Thursday, September 2, 2010

SoCal Photog Shootout Lady Gaga Meets Desperate Housewives

The title pretty much says it all. This event was held last Sunday at an incredible location. The house was so awesome, it was no surprise that it had been featured in magazines. My decision to attend this event was actually last minute and luckily there were still tickets available. I hadn't taken pictures in a long time. Well, the shots from the Hammer Improv don't really count since that was just for fun and I was watching the show. The last shootout I attended was with the LA Shoot This! people at UCLA.

The weather was perfect. It had been so hot the past week that I was worried about heat, but by Sunday, it had dropped 10 degrees and was pretty nice. I showed up a bit early to get a decent parking space and so that I wouldn't be rushing or anything. I was a little apprehensive about the shoot since my main lens which is an 18-200 f/3.5-5.6 isn't very useful when indoors and in low light. I did have a 50mm f/1.8 which I brought along just in case and luckily I did.

As with previous SoCal Photog Shootout Events that I've been at, procedures were the same. Break up into groups with leaders and split up to tackle various topics. The first group I was at was lead by the incredible Matt Saville. I say incredible because he is. He knows light and knows how to get fantastic pictures without having to bring tons of gear. We shot in this room which was pretty much all in red. Red walls, red furniture and it was dark. I had to crank the ISO up and switched to my 50mm because my other lens just couldn't handle it. Matt was able to show us how to use the light coming in from across the hall and pose the model in order to get the shots we wanted.  Here's a couple of shots from that room with our model Trina Miller. And remember, no extra lighting. just the overhead lights plus the light from across the hallway.

The next group was with Michelle Cunningham. She talked to us about posing and communicating with the model. In order to generate ideas and not wait for the model to come up with something, we were given phrases or words to define the type of shot. Each us took turns setting up various shots based on the phrases were given. It was a fun exercise in order to think fast and keep flowing. Here are some shots with our model Anna Good.

The next group was regarding bad lighting and how to make the most of it. This was lead by Garrett Davis who was able to show us tips and tricks when dealing with harsh light or not enough light since sometimes, you just have to make do. We were outside in bright sunlight as well as indoors with not very much light. Here's our model Ashley Johnson for some photos.

Next up was the group with Jeff Almquist and he talked about composition. You can have a good model and good lighting, but it's the composition that completes the photo. We were outside once again for this group, but were focused more with composing the shots and I think with the knowledge gained from Garret about dealing with the harsh light, we got some pretty good photos. Here's some with our model Heather Skelton.

Moving to our next group inside, we met up with Hanssie Trainor. She's a great photographer and also one of the leaders of the SoCal Photog Shootout along with Matt. Her topic of discussion was regarding posing awkward people. However, her model, Kaylie Wilson, was anything but awkward. Kaylie pretty much a natural in front of the camera and didn't really need much direction as she went from position to position leaving us to merely snap away frantically. Maybe it was Hanssie's plan after all. We'll never know. :) I must admit that a great majority of my photos were of Kaylie. It was hard to take a bad picture of her so in my gallery, that's what you'll see most. Here are some shots.

The last group for the day was with Verone Pangilinan. He's actually a magazine photographer who demonstrated the amazing capabilities of using strobes outdoors in order to get amazing, magazine quality shots. Each of us were giving a couple of minutes to work with the model and use his lights on the balcony. The results were incredible. Since I personally either shoot with natural light or use an on-camera flash, the results were almost night and day. Here are some shots with our model Lauren Neilson.

We didn't have much time with this group because we were running late so we didn't get a chance to shoot inside the side room. But overall, it was pretty good. After this last group, it was off to dinner. We all ended up at Lomeli's Italian Restaurant just a couple of miles away where we spent the rest of the evening talking about various photography topics and just relaxing before heading back home. It was another great event by SoCal Photog Shootout and I'm fortunate to have been able to attend as these events normally sellout quickly.

Rest of the photos are here.

And here's the list of credits.
"Monica's Castle" as seen in Robb Report:
2259 Ladera Vista Drive, Fullerton Ca. 92831

Anna Good
Ashley Johnson
Trina Miller
Heather Skelton
Kaylie Wilson
Lauren Neilson

Michelle Cunningham –
Heather Skelton –

Makeup -
Tianna DeGuire – www.
Mona Malaki

Hair -
Kylee Heath –
Diego Ortega -


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