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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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Las Vegas Dry Lake Bed Photography with Steampunk and Poi!

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When people think of Las Vegas the images they conjure typically are ones of slot machines, buffet lines, and Cirque du Something shows. They also think of the hot desert sun. The Las Vegas valley is in a geographic basin, surrounded by a variety of different mountains and even some exhausted volcanoes  When one pictures a scenic desert landscape of Saguaro cactus, interesting wildlife, and gorgeous rock formations, they won’t see it here in Las Vegas. For that, you need to visit one of the surrounding areas of Red Rock Canyon or Valley of Fire. In Las Vegas, the ground is made of ugly rocks, lots of brush, and compressed calcium deposits known as Caliche. At one point in time, much of the Las Vegas basin was actually underwater and today, our only major natural source of water comes from Lake Mead, which was created in the 1920s when the Hoover Dam was constructed to block the Colorado River. However, you can still see remains of where large pools of water would accumulate. As the water in the Las Vegas area has a very high mineral content, when the water leaves through evaporation or through absorption into the ground, the calcium stains remain as a permanent white tattoo upon the rocks.

 

Models Robert Runkle and Mariah McBride pose with a 1947 Army Jeep at one of the nearby dry lake beds outside of Las Vegas.

Models Robert Runkle and Mariah McBride pose with a 1947 Army Jeep at one of the nearby dry lake beds outside of Las Vegas.


As water runs down from the mountains that surround Las Vegas, it will sometimes pool into an actual lake. The dry, flat ground absorbs the moisture but with the Las Vegas climate, it doesn’t stick around for very long. As the water soaks into the ground, it creates vast open areas of flat, cracked earth. As the water evaporates or is absorbed into the ground, the mineral soaked ground becomes dry and cracked, creating a dry lake bed in it’s wake. As the average amount of rain accumulation we receive in Las Vegas is about 4 inches per year, it doesn’t take long for the ground in one of these dry lake beds to go turn from a swamp-like mud after it rains into a newly formed ground of cracked earth, different in appearance from the way it looked after the previous heavy rain fall. This fresh looking ground layer is something of the likes of science fiction movies as, once dry, it appears as though you’re walking upon the surface of another planet. This typically means the few dry lake beds around Las Vegas become a magnet for two different types of people. The first are those with dirt bikes or four-wheelers who love to tear up the new, flat surface. A week after a good rain, it’s common to see entire parties of four-wheeler riders on the dry lake beds having races or training kids on how to ride as there is little fear of actually crashing into any objects out there. The second group it attracts is photographers! The Las Vegas dry lake beds are frequently a location of choice for amateur and professional photographers alike due to the vast, open nature of the area plus the unique look of the cracked earth and nearby mountains that create the backdrop.

Official band photo for local group, The Roxy Gunn Project, who can be seen performing at casinos and events all over Las Vegas.

Official band photo for local group The Roxy Gunn Project, who can be seen performing at casinos and events all over Las Vegas


There are several different dry lake beds around Las Vegas but the two most popular ones are within a 1 hour drive of the Las Vegas Strip. The first of which is just south of the city, on I-15 headed toward Los Angeles. Its exact location is right outside of Jean, Nevada. Jean is a small town most travelers pass as it is located between the greater Las Vegas area and Primm, Nevada (otherwise known as “State Line” as it sits right on the Nevada/California border). The two most exciting things to the residents of Jean are the closed Southern Nevada Correctional Facility prison and the dry lake bed that crosses over it. BE WARNED: rumor has it that this dry lake bed is now being patrolled by park rangers so there is a chance that, if caught, you would have to pay a fine if you are planning a larger shoot there on your own!The second dry lake bed is located off of I-95 as you leave Las Vegas to Boulder City, Nevada. As you take I-95 out of the city, you will come across a lonesome hotel casino, the Railroad Pass. There is actually a traffic light there to stop traffic for those coming and going from the casino. Immediately after that, you will see a turnoff to the south which heads to Searchlight and Laughlin. Along that drive you’ll also, eventually, see the turnoff to Nelson Nevada and Eldorado Canyon as well (as I wrote about in a previous blog). Once you take this exit, approximately five miles down the road will be a huge dry lake bed on your right. You can actually see it once you’ve made the turn from this exit. The dry lake bed is approximately 1 mile wide by 5 miles long. Of the two major dry lake beds, I’ve found that this one in particular is the easiest to access and also is the better of the two to work in as it is more isolated from the light of the city for night shoots and also creates a nice look of the shadows during sunset. As this area is on the west side of the highway (which is slightly elevated over the lake bed), your only real way to take pictures is to the west, into the mountain range on the dry lake bed’s western border. 

Driving Directions to the Boulder City Dry Lake Bed outside of Las Vegas

Driving Directions to the Boulder City Dry Lake Bed outside of Las Vegas (Click for larger view)

 Taking photographs in this area, though, can be rather tricky. First there is the temperature. People tend to forget that deserts have vast temperature swings from day to night, so when arriving there in the winter time, it may be comfortable during the day, but almost immediately after the sun sets you’ll feel a 10-20 degree drop in temperature. During the summer, the dry ground acts to reflect all the head it’s absorbing from the sun, so walking on the surface during the June, July, and August months can be quite unpleasant during the day, where you’ll feel a dramatic temperature increase over the surrounding areas, but cools down to a very comfortable level once the sun sets. Next, if you are taking pictures of people, you need to think about where you want your shadows and lighting to be. To get the sun at your back, you have to setup and start taking photos very early in the morning. As the sun rises , the flat ground will amplify any shadows you may have so most of your photos will have your own shadow in the shot unless you get creative with your angles. When the sun is overhead, it’s going to create some very hard looking shadows as well, so if a hot summer look is what you seek, you might want to arrive just after the sun is directly overhead

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“Thirsty”

For example, I recently did two amazing photo shoots at the Boulder City dry lake bed in January of 2013. Each of the two shoots was quite different and each shoot used two very different lighting systems. The first of the two shoots was a Cosplay shoot (Costume Play), which are always fun. Much of my Cosplay work has been published around the world and I’ve written about it several times in the past in this blog, although this specific type of shoot was a form of Cosplay involving a Steampunk theme. Stempunk is a genre of science fiction involving steam-powered, yet futuristic technology. There are two different styles in Steampunk…the Wild West genre involving more Western U.S. looks and the second involves more of a Victorian flair, which happens to be my favorite of the two and the theme for the shoot we did. To pull this shoot off involved one very amazing team of dedicated artists and models to make this one of my favorite shoots of all time. It never ceases to amaze me what happens when you put lots of creative-types in one room together, or, in this case, a dry lake bed.

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Model Tina Carbaugh having her hair professionally styled by Kalliann Hass

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Angelika Markovic performs her makup artistry on model Katrina Wilkinson

I have been wanting to do a Steampunk shoot for some time so when I put the word out, I never thought there would be so many talented people in Las Vegas that wanted to get involved. The two models, Tina and Katrina were absolutely awesome! Hair and makeup were also done by two seasoned professionals in this industry and we also were fortunate to have an incredible costume designer on board to tailor-fit these custom-made costumes to our models. I could not have found better professionals for this shoot if I tried and I was so happy that everyone had such a great time on this project! I even contributed in some non-photographic measures by constructing the prop guns used in the shoot, which was a ton of fun also. 

behind-the-scenes shot of myself and models Tina Carbaugh and Katrina Wilkinson.

Behind-the-scenes shot of myself and models Tina Carbaugh and Katrina Wilkinson. My wife, Bethany, was off camera holding the reflector. A giant softbox with a studio light was positioned on my right. These AMAZING costumes were custom designed for our shoot by Vanessa Irino of Jrock Ginger, who’s attention to detail was nothing short of incredible.

This was shot at approximately 4 PM out at the Boulder City dry lake bed and was shot with a series of large lights powered by a portable power pack. It was a slightly complex shoot as I had to capture all the details of the costumes, makeup, hair, and the beautiful poses of the models, not to mention the sun setting in the background and other fine details you can only get in a cool place like a dry lake bed. I think the amazing results speak for themselves that this shoot was a very positive one that yielded some very exciting photos for which I hope get picked up somewhere in publication. Here are the results so be sure to leave your comments at the end of this blog if you like them!

Steampunk

Models Katrina Wilkinson & Tina Carbaugh

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Steampunk

Steampunk

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Our favorite and most complex shot of the set. (CLICK HERE FOR LARGER VIEW)

 

Certainly everyone involved in this great photo shoot deserve special credit: 

Model: Tina Carbaugh

Model: Katrina Wilkinson [FACEBOOK LINK]

Makeup: Angelika Markovic

Hair: Kalliann Hass [OFFICIAL LINK]

Costume Design: Vanessa Irino of Jrock Ginger [FACEBOOK LINK][OFFICIAL WEBSITE]

My second shoot of January out at the Boulder City dry lake bed was a very radical departure from some of the other shoots I typically do. This involved an amazing team of performers here in Las Vegas known as Big Horse Productions. This group of horseback stunt riders, dancers, acrobats, and fire spinners (known as “poi”) just oozed cool.

Aaron Crippen lifts acrobat Manya Silver high into the sunset at the Boulder City Dry Lake Bed

Aaron Crippen lifts acrobat Monnya Silver high into the sunset at the Boulder City Dry Lake Bed outside of Las Vegas

Big Horse Productions has been breaking the mold in equine entertainment since 1997 and have won many awards for their amazing feats of acrobatics and horsemanship. Their signature act involves founder Eric Martonovich riding an 8-horse hitch of 2,000+ pound Belgian horses with acrobats at the same time. They have toured all over the United States and Canada but are based here in Las Vegas. They currently are in the process of launching their next big show, “Gladius”, which will open in 2014. This show, which involves a Roman/Gladiator feel will be a 90-minute show unlike anything you’ve ever seen! Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of working with a lot of pyrotechnicians and poi dancers but never have I ever worked with a group of people so knowledgeable and passionate about what they do. Years ago I had seen some video of people spinning fire not with standard poi but instead with fine steel wool! Most people are not aware that steel wool burns very easily and the embers, when mixed with lots of air, produce a shower of sparks unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. I’ve always wanted to do a photo shoot involving the use of steel wool and when I bounced the idea past Manya Silver, one of the group’s members, she said she was in! A few phone calls later, and Manya arranged a shoot for three other members of the organization, which yielded some incredible photos on a very cold night in January.

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Founder Eric Martonovich lets the fire and sparks fly in this quick demonstration of spinning poi.

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Equestrian vaulting world champion, acrobat, and fire performer Lisa Varmbo shows off her skills of spinning poi in the freezing January winter.

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Mixing fire and sparks, Aaron and Monnya work with pryo like nobody else!

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Lisa Varmbo stands in her umbrella of fire and sparks!

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Both Monnya Silver and Lisa Varmbo create beautiful patterns in the Las Vegas desert dry lake bed near Boulder City, Nevada

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Group Shot of all four participating members of Big Horse Productions.
Top: Monnya Silver
Left: Aaron Crippin
Middle: Lisa Varmbo
Right: Eric Martonovich

Big Horse Productions can be contacted through their website at www.gladiustheshow.com and be sure to Like them on Facebook as well! One of the great things about being able to photograph in places like an obscure dry lake bed in the middle of the Nevada desert is that you are able to flex your creative muscles in ways you haven’t even begun to dream of. The amount of things you can do in these dry lake beds is infinite and every time I think I’ve exhausted all my ideas for shooting there, I always come up with something new and innovative. Over the years I’ve done large commercial photo shoots there, photo shoots for world famous fashion and glamour models, for nature magazines, and even for family portraits or fun photos for visitors outside the Las Vegas area wanting something really memorable to take back home with them instead of a typical Las Vegas tourist souvenir.

So whether you are a professional model or just someone who wants some amazing photos taken at an incredible location, I’m the one to call to make your photos really pop. I don’t just get you photos, I get you RESULTS! To book a shoot at one of the Las Vegas dry lake beds or any other kind of highly creative shoot, be sure to check out my website, Adam Sternberg Photography of Las Vegas at www.shotbyadam.com or call me direct at 702-204-1740!

ShotByAdam.com

Gotham City in Las Vegas

Before I was born my father owned a machine shop in Las Vegas in the late 60’s. Located at Charleston and Main St. it was a heavy industrial area reserved primarily for metal fabrication companies, auto parts stores, and warehouses, Whoever would have thought that 45 years later this would be come the Arts District of Las Vegas? I can assure you, my father never saw it coming.

Today, the area is now brimming with cool restaurants, art galleries, hipster hangout bars, small theaters, and is a central hub for the growing trend of mobile food trucks serving everything from Hawaiian hamburgers to “Ballwiches” (yep, that’s not a joke). A little over a year ago, a friend of mine told me of this awesome new condo he was renting in the Soho Towers…a newer condo tower built right on Las Vegas Blvd. (The Strip) and Charleston Blvd…right in the heart of the Arts District. His 14th floor view of the  Las Vegas valley is nothing short of spectacular but even more cool than that is his close proximity to all the new, fun happenings in Vegas for those tuned-in to the city’s new heartbeat. Downstairs, there is a series of small retail shops which are now just starting to populate the building. There’s a cool hair salon and even Resnick’s, a mini-market specializing in great prepared foods, organic offerings, and even, on occasion, a life DJ mixing the latest sounds…in a grocery store. Yep, this area is just, plain, cool.

So one day I get a txt message from my friend who resides there and he attaches a few photos of this new bar that opened in the building…The Lady Silvia (900, Las Vegas Blvd., South). This place was cool…I mean REALLY cool. As a professional photographer I’m always looking at places I go to and paint a scene in my mind of what I can do with it for a creative photo shoot or location for a corporate client in need of something unique. My brain is a never ending database of locations to shoot in. Yep, that’s how us goofy photographers’ brains work. So while I had never seen this place up close, the photos on my cell phone sold me that it was just a cool place to check out one day. Named after the mother of owner Sam Cherry’s business mentor, the lounge/bar is modeled after an old world library and is very unique, especially for Vegas.

Last October I wrote a blog about a recent photo shoot I did with two awesome models, Mariah and Madelon, over at the Cleveland Clinic here in Las Vegas. To day it’s one of my most read blog entries (big shock…it features two gorgeous models wearing super hero outfits…go figure?). Ever since I did that shoot, I’ve been booked for no less than two dozen other cosplay shoots. I never realized there was such a demand for people wanting to have photos taken of themselves in costume but with the huge popularity of the hobby and events like ComicCon promoting this, it doesn’t surprise me any longer.

Batgirl & Robin photos, circa 2010

One such shoot I was booked for came from a woman named Lisa that wanted to do a shoot as a birthday gift for her husband who used to be an avid comic book fan. If you were to take a snapshot of Lisa’s life today you’d see a woman who’s a mother working in a professional, white-collar, nine-to-five job. Hardly the kind of person you’d expect to be hiring a professional photographer for a cosplay shoot but in Lisa’s previous life some years ago, she was a professional model. Now it all makes sense. She had a professional vinyl “Harley Quinn” costume made custom for her by a well known costume designer and was dying to get some photos of her in it. This outfit was nothing short of amazing. For those of you not familiar with Harley Quinn, she is the psycho girlfriend of The Joker in the Batman series. We went into a studio and got some killer shots for which she has since told me were some of the best pictures of her she’s ever gotten. My already over-inflated ego just got a bit larger. 🙂


Anyone who ever says that modeling isn't difficult has never met Lisa!

After the shoot she told me that she was hungry for more and said that if I ever wanted to do a larger, more complex cosplay shoot that she’d really want in. In addition, she also had other friends who might want to get involved in it too. This got me to thinking, how fun would it be to do a photo shoot with all of the major players from Gotham City? VERY fun. The question is, who could I get involved and where could I shoot it? This would require a bit of thought. I didn’t want to just hire models, I wanted to find people who trusted in my vision to create something fun just for the hell of it and to get some fun shots in their portfolio. A fellow photographer friend of mine recently referred to me as a “Jack of All Trades Photographer” to which I had to chuckle and agree with. He specializes in more commercial shoots but I tend to bringing a creative edge to photo shoots in ways many people never thought possible. In the last three months I’ve been hired to shoot for a real estate company needing pictures of their properties for their website (you’d be shocked at how creative of a mind you need to make photos of an office building look exciting), a wedding where we shot paintballs at the bride and groom, and even a photo shoot of a tattooed model in a ghost town to submit to magazines. Yep, if you can think of it, I’ve probably shot it at some point in the last 15 years. Because I’m frequently booked for professional shoots, I rarely have time to do what the industry refers to as a “TFP” shoot (Trade for Photos/Prints). This is where everyone involved donates their time and energy in an effort to create photos that will benefit each other. I turn down offers for these types of shoots several times a week but occasionally an idea pops into my head that makes a TFP shoot worth while. Different photographers have different opinions on TFP shoots but it’s always been my belief that, if done well, a creative TFP shoot helps to stir up the creative juices once in a while and I know that doing a TFP photo shoot of a model (Jessenia Fernandez) screaming in a tattoo parlor while “Painless Wayne” paints her helps to make me a better photographer when it comes to shooting a car for a rental car company. Creativity leads to creativity.

Green Lamborghinis and "Painless Wayne", welcome to Las Vegas!

Now I’m on a mission to create a shoot before Halloween of some sort of fun, cosplay shoot. The first person I call is Mariah…my Batgirl from the shoot a year prior. I love working with Mariah as she’s always a great sport and has a creative attitude that always yields photos that are way better than you can imagine. There is a reason you see Mariah in my portfolio in several locations! I called her up and asked if she’d be interested in doing another TFP shoot as “Batgirl”. “Are you kidding? I’m in! I even have some time off from school soon!” (Mariah is studying to get her Masters degree right now). Perfect, now a call to Madelon…my Robin from the prior shoot. She did such a great job I wanted to offer it to her first in this new shoot concept of mine. Madelon is the kind of model that a camera just loves. You can’t take a bad picture of this girl and her body of work is reflective of this. She has a very long list of magazines and commercial projects she’s shot for. A full-time student as well, she’s now foraying into movies now having gotten a part in an independent film now being shot in Vegas. I fire off an email to her and got an immediate response saying she’d love to be part of it. YES!

I get back on the phone with Lisa, the Harley Quinn. I tell her that I’ve got a Batgirl and Robin who want to do a shoot and she tells me she wants in, plus she knows a model who would be a perfect Cat Woman…AWESOME! Now all I needed was a “Joker”, but that would make it an odd-numbered bunch so I needed to think about a sixth model as well to round out the group. Hmmmmm…oh yeah, a Poison Ivy would be a good addition to this group, but who could I get for this? Then it hit me…SARAH JANE! Sarah is a model like none other. I did a shoot with her as a post-apocalyptic showgirl in Vegas earlier this year. Truly, the weirder the shoot, the more excited Sarah is to be part of it. In addition to modeling, she’s also a photographer and writer for one of the local magazines. A self-proclaimed addict to “shoes and wigs” she’d be perfect for this. I called her up and pitched her the idea. She laughed and said she was in. Now I just needed a Joker and a place to shoot. Lisa’s husband actually had a Joker costume but he unfortunately was out of town in the window of time we had to shoot this so that wasn’t going to work. Then it hit me…some time ago I did a shoot for Mariah and her boyfriend, Robert, who had never modeled before in his life. An ex-Marine, he was really new to all this. When I did the couple shoot for them, I was impressed at how easy he was to work with and he has a great look too. The energy the two of them share on camera is awesome. I asked Mariah if she thought he’d be game for being a Joker. After a quick consult with him, he said he’d love to participate!


Robert and Mariah on a prior shoot. Wow these two are great to work with!

So now everyone was researching makup, costume designs, poses, character personalities, etc. I even found a professional makup artist, Janet Chavez, who wanted to participate in this shoot to help Robert become "The Joker" so things were coming together nicely. This was going to be a great shoot…but where were we going to have it?

I didn’t want this to look like a sterile studio shoot; I really wanted it to have a background that was really unique. My wife Bethany fully admits that she couldn’t take a good photo to save her life, but she does have a really creative mind when it comes to these goofy projects of mine. She suggested I shoot it in a bar in town. But not any bar, it had to be some place COOL. There are a few lounges in town we frequent that I thought would make for a great backdrop and I contacted all of them. Some never got back to me, some had this theory that I was actually going to shoot porn in their club and turned me down, and some just didn’t have a clue what I was asking of them. The truth is, there are so many places in Vegas to get great photos. Seriously, if you’re coming to Vegas from out of town and have a camera, you’ll see very quickly that this city is a canvas for fun photos unlike any other place in the world. Even though I’ve been booked to do professional shoots in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, London, Sydney, Melbourne, and countless more countries and cities around the U.S., Las Vegas is still my favorite place in the world to get photos. The opportunities here are endless if you know where to look, even if it’s just fun snapshots in some very cool places.

So while I’m on my hunt for a location, my window of opportunity to do this shoot was rapidly closing. Rounding up six different models and a makeup artist to do a shoot at the same time is like herding cats. Then it hit me….THE LADY SILVIA. I got the name of one of the the owners and I pitched him my idea. The beauty behind working with creative people is that they understand creative ideas and the benefits therein…I was elated when Grant agreed to let us shoot in his location in exchange for getting photos of the place from the shoot. YES! Here’s the catch though, I was going into this blind. I still had never seen the place for myself, so this was a pretty big gamble. All my expectations of this place were based on some blurry iPhone photos. Maybe I needed to reconnoiter this place before I got my hopes up too high. That night I went to the bar to check it out. The moment I walked in I knew this place was beyond perfect. There was a live DJ mixing tunes from a booth in the back. The walls were adorned with literally thousands of cool, old books. The furniture was something right out of a movie set and the black-and-white tiled floors and victorian light fixtures made this one of the coolest looking bars I’ve ever seen. The place was packed and the staff was friendly and created an environment conducive to such a great looking location. Everything in this place just clicked, and it’s location, right in the Arts District couldn’t have been more appropriate. This place was a home run!

The Lady Silvia. A cooler Vegas hangout I haven't seen in a very long time!

Two days later before the bar opened for business, I arrived and started setting up lights. I turned this bar into my own photography studio and not long thereafter the models started showing up. First it was Lisa and Jes…my Harley Quinn and Cat Woman. They would take the longest time to get get into their complex costumes and do makeup so they went right to work and started to get ready. Madelon was next. She left to go change into costume and do makeup as well. Then Sarah arrived and entered the place in full costume and makeup. When I saw her in the green costume with her hair dyed red and pulled up my jaw hit the floor. My wife tagged along on this shoot as I really needed an assistant on a project this big. She even commented that Sarah looked the part better than anyone could have ever expected. People couldn’t stop commenting about her.

Sarah Jane IS Poison Ivy!
 

Madelon and Robert then arrived and Robert went right into another room to start on his makeup which we all knew would take some time. An hour later, everyone was ready to go and we had a team of models who looked nothing short of spectacular. We started shooting and the results we got were just fantastic. After we got the shots we needed, we had to rush to put the place back to the way we found it. After all, this WAS a business we were in, and the place was due to open soon. We were all having so much fun it was difficult to stop…everyone was in costume and wanted to shoot more and more and more. With what little time we had, we kept shooting until the very last minute we could. Once all my gear was packed and the doors opened, we all sat around and had a few drinks to celebrate a successful shoot. One thing is very true…the bartenders at The Lady Silvia sure know how to mix a drink!

After the shoot. Even super heros and villains need a break once in a while!

So after the shoot, I had a few local magazines that were interested in using some of them for a Halloween issue but due to deadlines for publication, they never got published. The idea for this shoot was great, the timing, not so much. Still though, the resulting photos below are what we made. It’s this level of creativity of all involved that makes those involved experts at what they do. Special thanks and shout-outs to all involved: Mariah McBride (Batgirl), Robert Runkle (Joker), Madelon Cullen (Robin), Sarah Jane Woodall (Poison Ivy), Lisa J (Harley Quinn), Jes Castor (Cat Woman).

Remember too, that creative thinkers get creative results where others cannot. To book your next photo shoot, email me at adam@shotbyadam.com or call me direct at 702-204-1740. Of course, for details and to see my complete portfolio, please visit my website at www.shotbyadam.com.