Professional Business Portraits

Professional business portraits and headshots are a key asset in developing an online presence for any business:  web sites, Facebook, Instagram, blogs, etc.  I was honored to help Kevin Lewis of Lewis Wealth Management in Carmel, IN, create some great images for his company's web presence.  Given the professional nature of his industry, we chose the The Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts, in Carmel, IN for the backdrop--the stone steps and columns conveyed the professionalism, brand, and image that we were looking for.  

We also chose the early morning hours to get some great lighting, by using it as a backlight and by using reflectors to bounce some great light to carve out some impactful portraits.  

Portrait of Kevin Lewis of Lewis Wealth Management against the columns at The Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, IN

Portrait of Kevin Lewis of Lewis Wealth Management on the steps at The Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, IN

Photo retouching is always an important aspect of quality portrait work, and it should not be overlooked or discounted.  Sometimes it may take a lot of work, other times just a little bit to help remove distractions (e.g., from backgrounds), smooth over slight wrinkles, even out skin tones, or remove minor blemishes.  The end goal is to reveal a natural looking image. 

Below is just one example.  See how I've removed the distraction in the background.  See how the skin tone is more even across the face.  See how the wrinkles under the eye are reduced (just slightly), and how minor blemishes have been removed or toned down.  I don't want porcelain skin--especially on a portrait of a man--but I do want to reduce visual distractions so that we're looking at the person in the portrait.      

BEFORE portrait retouching

AFTER portrait retouching

Product Photography: Sig Sauer P238

Have you ever seen something in the store or online and think, "That would be a lot of fun to make a photograph of?"  Okay, maybe you don't, but sometimes I do.  When I got this Sig Sauer P238, that's exactly what I did.  I wanted to create an image that would be worthy of a web site home page.  

Sig Sauer P238 with ammo, hearing protection, and extra clip

The set:  I wanted to have a grey/black background, and something with texture, so I found some shelf lining and grey slate tile from the local home improvement store.  I also added in some rebar as a foreground element.  

Sig Sauer P238 with ammo, and extra clip

Special effects:  A picture of a firearm is just simply not complete with out a little gun smoke, so with the help of some incense and some Photoshop work, the gun came to life.  

Retouching:  I wouldn't have thought this image would need much retouching, but even thought I cleaned it thoroughly, there were numerous little dust specks on the gun, and little imperfections in the tile that demanded attention.  In short, I try to remove the distractions--that's the key.  

The final product:  I'm pretty pleased with the final images.  I think they'd make great banner images for any The only bad thing is, now I want to do some more special effects images, with a bullet flying out the barrel, and shell casings being ejected.  This could get addictive.  

Sig Sauer P238 smoking gun with ammo

Professional Portrait Retouching: Frequency Separation

I admit it!  It's been way too long since I've done a blog post.  I could rattle off excuses, but what's the point?  Let's get on with the blog post:  Recently I put together a photo project with a local company, Pro Kneads, who was looking to create some images for their web site.  I'm surely going to post some of them to my portfolio, soon.  However, I wanted to make a quick blog post of some of the retouching work that I did.  Retouching faces can be quite challenging.  As a photographer, I want to preserve detail while eliminating blemishes, color patches, and any blotchiness.  So many photographers do it the easy way and remove all the skin texture, giving almost a smooth, plastic look.  In all honesty, that approach is fine for the right client, for certain budgets.  I prefer more realistic retouching techniques.  I'll often use a technique called frequency separation.  Name aside, it's a technique that allows me to retouch the color separately from the texture, which allows me to retain a natural looking appearance, and who doesn't want that?

Below is the before image, alongside the retouched, after image.  I think you'll agree that the transformation is not only amazing, but also very beautiful and flattering.  

Portrait, before retouching

Portrait, after retouching

   Furthermore, I do want to add that the client was looking for a dramatic, contrasty image that had blues in the shadows and blacks.  That's the reason for the color tone and treatment here.  Here's the final image as delivered to my client:  

Final portrait for client's web site

Final portrait for client's web site

Lastly, the client was looking for an image that conveyed the fact that their services were mobile--that they come to their client's home.  That's why we captured this image outdoors using studio lights to get that great light for the client.  

Headshots & Portraits of Actor / Model

I'd met Indianapolis actor and model, Arron Patterson, quite some time ago, and we'd been wanting to get together and do a shoot, but he also wanted to get some new headshots and portraits.  He was looking for something a bit edgy with a lot of contrast, so I setup a three light setup to get a really great effect.  

Headshot of Actor Model

Headshot of Actor Model Black & White

We shot against a grey seamless background.  I used my Nikon D610 with my Tamron 70-200 lens.  I had three Paul C Buff Einstein E640s:  one in a gridded octobox to camera right, and two in gridded strip boxes behind the model to both the right and the left.  Those two strip boxes gave some really nice edge light to the portrait.

Portrait of Actor Model

After capturing the images we wanted we started playing around a bit.  He also took a call from his wife, and I kept snapping away, capturing a few life style shots of him with his phone.

Portrait of Actor Model with Phone

Arron also wanted to mix it up a bit by doing some martial arts style kicks.  These were fun.

Portrait of Actor Model Kicking

All in all we had a really fun shoot, and were able to get the professional looking images that he was looking for.

Mountain Bike Stuntman, Jeff Lenosky

Last weekend I had a chance to work with Jeff Lenosky, an American world class professional Freeride and Trials Mountain Bicycle Rider.

Jeff Lenosky jumping his mountain bike over some brave little fans.

I connected with Jeff on Facebook, in hopes of catching up with him for his show here in Indianapolis at Bicycle Garage Indy, and making some great images of him doing his amazing stunts.  It was an absolute blast getting to know Jeff, and working with him.  I shot five of his six shows, and by the fifth one I was starting to dial it in, and get myself positioned in better and better spots to get some good shots.  I even wiggled my Jeep into a spot behind his stunt obstacles and trailers to get an elevated shooting perspective.  I wanted to be able to get Jeff some great photos that he can use with his sponsors (e.g., Giant Bicycles, Vittoria, and Ergon Bike).  All in all, it was a really good shoot.  Next time I want to focus a little more on some of his key sponsors and get some detail shots of their products.      

Flashback Cardinal Photo Composite

Almost two years ago it snowed--much like it did last night--and I set out to do a composite of all the cardinals that were flooding our back yard.  I set the camera out on a tripod to capture multiple images of the cardinals as the flew around, perched on the fence, and plucked seed from the bird feeder.  Then I layered all the images together, pulling out the cardinals from each image layer in order to build the final composite.  I wish it had been a sunnier day, but I really like the final image.

Photo-Composite-Cardinals-Fence

Photo Composite of Cardinals from (Originally shot 2/2/2014)

Photo Composite of Downtown Indianapolis, IN

I had the idea to create a photo composite of some of the marquee buildings in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana.

Downtown Indianapolis Indiana

In order for the final image to work, I knew that I needed to do two things:  1) capture the images at about the same time of day, and 2) to capture the images from approximately the vantage point.  Therefore, I hustled downtown one morning, and intentionally captured the images from a south-facing vantage point.  I also captured some images of the bricks, sky, canal, and street that I knew I would need to use to pull the various components together.  In hindsight I would have paid a lot more attention to the edges of my components, and to where I would cut them off and make the transition.  That said, I pulled them all into Photoshop and cut out each component, and then warped them a bit to give a more whimsical look, and then added a sun flare to add some drama.  

4th of July Photography in Indianapolis IN

I was just out shooting again, here in Indianapolis, for the 4th of July.  I'd seen other images online of the Indy fireworks from this same vantage point, so I wanted to give it a try.  There were a number of photographers who had picked out the same spot on the bridge by the Indiana State Museum, over the White River Canal.  I've already had a few folks contact me about purchasing prints of this image, so I decided on a 14 day trial on Smugmug (http://cxphotoworks.smugmug.com/).  If you're interested in a print of this, please contact me at kevin@cxphotoworks.com, especially if my Smugmug trial is over--I'd love for you to have a print.  As for post production, I did composite 4 different exposures together to really fill out the fireworks and their reflection, not to mention remove a couple of distractions.  

4th of July Fireworks in Indianapolis Indiana over the White River Canal.  (Image is lightly watermarked w/ my "CX".)

Good First Impressions with Great Website Images

Make a great first impression!  It's so important these days for businesses to have high-quality images on their websites.  A website is a company's virtual storefront, and many potential clients will get their first impressions based on a website, and the images on it.  

A&D Hydra-Clean, a family-owned business in Indianapolis approached me looking for some great images that would better represent them, for use on their website, and for other marketing efforts.  I was excited to have the chance to work with such a client, and to help them make a better first impression.  

Marquee photo from our commercial photo shoot with A&D Hydra-Clean in Indianapolis, IN.

Marquee photo from our commercial photo shoot with A&D Hydra-Clean in Indianapolis, IN.

Collaboration & Pre-Production are Key

For a commercial photo shoot to be successful, collaboration and pre-production are key.  Aaron Wilson (owner), and Tricia at A&D were great to work with.  We sat down, and thoroughly discussed the images that they were looking for, and how they might be used.  We put together a full shot list, a prep-day plan, and a shoot-day timeline so that everyone would understand what was needed and what to expect.  There was also a considerable amount of thought, and planning put into figuring out how to best capture their marquee shot:  a photo that would show their whole team, most of their trucks, and much of their equipment.    

Another big consideration for Aaron and A&D was minimizing they team's down-time.  When they're not on the job, their customers aren't being served, and they're not making any money.  We were going to need to stage their trucks, equipment, and pull the team away from jobs to make the photo shoot happen.  Therefore, it became all that much more important for us to put together a solid production plan to make the best use of everyone's time, and to get the team back out on the job. 

For those of you who might be considering enhancing your company's website by upgrading your images, strongly consider working with a photographer that will work with you and collaborate to determine the best photos and the right strategy to bring it altogether. 

The Commercial Photo Shoot

I've put together a more comprehensive write-up on my A&D Hydra-Clean Photo Shoot which includes more about the planning, some behind the scenes (BTS) photos, and a selection of some of the final images.  Again, if you're looking for a photographer, consider someone who will take the time to listen to your needs, and will work--well in advance of the shoot--to make sure everything comes together on the day of the shoot, so that you get the kind of images that will make a great first impression.  

Interested in Great Images for Your Website?

If you'd like to improve the images on your website contact me.  I'd be glad to talk with you about your project, and help steer you in the right direction.

Just Out Shooting -- JW Marriott Indianapolis

I decided to get up early this morning, and do an architectural photography test shoot.  I got up at the crack of dawn, bundled up, and headed downtown to the JW Marriott in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Yes, it was cold.  It was a quick shoot, without any advance scouting, but I'm pleased with what I was able to get in such a short time.  I ran three of photos through Photoshop:  doing some retouching, dodging, burning, sharpening, and a few other tweaks to draw interest towards the JW Marriott.  Here are the results.  

JW Marriott Indianapolis Indiana 1 of 3

JW Marriott Indianapolis Indiana 1 of 3

JW Marriott Indianapolis Indiana 2 of 3

JW Marriott Indianapolis Indiana 2 of 3

JW Marriott Indianapolis Indiana 3 of 3