fashion photography

MARA DEL ROSE and NIGHT PORTRAITS by Christopher Myers

One of my favorite things to do these days is take a model around the city to shoot in available light. This particular night I took Mara Del Rose around Old Chinatown in downtown Los Angeles for some noir photo action. 

everything is a light source, so keep your eyes peeled when you’re out in the field.

In the past, doing this kind of photography was virtually unachievable without a great deal of special equipment and skill, but thanks to my Nikon D810, shooting in low light now only requires me to identify my light sources (virtually all modern DSLRs are holding up great in low light situations). Among my circle of friends I often hear them joke about amateur photographers stating that they can forgo pro lighting for ambient, but armed with the right knowledge I feel like there could be some merit to that. Naturally, when it comes to a professional shoot, you have to consider quality and client expectations, but if your aim is at interesting content for social media or fine art, it's really a lot of fun and you should give it a try! 

With it's Chinese architecture, lanterns, and neon lights, Old Chinatown in downtown Los Angeles is a great place to shoot at night. It also helps that after the sun goes down and the shops close, not many people other then the adventurous tourist or bar hoping hipster, hangs out in the area. Street parking also becomes readily available; a constant battle in downtown. The first building that caught our eye was the Royal Pagoda Motel with it's incredible red neon lights running along the side. For my shooting purposes though, the neon red lights were too distant to actually light my model. I needed something bigger and I found it across the street at a bus stop. Some bus stops downtown have illuminated advertising kiosks which I used to light my main subject while keeping those red neon lights in the background to give a sense of place. As I learned from Nels Israelson, everything is a light source, so keep your eyes peeled when you're out in the field. Lucky for you, when you shoot at night, the light sources are much easier to identify.

To speak a bit about my thought process when shooting models at night, I'm looking for flattering light sources for the subject. Often I will see a beautiful light but, it's just pointed in the wrong direction or maybe it's just a little too overhead and gives terrible shadows under the eyes. For women, shadows under the eyes is a terrible pet peeve of mine. Flood lights often give great harsh light to shoot in, but if your model has bad skin then you'll be spending a lot of time in post, at which point maybe you can find a light source that's softer and better for your model. I'm also looking for interesting background lights and scenes, keeping in mind how bokeh is going to look around the subject. Finally, I'm looking at light temperatures and how I can adjust them in camera and in post. Here's a great trick I find people don't often think about: put your camera in live view, if it has it, and then cycle through the custom white balance temperatures. It's a simple way to save yourself some time in post by getting it closer to the color you want before you take any captures. You can also play around with the tint option in the custom settings of your camera (be sure to check the Manuel for your camera to see if these are options for you).

The following are the results of my night with Mara Del Rose. As always, let me know what you think, are there any other tips you care to share? Link to your night photography and I'll give you a free critique. 


Ashley Salazar and Learning How To See Light by Christopher Myers

If you’re a diligent photographer, serious about your craft, you’ll learn how to see light. It’s just a matter of time.

Some time ago, I was lucky enough to shoot with Ashley Salazar, the first Playboy Cyber Girl of the Year. I had about two hours with her before she caught a flight back to Saint Louis. It was late October and we decided to shoot at the beach. For all intensive purposes, this should have been a terrible shoot with no rapport, no MUA, no hair, no assistant, but by using my sense of light, we got some amazing images. Learning how to see light is something that all photographers do overtime. Study as much as you can, but you’ll have to be out in the field to properly develop your photo-senses. No book can prepare you for when you’re thigh deep in the ocean, tripping over rocks, sun at 6 o’clock, and the sea bluffs might add a beautiful bounce to your subject. Positioning your subject is a whole other topic, but goes in hand with learning how to see light (I will save that for a different blog post).

Practicing how to see light is all about observation. For me personally, light is best observed in its natural environment, meaning not in studio. In the studio it’s really easy to mistake how to see light since you know the source and it stays consistent. Outside however, there’s all sorts of light sources: metal buildings, floors, lamps, streetlights, parked cars, signs, everything is a light source. I can’t tell you how often I’m walking around an office complex and stumble across reflected light that ends up just being incredibly beautiful for photos. In the case of these photos, the sand from the very beach we were shooting on added a nice fill to Ashley when I placed her in open shade. The tan color of the sea bluffs also filled her in, giving a nice even light to all the pictures. In some of them, I utilized the direction of the sun to give her a rim light, but keep in mind the sand was still giving some fill.

If you’re a diligent photographer, serious about your craft, you’ll learn how to see light. It’s just a matter of time. Truly, this is what separates the masters from the amateurs. Working at the Palm Springs Photo Festival I’ve spoken to dozens of pro commercial and fine art photographers and one of the biggest points they emphasize is their visualization of light sources. They may not understand it entirely, but they can see it and know when it’s good. Nels Israelson even taught an entire workshop on the subject. Once you’ve accomplished this, you can take a decent picture virtually anywhere.

To practice try hanging out in public places in the mornings and evenings; notice how the light reflects and bounces off walls. Pay special attention to colors and notice how light bouncing is colored by everything it touches. Go outside on rainy days and see what happens to shadows as the sun moves around the clouds. And finally, spend the day in an old structure like a train station or library with lots of windows. Pay attention to the time of day and how the light is coming through the windows. Photography is a life lesson in how to see. As always, let me know if you like this post or if you hated it. Was I too vague? Do you need more examples? Let me know. Always happy to help.

The Good, the Bad, the La Bandita by Christopher Myers

This past month, fellow photographer Tuan Lee, a handful of carefully selected crew members, a gorgeous model, and myself took to the Mojave desert to film a short fashion video and the result is gorgeous.

The Good. I personally really enjoyed working on this project because I was surrounded by such great people. This was Tuan Lee's project and I was honored he chose me to be the DP for the endeavor.

The Bad. This was originally supposed to be a one day shoot, however a series of comical errors with the show car almost made us loose a whole day of shooting. While driving on the freeway the car began to over heat and smoke profusely. Getting off the freeway we pulled into a gas station and let the engine cool off while waiting for the mechanics from the rental company to show up. There were some raised eyebrows when two gangster looking men pulled up in a low rider, but turned out to be the mechanics. They resolved to taking out the thermostat and send us on our way; had we known anything about cars, we would have dropped our heads in discontent, but off we went. We nearly made it to our destination when the car overheats again. At the gas station in the desert where we broke down all sorts of characters came out of the woodwork to take a look at our situation. One guy worked in the factory that built the cars, another gentlemen called his mechanic friend in town, another brought his "grand-pappy" over to take a look. People we didn't even notice asked us about the car the next day when we returned.

Overall it was a great experience and I hope you enjoy the final outcome. For you tech heads out there, this was actually filmed on my Nikon D810. I absolutely love the video capabilities of this camera. Sure, I can't install magic lantern, but we didn't need it, and life was all the easier. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Juliana by Christopher Myers

Months and months and months ago.

Although it was her first time, she wasn't nervous (I was, I always am). We took to the streets of Long Beach and found a nice spot. I squinted against the late afternoon sun embossing everything with an angelic halo and she stepped in front of the lens. Everything was magic. Working with Juliana was pure and simple. A lot of the so called "professionals" I work with aren't as fun to work with either. Maybe it's because of her background as a classical dancer, who knows, but shooting that day couldn't have been any more easy. It's people like this that make photography a worth while endeavor. Expect more from this one in the future.


Here Comes the Fall Fashion with by Christopher Myers

If anyone's looking to get a jump on the latest fall fashions, head over to and take a look at the updated inventory. Not only am I shooting it, but I personally love the style. Girls wearing these styles definitely turn my attention. These aren't up on the site yet, but here's a sneak peak at some of the upcoming pieces.

Slimskii likes their pictures a little more editorial then some of the other companies I shoot for. This time around I used a Westcott parabolic umbrella, silver, with the diffuser. At a whopping 7' this thing is huge, but I love it! The wrap from this light is incredibly creamy and delicious. I love it so much that I currently leave all my soft boxes at home, and haven't even touched my other umbrellas. The only down side is if you're a strobist, you'll have to rig it with a popper since it's so big that it hides the slave eye. You'll still love it to death. Maybe in the future I can do a comparison between the softlighter, Paul C Buff's parabolic umbrella, and the Westcott, but for now just know that I absolutely love the one I have. Look for a video update soon on my use of it.


The model here is Chelsea Gabrielle. She was great to work with, took direction well (but mostly didn't need it), and showed up on time! Pro. Follow her instagram here.