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Food Photography in Las Vegas

Uber is proof that new technology and innovative thinking can take an entire industry by storm. Obviously they aren’t the only ride-sharing company but they certainly are the largest. Launching in 2009, they are currently valued at over $50 billion. It’s an amazing company that created an infrastructure of millions of drivers in metropolitan cities around the world. It should come as no surprise that Uber decided to utilize this network in other areas and now they have with UberEATS.

Delivery drivers for food is nothing new. It’s almost hard to imagine eating a pizza without having it brought to my home, to the studio on a photo shoot, or during a meeting with fellow photographers. For my wife, it’s Chinese food…The driver for our local Chinese restaurant knows us so well that every time he drops off our General Tso’s Chicken, he remembers the names of our dogs. Taking it another step further, there are other third party food delivery services who can bring you meals from restaurants who don’t have food delivery themselves. It’s a great concept and proof that entrepreneurial ideas can really create success stories. Companies like Postmakes, Grubhub, Caviar, and others have been doing 3rd party food delivery for a while now in larger cities. The biggest problem all of them have though is having a network of drivers in areas that can pick up the food and get it to the customer in a timely manner. It’s always been this inustry’s Achilles heel.

Whenever I order pizza, I always ask for a weird request. In this case I asked the delivery driver to draw a robot on the box. If they do...extra tip!

Whenever I order pizza, I always ask for a weird request. In this case I asked the delivery driver to draw a robot on the box. If they do…extra tip!

UberEATS solves that problem. Their massive system of drivers and their already well-designed phone app made food delivery a no brainer concept for them. Living in Las Vegas, I had never heard of UberEATS upon their initial launch because they were only starting with a handful of cities. As they started to expand into new areas, Las Vegas made the list. It made perfect sense too, as Las Vegas has a huge variety of restaurants ranging from family owned bistros to chain restaurants, fine dining restaurants with the “old Vegas” feel up to high-energy restaurants with celebrity chefs, and everything in between. My wife and I love eating out and experimenting with new restaurants and I’m lucky that most of my friends do too.

Before UberEATS launches into a new city, they want to have a huge menu of restaurants (no pun intended) already loaded in the app. As such, they needed photographers to shoot food for a LOT of restaurants prior to them going online. That’s where I come in…I was contracted to be one of the few local photographers in Las Vegas to work with local restaurants in their network to capture great looking food photos to represent them in the UberEATS app. I was excited to get this contract for several reasons; first, because I love the creativity that you can add to food photo shoots, but second, because I knew I would be introduced to restaurants all over Las Vegas for the first time. Best of all, I was getting paid for this…it was a win/win/win!

Photo I shot for Soho Sushi Burrito...an innovative new food concept to hi Las Vegas.

Photo I shot for Soho Sushi Burrito…an innovative new food concept to hit Las Vegas.

UberEATS’ goal was to photograph 100 restaurants in 30 days between three photographers. It was an ambitious venture, no doubt. As I’m writing this, I was a bit curious how many I actually shot for them in that first month and I was amazed to discover my count was 48. All my friends and family pretty much never saw me for the month of August of this year. Because we had so many different restaurants to shoot, the staff at UberEATS gave me a pretty organized schedule, keeping me shooting an average of 3-4 restaurants a day in geographically close locations. The only downside was that they needed the photos immediately after I shot them, so I had to rush home that night and do all the post-processing on the images within hours after shooting them. Their requirements were that I only shoot 3-5 dishes and what we call in the industry, a “Hero Shot”, meaning a masthead image that they will use to represent the restaurant as a whole. The shoots themselves were generally very quick. Unlike many of my other food shoots I do for restaurant menus, billboards, etc., I had little time to actually prep or light the dishes. These weren’t complex photo shoots where lots of staging could be done to make the items look perfect, so instead I had to do the best I could in a very short amount of time with minimal lighting effects at my disposal. Once in a while I could setup lights in the restaurant to get a desired effect, like I did with this shoot I did for Holsteins’s inside the Cosmopolitan Hotel, but most of the time I was using natural light with a reflector or two on the table using very low-tech methods to get the desired effect.

Behind-the-scenes of my shoot at Holsteins Shakes & Buns inside the Cosmopolitan Hotel. I had no natural light to work with so I had to setup a series of lights and reflectors around the room to best capture their amazing burgers, shakes and side items.

Behind-the-scenes of my shoot at Holsteins Shakes & Buns inside the Cosmopolitan Hotel. I had no natural light to work with so I had to setup a series of lights and reflectors around the room to best capture their amazing burgers, shakes and side items. Here you can also see my staging area of the different items that needed to be photographed.

 

One of my favorite photos from the Holsteins shoot. All their food looked amazing!

One of my favorite photos from the Holsteins shoot. All their food looked amazing!

One thing I can say is that this assignment gave me a lifetime of education in a few weeks of shooting. I couldn’t rely on the ability to take a lot of time to do these shoots, so I had to provide high quality photos in a very short amount of time. My average amount of time I would spend shooting an entire restaurant was less than 45 minutes. On my normal food shoots, I could easily spend that much time (or more) shooting just one dish.

Behind-the-scenes at El Sombrero Mexican Bistro. One of the most amazing restaurants in Las Vegas, they have been a fixture of downtown since 1950. The owner truly understands the importance of visually interesting food and it shows!

Behind-the-scenes at El Sombrero Mexican Bistro. One of the most amazing restaurants in Las Vegas, they have been a fixture of downtown since 1950. The owner truly understands the importance of visually interesting food and it shows!

 

The Shrimp Diablo Taco at El Sombrero Mexican Bistro. They were nice enough to let me sample this dish after the shoot and it was by far the best taco I've ever had!

The Shrimp Diablo Taco at El Sombrero Mexican Bistro. They were nice enough to let me sample this dish after the shoot and it was by far the best taco I’ve ever had and these guys take Mexican food to a whole new level!

 

What do I shoot first? Behind-the-scenes at Joe's New York Pizza

What do I shoot first? Behind-the-scenes at Joe’s New York Pizza

 

Nothing beats a great stromboli!

Nothing beats a great stromboli!

Aside from the crazy shooting schedule, the immediate retouching needs that were required, and the many miles of driving from one restaurant to another, this has been a really awesome project to be involved with. Shooting food is a lot of fun and granted, there are only so many ways you can photograph a pizza to make it look better than the last pizza you shot, the variety of restaurants I worked with was fantastic. I remember one day I shot lox and bagels at the Bagel Café, Shrimp Pad Thai at Ocha Cuisine, Pesto Turkey Sandwiches at PublicUS, frozen smoothies at Pineapple Park, and wrapped it all up shooting sushi wraps at SoHo Sushi Burrito.

Behind-the-scenes at Madhouse Coffee. This place really was a madhouse too. I remember how busy this place was, which is always a good sign of a quality coffee house. Lots of great things to drink and eat here!

Behind-the-scenes with the owner of Madhouse Coffee. Sometimes you have to get creative on where  you stage things for these shoots inside of busy restaurants. Here, we decided to shoot on a bench instead of a table as it made for an easy place to shoot and also provided a nice look as well. 

 

These guys love to make food visual. Everything from their drinks to their sandwiches and especially their chocolates...all look too beautiful to eat!

These guys love to make food visual. Everything from their drinks to their sandwiches and especially their chocolates…all look too beautiful to eat!

 

Behind-the-scenes with some of the team at Tbaar. This hidden gem on Las Vegas Blvd. makes all their smoothies with fresh fruit, which really helps to make for some great photos!

Behind-the-scenes with some of the team at Tbaar. This hidden gem on Las Vegas Blvd. makes all their smoothies with fresh fruit, which really helps to make for some great photos!

 

Mango Orange Smoothie at Tbaar.

Mango Orange Smoothie at Tbaar.

 

It's not easy being green, but is sure can photograph well at Tbaar!

It’s not easy being green, but is sure can photograph well at Tbaar!

Of course one of the benefits of all this networking is occasionally some restaurants call me back and book me to do more shoots for them. One such client is Soulfish Poke, who now has several restaurants around Las Vegas. Not only does their food taste incredible but their chefs put in a huge amount of effort to make their bowls look amazing too. As someone who works in the visual arts I can appreciate that how your meal is presented can be just as important as how it tastes and these guys do a great job at both!

 

Behind the scene with the chef at Soulfish Poke. As this was a contracted shoot from the restaurant, I was able to spend a bit more time in the staging and lighting for these items.

Behind the scene with the chef at Soulfish Poke. As this was a contracted shoot from the restaurant, I was able to spend a bit more time in the staging and lighting for these items.

 

Quality staging, lighting, and composition makes a huge difference in food photography!

Quality staging, lighting, and composition makes a huge difference in food photography!

 

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My favorite photo from the Soulfish Poke shoot. We had a lot of fun staging this one!

One of my favorite photos from the Soulfish Poke shoot. We had a lot of fun staging this one!

So, if you haven’t loaded UberEATS on your phone yet, I highly encourage you to do so. Their drivers can get food to you super-fast and I can attest that for the majority of restaurants I worked with, the food tastes as good as it looks. Special thanks to UberEATS and the cooperation of all the restaurants I have worked with over the last three months in their amazing food preparations, wonderful staff, and making the process of photographing their signature dishes such a pleasant experience!

If you are a a restaurant, catering company, private chef, or mobile food truck and want to get some amazing photos of your food items, please give me a call today to get you the high-quality photos you are looking for. We can do food shoots for your menus, menu boards, social media, website, marketing materials, and more!

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The Pseudo-Exciting World of Being a Las Vegas Photographer

I was doing a shoot this week for the LDI convention here in Las Vegas, where I was shooting footage for their promo material for next year. LDI is the Live Design International show, a convention for the showroom and nightclub industry that is a sensory overload of lasers, spot lights, fog and haze machines, and video wall displays so large that they make your big screen TV look like a postage stamp. Specifically I was shooting an interview with the owner of a company who manufactured commercial road cases to transport and protect important theatrical equipment and electronics. After the interview, someone in the booth said, “You probably get to shoot all kinds of amazing things, being that you live here in Las Vegas!” While there is some truth to that, there is a whole other side to being a professional photographer that most people never see.

Taking photos at the LDI 2015 convention in Las Vegas

Every booth is a canvas of light at the LDI 2015 convention in Las Vegas. This photo was shot while working for my other photography business, Las Vegas Corporate Photographers. Details on this coming soon!

While LDI, along with some of the other big conventions I shoot for such as the National Association of Broadcasters or for companies at the Consumer Electronics Show, most of what I do is a lot less glamorous. While today I was getting photos and video footage of laser beams and confetti cannons, earlier in the week I spent two days taking photos of conference attendees of a data analytic conference in a booth with a mock “Welcome To Las Vegas” sign. For 8 hours each day, I said hundreds of times to people, “Hi, would you like to have your photo taken with the Vegas Sign”? So not all convention shoots are equally entertaining from a photographer’s point of view, but at the end of the day my clients were super nice and I met some really interesting people throughout the day, which made the days go by fast.

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas!

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas!

If you’re a model looking for work, there pretty much are just three major cities you’re going to live in…Los Angeles, New York City, and Las Vegas. I work with models all the time and most people think that when I do, it’s all glitz and glamour on the set but usually nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone who reads my blog with any regularity knows I love to do cosplay shoots. It’s my creative outlet in photography that I very much enjoy when I’m not out shooting for my different clients on projects that may not be quite as exciting. In fact, today I’m going to be featured with a photo shoot and editorial on CosplayCulture.com with a Supergirl-themed shoot I did recently with model Leah Gruber to coincide with the premier of the prime time television show. It was a really fun shoot that involved a ton of Photoshop work, which I also enjoyed. You can READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE and here are a few photos from the shoot:

 

Las Vegas model Leah Gruber becomes the Girl of Steel!

Las Vegas model Leah Gruber becomes the Girl of Steel in this fun Supergirl photo shoot!

 

This is what 15 hours in Photoshop looks like. Special thanks to Las Vegas models Leah Gruber, Sean Durand, Jenny Fox, Cherish Stahl, and Sigrid Smith for making this image come together!

This is what 15 hours in Photoshop looks like. Special thanks to Las Vegas models Leah Gruber, Sean Durand, Jenny Fox, Cherish Stahl, and Sigrid Smith for making this image come together of Supergirl flying over Las Vegas, as seen on the cover of the Daily Planet! I also can’t forget the amazing makup artist, Blue Mitchell, who’s talents were a huge contribution to this project as well.

However most of the shoots I do with models are a lot less exciting. A good example of which is a commercial shoot I did for a client, Hussmann, who manufactures refrigerators for grocery and convenience stores…not exactly the sexiest type of product in the world. They hired me to do a shoot with a model in front of one of their display cases that they planned on using as a large display inside their trade-show booth at a convention they were exhibiting at. I ran a casting call with certain criteria that the client was looking for and wound up booking an outstanding local model, Lesta Isley. We would be shooting in a CVS store, that just so happened to be one of the busiest in Las Vegas, located right on the Las Vegas Strip. Because of this fact, we had to do the shoot very early in the morning so as not to have so many people in the background shopping. We loaded in gear at 4 a.m. and were shooting just an hour later. The client asked for a lot of variety in the photos and angles and since nobody from the company was on set nor had ever been to the location, I had to guess a bit as to what they wanted. We shot in multiple different spots, all requiring lights to be reset and moved each time. Over the course of 90 minutes, we shot 546 photos of Lesta holding bottles of orange juice, cartons of milk, etc., all while she had to make the product look exciting and trust me, making shopping for a carton of milk look exciting is no small feat. The real star though was the refrigerator behind the model though, so lots of product arrangements, angles of shooting, and retouching were needed to make it look as good as possible.

 

Behind the scenes on set of our photo shoot of commercial refrigerators. Shot on location at the CVS Pharmacy on Las Vegas Blvd. in front of the Treasure Island Hotel.

Behind the scenes on set of our photo shoot of commercial refrigerators. Shot on location at the CVS Pharmacy on Las Vegas Blvd. in front of the Treasure Island Hotel.

 

The finished photo with model Lesta Isley and the star of the show, a Hussmann refrigerator!

The finished photo with model Lesta Isley and the star of the show, a Hussmann refrigerator!

If I have the opportunity to work with a good model, it makes my life so much easier so I can focus on getting the photo as perfect as I can without having to worry about directing a model’s facial expressions or body positions. I did a shoot recently for EagleRider Motorcycles with model Christine Barrett. It was for some flyers they are using for distribution at motorcycle festivals. While I do shoot as a means of making a living for myself and my family, it also has its rewards when I get to see my work published somewhere, even if it’s in the oddest of locations…

 

Christine rocks this photo for EagleRider Motorcycles!

Christine rocks this photo for EagleRider Motorcycles!

 

Here is one of the places that photo wound up...blown up to be four feet tall!

Here is one of the places that photo wound up…blown up to be four feet tall!

 

Another I shot and designed that was used by the Las Vegas Bikefest sponsor, EagleRider Motorcycles. Here, Lonnie "Goose" Reed poses with model Christine for a great marketing photo!

Here is another image that I shot and designed that was used by the Las Vegas Bikefest sponsor, EagleRider Motorcycles. Here, Lonnie “Goose” Reed poses with model Christine for a great marketing photo!

EagleRider is one of my most fun clients and I truly enjoy working for them…hell, how can you be in the business of renting Harley Davidson motorcycles and NOT love what you do?! While these types of shoots have better curb appeal for my portfolio, by far the majority of work I do with EagleRider is a lot less glamorous flashy. For years I worked in the world of video production and I’m finding myself returning to that world again as I’m getting more and more requests for my clients to provide quality videography and post production work. So recently EagleRider contracted me to shoot a series of videos for when people reserve a motorcycle rental online. For each of their models, we shot a 4-5 minute video performing a walk-through of the operations of that model bike, safety rules, etc. The shoot didn’t involve girls in skinny jeans or bikini tops, it didn’t have special effects or super heroes. ..it was just a simple instructional video we shot in the lobby of a motorcycle rental location here in Las Vegas. It involved lots of hours sitting in front of a computer editing each video and while very informative and instructional, it is hardly what I would consider worthy of a Golden Globe nomination. So while I do get to have the fun shoots with motorcycles, more often than not the work I do for the same client are probably not what most people think of when they think of what a Las Vegas photographer usually does.

Screen shot from an EagleRider orientation video of a Harley Davidson Electraglide.

Screen shot from an EagleRider orientation video of a Harley Davidson Electra Glide.

Some of the shoots I do may sound a blast to shoot to the average person, but are really quite the opposite when in the trenches. For the last two years I’ve been one of a handful of photographers who shoot the Best In The Desert Vegas to Reno 600 off road race. This is the longest off road race in the United States with hundreds of vehicles all departing from Beatty, Nevada and heading up to Reno. I’m a huge fan of motorsports and I remember when the first time I was contracted to shoot this race, I thought it was going to be so much fun. Well, the truth turns out to be a lot different than I thought. The race starts at 5 a.m., so for me to be in position to start shooting, I had to drive from Las Vegas leaving at 3:30 a.m. and I am SO not a “morning person”. Most people don’t realize it but even in August, the high desert of Nevada can be pretty cold in the morning. I was shivering when the first few vehicles came by and within a few hours, I was pouring water in my hat to stay cool. Also, I’m out in the middle of NOWHERE for hours on end in the blazing Nevada heat hoping not to get run over by an 800 horsepower truck coming right at me in the middle of the desert (I almost got run over three times in this year’s race). Here’s a little bit of what it’s like shooting one of these events throughout the day…

 

Imagine riding 600 miles on one of these through the middle of the desert.

There’s nothing like a nice, dusty photo shoot at sunrise!

Sometimes I almost think these drivers kick up all this dirt on purpose knowing I'm there with a camera!

Sometimes I almost think these drivers kick up all this dirt on purpose knowing I’m there with a camera!

Desert selfie...ahh, the places I go to get a photo!

Desert selfie…ahh, the places I go to get a photo! I have to wear that sexy yellow vest so that the vehicles that come racing at me don’t run me over!

So while most people think that us photographers in Las Vegas are always out shooting showgirls and rock stars, the reality is, we pay our bills shooting things like refrigerators at 5 o’clock in the morning, couples getting photos after their wedding on the Las Vegas Strip, and trade show booths at a data analysis conference. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love every minute of what I do as a professional photographer and even during the more uninteresting shoots, I still couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I truly am blessed to be able to make a living as a professional photographer and I realize just how lucky I am to be saying that. Now you’ll excuse me as I have to go pack my gear tonight as I have a photo shoot tomorrow morning… I’m taking photos of some rubber mobile phone cases. 🙂

For more information or to book me for your next photo shoot (even if it doesn’t involve super heroes or showgirls), Please email me at adam@shotbyadam.com or call today at 702-204-1740.

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Downtown Container Park Photo Shoot for MyVegas Magazine

Normally I don’t post in my blog about different accolades I’m awarded but this time I thought it would make for a fun blog about the craziness of being published. I’ve had the privilege of being published in magazines around the world, in major ad campaigns, and even on the deck of a skateboard, but sometimes it’s the smaller accomplishments that serve as the largest personal rewards.

Back in the autumn of 2013 I was reading a newsletter from Nevada Magazine about how they were looking for submissions on different topics. Much of what they publish are about the rural areas of Nevada which I rarely shoot but one topic really jumped out at me. They were looking for photos of the new Downtown Container Park which is the brain child of the urban development project of Tony Hsieh (of Zappos fame). As I am frequently shooting in the the downtown area of Las Vegas I started thinking of all the ideas of what could be photographed in this highly creative location on East Fremont Street. Inside the Container Park are small stores and boutiques…all locally owned, in addition to some great eateries, a HUGE treehouse/play area for kids AND adults (adults get the run of the place in the later hours) and live music all day and evening. Then of course, there is “The Mantis”.

Entrance to the Downtown Container Park. The entire facility is made of recycled shipping containers!

One year at Burning Man, Tony Hsieh saw this giant robotic praying mantis on display shooting huge fireballs from its antennae and it was love at first sight. Tony purchased the mechanical monster and brought it out to some First Friday events before eventually making it a permanent home at the entrance to the Downtown Container Park. Every 15 minutes they put on a show with perhaps the most interesting fire show you’ve ever seen. Needless to say, it’s a huge hit with visitors and I knew that if done right, a great photo shoot was in the making! Now I just had to convince Nevada Magazine about it not to mention the Container Park.

The Mantis: A menacing robot that shoots fire from it's antennae and is a huge hit with visitors!

The Mantis: A menacing robot that shoots fire from it’s antennae and is a huge hit with visitors! This is one of my test shots for the project.


Act II…The Preparation.

On an unrelated project I was working with an amazing local fashion model, Samantha Sable. She and I were working on a photo shoot for a pinup magazine. During one of our conversations in setting up the shoot Samantha had mentioned she had a very unique skill…she was a fire breather. A soon as she said those words my eyes grew to the size of dinner plates. “YOU’RE A WHAT? A FIRE BREATHER? Wow do I have a concept to pitch to you!” I already had the finished concept complete in my head. I wanted to pose Samantha breathing fire in front of the Mantis doing its thing. I pitched her the idea and she was on board! The thing is, with most photo editorials in magazines, they don’t just want one photo, they usually want a series of photographs that can span several pages along with a written editorial piece of some sort. Nevada Magazine though is more photo-based so something written wasn’t necessary but having an assortment of photos was. Having one killer photo was great, but they needed more. So, I recruited a second model…James Michael Pelz. Even though they had never met, I wanted to create a series of photos of a couple walking through the mall to create a certain mood. Samantha, being one of the easiest models I’ve ever worked with, was on board with that and so she and James became my “couple” for the evening. Based on the photos, you’d never guess they met just 30 minutes prior to shooting.

Broken Martini. One of my all-time favorite pinup projects I've ever shot for.

Broken Martini. One of my all-time favorite pinup projects I’ve ever shot for.

 

Photos from our pinup shoot that were featured in Fashion Bombshell Magazine.

Photos from our pinup shoot that were featured in Fashion Bombshell Magazine.

 

Before I ever took the first photo though, there was a LOT of things to prepare for. I first wanted to get some test shots with Samantha. I didn’t have a huge amount of experience photographing fire breathers so I went to her home and in front of her neighbors, we did a fire breathing test shoot that came out great. I was stoked.

Fire breathing test photo. The neighbors all thought we were crazy.

Fire breathing test photo. The neighbors all thought we were crazy.

So, off to Nevada Magazine. I pitched them the entire concept of what I wanted to do and they went nuts for it. “So you already have permission from the Container Park to do all this?” they asked. “Oh, of course I do…they are all on board.” …I lied. I knew that when I pitched this to the Container Park management they would love the idea, but I hadn’t even approached them with this yet. I wanted to make sure that these photos would be published before I went that route so now I had to get the Container Park as stoked as I was and the good news is, they were! Over the course of several meetings and a huge volume of emails, I finally got the green light to do the shoot exactly as I planned it and the management and staff of the Container Park was really excited about the concept and, of course, the positive publicity they would receive. Two weeks before the shoot I even went to several of the local vendors to get shopping bags we could use so they would get a plug as well and make sure everyone was happy on their end. Everything was going exactly according to plan. That’s when things started to go sideways.

“Our legal department says you need to have a $2 million dollar insurance policy to cover the fire breather” they told me three days before the shoot. In a panic, I called my insurance company I use for my business but they didn’t have a system in place to cover such a shoot on short notice. Eventually I found a company that specializes in insuring circus performers so in less than 24 hours, I had insurance papers in hand! “Do you have your permit from the city also?” they asked. It turns out that since some of the photos may be shot from the city street area, the city of Las Vegas gets involved and for liability and filming purposes, they require you to have a permit. So, after dealing with the city bureaucracy for a day, we got our permits on short notice too.

It was a cold night in early January of 2014 when we decided to do the shoot to make a February 1st deadline with the magazine. Las Vegas was going through an uncharacteristic warm spell this year but it was still cold out. Everyone arrived on time and ready to go. We decided to do the fire shoot first and then shoot through the Container Park after as they neared closing time. We arrived on the scene and were greeted by the representatives of the Container Park who wanted to oversee the mayhem we were about to create. Samantha got into her performing outfit, I was setting up lights, and then we got word of a small problem. There was a gas leak in the Mantis and they had to get some parts to fix it. Not good. After a minor delay, we were back in business. The pyrotechnicians who operated the Mantis were more than accommodating and helped us immensely with angling the giant robotic beast, performing test shots for me, etc. These guys were just awesome. It took me several test shots before I could really dial in the settings on my camera to get the effect that I wanted all while maintaining a good photograph of all the subjects involved. Creative lighting techniques really came into play to make this all work. It would not be an easy shoot.

As we began to setup, a crowd began to form thinking something significant was about to happen and they didn’t want to miss it. Samantha spent some time coordinating cues with the pyro guys to get in sync with their firing off the Mantis and her breathing fire. Those two were in step with one another like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire! Samantha walked out, took her torches and blew fire 20 feet into the air while the Mantis was shooting fireballs high into the sky. It was AMAZING, and the crowd cheered so loud I’m sure they could be heard for miles! It was like nothing I’ve ever seen. Now though came the important part…did we get the shot? I hit the “preview” button on my Nikon D800 and Shazam…magic was captured! I asked to do a few more takes from some different angles and everyone was more than happy to do so. “How do they look?” Samantha asked. “I’ll show you in a minute but let’s keep shooting.” I said as I could barely contain my excitement. Several repeat shoots later, I knew we were done. The crowd gave everyone a huge applause and many people wanted to go talk to the amazing fire breather they just saw but Samantha was dying to see the photos…as I was I. We started reviewing them in the camera and we all gave each-other a high five in excitement. We nailed it.

My personal favorite of all the fire breathing photos we shot but was not used for publication. :(

My personal favorite of all the fire breathing photos we shot but was not used for publication. 🙁

After everything calmed down, now it was time for Part 2…shooting through the park. Over the next two hours we setup shoots in a variety of locations. The nice thing about the Downtown Container Park is that there are so many interesting things to shoot in there so it makes it quite easy to get great photos inside. So off we went. I had our two models sipping coffee inside an orange container that overlooks the entrance, we got photos of them “shopping”, having fun in the playhouse, and people watching. It was great. The rapport these two had on camera was wonderful and it’s proof that when you work with professionals, you get professional results.

One of the photos that was used in publication. This took a little trickery to shoot and a great wide-angle lens.

One of the photos that was used in publication. This took a little trickery to shoot and a great wide-angle lens.

 

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Another photo used in the publication. I really loved the poses of our models, the color of the inside of the container, and the great El Cortez sign in the background.

 

A slightly closer shot of Samantha and James

A slightly closer shot of Samantha and James

Another one of my favorite photos. The playground area inside the Downtown Container Park is a huge hit with children AND adults who are encouraged to be a kid again inside.

Another one of my favorite photos. The playground area inside the Downtown Container Park is a huge hit with children AND adults who are encouraged to be a kid again inside.

There are so many cool angles and textures inside the Container Park, I really wanted to shoot more black-and-white photos than I did. This was one of my more favorites though.

There are so many cool angles and textures inside the Container Park, I really wanted to shoot more black-and-white photos than I did. This was one of my more favorites though.

 

We were done with the shoot, but the photos still needed retouching and the fire photos, while awesome, needed quite a bit of work in Photoshop to make them look as perfect as they could be. After all the post-production work was done, I submitted the photos over to Nevada Magazine a week before our deadline and instantly I got the email back from them…they loved the photos! They went nuts for them. Mission Accomplished!!! Nevada Magazine is a quarterly magazine and we were expecting to be published in their Spring issue, which would be great for all of us. Wrong. “We can’t afford to pay you for the photos” my editor contact emailed me. “What are you talking about?” I replied. “Well, it turns out that we ran out of budget for this issue and we didn’t think you would want to submit just for photo credit so we missed the deadline and my boss is saying he can’t use the photos this time around.”

I emailed everyone involved and we were just devastated. All that work for nothing. Nevada Magazine was very nice to us but it just wasn’t in the cards I suppose. Sometimes that’s just the nature of this business. Now I have possession of an amazing photo shoot with no home. Needless to say, I was a little upset at how this went down and I knew that with a little tenacity, we would find someone willing to publish the shoot. I sent out emails to all the local magazines and newspapers and I received back tons of positive responses. The best one came from a magazine that I actually thought would be one of the most difficult to get into because the quality of their magazine is so high and that is MyVegas Magazine. This quarterly publication reaches tens of thousands of readers throughout the Las Vegas valley of both locals and tourists alike. They have a great editorial staff, writers, photos, and a very good presence through Las Vegas. They absolutely loved the photos and most certainly wanted to run them…but they wanted a little more. “The photos are amazing but we usually like a small editorial to go with them. Are you able to write a little something to go with the photos?” I pointed them to this blog and their response back was wonderful. They asked me to keep it very brief (less than 200 words) and they would be happy to take care of us in their Summer issue.

As I’m sure you can deduce by now, I’m not one to keep things brief. 200 words? This sounded more daunting than photographing a fire breather. I knew I needed some assistance with this and it’s always nice to be able to call-in favors. One of my past clients and now friends is Ben Spillman. Ben was a writer for the Las Vegas Review Journal and recently moved up to Reno to write for the Reno Gazette-Journal newspaper. He’s an awesome writer and man of many talents. I sent him over the article I wrote and he provided me with some very useful feedback. When finished, I submitted it over to the magazine and they thought it was great. Now …the waiting game.

Months later I get an email. “You have a package waiting for you at our office if you would like to pick it up. We could mail it to you too if you wish, but either way, your issue is now available and we thought you’d like to get a few copies before they hit newsstands.” We were published! The folks at MyVegas Magazine are just an awesome group. I couldn’t wait. I hopped in my SUV and drove down to their offices in anticipation. The box was waiting for me with the receptionist and I couldn’t wait until I got home to open it. I cracked the seal and the magazines inside looked amazing. I flipped to our segment and there we were.

We even got mentioned on the cover!

We even got mentioned on the cover!

 

Photo used on the table of contents too!

Photo used on the table of contents too!

 

Here are the other finished photos of the fire breathing. The first one was the photo used for publication:

GREAT BALLS OF FIRE!

GREAT BALLS OF FIRE!

Downtown Container Park - Mantis Photo 2

Words cannot describe how cool this looked in person but I hope you enjoy the photo of it. Please leave comments below if you do!

So out of all of this, we managed to turn lemons into lemonade and WOW was that some great Lemonade! If you haven’t been able to pick up a copy of the magazine around Las Vegas, you can see the digital copy of BY CLICKING HERE. or you can copy and paste the link below into your browser:

http://issuu.com/robh.myvegas/docs/mvsummer2014/41?e=11305101/8321735

Special thanks to the magazine, of course, for taking such great care of us and helping us to find a home for this complicated project. Also, special thanks to Samantha and James for some awesome modeling work and especially Samantha for her incredible fire-breathing talents and professionalism. While James is no longer actively modeling, Samantha most certainly is. For information on booking Samantha for photo shoots, you can contact her at golden8239@yahoo.com and to see more of her work, feel free to visit her on Model Mayhem

As a professional Las Vegas photographer for over 15 years, I specialize in photo shoots of all shapes and sizes so if you are in need of something wild and crazy for a commercial shoot, publication, or if you just want some great photos taken at the Container Park, please email me at adam@shotbyadam.com or give me a call at 702-204-1740 and we can discuss your next shoot in greater detail!

ShotByAdam.com