Jason Christopher, LA Commercial & Fashion Photographer Bio

Achieve The Film Look Shooting Digital

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

So since the advent of digital photograhy many fashion photographers have asked me why their photos don’t look like film.  Some of the complaints are that everything is too sharp, too much contrast etc.  Well there are many reasons why these things happen, however the main consideration is that they are using too tight of an aperture.  For example they are shooting at f/11 or f/16 or even f/22.

When shooting with a 35mm DSLR, shoot as if you were shooting medium format.  When shooting medium format you lose alot of depth of field.  Consequently your model or subject is very sharp and the background is out of focus and you get very beautiful bokeh.  The best way to achieve this is to use a long lens.  For this photo I used my Canon 200mm 2.8 on sticks and shot it at ISO 200 f/4.5   1/200th.   I also used my Canon 580 EX II on ETTL.  Now here is where my little secret comes into play.  I bumped up the flash power to +3 stops and zoomed the flash head to 105mm.  I was a good 25 yards away from the model.

fashion lifestyle model sitting on log in forest I got a great smile out of my model by joking with her, complimenting her and not just sitting there clicking the shutter like a robot.  I connected with my model because I took my time and composed and thought about the shot in my mind before I even thought of clicking the shutter.  Very simple make up and no shoes, great smile and a very beautiful girl in nature make this a very marketable stock photo.

In this next photo I told my model to walk along the log and try to balance in bare feet.  I also directed her to look at the camera and smile, laugh and just be silly.  The important thing to remember here is that she can’t just do all this like she NORMALLY would.  Normally one would smile too big and you would lose the eyes, and / or she would laugh so hard that she would get a double chin.  So directing your model and constantly reminding her to keep her chin up and look at the camera and don’t squint the eyes is of utmost importance.  The result is another very marketable photo that the model can also use for her portfolio.

Lifestyle model laughing in nature balancing on a log In this photo again I used my Canon 200m 2.8 on sticks about 25 yards away.  Notice the beautiful bokeh again.   I shot this at ISO 200 f/4.5 shutter speed was 1/325th. I also used my Canon 580 EX II on ETTL, bumped the power up +3 stops and zoomed the flash head to 105mm.  What I did different for this shot is set my flash to high speed sync mode. In high speed sync mode this allows you to set your shutter speed to whatever speed you want.  I set it to 1/325th so I could keep my ambient light down.  Remember, you control your flash exposure with your aperture.  Any questions or comments are welcome !

Fashion Shoot Behind the Scenes

Monday, November 16th, 2009

I know you all like behind the scenes photos and videos. I posted the video and now I am posting some photos of me shooting a real fashion shoot !
I had a wonderful crew who worked VERY hard for me and the results are amazing !

You can see how simple the lighting is and yet how effective it is. Those glass panels were lit with two Speedotron units. I decided to do this because I know that frosted glass, which is what those panels are made of, would diffuse the light and wrap around her creating a “heavenly” look and what is the name of the clothing line ?  Gods Daughter.

So as photographers we don’t just click a shutter button. We come up with the concepts that will tell the story behind the clothes.  Notice in the last photo the top of the glass wall comes up to her calves.  One wrong step and she would have fallen 20 stories.  Yes I do whatever it takes to get the shot.  ;-)

fashion lighting, jason christopher Denim fashion - jason christopher photographyfashion advertising by Jason ChristopherJason Christopher shooting in a club for fashion advertising

Photographer Camaraderie IS Important

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Photographers of all types listen up !  It is time to STOP hoarding all your “secret” information and START to share it !  I am very upset and disappointed in many photographers today because they think they are Gods gift to photography and that the technique and information they have is exclusive to them only.  They think that they are the ones who invented the god dam light bulb and I am TIRED AND FED UP with that kind of thinking.  There is nothing out there that hasn’t been done. The difference is how each photographer adds his or her twist on the concept.  I could light the shot, shoot 10 frames, then you shoot 10 frames and our images will be totally different.

I bring this up because I can’t tell you how many times guys call me or email me asking for advice and I can hear the apprehension in their voice as they must sit there quivering with fright whether or not I am going to be a total dick and bite their head off.   Then when I begin to speak and give them every ounce of energy and information I have they loosen up so much you would think we are best friends.  Then they tell me how many other shooters they have called and all they get are answers like “learn it yourself” or “I’m not your mother” or literally the photographer will just hang up on them !

So the other day a very nice gentleman named Kevin  emailed me with some questions about contracts and business essentials. I emailed him back & told him to call me because there is sooooo much information that I would be sitting at the computer for days.  So anyway he calls me the next day and talked about many things.  I told him how important it is to have a contract, deposit etc.  He asked if I would email him one of my contracts and you know what ? I emailed it to him right away.  He was so happy and thankful.  And I was happy as well  because hopefully it will bring his business standards up to par with mine and my colleagues and the next time I get a call for a project the client will know what to expect.

For example, usage rights, terms, day rates etc. I am embarrassed that MOST of the new guys don’t know to charge for usage and they don’t even bother to find out !!!!

When I started in this business the internet didn’t even exist and I found out all I needed to know WITHOUT even going to school.  Now  that we have the internet please give me ONE reason why ANYONE cannot find out what they need to know about photography or anything for that matter.

So now that Kevin has information about how to write up a contract and how to charge usage fees and day rates do you think that I will be put out of business ?  Hell no !

This bullshit of everyone being so closed minded and protective of  any info like locations, rates, technique etc. is THE reason there will never be a photographers union.  Think about it people.  In the movie industry there are unions and they are a good thing.  Christ there are location resource books and prop resource books and even technique books that DP’s share with each other and there has never been a problem.

So I am here to get tough with you all and say… grab your balls, DROP your egos, study, learn, research, share your talent and make friends.  In the long run you will be better off because you WILL make the rates you are supposed to make like I make and my colleagues make.  But if you keep this behavior up you are only f * * king it up for yourselves for the future because you will never know what it feels like to make VERY good money and be paid very well for what you are good at.

Now go ahead and hit me with all ya got !  I’m ready to take it on !  lol

jason christopher &  jerry avenaim fashion photographers

jerry avenaim and jason christopher fashion photographers

Fashion Beauty Campaign-Behind the Scenes

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

My assistant shot some photos of me shooting that I thought you all might enjoy.   This was a shoot for NXS Hair Extensions.

Los Angeles photographer Jason Christopher

Los Angeles photographer Jason Christopher

NXS Hair Shoot

NXS Hair Shoot

beauty photo campaign

beauty photo campaign

Beauty Model

Beauty Model

This model is from Ford Model Agency.  For this shoot I kept it simple. I used just one small umbrella above and a medium silver reflector by Photoflex.  I placed a strobe on both sides of the background with a yellow gel.  The yellow gel combined with 18% gray paper gives you an olive color.  In the end though the art director decided they didn’t like that color and in post they had the retoucher just make it white.

Fashion Lighting In The Desert Made Simple

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

So I recently shot  a fashion shoot advertising campaign out in Las Vegas and on one of the days we had to go find a long strip of road with very little traffic.  I had five models and about an hour before the sun went down.  Instead of setting up a really complicated lighting scheme I just worked with the sun and my Metz 54mz on camera flash.  I had my assistants park the car so the sun would be behind the model or at least coming from the side of her.  Taking out the Metz I had so much going on in my head, how should I pose her, expression, how much longer til I lose my light etc., I said screw it !  Let’s just shoot !  I was up close, about 4 feet from the subject on a wide lens, this creates a grand look.   It took about 3 shots to dial in my exposure and this is what I ended up with.  The client loved it !

Fashion Shot for Deliverance Poker

Fashion Shot for Deliverance Poker

Lighting a model using the sun

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

Not far from Los Angeles is Agoura Hills.  Very few fashion photographers make their home here.   A beautiful rural town with green rolling hills and a pioneering spirit embedded in the locals that have lived there since the towns inception.
When I look at this shot I feel something good and warm.  The model’s face isn’t even toward the camera however, just by her body position, the tilting of her head and hair flowing back closing her eyes enjoying the sun she evokes a feeling of being free, young, and happy.  What is interesting about this shot is it happened by accident.  It was VERY windy and cold so the model closed her eyes and dropped her head back to get warm from the sun.  I clicked the shutter and thought that it would be a trashed shot.  When I looked at it on my monitor at home I was stunned.  The green hills, yellow flowers and blue sky together with the blanket and Ugh boots just makes this photo come together.

Your model does not always have to be looking at the camera.  Remember as I have said before that a photo that evokes an emotion is a successful photo.  Even if something technically went wrong that just cannot be fixed in Photoshop it doesn’t matter.  As humans we FEEL.  We crave FEELING.  Your most successful advertising photos ooze emotion which in turn penetrates us inside our hearts causing us to go purchase that product.

On the technical side, I faced the model into the sun on purpose knowing the viewer would only see the right side of her face.  I filled the slight shadow with my Metz 54z on camera flash at a very low power setting just to add a little pop to bring out the colors of the blanket and green grass. Out of all the shots where she was looking at the camera, this one where she was not looking at the camera was the one that “hit” me right away.   I will be happy to discuss camera settings, flash settings etc.  **PLEASE ASK OR COMMENT **