Thursday, March 31, 2011

LUCIMA + Calumet Photographic

The ink is still drying but starting May I'll be teaching workshops through Calumet Photographic here in Los Angeles. The first couple workshops will be:

Beauty Photography: Prep-Capture-Post
Working with Modeling Agencies

I am very excited to see how these couple workshops turn out especially because the Beauty Photography: Prep-Capture-Post workshop is a "new" topic that I haven't taught before (though arguably what I know most about). I am very excited to work with the Calumet team and they've been nothing but solid and responsive thus far!

Hope to see you all at the workshops :)

Tell me what you can do???

I remember this conversation Cory (my ex-coworker) had with a Dell customer service representative while we were driving to lunch. He had ordered a laptop that was scheduled to arrive before his MBA classes at Anderson (UCLA) began but there was a part specific to the LED backlight that was backordered and therefore his laptop was not going to arrive in time.

He was furious. I think he even paid for expedited shipping.

The CSR didn't have any answers and did not provide any options.

At the height of his fury Cory said something I'll never forget, "Stop telling me what you can't do and start telling me what you can do!"

That's a great motto to live by.

Conversation with an Intern

I recently had a conversation with a potential intern. She is a makeup artist/hair stylist that is soon graduating from school and possibly seeking an internship. I had a brief conversation with her and the main points of the conversation were:

-Does not want to work in a salon
-Wants to travel the world
-Loves photoshoots

The great thing about this candidate is that she is a great PA, is a part-time model (and a good-looking one at that), AND does makeup and hair. Seems like a perfect fit, no?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I Need an Intern/Assistant

Like the title says, I need an intern/assistant.

I'm primarily looking for students that are enrolled in school and seeking internships either for the summer or for the year. Yes, the kind that requires documentation by the employer. Non-student assistants can apply but I'm looking for a long-term apprentice.

When I started on this photography journey, I couldn't foresee how much of my time would be spent
not doing photography. Time spent networking either online, email, phone or in person. Time spent location scouting. Time spent filing my business license, taxes, invoices, and expenses. Time spent creating marketing campaigns to promote my workshops. Time spent creating the agendas for my workshops. Time spent coordinating shoots. Time spent in Home Depot. Time spent getting in line waiting for pizza at Costcos.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Las Vegas Workshop Update: Wardobe and Models

Here are some of the options that one of the stylists is bringing. Yes, we'll have 2 stylists. There's also a small possibility that we might also run out to the strip after hours and do some night photography.

Secondly, we're looking at 4-6 models right now. Currently there are only 8 photographers. That's 2 or 1.5 photographers per model. Stay tuned for more details! :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Beauty Retouch Tutorial

Jaydn. Hasselblad H3DII-31. 1/500th f/11 ISO @210mm.

Beauty Retouch Tutorial from Charles LUCIMA on Vimeo.

This is a tutorial for a basic beauty retouch. In the 18 minutes of the video I quickly go over my basic beauty techniques:

-dodge and burn
-healing brush
-clone stamping (w/ different blend modes)
-selective highlights

Something Bad is About to Happen...

Something bad is about to happen. Actually something bad has to happen. Why? Because too many good things are happening. And that just ain't right. I shouldn't find myself smiling idiotically over nothing at 1 o'clock in the morning.

The irony is that I have never felt this way. I've never been the kind of person who gets uneasy when things go right. I've always felt like I deserved it. Or that they go well because I work hard for it and that it's the culmination of a lot of small successes.

So I don't quite understand why I feel like I'm getting "lucky"?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Remember where you came from...

I got a question from a photographer on ModelMayhem asking about how to shoot more high fashion with more magazines etc. I read the message but didn't respond. 12 hours later, I get another message from the same photographer who had clearly gone off the deep end when he/she saw that I read the message but didn't respond. The photographer accused me of being insecure about sharing information etc. and told me that I should remember where I came from.

*Sigh* Guess I can't make everyone happy.

I read messages and sometimes I respond immediately and sometimes I don't. Lots of times, it takes me some time to gather my thoughts to respond articulately. Other times, I don't have an immediate answer and in this instance I actually felt the said photographer had more experience getting published that I did so I didn't have any advice off the top of my head. And that's exactly why I didn't respond right away in this situation.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Las Vegas Workshop for Japanese Tsunami Relief

I will never forget watching the video of the gushing black waters from the Japanese tsunami that obliterated everything in its path. The water just would not stop.

And that was just the beginning.

Therefore, in light of the recent disasters that have hit Japan, I have decided to donate 100% of the profits from the April 16-17th to the American Red Cross to assist in the Japan earthquake/tsunami relief efforts. I know this is a small gesture, and ultimately a small donation, but I want to contribute to the relief efforts in Japan.

Isn't this just a marketing ploy? Don't I get a tax write-off from this? Sure (to both). But at the end of the day, I am fortunate to not be immediately affected by these disasters. I'm also fortunate to have executive decision-making power to donate the proceeds from my workshop. My decision was ultimately influenced by wanting to give back to the world that has given me so much. Maybe I'm just a drop in the bucket in the total effort but I want to make a difference regardless.

Nothing else about the workshop has changed. We will still move forward with the original plan and intention. I'll have updates about styling shortly. Hopefully, I'll feel a little less guilty about having so much fun teaching fashion/editorial on an extravagant estate in Sin City!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Zeus Z2500 and Z2500BTH Part 1

I received the pack and head last week and have since had 2 shoots with it. Paired with the medium octabox with grid, I've been able to trip the thermal breaker on the Z2500 pack 5-6 times already.

A little more detail please?

I'm shooting both with the Hasselblad and the Nikon. The H3DII-31 needs more power since it's base ISO is 100. Additionally the medium octabox is probably the least efficient light modifier I own. It has an internal baffle to even out the light and then has to spread over the fabric at the softbox face. On top of all this, it's gridded to control spill, albeit not a terribly tight grid. I've been shooting this modifier with the Z2500BTH (BTH stands for bi-tube head) at 1/3 to 1/2 power. The recycle times are just fine. Very tolerable. But the thermal tripper is driving me nuts.

I asked Joe at PCB (Paul C. Buff) and he says there's a thermal breaker that trips when the unit overheats. You can't turn it back on until the unit cools down enough.

Putting a fan on it didn't help. Not even at full blast. We're talking gale-force winds from 1-2 feet away.

The only thing I can think of is to turn down the power even more. Obviously I'd probably be better off with any other modifier. Even the gridded beauty dish. I'll do some more tests and see what I can get away with. I was shooting at f/11 or f/13 yesterday with the D3 and I don't need that much depth of field. I can potentially stop down to f/9 and see what kind of power levels I can use to get faster rates of shooting.


Mole-Richardson 407 Baby Solarspot 1000W

Got a question from Phil about the Mole-Richardson today and thought I'd share with you guys :)

I've followed your blog for a while and have even gone back and read what you've written in the past. You've explained all about retouching and how you use your flashes with softboxes and feathering, etc but you haven't explained how you use your MR fresnel. Maybe you're keeping it a secret, maybe not...or maybe I've completely missed it but what is your technique?
You're photography work is amazing and reading your blog has really helped me out. Thank you for that. Phil

Monday, March 14, 2011

Workshop Skill Level

I was asked this question by a potential student and here was my initial response:

That's a great question. I would say that the average skill level my workshop photographer is somewhere in the intermediate range. I define intermediate as someone who understands "basic lighting". What does this mean? To me this means firstly a basic manipulation of ambient exposure via camera settings. This also means you are comfortable shooting off-camera flash. Those are the only prerequisite skills/experiences that I need you to have so we can build off of that to create greater understanding with shaping your subjects with light.

That being said, if you come with an open-mind and a willingness to learn, you'll gain volumes regardless what skill level you are. The purpose of this workshop is to learn how to assess different scenarios, different wardrobe and create a unique lighting look that tells a "story". We'll use reflectors, scrims, flags as well as 1 and 2 light setups with various modifiers to accent the features on the models.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Marketing and Business Photography 101

I don't talk much about the business-side of photography but it's critical to achieving any level of success as a full-time photographer.

The other reason I don't talk much about anything these days is that I'm working. With the
Las Vegas Workshop 110% burned into my mind, paid-tests streaming in, and ad campaigns... things have been, good :)

Through the last 2 years of becoming a fashion photographer, I've long pondered the question "What makes you special?" and "What makes you different from the other (fashion) photographers?"

After 2 years, I finally have an answer. This answer is critical in establishing where I am in this market.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Confirmed Las Vegas Workshop Models

I'll update this as I get more information. So far it's Anneliese (NEXT), Brett (Zuri), Brea (LA Models) and Kaela (LA Models) going to
Las Vegas with us! Models subject to change though!

L U C I M A Promotional Video

Eric from Eyekon Fotography put together this promotional video for me. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Anatomy of a Beauty Shoot

I was commissioned by an awesome makeup artist Equalla Foster to shoot beauty to build her portfolio.

While it would seem that I shoot "beauty" all the time, I get real lazy about setting up lights. I often just use a single main light and sometimes just a rim light which usually produces a highly contrasted look. And while this kind of lighting setup is highly conducive towards B&W images, it doesn't fare as well for traditional beauty.

As a result, I've added 2 more "lights" to the typical 2-light setup that I usually use. I've added a background light to control the gradient and light that's hitting my white background. In addition, I've added a fill card to bring up the exposure on the shadow side of the model's face. Fortunately the model is fair-skinned so really there isn't much need for the fill card but it makes me happy so I placed it next to her face anyway.

These components create the following result:

Monday, March 7, 2011

How is this style done?

I found this thread terribly amusing... because it's about me LOL! :)

Things like this just make my head bigger than it already is!

Maybe I'm crazy: The Las Vegas Estate Fashion Editorial Workshop

It will take me 6 photographers at $895 just to break even for this workshop.

Maybe I'm crazy? Or maybe even if I break even, it will STILL be an incredible opportunity to take my team on a nice little paid vacation/getaway (for them) to a property valued over $10 million dollars?

I have 2 confirmed models and awaiting responses from 2-3 more. I think ultimately I'm going to just bring more models than I need. Better to have and not need than need and not have.

On a daily basis from now until the day of the workshop, the challenge to fill the workshop will consume me. I think I've built in a ton of value. The models, the incredible makeup artist, the completely styled looks, the editorial/fashion setups, aside from the property itself. In January I charged $695 for my "How to Work with Modeling Agencies" workshop. Comparatively speaking the Las Vegas workshop is $200 more but possesses much more value.

I still maintain that you can build/rebuild your entire portfolio with me in Las Vegas on April 16-17th! That's what I call a value-proposition!

The challenges exist. My demographic/target market has changed. At $895 it's a bit out of reach for most fashion photographers. It's really up into the wedding photographer range. Sadly the wedding guys make more and therefore I have to figure out how to make this event known to that market. I'll still market to the fashion guys but I just don't see as many fashion guys ponying up the cash to fly, stay, then come to the workshop. Flights on that weekend are particularly expensive. I'm guessing it's because people want to celebrate the end of tax season. So it's going to be interesting to see how many photographers we get to the workshop.

Regardless though, it'll be an adventure of a lifetime. I don't care if 1 or 15 photographers show up. It's going to be epic no matter what! Hell, if only 1 photographer shows up, I guess I'll be doing a TON of shooting! :P

Friday, March 4, 2011

Thursday, March 3, 2011

L U C I M A's Las Vegas Estate Fashion/Editorial Workshop 4/16-4/17!!!

Sometimes the stars align and you're offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to shoot at a property valued at over $10 million...

L U C I M A's Las Vegas Estate Fashion/Editorial Workshop

-April 16th-17th (Saturday and Sunday)

-15 photographers (max)

-2 to 3 photographers per 1 agency-represented model (probably 4 to 5 models depending on # photographers).


-In one of the most ridiculously luxurious estates you've ever seen. Fountains. Pool. Towering cathedral-styled ceilings. Private gated-community. Fully furnished. 8 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms. The pictures speak for themselves

-We'll be taking advantage of the ambient lighting indoors and outdoors and creating different lighting sets for each of the unique styled looks. We'll explore the nuances of putting together a fashion/editorial shoot in a thematic location such as this estate. I'll set a full agenda for each day that includes lots of shooting.

-9AM-5PM on each day. Lunch is provided. And since we have the location for 3 days I'm sure we'll hang out a little after each day of the workshop

-With the different styled looks and models, I think a photographer can build his/her entire book during the 2-day workshop. Considering typical model, studio, MUA costs, stylist costs for such a production, I think the cost is well justified

-We'll of course be going over post-processing techniques for fashion/editorial looks.

-$895 for the first 8 photographers that sign up! $1095 thereafter! Payment due in full upon registration. Please pay below or make a check payable to LUCIMA STUDIO and send to:

2620 Concord Ave. STE 120
Alhambra, CA 91803

-Here are the last 2 workshops I did in
February and January!


Q: How far is the estate from the airport?
A: About 6-7 miles

Q: What should I bring?
A: The usual! :) Assorted portrait lenses, camera body, lightmeter, triggers (if you have them but we'll have plenty), lots of SD/CF cards (you'll be doing tons of shooting), and something to take notes on (a laptop might be useful so you can dump cards onto the computer!).

Q: How much does a cab cost?
A: About $20 from the airport but it really depends on where you're staying. I suggest renting a car since it's much more cost-effective and parking at the estate is not an issue!

Q: What if I don't have a lightmeter?
A: While it's not absolutely imperative that you have/bring a lightmeter (you can use the in-camera lightmeter), fashion/editorial often requires that you balance ambient light. The lightmeter allows you to quickly meter a certain ISO, aperture, shutter for any condition. In my work, I often need to drop ambient 1-2 stops to allow my subject to stand out with the help of strobes. The lightmeter allows me to meter angularly different sides of my subjects face and determine how much flash I need to either fill or overpower ambient (as main light). When I get to the camera, I then don't have to take as many test shots chimping to the proper balanced exposure.

This is one of the most critical components of working on-location for fashion/editorial work. Of course having the concept/storyboarding/feeling is first and foremost to determining your settings :)

Q: Will we be shooting nudies?
A: Nope. There are great workshops for that kind of thing but our focus for this location will be shooting fashion/editorial fully-styled :)

Q: Who are the models?
A: So far it's Anneliese from NEXT and Brett from Zuri. I'll update as we go along!

B&W Fashion Workshop Results

Click here for full-on details and images (results) from the workshop!

The workshop went extremely smoothly. We had such an excellent group of knowledgable photographers that were phenomenal to work with. Of course who could forget the amazing models that made this an unforgettable experience. Then of course my solid workshop army/team without whom I could not run my workshops... the team was amazing as always!

This time around I felt I gave a solid presentation. It was meaty. It had tremendous substance filled with diagrams and light setups and pictures and examples. All in all, the photographers got 2 hours of presentation, 3 hours of shooting, and 1 hour of demonstration (Photoshop) with 1 hour of lunch.

Lightdance Collections

Pack Comparison: Mo' Powa'! Part 3

Just yesterday I was shooting the White Lighting X3200. I think I was dialed in around 1/2 power so probably around 650Ws since it's a 1320Ws light.

I tripped the breaker 4 times in 1 set. Nothing is more frustrating that having to bring the C-stand down from 11 feet to reset the breaker.

The worst part of it was that I wasn't even shooting that fast! WTF!

That being said, I've been on tear lately. Shooting "lightdances" (see
photostream for reference) with the Mole-Richardson Baby Solarspot 1000W has spoiled me rotten. Hell, I have been recently reluctant to pull out the Hasseblad because it's just too damn slow for what I want to do lately. Hopefully it's a fad because otherwise, I'll have to sell the H3DII-31. But lately I've been trigger-happy and shooting lots of frames.

So I bit the bullet and bought the Z2500 with the Z2500BTH. Let's see if this thing can keep up with my rate of shooting with its 30,000Ws maximum continuous usage rating. I figure I'll be shooting 700Ws on average which gives me about 43 frames per minute. That's not too shabby.

For reference, this past weekend at our workshop one of the photographers brought his 1000Ws Dynalite pack and our photographers (while not shooting that fast) tripped the breaker on it repeatedly.

File Storage Upgrades: Part 6

This should be a medium-term review of the OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro and OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro Qx2.

The 2 Mercury Elite-AL Pro's are running the "not-recommended" Seagate 7200.11 1.5TB disks in JBOD. Knock on wood, so far so good. I've been rotating them in and out of an undisclosed location for off-site backup.

The Mercury Elite-AL Pro Qx2 is utilizing 4 WD Caviar Green 1.5TB disks that most people don't recommend because they are low-power drives which means sometimes they fall off the RAID array and show up as a bad disk. They are also slow in a RAID array. Anyway, I believe one of the disks "fell asleep" and fell off the array already. The light for the 3rd drive started flashing and the unit started to beep. I immediately ordered a new 1.5TB Caviar Green disk. But before I replaced the flashing drive, I pulled it out and simply stuck it back into the RAID array. The Qx2 rebuilt the data on that disk and it's been nearly 2 week since it's been quiet. No lights. Nothing. Just the way I like it. I will probably return the extra WD drive from Amazon.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Q/A for Startup Modeling Agency

As an agency-approved photographer, what would you tell aspiring/ young models to look for in a photographer when seeking to update or start up a portfolio?
Work with the best photographers you can get. Whether this be paid or unpaid-testing, the better the photographer is, the better your portfolio will be. The images however are only as good as you can pose. So practice, practice, practice. Don't think that you'll just be able to "turn it on" in front of the camera. A good model spends time in front of the mirror, maybe even in front of a camera on a tripod set to timer, to practice her poses.

Do you think aspiring models need to pay photographers who can give them images that deliver the aesthetic of the leading fashion industries?
Yes. Think about the alternative. Suppose, you decide to go the unpaid route. You *might* someday build a decent portfolio. But do you have time to do all that trial and error? Do you have time to shoot TF with photographers that might not deliver? That's why agencies still send some of their girls to me for paid tests. Your time is valuable. Your career is finite. Mathematically speaking even if a great photographer charged $1,000 but your agency day rate is $1,500, you will more than make it back with 1 job. If that great photographer could be the difference, you should shoot with him/her even if it costs you $1,000!