A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of filming a commercial project in New York City with some close friends. During my visit, I was able to meet up with Kim & Nuno for their engagement session. We spent a beautiful afternoon exploring the streets of Brooklyn and I had such a great time documenting their love for one another. These two will be tying the knot later this month in Roxbury, NY.
January to April is always a little bit different for me, but this year it has been particularly strange. Since I started my business five years ago, every single year has run into the next without some sort of “off season” or break, but this year I actually had one (I should say that loosely as we are always planning something new). We wrapped up all our edits from 2013 in February thanks to an additional editor, and it has been refreshing to take a break, regroup, and strategize for 2014 & 2015. I’ve made some changes that were sitting in my notes for years that include a new logo/branding (rolling out soon), a better packaging experience, and a redeveloped commercial & wedding portfolio. In the midst of this, I planned a trip back to Las Vegas for WPPI with a few amazing friends that I met last year.
There is nothing more special to me then getting to know a few fellow artists as close friends. This year I roomed with Serena, Jen, & Katie in a huge suite at The Signature, and it was an incredibly fun time, which basically translates to eating amazing food + going to two crazy parties (people..I’m not a party person & neither can I dance, but I tried). My favorite DJ, Ninja Dan & his fiancee Leslie were there to learn + hang out at In-N-Out with me at 1:20 in the morning. Maybe we had a little too much fun at times, but it was definitely an experience I will not forget. A few video classes were added to the roster of classes this year for WPPI, so I was sure to hang out with Joe Simon, Kevin Shahinian, David Robin, Ray Roman, and Adam Forgione (his class was invaluable). Each provided excellent insights to their workflows and quite a few lessons on life. The life lessons really resonated with me personally, as being a business owner 24/7 is a particularly difficult task to handle on your own. My overarching goal continues to strive for a team, and that is something I have been working on for the last year. One of the biggest highlights was a huge party called Silver Rush, that was organized by CineStill Film. It was a basically a huge party for film shooters, and almost all of the major film photographers were there. I was particularly excited to meet Chris Weeks, whose worked I have followed since the days of DeviantArt, and who honestly inspired me to look at photography again with his incredible street work. Plus I got to hang out with Vicki Grafton, Jordan Baker, Elizabeth Messina, Kirk Mastin, Ryan Muirhead, and all my favorites. What is awesome about the film community in general is that there is a real humbleness and passion for art that everyone seems to share & I love being a part of that.
Amidst all of the networking, I really wanted to do a few shoots while in Vegas & we were able to squeeze in two major shoots. The first was with my roomies at the Venetian and the second was an organized shoot in the middle of a desert near Vegas. The desert shoot was organized by a few photographers from a group on Flickr & we were lucky enough to be invited a long by Tommy Huynh. Two gorgeous models, Morgan Venter & Skye Bibby, were styled by Cheriene Galley for the shoot in the desert, and the terrain/light could not have been better. I was not going for specific themes with these shoots, but really trying to work on my direction & posing. One thing you might notice in my work is that while there are many consistencies, there is a lot of change between each shoot or production. I know things will never be perfect & there will always be something missing, but it is what fuels me to create work that is different & hopefully better than the last. A never ending challenge..
For the last few years, Becca & I have collaborated on a variety of personal shoots locally and in London. We always try to do a different concept each time to keep things fresh. We have both reached a point where we need some edgier imagery in our portfolios, so we decided to try something more boudoir with a moody feeling. After going to Masters in Motion in December, I really wanted to try lighting some of my images the same way I would as if I were lighting a film. This resulted in me struggling to put together a 6×6 silk in the attic, but it was well worth it. I want to thank Jen Kidd for being so awesome and letting us use her studio space. The fine folks at Photovision & Indie Film Lab did such a beautiful job with the scanning. Becca and I are already planning our next themed shoot in Paris. :]
Lauren & Nate’s wedding is one that I had been looking forward to capturing the entire year, and it just so happened that it was also the very last one we filmed in 2013. There are many reasons why this wedding was awesome, and its mostly that Lauren & Nate have such fun & amazing personalities, my amazing friends Kristen Gardner & Ali Hebert were in the wedding, Ashlee Singleton & Tricia Christine of Ashlee Virginia Events planned it, and that everything was completely gorgeous. I even took my most popular instagram shot ever on that day (then I kicked myself for not grabbing Lauren & Nate to do another shot there). The wedding & reception were both held at Verulam Farm, a gorgeous venue outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. The property is unbelievable with a large mansion, rolling hills filled with a few horses, and an incredible cider barn that can hold over a hundred of your closest friends + your favorite band. With Fall in full swing, everything had such a rustic look. I had a few rolls of Super 8mm left over from a previous wedding, and decided to surprise Lauren by shooting my last two rolls of Kodak 50D film. Its no secret that I’m obsessed with film, but I believe it compliments the incredibly fun personalities Lauren & Nate have, as well as the elegance of the event. My favorite part of the day was the hilarious first look overlooking the mansions gardens and our stroll around the gardens. The ceremony was held under a large oak tree that sat on a hill in the middle of the property, and it was stunning. Lauren is a photographer too, so she must have planned this, but everything was beautifully backlit by the sunset as the two said their vows to one another. After the heartfelt ceremony, guests headed to the barn where they witnessed one of my all time favorite first dances ever. Lauren & Nate switched up their slow dance into a full blown choreographed dance routine set to Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors”. By the end, everyone was standing and clapping..it was epic. Afterwards, The Jangling Reinharts got the party started, and everyone danced into the night. I hope you enjoy Lauren & Nate’s film below!
Music licensed through Marmoset
Venue | Verulam Farm
Event Coordinator | Ashlee Virginia Events
Bride’s Hair | Amanda Jones with Reflections of You
Bride’s Makeup | Jeanne Cusick
Bridesmaid Hair & Makeup | Jeanne Cusick
Flowers | Everlasting Flowers
Cinematographer | Josh Gooden
Photographer: Kristen Gardner
Band | The Jangling Reinharts
Caterer | Glorious Foods
Cake | Hot Cakes
Graphic Designer | Clarke Ross Designs
I have had the fortunate opportunity of working with Roberson’s Fine Jewelry over the last few years on various campaigns and television commercials. Myles, the son of the owners, Trish & Steve, found my work when I was was working on a wedding related social media website back in late 2009. We had a discussion about doing a few commercials for them and the next thing I know I was flying out to Little Rock, Arkansas to meet their entire team. The ideas were more focused on bridal/engagement jewelry back then and we shot three spots for them locally in Staunton, Virginia. The results were incredibly successful for them and I eventually traveled back to AR in 2010 to do a whole series of spots on their new store. Myles eventually pursued other endeavors, and we lost touch for a little bit, but in December of last year, Trish reached out to see if we could collaborate again. I immediately said yes, and once again I was off on another adventure to shoot the spot in Little Rock. What I love about Roberson’s Fine Jewelry is that they approach projects with a national outlook on marketing. While most small businesses just focus locally, Roberson’s Fine Jewelry realized and understood that today’s marketing can touch or inspire someone across the country just as effectively as someone five minutes away. Ironically, thats how they found me as I’m not limited to just shooting here, but across the world.
I arrived on a Monday, so we could talk through concepts and ideas before a photo shoot of their entire 2014 print campaign (Tuesday) and my narrative commercial (Wednesday). It was going to be a lot to capture in a small amount of time, but I was determined to make it the best it could be. Throughout my wedding work, I’ve learned to love the concept of the letter exchange, where brides and grooms tell their significant others a little bit about their future life together and the values of their relationship. We decided to create a campaign of commercials that invoke feelings from strong voiceovers and written letters. I decided to make the first one all about a long distance relationship and the couple not being able to see each other as often as they would like. I’ve experienced that in the relationships I’ve had personally and I’ve seen it so often in many of the couples I am able to document. Once I had the script roughed out, I consulted with my good friend Paul over Skype until it was close to perfect. Trish & Paris really liked it, so I was able to start working on a shot list based off of the script whilst shooting a behind the scenes film for their print campaign the following day. Luckily the star of their print campaign was also the actress I was going to be working with on the narrative shoot. It wasn’t until I walked onto set when I realized Molly was only 15, but photographs much older. It was kind of crazy. We found Molly another model, Kyle, to be her lover/boyfriend & we were set for the shoot. I only had four hours to shoot the commercial due to scheduling with the models, but I was determined to make it happen.
On Tuesday night, after the photo shoot, Trish took me location scouting, and she took me to her house to see if it would work. It was absolutely unbelievable and I found three locations within the house that we could cheat to look like a dinner scene, warm embrace of two lovers leaving, and an intimate letter reading. To make this happen and come to life, I scoured the web prior to arriving in Little Rock and found Dave Calhoun, a gaffer, from Film Gear Rentals to help me out. The problem with traveling is that you cannot take all the lighting gear necessary to make it happen, and Dave can provide that gear to you. I showed him a few examples of the look I wanted and what the shot needed to feel like, and he was off to help make it happen. We used a variety of Kino Flo Fluorescent fixtures, flags, silks, and a powerful Aadyn Tech Eco Punch LED HMI to shape and soften the light for the jewelry and talent. I was most surprised with the huge LED we used at it really made the outdoor scene come to life. It was literally sleeting in the background haha. With myself directing and operating the Canon C300 on set, we managed to wrap up the whole shoot in three and a half hours. We did not have Molly do to the voiceover, but rather used Voices.com to fit the right voice to the scene. Everything came together extremely well and we were able to complete the project quickly under a tight turnaround. The ad should start playing within the next week in Little Rock.
I personally love being able to do marketing campaigns for my clients and I cannot wait to keep shooting them throughout 2014. Its incredibly fun and maybe a little addicting to go from a concept on paper to something real & emotional. What I love most about Trish, Steve, and Paris is that they trust me to do something different and experiment. We also are creating mini stories and not just a 50 percent off sale ad that no one will pay attention to, which is incredibly rewarding. I look forward to sharing the next installments in their series of commercials and also the behind the scenes of their print campaign in the next few weeks.
Client: Roberson’s Fine Jewelry
Models: Molly Overton & Kyle Wigginton
Written & Directed by: Josh Gooden
Gaffer: Dave Calhoun of Film Gear Rentals
Voice Over: Lauren Ruff
Music: Licensed via The Music Bed