Black & White: Absence of Color Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

black and white

ˈˌblak ən ˈ(h)wīt/

adjective

Displaying only black and white tones; without color, as a picture or chart:

a black-and-white photograph.

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Black and white photography is an essential and significant part of the entire story of photography. Some of the greatest photographers in history, such as Diane ArbusAnsel AdamsBernice Abbott, and Elliot Erwitt (among other greats!), chose black and white photography over color because of it’s timeless, fine-art appeal.

I personally love black and white photography because the absence of color allows you to connect with the true essence of the subject – whether the subject is a person, a building, or just nature. I’m connected with the essence, the patterns; the light and shadows that create the image.

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Here are 5 Tips on How To Create Stunning Black and White Images:

Shoot in RAW –  Shooting RAW allows better control in post production. You will not only be producing a quality image ready for printing, but you will also have a better capacity to correct some mistakes you may have committed during your shoot.

Look for Contrast – Contrast gives a more dramatic nuance to your images, and will intensify their feel. Remember, the point of greatest contrast should be the subject of the shot. By doing so, and giving a bit of open space around your subject, it will direct the eye to your focal point, and add a certain balance to your images.

Right Light – Lighting in a black and white shot can be very important. Direct lighting will often add to contrast. Side lighting will reveal any texture that a subject might have (and in portraits will accentuate features), and light from any one direction will create shadows. Find the right light that will help enhance your image, and remember underexposure is your best friend.

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Pay attention to lines, patterns, and shapes –  Try to visualize in black and white before you shoot. Then take a look at the patterns and shapes that you’re about to capture. Because color tends to draw attention, patterns or shapes can sometimes go unnoticed in color, but can definitely come alive in a black and white shot – and can often take on an abstract quality.

Shoot on gray days – Remember my Today’s Overcast; Nature’s Reflector blog? Well, it applies best on black and white photography. Overcast skies create a beautiful gray tone that will help balance your shot, and the soft light will give your subjects a smooth transition.

Absence of color is not for everyone when it comes to photography. I know a lot of photographers who choose color over black and white. But, for those who do enjoy creating black and white images, you’ll have a lot of fun shooting and with post production.

“To see in color is a delight for the eye but to see in black and white is a delight for the soul.” – Andri Cauldwell

 

As always, I would love to see what you create. Please leave a comment with the link where I can follow your work.

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Because Dads Need Some Love Too

Every year I show my respect for all mothers who have done such an awesome job being wonder women. I usually skip to the grads, and congratulate them on all of their hard work and efforts. Come July, I realize I missed a date that is equally important: Father’s Day!

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Well, this year, I made sure that changed. I have dealt with my share of fathers when it comes to portraits. The one thing they all have in common is that no matter how stoic they appear to be on the surface, or how cool they want to look in public, they are the cheesiest, sweetest goofballs, who melt at the thought of their children’s happiness. If that’s not worth capturing with your lens, I don’t know what is.
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Although it’s less common to think about dad (vs. remembering mom) for portraits, it’s always a good idea to capture the great moments with our dear fathers. I’m sure you’ll both enjoy taking a look at them in the future. Maybe both of you can even laugh at your future selves looking back and laughing at your present selves, remembering how good it is and was to laugh with your dad.

So this Father’s Day, grab your camera and make sure to capture dad’s best smile (or half smiling grin – which also makes great portraits). Don’t forget to show him extra love for being so awesome.

Cheers to you ol’ man – thank you for being so great!

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“My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it” – Clarence Budington Kelland

As always, I would love to see what you create. Please leave a comment with the link where I can follow your work.

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Meet the Artist: Shaun J Guzman

Welcome to the first episode of “Meet the Artist”! I am so excited to share with you a project that has been in the works for quite some time. I am extremely grateful to the team that helped me put this project together, and I can’t wait for you to meet all the great artists I have in line for this series.

Actors, directors, film makers, photographers, musicians, chefs, painters, and any other artists that have dedicated their lives to their craft – Meet the Artist is dedicated to you!

I wanted to start with a good friend of mine who is one of the most dedicated people I know. He is a unique person who is passionate, humble, and is not afraid to be different. What I admire the most about this man is his ability to overcome adversity, and his strive to make his dream come true.

And now, without further ado, “Meet the Artist” Episode 1 presents Shaun J. Guzman:

Click Here to See the Interview on YouTube

Interview with Shaun J. Guzman (transcribed 5-30-2017)IMG_4439

S.- Hello, my name is Shaun J. Guzman.  I am here at the studio with Dani Guerrero.  We’re gonna do a photo shoot and interview.  This is gonna be very awesome, and I can’t wait!  Now I’m gonna do a makeup so they can do some photo shots of me.

     First part of the process is that I’m going to do a makeup.  It’s a movie called “Fade to Black” starring Dennis Christopher, probably one of my favorites.  My friend introduced me to him.  I connected because, one, the character worked in movies.  I love movies and he was inspired by all the classic monster movies.  And I love classic monster movies as well, and that inspired me to love the movie as well.  So, I’m doing this makeup.

    As you can see, I am making it white. because that’s the poster of it, for “Fade to Black.”  Similar, I think the makeup is Dracula in a way.

    Usually, I took… Now we’re doing this one… really I think that took me, I would say um, an hour.  An hour and something to do this.  Not too long though.  The other makeups that I tried on… I would say sometimes it all depends on what it is and how fast you can do it.

    Like my brother.  He’s a makeup artist, Jimmy A. Guzman, and he did what he did for me.  He did a vampire thing, not like Dracula, but something like vampire.  And it took um, well, the process of that would be what?  Two hours, I think, but for him.  That he knew about it, the steps about it.  No more than… say ninety to an hour.  Just to do it fast, and he did it.

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D.- What inspires you?

S.- (after a thoughtful pause) Courage… and motivation.

D.- Who inspires you?

S.- God, family, friends, and most importantly, fans!

D.- Why acting, directing, and screenplay?

S.- Acting, because it gives me that, it gives me that FUEL.  It gives me that burning desire.  It leaves me… breathless.  I just love it so much that I just continue on doing it every single day.  Whether it be at home, at a studio, or somewhere.  I just do it because, I, it gives me a kick.  It’s like a drug.  I put it in me and I just keep going, keep on going.

    For writing, I have so much ideas, so much story ideas that I want everybody to watch.  I want everybody to see my world through my eyes when I’m writing it.  I want that.  I want people to engage.  I want people to feel what I feel.  I want people to smile what I smile.  I want people to be sad when I’m lonely.  I want people to feel those expressions through my stories.

    For directing, I just get a… I know it was my calling card, as I wasn’t really prepared for it yet.  But I think I have a sense of what directing is.  How to go about it, how to go about the approach.  And I think, in my heart, I can actually do directing.  Give the fans, give everybody a chance to see what my directing style can be.  It can be from a crazy roller coaster ride.  I can give you something and then, boom, put you back.  Or I just can surprise you at the end of the directing reel.

D.- Advice for anyone who wants to start acting, wants to start screenplaying, or wants to start directing?

S.- For anyone who wants to start off with acting.  My advice to them… Watch classic movies.  That will be your starting point.  Don’t watch nothing that it is today.  You need to start watching history.  Learn the history.  You respect the history, and understand the history of motion pictures.  Back in Hollywoodland days where Bette Davis ruled the world.  Where James Cagney was in all of Hitchcock’s movies.  Where the day where Carlton Heston used to be a part of biopics.  Watch those.  If you don’t watch those, you might not have, you might not be able to understand the essence of acting.  That’s what it started from.  As it comes, everybody admires, enjoys, and respects Hollywoodland days, because it was just pure of acting.  That’s all it was, just pure of acting, at it’s best, at it’s finest, at it’s glorious moment, of that time and frame.

    For screenwriting, for everybody who really loves stories, loves creating stories.  My advice for them… Watch movies that is suitable for your stories.  If you love science fiction movies, go watch a science fiction.  And my advice, go watch a classic before you watch anything that is today.  Always start off with classic movies, with classic stories, because that will help your growth.  Make you understand you are as a screenwriter, and who you are as an artist, through your stories.  That’s all it’s going to take, to just watch classical movies.

    For directing.  It all depends on who you are as a director.  If you’re Stanley Kubrick, watch a Stanley Kubrick film, and get inspired by that.  If you’re a Martin Scorsese, go watch a Martin Scorsese film.  If you’re a Hitchcock, like me, watch his direction.  Watch his style of his format.  And there’s a reason why people are inspired by him, mostly because he can bring you in.  He can bring you out.  He can always bring you in, then surprise you at the very stop.  And that’s what I like, that’s my style on that take.  And Quentin Tarantino.  What can I say about that dude?  He, he will surprise you literally through a scene.  Then you may be surprised.  You see a scene continue on, continue, continue.  You see, and boom, he gets you like that, and he brings you back out, brings you back in.  He draws you in, he draws you out.  There’s emotions going through the scene, and it’s, it’s very beautiful.  So, that’s my advice for the directors, for any aspiring directors, to look at classical movies before you see anything that’s today.  That’s my advice.

D.- What are your struggles as an actor?

S.- My struggles as an actor… knowing that I am an actor, and knowing that there are lots of negative aspects around that area.  The only thing that I can really say to that, just shy away from all the negative aspects.  Just keep on going because there’s going to be hard knocks.  There’s going to be bad people.  There’s going to be a huge wall that you’ll overcome.  And all of those are factors while struggling as an actor.  And there are gonna be time where they’re gonna say ‘No.”  There are gonna be times when they’re gonna say “You don’t have the right look.”  There are times where they’re gonna say “Sorry kid.  Just not for you today.”  That stuff, those aspects.  And, um, and for any aspiring actor, just do what you can, just to overcome it.  Because you’re gonna have that.  Don’t feel bad about it.  It’s gonna be an experience for you, so just move on.  Keep on going.  Whoever gives you a ”Yes,” go to that person.  Someone offers you an opportunity, just go for it.  Just wing it to see what can happen.  You’re taking a risk as you go.  You’re taking major big steps as you go, and you’ll be surprised, you’ll be really amazed to the risks you go to.  Because you’re gonna say “Damn, I made a right decision”, because you didn’t think you suffered that”.

To see more of Shaun’s work, follow him on social media:

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Dama Tropical

dä ma

feminine noun

lady

Dama Tropical A tropical lady – a fun, flirty woman; vibrant, and elegant; playful, and captivating.

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One of the things I love most about portraits is that they can be a platform to create and allow your artistry to shine. Especially when working with the artist (in this case, the artist is the lovely Kat, once again). When you create an artistic bond with someone, it transforms your photo shoots into fun projects. Everything begins to fall into place perfectly, and the results are infinitely more satisfying.

In this project, Kat created the fun character of la Dama Tropical. Here’s her artistry explanation on the make up she used to create this fun character:IMG 5183-2

Kat: “As much as I love having short hair, I feel like my looks mostly lean towards a more edgy style. Which I love! Its who I am. However, I wanted to step out of my usual fierce mode and shoot something bright, pretty and lighten the mood. With that being my mindset while I was combating an emotional funk I was in, I began with the bright look. As I was doing my makeup, I was picking happy colors that made me feel better with each brush stroke. I arrived to the studio in full bright makeup ready to be a sunny tropical princess.

I used the Urban Decay Skin foundation. I love how it wears, alone. It has a very natural finish and a medium yet build-able coverage.

The lipstick I used was also by Urban Decay,  “Fire bird”. I love the way it photographs with its high shine and vibrant fuchsia color with a deep violet/blue undertone.

I opted out of filling in my brows since I wanted the yellow circles in the makeup to be pronounced. I used a creamy yellow paint by Cinema Secrets and set it with a neon yellow Kryolan shadow on the lid.

I used blush from my Morphe blush pallette, such as the pink around my eyes.

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I usually start with the light/natural look first, then do a more dramatic look after but in this case I did it backwards. I wiped my face clean from look number one and reapplied. I really wanted a glowing look, so I used cream EVERYTHING! (minus my eyeshadow)

Cream blush by Tarte, cream highlight by Becca Cosmetics. After I wiped off the lipstick from the previous look, it left this nice stain that I kept on my lips.

It was fun to play with the looks by switching up the order of things, playing with colors and taking in the tropical rhythms bumping on the speakers. Summer Vibin’!”

“All we need really, is a change from a near frigid to a tropical attitude of mind” – Marjory Stoneman Douglas



To see more of Kat’s beautiful glam creations, please visit her website: Glam By Kat


You can also follow her on social media:

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Mamá: Happy Mother’s Day!

madre

mä dray

feminine noun

(relative) mother
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Today, Latin America celebrates a very special person: Mamá!
And because we also celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday in the US, I thought I would dedicate this blog to the most important women in all of our lives.
I often find myself telling my clients how every woman should have their portraits taken, especially mom. There’s always a warm and tender feeling when you find an old picture or portrait of mom – and let’s be honest, mom’s make the best models. Am I right?
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But seriously,  take some time off from all your photo projects, and take some time to capture that wonderful woman in your life. Glam her up, and make her feel like the most beautiful woman on Earth. Because she really is beautiful and wonderful.
Capture her in her favorite environment. Take a candid picture of her while she smiles, or of her showing that oh-so-memorable raw emotion that defines her. If that raw emotion is her not smiling, capture that. As long as you capture her in her true nature, you’ll capture her true beauty.
You’re not simply enjoying this moment. You are capturing the matriarchal legacy in your family history. You never know what generation you’re capturing the essence of her for.
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This is my mother. We admire the strength, wisdom, and patient nurturing that our mothers show us. Personally, I also admire the consistent capability my mother has learned how to be a better human – te amo belleza de mujer!

“All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”

— ABRAHAM LINCOLN

 

As always, I would love to see what you create. Please leave a comment with the link where I can follow your work.

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In the Frame: Framing Composition

Frame

frām/
verb
gerund or present participle: framing
  • surround so as to create a sharp or attractive image.
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A fun and great way to emphasize on your subject is by using a frame to direct the viewer’s attention directly to the subject. A frame can be a literal frame (doors, windows, etc.), surrounding objects, light (lack of, or bright lights), and/or colors.
This composition helps bring context to your images. For example, a person in the middle of a crowd. By blurring out the people surrounding him/her, you will enhance the moment and emotion.
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It also enhances architecture, and nature.
Before choosing the frame for your subject, consider the following questions:
  • Is the frame taking away from what I want the viewer to pay attention to?
  • Is it leading the eye to your main focal point?
  • Does it add depth of field?

With just a bit a practice and attention, you can master this composition, in no time.

“You can frame a moment. But you can´t frame life.”
― Armin Houman

Be creative, think outside the box, and always follow your intuition.

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As always, I’d love to see what you create. Please leave a comment with the link where I can follow your work.

Depth of Field

depth of field
noun
the distance between the nearest and the furthest objects that give an image judged to be in focus in a camera.
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Depth of Field is best captured (but not always required) with a wide lens by factoring three factors: aperture (f-stop), distance from the subject to the camera, and focal length of the lens on your camera.

Let’s start with aperture. Remember, aperture (f-stop) refers to the access given to light by the lens to the camera sensors. So, the lower your f-number, the smaller your depth of field and vice versa. (See chart below.)

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When it comes to distance, the closer your subject is to the camera, the shallower your depth of field becomes. Therefor, moving further away from your subject will deepen your dept of field.

 

When considering your focal length, try to keep it short for best results;  the longer you set your focal length, the more shallow the depth of field will be.
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 Depth of field can be used in any style of photography; from landscapes to head shot portraits, macro photography to bokeh(the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens). Keep these three factors in mind, and let your intuition guide you.

“Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field”

– Peter Adams

 

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As always, I’d love to see what you create. Please leave a comment with the link where I can follow your work.