Bakersfield is so far!
This is the common statement I hear from girls who want to arrange a shoot with me, so I thought what a great topic for a blog! I won't focus on simply reasons to travel to Bakersfield to shoot with me, but why it is worth it to be open for travel in general to get the right shots and work with the right people. Ironically this statement usually comes from beginners in the industry, while established people understand and are more open to travel. This information is probably most important to those just beginning to work in the industry, but information that even seasoned veterans can take lessons from and pass along. While I focus mostly on models, this is useful for anyone in the industry from model, photographers, hair and makeup artist, wardrobe designers, and more!
Before I even go into reasons it's worth it to travel to Bakersfield to shoot with me, I want to rewind a few years to when I was just starting out as a photographer. At that point I was a no name running around with a camera with lots of visions in my head, but no real direction on how to capture them. So like most people in this industry, I started out working locally with talent along the same lines as me. Most of you know this as trade work, work where all parties are contributing together and learning with each other. In the end everyone walks away with a little more experience and some images to throw in their portfolio. I soon learned that in order to learn and grow to where I wanted to be, I was going to have to expand my network and who I was working with. So at this point who am I to ask established models and designers to drive to Bakersfield to shoot with this no name photographer that still hasn't even learned how to take a proper photo?
Networking and Studios
This is when I figured out that I was going to have to get ready to start traveling, but where was I going to go? The answers to that question would fall into place by networking on social media. By putting some time in on social media, you get to meet people in the industry, find out where things are happening, who you want to work with, and locations you want to shoot at. One of my first ventures came when I attended a group shoot at Wonderland Studios in Orange County. Now myself, I am not a fan of big groups, lots of cameras, models everywhere, and an overall cluster mess. Which to me this is what most group shoots become. However, these group shoots are invaluable to you as networking opportunities. So after driving 3 hours to meet up and perform this group shoot, I left with a few good images, but most importantly new friends in the industry. I got face to face time with some well-established photographers, got to meet and work with some amazing experienced models, and got to meet with a studio owner/ designer by the name of Cheri Wilson Chagollan who would be beyond instrumental and influential in my growth. Needless to say I have on a dozen or so occasions made the 6 hours round trip voyage to shoot at Wonderland Studios O.C. in order to get the images I would not get at home. My growth eventually lead to wardrobe that was designed at the studio being brought to my locations as I grew.
Established Models and Photographers
How many times in your every growing experience have you seen the work of someone in the industry and just stared in amazement and though to yourself "I would love to be able to work with this person"? Well as I was starting out this happened more often that I could explain. I would see people whos work was to a level far beyond where I was shooting, and typically they had a fan base and following that I could never dream, of reaching. So what would I do about this situation? Well I would hit them up and start to network with them. In time as my work got a little better I would present them with an idea of a possible shoot together, but I would also present the idea somewhere in their area. Who am I as a beginner without much to offer other than a promise to do my best, to ask them to drive out of their way to come shoot with me? This is where I knew before I even asked that I would be traveling to shoot with this person wherever they wanted. If I valued this person's work to the level that I have been telling them, then the least I can do is show it by making my chance to work with them fit around their schedule and minimize any inconvenience for them taking a chance and working with me. For me, trips to So Cal became a regular ordeal. This is where a lot of established and talented models were based out of, so I was making my trip to them. With a round trip of anywhere from 5 to 6 hours, it became almost normal to be on the road to get the shots, network with people, and gain experience. Soon I found myself traveling to Vegas, and beyond. My first long trip came when Damien Decent and Rachelle Nicole Hoffman agreed to work with me. When that opportunity landed at my feet, I packed up my gear and drove to Phoenix Arizona. Total drive time to Phoenix, the location, back, and then home was roughly 20 hours. Talk about a road trip, but this is what you do as a beginner trying to work with established people in the industry. From there Rachelle and I have gained a great working relationship and now take turns each year driving to each other.
Location and Props
Studios can only offer so much as far as creativity and looks go, for me locations offer the ability to expand your imagination and create images that can tell stories or draw the people in. Obviously the locations and props are not going to come to you, so you already know some travel will be in order. I like to think that my locations are one of the things I am known for in my shots. As a photographer with a vision of what I want to shoot, I tend to spend countless hours not only researching locations online, but actually driving around and scouting these locations. A lot of people like the abandoned and desolate locations that I shoot at. Well these always come with some travel time to get to. Some of the locations may be only an hour away, while others may be a 5 hour drive away. Many models want to shoot in these locations, but they don't want it bad enough to invest in the time to get to these locations. If you want work that stands out in your portfolio, you have to offer some divers images, and this comes from being able to shoot in different locations. Now the reason I included "Props" in this section, is because I have many fans of the shoots i do with girls and various aircraft. Now being able to shoot with these aircraft are not only a privilege, but also an honor. Many of these aircraft are worth millions of dollars and can cost thousands of dollars to fly from one location to the next. So when I am fortunate enough to line up an aircraft, I can't very well ask the owners to fly the aircraft to my location. So this means that I and the model will be traveling to the airport that the plane is based out of. Some of these planes will be around the corner from me and the model, and some will be several hours away. And while there are a lot of images of models with aircraft, some of these warbirds are a once in a lifetime experience to not only see and touch, but to shoot with. These are moments when even the most experienced models will humble themselves down and travel where the aircraft are without a second thought.
My home base!
So now that I covered some more general areas that can fit pretty much anywhere, might as well take a moment to highlight my home base. If you haven't figured out by the title of the blog, I work out of Bakersfield. Most people think of Bakersfield and act like they are driving to another world, which sometimes the place feels that way. The thing a lot of models don't take into account is that while it is roughly an hour and a half from L.A., so are half the locations they from across L.A. to get to after they deal with the traffic. One of the things I pride myself on up here is not only my diverse set of locations to capture many different looks, but also the very relaxed outlook towards the industry. I have on multiple occasions been asked in other cities to stop shooting due to lack of permits. It does not matter that the work in non-commercial and no money is being put into or made from the production, the fact it is professional equipment means the shoot gets shut down. I have shot everything imaginable here locally not online outside of, but right in the middle of down town and never had a problem. Mix that with the accessibility of various locations, it allows for easy and diverse shoots with minimal problems, and an overall fun experience. I will leave you with an assortment of images that all come from my local locations, and highlights why it is beneficial for models or photographers to always be willing to travel to work with the right people at the right locations!