Browsing Tag


Midsummer Night’s STEAM

“A heart that beats an incredible machine made of blood and love and hope and lust and steam”- Sugarland

Last Saturday Mark, Intern Vee and I photographed A Midsummer Night’s STEAM: A Dandies and Darlings Dance. The event was put on by The Artifice Club, a Steampunk Collective.

If you are not sure what Steampunk is…an explanation from the interwebs:

“A sub-genre of speculative fiction, frequently featuring elements of fantasy.  It involves a setting where steam power is widely used—whether in an alternate history such as Victorian era Britain or “Wild West“-era United States, or in a post-apocalyptic time —that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy.”

The event was not just a dance but an array of fun and interesting diversions. There were a variety of demonstrations, a croquet tournament and a Fashion contest that benefitted DREAM Daschund Rescue. The competition for the fashion contest was fierce! I really admire the work that goes in to an intricate costume/outfit.

Of course no dance is complete without amazing music, Lords and Ladies: A Vaudevillian Disc Jockey Extra-Ordinaries and Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands had everyone moving.

Tip: If you see that an event is hosted by The Artifice Club GO!! You will have a splendid time!

Steampunk! Midsummer Night’s Steam | by LeahAndMark

– Posted by Mark

We photograph a lot of different subjects. Weddings. Family Portraits. Events – and anything else we feel like. But we’ve been deep in wedding season so it’s been a while since we’ve photographed anything Steampunk!

(Download Gallery Here)

Of course – over the past few years we have stepped out and gotten a few opportunities – [DragonCon] [Photoshoot] and it was kind of a nice change of pace to be able to photograph The Artifice Club’s event “A Midsummer Night’s STEAM: A Dandies and Darlings Dance” - which took place at the Solarium down in Oakhurst!

The thing with gatherings such as these is that you have to control yourself, and basically not try to shoot EVERYTHING. Because there really IS a lot of eye-candy that you’ll want to photograph, but if you try to capture EVERYTHING – chances are good that you’re going to end up with a collection of photos that aren’t any better than stuff people capture with point-n-shoots at a convention. And that’s great if you’re trying to ‘just get a photo’ – but if you’re trying to make something better than the average tourist – you should probably take your time and just generally be a bit more selective.

My biggest tip though? – Don’t always try to get the WHOLE outfit/costume – even if the person is posing or trying to show off a particular aspect. Make YOUR Photo, not theirs.

Still. It was nice to get out of wedding mode for a night and be around a slightly different atmosphere.

Steampunk! The Artifice Club. Midsummer Night’s Steam. Masquerade. The Solarium. Photos

(Download Gallery Here)

The Tempest {a beginning}

Jo Arellanes | Atlanta Photographer | Actor | North Fulton Drama Club | SteamPunk | Shakespeare | The Tempest | Barrington Hall | Roswell GA | (6)

{words, photos, video: +jo}

Shakespeare’s Last comedy

At least that’s what North Fulton Drama Club is creating.
If you are not sure what Steampunk is… a small explanation from the depths of the internet:

“A subgenre of science fiction and fantasy set in Victorian time featuring advanced machines and other technology based on steam power of the 19th century and taking place in a recognizable historical period or a fantasy world.”

And the subculture can get a little crazy too. Yet, NFDC guarantees this will be done right because the genre is often overstuffed with poorly executed cos-play and LARPing. {google if you are curious but beware the dorkdom that will emerge.}

At this point you might be wondering: What on earth does all this has to do with Shakespeare?
Well… it doesn’t and that’s the point.



[vimeo 37585163 w=601 h=338]


NFDC has always done things differently. They do a bit of theater mash-up to bring new life Shakespeare’s classics. Placing the eternal plots into more relatable settings and scenarios so we, as a modern audience, will understand the stories a little easier.

 We believe that Shakespeare is portable, applicable, durable and relevant, and that everyone can understand and learn to like, if not love, this balding guy from 16th Century England and that our interpretations can help with that process.



So here is the beginning of North Fulton Drama Club’s journey into creating a new classic.
THE {steampunk} TEMPEST. 

Each week I will bring you a behind the scenes look into what all it takes to make this magic happen.

Do you want to help NFDC put on this beautiful production? Check out their Kickstarter page! You will get great gifts in return for your contribution. 🙂 And what’s that? Level 6.5 has a photoshoot with this little lady? Well well! Snatch up some goodies before the kickstarter closes this Saturday and help theater thrive. There are many levels and every bit helps take this show to greater and greater heights. You can never stop reaching for the stars!

I find my zenith doth depend upon
A most auspicious star.



{Beginnings}   |   {Week 1}    |   {Week 2}   |   {Week 3}   |   {Week 4&5}

Anime Weekend Atlanta | Part One

Last weekend me and the Intern Army spent Friday & Saturday photographing Anime Weekend Atlanta (AWA). Our general goal was to make different ‘con photos. Other than that – I didn’t really say how it needed to be done, I just didn’t want to see shots resembling these. Natural light isn’t bad. On-camera flash is bad (generally). Other than that – the Interns were free to run around with their staff badges and make awesome photos.

I also told them that we were competing. All of us.

I asked them to take shots in the hallways – not just using a blank wall or empty space. That’s too easy. And while I’m sure the Interns were often frustrated with all of the people walking into their shots – the halfway spoken idea was to incorporate those people into their compositions. I know. It’s difficult. But if they could nail this down – just think how much easier everything else will be. Wax on, Wax off.

After shooting about a hundred photos this way – even I got bored. So I went with natural light. And I aimed for headshots.

I was hoping that some of the Interns would go back and forth between natural light and off-camera flash, especially since we were all competing for different looks. While I did tell them to use the flashes and go for that first setup – since they were all going to end up with shots like those, it should have been a natural thing to go the opposite direction and aim for really great natural light looks. Fulfill the requirements and then go outside of the box.

I took a step further and went only for headshot-type photos. Because I need practice.

Because one day I’m going to be presented with an awesome photographic opportunity – and one of my worst fears is that I’ll waste it; that I won’t be ready skills-wise. So everything, and I basically mean everything these days is practice for some unknown shot in the future.

So I asked people to look right here, right into my lens. In a public setting – many starting photographers tend to shy away from interacting with their subjects, preferring to shoot from the outside, across the room, stealing looks and shots. If you can’t stare people right in the eyes then you’re always going to miss connecting with your subjects. I’m not saying stare them down – but you need to connect with them on a level without the camera between the two of you.

So I practiced. Over and over again.

More photos from Anime Weekend Atlanta later this week.

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.

SteamPunk Ball


Click Here for the SteamPunk! Preview Set: (This isn’t all of the photos – just a small subset – I’ll finish editing all of them this weekend.)

Last Saturday we shot two events – SugarComa and then the Mechanical Masquerade: a SteamPunk Ball. The ball was put on by the Syrens of the South – they’re a burlesque troupe and they also provide classes – which is partly why you’ll see a bit of burlesque in the preview photo gallery.

For those of you who aren’t up on your fandoms, Steampunk is:

a sub-genre of science fiction and speculative fiction, frequently featuring elements of fantasy, that came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date.

And even though I’m generally past my days of Cosplaying – I still very much appreciate and admire the work that goes into any good outfit/costume (since you know, it’s at the point where people don’t consider these ‘costumes’ anymore – and try their hardest to make it their daily wear – whether it’s SteamPunk or Lolita fashion.)

Consistently good photography is often times all about making decisions – which is why you’ll find many photographers shooting on full manual – because we want to control as much as possible with our photos – which means we’re making snap decisions just as everything is going on. Fortunately, with a portrait booth you can make many decisions ahead of time. I decided that instead of the usual ‘old-timey’ look that waaaay toooo many photographers choose for SteamPunk, that I would go with glam. As much as possible – well, in this case it means LENS FLARE Everywhere!


Because some of these people put A LOT of work into making their outfits and pulling pieces together – and they should get photos that show that off and not merely just ‘capture’ a flat image. At least that was the general grand idea in my head. Execution of that idea is… always different 🙂

Fortunately I had help – Leah and our friend Paralee (of fame!) came along and worked the event with me. In fact, Paralee shot half the time and once I decided on a light setup and put everything in place, we just switched back and forth as to who would shoot the portrait.


Now the thing about portraits and working with people who aren’t used to modeling/posing – is that once you have your lights setup, much of the burden of creating a ‘good’ photo is actually on the photographer. Because it’s at that point where it’s the photographer’s job to direct the subjects into not only ‘good’ poses, but something interesting. Or else your photos end up on Awkward Family Photos. (Working with professional models is different because it’s more of a collaboration between the two since the model actually needs to know how to model.)

(I will admit though, I use the ‘Dodge This’ shot from the Matrix way too often – but come on, it’s always fun)


And while photographers will often blame the clients as to why their portraits were bad (or worse, boring) – the photographer really has to do everything within their power to make it happen and just ‘get the shot’ – the ones who don’t make excuses are usually the ones who always get ‘the shot’ – no matter what – even when the subject was difficult to work with, somehow a professional will still get it. Right? Right. – by the way – fortunately everyone at this event that let us shoot them was extremely easy and fun to work with.

Um…. go off on tangents much?

Hey. It’s Friday. Awesome.

Click Here for the SteamPunk! Preview Set: (This isn’t all of the photos – just a small subset – I’ll finish editing all of them this weekend.)

Sugar Coma and a SteamPunk Ball!


We are shooting two events this weekend:

Sugar Coma presented by


Mechanical Masquerade: A SteamPunk Ball presented by The Syrens of the South.

Even though it seems like we photograph everything under the sun – which is why we don’t have one of those sentences that goes:

“We Specialize in weddings, family and children portraits, model portfolios, headshots, events, food and product photography – in a natural photojournalistic style.”

Yeah. We just photograph what we like – which for the most part is People Photography. So it feels like it’s been a long while since we’ve shot any events even though it’s only been a few weeks ( MensWear Fashion Show)

I’ll be honest with you – I pretty much enjoy photographing anything except parades. If you ask me to photograph a parade I’ll zzzzzzzzzzz fall asleep on you. For some reason I just… eh, no parades okay?

But I digress… a lot. So this Saturday we’re photographing the morning Sugar Coma tour and then that evening we’ll be shooting the SteamPunk ball AND we’ll have a Portrait Booth setup there as well (much like but different from this one at the Indie Craft Experience) – with a backdrop and everything – I know, it’s like we’re professionals or something 😉


So we’re actually pretty excited about photographing these two very different events on the same day. I’m excited because I’ll probably bring my lights and try different things and do run-and-gun strobist stuff that will either work or fail miserably – but that’s partly why we shoot events – because we like to think that our event photography will look different from other photographer’s event photography… even if we’re wrong about that (opinions vary) – it’s always what we work towards.


On a different note, our write-up on OffBeat Bride was posted last Tuesday and the response has been considerably awesome. The number of weddings we’ve booked this year has jumped and we’re even flying across the country for a few of them. We know we have a lot of work to do – but it’s nice that the response to our photography has generally been favorable. We’re really surprised and appreciative of everyone who’s been supporting us and taking a chance on us since we started this endeavor back in August – really, thank you.

If you haven’t checked it out yet – here’s our write-up on OffBeat Bride – they say nice things about us – Click on the Picture:

Hey. Have a great rest of the week.