Photographing Tommy Chong

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joshua huston, josh houston, tommy chong, portrait, on location, on assignment, portfolio, editorial photography, magazine, celebrity, headshot, freelance, seattleWho: Actor and comedian, Tommy Chong.

Why: Chong was in town and he stopped by a large office space located in the Pioneer Square district of Seattle that a friend of mine owns and rents out for events. Chong used the space to do interviews and a news conference with local stations. He was in town to promote his brand, Chong’s Choice. His hope is to become the Howard Shultz of the marijuana industry.

My friend reached out to me and asked if I could photograph the event so that he could use the images to show the space in use. I told him I’d photograph it for free if he could get me 2 min with Chong and it ended up working out!

How: This was the most crowded space that I have ever put lights up in. Everyone who wasn’t there to interview Chong, was there to try to get his autograph. There was another photographer (now friend) there too! Our sets were so close to each other that I was leaning on one of his c-stands during the photo shoot. It was quite stressful. I always get a little nervous when I have gear up in a public space, but this was almost out of control. For a moment I was actually reluctant to setup any gear. I knew however that this was a small chance I had to get a celebrity in my  portfolio and I needed to nail it.

The night before the shoot I stayed up late and studied all recent photos I could find of Chong’s face on the internet. I looked up his height and determined what style of lighting I thought would look best on his face. At the time I couldn’t decided, but I was leaning towards a light grey background. The day of the shoot though I quickly realized I had no safe way to setup a seamless with a room full of excited fans of Tommy’s. Thankfully, I was able to do something I saw another photographer do that I assisted recently . I flipped my largest softbox around and used it as the background. That’s right! That’s another light behind him shooting back at the camera. Then I put one medium softbox on his face for the key light.

I’m really happy and proud because in my opinion, I was able to have two lights in small area that created a really great high-key image. And my setup was safe in an insanely crowded space! I really love this image of Tommy. I’ve always, always wanted to photograph celebrities. I’m hoping that this image is the begging of more opportunities like this one! Just maybe minus the large crowds hovering around me and my gear.

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In The Woods

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joshua huston, josh houston, portrait, on location, on assignment, portfolio, editorial photography, magazine, hunter, woods, freelance, seattleWho: Can you spot him? Click on the image and you’ll see that there’s a hunter in the bottom right corner. His name is Bobby and he’s an old friend of mine from high school. Recently we met up when I went back home to Kokomo, Indiana and I got this great portrait of him.

Why: Why not!?! Bobby and I met up recently when I was back home for the holidays and he showed me a section of woods that he owns and helps maintain for hunting. While walking around the woods talking and describing what we’ve been up to since we graduated from high school, Bobby started talking about his love for hunting. I’m not against hunting, but I know nothing about it. However, I was interested to hear about the section we were walking around in and how he goes about maintaining it for his hunting. As we were walking deeper into the woods, Bobby mentioned to me that during the previous summer a tornado had come through a part of the woods. His description of what the tornado had done to a large tree sounded very interesting to me. As we approached the tree, I immediately envisioned a possible portrait of Bobby next to it. I mentioned my idea to take a photograph of him and said that I wished there were more leaves on the trees so we could camouflage him. He told me that during this time of year he’d be hunting wild turkey and described how that might look. So we set a time and determined that even if the portrait didn’t come out well, at the very least it would provide a great opportunity to hangout more.

How: There was so much room between Bobby and I that I couldn’t shape the light much. Thankfully cloud coverage created a very soft and even light made my life a lot easier. I basically had Bobby setup where he normally would and then I used a wide-angle lens to show the surroundings. Which also include the tree that I mentioned earlier that was hit by a previous tornado. It’s amazing that the power of the tornado could bend such a large part of the tree like it did. And personally I think the angle of the tree really adds to the image. Anyways, I ended up using only one Alien Bee strobe for this. No light modifier on the head either. I just put the light as hi as I could and turned it all the way up so that I could fill in all of the shadows and create a bit of fake sunlight on what was an overcast and dull looking day.

Overall I’m really happy with this image. It was really cool to catch up with an old friend too. Especially because we were able to literally show each other what we’ve been up to! Oh, and I forgot to blog about this, but (10 days late) Happy New Year!

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A Portrait Of My Dad

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joshua huston, josh houston, portrait, on location, on assignment, portfolio, editorial photography, magazine, headshot, dramatic lighting freelance, seattleWho: This handsome guy is not only my best friend, but he’s also my father.

Why: This was a lighting test which my dad has been part of several light test for me over the past. Lately, I haven’t only been trying to work on my lighting, but I’ve been working on better understand myself through my work and what images I’m drawn to in life. My hope is that through a better understanding myself ,I will create better work that’s not only unique, but truly mine. And I’m always trying to work on my lighting and I’d like to develop a few styles that I can use when photographing people in the future.

How: It took a little to long to setup, but hopefully with some practice I’ll be able to expand upon what I’ve done here. I setup three lights. One small softbox camera-left (key light), one medium softbox (fill) camera right. Way behind the camera, I setup one light with a small grid on it that added the catch light you can see in his eyes.

This image reminds me of an old school celebrity headshot. I’ve had several people tell me they think my dad looks like Ernest Hemingway in this photo which I know he loves to hear that. I hope to bring some more people into the studio soon to practice this lighting more.

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