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Dramatic Model Portraits // Chicago // Mark Brouwer

My series in dramatic portraiture continues with Mark Brouwer - a model from Chicago with comedy and acting skills. So imagine this session: photography, laughter, fun conversation, and music - life is really good when these elements come together. Mark was fun to work with - he kept things lively, and I appreciate that. I am typically the one making sure everyone is laughing at my photo shoots. So having Mark contribute to the liveliness that day was really fun.

I wanted to create some dark images with Mark. I asked if he could bring clothing that would work well with the "dark" themed photo shoot, which led to a conversation about what I meant by "dark". He mentioned that he had a dark green trench coat. Perfect. The trench coat ended up looking great on screen. I also wanted the lighting to be more harsh than with my previous dramatic shoots. I made sure to stay away from softboxes and only used gridspots and bare-bulbs on my strobes.

You can check out photos from previous model photo shoots: Camille Kurowski, Debra Lopez, and Ankita Baxti.

Here are a few of my favorite images from our photo shoot with Mark. The final composite images will be on a new blog post soon:

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Behind The Scenes


My many thanks to Mark for his professionalism and humor! I hope you have an amazing career in modeling and acting. You rock dude! And a super thank you to my amazing wife, Christina, for being so supportive, for doing a great job on Mark's hair, and for rocking out the Flip Mino HD. Thanks babe!

The Set-Up

  • Nikon D700 - Shooting in RAW
  • Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 lens
  • Alien Bee 400ws (5 strobes)
  • Medium Softbox (2)
  • 22" Beauty Dish
  • Pocket Wizard (2)
  • 13" MacBook
  • Sofortbild - For shooting tethered to my MacBook. It's free for Nikon shooters!
  • Lightroom 2 - For exposure and color adjustments
  • Photoshop CS4 - For all major retouching and background removal
  • Rock On! info [at] ottorascon.com | my portfolio | facebook | twitter | 773.430.4785

    By The Way:

    Dramatic Model Portraits // Chicago // Ankita Baxi

    My series in dramatic portraiture continues with Ankita Baxi. I was very excited about working with Ankita. She has done a lot of modeling photo shoots here in the States and in India. Her energy and enthusiasm was very encouraging and made for some pretty cool photos. Ankita's communication skills also added to the great experience - she was very prompt and concise in answering all of my questions and even throwing in a few of her own. I love that. She is a pro and it was a lot of fun working with her. You can see photos from the previous photo shoots with Camille here and with Debra here.

    Here are a few of my favorite images from our photo shoot with Ankita. The final composite images will be on a new blog post soon:

    [gallery columns="1" size="large"]

    Behind The Scenes


    My many thanks to Ankita! I hope you have an amazing and long career in this industry. Have a great time in Los Angeles. You rock! I also want to thank Gary Middendorf for his assistance, video skills, and ideas. And of course a super thank you to my wife, Christina, for being so supportive and for doing a great job on Ankita's hair. Thanks guys!

    The Set-Up

  • Nikon D700 - Shooting in RAW
  • Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 lens
  • Alien Bee 400ws (5 strobes)
  • Medium Softbox (2)
  • 22" Beauty Dish
  • Pocket Wizard (2)
  • Lightroom 2 - For exposure and color adjustments
  • Photoshop CS4 - For all major retouching and background removal
  • 13" MacBook
  • Sofortbild - For shooting tethered to my MacBook. It's free for Nikon shooters!
  • Rock On! info [at] ottorascon.com | my portfolio | facebook | twitter | 773.430.4785

    By The Way: Talking about the shoot in advance with Ankita was HUGE. I felt like Ankita and I were on the same page before she showed up at my home-studio. That was great because I was able to communicate better and express some ideas a lot clearer.

    Dramatic Portraits // Chicago // Debra Lopez

    So my series in dramatic portraits continues with Debra Lopez, a very talented model and actress from Madison, Wisconsin. Working with Debra (and her husband - pics coming soon) was great for many reasons: she is a very talented and professional model, she was very enthusiastic about this shoot (which pumped me up), and she had a great sense of wardrobe and looks that made photographing her a lot of fun. We ended up capturing some really fun and amazing frames during our 2 hours photo shoot. I love these kind of shoots because we get so many ideas going that it is hard to stop shooting. My wife set out some snacks and drinks, which we ended up maxing out! Pedro (Deb's husband), Gary, and I even chatted a bit about football and Peyton Manning. Photography, beautiful models, food, and sports - does life get any better than that? The answer is NO.

    Hey, you can check out a very funny short film called "Spin Cycle" Debra starred in here. Her character is so mean :)

    Here are a few of my favorite images from our photo shoot. The final composite images will be on a new blog post soon:

    [gallery columns="1" size="large" orderby="title"]

    Behind The Scenes


    My many thanks to Debra! You and Pedro made this shoot a blast, and I appreciate your willingness to travel into Chicago. You rock! I also want to thank Gary Middendorf for his assistance and ideas. It is always so cool working with a fellow photographer. And of course a super thank you to my wife, Christina, for being so supportive and for doing a great job on Deb's hair. Thanks guys!

    The Set-Up

  • Nikon D700 - Shooting in RAW
  • Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 lens
  • Alien Bee 400ws (5 strobes)
  • Medium Softbox (2)
  • 22" Beauty Dish
  • Pocket Wizard (2)
  • Lightroom 2 - For exposure and color adjustments
  • Photoshop CS4 - For all major retouching and background removal
  • 13" MacBook
  • Sofortbild - For shooting tethered to my MacBook. It's free for Nikon shooters!
  • Rock On! info@ottorascon.com | my portfolio | facebook | twitter | 773.430.4785

    By The Way: Talking with Debra about her wardrobe was key. Not having the right wardrobe would have made this shoot boring and flat. It's all about communication.

    Dramatic Portraits // Headshots // Camille Kurowski

    I was really excited about Camille's photo shoot. She is a very professional, beautiful, and enthusiastic model and I am very grateful to have worked with her. She came in ready to deliver a great performance and that she did. It is always such a treat to work with others that are just as passionate about this art form as I am. This photo shoot was going to be a bit different than what I am used to. First: it is the first shoot in a series (yes, more photos coming very soon) of dramatic portraits and model headshots. I have never done a series like this before, so this was new ground for me. Second: it was going to involve a lot of post-production (Photoshop) work, of which I am used to. The end result of this shoot is to create a composite image with a completely new background and a more dramatic feel. I will be posting the final images soon.

    This headshot/portrait session was intended to be more artistic in nature and so all of the pieces had to work well together: a great model, a specific type of lighting set-up, great hair and make-up, energy, and me not messing it up :)

    It was great having my amazing hairstylist wife there and my talented brother-in-law (a very talented sports photographer) there to assist.

    Here are a few images from our shoot. The final composite images will be on a new blog post soon:

    [gallery order="DESC" columns="1" size="large"]

    Behind The Scenes


    My many thanks to Camille! You made this shoot so much fun. I also want to thank Gary Middendorf for his assistance and ideas. And a super thank you to my wife, Christina, for being so supportive and for doing a great job on Camille's hair. Thanks guys!

    The Set-Up

  • Nikon D700 - Shooting in RAW
  • Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 lens
  • Tokina 14-24mm f/4 lens
  • Alien Bee 400ws (5 strobes)
  • Medium Softbox (2)
  • 22" Beauty Dish
  • Pocket Wizard (2)
  • Lightroom 2 - For exposure and color adjustments
  • Photoshop CS4 - For all major retouching and background removal
  • 13" MacBook
  • Sofortbild - For shooting tethered to my MacBook. It's free for Nikon shooters!
  • Rock On! info@ottorascon.com | my portfolio | facebook | twitter | 773.430.4785

    By The Way: It was great sketching out pose ideas and lighting ideas before the shoot. I was also able to do some test shots before Camille ever came over.

    Chicago Help-Portrait - Spreading Some Love With Portraits

    The Help-Portrait experience was truly amazing. I am so grateful to Jeremy Cowart and his crew for having an idea about giving and making it happen. Because of the them a great community of photographers banded together to bring smiles to people that otherwise might not have smiled the day they were photographed. I am not posting images of the families that we served on Sunday (12.20.09), as that is not the reason to participate in Help-Portrait. We all helped out to give back and not to promote our work. But I do want to show off all of the other photographers, make-up artist, and hair stylists that helped out. They were all amazing and brought their unique talents to the Help-Portrait photo shoot. What an amazing group of people!

    Help-Portrait-Chicago

    Help Portrait Chicago from Delack Media on Vimeo.

    I want to thank everyone that made this day so memorable and special:

    Hinojosa Photography - Veronica, you made so much happen that it is hard to imagine this event going so smoothly without you. I am so glad that Milo and your kiddos were there to help. They were amazing!

    Jaclyn Simpson - Jaclyn, your awesome Lightroom editing and printing skills were impressive. Thanks for being so giving and such a joy to work with.

    EB Creative Photography - Elisa, your studio set-up and knowledge was so rocking. The images you, Jaclyn, and Veronica made were so cool. It was awesome working together. And many thanks to your clients for their donations. Thanks!

    Todd James Photography - Todd, my many thanks for making sure that the photos were edited and printed properly. It was a joy working with you. I hope we work together again soon!

    Delack Media Group - Nathan, your video skills are impressive to say the least. You were so cool to be around and to work with. Thanks for the final video and the frames!!!

    Emotia - Ray, thanks for your support and for your video skills. I look forward to seeing what you shot that day. Having you around was such an encouragement.

    Starlight Makeup - Lillian, you were the star of the show in my humble opinion. You were the sole makeup artist and you made EVERYONE look so beautiful. So truly ROCK!

    Tanya, Mona, Angela and Sam: you were all so great and made everyones hair look amazing. I was so surprised/impressed to see you all giving actual haircuts! Such great hearts. Angela and Sam, Please pass along my "thanks" to the Paul Mitchell School.

    Set-Up

  • Nikon D700 and Canon 5D MK II - shooting in RAW
  • Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8
  • Canon 24-70mm f/2.8
  • White Seamless Paper (2)
  • Alien Bee Strobes with Medium Softboxes
  • Pocket Wizards (4)
  • Adobe Lightroom 2 for editing and Printing
  • Epson Photo Stylus 1400
  • Flip Mino HD for video
  • iMovie for editing and exporting for web
  • Little Village Boys & Girls Club 2801 S. Ridgeway Chicago, IL. 60623

    Paul Mitchell the School Chicago 1225 South Halsted Street Chicago, IL 60607-5025 (312) 733-9285

    Rock On! info@ottorascon.com | my portfolio | facebook | twitter | 773.430.4785

    By The Way: It really is better to give than to receive. I plan on giving more this year than ever before.

    Chicago Polar Bear Club - 2010 Polar Bear Swim Photos

    So what the heck is a wedding and family portrait photographer doing shooting the Chicago Polar Bear Swim of 2010? The only answer I can think of is that I am both a lover of photography and a little bit crazy. This polar swim is becoming a yearly ritual for me. It all started last year when I went down to North Ave Beach on March of 2009. I was not sure why I was there. It was cold. I was without friends. I had no coffee. All I had was my camera and a crazy idea that I would get some cool photos of a few brave and shivering people. I ended up having a blast and vowed to return this year.

    This time I was warm and ready with some coffee and a few of my photog friends. I was also there cheering on my best friend David Fowlie. What a brave and cold soul. I had a blast and cannot wait to do it again in March. You can get more info about the Chicago Polar Plunge here. You can check out some of Gary Middendorf's (my brother-in-law) photos here.

    Here are a handful of my favorite shots from the 2010 Polar Swim. Please remember, it was 19 degrees outside:

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    Chicago Polar Club Swim 2010 from Otto Rascon on Vimeo.

    Set-Up

  • Nikon D700 - shooting in RAW
  • Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8
  • A lot of layers!!!
  • Adobe Lightroom 2 for editing
  • Flip Mino HD for video
  • iMovie for editing and exporting for web
  • North Avenue Beach 1000 North Lake Shore Drive Chicago, IL 60611 (312) 742-5121

    Rock On! info@ottorascon.com | my portfolio | facebook | twitter | 773.430.4785

    By The Way: It would have been nice to have had my 400mm lens today. I then could have captured more facial expressions. Lesson learned: bring my lenses!!!