We're heading into 2017 soon, and with that in mind I wanted to create a new reel. Made up of both new and old, this reel contains some of my favorite shots from this year and years past. Thanks for watching!
This is a piece I have been working on for the past handful of months with local San Diego director Marq Evans. The piece is a look into the charismatic, eccentric, and talented life of Bear, who is totally a bear, and not a human in a bear suit. This will be the first installment of what is to be a mini-doc series on the life of Bear, so be on the look out for more!
Matt Mangham has just released another episode in his series on film photography and once again I was there behind the scenes! Check out the full finished piece below along with behind the scenes photos from our two-day shoot.
Life was good. I mean, life is good but, damn life was good.
I had been working for the lovely gentlemen at Saint West Filmworks for about 3.5/4 years and we made some badass stuff together. I was making decent money for a 21 year old with only a high school education and I got to hang out with my friends everyday for eight hours, Monday through Friday. I got to build a pretty freakin sweet portfolio. I was working in the field I wanted to be in, with a great crew that I had basically harassed for two years until I finally got this dream job of mine. And I had every intention to stay under their employ and make awesome stuff until we were all old and crusty and couldn't push a record button down anymore. So what gives?
Well, time gives, creativity gives, your sanity gives; or rather, you slowly see yourself give those things up. And I don't mean to say that my boys at Saint West were hovering over my desk painting everything I did with a dull, grey brush. We all found ourselves in bit of a pickle after having worked amazingly together for years. We ended up in a situation that, at its outset, looked like a prime deal with a sweet new downtown office all to our own and shiny, new big name clients to go with it.
Well none of the aforementioned awesomeness came to fruition. Things quickly changed from doing rad work to entering work hours into Workamajig. Kick me right in the teeth.
So about a year after the acquisition we left. All of us.
Our longtime editor Ryan Knight went on to partner with the awesome team at Pure Cinema Productions, I went off on my own, and Matt Mangham, Scott Rieckens and Matt Jensen now make up the powerhouse crew behind Saint West Filmworks. And lucky me, I still get to work with all of them.
The first few months were smooth sailing.
Jobs aplenty. Money was flowing. New clients. Old crew. It was almost like it was back before the acquisition, but with more vacation time. Then I learned what it's like to have too much vacation time. Not enough jobs. Not enough money. And I'm still learning how to navigate all of this. I've done the one-meal-a-day thing during the weeks I wait for checks to come in. I've even done the no-meal-a-day thing. I've had to take money from my tax account to pay my rent and feed myself. And holy shit this is only month 7. And holy shit I love it. I've got a whole new appreciation for the phrase "the struggle is real". The truth is, unless you have an amazing network and your phone is ringing off the hook you will most likely, and quite literally, go hungry at times in the beginning.
I've had this conversation several times over the last few weeks, which led to the writing of this post. I get asked, "Has it been tough?", or "Is it worth it?", a lot. My short answer is, "Yes, and yes." The honest truth is I'd rather be broke on my own account than have a great salary and work on stuff I'd rather not work on. And I'm happier for it. That's not to say there aren't times I've got to take a job I wouldn't normally be inclined to do because I need to get by, that happens. But at least it's of my own volition, and that makes the not so fun jobs easier to swallow.
I'm totally green at this, but I'm getting better at it. Getting used to the ebb and flow. Saving for rainy days when times are good, and tightening my belt when they aren't. I consider myself lucky to do what I do, and to be able to do it for myself. If you're feeling the itch to strike out on your own, I encourage you to go about it with precision. Work your networks, expand your circles, meet new people, go to Ad Club meetings, and attend creativity boosting/networking events (like Creative Mornings).
Do good work, be nice to people, and shake as many hands as you can.
I was again given the opportunity to shoot behind the scenes photos for my good friend Matt Mangham's ongoing series: Analog Stories. This one featuring another friend and fellow stills and video guy: Matthew Lawless. Its always fun when you've got three guys in one place that all share common hobbies and professions and the couple days I spent shooting with these two was no exception.
Both of the Matts are super talented dudes with backgrounds in video production on top of their mutual passion to see film photography stay relevant and fun. Below you'll find the bts shots along with the finished piece, enjoy!
With the birth of Saint West Filmworks still recent, the team (Scott Rieckens, Matt Jensen and Matt Mangham) sought out a collaboration that would really propel the launch of this new brand in the wake leaving behind their baby, FortyOneTwenty. In the end they connected with Story & Heart, a high quality, story-driven stock footage site, and the idea for a road trip to their headquarters in Portland was born.
The opportunities for beautiful imagery are endless on the way up to Portland regardless of the route you take, and ultimately the guys chose to head east of the Sierras for a mountainous experience. I was along for the ride, snapping beauty shots and behind the scenes photos on our way through San Diego, Mono Lake, Angora Lake, Chiloquin, and finally Portland, stopping on the side of the road a few times for some aerial footage and night photography.
The fruit of their labors should be available on Story & Heart's beautiful database in the next month or so, as well as a few tutorials the Saint West fellas made for the S&H Academy of Storytellers. Also be on the lookout for a full length behind the scenes video, shot by Story & Heart's very own Zippy Etzel, who stuck it out with us the entire way. Below are the selects from the trip, enjoy!
SAN DIEGO, CA
MONO LAKE, CA
ANGORA LAKE, CA
Through mid June and early July I had the pleasure of photographing some awesome places in Alabama, Oregon, and Texas. While the Saint West crew shot video both on the ground and in the air I was behind the stills camera capturing product, lifestyle, and behind the scenes photographs. Below are a few of my favorites, enjoy!
*Edit* Some photos featured [here] on FStoppers.
Recently I've had the pleasure of accompanying Matt Mangham on his last two shoots with local San Diego film photographers, this one being Julian Martin (@juliangoulian). Matt dreamt up this little passion project within the last year as he's been loving film more and more, and has become an avid film photographer himself.
Here's a look at some behind the scenes photos from the first half of the shoot at Julian's apartment in Encinitas, and below those, the full length video; which can also be found here.
I first became acquainted with Carter's work four or five months ago via his Instagram. I had just shot some photos up in Venice at the Deus Ex Machina "Raduno Ducati" event, and I was cruising the #caferacer hashtag when I stumbled upon his coffee ring drawings. Fast forward a couple months and I reached out to him to ask if I could shoot him working on a couple pieces.
We met at a local North Park favorite, Coffee and Tea Collective, to get acquainted and it turns out we've got a few mutual friends. After fueling up at C&T we walked over to another great local spot, Gym Standard, to pop in and say hey to shop owner Edwin. Edwin's got a great eye for design and the shop's general aesthetic is awesome so we decided to shoot there. Below are some images from our meeting, a few of which I'm told are going to be used in the upcoming campaign for the launch of the new ASUS smartphone - pretty sweet!
Located inside ThChrch, Beatbox Records is an awesome little record shop in one of the (unfortunately) lesser visited parts of San Diego, Barrio Logan. Bernie (@djinform) is the man behind the shop, and his collection spans most every genre. With everything from Chuck Mangione to The Meters, rare finds and household names, this spot is a must visit. He's even got some sweet comics laying around.
When Bernie's not in San Diego he's looking for records in some of his favorite digging cities to be brought back to Beatbox for your listening pleasure. Stop in and talk with anyone you find there. Whether it's fellow pop-up shop Uncommon Value, Bernie himself, or the guys behind ThChrch (Ramel and Frank) you're sure to have a pleasant and encouraging experience.
Last Saturday I spent my day over in City Heights for the ninth annual San Diego Indiefest. Of course my camera was in tow, and below are a few shots from just a couple of the daytime's killer performances.
Lyrical Groove (pictured above) were a part of the the day's line up, and have since secured a spot on my list of favorite local groups. Just just a few months ago the group was awarded Best Hip Hop Album at the San Diego Music Awards, and I highly recommend you give them a listen.
For a full list of performances and artists please visit the San Diego Indiefest website here.
Jessica has been a friend of mine for a couple years now and when she asked me to shoot her grad photos of course I jumped on it! We met out at Torrey Pines State Reserve in the late afternoon to shoot these shots and the light and cloud cover was great.
Thanks for having me out Jess! And congrats on the graduation.
I want to give you stuff.
Like a 16X20 canvas or two. I'm just so stoked on the continued support from everyone...it's awesome. So drop me your email in a comment below, on IG at @sean_hrtn, or email me with it at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ill be announcing 2 recipients in a few weeks to each receive a mystery 16"X20" stretched canvas.
This is not a rule book, and who knows if this advice is even sound (I'm hoping one of you readers will let me know), but in my recent more in-depth exploration of photo editing I've found that these steps can produce some pretty cool results.
I'm hoping this post will shed some light on what buttons and sliders do what, and how to achieve more vibrant and compelling photos. *Keep in mind - every photo you bring into your post production workflow will need a different touch.* With that, here are the steps I took to achieve the look I wanted on a photo taken on my recent trip to Washington D.C.
*Downloadable raw sample image can be found at the end of this post.*
I use the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite for editing, more-so their proprietary program for editing Canon raw files, Camera Raw.
First step in my (I want to emphasize my) photo editing workflow is adjusting exposure, highlights and whites. Sometimes in your hurry to capture a moment the technicalities of shooting in manual mode fall by the wayside and exposure adjustments need to be made in post, no shame in that. You'll notice for this photo (Step 1.) I bumped up the exposure, while bringing down the highlights and whites as to not completely blow out the detail in the brighter parts of the image.
*Keep in mind - adjusting your exposure to higher levels can introduce unwanted noise and "artifacting" into your image, so don't push them too far.*
After increasing the exposure you'll notice in the histogram (the colorful thing in the top right) that your low end (on the left of the histogram) is nowhere near where true black should be, which is to the far left. Which leads us to the next step, adjusting blacks, shadows, and contrast.
Shooting in raw (as opposed to jpeg) will give you far more information to play with in post. This gives you the ability to push your shadows higher while still retaining detail and minimizing noise, revealing details in the image that would otherwise go unnoticed with simple contrast adjustments (pay attention to the jacket).
Pushing your shadows up will leave the blacks looking washed out, so bring your blacks down (up on the slider) until you're happy with how the darker parts of your image look. Then play with the "Contrast" slider to give the image a little extra punch if you'd like.
In this next step (Step 3) you'll notice the "Clarity" slider being pushed. In all honesty I have no idea what Camera Raw is doing in the background but I know it looks awesome, just don't over-do it.
*Keep in mind - every adjustment you make affects the previous ones, so adjust the other values accordingly. Which is why you'll see the Shadows, Blacks, Highlights, and Whites all being moved in this step.*
In the icon tabs under the histogram you'll find an icon that has three alternating grayscale gradients. This is used to single out certain hues in the image to adjust them to your liking. In this case I thought Matt's skin tones looked a little orange, so I played with the red and orange sliders in the "Hue" tab until I got something I thought looked alright.
Finishing up in camera raw I'll add a little sharpness as well as noise reduction, found in the tab with the two triangles. 50 in the "Amount" box (Sharpening) and 30 in the Luminance box (Noise Reduction) seemed to be the sweet spot for this image.
If you're like me, you like the slight faded "VSCO" type of aesthetic. And that brings us into Photoshop. Click "Open Image" and it'll take you in.
Add a "Curves" layer, put a point in the middle of the diagonal line, then another between your middle point and the bottom, then crush the hell out of it till it's uncomfortably ugly. In this case I put another point in the top half to keep the highlights relatively even as to not lose the detail.
Last, add another curves layer on top of the one we just created, add your middle point, and grab the existing very bottom point and push it up slowly until you get the wanted fade effect. Again, every adjustment affects the previous ones so you'll probably be switching between your curves layers for a bit until you're happy.
*Note - If you want to give your photo a bit of tint you can select Red, Green or Blue under the "RGB" tab on your second curves layer and take the bottom most point and push it up for the desired effect.*
And that's that, my post production workflow, try it out and if you've got any questions feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email. Thanks for coming by and don't forget to subscribe for future content!
Let me just get this out of the way; Washington DC is a miserably frigid city with equally cold people. I don't think there's such a thing as a smile or a wave in this city, or customer service for that matter. And I get to go back tomorrow!
All that aside I had a great time with my team from Saint West shooting at the Newseum. Once we wrapped our day of filming we realized we'd be held up by weather for the next 72 hours, and the snowy sightseeing ensued.
First stop was the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, packed full of awesome early flight and space travel exhibits, and even an original Norman Rockwell of the Lunar Landing
Next was the Lincoln Memorial, which by the way is beautiful in the snow.
The following day I decided I'd buy a metro pass and do some solo exploration. The DC Metro is a super rad network of trains with the coolest underground architecture. Looking forward to more wanderings via the metro this second time around.
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Be sure to drop him a line on the Vimeo page and tell him what you think!
I will be displaying both film and digital photos THIS FRIDAY in conjunction with Thumbprint Galley and the Common Ground Collective. Check out the flyer below, I'd love to meet you!
Click here for the Facebook Event Page.