The Jade Merchant's Daughter
I enter through the main door and take a seat. Shortly after, the jade merchant's daughter walks in... wearing a cocktail dress, brunette hair laying to one side, glossy red lips, bright blue eyes, a silver neckless caressing her neck, and small silver earrings to match. I stand to greet her.
"What? What is it? You act like you've never seen me before," she says while wearing a big smile.
After breaking free from the smile I wore, I go to her, "How long have we known each other for?"
"And yet, after all this time, your beauty still manages to paralyze me at times. You look... beautiful."
"Oh shush," she says, her smile noticeably grown, and color added to her face.
"I think it's a wonderful thing really, that my heart still sinks when I see you, even after all this time. There's something to it, don't you think? Moreso, the fact that you're so humble about your beauty just makes you even... more beautiful to me."
Through her light complexion, I see red on her face.
And what I won't forget, is the way her lips moved as I leaned in for a kiss.
Photo Shoot with Sasha
So, I wanted to shoot something sexy. What? Sexy? An odd want. If you take a look at my portfolio, you'll notice that I don't tend to shoot women with little clothes on, let alone to pose in a sexual nature. My style of shooting is more about expression and emotion of sorts. If emotion is not involved, it's not art now, is it?
The truth is, I did shoot lingerie and "sexy" concepts many many years ago and determined that I was not skilled enough to take photographs of a beautiful woman in that way. I would not do the model justice with how I see her.
While many colleagues and friends and even the models themselves said they LOVED the photos and I made them feel beautiful, I still saw the results as over-sexualized, and I failed to see "art" in work.
I stopped shooting "sexy" shots.
This past week, however, I wanted to shoot something sexy. Sexy, but tasteful, yet simple.
I closed my eyes as I pressed the "Enter" key on my keyboard. I placed a casting call on Facebook. I made it clear what I wanted. What would people think? Would they think I am a pervert? Would they think I just want to see a girl in skimpy clothing? Would they think less of me for taking a sexualized photo of a woman?
"Screw it," I said to myself. "Let them take notes," as I chuckled at the idea. I'm doing a f*****g lingerie/sexy shoot and posting it on Facebook. Simply because I can.
Sasha messaged me and told me she was interested in working with me. Let's do this!
Poor thing drove about an hour to my place to shoot! If I would have known that, I would have done it another day and not during the week!
So Sasha arrives, and I explain to her that I don't have much experience shooting in lingerie or underwear, but that I want it to be tasteful. She tells me that she too is inexperienced in that style of shooting but was interested in trying it, because why not?
We go for the Calvin Klein concept that has been stuck in my head for a few days.
And she nails it :). I don't have a studio at home, so I simply used my living room wall as a backdrop. The gaze Sasha gives here to the camera is just outstanding, and is exactly what I was looking for! I used a simple Beauty Dish with an Alien Bee 800 strobe. 100 ISO, F14, 200 shutter speed. I liked how the background fades into a smooth grey gradient, matching her underwear.
That's it. I was done. I got the shot that I wanted but... we kept shooting more anyways.
So I was liking how the shots were coming out but during the editing process... I felt that something was missing. Something was lacking. Yes, it's sexy, the model is beautiful, but, I wanted more.
What to do what to do... SKIN TEXTURE
I normally don't do heavy editing in PhotoShop but on this day, I experimented with various skin textures and techniques. I remembered many years ago I took photos of a model, Katie Eastman in a similar style. I used the paint in the background to bring contrast to the pictures. This time around, I decided to bring the paint to the model's skin.
Suddenly, I started LOVING the photos even more! I achieved the sexy look I wanted, but I also added a nice artistic twist. The paint on the models forces the viewer to observe the model more, in greater detail, than one would normally do. I loved the concept and was excited to see the possibilities!
"Ricardo! You are so FREAKING AWESOME!" I say to myself! haha
Something about this shot that I love so much. Remove the silver paint, and you have a beauty with sexy lingerie. However, when you add the paint, it changes somehow.
Again, a beautifully lit, great composition, beautiful model, and an artistic twist that keeps the shot refreshing, engaging, and in a way... just... interesting.
Click for High Res Versions
My Hurricane Irma Experience
My family was spread out, each doing their thing. Unable to convince them that where I would be at was safe, I went ahead there myself. At work. The Betsy Hotel in Miami Beach.
"WHAT!? What were you thinking! It was originally going to hit Miami Beach head on!"
Yes, I know. However, the new Art Deco wing of the hotel was designed to withstand such hurricane winds, and we were immune to storm surge since we have multiple floors. Emergency backup generators, food, water... it made sense.
While I do have insurance for my property, I took my most prized possessions with me. Things I know insurance would not be able to replace.
- My Longbow - Custom crafted by a master bowyer in Estonia.
- My Archery Hat - Gifted to me by my archery coach.
- My Archery Bracer - Gifted to me by my archery coach.
- My Camera - Sentimental value, for it has seen much through its lens.
- My External Harddrive - Containing all of my photography work over the past 12 years.
- The shirt I wore when Blu was born
- Blu's first toy.
- Photographs of when I was Blu's age.
- A leather bound journal
While I did take many photos Reader, I won't bore you with so many, but enough to give an idea of what my experience was like.
When I arrived at Miami Beach, it was a complete ghost town. An eeriness was in the air. Honestly, it did make me feel uncomfortable, but at the same time... a little excited to see what would happen. Selfishly excited for myself, but also worried about my loved ones who were too concerned to join me at the beach.
Ocean drive was empty. Not a single person was there... and my beloved Betsy all boarded up! One of the gems on Ocean Drive, still shined in all her grandeur despite the loneliness before her.
Some of the staff photos I took the night before the storm was set to arrive. All of us were in good spirits. Food, water, and wine were always available. Wine... :) :)
I finish my dinner, finish my serving of wine, sit back and tell two of colleagues, "Let's go for a walk shall we? Let's go look outside."
They finish their dinner, and we go for a walk.
We walk down Ocean Drive, laughs in our voices as we talk about the entire ordeal that is to come. Still, we all could not help but notice the desolate streets, and more importantly... the sand dust in the air carried by Irma's fingertips.
It almost felt as if there was a thin fog spread throughout Miami Beach. One I am not accustomed to, especially in the presence of silence.
I could not help admire the melancholic atmosphere of a beautiful city that's usually always active. It was kind of... romantic in a way I suppose. In a place where devastation and dishevel was anticipated, it's nice to capture human emotion through it all.
As Irma passed through S. Florida, The Betsy's owner sat in a corner, working on his laptop, as the winds howled and shook windows.
Spirits remained high throughout the entire storm's passing.
The paparazzi in me was allowed to flourish.
In the morning, as the storm receded, I took a photo of what it looked like outside The Besty. I was particularly impressed by the ominous looking waves.
A few days later I was able to come back home, and the devastation broke my heart. The landscape in some areas of town was changed. Trees that have been way longer than I have were toppled, many roads were impassable, and some homes suffered damage.
My mini herb garden, however, survived the storm. The cilantro and mint did well, but the basil never recovered after not being watered for several days.
The Late Galaxy S7
I am walking up the stairs towards my apartment entrance. Being the typical Hispanic man that I am, I carried ALL eight grocery bags in one trip upstairs. Why make two trips when I can fit it into one? Well, while walking upstairs my Galaxy S7 decides to escape my back pocket.
I hear the sound of the phone hitting the floor, and suddenly, what I saw, appeared as if I was in a slow-motion film. The phone falls, an entire corner of the glass comes off and continues down one step, and another, and another.... In what seemed like an eternity, it bounced off several steps before crashing into the bottom floor and with each bounce, glass flying nearby.
I stare down, sigh, take the keys out of my mouth, open my door, and begin unpacking and placing the groceries where they belong.
Once done, I get my car keys, walk downstairs, pick up the now dead phone, and make my way towards the nearest T-Mobile store. I am due for an upgrade I suppose.
"Which iPhone would you like?"
"Hmm. I'd like the fastest one with the best camera possible."
"iPhone 8 Plus."
"I'll take it."