How Watching Soap Operas Made Me A Better Stylist!

We can all agree that styling a model can be a pretty daunting task, especially if you’re fashionably disabled like me. Hiring a wardrobe stylist is always an option, but sometimes that’s not feasible. One trick that has helped me to “keep up with the times,” has been watching soap opera’s.


When I first started watching soap opera’s I was immediately drawn to the lighting and styling, not to mention the awesome dialogue. Actors on the show are always dressed to the nine’s, from perfectly quaffed hair down to triangular shape tipped shoes (which I just learned are “in”). I also noticed that soap opera’s seem to be ahead of the current fashion trend and in many cases set the trend.


When watching the show be sure to write down what you see, like the main actress is wearing a tribal sweater or that the male lead has on a bowtie. Also take note of hairstyles and make up that you like, then apply to your next photo shoot.


Obtaining the wardrobe needed for your shoot can be costly, but here are a few tips that I use to significantly cut costs. First, check out consignment and thrift stores, often these establishments have what you are looking for at a 50% discount.


Second, ask to borrow clothes from large department stores. Certain department stores will lend a photographer clothing for a shoot for a small fee. You will also have to leave a credit card number incase the garment gets damaged. You will need to do a little research and call ahead, but that’s a way I’ve obtained clothing for a shoot in the past.


My third tip is to rent clothing from websites like or At times sellers on Etsy will allow photographers to use clothing and jewelry as long as you provide them with final images that they can then use.

Once your photo shoot is complete and your ready to share your photo’s, be sure to tag the designer of the clothes you used. Social media is HUGE and that designer might just see your photo and want to hire you for a future shoot.











Up Your Game!

When you first start out in photography, you usually shoot what you have on hand, first. Fashion and glamour peeps, like me, look to family and friends to help build up content. It makes sense. Working with a familiar person is easy to schedule, you’re comfortable with them, and you won’t be afraid to try out new techniques. Eventually, you run out of family and all of your friends have modeling portfolios–that they may not need or want–so you have to step up your game.

What do you do when you want to move up to the next level? Below are a few tips for building up your portfolio.


Foord2Tip #1: Gather A Team

Building up a solid group of specialists is the first order of business. Regardless of the type of photography you do, a team will help you produce better quality work. If you’re shooting people, look for a makeup artist (MUA), a hair stylist, and a wardrobe stylist or fashion designer. If you’re shooting images that don’t involve people, find specialists in your area of interest such as aspiring local chefs for food photography, orpassionate fossil hunters for macro shots. I can’t imagine how daunting this task was before the internet. Thanks, Al Gore!

Social network websites literally put thousands of professionals at your fingertips. It’s your cursor, really, but you get the idea.

Facebook, one of the most popular social media websites, is a great place to start. You can search for pages and groups dedicated to hairmakeupfashionlocal foodmushroom huntingwaterfall photographyscuba diving, and more. When you find one that you like, simply post a comment saying you are looking to work with artists in your area.

Model Mayhem is another great resource for people shooters. It’s a place where artists of all types gather in order to work on creative projects. Once you’re signed up, you can post a casting and choose the type of artists and talent you’re looking for. MM is made for bringing together creatives, so if people are your interest, this is a must.

Foord3Tip #2: Take Your Time

This is a concept I still have trouble with! Once you get cranking through editing, it’s tough to pull yourself away, but it’s absolutely necessary. Taking a break during any project will let your eyes and mind relax. When you pause for a time, you come back with renewed perspective. My advice: Zoom all the way out, set things down, and, if you can, sleep on it. You’ll come back refreshed.

Foord4Tip #3: Build A Proper Showcase

Create a website/portfolio. Check out the online portfolios of photographers that you admire. Think about why you like their work, what draws you in, what makes you stay, what you like about the concept or layout, and what you can do better.

Combine the information you gather with the trends in the market. How do you plan to share your work? Do you plan to print your shots or is an iPad sufficient? This will tie in with the type of work that you want to go after. Assuming that you want to chase after paid gigs, of course.

As a final step, make an update plan, too. You don’t want your work to get stale, but you don’t want to update it after every shoot. Balance the amount of work you produce with the amount of time you spend in constructing your portfolio. You don’t want it to become a mindless chore. Always keep your wits about you and ask others for feedback. You’re only as strong as your weakest shot so be willing to listen to constructive criticism.

Foord5Tip #4: Network

Once you have a team, awesome editing practices, and a rock-solid portfolio, you’re ready to show it to the world. You’ll have to use a little savvy in the marketplace to start making waves. You can do this with a number of techniques. Most importantly, learn to make the internet your friend.

Take every opportunity to grow your online presence. You can start by being active on popular photography forums, on Facebook, Twitter, G+, or other social media channels. Connect with every professional, organization, and manufacturer that you admire, and keep up with what they’re doing, too. You’ll find there are plenty of opportunities to have your work featured if you keep your eye out for it.

Paid gigs will force you to perform in a more professional way, so I recommend chasing after work even if photography is just a hobby. When money is on the table, you’ll find that you operate with a renewed sense of vigor. You can offer giveaways, groupons, or discounts to help you get more work, and advertising is an option as well.

Guest appearances are a great way to grow publicity online. You could, for example, guest write articles for different companies. The larger audience of an established website is a great place to get your name out there. It’s not all about printed magazines, there are hundreds of other places to showcase what you do, or for you to share your knowledge on a certain subject. You can’t pay for that kind of publicity, so it’s worth a little time at the keyboard, or on set, to make up a solid article.


Dust In Color – Elinchrom BRX500 with beauty dish and grid

I recently picked up a few pounds of powdered paint. I knew I wanted to see the paint explode off my models face, and this is what I captured. I used 1 and only 1 light. I used the Elinchrom BRX 500 (B&H) at full power as to be able to freeze the motion in the powder. Directly next to the model I had a silver reflector to fill in shadows.

I had my assistant stand just behind the light and throw the paint. I wanted to light the paint from the side to get as much texture as possible.

1/125, F/11, ISO:100





Merrina – with Elinchrom BRX 500 monolight with beauty dish and grid

So you think you need 3, 4, 5 lights to make a stunning image? How about 1! In this series I used only 1 light, an Elinchom BRX 500 with a 17″ beauty dish with grid. The camera I used was a Canon 5D Mark III with a Sigma 24-70 2.8 lens.  When shooting make sure you walk around your subject and shoot from different angles.



Dark Beauty – Westcott Monolight with reflector and grid

I have worked with Crystal Cakeface many times before, but I had NO idea what I was in for when she showed up in this awesome dark make-up. I knew i wanted the background to fall black and the face and broach to be focal points. I used 1 gridded reflector on my Westcott monolight about 12″ from her face and was able to achieve this look. Camera used was Canon 5D Mark III with a Canon 70-200L 2.8 non-IS.



Male model Andy Peeke

Andy is a good friend and excellent model. We set up a “fashion forward” shoot and this is what we came up with.

Canon 5D Mark 3

Canon 70-200L

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Outex waterproof housing review

I first heard about OUTEX from a friend who knew I wanted to break into underwater photography, without breaking the bank. At first I was skeptical, but after using it, OUTEX really impressed me.

What it is: OUTEX is a flexible casing for DSLR and other interchangeable lens cameras (it works with mirrorless systems, too) that you operate by tactile control.

Uses: Use your DSLR in mud, snow, dirt, sand and even underwater without fear of damage while maintaining photo integrity. Supports flash, tripods, tethering, video, etc.…

When I first got my hands on the unit I was surprised by how small it was and as I mentioned earlier was skeptical that it would live up to my expectations. I use the OUTEX on my Canon 5D Mark III with a Sigma 24-70 2.8 DG EX Macro Lens and Canon 430 EX II. One excellent thing about the OUTEX system is they custom build the unit for your camera body and lens that you want to use.

There are no manuals that come with the unit, but the company’s website has video tutorials on how to install the unit on your camera. It is a little tricky and does take some time, but it’s not difficult once you do it a few times.

Upon arriving at the pool, my nerves started getting the best of me, but I pushed on and slowly placed my camera into the water. The OUTEX quickly filled with air, a great sign, proving that it is airtight! I have to admit I only left my camera underwater for about 5 seconds before I got out of the pool dried off the housing and removed it from the camera to see if there was any water leakage, which there was not.

I reapplied the housing and jumped back in the pool. Once again the OUTEX filled with air, which calmed my nerves and I began shooting. I was able to see very clearly through the viewfinder and was able to change my shutter speed and aperture easily. Zooming was a little stiff, but I got the handle of it pretty quickly. The flash was firing perfectly on ETT-L mode and I was having a blast! I have the 1st unit in which the LCD is covered by the blue housing, but OUTEX has a new product called “The Big-O” where the LCD is unobstructed.

Final Thoughts: I highly recommend this product. If fear of damaging your camera and lens due to water, mud, snow, dirt, etc.… is keeping you from expanding as an artist then this is a budget friendly device for you. As I stated earlier getting the housing and O-Rings on the camera can be a little tricky, but the photos are well worth it.

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