Chuck Espinoza Photography

Los Angeles Based Freelance Photographer.
head shots and portraits

Shooting personal work keeps me sane

August 11, 2011
Eva - Santa Monica Pier - July 2007
Eva – Santa Monica Pier – July 2007

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. I’ve started to scratch out a couple blog posts over the past month but each time I start a job comes up and takes precedence. This week I vowed to shoot for me. Shooting personal work keeps me sane. When I end up working on shoots for other people for weeks at a time I can feel the itch to go out and shoot a concept I have control over.  Family portraits, TV commercials, architecture, Galas, receptions and pretty much every other paid job means my client is running the show. I often have creative input on my jobs but photographing people giving speeches and shaking hands doesn’t give me the satisfaction of going out and making great photographs.

This week the stars lined up and I got to shoot with three of my favorite models. I enjoy working with them because I know we’ll get great results and I’ve developed friendships with them over the years.

Eva was in town visiting from Germany. We’ve tried getting together for a shoot every time she’s in LA, but it’s only worked out once since she moved away a few years ago. I met Eva in July 2004. To put the history into perspective; I got my first DSLR in August of 2003. I looked back at my archives and she was the 17th model I worked with. Needless to say in the summer of 2004 I was green.  Despite being a novice we got some great shots that still stand today. Since 2004 we’ve worked together a handful of times and I’ve always been happy with the results.

This week I wanted to shoot and I knew if we got together the concept for the shoot would work itself out. We ended up with some great fashion images and my style of a beauty portrait. If you call it a head shot and I take offense. I tend to think most head shots aren’t true representations of the person. Head shots are sales tools, portraits are personal. I want my photos to be true to the subject.

Eva - boxer - April 2005
Eva – boxer – April 2005
Eva Portrait shoot August 2011
Eva - Portrait
Eva – Portrait August 2011

I also got to work with Tiffany Selby this week.  We met in April 2009 after spending months trying to get together to shoot. When the day finally came it proved to be challenging. We were scheduled to start with swimsuits on the beach and then head to my place to work on fashion and portraits. We were blessed with beautiful blue skies but the temps had dropped down into the 50s.  We figured since we were there we’d give it a shoot. I got my first shot off at 8:20 AM and by 8:44 we had shot two looks and were packing up. One of those shots ended up as a centerfold in a magazine.

This week we made the same plans. Start on the beach and then head to my studio (read my garage) for fashion and portraits. After our shoot she did makeup for a friend’s niece, an aspiring model.

Tiffany - El Segundo April 2009
Tiffany – El Segundo April 2009
Tiffany - beauty portrait
Tiffany – beauty portrait – April 2009
Tiffany - fashion look
Tiffany – fashion look August 2011
Tiffany - fashion swimsuit look - August 2011
Tiffany – fashion swimsuit look – August 2011

I also managed to shoot with Neyla. She is in town visiting from London and, like Eva, we’ve tried to get together when she’s in LA. This week our schedules matched. I met Neyla in April 2007; at the time her name was Stephanie but that’s her story. In 2007 I shot a friend of hers who referred me to Neyla. We had a great shoot and vowed to do it again. A few months later she saved my ass. I had scheduled a shoot in Pasadena and enlisted the help of a makeup artist and a wardrobe stylist. The model flaked. A complete no-show. I didn’t want our efforts to go to waste so I called Neyla early that morning and asked her help me out. She rallied and the results were amazing. Like Eva and Tiffany the images from that day still stand.

Neyla’s trying to get a new portfolio together and when she showed me her concepts they were in-line with what I wanted to shoot. We had a great time and came away with a lot of amazing photos.

Stephanie Fashion & Portrait Shoot - May 2007
Stephanie Fashion & Portrait Shoot – May 2007
Stephanie Fashion & Portrait Shoot - Pasadena
Stephanie Fashion & Portrait Shoot – Pasadena May 2007
Neyla - beauty portrait - August 2011
Neyla – beauty portrait – August 2011
Neyla fashion look - Studio lighting - August 2011
Neyla fashion look – Studio lighting – August 2011

Relationships make for great photos. It’s one thing to meet a perfect stranger and work together as professionals with the same goal of great photos. But when there’s history and a relationship between the model and the photographer the level of comfort and trust help to make the images even better. Add the fact that all three of these women are great models and I had a great week.

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