Chuck Espinoza Photography

Los Angeles Based Freelance Photographer.
head shots and portraits

Just Make Me Look Good

By on October 21, 2009

For a lot of people having their photo taken is a painful experience. Hopefully my experience, direction and results put my clients at ease. Last week I ran into an old friend who needed a new head shot. Jenica has been a successful actor for as long as I’ve known her and I was honored that someone who has had numerous photographers shoot her head shots trusted in my ability.

The great thing about working with successful working actors is that they know what they want and they know what works. When I work with new models or actors often they haven’t come to a place of understanding the commerce of  the advertising and show business. What photo will help sell “you” and in-turn help a company market their product? Do you make the clothes look good? Will you play the perfect housewife in the new TV drama we are casting for?

Jenica is funny. She plays the funny part. When I asked her to be sultry she was taken back. My goal is not only be able to provide what you are asking for but also to provide you with options you weren’t thinking of.  The results turned out great. I hope that as a result of our work together she’ll book a ton of new jobs and cut me in on her residuals.


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head shots and portraits

What I’m thinking about & getting my own head shots

By on September 24, 2009

For all of my photo shoots there is a pre-production meeting or consultation. We’ll talk about the goals and mood of the shoot; what the images will be used for; who’s the intended audience; styling; location; lighting; props….the list goes on. I have found that it helps the shoot and the end result by discussing all these items before we even pick up a camera.

Once I bring the camera up to my eye there are hundreds of questions that go through my head. First and foremost it’s technical information like the shutter speed, aperture, ISO setting, white balance, focus, framing and lighting. After that I have so much more to consider. How do you look? Are you relaxed? Having fun? Do you have a natural smile or expression? How’s your hair? Your makeup? Your wardrobe? Does the shape of your face look better from a different angle? What’s going on with the background? How did the sun going behind the clouds affect my exposure? Is the flash firing? The list of questions and concerns goes on.

On Monday all of my experience and knowledge went out the window. I couldn’t recall most of it; I was a like a dear in the headlights but in this case the headlight was a camera pointing at me. I finally booked a session with a photographer to get my own picture taken. Over the past couple years several friends and clients asked why I didn’t have a photo up on my site? Even social networking sites like facebook and linkedin were lacking in the photos-of-chuck department. So I finally booked a session with a great local lifestyle photographer named Christian Romero. He was able to work within my budget and his work was loose and relaxed.

I’m not trying to come across as an actor or a model – just a photographer that sometimes has to endure the same pain you feel when you step in front of the camera. The last photo I really liked of just me was shot by our incredible wedding photographer Selima Ani.  The day after my wedding I shaved my head so the photo isn’t exactly accurate anymore.  Do you know of anyone using a less than accurate photo to promote themselves or their business? Ever been the victim of head shot fraud? Been on an internet date where the person just didn’t live up to their photos? I can help.

Chuck Espinoza - Shot by Christian Romero
Chuck Espinoza - Shot by Christian Romero

The experience with Christian on Monday reinforced why personality and rapport has so much to do with getting great shots of people. Remember the glamour shots scene in Napoleon Dynamite where Deb is taking Uncle Rico’s picture in the mall?

Click to see the vid of Deb and Uncle Rico – Napoleon Dynamite

I know that a lot of my clients don’t enjoy being in front of the camera so my goal is to make your experience as painless as possible.

If you are in need of a new photo for your website, business card or facebook page I’m hosting an event on October 1st to provide clients with a quick, painless and affordable way to get updated photos. Call me to discusss the details or click to see examples and read more about it.

Chuck 310.922.5094

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Architecture and Design

Photoshop and Architectural Photography

By on September 10, 2009

Photoshop and architectural photography go hand in hand.

Here’s an example of a recent shot of living room. Because of the level of the camera and the height of the ceilings I needed to tilt the camera up, resulting in a  keystone effect that give the appearance that the walls are leaning in.  Although many people don’t register this immediately, subconsciously our brain knows that walls are supposed to be vetical and that something is off. This perspective distortion can be corrected in a couple ways. The first is to use a tilt-shift lens like Canon’s new 17mm ts-e ($2300).  A tilt shift-lens allows you to correct the perspective by moving the axis of the lens. This lens is not only expensive but has very limited uses. The alternative is to correct the perspective using Photoshop or a similar editing program.

Unedited image Canon 5D and Canon 16-35mm 2.8 lens
Unedited image Canon 5D and Canon 16-35mm 2.8 lens. Walls are supposed to be vertical.

Here’s the result after some work in Photoshop. Not only have we corrected the keystone effect but we have brought back details in the windows cropped out the window and walls that were in the foreground of the original image.  The wall and window didn’t add to the image and were a bit distracting. By removing them we have brought the viewer into the warmth and luxury of this great living room and it’s spectacular views.

Image corrected and edited in Photoshop
Image corrected and edited in Photoshop

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Family, Kids, Maternity and Weddings

Photography and Computer Technology

By on September 3, 2009

A few weeks ago I was in computer hell. I’ve known that my computer was on it’s final legs for a couple months but there was always a reason to put off the upgrade process. Eventually it caught up with me and one of my hard drives to crashed. This happened during a week I had three jobs scheduled and I needed a stable computer to edit the images on. Over the past eight years I have built my own computers. It’s not as hard as it seems and it allows me to customize the system to suit my needs and future growth. It can be a pain in the ass but so is transferring all your work and files from your old computer to a new one.

Because of the time sensitivity of the three jobs I had that week, Robin convinced me to buy an off the shelf computer. I bought the fastest HP they had, brought it home and it crashed during the “Welcome to your new HP” process. Eventually I got it up to speed but continued to have problems with it. A few days later I was back at the store to return the HP and buy parts to build my own computer. Weeks later I now have all my files in the right place, almost everything is backed up and the computer is working great. How does this relate to photography? I can’t do my job without my computer.

For family photos I use kodak’s online service to make prints. The colors is great, they have 4k technology ,the prints are cheap and they make it pretty easy to order prints. A friend complained to me that he hated kodak because the colors were always off. He’s wrong; the colors are off because he thought his camera was smart enough to make all the right decisions. All my photos are edited in Photoshop, even the point and shoot family snap shots. Why? Because sometimes it’s about capturing the moment and not worrying about my camera settings. But the main reason is that the computer is my digital darkroom and the photos I want on my walls and in the albums as well as the images I deliver to my clients are the result of my camera and lighting skills and also my work in Photoshop.  What I do with my camera is only half of my job as a professional photographer.

Prior to starting this post I was working on some images I shot at a family get together a few weeks ago. The first image is posted as it was shot without any post production work. The white balance is off, the bright sky is distracting, the colors are flat and the photo isn’t sharp. If I upload this to a photo lab the print will look equally bad.

Image as it came out of the camera - Canon 5D and 24-70mm 2.8 Lens
Image as it came out of the camera - Canon 5D and 24-70mm 2.8 Lens

I cropped the image to get rid of the blown out sky, corrected the white balance to compensate for the color of the setting sun and the all the green grass in the frame, bumped up the contrast and color saturation, burned (darkened) the foliage, added a slight vignette to bring your eye to the center, straightened the horizon and sharpened the image.

Image edited in Photoshop
Image edited in Photoshop

This is the level of work I put into all my images. Some photographer’s feel that it’s a waste of time since their clients aren’t going to buy every picture. To me it’s about providing a level of service and professionalism that my clients don’t get when they ask their nephew to shoot their family portraits. Over the next couple weeks I’ll write more on how Photoshop helps me produce the quality of work my clients expect.

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