[photo post] Lost Sew’l Organics, October 2017

You guys already know how much I love doing photo shoots for Lost Sew’l Organics. I did it back in August ’16, then again in November ’16, and most recently in March ’17. I love shooting photos, y’all know that, but there’s nothing I like more than doing these fashion shoots with Amber and her friends.

This time around, Amber wanted some shots for an all-black made-to-order line (released today) and she’d found a rad little spot in downtown Sevierville, TN — Off The Chain Cycles is a custom bicycle service and restoration shop that only recently opened its doors. When I was told “downtown Sevierville,” my first thoughts were I’ve never been there and where IS downtown Sevierville, anyway?

Turns out I’ve been by it the hundreds of times I’ve driven to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg over the last almost 33 years. I feel stupid for skipping over it because it’s actually quite beautiful. And budding, to say the least. Lots of new shops opening and rumor has it there’s a lot of new restaurants with outdoor seating slated to open in the next few months. And right in the middle of it — this custom bike shop.


Over the last year and a half, I’ve gotten to do the above photo shoots and work with her amazing friends Sam, Caitlin and Mal. Sam is world-famous at this point. She’s been the star of every shoot, and she was back again for this one. Amber also brought along her assistant Ali and her new model Angelika.

And gods bless America, Angelika…

I’ll let you figure out why I say that.

I did something a little different this time around in the form of a quick promo video. Consider this a teaser for the photos below:

I shot 626 photos and delivered 200. I’ve uploaded 47 to my Flickr account and will be pushing 17 to my Instagram. Below are 8 of my favorites. Get at ’em. Lens credits in the captions.

Also, thanks to Amber, Ali and Mark, we got a few BTS “action” shots. Dig ’em.

Even though Angelika and Sam did a great job making me look like I know what I’m doing, I’m always learning and looking to share my knowledge with anyone that’s interested. Here are a few things I learned on this shoot:

  • I’ve said this before but it’s way important to be over-prepared if you’re not sure where you’re shooting. This time around, I brought my 24mm, my 50mm and my 85mm lenses but only because I didn’t know what I’d have to shoot and how much space I’d be able to shoot in. Turns out, I used all three for three completely different shots. I was a little over-prepared, and it worked out.
  • I bought an LED that fits on your hot shoe a couple of years ago (like this one) thinking it would be good for handheld documentary-style video. Turns out, I was wrong. BUT…That handy dandy light comes in handy for some of these shoots if I want juuuust a little more light. This was no exception. While we had ample natural lighting coming from the windows of the shop, there were a few times that having a second light off to the side, turned down to about 50% or so, lightened up shadows just perfectly. That light has been rad, even though I’ve never used it for its intended purpose.
  • If you have a shady spot and morning light…USE IT. We agreed to go shoot in the shop and they were gracious enough to let us come in and do it, but I just couldn’t stay inside the whole time while we had such even cool lighting outside the shop. Some of the best shots of the day happened out there. Don’t be lazy, y’all.
  • And sometimes some people just can’t stop modeling with their face.

Here’s a lot of social stuff for y’all to get in on. Follow all of it, man!

[photo post] Lost Sew’l Organics, March 2017

Recently I’ve found a fun new hobby. My girl Amber from Lost Sew’l Organics said it was about time for another shoot so I was tasked with finding a new cool place. I set out to scout a location and ended up hiking a trail near my house three Sunday mornings in a row. It’s usually early — around sunrise — and it’s a little cool out. It’s fantastic. Since I’ve given up on defined gods with books written about them, I’ve found the peacefulness of the woods in the early morning hours satisfies the soul in a much more fulfilling way than I ever imagined. Our shoot is over now, but I think I’m going to continue hitting that trail until I’ve seen all of it. Then I’ll do it again.

I didn’t realize that particular trail had so much going on. Pretty freaky considering it’s in Farragut where there doesn’t seem to be anything unique. Farragut is fairly quiet and it’s safe but it’s boring. Chain stores and restaurants line the main streets with doctor’s offices and cookie-cutter houses scattered throughout. This trail is special, though.

I was super excited to take Amber and her model Sam there. On the day of the shoot, the weather had suddenly dropped down to an uncomfortable cold. We were fortunate that we had sunlight out that morning and even more fortunate that it didn’t snow despite the forecast for three or more inches the night before. Regardless of the conditions, it was cold as shit outside. Initially I asked Amber if she and the girls would mind taking some artsy-fartsy photos just for my portfolio and she said it was cool but with the cold out, I decided to wait until later in spring when it was tolerable to be outdoors. We were short on models, had cut the artsy stuff out of the plan and had relatively few things to get photos of anyway so this was a quick and easy shoot.

Get in, take the shots, get out and turn the heat on. Done.

Props to Amber and Sam for making it look easy and big time props to Amber for keeping me in mind when she needs more photos. Best gig ever.

I shot only 161 photos and delivered 68 of them. I have 22 on my Flickr account if you want to see them in high res. If low-res does anything for you, check out the nine below or simply follow me on Instagram for five of my favorites.

I’ll call it another success. While this was the shortest shoot to date, I was still able to come away with some nice shots and I think Amber was pretty happy with what was delivered. Here are the things I learned on this shoot:

  • I finally got to use my 85mm lens in a proper environment. The focal length on that guy makes it difficult to shoot in small spaces so being outside was ideal. I was able to grab some great portraits of the girls with it, which was the main reason I bought it in the first place. I’m very happy with how they came out and look forward to using it more in the future.
  • I also used another new toy in the GoPro adapter for my hot shoe. I threw my GoPro up on it so I could video everything I was shooting and got some fun footage. I’m not going to be doing anything with it for a while, though — going to wait until I get more footage to put together a montage of sorts of the girls during my shoots. It’s a pretty rad little accessory for my shoots.
  • It’s not only smart, it’s imperative to have a backup plan for locations you’re shooting at if possible. I say this because this time I certainly didn’t have one. I was watching the weather every other hour to see what the updates were, hoping beyond all hope that it would cooperate with us because if the trail was muddy and gross or if it was raining or snowing, we were screwed. I had no backup plan and no idea what I was going to do if our location wasn’t useable. In the future, this will not be a problem.

For real, I hope to do some playtime shots with my new gear with some studio-style macro very soon. Evenings have been incredibly busy as of late. Expect a post about that soon. Also, maybe expect a video about it. That is, unless I get silly and give up on the video idea again. Y’all gotta keep me accountable, man.

Amber’s new line was released today so maybe consider swinging by and letting her know what you think — maybe even spend a little of your hard-earned dough. She’d think that was cool. So would I.

Get social with Lost Sew’l Organics, y’all!

[photo post] Lost Sew’l Organics, November 2016

Back in September I posted about my first legit photoshoot with Lost Sew’l Organics. It was the most fun and the absolute coolest photo project I’d ever gotten to be a part of. Make no mistake — while I got to spend half a day with three beautiful women in two gorgeous locations and a few weeks later I ended up with an incredible collection of portraits for my portfolio…That was WORK.

Even though I had been to the locations before, being thrust into the scene with models you’ve never met before without a single clue of what or how you were going to shoot is more stressful than I’d ever imagined. I wanted so badly to do a good job for Amber and make her models (more importantly – her clothes!) look good. I wanted so badly to not let her down as a photographer or as a friend. And I wanted so badly to prove to myself that reading and researching and thinking and planning are all great but nothing teaches you faster or more effectively than just jumping right in. We hit the short, wooded trail that leads to the cemetery in Oak Ridge armed only with a bag of clothes, a baby, a baby gate, my camera (with a 50mm lens) and a reflector. The shoot was challenging but the most fun I’ve ever had “working”.

Despite the work put in at the shoot and processing the photos, the most stressful part of the project was sending Amber the link to the finished photos and waiting for what seemed like centuries to hear whether or not she liked them. Would this be both my first and last photo shoot?

Judging from the ending of my previous Lost Sew’l post and the fact that this post exists, you don’t have to be too sharp to conclude the answer was “no.” Amber would call on me to do it all again around the first of November when we met up at Imagine That Tattoos in Knoxville with her friends returning models Caitlin and Sam and new model, shop apprentice Mal.

No reason to go into details about the shoot but I’ll definitely point out that it was a much longer shoot than the previous one, due partially to having more to shoot (I think) but also because I think we laughed a lot more. The shop was a neat place to shoot and the girls were lovely as ever.

In the end, I shot more than 760 photos and delivered more than 220. I’m presenting a small set of 11 below, but if you’d like to see a larger collection of about 63, you can find them on my Flickr account.

Another successful shoot that’s been Lost Sew’l approved. I got to spend another day with a group of stunning ladies and was treated to another Mexican lunch after wrapping. The perks of the job are unmatched. I did learn a few things, though:

  • I’d never been to this establishment before so I wasn’t sure what I was going to work with — no idea what the rooms would look like, what the lighting would look like, what kind of art was on the walls. With this (nothing) in mind, I decided to bring almost everything I have. I had lenses, attachments, filters, lights, reflectors…Almost every possible thing I could use to shoot just in case I needed anything — I’d be prepared. I’d recommend doing the same if you’re ever in this situation, but moving forward, I’m going to try to at least get a tour of wherever I’m about to shoot if I know ahead of time I’m going to go.
  • I used my 50mm lens most of the day with a few exceptions. It worked great but I’ve found it’s started getting a little hard to keep in focus. It looks good when I’m shooting but in post it’s soft. I also brought along my 18-55mm kit lens so I could use some of my attachments and filters. I learned that my fish-eye attachment isn’t as cool as I thought it was. It helped me get a few cool shots, but I found that the lighting changed so drastically between lenses and with the addition of the attachment, my settings were off, resulting in some grainy photos that weren’t used. It’s not the lens’ fault, it’s user error, but I now know that’s not a great idea. I also brought along my macro attachments and ended up stacking them to get 14x shots up close of hardware attached to the clothing – SMART.
  • My light kit is almost totally kaput — I have three light fixtures and one is broken and the other one has a blown bulb. What I’m trying to say is I have a single stationary light, hardly a “kit”. I did, however, bring along my LED panel light (like this one) and ended up using it a LOT. When I got it, I wasn’t crazy about how it made people look but I guess back then I didn’t really know what I was doing (do I now?). This light ended up coming in handy on more than a few occasions during this shoot and is now considered a valuable piece of my photography arsenal.

I need a proper wide-angle lens.

Also, I bought myself an early birthday present: an 85mm lens! Perfect for the next shoot. I’m PUMPED about it!

Anyway, once again, it was a successful shoot and rumor has it we’re doing it again in the Spring. Amber’s winter line was released today and I hope you take the time to check it out and let her know what you think of it! Maybe pass her a buck or two!

Get social with her and share the shit out of it: