Getting Colorful with J Word & Yev Z

Starting with the awesome J Word, i’m going to be sharing pretty much all of my shoots over the last few years (and moving forward) on my blog here. The posts, will evolve based on what you want to see and your questions naturally.

This series was put together by my friend Yev Z Photography with Jewaun Word of TNG Models in Las Vegas with styling by Lisa Munns. Yev invited me to come help on the shoot and to create myself, and at the time I had been in a creative funk so welcomed the opportunity to help, shoot, and create something vibrant.

Between Lisa and J Word, and then the goofiness of Yev and Myself, we started doing some pretty crazy experimenting with looks, colors, and expressions getting some pretty incredible images as you can see below!

My only issue when working with Jewaun though….is he’s so freaking tall! Lemme tell you it can give a guy a complex hahaha. I actually…this is no joke…had to stand on an apple box (sometimes 2) to maintain eye level with this man for our shoot! later in the set you can see we talked him into sitting down so Yev and I could get eye to eye with him ;) hahaha. J is actually so much fun to work with. He’s so easy to create with and it’s VERY hard to actually get a bad shot of him!
As you can see we created 5 or 6 looks and got a boatload of images from them.

Here’s a complete list of the gear used:

And the Technical & Editing details

Here’s a BTS showing our light setup. 1 B2 above in a Photek Softlighter with the reflector propped directly below, a 2nd B2 camera left and in front of the model feathered in another Photek Softlighter. The Last light is behind the model in a 36” Octobox Camera Right for rim.

J Word BTS

So what do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Leave a comment below!

From the Shadows -- A New Fine Art Series by David J. Crewe (NSFW)

The Origin

I’m super excited to FINALLY share a series I’ve been working on now for nearly a year with a large variety of models, creatives, artists, and just expressive souls!

So….where to start? First things first, I’ve always been a fan of the cinematic and dramatic style of lighting you find in those classic noir films and shoots, and I’ve been especially a fan since creating a series back in San Diego years ago for a charity project. Being able to create something with that style of lighting and as a stand alone work of art….well…I am very excited.

This project started as an accident. I was working with a model creating some headshots and I had a lighting misfire which lead me back to my old school love of dramatic “film noir” style lighting. What happened? Well I had a multiple light setup going for some headshots and my “main” light, which would normally light up my subjects face and body, well it didn’t fire, and my rim/hair lights still did…This gave me the effect you see in the gallery above.

From there, it only took showing the image to my client (after we finished the headshots of course), to start playing with the shadows and creating some fun images. From there the shoot evolved into a fine art series of implied and nude shots after hours and hours of discussions and idea shaping and test shoots. The concept was open to everyone, male and female. There were no restrictions for this, other than confidence!

The Progression

It’s kind of funny how it was a VERY slow start to find that first model to shoot the concept. At first, I didn’t even consider the style a series. My intent was to shoot it and move on, but that changed after i did the first set and the model fell in love with the shots, I shared them with a bunch of colleagues and more people wanted to do the shoot! A few weeks after the first shoot I shot the second. From here, interest snowballed. I discussed the images with a fellow photographer while assisting him on a shoot, and his client asked to see the images. She also fell in love with them and asked to take part right on the spot! This is when I realized I was onto something. Over the next few months, I was introduced to new models, athletes, creatives, and artists who wanted to take part and I’ve tried to get them all in. Some, are still on a waitlist as we are hundreds, and for some, thousands of miles apart! OY!

They’ll make it in, just not in time for launch haha.

As I mentioned above, at first this wasn’t set to be a series so I didn’t give it much thought. As I progressed with the shoots, more of my subjects expressed so many different reasons for wanting to do the shoot. It really made me think about art and body positivity and I asked each person for their thoughts on the series and why (if they cared to share) they wanted to take part. Some felt they wanted to do it simply because it was a beautiful concept. Some did it to boost their own personal body confidence, (BIG props to you folks for that by the way! Hella proud of you). One of my subjects, a long time professional nude model, wanted to do the series simply because it was something she felt that for the first time she could print an image of hers and hang it in her home as a centerpiece for art and discussion. That right there was huge for me. Someone who is nude for a living, considered this image to be their first real “work of art.”

I’ve always wanted to have my images stop you in your tracks and cause a double take. The work we often do as working professionals doesn’t really get to be that way since we’re following our clients wants/needs, so as this shoot became a series, I became excited and proud at the fact that these images could line the walls of a gallery, hotel, night club, or more! (Well at least based on the feedback from my clients and our subsequent circle of colleagues and friends who’ve seen the set haha). So I hope that these images make you stop in your tracks and at the very least, open a discussion about confidence, body image, and fine art.

The Technical

So for those wondering, the setup was rather simple. A black backdrop (or dark) with some distance for our subject. 2 to 3 feet ideally. I used my Lastolite HiLite 5x7 on the dark side for mine. It was a lot easier to travel with versus a paper roll. The lighting was a simple setup of 2 lights (profoto B2), in 1x3 strip boxes and Grids behind and on the left and right of the subject with a Nikon SB-700 speedlight at low power on a boom directly above the subject for a subtle hair/fill light using a Rogue Flash Bender. The emphasis was to be backlit casting a lot of shadows to really highlight the shapes and curves of the human body in all its forms.

All of these images were shot on my Nikon D800 with Nikon 50mm f/1.4 G series glass.

For the selection and retouching process, I used several pieces of software. I basically used Capture One and/or Adobe Lightroom as a catalogue. We made initial selections on the day of the shoot, (excessively really). Those selections we converted to B&W and uploaded to an online gallery with Cloudspot for both myself and the subjects to help narrow down to just 2-4 images.

Once that was done I pulled those final few poses from each model directly into Adobe Photoshop and made my edits in there. I used a few tools like the Retouching Academy’s Panels, Infinite Color Panel, Nino Batista’s Frequency Separation Plugin (use code DAVIDCREWE5 for 5$ off), and Alien Skin Exposure to crop and ensure all the images were consistent across the board.

The Culmination

Please have a look at the collection. Like, share, comment, and message me directly for any inquiries, comments, print and gallery options.

Also, I’d like to extend my heartfelt and warmest thanks to each and every person who’s been involved with the project since it’s start. Every one of you have been amazing from day one. For each of the models…you, you folks are the biggest badassiest and awesome folks I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. Every one of you had an amazing story and a reason for what you do and why you wanted to take part in this series. I love each and every one of you and am incredibly proud of you all!

If you’re interested in ordering a hard copy of this as a coffee table book, please click the link below. Currently available in Hardcover and Digital Download.

Epic 30 Second Portraits with the Profoto B2 & OCF Beauty Dish - Laser Cats

As anyone who's been to WPPI can tell you, it's pretty insane. Between the Classes, Expo Booths, Parties, Socials, After Parties, Dinners, and well...everything else that Las Vegas can throw at you, seeing everyone / everything you want too is next to impossible, let alone keeping your professional schedule in check! This yeah was no different, however, this time, I was on a mission. I decided to start a new photo project digging back into an old one for inspiration.  One of my favorites of all time, Film Noir.

As I began casting for this project, a lot of friends from the industry had expressed interest in being a part of it, and we all felt that WPPI was a great time and location to make it pressure right? Well, I started the planning phase pulling in my local friends to help me scout for locations and readying them to be well as completely overloading my car with an insane amount of gear. I figured it was better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. Besides, I had the room in my new car! 

Well, what's one of the first things that any working professional in the photography industry will tell you? It's Murphy's Law; Anything that can go wrong, will. So plan for it! I found the perfect location for the shoot. An old speakeasy mob bar that looked incredible and had everything I needed....except permission from the owner! (even the staff were excited for this project) So in a last ditch effort, I planned on using a Whiskey Bar in the MGM, but there was a poker tournament going on, and we weren't allowed to disrupt 3 came to mind. Instead of pulling everyone in for one large crazy shoot, i'd find them one by one and shoot individual dramatic shots around the hotel and convention center! But, just like mentioned before, everything will go wrong! Once the trade show started, we all realized that scheduling was going to be insane even on a one on one a project reboot needed to happen.

Struggling, I met my friend, fellow photographer, and Profoto employee, Chris Fain, for a drink and started discussing the struggles and options ahead of me. After several drinks, and MANY MANY ideas, nothing was sticking against the wall. What we did agree on, was that I needed to borrow his new OCF Beauty Dish to work with on my B2 lights regardless of what direction I took.

So, Chris gave me his new travel Beauty Dish (Which is AMAZING by the way) and off I went! We got up early the next morning and started setting up the OCF Beauty Dish on a single B2 light, (which took less than 2 minutes), threw it on a Manfrotto Light Stand Extension, and with the help of my friends Bryan Dockett, Enrique Malfavon, and Darcy Evans acting as my Talking Light Stands, we hit the show floor to start our hunt for the roaming Pro-Photog still not knowing exactly what I was going to shoot. 

I Knew the Noir theme wasn't going to happen, I also knew that everyone I did manage to find was going to have VERY little no matter what, The shots had to be quick! Using the Profoto TTL Air Controller for my Nikon D800 I decided to  "meter" my subjects faces on the fly using the TTL mode then flipping the lights back to Manual to maintain the settings. Everyones skin tones were different, everyone was in different ambient light, and crowds. Let me tell you, metering with the TTL method was incredibly fast! It literally took me no more than 30-60 seconds to get all the shots i needed with everyone I found! 

How do you do that? Well as detailed in the Profoto blog above, Using the Air Remote TTL-N set on TTL mode, I filled my frame with my subjects face. Yep. the ENTIRE frame, and fired a test shot. For all of my shots, my "Talking Light Stands held the light a few feet away from my subjects at about a 45 degree angle and we tried to keep this as consistent as possible throughout both days of shooting. I also had my D800 with 85mm f/1.4 G set to ISO 100, F8, and a shutter speed of 1/200 for EVERYONE! Once my camera and the controller adjusted my power on the fly, I flipped it back to Manual mode, and then framed my two poses. One looking into the light, and one looking directly into the camera.

Now, how did we come up with the idea for the double exposure? Well that credit goes to David Valentine! Long time Trade show friend, he was "lucky" enough to be the first person I encountered on the show floor and was relatively easily convinced to step in front of the camera.  We had already spoken about the theme issues and ideas, so at the time, we were more or less just playing with the light setup and posing/settings in the show floor. All it took was David to nail a perfectly cheesy pose to remind me of those amazing 80's style glamor portraits...and a dream was born!  I was going to bring the 80's back....but if the internet has taught me that if you put some lasers and a cat in was bound to be legendary! So into action we leapt, scouring the show floor for familiar faces and even anyone who was just brave enough to step in front of the lens. Over the course of 2 days, we managed to shoot about 30 Portraits and as you can see from the screen-grab in the slide show below, with no effort, ALL of the exposures were consistent and nailed throughout! (My love affair with my Profoto Lights grow stronger every time I use them!)

With all these raws in hand, the next step was to blend them together and build a Photoshop Template file to start creating the masterpiece...but...I was due in Chicago a few days after this show to shoot C2E2 for Reed Expos. Basically, I had NO time, so I called used my "Phone a Friend" ....literally...and called Pratik Naik of Solstice Retouch to have him build the template in Photoshop for me to start merging in my glamor models! I remember saying something along the lines of "One theme, two words - LASER CATS!" and well, that was all it took! He was on board with this dream project and was just as excited as I was haha. It only took him a few days (Since he was traveling also) but what he sent me was MAGIC! 

From here I simply had to place all my photos into the document, scale them, and mask away.  Lets face it, everyone was so beautiful no retouching was required! I was so excited about this I ended staying up until about 3 or 4 in the morning finishing everyone shots and sending them copies to proof and give me a finale approval to post! I went to bed and well...woke up to a barrage of love! So much so that people had already started to share! (sorry for the delay on writing this hahah) So here we are! I'm a day or so behind with the blog post but the end result is still the same! The Laser Cat Phenomena is out there and i've already gotten several Facebook messages, emails, and phone calls about others wanting to have their portraits done this way also! Next up is for me to do my own self portraits though!  I need to join in the fun!

Before rambling any further I have to thank each and every person who was gracious enough to step in front of the camera for this CLEARLY insane and goofy project! While there's to many to name here, just know that I love you all! And thank you from the bottom of my heart, and I can't wait to see you all again and do something even crazier next year! (Prepare yourselves for PPE folks! haha)
Special Thanks to Enrique for capturing all of these awesome BTS photos for the project, and to Chris Fain & Profoto for lending me the gear to run around the show and capture these with! I owe you sirs!

Now, feast your eyes on the all the Laser Cat Glory!!!

If you'd like to see these images on Facebook with the "models" tagged and comments! Please head over to David J. Crewe Photography on Facebook and like / share this post as much as you can! I'd love to keep the Laser Cat Photo Theme running all 2016!!!

I also hope you've enjoyed the images and this story even half as much as I did creating them!