Movie Poster Photography: "Self/Less"

I just finished this new photography and Photoshop project of mine: a movie poster remake of the movie, “Self/Less” with Ryan Reynolds and Ben Kingsley. When I tell folks what type of professional photography that I enjoy most, I often mention that it’s the type of commercial photography that you would see on a movie poster, or a book cover. So, again, here is yet another movie poster recreation of mine.

This year, I want to crank out at least one creative photo project a month. I want to both try things that I’ve seen online—like this movie poster—and come up with new concepts on my own. I saw the movie poster for “Self/Less”, and thought it looked like a fun creative challenge.

“Self/Less” movie poster remake (with text).

My Approach

First I had to find something to remake the ‘head’ wrapped in plastic. I quickly realized that doing that as a self-portrait was not easy, and not the best idea. So, I bought a mannequin head, and used that (much easier). I then wanted the right trench coat, so I found a cheap one online that fit the look I was going for, but it took a bit of time to get it delivered. Then, I just sat up a mirror in front of the camera, and set it to take multiple shots. After about 50 or so shots, I finally got one that I liked.

Then, that ‘dispersion’ affect was one I’ve seen for a long time, and wanted to try sometime, and this was the perfect project for it. I cut up small pieces of black cinefoil, took pictures of them w/ my iPhone, and created eight different Photoshop brushes to use in the image. It worked out rather well—a fun technique.

“Self/Less” movie poster remake (without text).

“Self/Less” movie poster remake (without text).

More Photography Projects Like This

I really enjoy doing this creative photo composites, and photo manipulations. They really push me to problem solve to figure out how to best shoot it, and how best to approach the Photoshop work so that it looks as realistic as possible. I definitely plan on doing more photo projects like this for myself, and really hope to be able to work with more clients on projects like this.

Movie Poster Photography: "Cold Souls" Parody

I really hope you enjoy this new photography and Photoshop project of mine: a movie poster parody. When I explain to people what type of professional photography that I enjoy most, I often mention that it’s the type of commercial photography that you would see on a movie poster, or a book cover. So, I just had to recreate a movie poster.

I’ve been so busy with my day job, that I haven’t been putting much time in, or pushing myself creatively. So, this year, I really want to try and crank out at least one creative photo project a month. I want to both try things that I’ve seen online—like this movie poster—and come up with new concepts on my own. I saw the movie poster for “Cold Souls” with Paul Giamatti, and thought it looked like a fun creative challenge, so I took my own spin on it. Yes, I know that I spelled it “Cold Soles”, I just didn’t want to copy it exactly, out respect.

Movie poster photography. A “Cold Souls” movie poster parody.

My Approach

Can you say tripod and remote trigger? It’s so much easier to be just behind the camera, than to be both behind and in front of the camera. Focus is harder, lighting is harder, and it just takes a lot longer. Nonetheless I pulled it off: grabbing images of myself, and a few images of a bowl that I used in my composite as the inside of the heads to give it a more realistic look.

I shot the portraits with a blue-green background, but wound up doing full cut-outs of the headshots, so I’m not sure if it helped me that much to color light my backdrop, but I don’t think it hurt. And, it probably helped me blend it in better to my final background.

Movie poster photography. A “Cold Souls” movie poster parody (without text).

More Photography Projects Like This

I really enjoy doing this creative photo composites, and photo manipulations. They really push me to problem solve to figure out how to best shoot it, and how best to approach the Photoshop work so that it looks as realistic as possible. I definitely plan on doing more photo projects like this for myself, and really hope to be able to work with more clients on projects like this.

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.      

Real Estate & Exterior Architecture Photography in Indianapolis

I had a great opportunity to work with a local Indianapolis resident to create some images of his beautiful, new home on Eagle Creek Reservoir.  We worked with a local aerial imaging company to make some great aerial images of the property, highlighting its waterfront location.  I also wanted to create a real nice 'hero' shot of the home, by using a multiple strobe technique to highlight various features of the home, that would otherwise fall a little dark or a little flat.  With both the aerial images and the ground-level images I made a number of retouching enhancements in Photoshop:  cleaning up the driveway, doing a little virtual lawn maintenance, removing distractions, dodging and burning a little bit, and I even did a little sky replacement to add to the overall feel.  

Here are a few of the aerial images that we created, and fully retouched.

Aerial Real Estate Photography Indianapolis (1)

Aerial Real Estate Photography Indianapolis (1)

Aerial Real Estate Photography Indianapolis (2)

Aerial Real Estate Photography Indianapolis (2)

Aerial Real Estate Photography Indianapolis (3)

Aerial Real Estate Photography Indianapolis (3)

Here is the final ground-level image of this beautiful home.

Exterior Architectural Real Estate Photography on Eagle Creek Reservoir, Indianapolis, IN

Exterior Architectural Real Estate Photography on Eagle Creek Reservoir, Indianapolis, IN

CX Photo Store Launch -- Indy Downtown Poster

Today I launch the CX Photo Works Store.  I've had a number of folks interested in my panoramic photo composite of downtown Indianapolis Indiana.  I've been working with a great local printer to have these printed as 12" x 36" posters, suitable for framing.  

CX Photo Store OPEN for business -- Downtown Indianapolis 12" x 36" poster.

CX Photo Store OPEN for business -- Downtown Indianapolis 12" x 36" poster.

Purchase on-line, right on my website.  These will begin shipping in early December.  If you're looking for suitable frames, I've provided several links to 12" x 36" frames on Amazon for your consideration, right in the store.  

I'm pretty excited about this Store launch!  But, what I'm most excited about is the future opportunities that this may bring.  I'd definitely much rather be out creating more new and exciting images.  I love creating new works.  I'd love to work with some interested businesses, cities, or organizations that might want to put together creative photography projects to represent their brand.  Contact me, if you'd like to--or if you know anyone who would like to--talk to me about such a creative project:  for advertising, web site, marketing, etc.  

Advertising Photography Mt Dew Cliff Climber On Spec

I had an idea/concept for a guy hanging from a cliff, that ultimately morphed into Mt Dew (on spec) advertisement photography shoot.  All of the elements of this composite image were captured by me:  I scouted and captured the cliff in Shades State Park in Indiana; the bear was captured at the Indianapolis Zoo; I used my roof, and a vine cut from my back yard to get the perspective, angle, and lighting right for the climber; and snapped the Mt Dew shot as well.  I pulled it altogether in Photoshop:  matching color, saturation, luminosity, and adding some light streaks to bring the final image together.  

Mt Dew Cliff Climber concept composite components, and final image.