It’s been awhile. October has been the busiest month of my entire career. I’ve shot for 3 publications, a number of commercial clients and a gamut of random development sessions and test shoots. I’m finally catching up on edits and blogging. Amid all the hubbub I was able to schedule a shoot with new model Kristina Russ of COSMO Model And Talent Agency. 

A few months ago, Kristina’s face came across my newsfeed and immediately I thought to myself “This girl needs to be in my portfolio”. I reached out to COSMO and Kristina shortly after and things unfolded as they should. After throwing schedules back and forth we landed on a date. Without hesitation I had a team on board consisting of Isidro Valencia, a masterful makeup artist. Hair virtuoso, Matthew Tyldesley and we all know the amazing Project Runway famed Gunnar Deatherage and his work.

I pulled a couple of inspiration images and after a few minutes had a clear vision of what I wanted to do. Long flowing fabric in a desolate desert with smoke or fire in the background, something outer worldly and very dramatic. It was the only look I really cared about, I wanted this image to magnify the possibilities and show people what can be accomplished with just a simple vision. You have to trust your team and as a photographer, they must trust you. Fortunately, this team is my dream team, we had all the right tools to bring my vision to life. I wanted to go big and that is exactly what we did.

Kristina, having never stepped in a fashion shoot, was very green. it took some time to mold her expressions and I had to really work with her to gain the picture I wanted. But, she put everything into the shoot and I was very proud of her for stepping outside the box with us and trying new things. We did three looks and pulled out all the poses; jumping, lunging, glamour and beauty. It was a real challenge that she needed before she stepped on some sets. By the end of the 6 hour shoot, I felt like we had something I could dig my teeth into and was extremely excited to get into the digital darkroom.

The black and white image was a uphill battle. I was fortunate enough to shoot an original jacket designed by Gunnar and I wanted to make him proud. Also, Kristina had absolutely rocked the look, so I needed to make sure the final image was top notch. After re-touching, I just didn’t know where to go with it. I wanted it to be sleek and edgy, but I didn’t know which road to take. It took a lot of time back and forth with color, tone and curves to get what I wanted. It wasn’t until I created the large triangle behind Kristina, then it all came together. 

The image in the desert was all shot in the studio and compositied on the a stock image of Death Valley, California. it was comprised of three images, one of Kristina with the fabric, a stock image of a brush fire and lastly the background of Death Valley. Like the shoot itself, processing the image was one big experiment. I took things to new heights and played with new techniques, including shadowing, sharpening and frequency re-touching. It just goes to show, you don’t need a million dollar budget to achieve a golden image.

This entire shoot was built around patience. I sulked on these images for days. I would pull a few out of the batch and play around, then return to some commercial work. I didn’t rush into anything, I took my time and executed when the time was right. It’s not everyday you get to work with such talent on a simple creative test shoot in…. Death Valley. Joking.