.

Eric, doing a Superman over jump three. And honestly, he’s fitting that description perfectly, haha! Leave to the BMX guys to make you feel out of shape, right? You guys want a good workout? Go ride a few hours a day… and that’s it. No need for pushups or anything else, haha!

Right at sundown Sean and I set up at a new location to try and take advantage of this wild looking tree and clouds and color we had. I have a few more images here of various tricks he threw until we got each one timed right.

Overall the day was hugely successful, got a number of great shots that I’m still sorting and going through. And let’s face it, when most people have to dread their Friday as something that they just want to end so they can start the weekend, I get the chance to chill with some friends and create some really awesome looking photos. What a life, huh?

Saturday and Sunday were both busy with shooting for me too. Here’s a little preview of those days and the next blog update to come this week….

Saturday I was out at the jumps again, this time with Cody McKenna. I’ll be sharing more of his crazy jumping ability with you guys. And no, that’s not a unicycle… it’s just the angle.

And Sunday I spent the afternoon doing rig-mounted remote shots with sport bikes. I had a great time with everyone for these too. Created some really awesome images.

Also, if you guys follow my Facebook fan page HERE then you can keep up to date with my work a bit easier – I post a lot more images there in the galleries, too!

Turn it up to Eleven! Goodbye 2010!

Where can you go from there? Eleven. Exactly!

With the new year kicking off I find myself in shock as I sit here and reflect on the last 12 months.
We all sit back at some point and wonder “where did the year go?”, but it took my friend Al to point out to me “John, you were never here.”

How very true.

My annual open-letter post is really the only time of the year that I share with everyone a little bit insight or details on my life. Ten months ago, in February, I lost a dear friend of mine. Juanita Lopez lost her battle with cancer at 26 years old. It was one of those moments for all of us that just left everyone in total shock. But what I’ve pointed out to many people since then, is that the moment Juanita found out her time was limited, she chose to live. She spent every moment she could enjoying all that life had to offer – from spending time with family, going out with friends, to marrying her best friend Robert.
If we all were to take any page from Juanita’s book, it should be that one. Realizing what’s truly important.

This is something I share because it had a profound impact on my year. From when January started, to that moment a month later, I had already traveled to Michigan and the Bay Area. I had the wonderful opportunity to shoot the Gerhardt wedding and spend time once again with the DeLand family (who I shot for last year, too).  I shot the Machallister wedding in San Jose, traveled to San Francisco with my car crew for a show that we took third overall in. And even had a few friends travel to Socal to visit me, too.

We all get so caught up in our lives and busy schedules that we put things off, or tell ourselves that “we’ll do it next time” and “next time” never comes.

I took a chance earlier this year by passing up a wonderful opportunity with a great company because I needed to take the risk of doing things on my own. To push myself and further new goals with my craft. This year I became primarily a wedding photographer. It was a wonderful chance to truly connect with my clients and those around me.

And without even realizing it, until I looked back and had try and pinpoint what defined my year, I had made sure to find and make every opportunity to visit or reconnect with old friends.
Sure, I didn’t get a chance to see absolutely everyone. But I sure managed to see a ton of people.

When I traveled to Michigan, how hard is it to wake up an hour earlier and have coffee with my old professor? When I flew to Vancouver, WA, what’s so difficult about extending the trip a few more days to see some old friends who were past clients? A three hour layover in Texas meant dinner with a friend in Dallas on my way home to California, from New York. On another trip to Michigan I wrapped a trip to Chicago around that weekend wedding to see an old friend there. And when I was booked to shoot a wedding in Florida, I made a short east-coast tour of it and visited friends in Baltimore and Boston – additional ticket cost was $150 more.. that’s it.

My point is that people don’t realize how easy it is to make time. I think that many people don’t try hard enough, or maybe they’re scared.

I could sit here and continue to write to everyone about what I accomplished in 2010. Believe me, they’re things I’m very proud of. My work was featured on CNN.com and AOL.com for Eryn Holl’s wedding. The K&N Filters calendar that I photographed was published for 2011 and is currently available to those interested. I flew all over the country to capture people’s wedding days because they wanted my work for their imagery and not someone local. Again, I have a lot of great things I can say about 2010.

But what was most important to me… was how many chances I got to spend with my friends and my family. From shooting my little sister’s engagement photos and months later being part of her wedding. To seeing all my old lifeguard and Disney friends in Florida that I worked with many years ago. We had a Nickelodeon and Paramount reunion dinner during one of my Bay Area trips. I spent more time visiting my family in San Diego. I extended every out of state trip I had to see local friends. I spent more time on the weekends out driving, riding, or going to the beach with my buddies here in Socal.

So I’ll end with saying Thank You to the person to had the biggest impact on my life this year…

Juanita. The stories I heard from you and Robert during all of 2009 inspired me to live a fuller 2010.

The wealth of our lives is not in how much we make, but the relationships we have with the people around us.

Here is to an amazing 2011.