If Your Comfort Zone is Too Comfy, Open a Window.

August 07, 2014  •  3 Comments

We stood just inside the land surrounding the Sepulveda Dam, Kengi and I. Mist clung in pockets across the grass and scrub in the pre-dawn blue. Kengi doesn't drive so I had gotten up at 5am to prep and load the truck with gear, then headed to Hollywood from Burbank to rendezvous with Kengi and across town to the dam. Sara and Kristin would be in makeup shortly - as soon as that was complete they would be en route to the location.

I filled my lungs with cool, misty air and allowed myself a moment to ask silently, "What the hell am I doing?"

This was my first shoot with the whole shebang. We were four strong: photographer, makeup artist Sara, model Kristin and assistant Kengi. We had a dress from London. I had never shot with even an assistant before. And I was nervous. This wasn't me shooting with a model/friend for fun with nothing really riding on the outcome. This time people were depending on me for a great experience and images that would showcase their own skills and hopefully garner more work for them. 

I had put myself here deliberately. I'd promised myself I'd push out of my comfort zone, start taking some risks. I mean if you never risk you'll never know how far you can go, right? The thought didn't quell my nerves.

Still, the land before us was soft and blue. I couldn't help admiring it. "Dude, we should do another shoot out here in the mist some early morning. This is rad."

Kengi grinned. "It would be very cool."

We returned to lugging our gear toward the dam, its bulk looming over us in the dark. The near side of the dam was overgrown with grass and scrub almost up to its base.

North side of the damThe overgrown side. Shot on my initial scout of the location.

The plan was to set up on the south side. It's a giant swath of concrete and would complement my vision of nice clean lines and textures well. We clambered over the berm and began to set up. The sun didn't so much rise as leap into the sky. My phone rang. Sara and Kristin had just parked and needed help getting to us. I left Kengi to complete set up and jogged back over the berm. 


Sepulveda Dam - South SideGaze upon all that glorious concrete. Terrible for the environment, awesome for photo shoots.

On the way back past the north side, I realized the open shade would linger longer there than it would on the south side - which meant the dam was actually on a northwest/southeast angle. 

We could get some great shots on this side, I thought. But that would mean packing everything back up and moving it. My reluctance to inconvenience Kengi warred with my conviction that better photos could be had on this side of the dam. We could move over to the sunny side afterward. If we waited, we'd lose the shade here. Screw it. I slowed to a walk and fished my phone out of my pocket. 

"Kengi, I hate to do this to you but we need to pick up and move back to this side. Can you pack it all up again? Awesome! Thanks, dude!"

I met the girls and raced back to help Kengi with the gear. We set up hastily and began the shoot. I made at least one rookie mistake. Cracks me up, looking back on it. See if you can spot it!

Photo copyright by Kengi Carr

Photo Copyright by Kengi Carr

Photo copyright by Kengi Carr

The light was catching up to us pretty quickly. We had to retreat before its onset, but still got some shots: 

When the sun grew too high, we returned to the other side to revel in the light as opposed to dodging it. Using a diffuser with the able help of Kengi, we created some images. 


By this time, the sun was baking us all. It was time to wrap up. For me, it was time to take stock, figure out what I'd learned - what I did well, what I could have done better. Whenever I wrap a shoot, I have this pathological fear that I've screwed it all up and let everyone down. Inevitably, I get home and review the shots and go "Oh, wasn't THAT bad." 

And, for never having worked together before, everyone just instantly meshed. 

Sara Robey (http://www.sararobey.com/) did an amazing job with make up and securing the gown. Check out her work!

Kengi (https://www.flickr.com/photos/kengikat/), a bad ass photographer himself, shot the behind the scenes photos and was a fantastic, patient assistant. 

And, yes, I suck at blogging and this shoot was ages ago. 


Looks like you captured some gorgeous images! And I always love seeing some behind the scenes shots!
Little Willow Photography(non-registered)
Totally agree... Get out of your comfort zone.
Cool blog brother. That shot was lots of fun. It's time to do another one.
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