Last weekend I decided to get up early and see if I could create a cool time lapse video of sunrise over a Salt Lake City Inversion. I got up early and drove to a trailhead above downtown and started hiking. I wasn’t really sure if I could hike high enough to get out of the inversion before the sun came up, but decided to try. I hiked for a awhile while in the dark, cold, and fog, second guessing whether or not this was going to work. Shortly after that I popped out into a beautiful scene just as the sun was starting to come up. I set up my camera and started shooting. This is how it turned out. I love it when you follow your gut and it pays off. Enjoy!
As a photographer you always have a person in mind that you would love to photograph. For some its a celebrity or a supermodel others a politician or movie star. Usually it’s someone that you have seen in magazines, ads, on TV, or a movie and thought to yourself “that would be so rad to get shots of…..” For me that person has been athlete and model Lauren Collins. You may not recognize the name but if you have ever thumbed through an Athleta catalog, a Shape magazine, a recent Eddie Bauer ad, and many other campaigns you probably recognize her. In my opinion she is the top athletic model in the country. She is not only amazingly beautiful but is a former decathlete so she has the movement and the strength to back it up. Ever since I started shooting active lifestyle and sports images I’d seen shots of her and thought it would be amazing to get the opportunity to photograph her. Honestly though, I didn’t ever think it would happen, but I recently had the opportunity to just that, and it was epic. This is how it happened.
Over the last few months I’ve been trying to build a network of people and places that I can shoot for in LA as an effort to broaden my client base and extend into new markets. That effort brought me to a meeting with It Model Management based in Orange County. They are one of Lauren’s agencies. While meeting with the owners Marlyn and Linda, I mentioned that I’ve always wanted to photograph Lauren. They said she happened to be in town and they called her right there on the spot and asked her if she would like to do a shoot with me. To my amazement she agreed and the agency told her I would would be in touch to coordinate everything for the follow day. I tried to play it cool at the time but once I got out of the meeting I exploded with excitement. In the meeting with me was with my friend and amazingly talented hair and make up artist Donna Gast. In the excitement I walked out into the parking lot and I looked at Donna and said “Well, what are we going to do with her?”
About then is when I started to feel the pressure. I knew that I may not have another opportunity to shoot her so we needed to come up with a good concept for the shoot. Part of the the agreement to shoot her was both the agency and Lauren wanted more of a lifestyle shoot, not another fitness shoot. Lauren has tons of athletic shots and she needed more lifestyle shots. We started with that. Donna had the idea of shooting her in white on her bed just really beautiful and clean. I loved the idea but I had to get Lauren to agree to it. I laughed and told Donna “Wait, you want me to call Lauren Collins and see if we can shoot her at her house in her bedroom on her bed?” I said ok and made the call. Lauren answered and I introduced myself and told her how excited I was to work with her etc. I then told her our idea and I said “we want to shoot you at your house to make it easy for you and we want to get shots of you in just a white top and some white bottoms in your bedroom on your bed. How would feel about that?” I waited and could tell she was uncomfortable. She asked something along the lines of “your not trying to do some sexy shot are you because that’s not me.” I reassured her that I wasn’t trying to do anything sexy, that and that I don’t shoot that way either, but just something simple, clean and beautiful. Once I said that she was ok and totally down. We set up the time and got her address and that was it. We were all set for the following morning at 7am. I kept on thinking “Am I really shooting Lauren Collins tomorrow morning”? Still felt like a dream.
That night I’m not going to lie, I was a bit nervous. She was by far the biggest model I had ever worked with and I wasn’t sure what to expect. She seemed nice on the phone but I’ve learned thats not much of an indicator. The next morning Donna and I drove down from LA to Lauren’s house in Orange County. I meet her and realized right away that she was going to be really great to work with. We got really beautiful shots of her on the bed, a few nice portraits, and and the end she let me get a few shots of her at track not far from her house in doing some fitness stuff. The light wasn’t ideal at the track, but I knew I’d be walking away with some solid shots after the shoot, and more importantly, different shots than anyone else had of her.
All in all it was great experience. Lauren ended up being one of my favorite people I’ve ever photographed not only because she is a great model but she is one of the nicest and sweetest people I’ve ever worked with. It is a good feeling to see your hard work, a little risk taking, and perseverance pay off. I know it sounds so cliche but being able to get shots of Lauren really was like a dream shoot come true me.
If you didn’t have to worry about money, a client, or anything else for a shoot who would you want to photograph? Go make it happen!
I wanted to follow up on the second part of my shoot in LA to create some new sports lifestyle photography. After getting shots of Dillon and Kelly. I was talking with Donna about other models etc and she mentioned that she could line me up with another fitness model named Shannon Decker. The next day we set things up and decided to get shots of her on the beach around sunset. Here are a few of my favorites from her shoot. She is a natural and really fun to work with, a real pro. She has a great personality that she brings with her and it helps make working with her really enjoyable.
The last model I photographed was another talented model named Jessica T. I really wanted to get a nice paddleboarding shot while I was down here and I thought Jessica was the perfect person for it. We planned on doing a quick portrait, some fitness shots and then a final paddleboarding shot in the marina. We got the portrait, got the fitness shots but when we got the location for the paddleboarding shot I realized the light wasn’t working and we had to come up with an alternative shot. We ended up doing some running shots on the beach. It was great and she was also really nice to work with. All the models I’ve worked with from Sports and Lifestyle Unlimited have been great. These were my favorites from her shoot.
All in all I was happy with the images I created while there. It was a successful test. The models and Agency were really happy with images and I want me to come back down to shoot more of their talent. It’s opened up opportunities and I’ll be back soon LA. Thanks for checking it out!
A few weeks ago I decided I would head to LA to do some testing with a few models to build my portfolio with some new sports and lifestyle images and try and meet with a some people for portfolio reviews. In doing so I also wanted to try and put together a good crew of people to work with. I was working with a great modeling agency called Sports+Lifestyle Unlimited. Like the name implies they have great sports and lifestyle models and I wanted to start to build a good relationship with them so when I book shoots in the LA area or need talent from there they know who I am. It’s important to build good relationships with everyone you work with.
It’s always a challenge when are going to new city where you haven’t really ever shoot before. Especially when you are self producing your shoots and in between shoot trying to set up portfolio reviews. Luckily, I had the help of Wonderful Machines crew directory to help me find people to help me. I came across the work of Donna Gast. She is an amazing hair and makeup stylist in LA that specializes in lifestyle and sports. She has a ton of experience working in LA and has worked with just about every major brand, agency, and photographer you can think of. I emailed her and asked her if she would be interested in collaborating on some shots and she was onboard. I can’t begin to thank her enough for her help not only is she super talented and amazing to work with, but she pretty much became my guide to shooting in LA. She helped me figure out where we could and couldn’t shoot, recommendations on locations, places to avoid, etc. I could not have gotten what I did without her help. Thank you again Donna! If you ever need hair and make up in LA she is the person!
Once I had Donna onboard I found a couple of good assistants and had already finalized the the models. After that is was a matter of figuring out where to shoot. I flew in on Memorial Day and was shooting my first models that evening. I meet Donna at here house a bit before the models to figure out a good location to shoot and to do hair and make up. I normally like to scout beforehand but that wasn’t an option so I had to rely on Donna and Google to find a cool spot. We decided we would go downtown since everyone else would be at the beach and most things were closed that day. It was a good call, we got on the 4th street bridge and other spots that would normally be too packed with people to shoot on a normal day.
I figured out really quickly why people love shooting in LA. The light is amazing. That smog really creates an look you can’t recreate anywhere else. Here are the shots we got that first day. The models were Dillon and Kelly from SLU Agency. They were great! I did two more shoot that week and will post them in Part 2 of this post. I have to give a shout out to Eliza at SLU Agency, Donna Gast, and Nathan Seabrook for their help on this shoot. We had to shoot fast and and I couldn’t have done it with out them. Thanks Guys!