It’s been quite difficult to balance everything that is going on in my career. For those that don’t know, I have 4 solid and steady jobs. I do social media and marketing for Outdoor Photo Gear, freelance photography for Clay Cook | Photography, graphic design for Clay Cook | Design and finally commercial cinematography for Glass Label. I get asked all the time how I find the time to do it all, the best answer is… I work nearly 14 hours a day, everyday and I absolutely love it.

My passion for photography started with all creative personal concept shoots and because of that I’ve moved into more commercial and publication work. I like the bills to be paid, but now I have little time for creative concepts  However, every so often, I’m able to participate in a project in which I have pure fervor and affection for. “Xpressed - A Portrait Set” was one of the projects.

When Josh Eskridge and I team up, through hard work and some luck, we are able conceive projects that are larger than life. When Miss Kentucky USA 2012 Amanda Mertz and I were introduced, Josh and I inquired about a shoot, we had ideas, but nothing struck a real cord. In my opinion, collaborations that work off little to no inspiration and little conceptual-ism never really have a backbone or real meat to chew on. We wanted to make sure we did this right. After some discussion, the idea was born in September of 2012. We wanted to take a dip into the 1980’s and give our fresh perspective on the aesthetic of the decade.

Sometime after the project came to fruition, Josh had casually touched base with Miss Kentucky Teen USA 2012 Tiffany Cline. That’s when the stakes were raised. We would be taking two professional pageant girls and throwing them into a high-fashion situation. The concept couldn’t be more perfect.

After months of re-scheduling and delays, things finally started to heat up when our location came to a reality. We had been gunning for the massive nightclub called “Connections”, I had had my eye on the electric dance floor for quite sometime, Josh was able to correspond with the nightclub and finally get a date. With a date, comes crunch time.

Only a few weeks out, our team had to come together quickly. Antonio Pantoja was on board from the start to provide his vision through cinematography. Isidro Valencia stepped in to take on the creative task of makeup. Without Isidro our images just wouldn’t of had the same impact. Scooter Ray offered up his services on hair, big hair, my favorite. Having worked with Scooter on tons of shoots, I was completely confident in his hair skills. Also, having a fashion designer on set would be an obvious plus! Even though I have never met Genna Yussman, I’ve worked with her wardrobe before and her creativity always shines through on a shoot. We were lucky to have her ideas and pieces. We were also lucky to have great assistant’s in Tyler Zoller and Sarah Cattan who joined the fold shortly before the date.

Unlike most of my blog post’s, I’ll spare the shoot banter and sum up its entirety over a few sentences…

Although very new to high-fashion, Tiffany and Amanda performed with flawless energy and enthusiasm, it was a perfect pick. I was impressed by Tiffany’s energy and attitude; in the words of Steve Squall, “she’s a tigershark”. Amanda had the experience and collective coolness that exploded through each image. I was very proud to work with both of them. Set after set, I was having a blast, It was just a ton of fun, with zero pressure. Something I had been missing. 

From a photography standpoint, it was play-time. I was able to experiment with hot lights, gels, triple diffusion and background lighting i.e. disco balls, black cards and window shades. Gear was spread out all over the building and thanks to Tyler Zoller, I had that time to experiment and play with lighting. I really couldn't of done it without his help and input.

The post shoot beer & pizza was amazing.

At my fault, there was a 2 week period of downtime on turnaround. A couple of days after the shoot, I high tailed it out of Louisville to a Florida vacation and thoroughly enjoyed it. Upon my return, first on my agenda was importing the images into Photoshop and going to town. Processing the images was a blast. I felt a freedom, I was able to play with a lot of color balance, levels, light leaks and flares. I knocked them out in a few days and just like old times, we shared each image at the exact same scheduled time.

The response has been mind-blowing and I truly hope we inspired others to work together, respect each others art and think outside of the box. Just like Josh, Antonio and I strive for each and every time.