The latest lesson of the Scott Robert Mentoring Series focused on the wedding day workflow. Skilled and experienced photographers can set up and photograph a scene under extremely tight time constraints (and pressure, distractions and general chaos) because, well, they typically have to. From my experience with weddings, plans change, schedules change, key photo subjects disappear, and you really have no choice but to keep a cool head and roll with the punches. So our time with each of the models at the Santa Anita Race Track was very limited and mentorship coordinator Michelle Ford wasn’t joking when she called out “Time’s up!” at each rotation. Fortunately, models Amanda Maston, Aryn Taylor and Lexi Calo (featured below) were all beautiful and had the personalities and attitudes to match.
If you were an impressionable 90s kid, the line “must go faster” might remind you of the chase scene in “Jurassic Park” – you know, Jeff Goldblum’s character beat up and sprawled in the back of a Jeep being chased by an angry t-rex, casually urging the driver to floor it? For some reason, that’s what popped into my head at our first portfolio review of the yearlong mentoring program when Scott told me I wasn’t advancing fast enough, and it has since become my new mantra. Feeling a slight surge of panic, I braced myself for the “why” and hoped it wouldn’t be something too difficult to correct.
I sat next to him on a sagging, faded couch in a coffee shop in Old Town Monrovia – my iPad in my lap with the cover now closed, hiding images I couldn’t wait to share just minutes before. After five months of dedicating almost all my free time to developing my skills and my business, I wasn’t where I needed to be. Not a fun realization. Of course, he had a lot of good things to say as well, but at that moment I could only focus on the negative. Must go faster.
Seeing your work through the eyes of a seasoned professional is tough. A picture you once loved can turn into an eyesore in an instant, and you can quickly go from feeling immensely proud of your progress to feeling like you have to start all over again. But after I got over the initial disappointment of his critiques, I felt re-inspired. Where would I be if I didn’t have successful photographers like Scott and Michelle to give me honest feedback? Possibly blindly spinning my wheels and never knowing why I’m not moving forward. Having someone who holds you to a higher standard is a GOOD thing.
Scott guaranteed that shooting portraits just once a week will get me to that next level in a lot less time. Challenge accepted.
Waiting outside of the main studio at the Orange County Photography Center for our Scott Robert Studio Lighting class to begin, I struck up a conversation with a woman who I initially thought was one of our models (and I’m sure she didn’t mind my error). She was actually custom corset and costume designer Cheri Chagollan, and when she told me that the theme of her segment of the shoot was Steampunk, she instantly became one of my favorite people ever. For anyone who isn’t familiar, Steampunk is “a subgenre of science fiction… Works of Steampunk often feature anachronistic technology or futuristic innovations as Victorians may have envisioned them, based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, art, etc.” Yes, I completely nerded out in front of my photographer friends.
OC Photography Center owner, David LaNeve, was the guest instructor for this particular class, and his lesson also covered lighting and posing for maternity, seniors and headshots. It turned out to be an incredibly valuable and thorough lesson, and I think we all walked away better photographers that night.
Back to Steampunk and some of the coolest images I’ve ever taken… model Ashley Gannon was amazing, as were makeup artist Joyce P. Luck, hair stylist Manya Keseloff, and of course the brilliant Cheri Chagollan. I cannot wait to work with these ladies again. And, as always, a big thanks to Michelle Ford of the Coco Gallery for recruiting incredible talent and coordinating our lectures and shoots.