If you haven’t read my post from last week, I suggest you do that.

I’m getting the f*ck to work right now by filling as much of my free time as possible with shoots. Here’s a breakdown of my shoot with Erin.

Erin came to my house one evening for a shoot and a huge summer time storm was blowing in. I have a drainage ditch in my backyard that floods when we get heavy rain. I asked Erin if she would be up for shooting in the storm. She was a little hesitant but went for it despite that amount of lighting striking pretty damn close.



See that look on her face on the left? She’s watching the lighting strikes. “It’s going to be ok! We’re almost done! Just close your eyes. If you’re going to die so am I. We’ll both die in this ditch. We’re almost done.”




I decided that was enough for that evening and we’d shoot some more in a few days.




One major thing I’m trying to do with these personal shoots is to avoid the images I would normally shoot. As soon as I start saying, “Of course you would shoot this picture, Zack. You always shoot this picture.” I stop what I’m doing and move on to something else. Sometimes though you need the safe photo to warm up. Sometimes your subject needs something easy to warm up. I shot some headshots in my kitchen with a clamp light for Erin. Then moved on.




I have an old 1k tungsten light and I put that out on my front porch and stapled some lace fabric. I don’t know what the f*ck I was trying to do. None of these images work. They f*cking suck ass. Screw these photos.




That started becoming more interesting. But still MEH. I moved the light inside and moved myself outside.




There we go. That’s better. So I worked that. This is the 1k light I’m talking about. Bought it for $25. I have three of them.




Then we went outside.




This was a test shot for a set up I knew we were going to end the session with. I had one set up to go before we would get here but I wanted to work out my light and exposure first because I knew she’d be miserable by the time we got here. This was shot with a Phottix Indra 500 and a beauty dish.







I set Erin where I wanted her. Got my base exposure and then fired up the smoke machine. You can see that 1k tungsten light in the top right corner. Once the smoke filled that yard it was overexposed. One great thing about the Phase One is overexposed highlights aren’t a problem.




F*ck yo highlights. Working with smoke is fun and maddening. Then Caleb fired up the garden hose. Poor Erin. I’m pushing myself with these shoots and pushing my subjects as well. Fair warning to anyone wanting to work with me.






The smoke. The water. It all came together. After the fact I wish I would have gone in for this sort of horizontal frame.




With 100 mega pixels to work with, I have options. Ever feel stuck? Feel like everything is going up in smoke? You’re just sitting there drowning and you can’t do shit about it? I feel like that.




On to the final set up.




Remember that Chuck Close quote from last week’s post? There’s that part that goes…

“All the best ideas come from the process; they come from the work itself.”

These images are, meh, Ok. But after the shoot I zoomed in.




Oh shit. That. THAT. An idea actually came out of the work!




OMG. That. Look at her eyes. That. THAT is how I feel. Erin was trying to keep it together. Trying to breathe. But it was hard as hell for her to keep it together. Right? Feel like that? I do.

A lot of these shoots are turning out to be self portraits in one way or another. This cropped image inspired me on my next shoot. I flew to Indianapolis for a job, found a willing subject to shoot during my off time, and I investigated this again. Hit a few. Failed a lot. That’s a post for later.

For now, comments are turned off because I’m in a head down and get the f*ck to work mode. I know that’s more broadcasting than interacting but I don’t want to answer lots of technical questions right now because I don’t want to live in that side of my brain. I hope to just document my process of putting the paddles to my chest and getting my f*cking photographic life back. I know some of you are going through the same thing so… this is how I’m doing it. Go get the f*ck to work. #GTFTW.

Erin. Thank you so much for being so patient and working with me. Seriously. Thank you.


One last little nugget… I’m hitting up all the thrift stores lately and buying a lot of wardrobe pieces for my subjects. That way I don’t have to worry about their personal clothing getting ruined for a shot I want.

Zack Arias

A full time commercial and editorial photographer, Zack shoots everything from bands to CEOs to ad campaigns. A gifted teacher and communicator, he has an uncanny ability to meet and connect with all types of people.

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