Show Up Early

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Changes Coming

First I want to mention that moving forward with this blog I’ll be including more details about the lessons learned on my path in photography. Recently, I photographed John Roderick for Seattle Met. It was a quick shoot, as most editorial portraits are so I’ve decided to write about the importance of show up early.

It’s Always Important To Show Up Early

Show up early, scout, and be ready when the subject(s) arrive. I can’t stress how important it is to always show up early in the world of photography. In my opinion this is the most important rule. That point is even more stress when it comes to editorial photography. If you’ve ever done editorial portraits you know deadlines are come quick.  Subjects often have limited availability and you’ve often never been to the location you’ll be shooting at. That’s why showing up early is a huge advantage. It gives you a chance to focus on the message of the article and how you can achieve the look or feeling you want to give to your image.

Scout And Take Lots Of Test Shots

Once you show up scout around and take a lot of test shots. This helps me because it puts me into a grove and I can find a location where I think I can take a the best photo. After you find the location,  work on dialing in the lighting and getting the composition right. Another plus is if you find yourself setup and ready way ahead of time you can setup another shot in addition to your first one. Sometimes the second or third setup end up being the better shots in the end. Having a second or even third option could also go a long way to showing an art director your professionalism and you’re willing to work hard.

Location And Preparation

John asked that I meet him at a music venue located on Capitol Hill called, Neumos.  Showing up early was huge  for this shot because it afforded me the opportunity to be setup and ready when John arrived. It also allowed me to get more shots of him instead of spending time frantically taking test shots and moving lights around. Shoots like that never go well nor do they make your subjects feel at ease.

A Bit About The Shoot

Speaking of being at ease, I could tell as soon as the shoot started that this wasn’t John’s first time in front of a camera. He hopped up on stage and immediately gave me great poses and expressions.  At first he I tried to give him direction, but he came up with so many great poses I just decided it’d be best to shut up and let the man do what he wanted. This approach ended up being the best in the end because when it came time to pick my favorite image it was really hard. Actually the image I’ve included in this post isn’t the photo Seattle Met chose for the article, but it’s my favorite. To see what they used click here.

Image of John Roderick shot for Seattle Met magazine by editorial and commercial photographer, Joshua Huston.
Portrait of John Roderick at Neumos in Seattle, Washington for Seattle Met Magazine.

Setup

I used the house lights to light to add ambiance to the setting and to obviously light the curtain in the background. I used only one strobe to light John and one small silver reflector located camera right for fill. I really like the pose because to me it looks like he’s rolling his sleeves up and getting ready to work, which in a way, he is. Check out my site for a larger version of this photo, and thanks for reading!

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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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Pig Snout Rocks The Puget Sound

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joshua huston, josh, houston, magazine cover, magazine, on assignment portrait, on location, strobe, flash, lighting, Tacoma-Seattle based band, Pig Snout, Justin, Dahlia, and Lucien TammingaWho: Tacoma and Seattle based band, Pig Snout. The band is a family band comprising of Dahlia (age 7), her brother, Lucien (age 10), and their father, Justin Tamminga. With Justin laying down the riffs on guitar, Dahlia, and Lucien switch on playing drums and keys. They’ve got some really great songs that they’ve all written together. They’re playing shows all around the Puget Sound area. You’ve got to see these guys play. Check them out here, https://youtu.be/QI8hxlJ-pmc

Why: This was just suppose to be a feature photo for Seattle’s Child magazine, but after the art director saw this image she decided to make it into the cover!

How: At first I was a bit overwhelmed trying to light their jam space because there wasn’t much room to hide my lights. After some fidgeting, I decided to aim my strobes though their windows, so that I could use more of the space to add to the environment of the shot. For the posing I had Dahlia put up her sticks and give me her best metal face, told Justin to give me his best Hendrix impression, and I had Lucien to jump-up and down while rock out on the keys. I’m extremely happy with the image and I love how edgy it came out. It looks great in my portfolio and I’m considering it for a future promo piece. Check it out now on joshuahuston.com. More to come soon!

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“Show off your Canines”

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joshua huston, josh houston, portrait, on location, on assignment, portfolio, editorial photography, magazine, dentist, advertising, great dane, freelance, seattleWho: Faith Bult, DDS. I recently shot this for a dentist who’s located in Bellingham, Washington.

Why: She’ll be using this image as an advertisement that will be running on the back of this months issue of, Bellingham Alive with the tagline, “show off your canines”. The photo advertisement will coincide with Faith also appearing in magazine as “dentist of the year”. Faith heard about my photography through word of mouth and contacted me to shoot the advertisement a few weeks ago. I love doing commercial photography so I was super happy to help her, and plus I got this sweet photo of her and her Great Danes.

How: Including the wardrobe and lighting setup, a lot of planning went into this image. There was some problem solving before hand because Faith wanted to use a red background and nobody in Seattle carried a 12-foot seamless in red.  I ended up having to use two rolls of seamless that were next to each other and I set them up to overlap each other. For lighting I used a large parabolic octobank with the diffusion sleeve off of the softbox to create a harder light and because I wanted to leave a harder shadow behind the subjects so it didn’t look like they were floating. I also put two lights on the background to brighten up the shot and give it a bit more pop. One of the most challenging aspects of this photograph proved to be getting enough light onto the dogs black coats so that I could show a bit of detail. It was hard because a lot of the light was bouncing up off the seamless and making the rind stones on their collars turn red. Thankfully I was able to snoot an Alien Bee and shine it’s light into their dark coats without hitting to much of the background or, Faith. The dogs themselves are show dogs, so they were very well behaved, but they’re still dogs and they were distracted by the new sights and smells. So, to get the dogs to pose like they are in this photo, I had someone knock on the door. This trick worked great because each time someone knocked on the studio door the dogs would look up and face the same direction.

Faith, is really happy with the final image and I am too. I look forward to seeing a hard copy of it in the magazine, Bellingham Alive. I really enjoyed shooting this ad and I hope to get more jobs like it soon! The image is up on my site now. Check it out. joshuahuston.com

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Piano Nobile

joshua huston, josh houston, portrait, on location, on assignment, portfolio, editorial photography, magazine, architecture, freelance, seattle

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I just shot this photo for Seattle’s Child and it’s out now. The photo is of a local Seattle family. The husband is an architect and the wife is an artist. They’ve combined their talents to run a business called, Piano Nobile. This shot is being used in this month’s Making Home section of Seattle’s Child. Making Home is monthly feature that showcases families who remodel their homes to accommodate their families. This family has converted an old garage into their home.

 

I’m really happy with this photo! I had a lot of space to cover with only a few lights, but I think I was able to make it work pretty well. I set up a large Alien Bee 1600 strobe with a large softbox on it, pointed at the wall camera left. The bounce off the wall created a larger light source that I was able to use to light the family. Thankfully their entire home was painted white because it ended up filling in the shadows on their faces nicely. I ended up using my other two strobes to light the loft style bedroom, and their kitchen. It might not look like it, but this home is deep. I shot the photo from the outside, looking in. I was able to style the family as I had just caught them in a natural moment. The kids are playing and the parents are looking over plans for a new project. I love it!

 

This will definitely be a new promo piece to send out to art directors here in Seattle. I’m really happy that I was able to make this photo look like a high production shoot with only three lights. Hopefully, I’ll be able to use this photo to promote my work to advertising agencies, and too showcase my editorial photography skills to local magazines here in Seattle and elsewhere. I’m really starting to like where my current work is heading! Stay tuned for more!

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Boxing Photo shoot

joshua huston, josh houston, portrait, on location, on assignment, portfolio, editorial photography, magazine, boxer, boxing ring, freelance, seattle

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I just created a small series of photos of professional boxer, Isaac Tadeo at Seattle Boxing Gym located on Capitol Hill. Recently I’ve been trying to create personal work with photos that interest me, with the intent to show art directors the kind of work I’m interested in doing. After thinking about different sports and finally deciding on boxing, I did some online research and came across photos of Seattle Boxing gym. The gym looked perfect, but the one big problem I had was that I didn’t know any boxers. I decided to take a small flyer I designed showcasing some of my photography down to the gym.

 

Isaac was the only person at the gym when I arrived. I talked to him about what I wanted to do and showed him the portraits on my website. After seeing my photos he told me that he was a professional boxer and that he’d love to be my subject. It really worked out perfectly because since he works there as a trainer it meant we could meet up when the gym was empty. After we spoke I scouted around and eventually set a date to photograph Isaac. I honestly can’t believe my luck. One attempt and I locate a perfect location, and an actual professional boxer, with access to the gym! Thank you photo, Gods!

 

While I waited for the shoot date to approach I looked at a lot of photos of boxers and poured over my scouting shots of the gym. I decided that I wanted to make the photos look really gritty and very dramatic. I tried to think of shots that would convey what a boxer might actually do around a gym, and I thought long and hard about how I wanted to pose Isaac. The planning helped me a lot in long run because I ended up not having as much time to photograph Isaac as I had hoped

 

On the shoot I used only two lights with grids on them. Using grids on my strobes really helped because I was able to control the light making sure it didn’t spill out, illuminating the rest of the gym. Controlling the light with grids also kept the main focus on my subject. I’m really happy with the photos I got of Isaac! I think they’ll make great promotional pieces to send out to advertising agencies looking for a commercial photographers based in Seattle. And I plan on sending them out art directors in search of editorial photographers. I had a lot of fun on this shoot and hopefully I’ll photograph more athletes soon.

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Willies BBQ

joshua huston, josh houston, portrait, on location, on assignment, portfolio, editorial photography, magazine, bbq, smoker, food, freelance, seattle

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I recently shot this photo of the owner of Willie’s BBQ, which is located on Rainer avenue in south Seattle. This portrait happened by chance because I was actually at the restaurant on photographing Heaven Sent, Ezell Stephens. Ezell splits the kitchen space with Willie and also runs his new restaurant out of Willies BBQ for the time being. Ezell is the original owner of Ezell’s Chicken located across the street from Garfield High school. He no longer owns that restaurant, but while he was the owner the story was that his chicken recipe was so good that even Oprah Winfrey would have his chicken sent to her straight from Ezell. There was even a photo of the two of them together hanging up in the restaurant.

Back to the photo of Willie; on the way to my car after photographing Mr. Stephens, I saw Willie walking into the smoke shack located in the back of his restaurant. I quickly convinced Willie to let me photograph him while he was putting a new batch of ribs into his smoker. It was extremely smoky in the smoke shack (imagine that) and I only had time to throw up one light. Willie and I were able to both hold our eyes open long enough for me to grab this great environmental portrait of him. I’m really happy that I stopped and talked Willie into letting me photograph him. It was an unexpected opportunity, but I was able to create a really cool editorial photograph to add to my portfolio. I guess it pays to always keep your eyes open.

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Off The Rez

joshua huston, josh houston, portrait, on location, on assignment, portfolio, editorial photography, magazine, food truck, freelance, seattle

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Check out the recent Seattle Weekly food article. In it you’ll see the recent photo I took of Mark McConnell, Owner of Off The Rez food truck, along with his partner Cecilia Rikard, and head chef Donovan MacInnis (center) for Seattle Weekly. Off The Rez produces Native-American-inspired cuisine, like fry bread pork tacos.

A bit about my shoot with Off the Rez; I met Mark and his crew at a spot in Georgetown where they stop each morning to fill up their food truck before heading out. Since it was completely cloudless out, I used the shadow created by the building to keep the harsh sunlight off of the subjects. I ended up using one large softbox for the main light, and one light, which was located off to camera-right to fill in the shadows. The strobe off to the right created some really nice light that filled in the interior of the truck as well adding a nice rim-light on Mark. I’m very happy with this image. It’s going to be a nice example of my editorial work for my portfolio. If you’re around Seattle and see Off The Rez food truck try some of their fry bread, you won’t be disappointed.

 

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