Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – as humans

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – the four brothers, as humans.

My idea and interpretation of what my favorite childhood characters might look like if it were shot with humans instead of mutant turtles.
A project that has been over a year in the making and still has a long way to go before I would consider it complete.

From left to right: Beau as Raphael, Chase as Donatello, Me/John as Leonardo, and Mike as Michelangelo

The idea stems from two things… First, was my desire and interest in doing a ninja-inspired shoot. I love movie imagery and movie posters, and one of my favorite movies for hard-light, rough imagery, is Ninja Assassin with the Korean pop star Rain. He reached an incredible level of fitness for the role and the movie images were hard and rough – to really accent his physique and darker theme.
The twist of doing turtles came from my friend Katie, who was always a huge supporter of my work and different shoots. She joked one night that I should “DO A NINJA TURTLE SHOOT!” since it was my favorite thing as child. My response was “How the hell am I going to do Ninja Turtles?”
It wasn’t until a couple days later that I figured out a way to mix the two.

I figured that if I could assemble four physically-fit, lean, willing models that all I needed to do was match the weapons to the colors of each brother and people would “get it”. The idea of using makeup/face-paint came from my good friend, Makeup Artist Elle Favorule who casually pointed out in conversation “you can just paint on eye-bands instead of trying to figure out a sash or something”. Boom. Done. MUCH easier.

I knew immediately that if I was going to do this then I would be Leonardo. He was my favorite character growing up… and let’s be real, it’s my project. Personally I’m in pretty good shape year round. For this project I doubled my workouts and the amount of food I was eating. Leo is the oldest of the four and the leader – so I knew I had to not only be at top physical condition, but also look like I should be leading. haha

For Raphael it was an easy choice as well. Beau is one of my best friends and in ridiculous shape. I texted him and told him the concept, and said something like “so… uh… stay in shape…” since I knew he was very likely already where he needed to be to shoot. Plus Beau photographs really well and is always down for whatever idea I come up with. Raph is the hothead of the four with an attitude problem and relies on his incredible strength – and I knew Beau could do attitude for me with this shoot.

Michelangelo was an easy choice as well. For the youngest of the four brothers I needed someone high energy and goofy…. well, that’s my good friend Crazy Mike Gaboff – a stuntman and video personality here in Los Angeles. I’d shot with Mike a couple times and knew his smaller, but super lean build would fit the character great. And I figured he would have a lot of fun with it.

Donatello was the most difficult to fill… I went through a couple models, honestly. Ultimately I decided that I wanted someone taller than I am (and I’m 6’2), someone that was lean and even possibly more bulked than me in the photo was the goal. Donny was the calculated, stoic brother and I had a hard time finding someone that I was happy with the final look. Chase is a model I worked with a while back and for some reason, never considered asking. He randomly contacted me, and after pitching the idea, he was down to shoot and help me round out the group. And at 6’4″ and leaned-out he fit the look I wanted.

So what’s next? Click the break for several photos from behind the scenes at the shoots and hear about the next phase of this project.

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The Burney-Parsons Military Wedding in Palos Verdes

Kristen and Dustin were married just over a week ago at the Wayfarer’s Chapel in Palos Verdes in a beautiful evening ceremony in a gorgeous glass building. I had never been to the chapel they selected for their wedding, but was looking forward to seeing the venue after they told me the name and sent a link with photos of the grounds.
The Wayfarer’s Chapel is a small building made mostly of glass which made for great light during the evening ceremony they had planned.

I have known the Parsons family for several years, so being thrown into a busy wedding weekend with them wasn’t much trouble at all. Both sides of the family were pretty busy running around taking care of last minute preparations and getting things set up. Kristen’s brothers are all military men who flew in from around the US for the ceremony. Dustin and his twin brother Dillon are military as well and have recently returned from their tours. The cool thing about all of this is that everyone was going to be in their dress uniforms for the ceremony!

The evening of the rehearsal was short and sweet with most all of my questions being answered with “No. You can’t do that.” Basically I was banished the back of the chapel with further restrictions on when I could shoot (no flash, etc). This is always incredibly frustrating as a photographer since it basically makes the wedding a one-lens affair. I had to use my telephoto pretty much the entire time since I was 30-40 feet away from the front.

The wedding day started later than normal since the Parsons planned a night ceremony at 8pm. So the bridal parties prep was started right after lunch. Sister-in-law Lauren was doing hair and makeup for Kristen and several of the family members and bridal party.
Once everyone was ready we took a few moments before loading up into the limo to do a very quick first-look. Since everyone was going to be in the same car on the way to the chapel Dustin and Kristen agreed it would be nice to have images of the first time seeing each other.

After arriving at the chapel we took some time during sunset to get some of the different group shots out of the way. There wasn’t a clear answer on exactly how long we would have after the ceremony for photos, so we wanted to try and get as many done outside as possible in case we couldn’t do them inside afterward.

The ceremony was beautiful, but the lighting was pretty difficult. When a venue tells you “You can’t use flash, but don’t worry you’ll have plenty of light coming in.” they obviously mean day time weddings… and have forgotten that you’ll be shooting an evening ceremony. Thank god for today’s sensors and RAW image processing to get enough detail in low light shots. Keep in mind everything had to be shot with a telephoto in addition to no flash AND little sunlight. hahaha!
They still came out great though… scroll down and you’ll see. Promise.

The reception was a blast, but very short since everything was later in the evening due to the ceremony time. Click past the break for over a 100 images from my weekend with the Burney and Parsons families.


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