Recently I shot a new studio series with Hakeem Adewumi to capture the emotion and personality of the basketball athlete, more conceptually than literally. This concept was a collaboration with Taylor Crafter of Tenfold Journal, who helped play the role of Creative Director with me. Stoked about the results, and hope to start doing a series of these athlete studies.
The results are in!!!
If you read my first post here, you saw that I was looking for a new mobile retouching solution while I traveled. My computer and Wacom setup was kind of a pain to travel with, not to mention my MacBook Air needed upgrading. Check out that post to read about my thought process behind purchasing the new Apple iPad Pro 10.5".
Now, I had pretty high hopes, but pretty low expectations. Being able to retouch efficiently, with 42MP RAW files was not a small order for a tablet, even the brand new iPad Pro. But now that I've actually had a couple weeks with the iPad Pro, here are my findings.
IT FREAKING WORKED AND I LOVE IT. Let me break it down.
The whole thing was going to be a bust if I couldn't edit RAW photos. Thankfully, Adobe added support for RAW editing in Lightroom Mobile a few months back, and I knew I could at least edit the file. But to be honest, I don't use Lightroom. I edit everything in Photoshop, and Adobe's Photoshop Mix/Fix didn't seem like they'd be able to really give me the control/power/tools I'd need to retouch comprehensively.
And then I found Affinity Photo. This app is LITERALLY a rebranded Photoshop. Not some cheap imitation, but the kind you would use on your desktop. It's $20 in the App store, and worth every single penny. Layers/Masks/Tools/Selections/etc. are identical. I literally composited an image from multiple image files ON A PLANE. That's bonkers to me. Not to mention I can edit all on the screen with the Apple Pencil, which has no noticeable lag time and all the control of a Wacom Stylus. So. Rad.
Here's an example of a quick photo I just edited.
2. FILE HANDLING
Being able to sync with Dropbox is amazing. I can import RAW files straight into Affinity or import them from the Apple SD Card Reader, and can also save to Dropbox. Perfect setup that removes the need for cables or external hard drives. (Another rad option sounds like the GNARbox, which allows you to wireless import RAWs, I believe.). And once iOS11 drops later this month, the FILES app promises to further integrate Dropbox and cloud support, making it even easier to handle files.
3. OTHER TASKS
Another thing that makes me love using the iPad while I'm traveling or out of office, is my Logitech keyboard case. Basically turns the iPad into a functioning laptop with the keyboard, and holds my Apple Pencil. It still blows my mind how efficiently and effortlessly I can reply to emails, create documents (made a custom spreadsheet with a logo using Apple Numbers app), and handle all the needs of a small business from my iPad. Wild.
Ummmm... the keyboard isn't full size? File importing is not super fast, but honestly not that slow either for my Sony A7RII 42MP files. I'm honestly struggling to find any downsides at this point.
Maybe the biggest drawback is that if you REALLY want to get into the nitty gritty of intense retouching techniques like Frequency Separation, you might be limited. But as I mentioned in my first post, this isn't meant to replace my desktop. If I could edit every image on my 27" 5K iMac, I would. But sometimes, on the go, you just need something simpler, faster, and lighter to carry. The iPad is definitely that and more.
Comment below if you have any questions and I'll do my best to answer them.
If you're a photographer, I'm sure you've had the same question: Can the iPad replace a laptop for a photographer on the go? For me, a professional photographer that travels frequently, this is one of my most reoccurring questions. I'm also in need of a new travel solution because my MacBook Air is struggling a bit these days. So after the announcement from Apple at WWDC 2017 about the new iPad 10.5" Pro, I immediately placed an order, which will be shipped to me in two days, while I'm traveling to New York. In this post, I cover what problems I'm hoping this setup solves, and then in next week's post, I'll be posting the results.
But let me first address one thing:
Desktop vs iPad: While I think the iPad could be a great travel companion, there's no way it can beat having a dedicated desktop for a photographer. Having a large monitor, that's color calibrated, and in a consistent environment is invaluable for editing and retouching images. Unless you want to carry around a 27" iPad, I suggest you get that first. But I'm assuming no one is using an iPad as their main editing device.
Ok, there are three main reasons why this iPad setup has potential to be the golden ticket for a traveling photographer.
1. Simple Setup for Retouching
Ok, this is the main reason I decided to purchase the 10.5" iPad Pro. My current travel setup (MacBook Air plus Wacom tablet) makes it impossible to edit on a plane (not enough room), and is just a lot to carry around in my bag. The iPad's ability to retouch on the screen, with the Apple Pencil, theoretically combines both of those things in a smaller package.
Now there are two main things that make this setup possible in the first place. Adobe's recent update to Mobile Lightroom/Photoshop Fix apps, that allow for RAW image editing (reviews say 50MP files from Canon 5DS R work fine), AND the Lighting to SD Card reader which allows RAW images to be imported straight from the card. (Apple also makes a cable that connects to your camera to pull them from there, but this card reader from Ikadeer is supposed to have much faster import speeds). Both are game changers, and I imagine Adobe is currently developing even more tools for photographers using their iPad for editing and retouching.
In addition to the SD Card Reader and the Apple Pencil, I also purchased this keyboard case from Logitech which basically turns it into a more Microsoft Surface-esque device. The Apple keyboard looks better designed possibly, but this one has a Pencil holder.
So the main question is, will this setup work for retouching on the road? Obviously, I'm not retouching large numbers of files or big deliverables on this iPad. Just want to be able to make simple edits, and if somehow it turns out that a file HAS to be delivered, I think I'll still be able to accomplish that, minus some extreme Photoshop technique, like frequency separation or something. But honestly, trying to do that on anything other than a dedicated monitor sounds rough anyway.
2. Photoshoot Tethering
Another interesting use of the iPad is tethering to it on a photoshoot. Being able to hand it off to a creative director or client that can view images as they're coming in, especially if we're in a spot that doesn't allow for the full tether setup or we don't have the time, is huge. Now, I shoot Sony so our wireless tethering options are still limited. You can view files via the Sony Remote (like wireless tethering), but it disables the EVF, which is a deal breaker for me. Side note: I've spoken to Sony about this, really hoping it's fixed in the near future. But for now, you could still use it as an additional monitor on set by connecting it to your computer.
3. Portfolio Display
Now this might not be that important to everyone reading this, but if you show your portfolio work and need to display a motion reel, this is a really nice way to do so. This will be a great addition to my print portfolio at agency meetings.
And to top it all off, the functionality of the iPad Pro is going to be revolutionized when iOS11 comes out this Fall. If you haven't watched any videos about the new operating system, I highly recommend doing so. Not to mention the forthcoming FILES app looks to be a great way to incorporate files from the cloud, which is perfect because it eliminates the need to always travel with an external harddrive (not exclusive to the iPad, just now gets integrated further into the OS).
So basically my workflow will look like Import RAW selects from camera to iPad > edit using Lightroom Mobile or Photoshop Fix which allow for seamless files exchange (or some other app) > back up on Dropbox.
Seems like it could be legit. Results on retouching, workflow, iPad functionality, all coming next week. Subscribe to the blog or my newsletter to stay informed.
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to work with a fantastic team on a last minute editorial at Starhill Ranch outside of Austin, TX. Hope you dig the images!
Photography: Philip Edsel
Styling: Jane Black
Hair and Makeup: Pepper Pastor
Production: Plaid Pony Productions
Models: Suzie Ford Walker of Campbell Agency & Remi Taylor of Wallflower Management
Last week I was given the opportunity to travel to California with the Sony team for an amazing event called Kando. Here we were given the opportunity to test out the brand-new A9 before it released to the public. They even had created an elaborate vintage set with models, vintage cars, and even some exotic animals.
To read my interview with Sony about using the A9 in a fashion editorial context, check out this interview I did with them on the Alpha Universe website.
Here are the images from the editorial.
- Production - Blue Pixel Creates
- Stylist - Lucy Warren Style
- Makeup - Jessica Kate Sinclair
- Men's Grooming - Gabby Grave
At SXSW this week, I captured some portraits backstage at the MTV Woodies concert/award show of some of music's hottest new acts. I only had a few minutes with each of them, but enjoyed chatting with them for a few minutes and grabbing some images! Check them out below!
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to build an incredible team for a short fashion story shot in the streets of NYC. Here's what we came up with, hope you dig the results.
(Huge thanks to the team below for making this happen!)
- Model - Dayna Frazer
- Stylist - Newheart Ohanian
- Hairstylist - Jasmine Gibbs
- Makeup Artist - Angelica Moreno
- Casting - Donna Grossman
This article was also posted on the Sony Alpha Universe, check it out along with great resources here.
This month I was chosen by Tumblr to be one of their creators during New York Fashion Week Men's. They gave me an all-access pass and the freedom to create, so while most of the other photographers were trying to capture the insanity and action of the runway, I was looking for quieter, more personal portrait moments amidst the chaos.
It was truly a photographers dream. With dozens of models, designers, and even their celebrity friends milling around backstage, I was able to steal them for a quick second to grab a portrait, usually ducking behind a rack of clothes for some privacy, or up against a window for some beautiful natural light.
I covered the entire week of shows with my Sony A7RII (as well as my A6500 when I needed the on-camera flash) and my Sony G Master 24-78 2.8. It was the perfect setup for versatility; I was able to get wide shots of the runway and immediately run backstage for tight portraits of the models. Here are a few of the images from my experience.
Last week I had the honor and privilege of photographing Mr. Science himself, Bill Nye, at New York Fashion Week. The Science Guy was walking in designer Nick Graham's show, along with fellow space-hero, Buzz Aldrin. Both were a blast to photograph.
Two weeks ago, I was invited by Adobe to participate in their Creative Jam competition in Austin. A handful of photographers were given 24 hours to create and submit one image on the theme of "Forward Motion." Once we created the image, we were give a couple hours on site to edit our image, present it to the crowd, and submit it for voting. The image I submitted ended up winning Best Photo (and I have a cool glass trophy to prove it). Here are a few of those images, as well as my thought process behind the shoot.
Once I received the theme, it was off to the races. I texted my friend Erick, who is an insanely talented dancer/instructor here in Austin, and he just happened to be free. I wasn't exactly sure of the concept, but I knew that I would treat this shoot like any other. In fact, it was an opportunity for me to create personal work with no limitations or rules, other than a ticking clock. And I knew if I stayed true to my voice, I'd create something I could be proud of.
I'm kind of obsessed with scale and perspective, and the clean lines of modern architecture. I also had this location sitting in my pocket, and I was dying to shoot there. It's truly unbelievable. There's something about art on a massive scale, whether it's architecture or painting or sculpture, that just speaks to me. It speaks of dedication and perseverance and awe. With that inspiration in mind, Erick and I set about creating something that would (hopefully) do that scale justice.
Logistically, the setup was simple. My friend Leslie held a light (thanks Leslie!), I framed the shot, and Erick did his (unbelievably talented) thing. I was shooting with a super wide architectural lens, which is a no-no in fashion/portrait photography (OOPS), but I wanted to play with that scale and perspective distortion. And guess what, it worked. In the end, what I love most about these images is that they all speak of motion, but in a quiet, peaceful sense, rather than the sort of action-packed motion imagery we typically think of.
Last week, I decided last minute to take advantage of the overcast weather, to hopefully create some images that were both haunting and beautiful. Salicia looked awesome in this Monique Lhullier gown I pulled, and was up for all of my crazy ideas, including climbing into an epic statue of wild horses. Hope you dig the results, part two of this shoot coming soon.
Photography, Retouching and Styling: Philip Edsel | Model: Salicia Kol | Photo Assistant: Leslie Hodge
Two weeks ago, I shot a lookbook for a great Austin boutique, LURE by Y&F. They wanted day time shots, as well as night images, and in four hours we managed to get quite a few of both! It helped that I had scouted the locations a few times to check on the light and we had a killer team running on schedule. We even wrapped 5 minutes ahead of schedule! Within 7 days, I had edited the images and created this look. That's what I call efficiency!
From the moment preproduction begins to the final delivery of the images, I strive to adhere to a schedule and over deliver. Little things like call sheets, post-production schedules, etc., go a long way in giving guidelines to the creative process and set expectations everyone can agree on. And hopefully you dig the results!
This blog post is for the brands out there in Austin, Texas (or anywhere for that matter) looking to hire a photographer for their brand. Seeing a lot of talented photographers doing great work, but don't know how to choose?
Here are some helpful steps for brands looking to hire a fashion photographer:
- Define your brand’s aesthetic.
- What kind of brand are you? What kind of vibe do you give off? Are your products edgy, bold and minimal, or are they brightly colored and full of patterns?
- Match that aesthetic with a style of photography.
- Lifestyle - Lifestyle photography generally uses natural light. Models aren’t stylized or posed, but generally in action, looking like they’re having fun and smiling. Models also tend to look more “normal” as opposed to more edgy looking high-fashion models. There are many photographers who claim to shoot “fashion,” when in reality they shoot lifestyle images.
- Fashion - This type of fashion photography you’d find in an issue of Vogue, generally more couture or high-end. These images often use bold colors, strong lighting, or hard shadows. They can range from looking more formal to down-right strange. These images require a photographer with strong, creative concepts.
- Studio - Maybe you don’t need a lifestyle image on a beach or a haut couture model on the runway. You need product shots or models against a plain backdrop so customers can see how the clothes fit on a real person. Studio shots are best for this, and usually require a photographer with strong technical lighting skills.
- Find photographers whose portfolios show the types of images you want.
- Like any great artist, a great photographer isn't the jack-of-all-trades. They specialize, choosing to focus on their unique style. If you need perfectly lit studio images, it’s probably best to avoid the natural-light lifestyle photographer, unless he or she shows you they can shoot both. Look at their portfolios and determine if those are the type of images you’d be happy with.
- Speak with them!
- You’re most likely spending a full day, if not multiple days, with your photographer, and that can quickly turn into a nightmare if your photographer acts unprofessionally. How do they handle themselves? How do they handle stress? How do they treat their clients, the models, the assistants? How organized are they and how well do they communicate? It’s important to feel confident you’re dealing with a professional, and usually that can be quickly assessed with a phone call.
Once you’ve followed all of these steps, you should be well on your way to finding a fashion photographer. If you’re in Texas looking for a fashion photographer, please feel free to give me a call or shoot me an email. I’d love to chat, and answer any questions I can. Cheers!
Well it’s here, and whether you like it or not, Instagram’s new Stories feature is taking direct aim at Snapchat and the minutia of our daily lives. I, for one, am loving it. Stories allows us to share things with our followers that we might never post, humanizing our digital personas and connecting with the community in a totally new way. And even if you refused to join Snapchat, there’s no denying it that Instagram is where the people, and the brands, already are. So take advantage of the built-in community of Instagram with Stories, or you and your CD collection will be left in the digital dust.
Here are a few ways that I’ve been using Instagram, and some ways I think photographers can add value with the new feature, for themselves and for brands.
- Humanize Your Online Persona - This is a tricky one. Stories are a way for you to show you don’t just take great photos, but you are actually a cool person (we hope). Tell people what shows you’re watching on Netflix, what new bar makes the best Old Fashioned in town, or get feedback on your next tattoo. But word to the wise, just because you have a whole new outlet for the mundane, doesn’t mean your followers want to go with you to the DMV. Just use some discretion.
- Share Your Inspiration - As a photographer and an artist, I spend a lot of my time looking for inspiration and being creative, so this is an easy way to keep your followers engaged. They love your work, so they probably would love to know where you get your inspiration from. I’ve been trying to do a daily posts of things that inspire me, and the response has been great.
- Show Exclusive Content - Now this is going to be the real value add for brands, but for photographers also. We always show our finished, polished work, but everyone loves a good behind the scenes. You can show more of the location or the talent’s personality or how exactly you’re lighting the set. It’s also a great way to preview new content, without the expectation of perfection.
- How-To & Advice - Surely you know something your followers would love to know more about. I’ve been posting how-to’s on planning for a shoot, studio lighting, editing images, etc. I’ve also been able to record a few more personal videos with some advice from things I’ve learned along the way.
How do you know your Stories are successful? Well, your views should be pretty consistent from story to story. You should also see more engagement across the board, and increase the conversations with your followers. Good luck!
I'm always grateful when brands trust my creative vision for a new season's lookbook or ad campaign. But when I get to help sculpt a brand's image from scratch, it's really something special. Gravity Athletica is a new fitness and athleisure brand from Houston, TX launching this Fall, and they asked me help give their brand a unique visual voice.
The name Gravity Athletica has a certain weightiness and boldness to it. Their clothing is simple and sleek with unique details that we wanted to bring attention to. I knew I wanted to let the pieces speak for themselves and make a bold statement, so rather than the typical lifestyle fitness look, I wanted to push their images into more of the fashion space. I chose to use the sky as a backdrop, and play with strong lines and hard shadows. Hope you dig the results.
As a native Texan, I've visited San Antonio quite a few times. As a kid, I use to cruise the Riverwalk, compete in tournaments around town, and tour the Alamo, as any a middle-school Texan dutifully does. Frankly, I thought I had the city figured out. It had it’s interesting moments and unique history, but I didn’t consider it the most exciting travel destination and it's been a few years since I’ve visited. But after my recent trip to San Antonio with The Luxury Collection at the newly-restored St. Anthony Hotel, I realize just how wrong I was. Not only does San Antonio have some of Texas’ most interesting historical sites, the food and cocktail scene is exploding, and perhaps even rivals the notoriously delicious culinary offerings of Austin, Houston, and Dallas.
Upon arriving at the St. Anthony, I was immediately struck by the old-world grandeur of the hotel. Located in the heart of downtown San Antonio, a block from the Riverwalk, the hotel is truly a gem of Texas. The lobby is ornamented with impressive chandeliers, some original and some repurposed or custom-made from original lamps and lights around the hotel. In fact, the St. Anthony is one of the few properties designated by the U.S. Government as a historical landmark, which meant the hotel’s restoration had to be meticulously true to the original design of the hotel. Original brass doors welcome visitors and massive tapestries line the walls of rooms in the hotel. And with over 100 years of history, each room has its own unique character and story to tell. My personal favorite story? The tale of the Grand Steinway that sits in the lobby, originally built at the turn of the previous century for the Czar of Russia.
The first night of my stay began with cocktails at The St. Anthony Club, which just so happened to be the spot Southwest Airlines began as a rudimentary drawing on a napkin. After cocktails, we made our way to Biga on the Banks where I enjoyed cuisine true to the state of Texas: venison and quail from local Texas farms. The following day we received private tours of both The St. Anthony Hotel and the Alamo, both intertwined with the history of San Antonio. And if those tours weren’t enough, we even received a tour of a San Antonio favorite, Mi Tierra, a 24-hour Tex-Mex joint decked out in Christmas ornaments and fiesta fare year-round. Yes, you read all of that correctly. And it was amazing. That night, I was lucky enough to attend the grand re-opening celebration of the hotel, which consisted of full string orchestras, vintage Bentleys, and even a plastic globe dancer floating atop the rooftop pool. It was truly an amazing event, and such an honor to witness generations of Texans rediscover the St. Anthony all over again.
The rest of the weekend consisted of more amazing events, most of which I can’t do justice to in a blog post, but here's my best shot: A fantastic presentation from The Order of the Alamo. A private demo from the head instructor at the Culinary Institute of America. A riverwalk cruise. And finally, a five-course meal at Rebelle, the newest offering from restauranteur Andrew Goodman and head chef Stefan Bowers, who personally cooked our meal. It was an incredible dining experience, and Andrew couldn’t have been a more welcoming host. (He even introduced me to a few of his signature cocktails from Haunt, the super-chic new cocktail spot located inside the hotel).
All-in-all, my stay at The St. Anthony Hotel was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one I won’t soon forget. The hotel staff, including hotel general Manager Kevin Thorstenson, were as hospitable as they come and I can’t wait to return to the historic and reinvigorated San Antonio.
I've really been challenged over the last few months to pursue what I'm passionate about in photography, not just projects that will make money or be popular on Instagram. Who do I want to be as photographer? What kind of art do I want to create? What's my "style"?
It's a difficult thing to define oneself, and while it might seem limiting at first, it turns out there's a lot of freedom in specialization. It frees you up to know what to give your time, effort, and passions to. It allows you to feel good saying "no" to projects that would be draining to you and allows you to focus on the projects you do pursue.
So how do you find out what your passion is? Look at your inspiration. Which artists inspire you? What kind of art keeps you up at night? What type of photos do you look at and say, "Damn, I wish I shot that?" For me there are quite a few, but I always come back to Leibovitz (Annie, in case there was some confusion). Especially the cinematic work shot for Vogue. The moody landscapes, the bold colors, the high fashion. I love how epic those shots feel. I want to create art like that. So that's what I've set out to do.
Now there are obvious hindrances, first and foremost being budget. Those are huge productions with massive budgets (for Annie, at least) for travel, wardrobe, gear, etc. Well, this is a personal project so my budget was less than massive. And my epic landscape options were a bit limited (to like none). So I spent some time problem solving (aka learning Photoshop), and came to the conclusion that this would need to be a composite project.
The first image in this series is titled Hysteria, and is based loosely around longing and chaos and drama. I knew I wanted to work with this Icelandic landscape because of the drama, and once I found the basic images for the back plate, I knew my colors would be green in the landscape and red for a striking contrast in color. In the same Facebook post I found my model, the dress from a local designer, and an incredible makeup artist and my wife to style. For $0 dollars. That's pretty cool, and this project would have been impossible without their help. Can't wait to show you the rest!
Today's inspiration revolves around Bono. The first is a quote from Bono about U2's first record.
"You can have everything - the songs, the production, the face, the attitude - but still not have 'IT'... U2 really had nothing but 'IT.'
We wanted to make music to take you in and out of your body, out of your comfort zone, out of yourself, as well as your bedroom, a music that finds you looking under your bed for God to protect your innocence."
The second bit of inspo comes from Art Schreiber's portrait of Bono, which I love.