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Anime Weekend Atlanta | Pt. 2 | Light

Last year I photographed the Lolita Fashion Show at Anime Weekend Atlanta by myself. This year I had the Army of Interns along with me. While I had them shooting the standard wardrobe coverage shots – I went out into the back hallway, got kicked out twice, and then kept asking different people until I found one that said I could shoot back there.

This is how we go about lighting our photos. The shot above was the service hallway/commercial kitchen area of the Cobb Galleria conference center. There’s even more hallway behind me in this shot. While the lighting wasn’t exactly this bad – it was pretty bad, especially for photography. So we start by adding some light and seeing where it lands.

Adjust the white balance.

Alright. Too much light, too much lens flare.

Hey look. There’s a cool shadow – and now we have a sort of corridor of light shining from that side doorway.

Now we compose the shot.

Put a model in, and there we go. Done.

That’s basically the process. Even though we’ll have an idea of how we want things to be lit – you have to test it out. So we set up lights as fast as we can and we GO. That’s it. Set up lights, test, shoot.

And that’s basically what we do with our Interns. We set up lights, take photos, see where the light hits, and make adjustments. Sometimes you have time to be very particular about where the shadows land, and sometimes you just have to move on. In situations like the hall cosplay setups – we aimed for some interesting light but with a setup that’s very flexible. We wouldn’t have much time to make adjustments when we’re only getting 3 frames for each person/group.

More coming soon. Thanks for reading.

Anime. Weekend. Atlanta. 2010. Photos. Cosplay. Leah. And. Mark. Steampunk.

Dragon*Con Preview Post

One of our main goals this year at DragonCon was simply to make different photos than everyone else. We’re not interested in capturing ‘everything’. In fact, our team only went for a few hours on Sunday afternoon. We were there to photograph the Alternate History Fashion Show (SteamPunk!) and also get basic coverage of the outfits.

Like most photographers – we really like shooting SteamPunk! Stuff (see here).

I’ve worked with the main organizer and designer (Megan Maude) a few times before – and she was kind enough to pretty much give us free rein to manage things however we wanted. That’s exactly how you want all clients to be right? So after every model was finished with hair, make-up and wardrobe they came over to our side of the balcony where we photographed them in two sessions.

First Intern Debra shot them against a white backdrop – getting all of the basic coverage – and then we had them come out into the hallway and take our levitation photos.

Of course I hadn’t actually tried any levitation photos before, so the results are kind of mixed. For example – the few photos I snapped where there are people walking around in the background – those are better. The ones where it’s just the model floating in the air? Not as good. Partly because I didn’t get the shadows down right when taking the photo, not in photoshop. There isn’t a shadow below them and it looks funny – but that’s because there really wasn’t a shadow below them because there isn’t a light source coming from up above, and the one behind them isn’t casting one on the floor at their height. Also – their feet aren’t exactly right and they all look like they could’ve just been placed there like it was a green screen background.

Anyways – we’ll know better in a few weeks when we shoot Anime Weekend Atlanta – and do hallway cosplay pics this way – except with varied backgrounds, and lots of people milling about. It should be a good challenge for our team.

While I was out in the hall making relatively boring levitation photos – Intern Debra was inside taking the shots with the white backdrop. I think that if anything – our Interns will at the very least know how to shoot a subject against a white/black/grey backdrop and wash everything out and make a clean photo.

Kind of like a wedding – you have 3 hours of hair/makeup/wardrobe – all for 20 minutes of showtime. That’s how fashion shows generally are – and if your settings aren’t right, you’d better learn how to make adjustments – FAST. It’s one of the reasons we still shoot events and why we don’t do ‘bridal shoots’ for practice or our portfolio. You want to practice making quick adjustments, creative shots, and moving targets? Don’t go to a ‘group Bridal Shoot’ – shoot a fashion show – and try making shots that no one else can get.

Besides – it’s better to fail in this situation than an actual wedding right?

This last shot was a quick session a few minutes after the show. They asked me for a group portrait – except we had already broken down most of our gear. So I grabbed two flashes that still had receivers on them and placed them on the floor at left and right, crossing lighting them. The ballroom down below was completely lit and you can still see the stacked chairs down there.

Originally they started posing in front of a hotel wall – and I kind of nixed that idea for this one – mostly because I’m generally against photographing people standing in front of any wall – especially hotel conference rooms. So I moved them over to the balcony and two frames later – we have this one. Not on camera flash, we have some detail from the chandelier, and the composition is even decent. Too bad I didn’t notice that chair on the right side until afterwards.

Have a great week.

DragonCon. SteamPunk. Fashion. Show. Alternate. History. 2010. Photos. Atlanta.

Lolita Fashion Show


NOTE: Any MODELS from the Lolita Fashion Show – Please SEND US your email address at Email(at) – Or LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS in the comments section below so that I can deliver your photos to you. THANK YOU.

CLICK for Gallery ONE

CLICK for Gallery TWO

(Note: These are not all of the photos – but they give you an idea of how the shoot went.)

CLICK for the RUNWAY Photos – Part One

CLICK for the RUNWAY Photos – Part Two

I had a really great time yesterday at Anime Weekend Atlanta 2009/ The Lolita Fashion Show. For those who don’t know, this is derived from Japanese Lolita fashion and not anything generally associated with the term ‘Lolita’ – a more generic and acceptable term would be Modern Victorian – and even then that’s not completely accurate.

One of the designers, Megan Maude had invited me to come shoot the fashion show – and then I asked if I could also set up and do a photo session with some of the models – since I can control the lighting a lot more that way. Out of the photographers that she had lined up for the show – I was the only one to show up. I’m really fortunate that the other photogs didn’t show – because then I was able to have a photo session with ALL of the models.

Since I’m apparently generally over Anime Conventions and found the hall Cosplay a little boring – I didn’t take photos of anyone else there. And there were some pretty great costumes – along with people cosplaying things that were cosplayed 10 years ago… not just from old shows – but characters that were overdone 6 years ago.

Something I’ve been working into my photo shoots lately is putting the models on a different level – usually up – and then of course sometimes I’ll get up on a ladder or chair. Once I entered the long hallway conference room where the models were getting hair, makeup, and wardrobe together – I saw the lit ceiling, and it’s two big chandeliers. Okay Look – when I arrived at the convention there were photographers everywhere – and a gabillion point and shoots. Some even had their backdrops and softboxes out. I also saw several Canon 5Ds and Pocket Wizards and some near $200 beauty dishes. There was a lot of serious gear there and the only thing I can do right now is look at my $80 ebay light kit, $30 flash triggers, my Nikon D40, and think to myself I would light that shot differently (the shots that I saw other people taking – not mine).

So at that point my main goal was to get some shots that were VERY DIFFERENT from anything anyone else was getting.


Once I saw the long lit ceiling with the chandeliers – I knew I had something. But I needed to get the models up higher so that I could have everything in the shot and at a good angle. Fortunately – the back of the room led right into the service hallway where they also housed all of their tables and chairs. I grabbed two tables and set them side by side as you can see in the photo above. Instant runway platform. Awesome. Now all I had to do was get the right settings to darken out the backgrounds and the rest of the room. If you look at the photos you can see the people in the back getting their hair and makeup done, and just standing around waiting. It wasn’t a perfect photo shoot setup – but it more than worked – and I could always fix it in post if I really wanted. The most important thing was that I was getting shots that no one else would have from the convention. Anyone can throw up an ugly muslin backdrop and start taking decent photos – but in my head I’m aiming for the shot that they’re not getting – just always trying to be different. Always.

I’m not going for anything revolutionary – just something that the other photogs at the same event, won’t have.

Now that I was getting really nice full body shots that captured the whole outfit – I went all out and decided to do headshot type stuff so I could capture the hair and makeup. Without a backdrop or a clean white wall – I had to use the convention room walls – which are foldable and usually an odd fabric texture. Whatever – it’s what I had to work with so we don’t run, we FLY with it.






This photo here was one of the first that I shot – after I got this one my pre-shoot nerves were immediately calmed down. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get any detail out of their HIGHLY detailed outfits. The black kind of blends too much in the middle of the dress here – but the bonnet and face and hair and white are all there – I have others where the dress is exposed more correctly. But you know – after I get those first few shots that ‘work’ – all of a sudden something in my head clicks and aw, It’s On Like Donkey Kong. Because anyone can shoot with enough flat light so you can see the detail in the dress – but can they light it in away that actually makes it look good or even interesting?

Something else I did was move the lighting for EVERY model. Sure they’re all in the same ball park – but the light moves from side to side and changes height. I’m not Olan Mills and this isn’t your year book photo.


The back of this dress is… well just look at it!

Right now until my order for more radio triggers arrives – I’m just working with two off camera flashes. Although I think I would light this shot slightly differently now – what I have set up is my 285hv with a shoot-through umbrella – and then I have my even older Quantaray flash on a light stand aimed right at her face. I told her to close her eyes. But it’s kind of cool? Ha. Well – at least I got the back of the dress really well.

The last shot here is Megan Maude herself. She’s a designer based here in Atlanta and you can find her and her beautiful clothes at – she’s super nice and really easy to work with – I am very fortunate to have been given the chance to work with her and all of the other people that worked on this fashion show. Below are the links for the other designers.


CLICK for Gallery ONE

CLICK for Gallery TWO

CLICK for the RUNWAY Photos – Part One

CLICK for the RUNWAY Photos – Part Two

DragonCon. Saturday. Friends.

So. Since the losing of my job went down (where’d it go?!) we’ve been looking for free things to do – as opposed to just staying home and watching our terribly pixelated cable from Comcast (we dislike Comcast! – ha, I said dislike.) ummm oh yeah, so we gathered up our friends (well, Chris & Anna) hopped onto MARTA and went to downtown Atlanta for the DragonCon Parade.

For everyone else not living in Atlanta or not in any way aware of ‘fandoms’ – DragonCon is a big big big convention for… I think all fandoms? You know, like SciFi fans, Anime Fans, Weird Fetish Fans, Furry People (well… not like, hairy people – just the people who wear animal costumes (mascot costumes) and ummmm… get into that mode of acting like animals?) – and many other types of fandoms that I’m sure I’m not aware of – but really, it’s just an excuse for people who don’t get to wear their movie/cartoon/video game costumes anywhere else – to meet each other and say things like, ‘cool costume’ blah blah blah oh man the Original Series Klingons just don’t look anywhere near as cool as the ones from TNG. And by the way, Jean Luc will always be better than Kirk. But I’d totally rather be a BrownCoat ’cause um, that’s Shiny – however I find it odd that I enjoy GiTS on the same level as anything from Miyazaki – ARRRRRR Matey.

(see what I did there?… nevermind.)

So… then we slept. For a long time I think – and then later in the evening we went to a gathering at the home of our new friends Laxmi & Chuck – for some Indian food and hanging out. She’s from India and we actually met them at the sad sad sad Indian Festival a few weeks back. They were in front of us in line and started a short conversation – but then later on, Leah ran into them again and we ended up giving them one of our friend cards and ta-da! New Friend. See how that works?

Of course – they live faaaaaaaaaaaar away – but still, it was a good gathering and we met so many nice people and hopefully some of them will check up on us every now and then and drop a line. Hello!

This concludes the free events portion of our weekend… well, of yesterday. I have some video of the parade and even cut & pasted it together… but the program I was using couldn’t adequately handle the video quality and… it just came out poorly – so I’ll have to make the move to Premier now for real editing… Have an awesome day this Sunday and I promise no more breaks in posts like the 3 day break we just had (I know – but it’s a big deal for me to not posts these meandering… posts.)

*oh and totally sorry Gabrielle! I forgot and we’ll definitely do something else another time. 🙂

Oh. And we are really going to try to go to DragonCon next year.

One more thing – thank you to everyone who’s said nice/encouraging comments to me and even offered to help out/keep their ears open/pass on job positions at their current companies… and keep it up! no really, thank you for all of your efforts now and later until I find a new job. It’s all very much welcome and appreciated – and in some instances, the efforts you’ve gone to so far have been much more than I could possibly ask for up front. So thankyouverymuch.