Miss me?

Looking at my blog, I actually thought I had stopped writing blog articles in September 2021. I’m surprised that I didn’t stop until October! I’m better than I thought I was!

I find it interesting that my first blog article returning, would be that about my first ‘concept’ shoot done 10 years ago! And maybe this is part of my healing process. The last 3 months have been tough. Maybe the toughest ever in my life. Most of it was personal-based drama. There were some photography-related issues that hurt me. Deeply.

My First 'Concept' Photo Shoot

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Yes, you've seen this image plenty of times on my blog. I knew what I wanted to create. I researched lighting. Which was the biggest part of the shoot on a technical basis. 

When people found out that a new photographer with about 4 months experience did this shot, you might be surprised how many doors it opened for me. It was crazy!

Though, I made plenty of mistakes with this shot. I did it with a 35mm lens on an APS-C camera. Which gives it a focal length of 50mm. Not bad. A part of me wishes I had an accent light for her hair. But without that light, I think it adds a bit of mystery.

But I got lucky. Even with the mistakes, I love the results. I just wish I had more keepers. I mean, that dress Fallon is wearing? It's her H.S. prom dress she wore just a year or two earlier! Perfect!

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Oxana Bjornsen-Gustavson was the makeup artist and hairstylist for the shoot. The first time I worked with one. She did hair and makeup completely without my help. She knew what I was going for. Perfect. Still, 10 years later, one of the best people I've ever worked with.

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Just now, I realized something...  That smile reminds me of a movie star from long ago...  Her initials are GK...

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People loved this image like you wouldn't believe.

But as I look back and remember that first ‘concept’ shoot I thought of, I remember all the shoots and work. Previously before this shoot, I just showed up at shoots expecting to photograph whatever model was there with whatever they had to wear. I suppose the creative part of that kind of photography is HOW to make it interesting. Which is a good thing.

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How I met Fallon: A group photo shoot. Where, mostly, a bunch of lonely men with cameras, photograph young women. To me, I couldn't ask for better practice. When I made this shot, I made a mental note that I would have to work with her again. Still, after 10-years, one of the most talented models I've ever worked with.

I took the images above to my photography group in San Francisco to see 'How good are they?' Well, there was a group of experienced photographers that were like 'Wow! How long have you been doing photography?" When I said "About 4 months...." They just shook their heads in disbelief. Another group were, well, pissed-off. That got me by surprise.

Basically, these experienced photographers were pissed off that this upstart with just a few months experience came along and created "THAT!". One of those photographers, who is actually a really good product photographer, tried to replicate what I did for a fashion client. Even hired Fallon as the model. Let's just say, it didn't turn out as he planned. Then he had this demeaning attitude towards me. He was just angry he couldn't do the work I did.

What Can One Image Do?

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"The Icy Blonde" was actually the shoot I was supposed to have done first. But the original model made some strange demands and used Fallon instead. My next shoot would be the original, Alfred Hitchcock inspired shoot as he loved "Icy Blondes".

I posted several pics of the shoot with Fallon for the model casting call, the response was insane! After about 4 hours, I had to take down the casting call! I had 60+ responses! Which is crazy! It was between two models at the end. 

I had one model who had work in magazines in Elle, Marie Claire and others. Magazines like that. The work she had done with those photographers was way beyond my level at the time. Amazing work.

But she had a real, hard, German look to her. Sharp and blocky features. Beautiful in her own way. But not really what I was going for.

Then, there was Alexis Carene-Hutt. I was confused about who I should use for the shoot. Someone who had a lot of experience and been in the best fashion magazines in the world? Or choose someone who really fit my vision. Pretty much perfectly. A colleague of mine, Terrence Taylor, and who assisted on the shoot with Fallon, I asked for his advice as he's much more experienced, said "Use the person who best fits your vision...". I did. And I couldn't have been happier.

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Again, Oxana Bjornsen-Gustavson did the hair and makeup for this shoot with almost zero input from me. I mean, it couldn't be a more perfect style. One of the best.

I couldn't be happier with this shoot. I cut down on one of the mistakes. I occasionally used a second light for her hair. But still used a 35mm lens! But again, the results....

Trivia: Not only would Alexis be featured on the cover of several, great, local magazines, but her agency considered using the headshot image. But it was too 'vintage-styled' for the rest of her portfolio to be included. Still, I was incredibly flattered that possibly the top modeling agency in San Francisco liked that image that much.

So What's Changed in 10 Years?

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In terms of style and substance, not much has changed. I can just get what I want faster and easier. That's just experience.  

I'm using superior gear these days compared to my Canon 50D and the Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 I rented for the first two shoots in this post. Color is superior. Sharpness is superior. Would this great gear make those earlier images better? For those shots? Not necessarily. For that style, not really. But when you need the extra sharpness and color, you have it. Ironically, for these latest shots, I mostly used the incredible and gorgeous lighting provided by the enormous window.

These images are from my latest shoot "Everyday Elegance". Many more shots of this shoot you can find on my blog. But this dress by Marchessi was the one I really wanted to see model Inga Krohn, wear. Which of course, fits in with my earlier, creative work with Fallon and Alexis.

This year, 2022, I want want to do some purely, creative work for myself. Not work that's just for portfolio and marketing reasons. I've already started looking for models to do another vintage-inspired shoot!

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While my 10-year anniversary of my first shoot was cause for reflection, I still had to reflect on what my photography means to me on my 'first concept' shoot. I can’t help to be incredibly grateful, that I have the gift in me to create beauty. And in my opinion, great beauty. That I have a vision in my head and can realize it.

It was this knowledge, constantly reminding myself of it, that helped me make it through the last few months. It’s the love that will help you make it through the tough times. You have to love it.

Thank you God.

Ricardo Gomez Photography

Originally from San Francisco, Ricardo is now a New York-based photographer specializing in editorial and commercial photography.
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