Play No Games

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After a few failed attempts, I was finally able to connect with Adjani for a really fun shoot. We took these photos at a location I’ve been to a million times. It’s a low key golf course and arcade thats crawling with kids all summer. The place was packed when we shot, which I love Adjani even more for. There are tons of mirrors and neon lights and I knew I wanted her to have a bold but simple look.

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#MODELMONDAZE W/ KAORI

Happy Monday!

I’m back, freshly rested, after a long weekend in SoCal visiting my BFF – and stopping by the motherland (Disneyland), and in the spirit of growth I thought I’d share some reflections from a recent shoot that left me feeling disappointed and slightly disheartened.

But before I go into the gritty details, below are some of the best shots from our 2.5 hour session.
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Bikini Tops: Target   |   Black Bottoms: Forever21   |   Shorts: Custom Collective

I used to take the Lil Wayne approach to photography; work fast and often and develop a large body of work, and you’re bound to get some quality images.

I met Kaori after she responded to an ad I placed on craigslist looking for subjects to shoot with. She saw this shoot I did with Angela and wanted to create something similar.  I wanted to make sure the series’ didn’t look too similar so for Kaori, I had a more Americana-retro vibe in mind.

What went wrong?
1. Kaori’s not an actual model.
And I mean model in the technical sense. Models understand how to elongate their own bodies with out being told. They understand what positions and angles make their body look appealing. And ideally, they’re extremely facially expressive. Kaori did her best as far as positioning her body and following my directions, but she had a hard time creating unnatural facial expressions (anything other than natural smile, laugh, etc) and struggled getting comfortable in positions she isn’t normally in.

2. My set was tired. We shot this series at a local beach where I shot the boudoir series that inspired Kaori a few weeks earlier. The other shoot went so well, I thought it would be as quick and easy as it was before. But shooting such similar projects in the same location had me struggling to create new images that were different, compositionally, than the ones I got the first time around. Unfortunately, when I shot with Kaori, the tide was out, so that limited the types of shots I was getting even more. I couldn’t use the ocean as a prop or a background at the beach, which is probably the worst thing that could have happen.

3. I didn’t prep properly. I always prep for shoots, with good time in advance, but I’m realizing that what I’m doing may not be the most productive way to do things. For example, when I was figuring out the direction for this series, I looked mostly online for inspo, which I always do, when what would have been a better use of my time would be to meet with Kaori first, get a feel for her personality and what she can do and then go from there. This is much less of an issue when you work with an experienced models, but if you’re not, it can make a huge difference in the kind of photos you’ll get. (*Better prep probably could have helped with my empty ocean issue too)

The good thing is, this was a great opportunity for me to learn some valuable lessons. This shoot changed the way I plan and execute my personal projects from now on, and I feel like taking these 3 points into consideration are going to help me elevate the quality of my shoots. I used to take the Lil Wayne approach to photography; work fast and often and develop a large body of work, and you’re bound to get some quality images. Now tho, I see the value in taking the time to create work that is of a higher quality, rather than rushing to create a high volume of work.

What are some game changing tips you’ve learned from your past failures?

 

XO,

Jess

 

 

#MODELMONDAZE W/ MIKE MARTIN

Having something dope to look at always helps make my Mon-daze easier. Mike Martin is an artist out of Oakland, CA and the creator of 6638. We shot these candid photos a few weeks ago as promo for some upcoming projects he’s working on.

#MODELMONDAZE: PLAYING IN THE SAND

Sooooo, I’m still tweaking my sites and content because I want to showcase a lot of my work in addition to my personal style. I see my work as being an even clearer depiction of my personal style. So to do that, and to push myself to work even more, I’m going to be revamping my content. The first revamp is a feature that for now I’m calling ‘Model Mondaze’. Model Mondaze will feature creative photo sets I’ve shot with different models. Mondaze are hard for me to get motivated and I know I’m not alone. So to help me, and maybe help some of you too, we’ll be starting off the week with some creative inspiration!

This beauty is Angela, and you have probably seen her on my site and social media accounts. She’s one of the first girls who really fucked with me creatively and she’s one of my favorites to shoot with. We make magic. The beauty of photography is that the pictures hold different meanings for every person that views them. Watching Angela grow and become more comfortable with each shoot is a beautiful thing. The first couple series we shot alluded more to the rougher side of femininity because that’s what I identify with most strongly. For our third collaboration, I wanted to do something softer and sexier.

My favorite thing about this shoot is that before we even started, Angela was having serious doubts about her ability to be sexy. WHAT?!  This presented a really amazing opportunity for me: to bring her sexy out. There is a huge part of photography that can’t really be learned traditionally, and that is the interpersonal aspect. People need to trust their photographer, they need to be comfortable and be confident that you’re not going to make them look crazy or unappealing. For women, this is even more crucial. Honestly, Angela’s reluctance made me even more confident in my ability to direct her. The moral to this story: Never be afraid to step out of your comfort zone because amazing things happen there! and Jessica always gets what she wants 😉

p.s. these are the sexiest pics I’ve taken, so I’d say she pulled it off just fiiiiiiiiiiine, don’t you think?

4 WAYS TO SPEND A WEEKEND IN SEATTLE

Since graduating, I’ve really been trying to take time out to do the things I enjoy. So when a good friend of mine suggested we take on Seattle for the weekend to celebrate our 10 year friendaversary, it felt like perfect timing.

Our stay at The Hilton Garden Inn, Downtown Seattle was great! Our concierge was the sweetest and helped us with everything we needed and because the hotel is brand new it had tons of great amenities like an indoor pool and spa and a 24 hour gym, complete with disposable earphones. We booked our flight and hotel in one shot with Priceline.com. If you haven’t used them, I would highly recommend giving them a look. They let you name your own prices and tweak parts of your trip that don’t work for you, like a 5:00 am flight, for example.

4 Ways to Spend a Weekend in the Emerald City:

  1. Grab a custom latte at Moore Coffee Seattle
    Moore’s latte art was so adorable, out of 1,200 coffee houses, we went here 2 out of our 3 days in Seattle. They have tons of unique lattes like a mexican latte with chili powder and Ibarra chocolate, as well as the classic flavors like vanilla and mocha if you’re not feeling too adventurous.  The decor is amazing, with tons of ornate gold decorations and a cool, neutral color scheme to balance the eclecticism of the café. The wonderland-esque bathroom was my favorite part, complete with a slanted ceiling and a fabulous red and gold chair fit for the Queen of Hearts herself.
  2. Take the Seattle-Bainbridge Ferry
    This was probably the chillest and low key coolest thing we did while visiting. The round trip ride is only $7 or $8 a person and has the clearest, most convenient view of the Seattle skyline.  The ferry is huge so seating wasn’t a problem and they have a decent snack bar that even serves beer and wine. It’s a super relaxing ride that takes about an hour round trip and offers amazing views of Seattle, Bainbridge and Washington’s majestic snow capped mountains. Hands down, my favorite part of the ferry was the car deck (!!!!). Our ferry’s in the Bay are pretty small so the idea of being able to drive your car onto a ferry sorta blew my mind. What was even more mind blowing was how many cars they were able to fit on that thing. It seemed like close to 50! The mind reels.
  3. Ring once and knock twice at Needle and Thread
    Granted I had tossed a few custom made cocktails back, but Needle and Thread was one of the coolest places I’ve ever been, period. Seattle’s best kept secret is a small speakeasy located above an inconspicuous restaurant in the Capital Hill District. You sorta have to jump through hoops to get a reservation but it’s sooooo worth it. The entrance is through A VAULT DOOR that you can only open after you’ve given the ‘password’ over a rotary phone on the wall next to it. Once we made it up, we were ushered into an intimate lounge decorated with prohibition era antiques. Probably the best thing about Needle and Thread was the way you order drinks. Instead of ordering off a menu, your bartender asks you questions to get a feel for what you like to drink. I told him I prefer to drink Tequilla, like light fruity flavors, and like a little carbonation. How he came up with the drink he brought me I’ll never know but it was delicious, had Tejan in it and was garnished with a bell pepper. Reservations max out at 2 hours but that was plenty of time for dinner and two rounds of drinks. You won’t regret this one.
  4. Take the Seattle/Tacoma Airport monorail
    A taxi from the airport to downtown costs about $45.00, had we known that, we probably would have taken this when we arrived, especially because it stops like 10 times all over down town and suburban Seattle. And instead of paying $45.00 we paid less than $5.00 a person. On top of everything else, the views on the way to the airport are pretty pristine. We got to see parts of the forests the Pacific Northwest is so famous for, and it even took us by the stadiums which we didn’t get a chance to see before we left. The ride is about 45 minutes, so you may want to give yourself an extra 15 or 20 minutes if you’ll be going this route.

 

ADVENTURES IN CANDYLAND

A few months ago, I stumbled upon the work of a guy named Matt Crump. Matt has developed a unique photography style he calls ‘Candy Minimal’ which he showcases in his Instagram gallery as well as an account created exclusively for sharing amazing #CandyMinimal features from all over the world.

The basis behind Matt’s eye catching style is simple: Minimalistic shots with vibrant candy colors. I have become obsessed with his style. Candy Minimalism was at the forefront of my creative mind on a recent trip I took to, perhaps as close as we will ever get to experiencing a real, live, candy colored world: Disneyland.

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Disneyland lends itself well to the candy part of candy minimalism. It’s the minimalism part that requires a bit more work. BUT, its well worth it. I love Disneyland, don’t ever get me wrong about that. But all the things that make Disneyland a photographers dream: emotion, fun, youth, families, breathtaking scenery, once in a lifetime moments at every turn – can also make it difficult to create truly stunning images within the park. There is always a straggler (or 10 or 20) in the background; a pesky wire running a tangent through your photo, an absent minded stranger wandering aimlessly through your background. It can be excruciating. Focusing on #CandyMinimalism helped me to circumvent these common obstacles. Especially since, for me, photographing in Disneyland can sometimes be exhausting. There is literally too much to look at. I feel pulled in 50 million directions, creatively, when I try to shoot there. Should I be capturing candid moments street style? or documenting the amazingly detailed decor? or capturing my own memories via video? Just trying to figure it out can take a lot of the fun out of it. Finding focus often allows us to find clarity, both proverbially and literally.

Consider this next time you are feeling overwhelmed in any situation. What are you really wanting to say or show, or do? Defining this, in simplest terms, can help you to refocus on tasks that align more centrally with your core objectives and get you closer to your end goal.

Stay Inspired,

Jess

Disneyland Days

I love going to Disneyland. It’s like going someplace brand new and very familiar at the same time. The atmosphere is celebratory and youthful and makes you feel like anything is possible. I always feel compelled to shoot while I’m there because everything around me is so visually stunning. I’ve yet to really capture the essence of Disneyland in my photos, but I just use that as an excuse to keep going back. One thing I always love about Disneyland is how swaggy everybody is! Aside from the fanny packs, sunhats and ridiculous sandals, most people come with some of their best outfits ready show off their Disney spirit. Of course, the best pieces usually don’t come from the park. Hot Topic has a sick collection of Disney inspired pieces and some of my favorite things I saw were from there as well. One of my main focuses this trip was to photograph Disneyland Street Style in the style of classic street photography.

I failed miserably at capturing the essence of the photographic style, but I do know how to spot great style when I see it, so the photos aren’t amazing, but the subjects are sporting some seriously cool shit.

Theres just too much to appreciate at Disneyland! Disney is really good about finding actors who are truly committed to their roles. When you meet Kylo Ren at Disneyland, it’s not like meeting a character, it’s not even like meeting Adam Driver. It’s like stepping on to Star Killer Base and meeting Kylo Ren. It really adds a lot to the Disney experience.

Unfortunately, I have to wait till summer to come back. But my family will be coming, including two of my nieces and my nephew so I know it will be even crazier and more fun than this trip! What are some of your favorite attractions at Disneyland and California Adventures? And who is your dream Disney Bound? I’m trying to think of a really good group Disneybound that can include myself, my mom, sister, two nieces (15 &11) and my nephew (9), and would love to hear some of your ideas!

XO,

Jess