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“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”
— Ansel Adams

Fitness Photo Shoot

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Fitness Photo Shoot

Last year just before moving to Romania I was still working as the Production Manager for The Salvation Army Headquarters in Atlanta, GA and we traveled to a couple of our Kroc Centers (state-of-the-art community centers with full-blown fitness centers, aquatic centers, outdoor fields, chapel/theater and banquet halls). 

My colleague and I spent a week just capturing video b-roll and shooting photos, literally anything and everything we could catch: children, families, adults in classes, recreation, events, etc. We honestly needed more than a week to capture everything happening at each location, but we also did spend full days just shooting things to use for marketing. It was a blast.

One of my highlights for that week was an idea to do a "fitness" photo shoot for some marketing for their classes offered with their fitness instructors as models. We went to the main gym and also the "trendy" crossfit room to capture some dramatic shots. I was heavily inspired by work I had seen from some photographers' work before and setup the strobes for the effect I was looking for, and then the editing took it to the final level.

The setup was pretty simple actually, 2 800W alien bees, the key was a large softbox 45º, and the back light (when used) was open-faced with a scoop opposite the key, or 90º opposite the side of the key. I really wanted to accentuate the detail of their muscles, something that's fun to do with light, how the shadows & highlights meet each other. When editing I exaggerated the clarity and pushed the contrast and saturation to the edge of reality to get the look I was going for. I played with the shadows and highlights, some brushing obviously and touch-ups. In the end, I loved the results, check it out! I can't wait to do another (in another backdrop, give me a new challenge!)

I'm in Romania Now

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Wow! I can't believe the time has passed. Back in September I made the jump to Romania and in just a few weeks came Autumn and the chaotic weeks of setting up my business and establishing residency. By the time I locked in my apartment, some work teaching English/remotely managing a DAM/Communications manager for Armata Salvarii, winter arrived. Before I knew it I was in Constanta with Marian & Daniela Sterea celebrating Christmas, back in Bucharest for New Year's then off again with Marian, Daniela & Cristian to Bucovina for a week.

Then the rush of getting things going, 4 jobs in to get a steady income all while trying to start making connections as a ROMANIAN PHOTOGRAPHER. So... here I am, and once the snow melts away and the Spring sun starts shining, I'll be ready with my gear to capture some Weddings, Portraits and all things photogenic.

So... start by BOOKING HERE!

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Phoenix is Hot! (in the summer... and dry)

Last week I visited downtown Phoenix for an entire week, but only had a limited amount of time to explore, really when I had an afternoon off for 2 days that week. I absolutely loved the local people, something about the southwest culture that has such a great vibe and atmosphere around city spots.

Looking west on Fillmore St. in Phoenix, AZ

Looking west on Fillmore St. in Phoenix, AZ

Monday afternoon I decided to spend my free afternoon exploring the city. So I spent a little time researching some areas, signed up for a bike share program, it's called Grid (I signed up for the $15/mo since it includes 60 mins/day free, rather than $7/hr -- best if you're going to use it more than 2 times). However, I probably spent more time looking for the nearest location where the bikes were (literally were 2 blocks from my hotel, but I walked about 5). Luckily I signed up online, because there's no way to pay at the stations, you just punch in a code on the back of the bike, which unlocks a locking bar, and that's when I pulled it away from the pole and slid the lock back in... which you're not supposed to do, it locked the back wheel and ended my ride... so I ended up standing there trying to hold up a heavy bike in the middle of the sidewalk and punch in my number to unlock it again. That's when I saw two holes to slide the lock bar on the side while riding, rather than inserting through the bike (hope that's not too confusing).

After getting on the bike, I rode probably 8 blocks, instead of 5, took a few wrong turns and then parked at the 2nd nearest location to a bike shop cafe; The Velo Bike Shop/Bicycle Nomad Cafe and hung out in the bike shop a bit, then moved over to the coffee area where I talked to the owner, Keith. For those who don't know, I dream of opening a bike shop cafe one day (preferably in Europe near the coast somewhere). So I talked to Keith for quite some time, learned his story and background and then grabbed a few promotional photos for him and one of him too.

I spent the rest of my time there, then walked back to my hotel. Along the way I found a tease to the heat that Phoenix gets as summer was starting to show it's signs. Walking in the sunlight was HOT! But once I got in the shade it felt beautiful... I love climates with no humidity, you can escape the heat fast if needed. I even sat outside on a shaded porch during the week, midday there and it felt amazing, was more comfortable there than inside the restaurant.

It wasn't until Saturday that I had my next opportunity to venture out, and a group of colleagues and I decided to head 20 minutes south to South Mountain Park and hike up a trail, thankfully it was another day that the temperature only rose to 78F (25C) -- which feels great in dry climates. Once getting to the top, the breeze was keeping us cool from the sun beating down on us, and we found an edge to sit upon and look over the city and metro area, while just relaxing and talking amongst each other.

Sitting on the edge of a cliff overlooking Phoenix metro area with a colleague (the rest of our group was just to the side and behind taking this pic)

Sitting on the edge of a cliff overlooking Phoenix metro area with a colleague (the rest of our group was just to the side and behind taking this pic)

When it was time to leave I looked back at how great of a spot just that little downtown area was, next time I hope to adventure out to the surrounding neighborhoods (if I ever get to visit there again). But the people were super friendly, the locals had many great suggestions for spots and places to check out, as you know I love local restaurants, cafes and popular hang out spots. We even saw Deon Cole live at a stand-up comedy show, met a French couple who I hope to see when I visit Italy at the end of the year, and again found a new connection for a potential bike shop cafe, maybe I can start one up in Atlanta too.

Follow me on Instagram and 500px to view more, and contact me if you'd like to purchase any prints from my posts or social media accounts.

Photographer Resources

One isn't born with knowledge or acquires it overnight by simply holding a camera and/or reading the manual (let's face it though, who reads the manual?). So I decided to compile a brief list of some great resources for those searching around for photography info:

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Those who find reading enjoyable, the book that actually got me out of the crib of being an "auto-function" hobbyist photographer was "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson. I have yet to meet the author, but little does he know he was the most influential photographer that jump started my photo career. It's very clear and understandable to those fresh to the pro photographer world, and also great even if you're just looking to improve your hobby. You can purchase the book from Amazon here.

There are tons of great magazines out there as well, Digital Photographer, Advanced Photographer and Popular Photography are my top three I always choose. If you want to focus on more specific categories of photography (nature, b&w, outdoor, wedding, etc) there are publications focusing on that as well. Another tip is to check out other magazines with ads, weddings, etc to study the styles and break down those photos.

My top online blogs & resources:

  1. Digital Photography School (introduced to me a couple years ago by a colleague) - This is, in my opinion, the best blog I follow. And I highly recommend to like and follow them on Facebook, they post the best articles in my opinion.
  2. 500px ISO is another amazing blog for photographers, taps into the network of 500px users (probably the best network of pro photographers around the world).
  3. B&H Photo Video (great resources for tech and beginners)
  4. Digital Photography Review offers amazing reviews of cameras and equipment, I highly recommend spending time here when researching what camera you'd like to purchase first, or next.
  5. Vincent Laforet (especially for Canon users). He also has a great resource to choosing a kit here.

When it comes to equipment, the most recommended brands are Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic and Sony. It's long been a battle between Canon and Nikon, myself being a Canon user, but it truly does come down to the photographer and the style of photography combined with the situations your camera needs to be able to handle. Honestly, look beyond biased opinions and names, and study the specs and unbiased reviews.

My kit that I bring almost everywhere. I have more equipment for shooting various projects, but this is my bare bones. Perfect for transporting around with me when I want to just do a photo walk, travel, or keep on me anytime.

My kit that I bring almost everywhere. I have more equipment for shooting various projects, but this is my bare bones. Perfect for transporting around with me when I want to just do a photo walk, travel, or keep on me anytime.

I won't talk too much about the editing side of photography yet, but that list of resources are great starts for grasping that too, and if you have access to Adobe Lightroom and/or Photoshop don't forget their free tutorials at tv.adobe.com.

I'll most likely add to this list as time goes on, but these are great to start with. If you have any recommendations also add it in the comments section.

2015

One year seems like it flashes by but also can hold a lot of different memories. But each new year brings a fresh start and hope that our journey down this road is always a great ride. 

Near Athens, GA one foggy afternoon

Near Athens, GA one foggy afternoon

As I look back each New Year I've either chosen a few resolutions and stuck with them for a few weeks or didn't choose any at all and enjoyed being lazy. For 2015 I've decided to create a few fresh goals and use this starting line to begin working on them (despite me adding more goals as time goes on).

1st: cycling has become a fun adventure, so I'll be working harder and sign up for at least one event this year (hopefully more - and most likely one that raised money for charity since its more rewarding than winning a race).

2nd: I'd like to begin pursuing my masters degree, which I've said since getting my undergrad. Currently I'm looking at focusing on marketing, wéll see.

3rd: Take on photo challenges! I've chosen two challenges to take on starting now, a 52 week challenge to choose a theme and shoot around that theme that week. And my second is the 100 people challenge; where I can work on stepping outside my introverted comfort zone and ask 100 random people if I can take their photo. Let's see how I do. I'll be sure to post frequent updates on here and also soon will post the article I found these challenges on in a later post, which is from a blog that every photographer should follow. 

Anyway, all this to say 2015 will be a great year to look forward to and I hope we all find ways to continue to grow where ever is needed. May the new year bring you a fresh start and many blessings!