Behind the Scenes: Daydreamers

The weekend before last I had a wonderful time with new friends and old. Two of my friends, Marisa and Jessi, and I attended The Wilds Ones workshop at Great Falls Park. There we shared stories, helped one another with creating new and awesome conceptual images, and definitely got some interesting looks by some of the other park visitors that day. We had a perfect overcast day, and I loved scaling the cliffs and watching others create.

An interesting fella I met that day was Weston, who happily modeled for me for this image. We wondered off aways from the group towards the end of the day to check out a different location and the fall colors against the rocks just looked too fantastic not to use somehow. Since he was already half naked shooting self portraits already, I grabbed him quickly for this shot. 

Behind the Scenes: Las Vegas Creative Photography Workshop Part 2

Our group shot with smelly Jenna. 

(L to R) Jenna, Pete, Joshua, me, Ashley, and Kathy.

Our beautiful morning sunrise.  

After shooting long-exposures of the crashed airplane we turned in for the night. A small group of us agreed to wake up super early the morning and sneak in another fun shoot on our trip together. 

We hit the road when it was still pitch-black out and drove towards our shooting location from the previous day. On our way there the day before, we had spotted some areas on the side of the desert road with some small bodies of water that we knew we would like to revisit.

The landscape looked so amazing with the towering mountains surrounding us in all directions. Well, on the road we had a bit of a hard time finding the location and the water. We had prepared a bit too early and it was still too dark out. After circling around once or twice, we found our little sweet spot on the side of the road. We sat in the car waiting for the sun and trying to keep warm. 

Once we started seeing the first signs of light, we unloaded the plethora of vintage outfits and props we had in the trunk. Our creative juices were flowing (with the help of a little coffee) and we all helped each other bring to life each others concepts. 

Because there was water, at least one of us out of the group were getting in the cat urine  smelling runoff sewage that we once viewed as beautiful and scenic. Jenna (the Super Trooper that she is) got down and dirty as I had her lay in the mud and have some water thrown at her. I shot a few concepts that morning I've yet to start working on, so keep an eye out! Jenna had a fun concept running through her mind with some rather large rope I had brought along on the trip, so I got a little wet myself to even out the playing field; it was only fair.

We dried up, quickly took a group shot and set on back to the hotel from some breakfast (WAFFLES!). After eating, Josh and Jenna continued with the workshop. We went over some editing processes and then had time to work on some of our new images. Wrapping up the editing, we took a break for lunch and finished up the workshop with learning some neat things about social networking and marketing. At the end, there was a prize giveaway!

Some of the group left after we officially ended the workshop. Those of us with still time left joined Jenna and Josh at the indoor pool at the hotel, and helped Josh out with one more shoot before he had to fly back home and move into his new apartment. 

A few of us gathered for dinner our last night together. We enjoyed some laughs at an interesting local bar and called it a night; it'd been such a long day. I luckily persuaded Jenna to wake up early again and we set out towards our first shooting location for one final last-minute shoot, and our friend Janelle joined as she set out to continue her road trip across the country. 

Our workshop shooting location, in Eldorado Canyon. 

Funny outtake I shot after posing for my photo. 

I really wanted to shoot a concept I had floating in my head with one of the vintage cars on the property near the dangerous cactus field and I was so excited to get a second chance to do so. We didn't wake up as early as the previous day, and when we arrived, the blazing sun against our surroundings looked amazing. 

I was so satisfied with how my shoot went and walked over to Jenna as she finished shooting a beautiful concept. We looked at the time and it was time to head out, but I started to jump up and down when lighting struck my brain! I got Jenna into a vintage dress and scoured the property for a pitchfork. I had to re-create American Gothic by Grant Wood. As Janelle shot us, Jenna and I almost lost our eyes to the blazing sun and but we were just overjoyed with our morning to really care. 

I waited with Jenna at the airport and after she left, I had some time to kill in Las Vegas, so I explored some of the strip! I went to the Luxor Hotel & Casino and checked out their Titanic Artifact Exhibition. I used to work at the one here in Philadelphia, last year during the 100th anniversary of the sinking, and I was curious to see the other items they had there on display. I even got free admission because I had my old work ID badge on me, how awesome! I explored some of the other nearby casino's and made my way back to the airport and return to reality in Philly. This workshop and trip was amazing, and the people I met were equally awesome. It's so great to meet up with other creatives. Amazing things are bound to happen. 

Behind the Scenes: Las Vegas Creative Photography Workshop Part 1

Part 1


Our Workshop Group Photo!

At the end of July I eagerly counted the days until arrived in Las Vegas, to attend Jenna Martin and Joshua Malik's creative photography workshop. On the plane's decent to sin city, I witnessed one of the most beautiful views I had ever seen. The sun was setting and the colors of everything were so vibrant. I couldn't believe it. This is the reason why I love having a window seat when I fly. 

When I arrived at the hotel, the lobby smelled of chorine; only to find out later it was because Joshua and Jenna had taken advantage of the hotel's 24 hour indoor pool, shooting some awesome underwater photos. I was so excited to see Jenna again and to finally meet Josh in person. After getting settled for the night, we finally caught up for a bit and went over what they would be covered for the first day of the workshop. 

The next morning we gathered for breakfast.  Jenna walked over and showed me one of the beautiful things I had ever seen; DIY waffle machine. Easy to say there was almost always a line, but man, they were delicious! 

After breakfast and meeting everyone, we formally started off the workshop with some presentations from Jenna and Joshua about their work, what inspires them, and some behind the scenes deconstructions of their images. When we finished, we did a portfolio review of everyones work and did a photo exercise involving various props to choose from. 

Though it was the end of July, we had such great luck with the weather. We were lucky enough to be shooting on the coolest day of the month and the skies were partly cloudy for a nice overcast. We packed up our gear and headed over to our shooting location. 

Everyone I met at the workshop were so friendly, and I loved how we excitedly shared our concepts and helped one an other on different ideas to shoot. 

As we traveled through the desert and mountains, we finally arrived at our destination; an old abandoned gold mine on the property of an old western town and gas station. All across the property were rusted vintage cars, buses, trailers, an old water tower, barns, and a crashed plane. I remember seeing the plane before in the workshop advertisements and I was pretty excited to use it for a shoot. I just had to! 

We signed in at the museum/giftshop filled with an abundance of more amazing things. We gathered our gear, and Joshua and Jenna each did a photo demo for everyone, while I modeled for their shoots. As much as I enjoy being behind the camera, I think I equally enjoy being in front of one as well when I'm portraying a character. Something about making where you are a stage and the ability to communicate a story contained within the camera is such an amazing process that I love experiencing; though sometimes it does come with its challenging moments. 

After the photo demos, I explored more of the area on the property, going inside buses, finding a kayak with Joshua, modeling for some of the other workshoppers too. When  the sun had fallen behind the mountain, we thought it would give us some more time to shoot in some overcast light, but to my surprise it continued to grow darker, so I scrambled over to the airplane to shoot the concept I had floating in my head. By the time I finished, I couldn't see much detail on the back of my camera screen, but my histogram said that enough information was their for me to work with. We gathered all together after I finished shooting my expansion shots to shoot a group photo of us on the plane. 

As we were loading our gear back into our cars, I looked up after someone pointed out they saw a shooting star, and I saw the Milky Way for the first time in my life. The sky was clear, and the stars shined so brightly (Such a different sight from what I'm used to in Philly). At the last minute, we came up with the idea to shoot some long exposures of the stars in the background of the plane. 

I was pretty excited to do this, because I had never shot the stars before and this had to be one of the best locations to give it a try. We experimented with lighting the plane with flash lights and iPhones, trying different settings on our cameras. I had pulled out some smoke bombs I had brought with me that I picked up on a road trip. I set them off behind the plane and made the location come to life, at least for a few seconds.