Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Covering Santa Fe for New Mexico Magazine

I love my job. It was a dream of mine during college to be a journalist, but at that time in my life I thought I'd be telling stories with my words. It started out that way. In 1996, fresh out of UCSD, I founded a bi-monthly culinary independent publication called La Cocinita and wrote the majority of the articles for the first few issues. It wasn't long, though, before I was delegating the writing and focusing on photographs to accompany the articles. Well, that and selling advertising. More than 15 years later, after a complete career change, move, and move back, I find myself once again in the kitchens and dining rooms of New Mexican restaurants with a camera, and it many ways it feels like I never left.

For this New Mexico Magazine assignment I was asked to provide images to go with a story by writer Liz Lake that involved three restaurants in Santa Fe brining a renewed vitality to town. The restaurants were The Palace, the lowrider-themed Tia's Cocina in the new Hotel ChimayĆ³ and the Agave Lounge in the Eldorado Hotel. I photographed signature dishes, including the decadent ChimayĆ³ hot dog (Tia's) and the Tuscan Shrimp (Palace), and some drinks like The Envy (Agave). I also did portraits of widely acclaimed chefs Esteban Garcia (Tia's) and Joseph Wrede (Palace), both of whom I'd worked with in my past life.

I was in Santa Fe all day for this assignment, and broke out a good bit of lighting for people and drinks, a tripod for the interiors and my trusted reflectors for the food. I hope you've all had a chance to see the article in February 2012 issue of New Mexico Magazine.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Andaluz Hotel Rooms

I have gotten to know this downtown hotel really well over the last year or so. This 2-day assignment gave me a glimpse into the care that management takes with each room layout, and the detailed thought that makes each different room appeal to the wide range of clients that make the Andaluz their temporary home when they visit Albuquerque, as well as locals looking to get away without going away. Some rooms are intimate and decadent, some are set up perfectly to conduct business from. The challenge was to express this meticulous planning by way of my images in a way that would resonate with potential clients.

I spent many hours with Company B's Chris Bart, who flew in for the shoot as a creative director and brought much-needed vision to the project. I found myself looking at interiors differently than I had before, exploring lighting strategies in each room and identifying sweet spots that resided there. I used blended exposures to capture the distinct lighting choices in each room, and broke out speedlights to help bring out details. Using a 20mm lens in most cases, I worked hard to render rooms without contortion by taking extra time with setup and tweaking lines true in post.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Fashion: Sheri Ray

Fashion photography is not something I seek out. Until recently, any work I did with models was more a way for me to experiment with lighting and work on my chops than something to make ends meet or feed my starving inner artist. The more time I spend with a camera, though, the more I change my mind about things. Or open it. Though on-location work continues to be my wheelhouse – and I'm more likely to take cheesy landscapes, pictures of my kids, or photos of bugs for fun – I'm looking at renting a studio space downtown so I am able to offer more options to the people that choose me for their photography.

The collaboration below, with lovely local model Sheri Ray, ended up in this space. It is nice to have a model with which I have the time, in a controlled environment, to experiment with techniques I'd never dream of on assignments where the subjects are busy and the settings unpredictable or evolving.

Sheri Ray and I (along with local photographer Jennifer Garrett and make-up artist Mack Weaver) started out at the Anodyne downtown where I tried using 3 speedlights and some HDR on backgrounds to get a gritty look. We moved to a window for a few shots and then packed up and walked across the street to the studio, where 2 alien bees and a seamless backdrop awaited us.