The Most Meaningful Shoot Of My Life

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I’ve been a full-time professional photographer for over 20 years and have been fortunate to photograph some really amazing subjects (celebrities, global sporting events, heads of state, you name it… I’ve photographed it) but nothing, and I mean nothing, has meant more to me than photographing the love of my life, Candice, and our unborn child, Stella Jean.

For countless years, photography was my first and only true love. It wasn’t until the universe magically aligned and I met Candice. A huge brotherly hug to my dearest friend, Scott for introducing us.

From Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece, Inception.

“Cobb: What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient… highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it’s almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed – fully understood – that sticks; right in there somewhere.” -Leonard DiCaprio.

When Candice first told me that we were pregnant, an idea was formed…. I must create a portrait of her to immortalize this moment in her life. I wanted to capture Candice in all of her beauty so that one day, Stella Jean could view this beautiful portrait of her mother.

The process.

Step one:
We recently opened a studio in Inlet Beach, FL, and since I’m constantly evolving/learning and wanted our new venture to be wicked successful, so I joined Sue Bryce Education. Sue really knows her stuff and has built a wonderful website that makes it easy to learn solid business practices along with excellent posing tutorials.

After watching Sue paint one of her own backdrops, I decided, what the hell, let’s give this a try.

I wanted a dark (not black) textured backdrop for this portrait so I decided to chalkboard paint 6×9 and 9×12 canvas backdrops. I washed and dried (low heat) the backdrops three times each to soften the canvas and help remove the packaging wrinkles.

Below: J and Z were super-excited to help with the paint job but unfortunately, they lasted all of 30 minutes. 12 quarts of Valspar chalkboard paint (2 parts paint, 1 part water dilution) later and the drops were done.

candice-maternity-paint

Step two:
Setup the backdrops and test the lighting.

Profoto A1

Profoto A1

Since Candice would be balancing on an apple box and with our due date fast approaching, I wanted to build the safest possible set but not sacrifice on the quality of light.

I’d normally rig up one of my Profoto B1’s but thanks to my wonderful friends at Profoto USA, I was able to light this portrait with a single A1. I’ve been a Profoto user for nearly two decades and was humbled and honored to be named one of their Legends of Light earlier this year.

Since I wanted the light source to be super-soft and large enough to illuminate both Candice and the backdrops, I chose my Profoto Deep White XL Umbrella along with Profoto’s  XL Umbrella Diffuser.

Advertised as the “world’s smallest studio light,” I couldn’t agree more. The A1 didn’t skip a beat and performed as expected, flawlessly.

Step three:
Put together an amazing team for the shoot! The dynamic duo of Yvette Raldiris Nation (makeup) and Tania Crawford (hair) made Candice glow! Notice Candice’s dress on the right… it’s hanging from a 12ft light stand and barely fit into our studio which has 14ft ceilings.

candice-maternity-hmua

Step four:
Photograph Candice in her beautiful Krysten Gown from Sew Trendy.

Step five:
Send the RAW Hasselblad file to Rocco Ancora at Capture to Print for retouching.

Step six:
Share the image and try to decide… should I order an acrylic or floating framed canvas?

03a-profoto-a1-jvsstudios

When Candice finally put on her dress and stepped onto the apple box, I had to fight back the tears.

Some people speak of a defining moment in their lives, this was mine.

Photographing the woman that I love, pregnant with our daughter, was the most rewarding shoot of my entire life.

I love you, Candice.

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