New Production Reel!

We're heading into 2017 soon, and with that in mind I wanted to create a new reel. Made up of both new and old, this reel contains some of my favorite shots from this year and years past. Thanks for watching!

Cow by Bear - Meet the Bear

This is a piece I have been working on for the past handful of months with local San Diego director Marq Evans. The piece is a look into the charismatic, eccentric, and talented life of Bear, who is totally a bear, and not a human in a bear suit. This will be the first installment of what is to be a mini-doc series on the life of Bear, so be on the look out for more!

Going Freelance: The Realities of My Transition

Life was good. I mean, life is good but, damn life was good.

I had been working for the lovely gentlemen at Saint West Filmworks for about 3.5/4 years and we made some badass stuff together. I was making decent money for a 21 year old with only a high school education and I got to hang out with my friends everyday for eight hours, Monday through Friday. I got to build a pretty freakin sweet portfolio. I was working in the field I wanted to be in, with a great crew that I had basically harassed for two years until I finally got this dream job of mine. And I had every intention to stay under their employ and make awesome stuff until we were all old and crusty and couldn't push a record button down anymore. So what gives?

Well, time gives, creativity gives, your sanity gives; or rather, you slowly see yourself give those things up. And I don't mean to say that my boys at Saint West were hovering over my desk painting everything I did with a dull, grey brush. We all found ourselves in bit of a pickle after having worked amazingly together for years. We ended up in a situation that, at its outset, looked like a prime deal with a sweet new downtown office all to our own and shiny, new big name clients to go with it.

Well none of the aforementioned awesomeness came to fruition. Things quickly changed from doing rad work to entering work hours into Workamajig. Kick me right in the teeth.

So about a year after the acquisition we left. All of us.

Our longtime editor Ryan Knight went on to partner with the awesome team at Pure Cinema Productions, I went off on my own, and Matt Mangham, Scott Rieckens and Matt Jensen now make up the powerhouse crew behind Saint West Filmworks. And lucky me, I still get to work with all of them.

The first few months were smooth sailing.

Jobs aplenty. Money was flowing. New clients. Old crew. It was almost like it was back before the acquisition, but with more vacation time. Then I learned what it's like to have too much vacation time. Not enough jobs. Not enough money. And I'm still learning how to navigate all of this. I've done the one-meal-a-day thing during the weeks I wait for checks to come in. I've even done the no-meal-a-day thing. I've had to take money from my tax account to pay my rent and feed myself. And holy shit this is only month 7. And holy shit I love it. I've got a whole new appreciation for the phrase "the struggle is real". The truth is, unless you have an amazing network and your phone is ringing off the hook you will most likely, and quite literally, go hungry at times in the beginning.

I've had this conversation several times over the last few weeks, which led to the writing of this post. I get asked, "Has it been tough?", or "Is it worth it?", a lot. My short answer is, "Yes, and yes." The honest truth is I'd rather be broke on my own account than have a great salary and work on stuff I'd rather not work on. And I'm happier for it. That's not to say there aren't times I've got to take a job I wouldn't normally be inclined to do because I need to get by, that happens. But at least it's of my own volition, and that makes the not so fun jobs easier to swallow.

I'm totally green at this, but I'm getting better at it. Getting used to the ebb and flow. Saving for rainy days when times are good, and tightening my belt when they aren't. I consider myself lucky to do what I do, and to be able to do it for myself. If you're feeling the itch to strike out on your own, I encourage you to go about it with precision. Work your networks, expand your circles, meet new people, go to Ad Club meetings, and attend creativity boosting/networking events (like Creative Mornings).

Do good work, be nice to people, and shake as many hands as you can.

On the Road with Bayer and Saint West Filmworks

Through mid June and early July I had the pleasure of photographing some awesome places in Alabama, Oregon, and Texas. While the Saint West crew shot video both on the ground and in the air I was behind the stills camera capturing product, lifestyle, and behind the scenes photographs. Below are a few of my favorites, enjoy!

Raw Photo Editing in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop

This is not a rule book, and who knows if this advice is even sound (I'm hoping one of you readers will let me know), but in my recent more in-depth exploration of photo editing I've found that these steps can produce some pretty cool results.

I'm hoping this post will shed some light on what buttons and sliders do what, and how to achieve more vibrant and compelling photos. *Keep in mind - every photo you bring into your post production workflow will need a different touch.* With that, here are the steps I took to achieve the look I wanted on a photo taken on my recent trip to Washington D.C.

*Downloadable raw sample image can be found at the end of this post.*

Raw image of Matt shooting the Unknown Soldier Memorial on his Pentax 645.

I use the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite for editing, more-so their proprietary program for editing Canon raw files, Camera Raw.

First step in my (I want to emphasize my) photo editing workflow is adjusting exposure, highlights and whites. Sometimes in your hurry to capture a moment the technicalities of shooting in manual mode fall by the wayside and exposure adjustments need to be made in post, no shame in that. You'll notice for this photo (Step 1.) I bumped up the exposure, while bringing down the highlights and whites as to not completely blow out the detail in the brighter parts of the image.

*Keep in mind - adjusting your exposure to higher levels can introduce unwanted noise and "artifacting" into your image, so don't push them too far.*

Step 1.

After increasing the exposure you'll notice in the histogram (the colorful thing in the top right) that your low end (on the left of the histogram) is nowhere near where true black should be, which is to the far left. Which leads us to the next step, adjusting blacks, shadows, and contrast.

Shooting in raw (as opposed to jpeg) will give you far more information to play with in post. This gives you the ability to push your shadows higher while still retaining detail and minimizing noise, revealing details in the image that would otherwise go unnoticed with simple contrast adjustments (pay attention to the jacket).

Pushing your shadows up will leave the blacks looking washed out, so bring your blacks down (up on the slider) until you're happy with how the darker parts of your image look. Then play with the "Contrast" slider to give the image a little extra punch if you'd like.

Step 2.

In this next step (Step 3) you'll notice the "Clarity" slider being pushed. In all honesty I have no idea what Camera Raw is doing in the background but I know it looks awesome, just don't over-do it.

*Keep in mind - every adjustment you make affects the previous ones, so adjust the other values accordingly. Which is why you'll see the Shadows, Blacks, Highlights, and Whites all being moved in this step.*

Step 3.

In the icon tabs under the histogram you'll find an icon that has three alternating grayscale gradients. This is used to single out certain hues in the image to adjust them to your liking. In this case I thought Matt's skin tones looked a little orange, so I played with the red and orange sliders in the "Hue" tab until I got something I thought looked alright.

Step 4.

Finishing up in camera raw I'll add a little sharpness as well as noise reduction, found in the tab with the two triangles. 50 in the "Amount" box (Sharpening) and 30 in the Luminance box (Noise Reduction) seemed to be the sweet spot for this image.

Step 5.

If you're like me, you like the slight faded "VSCO" type of aesthetic. And that brings us into Photoshop. Click "Open Image" and it'll take you in.

Add a "Curves" layer, put a point in the middle of the diagonal line, then another between your middle point and the bottom, then  crush the hell out of it till it's uncomfortably ugly. In this case I put another point in the top half to keep the highlights relatively even as to not lose the detail.

Step 6.

Last, add another curves layer on top of the one we just created, add your middle point, and grab the existing very bottom point and push it up slowly  until you get the wanted fade effect. Again, every adjustment affects the previous ones so you'll probably be switching between your curves layers for a bit until you're happy.

Step 7.

*Note - If you want to give your photo a bit of tint you can select Red, Green or Blue under the "RGB" tab on your second curves layer and take the bottom most point and push it up for the desired effect.*

The final edit.

And that's that, my post production workflow, try it out and if you've got any questions feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email. Thanks for coming by and don't forget to subscribe for future content!