I escaped the cold of NY for the second part of January and headed to California for some sun, inspiration, the Heck Yeah Photo Camp, and a shoot for Material Girl China. The beginning of a year is always a slow period for photographers so what a better excuse to go to California than a group workshop and a fun shoot?
Starting off the trip was the look-book web shoot for Material Girl China, which was shot in two parts of California – a motel, and on Venice Beach. This was a long 15 shot day and planning in advance was key. Having a reliable creative team was important.
Material Girl China is a fun, colorful and playful brand; our model Bryden (Wilhelmina LA) fit her role perfectly – she’s a model that never loses steam on set even after 8 hours of work. On hair and make-up was Jennifer Hanching who is a favorite of mine in LA and on styling was Ja’Niya Walker, who provided endless accessories to accompany the clothing shoot. I am looking forward to sharing a few of these images in a few months!
Since my next part of the trip was to head to Joshua Tree, CA I decided to stop by one of my favourite places in the world – Palm Springs. I love visiting PS because I always feel like I’m on a movie/shoot set. I love to shoot 50s/60s/70s looks so I’m always looking for ways to link travel + work together in these locations. Myself and my assistant stayed at both the Colony Palms Hotel and The Saguaro. Both hotels gave us much needed down time and a perfect backdrop to work from in the mornings (and not to mention jacuzzis, mexican brunch and margaritas!!). Ps – travel hack, download the app ‘Hotel Tonight’ which I use to get cheap stays in beautiful hotels.
My next event was Heck Yeah Photo Camp in Joshua Tree, CA which was hosted by photographer Ben Sasso. Ben is an educator as well as a photographer and he recently started Heck Yeah – a 2 day retreat workshop. For me, the most interesting part of the event was the ability to network with everyone – I enjoyed meeting all the students (over 100 of them!) and meeting the fellow teachers. Sitting in many of the seminars I was given a great perspective of how each of the teachers started on their journey and I left the event with inspiration to work on images that meant more to me than just fashion.
The following day, my assistant Megan Toriglia and I headed to Joshua Tree National Park, a short drive away, to ‘play’ and experiment in the desert with a styled shoot. We grabbed a red vintage robe from a local vintage store and packed my camera bag. For those that don’t know – I rarely take my DSLR with me when traveling, and if I do, its packed away in my hotel or bag for ‘work related shoots only’. For a while I didn’t see the point in traveling with a heavy piece of equipment when I could just simply enjoy the moment. I decided to challenge myself – I took my Canon 5DMKIII along with me and as soon as I peeked through the eyepiece I fell in love with photography again – it didn’t matter whether Megan or I was in front of the camera , the goal was just to create. If you’ve been following my work for a while, you’ll notice that I sometimes switch my role and I often appear in front of the camera. I started my career with self portraits, but the thought of being a subject again was a little unfamiliar. I think it’s important as a photographer of people to get in front of the camera as much as you can. Experience what its like to be uncomfortable. Engage with the photographer. Be authentic – show emotion, be raw. Feel what its like to be in your clients’/subjects’ shoes, it will give you better perspective next time.
This was a much needed getaway for me and it was a trip full of opportunity – thanks California and see you in the near future! – LJ