CREATING CUSTOM PHOTO-ART TO CURE THE WINTER BLUES

CUSTOM PHOTO-ART

SPORTS ~ MUSIC ~ COSPLAY

 

Winter is the PERFECT time for getting creative and shaking off the winter blues. Now that the senior photo sessions and wedding seasons are winding down, why not

consider taking some time to set up a killer creative photography session customized to make a statement and that screams “This is who I am, I am unique and one of a kind” !! I have had the pleasure of creating amazing photo-art and composites for many athletes, musicians, artists, fitness experts, gamers, high school seniors and more over the last several years.

Recently while exploring a familiar haunt with an old friend, mentor and fellow artist, We stumbled upon a Cosplay Star Wars reenactment complete with official Lucas-film and Disney sponsored authentic costumes and weapons. Despite having the dumb luck to stumble upon this amazing outfit of rebels from the 501st Legion, who do nothing but good for the community with their fundraising and charitable efforts,they allowed Andy and myself to get some fun “unofficial” shots of them in the field. This was one of the rare occasions I had the opportunity to create some art without the precise lighting, backdrops and luxury of my studio to work in. However, I was able to bring the images back home and create some fun art for these guys. We are currently in the process of setting up an official shoot in the Spring of 2017 with this amazing fleet and I couldn’t be more excited about working with this group again. Check out their site and all the amazing good they do for the community and children, news and more here:
501st LEGION OFFICIAL

I had been dabbling in photo compositing for the last three or four years, but it wasn’t until recently, within the past year or so, that I became quite involved in the process of creating art using my camera and Photoshop tools as my medium. My interest in creating art using my photography really was an extension of my inner creativity and my sense of feeling “stuck” and, quite honestly, bored with the typical photo-shoots. I felt as if it was just work and my creativity was suffering. With all the other amazing local photographers growing in numbers and basically all doing the same thing I decided I did not want to be just another cog in the wheel trying to compete for local high school, senior or family photo-shoots. No offense to anyone, but I most certainly did not want to be the next Sear’s or Olan Mills type portrait guy. That stuff is great for them, but not for the artist in me.
I knew I was taking a financial risk with this mindset, however the artist in me knew I could achieve more personal, client satisfaction and eventually, long term success. The pinnacle of my decision to “re-invent” myself came after long nights of deep thinking, talking with a great friend and mentor and beginning the initial stages of a journey with an amazing group of artists, mentors, photographers and teachers in the Arcanum, who showed me that there is more out there through sharing, teaching, caring and humility. “Greatness will find you, but you have to be willing to step outside your comfort zone, take risks and strive for something bigger than what I have been used to”. These and other words of inspiration coupled with my belief that I could do more ultimately led to my decision to view my photography as a creative process that would hopefully lead to a greater business and financial mindset. ALL my life I have been and artist. I have been a recording musician, a successful pen and ink artist and a successful local photographer as well.
After all this, it really boiled down to one thing, an artist needs to create. Period.
At this time I began focusing on fine art photography, travel and photo-compositing as my niche. As much as I hate pigeon holing anything, I knew I needed a niche, or something that would define me. I must admit, looking back at my first few attempts at this process, I am surprised I didn’t toss in the towel years ago. As hideous as some of my initial attempts were at compositing, I loved it. I loved the challenge. I loved the tools. Photoshop, Lightroom and my camera and lenses became the tools of my creativity rather than the former paints and brushes, pens, pencils, guitars and so on. I began cutting back on my hours as a photo-journalist, started referring most of my clients who were looking for basic photo sessions to the other amazing local photographers and decided to re-brand my self. I decided on Travel, Ruinscapes, and Portraiture. However the portrait work would become art more so than just traditional pictures. My first published comp was this full page ad that ran in the news for a local high school rivalry called the “Rusty Rail” football game. This is the piece I created for that event around 2013. It was created using old file shots I had of two local athletes and an image of downtown Chicago I shot for the background. This is when I began understanding the concept of color balance, dodging and burning, masking and layers and more. Yep, I was hooked. My creative energy was rejuvenated. For now.

My first attempts at composting were mainly focused on sports as I was used to shooting sporting events. Since 2005, I had shot hundreds of sporting events from the high school level, up through the NCAA and professional sporting events. In the ten plus years I shot for news I accumulated thousands of images and began experimenting with sports composites. The published “Rusty Rail” pieces were the groundbreaking images for me that pushed me harder to focus on sports compositing, not just for local schools or seniors, but for anyone looking for something a little different, including famous musicians.

Following a few years of creating sports art for local high school athletes and the press, I began looking into other ways I could create art and custom images with my camera and editing software. I became involved in music, band and concert photography a few years ago, which just felt natural to me as I had been a musician over half my life playing guitar and singing in various bands and still love attending live shows whenever I can. I had the opportunity to shoot several worldwide known bands and used some images from those shoots for some artwork. I sent the images to the artists and in return was given such wonderful praise and acclimation for the images and for sharing, that creating custom work for bands become another passion for me since it involved combining my love of music with my artwork. A couple of my earlier pieces was one I created for Tommy Shaw of Styx, and another of Kelly Hansen and Michael Bluestein of Foreigner, which has led to pretty cool relationship with some of the guys and some extended and hopefully future work. The work can be very complicated and time consuming with many, many hours of time involved for something that doesn’t look to the naked eye, quite like anything out of the ordinary, however still involves techniques and tools in Photoshop such as removing distracting objects, dodging and burning, color balance, bringing the viewers eye where you want it to focus or even a simple textured text or just a cool textured background. The goal is to make it “believable”.

I continue to work with bands and musicians and have recently collaborated on a couple shoots with other concert photographers creating images for two metal bands, Huntress and Sabaton. I was also hired by mega rising stars Shaman’s Harvest for a photo-shoot of the band for images used on social media and PR material. As much as I love creating photo-art for superstars and musicians, I still absolutely love working with high school teens and creating one of a kind unique images for them. The fun we have from beginning to end and the look on their faces when they and their parents see the finished product always fills me with a sense of grace and humility knowing that these kids are chasing their dreams as well, whether it be sports, music, drama or whatever. I always say I’m not a miracle worker or magician, I am an artist. I love sitting down with the kids getting to know them, their interests, their personalities, likes, etc. and discussing and planning what kind of image they are going for. I always try to get as much from them as possible because, after all, the image is all about who they are as a person. All the parents and teens I have worked with have been super understanding in regards to the time frame it takes to create some of these images, and they have been more than generous in sharing my work and philosophy with others. For that, and for allowing me to practice my creativity on them, I am thankful and honored. It is amazing. Thank you again!! I have shared a few of my recent pieces on this blog. I had lots of fun creating both the “Swamp Hunter” and “Virtual Gamer” pieces. Most studio pieces are shot in my basement studio on a white, black or gray background with a typical three light set-up. For sports comps, I have the athlete pose in at least a dozen different poses with their full uniform and gear on with both home and away uniforms. Depending on the contrast of their uniforms to the backdrop, I may have to change backdrops during a session. However, a typical sports composite studio session may take on average around 2 hours. Other concept shoots such as the “Swamp Hunter” or “Virtual Gamer” may only require one or two poses from the subject, but may include other props they are asked to bring with them shot separate from the subject. Where the real time factor comes into play is in the post editing process. As stated previously, some custom pieces may only take a couple hours to complete whereas others can take up to 20 hours or more.

If you have a killer idea for a one of a kind artistic shoot involving just about anything you’re into from sports, to music, to drama, to costumes, hobbies, or whatever…Shoot me a message. Let’s sit down and chat and see what we can do to create a knock out image piece of art for you. I am always looking to up my game and give my clients the best I have to offer using the newest tools, editing software, but more importantly, your and my creative collaboration. I love working with teens and adults on projects as well as creating memorable senior photos. My prices aren’t as cheap as you will find locally, however they are not super expensive either. Depending on the concept, shooting time, and most importantly, editing and creating the final image, the price will vary. I do offer reasonable alternatives with less involved but still killer images, payment arrangements. My number one goal is not to become rich, but to continue creating great art and working with amazing people.

View More Custom Work Here:
PHOTO-ART GALLERIES