Monday, May 31, 2010

Zombie Prom!

Saturday night (May 29, 2010) at The Fallout Shelter was the first show I ever booked.  I mean, I had some help in the form of JJ Ulizio, who got me The Wakening, and Kevin Eaton, who ended up not actually booking anyone but was my sister's co-model for the flier and is generally a helpful guy.

The night started around 6pm, when Skeet, my co-bartender for the night, showed up so I could do his makeup.  He's bald so I gave him an open head wound with some brains hanging out.  This is him hanging out later in the night.

Mandy and Nate came by to get their makeup done as well.  Mandy is allergic to latex, so I could only use the grease paint on her, but Nate got the wound Kevin made the night before.  I set up my bloody backdrop so that I could squirt blood on people with the nozzle I put on my quart of blood.  No exciting lighting here, just my on-camera flash.

My own makeup took awhile, but not too long because I used a couple wounds I premade the night before on my collarbone (don't think I have a picture of that) and my ankle.  After a quick trip downstairs, I broke a pencil to stick in the ankle wound as an Evil Dead homage.

Kevin also went pretty crazy with his makeup.

I started work about quarter to nine and the first band was Fullmoon Renegades, from Ohio.  They play metal and were here for our Halloween show.  When I started looking for bands to play Zombie Prom, they had just messaged us saying they'd like to play again, so it worked out wonderfully!

Second on the lineup was Children of October, our "house punk band."  Sal (formerly of Modern Habit) wore his new white-out contacts!  I liked the red ones he used to have, but white is creepy too.

Having Skeet as a co-bartender worked really well because I could occasionally leave the bar and go take pictures.  We had a pretty good crowd, and while not everyone dressed as zombies, some did.  Some went pretty all-out with it and we even had a couple zombie hunters (JJ's friend Richie, Justin who actually might have been a zombie with a sword but I'm not entirely certain and DM who came with his girlfriend Kyna and a couple others from the Dethlehem crowd.  Look up Dethlehem, they're D&D metal at its finest.)

The third and fourth bands were Dead City Dealers, from New Castle, and The Black Marias, from England.  New Castle as in a town 40-or-so minutes from Aliquippa (where the Shelter is) and England as in the country.  Yes, The Black Marias were The Fallout Shelter's very first international band!!  And at MY Zombie Prom.  I was so ridiculously thrilled.

Yeah, The Black Marias are so old school punk it's amazing.   A lot of people left at their set though, which sucks for them, because the last band of the night was The Wakening, and they are AWESOME (thank you, JJ!).  Zombie surf, yeahhh.  I took way too many pictures of them and, with the help of Kevin, they designated a prom "queen" and king - Don (who was dressed as his alter ego Dawn) was the "queen" and one of their friends the king.

I consider it a successful night.  Next year we're going to make it even bigger, even better, even more prom-like and more zombie-like.  I wanted the Savini School to come do makeup, but was unable to get in touch with them, so next year will try harder.  It was SO much fun though, a great time.  We need more theme nights.

Oh!  Here's me.  You can't see my collarbone finger-holes wound or anything, just my face, but my eyes look good in this, so I'm pleased, even if it is a pretty lame self-portrait.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Balloons and Cigars

I guess the title of this should actually be "cigars and balloons" because the cigars came first.  My dad got shipment of cigars in on Friday, no, Thursday, on Thursday, and that same day I got in an infrared trigger for my strobe, which is great because I'd just been using my speedlight to trigger it before.  The trigger isn't as nice as, say, Pocket Wizards, but it more or less does the job.  A little testy, but what can you expect for $17 on Amazon?  I love Amazon, by the way, and tend to want to type it as Amazoning.  Like, amazing, you know?  Anyway.  These pretty much go in order, because first he's smelling the delicious new cigar, then he's lighting it, then he's smoking it.  The Alien Bee was off to the right of the desk (if facing it),  just with the silver dish on it.  No umbrella (-ella -ella) or softbox.  I moved around to the left to get more dramatic light.  The second image, where Dad is lighting the cigar, is a 1/4 of a second exposure to get the flame from the lighter, as compared to the other photos, where the exposure is more around 1/100 of a second.

Then, yesterday, my sister Christy (she was my zombie pinup in February and the victim in my recent vampire shoot) and I were working at the bowling alley and a birthday party left a bunch of balloons!!  I was supposed to be getting ready to go my ex-boyfriend Cryss's (we're trying to maybe work things out.  Again.) but I ended up being a little late because, well, pictures had to be taken.  We took a couple indoors so I could play with my infrared trigger and strobe.  The first shot of these is the only edited one of the set.

Then we went out to the roof, because, c'mon, balloons and open air?  Soulmates.  No flashes for these shots, just sunlight.  She did a lot of jumping around (good leg workout!) because we wanted it to like she was flying.  The first is one of my favorites because she looks so joyous and the pose is awesome.  I might edit the tree out though.  Opinions?  Christy loves the second shot, because she looks like she's landing.  Kind of Mary Poppins-esque, I think!  For the last, she was standing on the very very edge of the roof (the white raised bit that can be seen in the background of the second one) which made me a bit nervous, but it looks great!  Fly, little sister, fly!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Vampire pinup

I did have this big long awesome introductory paragraph about vampire pinups, and my sister Christy and her friend Kelsey, but my computer is currently in the living room and was plugged into the same outlet as the light.  Then Dad turned off the light switch and computer with it.  So, basically, Kels wanted to model for me and I said yes because I adore her and so we decided on vampire pinup to continue with what I started with the zombie one a while back.  (

The girls did their own makeup and I helped apply the blood and did Christy's bite wound.  We kinda cheated, and instead of making the whole thing myself, I just latexed on a wound I'd bought at the store ages ago and had never used.  Added some blood to it though, made it a little stickier.  And, of course, the blood pouring down her neck.  Kels had to put some of the fake blood in her mouth to spit out over herself, which is pretty gross.  I've done it myself.  She had a good time putting it all over her arms though, and smearing it on her face.  I rolled out the bloodied part of my white backdrop, put MORE blood on it, set up my Alien Bee and we started shooting.

Most of the shoot involved both girls, which was a bit difficult.  Pinup is very posed and it's difficult to get the right amount of leg with two people interacting.  My first (and currently only) finished shot, the one I adore and love and Cryss says looks Joshua Hoffine-ish (horror photographer extraordinaire, look him up!), isn't all that pin-up-y.

But it's AMAZING, so that's ok.

We did others that look more like traditional pinup, I just haven't finished them yet.  Rough files below.  As you can see, the backgrounds are going to take some time to fix in Photoshop.  Both of these images are started, I just haven't gotten the backdrops looking the way I want them too yet.  Gonna have to buy something bigger soon!

Since this was Kels' shoot, I photographed her alone near the end, just being a pretty vampire girl.

Campbell-Brooks - Dawn and Brandon's Wedding

Let us just say that it's taken me nearly a week to write about this wedding because it took me a couple days to recover.  Exhausting, but fun and beautiful, so all was well.  Dawn and Brandon are super cool and very chill about everything, so it was really just that it was long.  I did a lot of running around.  Got to Dawn's mom's house a little after 8am while she was getting her hair done (there were English Muffins for breakfast!!), then at 10 we went to Macy's for her makeup.  Swung by the reception hall after that to drop off my photo booth setup (Alien Bee, softbox, white backdrop and stand) and so she could make sure everything was going well there.  Left there for the drug store where I had earlier dropped off some files of their engagement photos to make 5x7s, went back to my apartment to load the hair/makeup photos onto the iMac and then to the church.  I'm so glad everything was within 5 or 10 minutes of each other.  I got the church before everyone else, so waited around in my car and snacked on some apple-cinnamon granola for a bit.  Then the dressing began.  That was fun, but because we had to wait awhile, I went and took pictures of Brandon and all the guys hanging out before the ones of Dawn and the bridesmaids.  Grabbed a couple quick shots of the lovely ladies posing.  Loooove my fisheye.

These guys are actually the ushers, directly before the ceremony.  Star filter, anyone?  Then the ceremony began.  I ran around a lot, trying to get everything at once.  Next wedding (especially if it's as big as this one - SIXTEEN people in the bridal party) I may hire a second photographer, just to be on the safe side, but I'm confident I got what we need.  I pulled out the fisheye again to get a couple shots of everyone on the alter, because they just wouldn't all fit with 18mm!!  I was down to 11 or 12mm for this shot, and then cropped off a bit of the top and bottom because the extra space really was unnecessary.

After the ceremony - PARTY BUS!  Dawn and Brandon, instead of a limo, went for this sweet bus where everyone could fit and we drove around for awhile before stopping off at the Center baseball fields/park to get some formals.  My favorite is probably a sweet candid of the two of them though, seen below.

Then we went to the reception, where I took way too many pictures of people dancing (it was fun!) and not as many pictures of people in my photo booth as I would have liked.  It was worth bringing it though, because I got a really cute shot of Dawn and Brandon at the booth, and they're the important ones!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Brooks Wedding

Today I spent 16 hours (with a couple short breaks) photographing Dawn Campbell's marriage to Brandon Brooks.  It was fun and interesting and beautiful and exhausting as all hell.  Currently I'm importing the images to LightRoom, so will post a few shots in a couple days, once I get some rest.  Congrats, Mr. and Mrs. Brooks!!

Friday, May 14, 2010


Yesterday I saw two high school friends for the first time in nearly 5 years.  Tia came over to model for me - she's just starting out but does pretty awesomely already - and Adele, who was doing her makeup.  Adele and I rode the same bus in high school, and Tia was president of the anime club/prom queen.

After Adele finished Tia's makeup, she put on my curly black wig and this super cute little red riding hood-esque dress, and we did took photos using natural light (occasionally filled with my beauty dish topped speedlight) and this derelict white wicker couch that's on my back porch.  Oh, it's ugly and falling apart, but she rocked it for sure.

Then we went inside, and Tia changed her clothes and wig and because we were doing pinup and my kitchen hasn't been renovated since the 50s, Adele suggested we try something with my oven.  Which is pastel pink.  So I cleared everything off the top and away from the sides, moved my Alien Bee (softbox!!) and started shooting.  Angry Johnny, my year-old kitty, wanted in on the action, so I put her on top of the oven and took a couple minutes to convince her that she wanted to join Tia in seeing what was going on inside.  I adore this picture so freaking much.

Then we turned around and Tia got in front of the black backdrop.  I had her side lit with my softbox, and we'd grabbed a couple props, a chair, a telephone and a lipstick.  She raised the lipstick, looked into the light and I took a couple shots.  Eh.  It was pretty, but not WOW.  Then she relaxed for a second, turning slightly to something Adele had said.  THAT was the shot.  I actually did some post for this, because her face and hand were perfect, but her shirt looked weirdly poofy in that one, so I spent a while in Photoshop putting a shirt from an earlier shot.  It was kind of tough because they weren't lined up exactly and her arms and neck were different.  I think I may need to go back in and edit a little more, but am pretty pleased with the result.

And now I'm going to scout a church for the wedding I'm photographing tomorrow.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

'Twas a busy day

Today I battled the mother of all traffic - Pittsburgh Penguins playoff game traffic (rivaled only by Steeler's game traffic) - to go take a couple pictures at The Opera.  I interned there about a year ago and when they emailed asking if I could come by today, of course I agreed!  The barter system, by the way, is pretty much the best thing ever because in exchange for maybe half an hour of my time total before and after The Marriage of Figero (and whatever editing I do), I got two tickets to the show.  Good tickets.  I gave them to my mom for Mother's Day, so I'm covered for that.  Thank you, Pittsburgh Opera, I love you!  You too, Mom!

During the Marriage of Figero, between shots, I went to hang out my friend/model Mary Beth and do a photoshoot.  We were going to hit up the Allegheny Cemetery but it was rainy and so we put up my white backdrop in her house and shot there.  She has a ton of clothes and we took some super cute pictures.  Sadly, her house (best house ever, tons of art supplies and awesome stuff all over) is old and only has two-pronged outlets so my Alien Bee could not be used, as it is three-pronged.  We used her huge windows to provide with some light though, and I had my speedlight handy, so all was well.  These shots are both utilizing window light, and in the first MB is wearing a wig I had in my car.  For the second, I'd wanted to photograph her tattoos.  She has 6, but the one on her back is probably my favorite.  So cute!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Senior Season Starts

It's spring!!  This means the start of senior picture season and, hopefully, the start of a lot of work for me.  I just took photos a few days ago for Alexandria, who is actually a 2010 graduate, not 2011, so I'm going to have to get them done quick quick.  She's a student at OLSH, and loved the photos I did of Dani and Janelle.

 I went to their house to shoot because they have tons of land and horses, which is she wanted in some of her pictures.  We started with some outdoors shots around her yard such as the one above.  It was bright but cloudy out, so I was using natural light for the majority of the shots, though I would occasionally pop my flash to brighten Alex a bit.

I recently realized that instead of duct-taping my backdrop to the wall like I had been, I could use some old stage light stands we had in the garage.  They work beautifully and made me feel quite professional!  So I packed up the stands and my Alien Bee and softbox and such into my car (a 20-year-old Toyota covered in bumper stickers from local bands) and was able to set everything up and shoot some nice portraits in their living room.  The image below reminds me just how much I love black and white.  I also love my softbox, which for this shot was off to the side to provide dramatic lighting.

After the indoor portraits we went back outside to finish up our session with the horses.  There are three of them total, but Annie is Alex's and she especially wanted photos with her.  Beautiful creatures, horses, though they weren't cooperating very well.  One kept nudging me - I think he was trying to figure out what the camera was!  Or maybe I was just a new person he wanted to play with.  It was difficult, but I ended with some absolutely beautiful shots of Alex either standing by or interacting with the horses.  I sepia-toned one with Annie in LightRoom (LOVE LightRoom!) and it looks great.  Alex's eyes are covered by her hair, but the tenderness in her expression and her hand on Annie's head make the shot really work.

Tomorrow I'm going to photograph at The Pittsburgh Opera  - it's just a couple shots before and after the performance, so during I'll be running down to my model Mary Beth's to do some pin-up and hopefully start on a nude/semi-nude tattoo project!  As for this blog thing...I'm really bad at updating it regularly, so I'm going to try to do so more often.  Describe my shoots in more detail and provide pictures, like I did just now and with Becka's shoot last time (incidentally, Becka and Alex go to school together).  Next step:  getting people to actually READ this thing!