Testing 1-2-1-2

Since I was in my early twenties I have always been envious of musicians ability to just pick up their instruments and jam together. As a student of standup comedy, I also harbor jealously of the value that open-mic nights have to a comedian in effort to prepare for their Netflix special. In that regard it is not unlike athletes who come together up to 7 days a week to practice for the upcoming game. Their are few other crafts that have a build-in paths & routines to help it’s community network and pursue perfection. For us in what I like to call a “set-life”, we have only one avenue to workout ideas, learn techniques and strengthen professional bonds but all to often the test-shoot slips further down the list of priorities as our business grows.

Testing is something models, hair & makeup artists, wardrobe stylists & photographers all do early on in their careers but seldom keep up the practice as their business grows. Let’s be clear, time becomes more & more precious as your career advances and I often struggle to make time to test on a regular basis. Every-time I begin a test-shoot though, I am immediately thrilled that I made time as soon as I begin composing the first photograph. What test-shoots really are, are an arena where creative professionals can practice, experiment, network and hone their craft. These shoots are instrumental to grow as an artist and thus further the medium itself. However as the artist begins to gain success, these shoots fall off our calendar.

To help illustrate my point of the immense value that test-shoots can have, I would like give you some backstory to my recent test-shoot. The original concept was to create conceptual portraiture on-location at a newly redesigned mansion in Northern California. Big flowy gowns, color, unique lighting all with grand staircases & great halls as a backdrop. Between myself and the team, it took about a month of coordinated schedules and flushing out ideas until we all committed to one plan and date that made sense with our sensibilities as artists and equally important, our schedules. And wouldn’t you know it, the night before the shoot the location falls through. Everything is thrown up in the air and I for one almost had defeatist reaction. But after a few moments I pinged the group with something along the lines of “Lets shoot anyways. Everyone just meet at my place with whatever you would like to bring to the table to lets just do it.” Within a few minuets we had rough outline of a new concept with wardrobe and a new beauty approach to compliment it. We could have backed out. We could have tried to rescheduled with the property owner most likely a month later. We could have come up with any number of excuses of why not to try something but the point was to get together and shoot. The concept was secondary.

We abandoned the original concept for simple, clean, portraiture that balances natural & artificial light. A more personal and less conceptual target. A complete 180º from our initial idea. Look 1 & 2 is all natural light as I like the challenge of restraining my self to a few tools. I worked hard to bend and cut available light indoors to obtain proper exposure.

My only talent is surrounding myself with individuals more talented than I. Thank you to Hannah Tokuno, Camille Moniquie and Shannon Yen.

Have a happy & productive week. Thank you.

  • Alejandro Martinez - Photography
  • Hannah Tokuno - Modeling / Stars Management
  • Camille Moniquie - Beauty
  • Shannon Yen - Wardrobe Styling

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