Derby time in Louisville, KY is crazy. Local fashion is at a peak and its a busy time for everyone in the industry. I usually don’t blog about anything other then my concept work, but this shoot was exception. I won’t go into detail like many of my other shoots, but I’ll tell the story the best I know how.

Fitz Fitzgerald is a well known clothing stylist in Louisville and when he approached me about shooting for The Voice Tribune, a local publication. I was more then honored to take on the job. It all came together very quickly.

I was pleased to find out that Ashley Smith, who had been one of my “GAGA girls”, would be the female model. Having a familiar face on the team really made the experience that much better.

Everything had been setup beforehand. 21C Museum & Hotel was the confirmed location and in the back of my mind I thought “Man, this is wild. No scouting, no phone calls, just showing up and shooting”. Which is exactly what happened.

When I arrived, I met the crew and Fitz was preparing the looks. While we waited for hair/makeup, I went around and scouted some areas in the building. It was my first time in 21C and its a pretty cool place. Although, I had seen many shots in the museum before, it was exciting finally get to take advantage of the artistic and contemporary place that it is.

I wanted these images to be stunning and worthy of publication. Quietly in my head I scanned through the knowledge I had learned over the past year and decided to experiment with some kicker lights. I really wanted a slick commercial feel, but with a taste of angelic drama and high-fashion. I wanted light everywhere, but I didn't necessarily have the lights to do it. With some quick testing, I ended up with a cross light setup for all the indoor looks.

We started in the back gallery hallway. A more casual look, but very Derby-esque. Things moved quickly! I had never been apart of a shoot where I was simply the photographer and the creative director was at the helm. I always give direction to the model behind the lens and I did, but in this instance most of the direction came from Fitz, which really took some pressure off. 

Because we were pursuing a certain look, Ashley didn’t have the freedoms like she did on the GAGA shoot, but she nailed it and gave off an impressive performance. Mike Edwards a 6'6" UofL high jumper, really didn’t have to do anything but look cool and that is exactly what he did. We blasted through the set and within 20 minutes, the models were onto the next look. We would head outside. 

It just so happened that a white Mercedes had been rented for a couple staying at the hotel and it was parked directly outside the front entrance. We took full advantage of this. Fitz posed Ashley and Mike on the side of the car and I setup one light and bounced the sun with a reflector. Snap, snap, snap, done. Onto the next look. Yes, it was that quick.

Hair and makeup would have to be changed so I had sometime to experiment. The next image was a formal “Barnstable Browns” look and would be shot on the long metal steps down from the hotel to the museum. Thankfully, my light stand from “Cheetah Stand” raises to a towering 12 feet and I could really get some great exposure on the models faces. I decided to stick a kicker light at the top of the steps for a nice rim light. Then I placed my high-velocity “model” fan at the bottom of the steps. I tooled around for about 30 minutes and keyed in my light. I was confident in this setup.

When Ashley and Mike gained their composure on the steps, we turned on the fan and Ashley’s dress flew up as if being suspended in air, I think I heard a few “ooooh’s” and “ahhhh’s” from the crew. I sprayed the shutter hoping for the perfect shot. At some point during the set, I knew I had nailed it. I showed everyone several of the captures and walked back to the dressing room. Energy was high and I was damp with sweat from all the commotion.

That was it. Show was over. I packed up, threw all the gear in my car, cranked the A/C and took a deep breath. I felt like I had accomplished something great and didn’t come down until the next day.

Even though post processing is essential to any publicized work, once I imported the photos, I was proud that I really captured what I originally sought out to capture. Bringing a vision to life with little to no post processing is always and will always be a major goal for me as a photographer.

Thanks to The Voice Tribune, 21C Museum & Hotel, Fitz Fitzgerald, Ashley Smith, Mike Edwards, Diana E Ray and AJ Brock. Cheers to Derby 2012.