Last night was my showcase in Hollywood, at Playhouse with RAW Artists. As many of you know, I was contacted by RAW Artists a little over a month ago. They had come across my photography and were interested in having me showcase with them. Well, that event was last night and the support I received from everyone was overwhelming.
I was really touched by how many people came out to support me and my work – and even the goofy shot of five of my subjects and myself above is awesome!
So often I tend to look at my work as just photos.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in my work and stand my imagery. I’m confident in my abilities, but I still will look at my images as something that my subjects allow me to very easily create with them.
What I’m trying to say, is that often I forget that the portraits I’ve created of people mean more to those individuals than I realize. And nearly every person from my collection in last nights showcase proved that by showing up excited to see their photo on the wall, give me a hug, congratulate me on my work, and thank me for allowing them to be a part of it.
I’m surprised I didn’t get more emotional, but as I go through these photos and see what a great time everyone had talking and meeting one another, it compounds the amount of love there really was last night. Again, Thank You!
A couple things that stand out, before I get to a huge assortment of photos…
My cousin drove up from San Diego to be there even though he had to work at 4a the next day, thank you Gianni!
My Mom and step-dad flew down last minute from the Bay Area.
Adam, who turned into my poster-boy for this whole event, came out on his 25th birthday to be there.
Lauren, my best girl friend here in LA, celebrated her birthday last night with me at the show AND took tons of photos for me because she knew I wouldn’t have time.
Everyone else that attended, texted, called, emailed, posted on facebook, etc. Thank you all for the support!
Please check out the rest of the images after the break, I’ll have a lot more to say about the event and people that attended.
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
I’m going to be a featured artist in the April show “Unearthed” by RAW Artists!
I was contacted recently by RAW about potentially showcasing my work at one of their upcoming shows. I went to their March show to check it out and see what it was all about. I decided that having the opportunity to share with everyone my work and what I do would be a lot of fun. So, I told them I would be down to showcase in April.
This is where all you guys come in… come support!
The show is Thursday, April 7th at 8pm at Playhouse Hollywood.
Tickets are pre-sale online and they’re $10. Basically, I need to raise $200 to cover my costs. And unless one of you guys wants to donate $200 to me, I’m raising it through ticket sales just like everyone else.
Order your tickets here: http://www.rawartists.org/hollywood/unearthed/?artistid=10284
It’s a lounge, so there is a bar. 21 and up only, lounge attire required. Party goes til 2am.
One of the things I’m most looking forward to though, the headliner is Kerli.
She did some of the songs from Alice and Wonderland, and has an incredible style to her. Hopefully I get an opportunity to talk to her, she would be amazing to add to my portrait series.
Check out Kerli’s newest music video
And, lastly, here’s a screen grab of the online flier…