35,000 Shirts Later

I’ve been posting to Unsplash for over two years now. If you haven’t heard of the website before, it’s a platform that allows photographers to upload their photos to make them free to use all over the internet for whatever reasons they have (credit never needed, but always appreciated). It’s a swell way to give back to the community that helped so many photographers get their start.

Little did I know, however, just how many amazing people and companies I’d meet through that platform. One of the most notable instances recently was when a company that designs and prints shirts for ZARA reached out to me from a photo I posted to Unsplash, asking if I’d be interested in working with them the produce a shirt based off of the photograph. After a few brief emails and confirmation form the model in the photo, Nyajock Koang, we were full steam ahead.

After the company sent me some renditions and after a bit of back and forth, the shirt went into production. The quantity? 35,000 units.

The shirt is now available in ZARA stores internationally and online in non-US countries.

Shirt in-store

Shirt in-store

Shirt online

Shirt online

How I Made This: Blank Canvas

James Charles has always been a huge inspiration for me, so when I saw him release his Blank Canvas look, I instantly thought of tons of variations I thought would be fun to do with friends. I instantly called up my friend Luke from Develop Model Management and my MUA friend Sisalee to work together to create our own version of this:

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Sisalee, being the wonderful woman she is, instantly started thinking of ideas for how to re-create the look using the materials we had, She ended up painting half of Luke’s face with black body paint, blending over top of it with foundation, and then, using a combination of skill and liquid foundation, created the “dripping” effect.

While she was working on makeup, I was creating the lighting and backdrop with the two softbox lights almost perfectly in-line with the model. I shot at a fairly high aperture to capture all the fine details of the makeup.

After about thirty minutes of trying out poses and expressions, we decided that the makeup should be the main focus of the image, so we opted for a straight-on look with an inquisitive but serious stare.

Going in Photoshop, I only did some minimal work. The paint didn’t extend as far down his chest as I preferred, so I used a combination of the stamp tool and paint brush to fill it in a bit. I also used the repair tool to remove some stray foundation splatters against the black base layer.

In Lightroom I simply added an inverted radial filter with some negative exposure, sharpened the image, and toyed around with the levels a bit until I got something that I was happy with. Skin color consistency was very important for this photo so I wanted to make sure that I matched it as closely as I could to natural. Here’s the final image:

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That’s really it! It’s a pretty simple look with the high-production-value appearance. I know I speak for all of us when I say Luke, Sisalee, and I had an amazing time working on the project.

Would have you done it the same way? Let me know in the comments below!

How I Made This: When the Party's Over Photo

17 year-old Billie Eilish just released this amazing music video for her track “When the Party’s Over” and after seeing the thumbnail, I was instantly inspired to create a photoshoot based on the video mere hours after its release. It’s worth a watch (thank me later).

What intrigued me the most was the black liquid effects that they used extensively throughout the video. I was very curious as to how they did they and after analyzing the video and with some help from other viewers, it appears that she had a fake skin later on-top of some tubes that connected to hidden pumps that forced the fluid up near her tear ducts.

I called up my friend Xanthe and asked if she was interested in doing a shoot that night, without me even knowing exactly how it was going to take place. After she said she had a few free hours, I sped over to a craft store to get some cheap metal chains, eye droppers, and a white t-shirt. After Xanthe arrived we played scientist by mixing different combinations of charcoal powder, flour, and water until we had an opaque liquid with a somewhat oil-like consistency.

As for the background I only have 53” paper backdrops so it was barely wide enough for her to sit on, but we made it work out. Unfortunately, after some test photos with the white shirt, it proved to be too monochromatic, so I let her borrow a black hoodie I bought a few days prior.

It was then time to start posting and setting up the lighting… I ended up doing a two-light setup: my personal go-to. Xanthe sat on the paper on the ground with the lights at 45 degree angles towards her to cast a small shadow on the ground. When it was time to take the photo I set the camera on a tripod, dropped some of the solution by her eyes, and hopped behind the camera to capture her posting. After repeating this three or four times, I was certain we had a few photos to work with.

After exporting the files to my laptop, Xanthe and I selected our favorite that I then proceeded to edit by cropping the photo to only the paper and then extending the background. I touched up some of the artifacts and then sent the file over to Lightroom to be processed and exported for mobile. Here’s the final image!

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If you have any other questions that I didn’t cover in this article, feel free to drop me a comment and I’ll do my best to answer!

3 Quick Tips To Improve Your Photography

Photography is a talent that can be beneficial to anyone from any walk of life. If you’re photographing a moment with your family or a product for a company you work for, knowing how to use a camera and take good photos is a crucial skill. Here’s a few tips to start improving your photography right away.

Think About Composure

Don’t just pop right up and start snapping photos haphazardly. It’s smart to be more thoughtful where subjects are placed in your photos. This is called composure and is central to creating a good photo. A photo with the subject in the center is technically “well composed” but often boring… that’s where the rule of thirds can come into play. With the rule of thirds, imagine splitting your image into three columns and three rows. Then place your subject where one of these lines intersects. It makes the photo feel balanced, yet thoughtful.

Lighting, Lighting, Lighting

The word photograph quite literally means to draw with light. That should clue you in that lighting is one of the most important and fundamental aspects of photography. With that said, it’s also what a lot of people get wrong. Here’s a few tips for different kinds of lighting…

Cloudy

If the lighting is cloudy, I find this idea for taking photos as the light is soft and there are no harsh shadows that could throw off your image. In my opinion, it’s pretty hard to get lighting wrong when it’s cloudy. Just be sure to expose your image properly!

Direct Sunlight

If it’s bright out and there are harsh shadows, you have to be a bit more thoughtful about your subject placement. I like to place my subject in the direct light and then expose for the highlights. If you’re photographing a person, I have them close their eyes and then I count: 3… 2… 1… and have them open their eyes just for a second so I can catch them without squinting.

On-Camera Flash

Sometimes you don’t have the option of shooting outdoors and you have to make do inside. I personally don’t love the look of the pop-up flash built into some cameras, but if you have $30, it doesn’t hurt to go out and buy a speedlite that you can put in your camera’s hot-shoe. This instantly makes your life easier and you can simply point the flash towards the ceiling (that’s ideally white) to bounce the light off, giving you a softer look for your subject.

Think About Colors

The color palette of your photography is just as important as any painting’s color palette. You should be thoughtful about what colors are being captured. Two looks I really like are monochrome: where there is only one color present in and image, and contrasting colors: where some colors in the image clash with each other, giving the image more of an eye-catching appeal.

Usually the colors are determined by one of two things: the environment or the model’s clothing (as I usually shoot portraits). After determine what color has to be in the image, I work backwards to decide what colors I should add or remove from the scene.


The best way to improve your photography isn’t by reading blogs like this, however - it’s by shooting photos yourself. What are you waiting for? Get out there and start creating.