Somebody’s Angel

Angels come in all shapes and sizes.

Angels come in all shapes and sizes. They can often appear in your darkest hours when hope feels like a meaningless word. Keeping faith in all things you do, stay strong and lead others. Faith in your god, your country and most of all yourself is what strong people are made of. You too could be an angel someone and never know it.

A Creative Morning (The client wanted one thing and the art director wanted something else…)

I haven’t really created anything new and interesting in Photoshop lately. Sure I work in Photoshop almost every day, but it is just that… work! I haven’t had the time to create anything fun or new. However I have always wanted to try this double exposure, illustrative photo look. This was my first attempt and I don’t think it looks to horrible. I actually had a job lined up last year to do three of this style for a client who is a musician and the job was cancelled before it even got started. The client wanted one thing and the art director wanted something else, they both started fighting and before I knew it the client’s agent cancelled the job. Story of my life, some jobs die before they fly. But if the job did fly, I was to shoot three specific skyline shots of Philadelphia and then the talent was to come in studio and shoot the portrait part. The rest of course would be finished in Photoshop. All three “would-be” images were going to be part of an album release.

So anyway… cut to today. I woke up and went on an early morning walk with the dogs. A nice quiet, peaceful walk along the river. I kept looking at the trees in the early morning spring time sunlight. And then all of a sudden I just got that “I have got to sit a create something today” kind of feeling and so I did just that. I sat down and said to myself “it has to be something you have never done before.” I thought of Whan, the model in the image and I never really created a nice illustration of her. Sure I have lots of great images of her, but nothing illustrative. I just sent it off to her as I started typing this post and I’m happy to report that she loves it.

So with that said I think I will work on some more of this style in the near future. This is a rather generic one and using the trees has been done a lot. 500px.com has many of this style. So next I will try a cityscape (another generic style) then I’ll move on to more creative overlays.

Thanks so much for stopping by.

Subjectivity (…like walking in the dark with a dim flashlight. .)

By The Sea

By The Sea

 

Art is subjective and photography is art. I once had to sit through a three hour meeting about sexual harassment. I was working at a company and all the employees were corralled into a general assembly and given bagels, sugary pastries and coffee. Then the meeting started as a well versed speaker took the stage and proceeded to tell us all the evils of sexually harassing a fellow coworker. I felt as though I was missing something… as if something was going over my head. I certainly know the difference between right and wrong and as a man I certainly know how to not be disrespectful to a fellow employee be it male or female. But where’s the line? Where is the definitive line? Certainly the behavior the speaker was describing and some of the scenarios were explicit descriptions of things I had seen people (both men & women) do many times in the workplace and no one ever got in any trouble at all. But I sat silent trying desperately to grasp something I had missed. Maybe it was the sugar high from the bagels… I must have missed something. So at the end the speaker asked if anyone had questions and I certainly did. I asked back (in a perplexed way); “While I understand most all of what you spoke of here today, I still do not understand when a person has actually been harassed? Where is that definitive line? The speaker quickly came back with the answer “there is no definitive answer, it is subjective.” Some people may like the behavior and others may find it harassing.” I said nothing, but I wanted to kill someone. You mean I had to sit here for three hours to learn that sexual harassment is subjective. Oh well the bagels were free.

So as a photographer and creative person who loves to produce images that fall somewhere between real and not real this topic of “subjectivity” for me is like walking in the dark with a dim flashlight. Like most all people I know I want to create images that are pleasing to others… but how? How and the hell do you accomplish this task if everything you do is “subjective?” So my answer is “I gave up trying a long time ago” and now I just have fun with it. I rely on composition skills such as rule of thirds, leading lines, rule of odds and so on. The rest is “whatever mood I’m in at the moment and what I have to work with as far as elements. As for; “does anyone else like it?” If someone is holding a print in their hand and they proclaim they like it, sure I take them seriously. If someone is paying me money to create something for them, then I truly believe they like my work… or they’re blind lol. If someone follows me on social media, keeps following me and comments in a heartfelt way, then again “yes” I feel they like what I do. But for all the followers who just push the red heart or hit the like button… that doesn’t mean dittly squat to me. And for sure, to the Time for Print models that come strolling along and fawn all over my work… just save your time and breath with all the honey tongue comments about how much you like my work. Just get to the point and ask if you can have free photography. I know that all sounds a little harsh, but I’m just laying out the facts and these words come without anger, but they do come with reality. Remember it is all subjective and money is what pays the bills, not hearts & likes and sweet comments.

However I am very happy with these two images and I would like to unveil them here on my blog for the first time. Thanks for reading and have a great day everybody.

Stadium Game Face

The Sinister Clown At ESP (I want him to scare the bejesus out of you, but do it without holding a half-eaten arm in his mouth.)

Sinister Clown 1/125 sec at f/14 ISO 50 123mm Model Nicole Gallagher, SFX Makeup by Jade Alexandra Brown

Sinister Clown 1/125 sec at f/14 ISO 50 123mm
Model Nicole Gallagher, SFX Makeup by Jade Alexandra Brown

It’s autumn, the smell of fallen leaves fill the cool morning air, pumpkins & corn stalks decorate doorways and porches… apple pie and ginger snap cookies all add up to Halloween is coming soon.

So as Halloween draws near, so does my self-imposed deadline for having completed the edits for the “Sinister Clown” project shoot. Here we see a third edit that I have just completed and I’m very happy with it. This particular image also has a sub-edit where I have cropped in extremely close. If you have followed my blog over the years you know I have a passion for close up “in your face” edits. However usually they are images of a beautiful female face and sometimes a male too, even dogs. But today’s image is that of “Sinister Clown.” And speaking of “Sinister Clown” I wish I had a name for him… yes the clown is a male character although there is a beautiful female playing the role behind all that amazing makeup. If anyone has an idea for a name please contact me.

So for this edit; the cropped version came about because I wanted to showcase Jade’s talent up close and “in your face” and the second reason (as previously mentioned) I love tight cropped face shots. However the full size version of this edit I wanted to put my clown in a decrepit, disgusting, smelly setting. Now of course you can’t “smell” an image on a screen, but I wanted that feel to come through in the edit. So I literally spent hours and days sifting through stock images that could be used for a background. All the while I am going from photo to photo I keep telling myself “you have the image you’re looking for” but I just did not know what. Let me clarify; while I am looking through stock images with my eyes and mind focused on a computer screen, another part of my mind is working diligently sifting through places I have been over the last few years, then of course there is that third part of my mind that thinks of over-throwing the world, sexy women, money and so-on. Funny how much can get done with only two brain cells, but the inside of my mind can be almost as scary as this clown lol.

After days of this… it hits me. Cell block 5 (1829 Creator: John Haviland, Eastern State Penitentiary.) Yes Cell Block 5 is a disgusting mess. Visitors to Eastern States Penitentiary are not allowed to enter into cell block 5. When you stand at the locked gate and look down the cell block, you get a true feeling of the horror that once was ESP in its hay-day. The place looks frozen in time, like an old closet that hasn’t been opened in 200 years, it smells like a grave. The smell is because (no joke) the place has been untouched for decades and has a smell of dirt, cob webs, mold and rotting wood.

While doing a photo shoot there in June of 2015 with Nicole I had stuck my camera inside the gate and captured some really decent images. I have edited one as a cover photo for the Reckless Pixel Facebook page (but is no longer in use). So this was the background that would work perfect for this edit. Not to mention the irony that Nicole is the clown and the background image comes from another shoot she did with me over a year ago.

Now I feel I need to explain that in the beginning I had envisioned this clown being scary, but in an organic sort of way and not in a generic “blood & gore” kind of way. In the first making of the movie “IT” which was actually a TV mini-series the clown Pennywise was never really seen devouring the little children of Derry. It was implied that the clown ate the arms of children… after all it was a movie made for TV. So I wanted my clown to have that same vibe. I want him to scare the bejesus out of you, but do it without holding a half-eaten arm in his mouth. So instead of putting gore props in the images with the clown I would rather put the clown in an evil setting. Now with all that said the average viewer of the image is never gonna know the significance of the background and I’m ok with that. Most of all I’m happy that the background is one of my own images and not a stock image.

I will have more edits of the Sinister Clown up in a day or so and there will be a video blog post too. Thanks for reading and have a great day.

Sinister Clown 1/125 sec at f/14 ISO 50 123mm Model Nicole Gallagher, SFX Makeup by Jade Alexandra Brown

Sinister Clown 1/125 sec at f/14 ISO 50 123mm
Model Nicole Gallagher, SFX Makeup by Jade Alexandra Brown

Sinister Clown Project Shoot (As far as looks Nicole is everything Pennywise is not. )

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I am just a week away from my most planned out project shoot of 2016. I had set a goal at the beginning of the year to “create images with impact” and unlike the typical new year’s resolutions that fall by the wayside a few weeks into the year, my goal still haunts me. It has been a struggle; however I have created a few images that are portfolio worthy. When it comes to my portfolio it is like a game, there are self-imposed rules. First rule is that there are a certain number of images in the portfolio and in order to add an image I must take an image out. So essentially the new image has to dethrone another… and that is the hard part, deciding what goes and what stays and what new images are worthy to add. So this first rule really does dictate most everything.

With all that said I started the year off pretty good with the close distorted facial shot of Nixlot Dameus, it was different, it was creative and it was planned. I hit my mark and I was happy. I could also say the same with the “Ice Princess” look I did with Kendall. Although the shoot was cut short due to time spent on makeup I was able to get an image that was worthy of making a composite that was then worthy of portfolio contention. Then came Ryan McNally and his shoot while being more of a test shoot, it still yielded a good image worthy of gracing the portfolio pages. Many times people helping me with a shoot such as an assistant or even the model are often surprised to hear me say “well… if we come away with five good images today I’ll be happy.” They usually look at me like “he’s got to be kidding” or “he must be a horrible photographer,” when in reality I’m totally serious. Hell if creating portfolio worthy images was that easy, life would be no fun.

So this leads us to the present day turmoil of the “Sinister Clown” shoot. I spoke about it in my latest video update on the YouTube channel, but I will elaborate a little more here.

So to recap; Stephen King wrote a short novel of 1156 pages called “It” and there was a movie or rather a TV mini-series created in 1990. The book is impeccable and King is at his best. The movie was not so great. In my opinion the movie started off great but it started to falter about midway through. In all fairness putting King’s writing into a visual form like a movie is extremely hard to do. So when I see the new revamped images of Pennywise the dancing clown that will appear in the remake of “It” due to be released in 2017, I was really taken back and became very interested. So much so that I decided to use those images as an inspiration for a detailed project photo shoot. Pennywise is one of the many forms that “It” takes on while in our universe and he feed on the flesh and fear of young children. …I know …King is a master at this kind of stuff. So I called the shoot the “Sinister Clown” shoot and proceeded. Now truth be told I had already had an idea for a clown shoot and my original idea was very much the same although not as intense.

So there were many things to plan. Who would be the model, who will do make up and where the hell can I get decent wardrobe. After all I want this to be… as makeup artist say “an HD look” meaning “high definition.” “HD” is the big buzz word these days in the makeup and FX world. We used to say “movie quality” and now it is HD… Whatever!

So I asked a cosplay model who dresses up as a clown often and she was all in. Well until her personal life took a turn and she was relocating. So here we go we are hitting barriers before the race even starts.

I put a casting call out on Model Mayhem. Well let me tell you there is a reason why it is called “Model Mayhem” and that Mayhem part is a wild ride. I specifically asked for models that had experience in “cosplay” and it resulted in getting hits from models who clearly can’t read.

Then I get one model that looks valid and appears to be creative, says “yes” and she can do her own makeup and I tell her what the inspiration is for the shoot. She agrees and then starts adding her own inspiration that is not in the same direction as mine. Essentially what turns me on about the new Pennywise is that he does not look like a standard clown. In the 1990 movie the clown was very standard Claribel-ish or Ronald McDonald-ish. The new Pennywise scares me… and I’m not afraid of clowns at all. So this model wanted to go in a different direction AND… after all that she tells me she will be free in a few weeks. Hello…

Here again it is hard to convey your passion, inspiration and importance to others. So when you do find that special person that clicks it is like being in love, two creatives on the same level is rare and amazing all at the same time. I have to stop and say that every one of my project shoots gets treated as if it is a paid shoot. That my friend is how you learn and how you get better. My projects have deadlines and must meet my expectations to be considered a success in the end. Sure it creates stress, but I always say “no stress, no success” and that is how I roll. Now I don’t always transfer that stress to a model because I want him/her to be relaxed and natural. All the while I’m the one stressing over the shoot.

So two years ago a young lady by the name of Jade left a really nice heartfelt comment on my Mayhem page after viewing my work. I reached out to her and thanked her. We had a wonderful phone conversation and I got the feeling she was a true creative person. I ran off to Thailand a few weeks later and we lost touch. But I remembered her and I found her again. I presented the idea to her and she was down with it, so I commissioned her to do the Sinister Clown look. She has given me a hope of confidence that she can create an HD look.

So now for the model… Oh the model? So I changed direction and went 180 degrees the opposite direction. This cannot be a Time For Print model, this has to be someone who can take direction, someone I can trust to show up and someone I like to work with. So I asked Nicole Gallagher the beautiful face you see on the opening page of my website. As far as looks Nicole is everything Pennywise is not. She is pretty, elegant, female and just a really sweet person to work with. Pennywise on the other hand… well is an evil rotten clown with fangs. But Nicole holds all the qualities to make for a great shoot. On time, takes direction well and is a cool person to work with. So I asked and she said yes, yes to sitting for 2 plus hours while Jade applies the FX makeup that will be composed of a special prosthetic head-piece that Jade will custom make.

Now we have a model and a makeup artist, all we need is wardrobe. So I got an idea to shoot the Sinister Clown in a “Renaissance” context. I had seen it done with Batman, Robin, The Joker, and The Cat Woman and so on. This then entailed many hours of searching on the internet and those hours turned to days and finally I found a rental place in Oregon that had something that I hope will work.

And lastly I will say that I am currently working on lighting diagrams for all the different shots. So yes this shoot is complexed. Will it turn out great images? Time will tell. And as a side project I hope to shoot a time-lapse of the makeup application as well as behind the scenes video.

Please stay tuned and I will be talking more about this project in the coming days & weeks.

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Good But Not What I Wanted (realizing you have written nothing but drivel and ripping the half written page from the typewriter)

Nicole Smoke Dress Final

I would like to talk a little about this image that I recently created… well maybe talk a lot about it and what it really is. Ok so the truth be told it is not at all what I wanted to create. What you see here is the “second draft” so-to-speak, but there were four of five more versions and I tossed them all out of frustration. It was like back in the day when a writer would sit at a typewriter trying to make something happen and half way through the page realizing you have written nothing but drivel and ripping the half written page from the typewriter, crushing and crumpling and tossing it into garbage can in the corner. The garbage can that is overflowing with dozens of other half written pages. I saw something that inspired me and it gave be a vision and an idea for a really cool image… well at least I thought it would be cool. So I headed into my stockpile of images and I knew exactly where to look. But when I found the images I was thinking of, the wardrobe was all wrong. I wanted to create an image of a model with a rather “moonscape” like background, but I wanted her dress to be blowing away in the wind and turning to smoke. Similar to the piece I did back in 2013 called “Shattered” where the motocross racer’s helmet was shattering and blowing away.

I just could not get it to happen and keep it looking like a dress. Why? Because in this particular image the model is not actually wearing a dress, she is wearing a shirt and a skirt. So now after two nights of working I end up going back to the second version that I created in about 30 minutes and I said “done.” Done, but not at all satisfied. While many people love this image and I received good feedback across all platforms of social media, I myself am not satisfied. Not satisfied because I wanted something very different. With all that said… this is a good image. Model Nicole Gallagher is striking a stellar pose as she can so easily do and I have blogged in the past about her eyes and her talent of “posing with her eyes.’ This is a perfect example, I mean all we see here of the model is her arms and her face and her eyes. And for me the eyes say it all in this pose. So to recap, there is nothing wrong with the model or the pose, but the wardrobe is not right to complete my vision. So we know what that means… “project shoot!” If I am going to complete this vision I have in my mind I need to shoot the model correctly with the correct wardrobe. Thanks so much for stopping by and reading.

Into the Light (…he has to step into the light and be seen, be heard and most of all be felt.)

Two element composite with model Ryan McNally.

Two element composite with model Ryan McNally.

It has been awhile since my last blog post and if my blog falls silent it usually means “busy” as in too busy to sit and type out a few sentences and talk about a photo. So yes I have been busy to the 10x and then some. Mostly with personal life stuff like “moving” from one apartment to another. But today I had time to sit and edit a photo from the shoot I had done with Ryan McNally a few weeks back. As I edit these images of Ryan I want more and I think of more… more stuff that we can do at the next shoot. Ryan is new so we have to work him up to the good stuff. I would like to do a series of action shots with Ryan. So we’ll just have to wait and see what the next shoot brings.

The feeling or inspiration that went into this composite was “the light.” Any gladiator or warrior has to step out into the light of battle. The warrior can hide and be stealth like all he wants. He can even keep his back to the light of battle. But at some point to advance the battle and turn the tide to his favor he has to step into the light and be seen, be heard and most of all be felt. He has to have game on and he has to have the game face. Be it a fighter pilot, a boxer, a cyclist, base jumper or soccer player… when he steps into the light of battle is when he must show his mettle. Game on!