Starhill Fashion Editorial

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!

TEAM

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

Sony A9 Fashion Editorial

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
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Portraits from the MTV Woodies during SXSW

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!

Rick Ross (the biggest bawse aka teflon don)

Rick Ross (the biggest bawse aka teflon don)

Khalid

Khalid

Muna

Muna

Bibi Bourelly

Bibi Bourelly

Desiigner

Desiigner

Starley

Starley

Slab

Slab

Once Upon A Time In New York City...

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!)

  • TEAM
  • Model - Dayna Frazer
  • Stylist - Newheart Ohanian
  • Hairstylist - Jasmine Gibbs
  • Makeup Artist - Angelica Moreno
  • Casting - Donna Grossman

Quiet Moments During the Chaos of New York Fashion Week.

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.

I knew Herieth Paul had a cool look, but it wasn't until after I got a couple natural light portraits with her that she told me she's actually the new face of Maybelline! Shot on the Sony A7RII w/ Sony 24-70 2.8 G Master | ISO 400 | 1/160s | f/4

I knew Herieth Paul had a cool look, but it wasn't until after I got a couple natural light portraits with her that she told me she's actually the new face of Maybelline! Shot on the Sony A7RII w/ Sony 24-70 2.8 G Master | ISO 400 | 1/160s | f/4

The man himself! Billy Nye was one of the presenters for Nick Graham's show at NYFW, inspired by science and our solar system. I grabbed a couple quick shots with him backstage and thought it space would be an appropriate backdrop for him. Shot on my Sony A7RII w/ Sony 24-70 2.8 G Master | ISO 250 | 1/125s | f/2.8

The man himself! Billy Nye was one of the presenters for Nick Graham's show at NYFW, inspired by science and our solar system. I grabbed a couple quick shots with him backstage and thought it space would be an appropriate backdrop for him. Shot on my Sony A7RII w/ Sony 24-70 2.8 G Master | ISO 250 | 1/125s | f/2.8

It was almost pitch black backstage before the Palmiers du Mol show, but I knew I had to grab a shot of my favorite look from his show. Using the on camera flash from the Sony A6500 w/ Sony Zeiss 16-35 f/4, I was able to do just that. | ISO 640 | 1/160s | f/2.8

It was almost pitch black backstage before the Palmiers du Mol show, but I knew I had to grab a shot of my favorite look from his show. Using the on camera flash from the Sony A6500 w/ Sony Zeiss 16-35 f/4, I was able to do just that. | ISO 640 | 1/160s | f/2.8

Sony A7RII w/ Sony 24-70 2.8 G Master |    ISO 500 | 1/125s | f/2.8

Sony A7RII w/ Sony 24-70 2.8 G Master |    ISO 500 | 1/125s | f/2.8

These days women are dominating even Men's fashion week, and Madisin Rian is no exception. Shot on my Sony A7RII w/ Sony 24-70 2.8 G Master |    ISO 800 | 1/200s | f/2.8  

These days women are dominating even Men's fashion week, and Madisin Rian is no exception. Shot on my Sony A7RII w/ Sony 24-70 2.8 G Master |    ISO 800 | 1/200s | f/2.8

 

Steve Aoki debuted his collaboration with designer Dim Mak at this year's NYFW, complete with punk bands and models shredding on skateboards in a custom built half pipe. Before all the noise though, I was able to grab him for a quick shot backstage. Shot with my Sony A7RII w/ Sony 24-70 2.8 G Master | ISO 640 | 1/125s | f/2.8

Steve Aoki debuted his collaboration with designer Dim Mak at this year's NYFW, complete with punk bands and models shredding on skateboards in a custom built half pipe. Before all the noise though, I was able to grab him for a quick shot backstage. Shot with my Sony A7RII w/ Sony 24-70 2.8 G Master | ISO 640 | 1/125s | f/2.8

Sony A7RII w/ Sony 24-70 2.8 G Master |    ISO 400 | 1/160s | f/3.2    

Sony A7RII w/ Sony 24-70 2.8 G Master |    ISO 400 | 1/160s | f/3.2

 

 

Silver-haired models hanging backstage before walking out onto Nick Graham's space-themed runway. Shot with my Sony A7RII w/ Sony 24-70 2.8 G Master |    ISO 500 | 1/125s | f/2.8

Silver-haired models hanging backstage before walking out onto Nick Graham's space-themed runway. Shot with my Sony A7RII w/ Sony 24-70 2.8 G Master |    ISO 500 | 1/125s | f/2.8

A quick shot from the Woodhouse presentation. All the models were just standing still, but this one was kind enough to take some of my direction so I could grab an interesting portrait with my Sony A7RII w/ Sony 24-70 2.8 G Master | ISO 400 | 1/160s | f/3.2

A quick shot from the Woodhouse presentation. All the models were just standing still, but this one was kind enough to take some of my direction so I could grab an interesting portrait with my Sony A7RII w/ Sony 24-70 2.8 G Master | ISO 400 | 1/160s | f/3.2

BILL NYE SAVES THE WORLD! (at NYFW)

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. 

Bill Nye in Space

Bill Nye in Space

The rules are simple: there are no rules.

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.

Winner: People's Choice Best Photo 

Winner: People's Choice Best Photo 

 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. 

Yes he actually did this. 

Yes he actually did this. 

Yeah... he did this too...

Yeah... he did this too...

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. 

 

Overcast Elegance.

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

Lure Fall Lookbook

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!

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How to Hire a Fashion Photographer (In Austin, Texas or elsewhere)

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:

  1. 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?
  2. Match that aesthetic with a style of photography. 
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!

How Photographers Should Use Instagram Stories

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!

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Gravity Athletica Launch Campaign

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.

Exploring San Antonio with The Luxury Collection

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.

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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.

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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.

Fashion Landscape Series Part One: Hysteria

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!

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PS. Here are some great resources that have helped me along the way:

Sony A7II Camera Error: "Turn power off then on"

I was on a shoot this past weekend and the moment that every photographer fears occurred: the camera stopped working. I got an error message saying "Camera Error Turn power off then on." No matter what I did, I couldn't get into the menu or get the camera to take a photo, nothing. 

Granted, it was about 100 degrees outside. If my camera had stopped working because of the heat, I'm not sure I would have blamed it. It was freaking hot. But I still needed a working camera, so I got online and tried to research the issue. I didn't find much besides, "take the battery out," which feels like the camera equivalent of the Nintendo 64's "just take the game out and blow on it." Needless to say, nothing worked.

The problem stems from the IBIS. Some said if you take off a lens while the camera is on, this will occur. That would be an unusual thing for me to do, but I suppose it's possible. I tried all sorts of reversing the process with taking the lens off and putting it back on, but that didn't help. Neither did sifting through forums and herds of internet trolls.

Anyway, here's the solution: Turn your camera off and on in rapid succession 3 or 4 times before the menu pops up. 

This should somehow reinstate (or throw off) the IBIS to make it function again. But even after it started working, if I turned my camera off it happened all over again. So I just had to repeat the solution. 

The shoot ended and thankfully I was able to fix the problem and finish the shoot. By the time I got home, the camera wasn't having the issue anymore. So it's possible it could have been a combination of the heat and IBIS, not sure. Either way, having a backup camera handy is always a good idea.

One more thing: I saw someone mention that this was a firmware issue of the A7ii, v. 1.10. I've tried to upgrade but it wasn't succesful, so I can't confirm that or not, but something to try. Hope this helps you out in a bind!

Daily Inspiration 7/12/15

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.


Edsel Photo specializes in cinematic and stylized fashion photography for advertising and editorial publications in Austin, Texas and New York City.