2K17 Goals (I would go “old school” and sit and look at magazines for inspiration,)

Nixlot Dameus 1/125 sec at f/7.1 ISO 50 50mm

Nixlot Dameus
1/125 sec at f/7.1 ISO 50 24mm

So last year I had set a goal to create portfolio quality images with “impact.” Now I felt (at the time) I had some great images in my portfolio, however the goal is always to add more. Now with that said; you cannot just keep adding, if you put something in you have to take something out and my personal preference is to keep the portfolio around 20 images and no more. After looking at ten images, a person is either going to interested or not. If they’re really interested they will look at ten more and that is why I feel the number 20 works. So creating new images that are portfolio quality is a daunting task because I am actually competing against myself. I have to make something good enough to knock something I already love out of the portfolio. This is like killing a child to make way for another. A horrible comparison I know, but I love the images I create and I don’t want to see them leave and go to the “back-shelf” so-to-speak.

I knew going into this that if I could come out with three great images I would consider myself lucky, two great images and I would feel accomplished, and one great image I would be happy.

Well let me tell you “happy” came quickly, Saturday January 16, 2016 to be exact. That is the day that a young lion named Nixlot Dameus walked into the studio. Just a mere 17 years old this amazing young man not only looked amazing he embodies “overcoming the odds.” Soft spoken and serious as a heart attack about what we were there for, Nixlot was focused and serious and that made me feel confident that what I had planned would actually come to be. The image you see posted here is “exactly” what I had envisioned. To have a seventeen year old kid whom I never met before and who is not a model walk into the studio and do exactly what I say is not only amazing, but also very gratifying. This image came at the very end of the shoot as is almost always the case with my shoots. I knew when I left the studio I had a “keeper” and I hadn’t even downloaded the images yet.

LaydeeFly Reyes

LaydeeFly Reyes

Now meanwhile I should say that this goal started on January 1, 2016, yes that’s right on New Year’s Day I was out shooting the cold and windy streets of Bethlehem PA with a local model LaydeeFly. The shoot was fun and it was cold, but the fun outweighed the cold. There were a few amazing images that came from her shoot, the one of her sitting on the street corner was a favorite of mine for sure.

Mina Santiago

Mina Santiago

Then the very next day with teen model Mina I was shooting of a forest in Tinicum Township PA and it was even colder than the day before. I did make one creative edit from that shoot that actually got a lot of attention on social media. Still I was looking for another good image, the year was young, but I wanted something to happen.

 

 

Ice_Princess-4802Instagram

The “Ice Princess” shoot with Kendall seemed promising, however due to time constraints the shoot did not last as long as I would have liked. But there was still a great shoots that came from that shoot. The portrait shots were awesome and I had one creative edit that I really liked and I felt was decent enough to put in the portfolio. So up until now I had the stellar image of Nixlot and then spring gave way to summer and I was getting worried because I had nothing in the works that would seem to yield a great image. Sure I was working doing paid shoots, but they never yield stellar shots.

 

ryan_5_15-6591-edit-2

Model Ryan McNally

Then came Ryan McNally and again I gained a stellar image that got good reception on social media. But… Now my two best images of the year were in the same genre of male fitness and I want diversity, something with a punch. I needed to kick in an afterburner or something, I wanted… I couldn’t think anymore and it was eating at me, day in and day out. I didn’t talk about it much, hell I didn’t even blog about it. It was almost like writer’s block or something. I would go “old school” and sit and look at magazines for inspiration, I looked on Pinterest till my eyes were ready to bleed. Inspiration!  I need you so bad and I cannot find you. Then it happened, just like finding love when you least expect it and in the least likely of places. On

 

 

 

Sinister Clown 1/125 sec at f/7.1 ISO 50 88mm Model Nicole Gallagher, Makeup Artist Jade Alexandra Brown, Photographer Richie Smith Jr

Sinister Clown 1/125 sec at f/7.1 ISO 50 88mm
Model Nicole Gallagher, Makeup Artist Jade Alexandra Brown, Assistant Makeup Jordan Brown, Photographer Richie Smith Jr

Facebook I see a post about entertainment news and I see the image of the “new” Pennywise the clown, the villain from the Stephen King Novel “IT.” THAT’S IT! A clown and I had been thinking about a clown “crawling on a floor” (strange I know) but this would be even better. Now with all this said; I did not want to just create a duplicate of the new Pennywise, but rather I wanted to take that concept of a… I don’t even know what to call it… “Evil clown” no that sounds to generic. “Sinister Clown” sounds more like it. So I wanted to take this so-called sinister clown look to another level, same as they have with Pennywise. They made the new Pennywise look more like a doll with his wardrobe, like and old doll from the renaissance or Victorian era. So hey why not shoot my Sinister Clown in a renaissance context, such as was done with the Super Heroes by French photographer Sacha Goldberge.

And so it was to be, but this look would take a whole lot more than a model and a makeup artist. This would be a lot of work. So how to you climb a mountain? “One step at a time” and that is what we did. The clown images were stellar and I was satisfied. I would now put myself in that extremely “Lucky” category and I can now say I accomplished that goal. That my friend, is a great feeling.

So here we are in 2017 and what are my goals? I have set a goal for just two stellar images this year, concepts are in the works and who knows maybe more than two will come, but I will be satisfied with two. More-so the bigger goal is to get more content on the YouTube channel and to increase subscribers. So in-order to do that I need to improve my vlogging skills and I started working on that at the end of last year. Along with vlogging skills a drone will be needed and it may be time to update the DSLR… we’ll see. Thanks so much for stopping by and reading. Have a great day.

Soul Searching for Goals (Now I know every click of the shutter cannot be a winner)

Nixlot Dameus 1/125 sec at f/7.1 ISO 50 50mm

Nixlot Dameus
1/125 sec at f/7.1 ISO 50 50mm

Soul searching… Something that I do about this time every year, however this year is a little different because I will be traveling to Thailand. The trip to Southeast Asia is something I would like to do every year but between jobs, plastic people and a budget I can only go every other year and that really hurts. I have family there now, a family I deeply love and if you were to imagine only ever being able to actually be with them every two years… well that hurts.

So why the soul searching? Truth be told it is not all about family, but rather this is the time of year I start to think about my goals for next year. Now if you have followed this blog (I know that is hard because I am the world’s worst blogger) you know I do not make New Year resolutions. Why? Because resolutions fail, but goals lead to dreams. I set goals for many things in my life, I didn’t always do this because I did not know how to or even why to set a goal. However, through the help of a wonderful friend who really took the time to care about me many years ago and explained and showed me how to work at goals, needless to say I cannot thank him enough. Not just for sharing his wisdom, but just for caring about me… priceless.

So because this blog is for the most part about my photography and all other things “creative” in my life I will share a little bit of my creative goal setting with you. And I will not share my deep personal goals… the messy things in my life like “to stop eating peanut butter out of the jar” or “my plans to over throw the world.”

Let’s look at 2015’s goals. The main creative goal I had set was to “create images with impact.” And what that meant was to create an image/s that would just make people stop and look, hopefully a “wow factor” kicking in. Now I know every click of the shutter cannot be a winner, but I wanted to really get three to four awesome images in a style unlike any of the images I currently had in my portfolio. Well… I did it and it wasn’t easy, it just took a lot of planning. I think the Image of Nixlot Dameus was killer as was the Sinister Clown. I had other great images too and I really do feel that by setting a goal and putting importance to it really allowed me to reach up and accomplish the task I sought.

So on the years I go to Thailand I have a long and peaceful talk with myself, no distractions and with my mind at ease I look at the new year coming and contemplate what I would like to do. I can tell you this year my creative goals will take a different direction. Yes, I will continue with my photography (that is a given), but I think that next year’s goal is to focus on the YouTube Channel and my vlogging skills. I know another area of my life that will see a change in direction is my catering business. After 20 years I am so fucking bored to death mere words could not express the trauma that is created when I have to think about dealing with a catering customer. It’s like wearing the same pair of shoes for 20 years and that is all I have to say about that. However something happened last year that changed me and that was when I put together a small fundraiser for a man and his family. It was a challenge and it was emotional for me on the inside and that might just have saved me from throwing the catering business to the lions. …we’ll see.

So in two days I set forth on a trip to Southeast Asia to visit family and heal my mind. All the while thinking about and setting my goals for 2017.

Thank you so much for reading.

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Photo of The Day (working with split toning and compositing)

Nixlot Dameus powerlifter/bodybuilder.  1/125 sec at f/7.1 ISO 50 50mm

Nixlot Dameus powerlifter/bodybuilder. 1/125 sec at f/7.1 ISO 50 50mm

 

Making a composite with chalk floating in the air is no easy task. But I have learned to overcome the problem with the help of fog brushes. Still it is no easy task at all. Like a previous composite where my mimesis was a veil I just keep trying different things. Sometimes it means using a plugin like Topaz ReMask 5, saving the image and running it through the plugin again. I have other ways, sometimes I can create the illusion that you (the viewer) is looking through the material, smoke, fog or in this case chalk. Capturing the image was not very hard at all, but I will admit that it took about 5 to 6 tries to get the image we wanted. The hard part about the capture was letting the plume of dust expand, but not too much. So it was a little bit of a timing issue. Camera settings were my standard studio settings of 1/125 second at f/7.1 or 8 ISO 50 50mm prime lens (although the 50mm is not typical)

So the final is a composite with a little of both the real chalk and some created chalk. Then to take it more towards an illustrative side I did some split toning. In the end I’m happy with the way the image turned out and I’m sure Nixlot will like it too. I think it falls into my 2016 goal for “creating images with impact” so I’m happy.

Photo of The Day (breaking records all the time)

Nixlot Dameus Weightlifter/Bodybuilder

Nixlot Dameus Weightlifter/Bodybuilder

I’ve been so busy I haven’t had much time to post to my blog. So here is a B&W of Nixlot Dameus record-breaking powerlifter and body builder.

A Pose Can speak Volumes (Just the fact that he has his arms crossed makes a statement.)

Athlete/Bodybuilder Nixlot Dameus

Athlete/Bodybuilder Nixlot Dameus

I was really happy with this final composite portrait of Nixlot Dameus. I felt the background really brought the whole image together nicely. I had completed this a few weeks ago and although I had posted it to Instagram earlier I wanted to wait to post to my blog because I just wanted the image to rest in my mind for a few weeks. Many times in the past I have taken my time to complete a composite then I would post it soon after. But many times (not all) I would see something that needed to be changed, either a simple mistake that maybe only I could see or maybe something that wasn’t really a mistake, but rather I felt it would look better another way. A mistake could be something as simple as a ray of light that was out of position or maybe not a mistake but I would feel the images would be better with a blueish night cast rather than the yellowish cast of light.

In this image I was torn between the poses, of course you would not know that I had two similar poses, one with the hands tucked in as you see here and the other was with his hands on the outside of his forearms. This is actually a critical thing because it is “body language” and both create a little different feel and vibe. Just the fact that he has his arms crossed makes a statement. Body language plays a lot in posing and while some people will automatically pose a certain way it could be the way they feel at that moment or about the situation at hand. In this case Brendan another photographer who was assisting with lighting suggested the crossed arms, then came my decision as to “hands showing or not showing,” so I shot Nixlot both ways. With the hands not showing it gives a sense of a warrior holding a shield, blocking or defensive. If you know Nixlot’s story and the road his life has traveled, when he was a small boy he spent many a battle on the defensive side.

I am by no means an expert on body language however I do have a one up on my people because I was exposed to it in-depth by a very interesting person whom I met in the early nineties. Ironically enough he had the same name as me “Richard Smith” and of course there is a long story for another day on how our universes came to connect, but none the less we became friends for a period of time and Rich would talk about body language and from that time of my life forward I would look closer at people. I would and still do use it as a tool when approaching people. If anybody read my blog post from 2014 when I was detained at the Laos border while traveling and could not leave to go back to Thailand, needless to say I was stressed. I was told to go talk to a police officer, problem is Laos is a horribly corrupt country and it is all about ripping of American & European travelers. So I am looking for a policeman who can help me and the first one I see is putting off body language that essentially says “who is my next victim?” His overall demeanor spoke volumes and needless to say I steered clear. Also I think everybody can feel vibes and read body language to big degree but then you also have the age-old saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover” and any smart person know how 100% true that can be. Still body language will win out when you are trying to connect with that hot girl and she won’t give you the time of day. You can tell her feel by her actions and yes her body language.

So till next time… thank you everybody and tanks for taking the time to read.

Portrait of An Athlete ( he is well underway to carving out a name for himself in the powerlifting record books.)

Nixlot Dameus 1/125 sec at f/7.1 ISO 50 70mm

Nixlot Dameus (17 Years Old) 1/125 sec at f/7.1 ISO 50 70mm

Here is another edit from the session I had with Nixlot Dameus a few weeks back. It is extremely hard to look at this image and realize this young man is just that… A young man of only 17 years. He emigrated to the USA from Haiti. Nixlot resides in Philadelphia where he is well underway to carving out a name for himself in the powerlifting record books. He is a bodybuilder and a powerlifter and holds JR Mr. Atlas titles, he has also represented the USA at competitions in other countries. It was amazing to start off 2016 with photographing this talented athlete.

Moving Forward for 2016 (But having a big set of guns never hurts to keep the world around you in line.)

Nixlot Dameus  1/125 sec at f/7.1 ISO 50 50mm

Nixlot Dameus
1/125 sec at f/7.1 ISO 50 50mm

Keeping true to my goal for creating images with impact for 2016 I worked with an incredible young man yesterday. Nixlot Dameus a seventeen year old athlete from Philadelphia Pennsylvania.  Nixlot immigrated to the USA from Haiti in 2007 and he has an amazing story to tell, more about that later.

I found Nixlot when he left a comment on one of my Instagram posts several months back and I started to follow him. I found him very interesting and I could see from his postings that he was strongly dedicated to his bodybuilding and weight training. His physique is obvious proof that this young man is motivated and that is what I want for a photo shoot. I want “motivated” people and I want them for a few reasons. One reason is motivated people are usually on time and come prepared, they are interesting and always on the move and most of all they have a great attitude towards life in general. I feel making an impactful image takes more than just a good camera & lens. All the editing in the world cannot add the impact that somebody like Nixlot brings to a project. I want to promote my photographic & editing capabilities and what better way than to get interesting and motivated subjects in front of my camera. So Nixlot did not disappoint at all and we had a very creative shoot. I would like to thank my friend Brendan for offering up his studio for the project and for his amazing input and ideas, a great help indeed.

If you’re reading this post, (obviously you are lol) just take a moment to remember the name “Nixlot Dameus” because I have a very good feeling you are going to see and hear about Nixlot’s accomplishments in the not so far off future. Nixlot has an amazing story about young little boy who felt the cold evil wrath of street bullies when he first arrived in Philly. In a way it is not a new story as I think we have all heard about people who overcome being bullied through whatever means or route they chose to escape it. But in my opinion there is only one true way to disarm a bully and that is a face to face stare down. Nixlot flipped the tables on the bullies and I think it is fair to say that no street bully in his right mind would dare cross this young man. In-fact while talking with Nixlot he said he now trains some of the guys who used to bully him. There really is a lot to be said for the power of love in this world, love yourself, love your family & god, and love all others too. But having a big set of guns never hurts to keep the world around you in line.

Nixlot is already an accomplished record-setting power lifting and bodybuilding athlete at his young age of 17 years old. Read more about his story here http://articles.philly.com/2015-11-01/sports/67904486_1_bodybuilding-haiti-marie-innocent