Getting Into Photography

In 2012, I went on a cruise with a few guys who valet parked cars with me in Phoenix, AZ

Joey, Jeff & Dylan.

The first 2 are poor quality because I took them... on my iPhone 4... in 2012... before I "got into photography." The last 2 photos were taken by Jeff... with a nice camera... and he's a good photographer. Anyhow,

On the first night of this cruise, Jeff discovered a big group of people shooting portraits in the comedy club upstairs. There were over a dozen pairs of people (models, photographers, videographers, hair & makeup artists, stylists, body painters, etc) shooting some incredible photos (NSFW, the link goes to a forum for a subsequent cruise to ours, but lots of the photos here were created on our cruise. The original forum has been shut down. :( It's a shame, too, because that original forum really captured all the passive aggressivity and prestige power playing drama that bloats the modeling world into obscurity.)

Jeff came back to our room and told us the news of his discovery, so we went to check it out and I was mesmerized. all these artsy people making beautiful images right in front of my eyes. I was on vacation, so, sure, I'll stand here and watch these people work. It was so fun watching them create, coach, improve, modify and collaborate with each other. We'd see them shooting constantly - on the boat, at port, in their rooms, at dinner, on the beach. Some of their best work on the boat was done at 4am, when the best backdrops on board were completely empty. Dylan and Jeff even got the opportunity to tag along and learn from the photographers at one of the ports. I still wish I had gone with them.

Over the years after the cruise, I occasionally found myself noticing subtleties in billboards, mannequins, fashion ads and media that I never thought I cared about in the least. I'd catch myself thinking, "Her hand shouldn't be that way. What if her hair was like this instead? The lighting really makes this shot pop. The post-processing of this photo looks way too unnatural. I bet that was such a fun photo to make."

Last week, I finally found the courage to pick up those ideas and run with them. The creative juices flowed and all I wanted to do was make portrait photos of a model. I borrowed my coworker's mirrorless Olympus OMD 5 Mark II. After striking out with a few folks I found on the Austin Models & Photographers Facebook group, I reached out to a personal friend who graciously let me photograph her before a dinner party. She was already getting dolled up anyway, so that made it super easy. The shoot took an hour and I even got drone footage of us creating. :)

I found Affinity Photo online as a viable alternative to Photoshop and started a trial. YouTube definitely was a life saver for retouching tutorials and whatnot. I thought the photos came out great and I wanted to shoot more! So I responded to an 18-year-old singer in Hutto (with 71k Instagram followers) who was actively looking to build portfolio, like me. We found a few dimly lit places in old town that would work for some camera magic.

Now I'm looking for a camera to call my own and shopping around. Pretty soon I'll borrow my other coworker's Nikon D7100 to compare the mirrorless with a DSLR. Have some more projects in the works and can't wait to share!

Gotta say it, I wouldn't have dared try all this if it weren't for the support of my wife. She makes me feel confident and empowered to follow my dreams. Thank you, sweetheart. :)