So it was a phone call somewhat out of the blue. A good friend of mine, and fellow photographer, down in LA reached out to me on a Wednesday to see if I would be around that weekend. I was momentarily caught off guard because he knows I no longer live in Southern California. But it turned out he was asking if I would be in the San Francisco Bay Area and available that weekend.
He said he might have a lead for me on a project he knew I would dig.
And after a few various emails that afternoon, and confirmation the following day, I was booked to shoot Sammy Hagar for AXS TV and Mercury Insurance!
Growing up I had listened to Van Halen, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and all those classic rock groups with my dad. So I knew of Sammy and his music.
Two weeks ago I was in Atlanta at Formula Drift Round 2. This time I was out shooting for Falken Tire. But between my shooting out on the field I was able to find a bit of time to meet up with four additional drivers to photograph and add to my driver’s portrait series that I started at Long Beach in March.
I had already been in touch with Dai Yoshihara a bit about shooting with him this round. And I knew that Justin Pawlak and Darren McNamara wouldn’t be too terribly difficult to meet up with since I was shooting for Falken Tire. Meeting up with Pat Mordaunt was unexpected, but great since I was hoping to try and get at least one additional driver beyond the Falken Team.
Funny story about Pat and when I first met him at Long Beach this season. I was introduced to him through my friend, and fellow photographer, Narisa Masermsim. Pat was just driving around chatting with people during the morning of Long Beach practice. After a few minutes of typical chit-chat (ie: who are you shooting for, etc) I asked Pat which team he was with. “I’m with APEXi” he said, pointing to the trailer off to the side of us. “Oh, cool, what do you do for them?” “I’m the driver.” Ha! In my defense I’m not familiar with Drift beyond the Falken Team. And typically I handle American Le Mans for Falken and I haven’t photographed Drift much since my days working for K&N Filters and AEM Intakes. Pat just laughed it off. Honestly I forget the the Drift drivers are all very socialable and it’s not uncommon for them to be out chatting with people, versus Le Mans where most drivers stay in their paddocks and rigs.
Anyway, click past the break for the various portraits that I shot of everyone in Atlanta. A couple varations of course, a tight crop alongside a wider one.
Hopefully I can continue this series in Seattle – which at the moment is the last of the Drift races that I’m booked for.
Also, you can check my portfolio here online for a gallery of larger images: Driver Portraits
When I’m asked what I like shooting most of all my answer would be portraits. Which is saying a lot because I have the opportunity to shoot a LOT of different things from models to racing to weddings.
And while all those other things are a lot of fun, coming back around to portraits is where I always end up. It’s wonderfully simple an they’re WAY more interesting than a racecar on a track I feel like.
The Formula Drift season just kicked off for 2013 – and I’m sure many of you likely saw my blog post earlier this week about it. And during Round 1: Long Beach, I was on assignment from K&N Filters and AEM Intakes. One of the things I was required to shoot was headshots of various drivers that they sponsor. I immediately thought “Awesome! Now I HAVE to get photos with three of the busiest drivers at the track: Vaughn Gittin Jr., Ryan Tuerck, and Chris Forberg.
Now I’m not saying these guys won’t give you the time of day – that couldn’t be further from the truth. However as a photographer for one of their sponsors it’s much easier to get a few minutes of their time set aside specifically for you to photograph them.
Each of my portraits of these drivers only took me about 5 minutes to create. So long as I have nearly all my camera settings dialed than it’s just a matter of lighting being balanced, a few test shots, and a couple “real ones” where my subject can smile or do whatever they like…. then I’m done. Out of their hair AND I have both headshots for my clients along with an image and I can edit into the portraits you see above.
I also met and photographed Bil “The Bearded Man of Drift” Baldwin, who’s become a bit of a legend in the Drift world. I actually had heard of him through a friend of mine that knows of Bil from the “Beard Life” community, haha!
Me and Bil, right after his portrait the morning of the race!
Anyway, click past the break for the portraits I created of Vaughn, Ryan, Chris and Bil – along with some Behind the Scenes that my buddy Rex shot while I was working with Vaughn!
For the most part this year has been off to a quieter start than usual for me. But, I’ve stayed busy doing occasional portraits in the mean time as usual.
Several weeks back I attended a video shoot that a few of my friends were doing in Hollywood. Originally it was planned that I would be doing much more photography than what actually ended up happening. The video crew was busy pretty much the entire day with the models, and each time I was going to do some shooting with one of the girls she was quickly pulled away for video. My favorite shot from that entire day ended up being an image of John, one of the video crew members working that day. He’s in the image above on the far left.
I also did some shooting with Marcello, the male model that was there that day. Amber was also on the shoot – who I’ve shot in the past and is one of my favorite girls I’ve worked with. Sadly I didn’t have any time to shoot with her that day though, oh well.
I also created a new, and somewhat horrifying image of myself one night around 1am when I was bored and felt like shooting something. The upside of remote shooting and plenty of equipment is that I still have myself when no one is around. Haha! Check out the resulting image…
Not bad, eh?
Anyway, click past the break for a bunch of images from the rooftop fashion shoot. And some portraits of a couple family members I’ve photographed recently, too!
Mike Wainio, owner of the Wainio Bogs in Carver, Massachusetts.
Last week I was way out in Massachusetts wrapping up the last part of a two week trip around New England areas – a mix of work and leisure travel. For those not familiar, Carver is right outside Boston, and home to my friend Merri and her family. Well, it turns out that Carver is a MASSIVE cranberry producer – at one point in the mid 1900s being the largest producer in the US.
I had ALWAYS wanted to see the cranberry bogs and flooded fields in person. And while visiting one of the Wainio bogs I was invited to come back and see them flood the fields the next day!
You have no idea how excited I was. Hell. Yes.
Honestly I tried my best to not be pushy with my friends about coming back right on time the following day. But this chance was going to make my whole trip that much more awesome. Seriously. We’ve all seen the Ocean Spray commercials with the fields full of floating cranberries. I was about to see that in real life. Sweet!
Well that Saturday I returned to the bogs with my friend Brittany. I chatted with Tony, who runs the Berry Guys Farm Stand on location there where you can buy all sorts of fresh fruit and vegetables. It was Tony who had first invited me out to see the flooding the day before and also said I could come back watch the harvesting. I then spoke briefly with Mike and Brandon who were going to be farming the field and doing the actual harvesting. They said come back in an hour or so and they’d be out there working.
No problem. To the coffee shop!
An hour later Brittany dropped me off so I could shoot – she had a couple errands to run.
I wandered out to the bog where Mike and Brandon were starting their laps on the threshers. I waved hello and pointed to my camera and threw a thumbs-up… basically non-verbally asking if it was cool to take photos of them. Mike yelled back “Wanna come out here with us?” “Uh… YEAH!” was my response.
I walked around to the ramps. Mike picked me up on his thresher, and soon I was out on the water with them harvesting cranberries! SO.DAMN.COOL. I’m sure to a degree I seemed “so Californian” to think this was as great as it was, but who gets a chance like this out of the blue?
I spent the next hour and a half with Mike chatting about everything from cranberries to motocross – Mike used to race motocross and I used to handle all photography for K&N Filters, so he was completely familiar with my old employer.
There was so much I never knew about cranberry bogging that I learned.. here are a few things…
There are two types of harvesting. Wet harvest and Dry harvest. Wet harvest is what people all know about due to photos and Ocean Spray commercials, the flooded fields. These berries are immediately brought to the plant for processing since they will spoil within about 48 hours. Wet harvest berries are used in jams, sauce, juice, etc. Dry pick berries are harvested with a different type of thresher and used for everything else (dried berries, cooked into foods, etc).
Below are 40 more images I shot while at the bogs. I encourage everyone to read on. The experience was really amazing, and I’ll share more in the captions as usual.
Click the break for the rest of the images: Read More
As my own family gets older it’s become more important to me to start gathering images and photos that I have from my childhood to now. However I also wanted to make sure that I created images of my grandparents as well.
I have mentioned before that I was doing portraits of family. And I started with this one. Meet my Grandfather. John Remus I. Those of you who know me personally, know that my name is John Remus III. And everyone has always asked “Is your Grandfather the first?” Yes. Yes he is.
So, this was the first of three portraits I needed create of my grandparents – one has already passed away, long before I picked up a real camera.
And, also my grandmother, from the Remus side of our family.
I still need to make a trip down to San Diego for other family members. And also start to photograph my aunts and uncles that are scattered around the state. I’m picky with my work, especially when it comes to my own family. But the reason I’ve waited this long into my career is that I knew I wanted them to look and be edited a certain way.
As I continue to photograph my own family, I’m not entirely sure how much of them I will share here. But, I’ve had a few people ask me openly about posting these. I’m flattered how much everyone has enjoyed my portrait series and since these shots somewhat fall into that, I felt that I should go ahead and post them.
I apologize for the lack of posts this month, but, the majority of my time has been centered on wedding edits and planning out June. I should have many more images to come in the next few weeks. I’ll also be in the Bay Area a couple times next month with various shoots/projects!
At 81 years old you wouldn’t expect to hear that Gerald Hitchcock is still working his ranch. But ask him anything thing related to his farm and he’ll smile and answer proudly.
Gerald is actually my step-dad’s father. So, this blog is a bit more personal since I don’t typically post a lot of family related things here. However the fact that he’s 81 and still gets up every day to work his ranch is just an awesome story in itself.
The portrait I shot of him is quite simple, really.
“I have the ranch cuz I had the tractor (bulldozer)” he told me when I asked about the large piece of equipment. He pointed out that over the years it was the the tractor that made the money to allow him to get the farm and feed the family. Mrs. Hitchcock, his wife who still hosts family gatherings at the holidays cooking tons of food for everyone, even told me “Oh that’ll be good (gettin a photo with the bulldozer). That tractor has been the backbone of our economy (for the family).”
I wanted to keep the image simple and straight forward. And while I originally thought of just having a standard shot with his ranch/property in the background, it quickly became obvious how integral this piece of machinery was to the family.
As I’ve gotten older and progressed in my career as a photographer since my college days, I’ve realized more and more how important personal images are to me. And, with that, the importance of photos of my family. I’ve since started a personal project of creating portraits of my family members, starting with my own grandparents. I will probably share those in a later post. But, when talking to my step-dad about his parents, I knew his father would be an awesome portrait to take simply because he’s still working and doesn’t seem as old as he is when you talk to him.
Jim Grissom is the nephew of Gerald Hitchcock (above).
Jim was born and raised in Tennessee; he owns and operates Mountain Farm Dairy in Van Buren County.
I met up with Jim on a hot afternoon when he was busy working to repair one of the farm’s tractors. He was covered in dirt and laughing at the idea of me wanting to take his portrait. But, that was exactly what I was hoping to capture… him in his element.
Dairy farming is a hard job. A 15-16 hour work day, seven days a week is something that most people would never do. Jim and his family are proud farmers though – he and his sons have degrees in Agriculture and all returned to the farm after completing school.
Jim, while calm in these shots, was actually laughing quite a bit at my choice of location for the photos. But, being a very bright day I needed him in the shade so I could capture a nice shot of his face and eyes.
I’ve always had a lot of respect for farmers. I think it’s one of the most under-appreciated jobs in the US. So meeting people that are proud of what they do like Jim and Gerald – family or not – is humbling. So when you start whining about your office being too hot/cold, or complain that you have to put in an hour of overtime one day… remember that there are people out there working twice as hard. And they’re proud to do it.
I’ll be continuing this series over the next couple weeks. So check back those of you who are enjoying these portraits.
Also coming up will be more modeling photos. So, I may shift over to a different extreme in photography and be posting beach model photos in the next week. Haha. We’ll see…
Mark Fightshark Miller, Shelby Jones, Rita von Riot.
Three new amazing additions to my ongoing portrait series and the last additions to my upcoming showcase this Thursday!
Mark Fightshark Miller has had one of the most inspiring stories behind any of my portraits so far.
Heavyweight kickboxer Mark Miller is the only person to get back into the ring after open heart surgery. Here, check out this video about his story..
Go ahead, I’ll wait.
The opportunity to meet and photograph Mark was actually offered to me by Shelby – a model-turned-fighter who I was talking to about photographing for my series as well. But I’ll get to her story in a moment.
After Shelby told me a bit about Mark, what he’d gone through, and then reading more about him online, I knew his was a story I had to have in my series.
The idea for his portrait was simple. The image above is exactly what I envisioned too. Mark, pointing to his scar, with an expression that said “Yep. I came back from THIS.”
This was the very first image I took of Mark.
Honestly, I love this one as well because I think for this brief second, his personality and humor came through in the shot. He did this pose and expression on his own and it’s a funny, creepy, and still powerful image. Admit it, you would NEVER get in the ring with him.
Shelby Jones was someone I was introduced to through a mutual friend of ours. I was told by our friend Lisa “You gotta shoot Shelby, John. She’s hot. Has bright red hair and tattoos. She’d be amazing with your work.”
Sweet, redheads intimidate the crap out of me. Probably because I’ve never worked with any. Ever.
But, Shelby and I started chatting and were discussing shooting “at some point”. Then, when I mentioned my portrait series lacking women, she volunteered herself for it. And after seeing some of the images I’d created for the series, said she would definitely be down to be in it. She also volunteered Mark (above) for it as well.
The funny thing was that I didn’t realize Shelby was now training to fight until I explained more of my series and the concept of creating portraits of people and a side of their life. Shelby’s background includes modeling, burlesque, dance, etc. I honestly thought that alone would be a cool concept.
But come on now… How awesome is it that she fights? Anyone who says otherwise is lying.
I played around with a few variations of this image. Ultimately I went with green, to contrast her bright red hair.
But seriously the concept of “hot girl who is also a fighter” will be cool to anyone… so I wasn’t worried about backgrounds at all.
The last shot we did was with some blood and scrapes makeup (Thank you to Samantha Ward our MUA!)
This was an idea that Shelby had. I didn’t want her to look completely beat up, so we kept it light. Because honestly you never want an image that looks like you lost… You want something that looks like you got knocked around a little bit.
Last, and certainly not least, is my dual-portrait of Rita von Riot.
Some of you who follow my work might remember Rita from the K&N Filters Calendar that I photographed a little over a year ago. Rita and I talked about shooting again last Spring, but timing just never worked out for us. Then she became pregnant with her daughter Rylee! So, of course, that kept us from shooting as well! Haha!
I was hugely flattered when I received an email a week ago from Rita who said that she’d been following my portrait series and loved all the images that were coming from it. She said she would love to be a part of it and had an idea for a mirror-image type shot that showed both sides of her life. One half would be the plain mommy-side of her life, and the other half a dolled-up model side.
I loved the idea and was also very interested in the challenge of creating such an image. I knew certain factors had to remain constant for the photo, but that there would also need to be major hair and makeup changes. Rita used her favorite MUA, Maria B. Muah, who was also used for the K&N shoot.
Adding Rylee into the photo was something I didn’t plan for or expect. And while it made things a little more difficult because Rita had to adjust her body a bit to hold her daughter, honestly, it really is what made the shot great. Plus it helped that Rylee was completely mesmerized by my light.
For those curious, this is a composite of five total images, and over 20 layers. It took quite a while to edit, but, was entirely worth it.
To give you an idea, here’s the Mom-photo from that afternoon.
All three are awesome new additions to my series and each one of them a great story, too!
VJ Michael Benz, event host; Infantry Sergeant Trevor Scott, veteran; DJ J.J. Dunlap, musician. All three men are the newest additions to my portrait series – and with less than two weeks til the art show in Hollywood, they’re great portraits to add to my collection.
As I’ve said before, each of my shoots is meant to be telling about each subject. And each one of these shoots came out pretty much exactly as I envisioned them.
I’m going to introduce these in the order they are in the image above – not the order I shot them, haha.
Michael Benz is someone I’ve known nearly the whole time I’ve been in Socal. We met at a club one evening and I introduced myself because I liked his wild style contrasting the model he was there with that night. We’ve worked together many times since then.
When I hit him up, I knew exactly what shot I wanted to create. And, leave it to Michael to call me 30 minutes before our shoot to say “Hey, by the way, I got us exclusive access to KRESS nightclub to shoot in. We have the whole place to ourselves.”
Michael is an event host in Hollywood, and pretty recognizable to anyone who has ever met him. I definitely wanted him in my series, and he rocked the shoot just as I knew he would.
Infantry Sergeant Trevor Scott, veteran. Trevor is an old friend from school. He served five years in the Army and has since returned and is now in school. The idea and concept behind his shoot was something I’ve been wanting to shoot for a while. And it worked out perfectly to not only photograph someone who already owns the gear, but that with Trevor, it’s real gear, and he’s an actual veteran who has served. Truly an accurate portrait rather than me creating this image with a model.
Adding Trevor to the series was great because it also gave us a bit of time to catch up. I actually haven’t seen him since high school – and it’s crazy how fast all that time has flown by. We created a couple different images. But the flag image was what I was really hoping to capture.
JJ Dunlap, DJ and musician. JJ is someone I met through my friend Samantha – a makeup artist I’ve worked with multiple times in the past. With JJ’s music background I wanted to create an image using his amps and speakers as the backdrop. About half the images I’ve shot have something to do with environment that adds to the shot – this was one of those concepts.
JJ yelled/screamed and posed for one particular shot right as I was testing lighting and working on settings. These typically are the best chances for really original shots. I got the screaming shot just in time, and while all the other images we did were good, I kept coming back to this one.
Sorry for the wordiness of this post, haha. But I had three very different shoots to introduce in one. So, now, on to the photos!
This was the image I pictured created with Benz. Came out exactly as I wanted.
Rooftop of KRESS, Hollywood in the background.
Again, a moment when the subject wasn’t actually posing, but his attitude in the shot is real and works better than any posed image we did after.
Tighter crop. You can see more detail of Michael’s face here.
This was a shot I really wanted to create. You almost never see Michael’s eyes. So this was a bit of an unmasking.
Michael and I, rooftop of KRESS
The main image I set out to create with Trevor
NOTE: The flag is NOT Photoshop. This was shot in-camera this way.
A much softer, friendlier image.
Full, uncropped version
Screaming shot of JJ. Love how much detail I was able to get with his mouth, even down to the saliva in the shot. Really, his mouth makes this whole image.
Wider version, more detail with the background with the speakers.
JJ isn’t actually missing a tooth, but the shadow makes it look that way. Haha!
I feel like I need to go back and be a bit more generous with the editing of this shot. It’s a little too much of a headshot, I like the image with his eyes, but the editing style isn’t close enough to my other photos.
Behind the scenes pics that Samantha took.
JJ looks bored!
Hope you all enjoyed the images!
That was one of the longer blogs I’ve done in a while. Sorry, but I’ve been swamped running around shooting and preparing for the show in a week and a half. I hope you guys can try and come to it!
David Esquire, of Esquire Photography.
Talented photographer. Memorable personality. Truly an artist. And great friend.
“I don’t like it.” laughed David when I showed him this image while shooting. “What?! Why not? That’s a great portrait. That’s YOU!” I responded. “Because… I look vulnerable.” he said. “Exactly, that’s why it’s good!” I laughed back. “Yeah, I know, and that’s why I don’t like it!” David said laughing.
David did actually like the photo everyone. He was laughing because he’s not used to having images taken of him that are somber, calm, and actually give the viewer a bit of insight to him and who he is.
I met David two and a half years ago. It’s safe to say he was actually one of my first friends I made down here in LA. We met while working on million-dollar Beverly Hills weddings – because that’s just how we roll… Ballin. Haha, but really, we met while working with Cherie Steinburg, CherieFoto of Beverly Hills. It was a ridiculously busy and massive wedding at the Beverly Hills Hotel. David and I spent our lunch break chatting and learning about each other and their work. Turned out we had many commonalities and David could appreciate how I quit my old job and life to pursue photography full time in an area I had never lived. We’ve been great friends since.
David is someone I’ve been able to look up to, someone to confide in (which is difficult in our business to have close friends you can talk to about photo-related things). He has been a major source of advice, wealth of information, and MASSIVE supporter of me while I’ve tried to carve out a space for my work in the over-saturated Southern California market.
I’m not sure how much of that I’ve ever actually told David in the past, but I’ve really valued his friendship these last few years. So, when I started going through ideas of people I wanted in my Portrait Series, David was at the top of that list. Now the hard part would be making our schedules match up. He’s a busy guy, let me tell you… not many people can balance three or more weddings in a week and still give each bride the world – but, he can.
Now, onto the images… and I’ll share a bit more through the rest of this blog:
“Photography is like sex! Seriously, think about it. You’re focused, in the moment, completely oblivious to the world when you’re shooting… that’s sex!”
That’s got to be one of the greatest comparisons I’ve ever heard about photo.
For those of you who have had the chance to meet David, you can probably picture him saying it, too.
David brings an energy, with personality and style, everywhere he goes – I don’t think I’ve heard him give the same name twice at Starbucks for his drink… ever.
That same energy and attitude is what I was hoping to capture during our portrait session in Huntington Beach the afternoon we went shooting.
We created a great variety of shots, all different, and we did it in a short amount of time. Really the afternoon was much more about catching up and chatting than shooting – again, our schedules never seem to match up.
I decided to bring out his eyes in this shot to humanize it rather than have straight attitude from solid shades.
Here’s full shot of the first image at the beginning of the post. A very simple portrait, but, when cropped in tighter as I did above, it becomes a much more intimate look at a side of David most may not get the chance to see. But, David gave me the chance to photograph it.
David will be one of my featured images at the RAW Artists: Hollywood showcase on April 7th at Playhouse, Hollywood. I hope you guys can all come by and check out my work! You’re going to want to pre-order your tickets online, they’re $10. Lounge attire required, 21+ only. http://www.rawartists.org/hollywood/unearthed/?artistid=10284