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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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BMX rider portraits, Buena Park

When I wanted to do portraits with some interesting people my first idea was to get ahold of Sean Logan – a BMX rider.
I knew that I could create an image of him and maybe a few friends he rides with that would be awesome and telling at the same time. Ironically, none of the images above have much to do with what I set out to create – those come later.

I met up with Sean and a few other riders at Adam’s house to shoot. Adam, along with many other riders, have built some massive jumps in the backyard for them to ride.

When I say backyard… I mean they seriously converted their backyard into their own private course. ┬áCheck out Adam in the white hat for a bit of size comparison to the jumps.

But lets start out with the images that I set out to create…

I wanted something a bit gritty looking. Dirty in the sense of “dirt” for a BMX feel.

I created a similar shot with Adam. I kept the bikes in there as a token “yes I ride” theme. However it worked out pretty much exactly how I wanted. All the focus is still on their faces/eyes and the bike comes second. The editing fits the theme perfectly.

These shots were images we did in addition to everything else. While I wasn’t dead set on color shots because I envisioned the photos above first, they came out great and we had some fun. Here’s Sean, whose hair, by the way, still looks like this after hours or riding… it’s crazy.

And speaking of crazy… Stuntman, and friend, Crazy Mike was there to have a few images done as well. Mike and I have worked together multiple times and when he heard that I was shooting with Sean that afternoon he came down with his buddy Ninja Nick so I could do some cover shots for a TV pilot they’re working on. I’d share them here… but I can’t. Sorry guys!
Mike’s personality always comes through in ridiculous images like this one. Haha.

Adam Saunders portrait ended up coming out great. Honestly, part of the reason I love it was that he grabbed his hat and threw a bit of attitude in with his lip.

Loren’s shot I dig because of the simplicity, and his eyes. Shades in photos always add attitude. But eyes humanize any image, and this one totally pulls you in despite all the color and busy-ness of the photo as a whole.

And while we’re on the topic of eyes… Check out Dustin Nette…
No, take your time, those are his real eyes. Not enhanced. I didn’t add color either. Dustin was throwing tricks and riding with everyone that day. But when he stopped and was walkin around I noticed his eyes – seriously, you can see them from 20+ feet away. I talked to him briefly and asked if I could do a quick portrait of him. I shot this with my 85 f/1.2 because I wanted all the focus just at his eyes and everything else to fall off. Came out great.

So, time for some action shots… since I’m sure that what many of you came to see.

Sean, doin a Superman over jump two.

Adam, backflipping jump two.
Check out the barn-type structure in the back. They cut out part of the roof and made a ramp to use that to drop into the jumps.

Loren, drop three in jump two.

Loren, turn down flip in jump two

Loren, backflip in jump one.

Dustin, cheesin’ it up for the camera.

Loren threw a flip table only about three times before we got a great image.

Sorry I don’t have the names of the tricks, I’m still learning all the BMX trick names. But, I’m sure a few of the guys can help me name everything and I can update later.
Hope you guys liked the images, I was really happy with how they all came out. I’m planning to try and keep going with these portraits and see what else I can come up with.

Next up will be images from a shoot I did last week with a Swedish model and dancer named Bambi – totally colorful crazy outfits and everything. I think you all will dig it. And if all goes as planned, I’ll be shooting long time friend and nation pole dance competitor Mina Mortezaie this weekend.

New Sports Portraits, and some bikes.

This week’s post is going to be a mix of a few things. I’ve been without internet (part of our city was out for three days) and am just getting back into the swing of things before leaving for Michigan on business Wednesday morning.
One of the shoots I did last week was with a model, and friend, named Chris Franklin. I met Chris two years ago doing fashion shows in Hollywood. He’s part of a small group of people from that time frame that I keep in touch with. Most of all of us from that group have gone on and climbed further and further up within our various careers (ie: photography, modeling, make up artistry, etc).
Chris has recently wrapped various projects with Nike and Adidas – so we talked about putting together some more sports images that could help his portfolio with different looks and style.

“Highest production value, John…” is what Chris said when I asked what he was wanting this shoot to look like. I’ll be honest, this shoot was a lot of laughs and story telling catching up on the last year. I had a few ideas in mind of things I wanted to try with lighting. Some of the shots hit, some of them missed. The running image above is close to what I was going for, but, I will likely try and bring Chris out again to reshoot it… I’m not completely happy with it.

The hardest part of our day was finding empty athletic fields to use, or ones that had public access for that matter. Overall I’m very happy with the images that Chris and I came back with.
I am, however, about to expand my gear (again) and purchase a lot of new lighting equipment… So I’ll be doing a lot more athlete and sports themed photoshoots in the near future.

Below I’m going to share some of the other basketball images of Chris. Please feel free to comment on which of them you like.

Before I did this shoot with Chris, I did some test shooting… with Beau.

Beau is one of my best friends, and old roommate. He is currently a working actor out on the east coast, but returns here to California from time to time as he prepares to move back west.
While in town last week though, I made him stand in as my test subject for the lighting style I wanted to do with Chris. I was pretty happy with how it turned out for a first attempt. I may go in and re-edit slighly; they’re a bit too contrasty right now. We’ll see.

Beau even needed a quick, updated, headshot while he was here… which was definitely easy to do outside that afternoon.

Lastly, I went riding yesterday with my friends Crazy Mike and Lyla Dee. You guys will remember Mike and Lyla from their shoot on Venice beach at night in the sand and water.
Well, it’s been months since seeing these two so yesterday I met up went riding with them. This shot was taken, by me, one-handed while riding alongside Mike on a R1 myself, haha.

Shot this image the same way. This is done with my 5DII (not my 1D) and a 16-35mm. Yes, I do put my gear in harm’s way from time to time. But, I get some really cool photos that way… Risk is just part of the job.

Mike also wanted a burnout shot… That smell takes me right back to shooting Formula Drift! Hahaha.

That’s it for this update, hope you guys hung around and checked out everything.
Wednesday I’m leaving for Detroit where I will spend the rest of the week for the D’Orazio wedding. Mike and Christina are a really amazing couple. I had a great time with them last July when I shot their engagement photos during another trip to Michigan. Their wedding will definitely be a blast – and with over 300 guests I even hired my friend (and photographer) Casey Shortt to assist me with all the madness.

Following the D’Orazio wedding I will be heading to Portland to attend my friend Theresa’s wedding in Vancouver. I may even be able to do some shooting while up there. We’ll see what happens.

Check back around the beginning of next week though! I’ll try and have a few previews up from the wedding! And I’ll definitely have some shots from the new 85mm f/1.2 lens I ordered!!

A new month, a few updates.

Happy May everyone!
Well, it’s nearly a week into this month already and I’m finally posting a new blog. I’ve been swamped editing the last couple weddings I shot. I wanted to get them completed, out to clients, and out of the way. I have some big things coming up that I wanted my plate clear for.
But first, I finished the Niles wedding and sent the images out to the client today. So, that means I pulled a two week turn around on both weddings I shot in April – which is pretty fast for the amount of photos and everything I did. The image above was from the Niles wedding. Jessica was waiting and watching Tara get ready and then turned to watch me just long enough to make two images, this one was my favorite.

This is another image from the Niles wedding that I really liked. There’s just enough uneasy/awkwardness between the two boys, Isaac and Jacob to contrast the uniformity and seriousness of the groomsmen behind them.

Now some of you may remember me mentioning that after I got off the plane from Portland I was called into Hollywood to do some headshots for an actor out there. Michael was a lot of fun to spend the afternoon with doing some new shots for him. The image above was towards the end when he asked to do some fun ones that he can use for comedy events and hosting (if I recall correctly). I really liked this one of him goofing off.

One of the more serious images we created. Michael opted to have all the shots cropped in tighter to better frame his face. I’m sharing this one wide because I like the feeling added by his hand placement.

A lot of you guys remember the night shoot that I did with Crazy Mike and Lyla Dee, right? Well this image was one that I took the next day in Long Beach. The shoot wasn’t really a shoot for me though, it was a mock shoot to get some video footage. So, I didn’t really have time to bother focusing my lights. I like this image, but wish there just a tad more light on Mike. Last I heard, these two started dating… so I could probably recreate this pretty easily if I want, hahaha!

Also, Mike has relaunched his website WePlayCrazy.com and it features a number of images by me! Woo hoo! Haha! So, check out the “About” section. You will find my images of Crazy Mike, Sean Logan (under Action Sports), and even photos of DJ Drizzle (under Production Crew) from our shoots a few months back.

And lastly on a personal note:
This is Paul Flores and his son at the beach. Many of you guys know how active I am in the car community beyond just photographing professional racing. Well, Paul was a friend of mine through the import community I’m involved with. He died in a tragic accident while working on his car last weekend. He leaves behind his son, girlfriend and family.
Paul was a wonderfully caring person who always helped everyone without expectation of anything in return, he was never mean, and never stopped smiling.
We all knew Paul and his Laguna Blue Honda S2000 as “Smirf”, and his death was both a huge shock and very upsetting to all of us. Please keep his family in your thoughts as they deal with the loss of a wonderful person.

Tonight, Friday, I’ll be shooting with Rosa. We haven’t shot anything together in a long time – mostly due to my crazy schedule. But check back soon for images from the shoot!
And it’s becoming more and more solid that I will be leaving overseas for an opportunity abroad to work on a short film in Morocco. More details on that to come… but if anyone wants to sponsor some high capacity CF cards or Lacie drives… I’ll gladly accept ;)

Crazy Mike and Lyla Dee

Happy New Year to everyone!
Today I want to share more images from my photoshoot with Crazy Mike of WePlayCrazy.com and Lyla Dee, a singer and model here in LA.

When collaborating with Crazy Mike on ideas for this shoot we discussed a few different concepts. I hadn’t spoke with Lyla prior to shooting, so Mike and I just went in knowing that it would work and we’d rock the shoot regardless of a few hurdles.

Now when it came to start, things definitely got hotter.
This entire shoot had a very gritty, rough, edgy and sexy feel. I really wanted this come through in the images with use of very moody and (at times) very harsh light. Both Mike and Lyla were incredible models to work with and I look forward to shooting with either of them again in the future.

For now, I’ll let you guys enjoy the images and see what you think.
Most of these images will be in my portfolio later today, also.

I have a busy rest of January ahead of me. I’m leaving in a week for Michigan, and then to the Bay Area for weddings. Check back soon as I’ll probably squeeze in another model shoot, too.

Lyla has been one of my favorite models I’ve worked with so far. Her amazing attitude and stunning look made for incredible photos. This is probably one of my favorite beach photos in the last six months.

I’m really looking forward to putting together more shoots with Crazy Mike this year.

Upcoming Video, by DaBooth.com

Check out this quick preview of an upcoming video by DJ Drizzle, of DaBooth.com of my shoot with Crazy Mike from WePlayCrazy.com
Me and Crazy Mike rocked two different shoots recently in Venice Beach and Long Beach. This video shows clips from the Long Beach shoot. I’m looking forward to seeing the final product and hoping that it may have a bit of the night shooting from the Venice shoot.

This also reminds me that I’ve been wanting to start making clips like this of other shoots I do. Maybe I’ll start bringing an assistant to tag along and at least get a few shots with a Flip cam or something. Then again, when am I going to find time to edit video? Haha!

Hope everyone’s holiday is going great!
I’m still in Bay Area, but I will be headed home to Socal in a few more days.

I will have a year-end update later this week, I think.

Crazy Mike, from “We Play Crazy”

Sometimes a completely different style photoshoot demands a different style of editing. This is sexy, gritty, dark, and has attitude. I needed the final image to reflect that and went with a rougher post production than I typically would take with my work. But, I needed a billboard worthy image. Hell, I could easily be selling you cologne with this photo… and you’d buy it, too.

This weekend I had the pleasure of working with with Crazy Mike of We Play Crazy. Mike and his team are currently out here from the East Coast filming with MTV. Saturday we hit the beach with model Lyla Dee and did a night shoot in Venice on the sand and in the water. I have to say, the photos came out pretty damn hot. I’m still working on the other pieces for Mike, but they’ll be posted up here soon, too.

This image will make an awesome poster – I’m going to probably print one tomorrow on my new Epson medium format I just picked up.
Mike and I did a few series of these backflip shots while waiting for Lyla to meet us at the beach.

Now today, Sunday, I ended up chillin’ with Mike and his crew again… but this time we did something I have quite a bit of experience with… extreme sports.

That’s Sean Logan doing a backflip-360 about two feet away from me. Crazy Mike down below gettin’ some footage for their new reel.

Eric Hough was hitting quite a few jumps and tricks too. His face is a bit blocked in this shot, but it’s always great to have a clean, simple image that you don’t see every day.

One last image of Sean as he’s doing his backflips. Hopefully I’ll be working with these guys again in the near future. I would love to start mixing their skill with mine and take stunts like these and mix in what I do with color and light and create some really incredible stuff.

So, I have quite a bit of editing ahead of me this week. I leave for the Bay Area on Wednesday – so for everyone back in the Bay… text me. Let’s meet up. I’d love to see all of you while I’m back in town for Christmas.