Category Archives Photography

Last Wednesday, the day before my New York City seminar, I did a fashion shoot for an upcoming book project (it’s one I haven’t announced yet, but it’s due to my editors in two weeks, so it’s getting close to being wrapped up).

I wanted a really cool location, so I contacted my buddy David Teng, a NYC-based photographer who has he’s assisted me in a couple of shoots up there, and he turned me on to an absolutely incredible location called “The Metropolitan Building,” just across the Queensboro bridge from Manhattan (link). We had the entire third floor, which was room after room of amazing walls, furniture, accessories, chairs, couches, chaise lounges, you name it. It was photography paradise!

We had three professional models for the shoot (that’s model Katy Beal above) , along with Hair stylist Chuck Olsen (above left), working with Jackie (right), who was an assistant to the Fashion Stylist working with us on the shoot, and Jackie helped with props and set design) along with Make Up by the amazing Cassandra Renee (the coolest MUA in New York. This was third time working with Cassi—she rocks! Here’s her Facebook page).

(Above: Here’s an iPhone shot of our first shooting location. Well, actually it was our second, as we started each shoot on a gray seamless set-up nearby, and then we’d head to this room for our first shoot with each model. This is before we set up the lighting).

Here’s a shot of model Sophia Niekrasz, and although I took this shot above with my Nikon D3s using my trusty 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, as you’ll see in the production shot below, I tried something completely different for me.

Above: That’s right, I’m shooting a Phase One 645 DF with a Leaf Aptus-II 80-megapixel digital back, with a Phase One 150mm f/2.8 lens (I talked about this rig the day I first got it [on short-term loan] over at my Facebook page. I haven’t had a chance to look at what I captured yet (I’m working on those tomorrow), but I can’t wait to see how they came out. 80-megapixels. Yikes!!!! :-)

For this shoot, I had a really kick-butt Fashion Stylist, Emily Bess (seen here fashionizing Katy on a different set). Emily was amazing, and she created our story for the day, told through the outfits and accessories she put together. Here’s the link to Emily’s site (highly recommended!).

We were also lucky enough to have Stevie as one of our models for the day (that’s her getting fitted by Emily before one of the shoots). She was with us for the NYC “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it” tour and I asked if she would be one of the models for this shoot for the book, and of course, she was awesome!

Above: Here’s Stevie on Set #2 and that’s me with the Phase One. It’s definitely a different experience shooting with a medium format body, but after just a few minutes, I started to get really comfortable with it, which could wind up costing me a lot of money. ;-)

Above: We also had a male model on the set, the incomparable Braddo, seen here flashing his trademark “Blue Steel” look. Poor Brad has to stand in for the models while we’re testing out the lights, and I have about 1,200 or so similar shots of Brad, that one day will come back to haunt him in a book I’ll call “The Many Moods of Beautiful Brad.” ;-)

Where are all the rest of the shots?
Well, the main shots were for a book project of mine that hasn’t been announced yet, so I didn’t want to show too much at this stage, but I still wanted to share a little behind-the-scenes look at our day in New York. The location was truly amazing—probably the coolest place we’ve ever come across, but unfortunately we did it on the hottest day I think New York has had this year so far, and of course there was no air-conditioning whatsoever, so it got crazy hot in there. By the end of the day, Brad and I could barely walk (we got there at 9:30 am, and didn’t leave until after 7:00 pm, going non-stop the whole time—building sets, moving furniture, and hiking to get water).

I’ll have a whole lot more about this shoot very soon, along with some of the photos from the 80-megapixel Phase One, but until then I want to thank Emily Bess, our awesome Fashion Stylist for taking a handful of my loosely illustrated ideas and turning it into something very creative and cool (also, thanks to her assistant Jackie who was absolutely invaluable during the day with her ideas and input).

Thanks to Cassi, MUA rock-star, and to Chuck our new hair stylist who came up with some very creative looks, and of course our models, Sophia, Stevie, and Katy. My thanks to Amanda at The Metropolitan Building for being so easy to work with, and to Jeffrey Kolsrud at Q. Management (link) for all his help in finding some fantastic fashion models for our shoot. I can’t wait to share the rest with you guys! :)

Hi gang:

It’s 1:05 am as I write this—I just got in from my flight from New York, so I’m going to keep this really short (I’m beat), but I couldn’t hit the sack until I thanked all the wonderful people who came out to spend the day with me yesterday at my seminar in New York City.

We had nearly 900 photographers there for the seminar, and we really had a ball. We had some great models, some really funny moments happened (like Brad being freakishly strong), and the Old Spice guy making a guest appearance during the day. Plus,  we even made our flight home in time (but that’s the closest I’ve come to missing a flight in a long while).

Of course, the day was not without it’s stress. I’m about to begin one of the sessions when Brad whispers in my ear “Joe McNally is here. He’s sitting in the back.” I could feel the beads of sweat forming on my forehead. (That’s like doing a talk on how to be a movie director, and right before you go on, somebody whispers in your ear “Stephen Spielberg is here.”) Gulp. Thankfully, it happened right before a Lightroom segment of the day, so I knew I was safe for at least a few minutes. ;-)

Anyway, I met so many great people; had some great conversations, and the folks in New York yesterday were incredibly gracious and fun, and I just had to thank you all once again before my head hits the pillow. I always love coming to New York (for anything), but this was particularly a blast, so just “thanks.” Hope to see you all again soon. Goodnight.

P.S. I hope I see you Monday night at 6:00 pm EDT for our FREE live public broadcast of the world premiere of “Another Day With Jay Maisel.” (link)

Hi Gang: I had a lot of folks asking about how I create those photo book layouts that I showed here on the blo from my trips to Denmark, and more recently London. I start in Lightroom, and then I use Apple’s iPhoto software for the actual book layouts. So, I made a short video (above) that shows you how it works, and it gives you some tips on how to layout the photos themselves, no matter which program you’re using.

Also, I mention in the video two links to videos I did in 2008 that show how to do similar things in Lightroom 2 (link), and Photoshop CS4 (link). Hope this helps. :)

My Light it, Shoot it, Retouch It Tour is in New York City on Thursday, with around 900 or so photographers who will be there and I want you to be there too!!!

It’s not to late if you want to snag one of the remaining seats. It’s only $99 for the full day, including a detailed step-by-step workbook that follows right along with what I’m doing all day, plus some other goodies I can’t tell you about until the workshop (by the way, it’s only $79 if you’re an NAPP member, so you gotta go!).

It’ll be a blast, plus you have no risk at all, because we have a 100% money-back guarantee if it’s not the best seminar of its kind you’ve ever attended, at any price, period! What do you have to lose? Don’t just read about it on my blog on Friday—come on down to the Javits center and be a part of it. Here’s the event details. I hope you can make it (and if you come, make sure you come up and say hi).

See you there! :)

P.S. I did a short video clip about the seminar–you can watch it right here.

Well, it just happened to me. When I ran a blog post about my trip to London, buried on those pages was my personal favorite shot from the trip (well, if you don’t count my silly vacation-type photos of us all goofing off), was a photo I took of the London Eye (shown above—click on it for a much larger view).

What caught my eye about the shot was the fact that there was one red capsule (the whole “a pattern is good, but a pattern interrupted is better” which I believe originally came from Jay Maisel). Also, I love how you can see the forms of individual people in the capsules when you crop in tight (or show the image at a large size). Anyway, it still wasn’t my favorite shot until something happened by accident in post processing.

When I took the shot (above), the sky behind it was kinda light gray and non-descript, and a little under-exposed as well (which didn’t help) so I started to brighten the Exposure in Lightroom to see if the red car stood out more (and if the shot was even worth keeping), and when I did the sky turned almost white. I knew right then I was onto something.

Over to Photoshop for Finishing
Once I got it in Photoshop, I added some contrast to the cars to help them stand out more, then I duplicated the layer and changed the Layer Blend mode to Screen to make the sky even whiter. Of course, this made the capsules light again, too, so I added a layer mask to this layer, then painted over the cars in black again to mask away the brighter version from this Screen layer. I did this a few times (making the sky whiter, and the masking away the cars) until it looks like what you see at the top (though I did add more contrast to the cars, and an strong Unsharp Mask, too).

I showed my buddy Dave Moser (BTW: Happy Birthday Dave) the image, full screen size, and he absolutely loved it (and he’s a tough critic when it comes to photos), so I was a bit relieved that I wasn’t the only one who liked it. Although it was the red capsule that brought me to the photo, I think what makes it unique is that you rarely see the London Eye on solid white like this (well, at least I hadn’t anyway).

I’m Not Sure It Deserved Its Own Blog Post, But….
I wanted to show it here today, since it kind of got lost in my London photo book, and although I know the post production on it won’t be for everybody, at least I got to show it larger, and show how it the post was done.

Man, did I have an awesome week!!!! My wife and I snuck away to London for a quick 5-day vacation with some dear friends of ours, (Alan and Marcia Gassman), but the main reason for the trip was to fulfill one of Alan’s lifelong dreams—to see Eric Clapton perform at the Royal Albert Hall), which we did on Monday night.

Of course, Clapton totally rocked!!! (and the acoustically perfect Royal Albert Hall may be the best place to see a concert ever!). Great show, we had great seats, and Alan is still glowing to this day. Anyway, I thought I’d share a few stories, along with some images from the photo book I created using Apple’s iPhoto about the trip. This is a new template I’ve never used before, and I kinda like it.

During the week, I spent a lot of time shooting the four of us just being tourists around London (including a day at the British Museum—my first time there—amazing place!), so although I’ve got about 45 photos of us in the back of various London cabs, the weather was so beautiful we did an awful lot of walking, too. We took a train to Oxford for a day trip that was just beautiful, and I got to eat at one of my favorite spots (Gourmet Burger Kitchen, where my buddies took me last year), which was super-yummy.

One of the highlights of the trip for me was getting to see the final day of a Sony-sponsored photographic exhibit by the World Photography Organization at Sommerset House museum, right next to our hotel. It showcased the winners of their annual competition WPO, and it was quite a large show (taking up two floors), and there were some really incredible images on display.



Core Blimey! Meetin’ Up With A Coupla Proper English Chappies! ;-)

Of course, I couldn’t go to London with hanging out with a few of my buddies, so one day my wife and Marcia went off shopping at Harrod’s (where she bought me a new super-small Tamrac travel camera bag), and I went off shooting with my two top chaps: Dave Clayton and Glyn Dewis. Now, you may remember last year my story about going shooting with these two English Beefeaters (the day before my London seminar), in some of the grayest, wettest, chilliest weather London could stir up (which led to Dave earning the nickname “The Earl of Gray” and Glyn being referred to as the “The Duke of Cloudyshire.”), but they totally redeemed themselves this time by ordering up five of the most beautiful blue-sky, sunny, and warm days I’ve spent in London.

(Above: L: that’s me tell Glyn I caught a fish “this big!” and the three amigos, Dave, me and Glyn on the right–photo by Chanel Fusco).

A Portrait Shoot I Wasn’t Planning On
Our first night in Swingin’ London, we went to Convent Gardens (it wasn’t far from Buckingham Place, where we were staying as guests of Her Majesty the Queen. Not really—I just wanted to see if you were still playing attention). Anyway, it was a short walk from our hotel, and we ate outside at this great cafe called “Fuel” around dusk, and while we were waiting for our food to arrive, a street performer was setting up to do a short acrobatic show right nearby, and so I strolled over with my camera and took a few shots as he was warming up the crowd.

He was hilarious (very personable), and a really polished performer, and after I took a couple of shots, I looked on my LCD and thought, “Man, this guy has a really interesting look.” He had piercings and a huge tattoo down one arm, and a mohawk. I’ve got to shoot this guy!

So, after his performance (which ended up with him assembling then free-climbing a 15-foot high pole and doing a one-handed handstand on top), I introduced myself as a photographer from America, and I told him I thought he would make a great subject for a portrait shoot. He gave me his business card (which didn’t even have his name—only his Web address), and he said to send him an email with what I had in mind (he seemed like a really nice guy in the short chat I had with him, so I was hopeful we’d be able to set something up for Wednesday afternoon, which was when I was going to shoot with Dave and Glyn.

I dropped him a note the next day, and the shoot was on. Neither Dave nor Glyn live in London, and I didn’t have time to do any location scouting, so I asked Dave and Glyn if they knew anybody with a daylight studio in central London (since I didn’t bring any lights). Dave thought me might have a connection, and as luck would have it, the studio owner he knew had a number of my books, and they gave us a smoking deal on a rental studio, with lighting! It was perfect!!! (in fact, we had three studios to choose from and Elinchrom lighting. I was jazzed). The studio, right near London’s Tower Bridge, was called (wait for it…wait for it…) “Tower Bridge Studios.” Awesome place, and they were wonderful to work with (highly recommended—here’s their link).

The shoot
Our subject, acrobatic performer Reuben Kuan (originally from Melbourne, Australia), arrived right on time (skateboard in hand) for the shoot, and we got to spend a few minutes getting to know him. Really terrific guy (here’s his Website), with a great sense of humor, and fascinating stories. He was really patient during the shoot, and we had lot of laughs along the way. Since we were mostly shooting using the natural light from the frosted glass windows, we could all shoot simultaneously, which was really ideal.

I wanted to do a few really dramatic shots on a black background, so I took two Elinchrom strip banks and put them on either side of Reuben, aiming right at each other with Reuben in the middle. I went with just those two side lights—-with no front or fill light at all, so there would be lots of shadows (we actually tried a beauty dish up front, but I thought it looked more dramatic without it).

We shot with Reuben for about an hour and a half, and we spent a lot of the time just talking with him between shots, and hearing stories of his life so far (he’s done everything from teaching elementary school to IT work and performing with a circus). Really fascinating!

Our 2nd Subject
Once we got to the studio, Glyn told me he had arranged to have a second subject for later in the afternoon, the wonderful Chanel Fusco, a London-based singer and recording artist, who he had previously done some promo shots for. First, we got to listen to her album during the shoot (her style is R&B and her music was fantastic—-here’s a link to her album “Sad Goodbyes” on iTunes. You gotta give her a listen). I kept having to ask her, “Is that you? Really! Wow!” She wrote the songs as well, and the production on the album is top notch. Great band, great recording, and really catching, interesting songs, too!

We shot using only natural light the entire time with Chanel, but we did use a reflector from time to time to bounce a little light back into her face—especially when she was backlit. Although she wasn’t a professional model, she was a natural, and the camera loved her, so it made the whole shoot very fun and having Dave and Glyn there kept us all laughing the whole time. By the way: The full page photo of Chanel on right page above, where she is surrounded by lighting gear and a fan, is totally staged. The lights were turned on—they’re just props. I thought as a recording artist, it would be cool for her to have a photo where she’s shown in the midst of a studio photo shoot.



Off to the Pub

After the shoot we walked over to a local pub, where Dave and Glyn teased me for ordering a Diet Coke, and we told stories ‘till dinner time. We headed crosstown to an Ethiopian restaurant that was recommended to us, and we met up with our other buddy Ed Davis (four time Guru Award winner, and photographer teacher at a University just outside London), and we joined up with my wife, Alan and Marcia. We stayed there laughing and talking until we closed the place (which was bad, but we had to leave for the airport at 6:00 am the following day, but we figured we could sleep on the plane, and we did).

Dave and Glyn are Gray No More
The weather was so great, and that coupled with the fact that Dave was able to score a fantastic studio at an amazing price, and Glyn came through with Chanel to shoot, well….I have to finally let these two lads off the hook. All joking aside, if there are two better chaps in all the UK, I’ve yet to meet ‘em. We had an even better time than my last visit, and having Ed meet us for dinner, and for the seven of us to all get to share a meal and laughs late into the evening really ended our vacation on a high note. Thanks Dave, Glyn and Ed for making us feel so welcome so far from home.

The Best Part of All
I didn’t do a lick of work the entire time I was there (Whoo Hoo!). I didn’t even download any shots off my card until I was on the flight home. Yup, I’m tan, rested, and ready to finish up my latest book, head to New York next week for my seminar, do a live taping of the Grid, and work on some very cool new projects for the future. OK, play time’s over—-now, back to my day gig! :)

Close