Personal Project: Tintype Process with Tony Gambino


Sometimes I like to do something creative and explore new ideas with fun and interesting subjects.  A couple of months back I called a fellow photographer friend (who's a master at shooting weddings, check out his website here) and asked if he'd like to let me shoot some portraits of him with gritty, aged tintype processing to the final prints.  He agreed and we met up for a couple of hours to just have a bit of fun and see what we come up with.  It's great to work with interesting and visually-inspiring people who are artists themselves.  Tony was also gracious enough to shoot some head shots of me, one of which is my bio picture.  Here's the results of my tintype process study.  


Playing With Shadows

October 26th, 2010[gallery link="file" order="DESC" columns="4"]

I love pure inspiration when it happens on it's own. My latest shoot was one of those occasions when it all comes together creatively and practically. It started when I met 17 year-old, 6' 0" tall new model Nori Crain. She was looking for a local photographer to work with for some better portfolio shots, and mentioned that she was considering moving to Milan to work in the European market. Knowing what she was looking for from my experience shooting in Milan, I new of some location ideas of where to shoot with her. Just some white walls in shadowy sunlight but nothing more than ordinary. Then while I was standing on my back patio the night before we shot, an idea came to me from out of nowhere that I have never seen done in print or any fashion editorials- I could make her shadow have a personality of it's own. Thus "Shadow Play" was created and I began putting together the styling and looks immediately. I've seen this concept done in Bugs Bunny cartoons, but just never anywhere in the kinds of fashion magazines I read. It's not to say that it's never been done before, it's just that I didn't get the idea from something I saw, it happened out of thin air. I love when creative energy just whispers in your ear, and something original comes to life. It's what being an artist is all about.

Nori was a pleasure to shoot with, and one of the biggest reasons why is the fact that she was so into being a part of cool projects.  She was on time, enthusiastic, gracious in her demeanor and just so very willing to dig in and do whatever needed in a very professional way.  For all you potential models out there wondering what you can do to get more shoots- in short, be as valuable to the photographer as you can be.  Nori was able to take direction easily, and was also able to take the good with the bad.  I'm particular about not just letting models use a bunch of fake-looking poses to call it a fashion shot.  I want an energy from the model that can be recorded on film.  Nori was able to listen to me try to get that out of her, and she did her best to see what I was wanting.  When she "got it", boy did she get it.  Some of the most stunning editorial shots I've gotten yet.  Really pro stuff from someone who is only 17 years old.

I styled this one myself.  Out of necessity, I've had to learn a bit more about styling since being in the desert southwest there aren't many (any at all) stylists here.  In L.A. and New York there are as many as there are photographers because a good one can make a living at it.  It's not really my thing, but I do really enjoy putting together my own outfit designs into my shoots.  I think good styling is a talent all it's own, and a skill I definitely like to include in my abilities.  It's just not something I see myself doing full time!

I really love to just get out and create.  Explore ideas and let my own "idea generator" rev up.   It keeps me dialed in to what I can dream up for commercial clients and gallery exhibitions.  I keep lists of specific ideas that come to me on a pretty consistent basis- so much that I can't find time to shoot them all. Some of these ideas will become upcoming ads for the companies I shoot for, and others may be editorial shots for magazine spreads, modeling agency work or whatever.   I've got some pretty innovative ideas for up-coming shoots, so we'll see what happens.   I want to thank Nori for being a very talented and amicable model, and Audrey (who has done makeup and modeling for me before) for putting together a very fashion makeup look together for this shoot.  Looking forward to the next one.

Shooting for Elite Model Management in L.A.

August 25th, 2010

About a month ago I flew to Los Angeles to shoot some model test/portfolio shots for Elite Model Management.  For those who may not know, modeling agencies send their models to approved photographers to get photos for their comp cards, portfolios and for the agencies' website.  The key aspect of delivering usable shots for a major agency is to know what the agencies particular style and cliental is, and to recognize what the model needs in their portfolio.  The basis is to shoot the model in a way that is going to get the attention of clients and therefore get the model booked.  Each agency has their own look, or style that they represent themselves with, and will sign a model based on the model's ability to fit that look.  As mentioned before, a photographer must also understand and represent that style in their creative approach, otherwise the photos could misrepresent the agencies' style format and therefore be rejected.  As the photographer, I have full creative control, but I'm not going to waste the model's time by shooting stuff that they can't use.  It's important to remember the model's needs first, then create something that is going to hopefully not just satisfy, but impress.  In a place like L.A., that's may not be easy.

What is easy though, is being really good to work with.  Keeping a positive energy, allowing the model to be a part of the decision-making process, and always respecting everyone and doing your best under any circumstances.  I was surprised at how the models were so easy to work with. They were willing to try any idea I had, and genuinely had a good time throughout the sessions.  Sometimes their own ideas worked great as well, and me being willing to go with it really made them feel that they were a part of the process and not just someone being told where to stand.  I was equally impressed with the model's ability on camera.  There's no substitute for professionalism, and Elite's models just know how to inspire me to want to shoot all day.  In fact, you just can't call it "work", it's more like a challenge to see how good you all can correlate to get the shot.

To see the shots go to, hover your mouse over Los Angeles, click on Elite and scroll alphabetically to Alexandra Cobrin, Jana Banker and Jena Sims (the models I shot with).  Not all the images in their portfolios are mine, but two of their main photos are and you can reference their shots with ones in my AGENCIES gallery at to see which ones are mine.

So, to models Jena, Ali, and Jana, and my L.A. makeup and hair team Jyoti and Jaque, I just want to say "thank you"-  you all are such professionals and it was so much fun shooting with you.  Much love!  I'm looking forward to my next trip back again.  Below are a few screen captures of the model's online portfolios.

Project New Day: July 30th 2010!

April 6th, 2010 The ad for Project New Day is out!  The launch party was last Friday and we got to see the final posters, flyers and magazine print ad campaigns.  It's such an honor and a pleasure to be part of such a worthy project and I was happy to have shot the ad.  Look for the ad to run the in May, June and July issues of Albuquerque The Magazine.

And here's a picture taken with my iPhone of one of the models in the ad , Natasha, who was at the party.

You can see the behind-the-scenes shots of the photo shoot in a previous post.  I hope to see you at the runway show on July 30th!

My latest project is finished!

Ugh!  After 3 grueling weeks I finally finished my latest time-consuming, stress overloading, production hours totaling and overall scheduling nightmare.  But it looks great!  The 2010-2011, "Hottest Calendar in the 505" is off to the presses!  You can find them at Twin Peaks, especially during lingerie week starting Friday, February 5th and throughout the weekend.  I'm excited to have put this together and want to give a HUGE thank you to my crew, the makeup artists and everyone who gave something of themselves to make this happen.  To the girls of Twin Peaks- thanks for doing such an amazing job and for being so professional!  Ya'll rock non-stop!