Photographer workshop

A photographer friend of mine, Brian, put together a casual gathering to network and shoot at a place called StudiosLIC in Queens, NY.  I met Brian at one of the first meet-up’s I ever attended in NYC in 2008 when I was first learning about photography and how to use light.  For this shoot he brought a model he had worked with recently and others joined in the fun in front of the lens as the night went on. 

Jessenia is from Florida and new to NYC.  She was very nice to work with, great smile and doesn’t need guidance however, she's also open to feedback if you want her to move or stand in a certain way.

North Jersey Headshot Photographer Fashion Images

Mike is a guy that works at the studio and somehow ended up in front of the camera.  I snapped a few of him as well.  He didn’t seem to mind giving us his best for a little while in front of the camera.

North Jersey Headshot Photographer Lifestyle Images

Overall, this was a nice opportunity to meet some other photographers and get a chance to play in a different space.  Thanks Brian for setting it up!

Unplanned 30 minute photo shoot

I love unexpected surprises.  Three years ago I shot for the first time during WPPI with Meli and again in 2013 in the desert.  Her husband Shayne, was my assistant holding a reflector in the desert with wind blowing and sand kicking up while Meli was doing her best to avoid the glare of the sun and not fall in the cracks of the desert floor.  

I like to balance between working with new and repeat clients for a variety of reasons.  Funny enough, I had actually planned to work with one repeat model from last year and she was a no-show one hour before shoot time - you never know.  Meli noticed, through the power of social media, that I was going to be in town and reached out to me to come by.  After some texting, we worked out a small window of time to swing by.  

I had some other plans on the night we chose so we needed to make it quick.  As soon as she came in the door, I got her in front of the camera and started shooting.  To her credit, we managed to get a variety of images in about 30 minutes (which is super short for me).  Meli is a very experienced model that needs no direction.  She just knows how to emote these great expressions and move each time the flash goes off to vary the look each time.

Darrin Estep photography fashion Vegas

This one below was my favorite!  This one has been added to my portfolio!

Darrin Estep photography fashion Vegas

And a few more with the pink fuzzy coat.  Thanks Meli for swinging by.

Darrin Estep photography fashion Vegas

MUA In Front of the camera

I was recently in Las Vegas for WPPI and had the opportunity to schedule two photo shoots while I was there.  I posted a casting call and Bri responded.  Quickly.  I followed up with some questions and I got a response back - within minutes.  I emphasize this because its RARE!  

Anytime I reach out to work with another professional, I first try to sort out if I like their work and then, can I trust them to be reliable.  She was so fast (and consistent) with her responses to me; her work was awesome - so it was an easy decision to book her time.

I had two shoots scheduled so I hired her for both.  She was also very collaborative during the shoot which I personally welcome on set.  At the end of the second shoot, I asked her to step in front of the camera for a few quick headshots.  Here are my favorites.

Darrin Estep Photography headshot with MUA

A true pleasure working with Briseida, or Bri, as she likes to be called.  For those in Vegas looking for a make-up artist, hire her.

WPPI Session: Content Marketing for the 2015 Photographer

Jared Bauman, the founder of shootdotedit gave an informative talk at WPPI in Vegas on Marketing for the 2015 photographer.  I wanted to take a deeper dive into this subject and discuss what I took away from the talk.  Two elements that make the current marketplace challenging, according to Jared, are 1) low cost of entry for new photographers and 2) social media (if you don't use it or use it incorrectly).  Social media, especially for today’s small business owner, is key.  It can work wonders if you use it well and it can also be overwhelming to keep up with if you don’t have a system in place.

content marketing wppi 2015

The talk on content marketing underlined the importance of first knowing your target audience (i.e., your potential client).  Once you know your audience well, including their demographic profile, and why they'd be in need of your services, do the following:

  1. Develop a marketing and business process 
  2. Develop content that’s relevant and valuable to your client and provide this information in a consistent and timely manner.
  3. Attract and acquire. He referenced a book called Launch by Jeff Walker for more information.  I'm anxious to read the book to learn more.
  4. Create a persona which is basically the process of defining your target client(s) so much so that you actually give them a name and use that in how you market to them.  This can be a very powerful technique.
  5. Determine drivers for profitable customer action.  The example he gave was in the wedding space and how there are various phases of the wedding process (being engaged, then married, moving to a house, kids, etc.). All of these phases have potential marketing and relationship opportunities and they map to different phases of your relationship with them (e.g., when they're engaged it would generally map to them being a potential client, etc.). Making the most of each of these opportunities are critical to success.  One that's often overlooked is after the event occurs.  Following up and nurturing that relationship can turn them into your champions and spawn new business.

Other aspects of the discussion was around blogging, email marketing, Facebook advertising, and tools for automating the whole process.  The tools are a big interest to me.  I’m hyper focused on figuring out tools and processes that will make the process of marketing, advertising, and content delivery easy for me. Well, maybe easier.

I didn't cover all of what Jared spoke about but I appreciate that this session had actionable items and usable information.  Its frustrating when you sit through a session and at the end are left wondering, "now what?" 

WPPI: 2015 - Third time's a charm

This year was my third year making the trek out to Las Vegas for the WPPI (Wedding Portrait Photography) conference at the MGM Grand.  Its always a great time to get out of the Northeast and go from 20 degrees to 70.

My focus at this years conference was on business, marketing, workflow and posing sessions (similar list to last year).  I spent a little time at the Expo to check out the vendors and also managed to get a couple shoots in.  


From the sessions I attended I realized more so how important it is to know the demographics of my clients.  It allows you to provide a better service since you're able to anticipate needs and build a stronger bond.  An area of interest for my business this year is SEO and getting the most out of client relationships.  

Blogging is still an important way to get the word out about your business.  I like to use it as a way to chronicle my activity and give people a sense of who I am.  A repeated theme from last year was to always look for ways to both attract and repel.  You want strong reactions about your work.  That's what creates future champions for your business.

By attending the sessions, each year I find new contacts and inspiration.  I hope to write a little about each session in future posts but one I wanted to call out now was the key note by Joe McNally.  Wow. I thought I knew most of his work but there was so much I wasn't aware of.  He has been everywhere it seems and shot so many iconic images.  So impressive.

Last, I'm a bit of a tech geek and love to use tools and automation where possible to get the business portion of my job done.  Currently, I'm using tools like Buffer to schedule posts to social media (G+, Facebook, and Twitter).  I also use Dropbox for a variety of client facing and organizational reasons and IFTTT to help with some automation with content.

I'll have more information coming on the shoots I did while in Vegas. Stay tuned...

G+ ->
Facebook ->
Twitter -> 

Book Author's Promotional Video

Over the course of the past several months, Heather has been finishing up her book and getting things in line to announce it to the world that it is complete and ready to be consumed.  When I first started working with Heather, she didn't yet have a book title.  That's all changed.  The title of the book is called, "The Evolution of Her".

During the time we shot profile images for Heather, we also captured some video.  On a separate day, we recorded the audio.  Through the magic of post-processing and some collaboration between myself and Heather, her promotional video for her book is ready!

Bottle & Bottega Corporate Event

What’s not to enjoy about events where people are getting together and having fun?  I’ve done a few events now for Bottle & Bottega and its always a great time!  Its interesting how there’s consistently trepodation as people enter the room (especially for corporate events since they are sometimes not told what their activity is until they arrive) and fears are quickly alleviated as the activity is explained by Rupa and her team.  

north jersey professional event photography

There’s lots of preparation that goes into planning the event.  Here are some shots of the preparation in progress.

north jersey professional event photography

The painting instruction begins and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves.

north jersey professional event photography

Rupa, the owner of the North Jersey Bottle & Bottega pulls double-duty this time and is teaching in addition to overseeing the event.

north jersey professional event photography

There were about 50 people at this event.  Here are a few taken while “working” on their art.

north jersey professional event photography

Each of the three tables gathered to present their final masterpiece.  I’m sure they’ll be hung throughout the offices shortly.

north jersey professional event photography

Web ->
G+ ->
Facebook ->
Twitter -> 

Special thanks to: 
Tanya @ the Basking Ridge Country Club
Rupa and her team 

Catalog Shoot

Once in a while I come across something new and different.  This was one of those times.  I was commissioned to shoot approximately 150 pieces of clothing for the upcoming summer season (dreaming of summer right about now in January) by using 4 models which gave us a few minutes per outfit based on the time we had to shoot.  Yikes!


What you see above is about 1/3 of the line we shot that day.  Its a little hard to make out but you'll notice there's a small object in the lower left of all the photos.  This is an iPad with a product number on it so when Dave (the manufacturer) needs to take orders from his clients, they know what product they're talking about.  We had so many pieces of clothing to photograph that the MUA (Jennifer) ended up modeling for us as well.  Great shoot!

MUA: Jennifer Haines
Models: Melanie, Alina, Kiki, Sarah
Clothing Manufacturer: Satguru Enterprises
Photographer: me :-)

Lisa's Portrait Session

Today I am featuring a portrait session I shot with Lisa.  She's a professional violinist and wanted some updated headshots.  My goal for the session was to deliver a variety of looks she could use.

We managed to get both indoor and outdoor photos even with the chilly weather in December.  We started inside and her dog wanted to be a part of the action so, why deny her that opportunity.

north jersey professional head shots

Something I find myself doing on most every shoot is moving furniture.  I think I need to add that to the about me page :-)  I’m always striving to put my clients in the best light and without distracting elements in the background.  For the next setup, I wanted to feature Lisa on this old couch that had great curves and shape but didn't want the same backdrop as before. 


By this time in the shoot, the sun had fallen a bit and the golden hour had arrived.  That would be about 3:30 in the afternoon for December in the northeast.  She had a great outdoor space and we captured a few photos while we could both stand to be outside in the cold weather.


Before we closed up shop and moved furniture back in place, I wanted to get some dramatic photos of her playing the violin so….furniture move (again) and changed out the backdrop to black.  I setup one light, just out of frame to her left. I had her play a little something while I took these...


Ekaterina Dramatic Headshots

Once in a while I try to shoot something fun, something I find interesting.  I posted on ModelMayhem (popular site for sourcing models, make-up artists [MUA], etc.) for a casting call to do dramatic headshots and was overwhelmed with responses.  I chose Lyndsey, the MUA, almost immediately.  She has great work and awesome review as well.  The model took more thought and one consideration for me was that I don't have nearly as many blonds in my portfolio as I do brunets.  

Ekaterina was ultimately my choice.  I also used a service that I've used in the past which is called Breather.  Its a small, one room place that you can rent by the hour.  It works pretty well for photo sessions.  I should have allowed more time but...I had to work with the time allowed.  I probably had 30 min in total to shoot.   Here are my favorites...


I love doing these kinds of shoots.  Next time, I'll give myself more time to explore!

Michele & John's Wedding

I received a call from Michele a couple weeks back and she knew of me from an event I shot at Bottle & Bottega in the summer.  She and her fiancé were planning a civil ceremony in a town close to where I live.  I was happy accommodate them and be one of the 5 select people at this event.


I stopped by the courthouse the day before and was initially a little concerned.  The parking lot and the courthouse weren’t going to make for very interesting images.  I started to wander around the neighborhood a bit and pretty quickly discovered this really nice park right next door.  Yay!  It had plenty for me to work with and I mapped out a path of things we could walk through in a short period of time.


After our quick shoot in the park, we walked over to the courthouse.  There were two other couples waiting to be married but Michele & John were first.  The judge was pretty funny.  His name was Mr. Fullylove - and he joked about how appropriate his name was for his purpose in the days events.


Ten minutes later, Michele and John were married!  Congratulations to you both! 

Stefania's 40th Birthday

As a referral from someone I used to work with, he connected me with Stefania and after a conversation about what she wanted she hired me for the gig.  It was a special occasion.  A 40th Birthday Party in Williamsburg Brooklyn.  This was held at the Wythe Hotel.  A very hip place in Brooklyn that had a line of people outside to get in - as I left the event at 1:00 AM.  Not something I'm used to these days.


Stefania had the idea of bringing some props to get people in front of a backdrop to have something entertaining for the group.  It did actually did the trick - but not until the end of the night.  The venue had some very attractive food for the guests to enjoy.

All the goods were out for snacking!

All the goods were out for snacking!

Great food and conversation prevailed.

Great food and conversation prevailed.

Several people taking part in the props.

Several people taking part in the props.

Blowing out the candles

Blowing out the candles


Happy Birthday Stefania!

Agile 2014 Event

I've either been attending or covering the Agile Day event for many years at this point.  Its a great crowd and a bit of a reunion since I run into people I've worked with for over 10 years.  For the past several years its been at Pace University


Joe Krebs (on the left, above) has been running the show for several years now and has announced that he'll be passing the torch for next year.  It'll be exciting to see how the show evolves in the future.

Large crowd joined in for the keynote speaker.

Large crowd joined in for the keynote speaker.

This year, I managed to grab a few shots of a live-blogger of sorts.  He had some great sketches.

This year, I managed to grab a few shots of a live-blogger of sorts.  He had some great sketches.

Lots of great speakers and reuniting.

Lots of great speakers and reuniting.

Another sketch and juggling?  Yes, juggling.

Another sketch and juggling?  Yes, juggling.


The afternoon wrapped up with the Open Space.  Joe kicked off the introduction of the concept which is for the audience to determine what the topics are and the time slot and then if people are interested, there will be a conversation.  You can come and go as you please.  It can make for interesting conversation.

Author Headshots & Video: Heather

In the first of a two-part series for my work with Heather, I'm publishing some bio shots I completed recently for her.  She's wrapping up her first publication about empowering women to be able to make their own choices regarding marriage and children, without blindly following the traditional path.  As of this writing, I don't believe the book has a title yet so once we can link to it on Amazon (or wherever it will be available) I'll add the link here.

On the day we shot these headshots, we did both video and stills.  Heather's sister came along as well to help with Heather's wardrobe changes and to be the supportive sister that I'm sure she is.  

This shoot was the first time I'd ever tried to do both photography and video on the same day.  Since we had already had several conversations about how we wanted the content to feel, it wasn't too hard switching between the material.  Preplanning is huge when it comes to something more than just grabbing some updated portraits!


We chose Dumbo, in Brooklyn, as our shooting location.  It really offers a lot of options for different types of setup's and with the right angling, you can get some pretty different environmental settings within a small area.


At this point, we don't know what the book cover and art for the cover will look like so we kept our options open with the feel of the shoot.


A funny coincidence in the vertical shot of Heather with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background is that since her book is about following a non-traditional path, we stumbled upon several brides while we were shooting.  One of them is very small in the far background of this image.


I would be remiss in not crediting the help I received from Theresa Keil.  She captured these last couple images while I was still setting up.  I look forward to the next set of material we capture for Heather which will be more video content.

Stacy & Jimmy's wedding video (highlights)

Sometimes its not as much about being there as it is experiencing it.  In this case, I wasn't there - I didn't shoot this material.  I've helped a photography friend, Steve Kang, with some video editing of weddings that he has shot and the material is sitting in the queue for someone to piece it together and help tell the story of the day.

This was a fun wedding to walk through and edit.  It took place in Boston (or close to there) and there were lots of patriotic acts that were inspiring to observe. Best of luck to the newlyweds!

Video: Aspen Landscaping Advertisement

Aspen is leader in full-solution commercial landscaping in the NJ/NY area.  They have just added an irrigation division to their business and I was hired to shot an advertisement announcing this new venture.  

I worked with Mark (the project manager) and Angelo (spokesperson) to produce the video.  This was the first time they had ever put together a video like this and it was fun working through the requirements and messaging with them to arrive at this final product.  From what I understand from them, this is also pretty unusual in the landscape business to have a video like this so this should be a nice differentiator for Aspen Landscaping.

Amy's Headshots

I've been using a new service called Thumbtack to obtain business.  So far, so good.  The way it works is that a person in need of a professional service, like photography perhaps, would post a request for...oh, I don't know - headshots let's say.  As a service provider of said headshots, I have the opportunity to bid on the request.  If the requester likes the quote and my profile, they can respond and offer me the gig.  Amy did just that.

Amy's an actor in NYC and her agency wanted some new headshots done for her portfolio.  There were some pretty specific things they were after so we focused on that first and then did some other things to play a bit later in the shoot.

I called on Nicole, a makeup artist I'd worked with in the past.  She's great!  Very reliable, does great work and is always willing to help with more than make-up duty.  

We started with a variety of colors and tops on black since part of the requirement was to get some clean shots of Amy with this variety.  These are some of my favorites.


Whenever I do headshots, I like to get some that probably lean more toward beauty shots vs. a traditional headshot.  Here are a few that I liked of that set.


One of the fist things Amy mentioned to me when I met her in person is that she is challenged with *not* smiling.  I had to stop and think about that for a minute since I would say its much more common for people to struggle with having a nice, natural smile on camera.  Sounded like a challenge to me to come away with at least a few for her that she was a bit more serious.  As you can see from the featured image in the set above, she nailed it.  She even knew of a technique that I believe Peter Hurley invented called the "squinch".  Essentially its 'squinting your eye lids in a way that portrays confidence'.  We had fun playing with the look.


We then moved onto another location.  The set of three above are actually shot in natural light (which I don't tend to do very often).  I've shot in this location before and really like the options it gives you as an artist.

Only a few feet away from the previous set with Amy sitting on the bench, there was a post I had her stand near for a few images with a blazer and a set of glasses.  Again, with the goal of giving the agency some options with making Amy more marketable.

Finally, a few from the same location as the blazer but with just the green top and a bit more casual.  It was a real pleasure working with Amy for the first time.  She is as nice and down-to-earth as she is beautiful.  As the shoot went on, she also provided laughs "on the set".  I'll leave you with a few silly faces that came through in the session that got us all laughing.  

Bottle & Bottega: Team building Event

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve recently teamed up with Bottle & Bottega which is a paint and sip studio where you can bring some wine, food, friends and they have artists on hand to help you create your own masterpiece on canvas.

I tagged along to a team building event with Bottle & Bottega for Bayer at the Skytop Lounge in the Poconos.  The plan was for me to shoot video with the goal of capturing the event, featuring the painting and teamwork and ultimately the final mural the group put together.  In addition, I planned to interview as many people as I could get to sit down with me to give a sense of what their experience was like.  It all went even better than expected.

Upon arrival, I noticed one thing that was missing for me: a space to interview others.  I scanned the property and what I ended up with was an outside setup that unless I would have told you it was outside, you wouldn’t have known any different.  It happened to be a pretty hot/humid night so that was a little tough but everyone made it through the interview without a hitch.

After a couple of rounds with Bottle & Bottega, I have a finished product that they love and I’m proud to show.  I look forward to more events with this group! 

Music Licensed through Marmoset: Love and Oceans (Instrumental) by The Dimes