Holiday Shooting

Though traveling about the country to shoot with celebrities, Fortune 500 companies, and business executives is fun, and our bread and butter, really, there’s always time to do some Holiday portraits. Santa doesn’t just bring presents and treats, he brings big events that can be a blast to work and photograph.


Frequency Separation for Models and Headshots

There are other videos out there discussing frequency separation, and how to use it for models and headshots. This one is easily the best, since it goes into detail about what you’re doing and why.

If you didn’t know, frequency separation is the method in Photoshop to do a real, but tasteful retouching. If you look at a model’s picture and you think “this looks airbrushed,” then they didn’t do it right.

By carefully minding how you “airbrush” a model’s images, you can clean up blemishes and color irregularities, while keeping the humanity — and appearance of reality — in the picture. In simple terms, what you do is to smooth out tones in the face, while keeping the pores intact. This doesn’t happen if you’re using the clone tool a lot, or if you’re doing some gaussian blurs. Blurring effects on skin tone can be a bit like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. While it will smooth things, it will also kill some of the finer detail that you want to keep, that little detail without which your model is thrust into the uncanny valley; that is, looking a little bit un-human.

Anyway, if you’re a beginner or an amateur, or even intermediate in photo retouching, you may not know about this method for professional image editing. It’s very much worth learning about.

Media Website ‘Daily Candid News’ Does Write-Up on John Strand

Daily Candid News (DCN) posted a great interview article with John recently, but you can read it here.


“A slew of famous faces have posed in front of his lens, leading John Strand to be called “the greatest photographer in the country” by BizBash Magazine, a nationally recognized event planning publication.

“And throughout his illustrious career, celebrities alike have come to consider him a gifted photographer and a trusted friend.

“Here the man, who Olympic Champions Janet Evans, Rulon Gardner and Jim Craig turn to when they need a great photo, reveals the secrets to his undeniable success.”

DCN: How did you get into photography?

John Strand: I was 6 years old and I fell in love with photography. My mother loved photography and I was just drawn to it.

DCN: And what was your first major break?

John Strand: Well, I previously worked really hard as an actor while I was learning the art of Cinematography.

I would pester the DPs on set until they explained everything to me. I was learning how to shoot while learning the true art of acting.

The answer to your question is:  I was born at the right time. That was my big break. I was learning from the best from the studios I worked in which included Paramount, Lorimar (now Sony), 20th Century Fox, Universal. The art of creating magic using light as a brush and capturing magic in 1/24 of a second at a time. The moment is so precious that the wrong angle or focus takes away from that very thing.

DCN: How have you managed to stay at the top of your field?

John Strand: It has been 30 years of loving what I do and finding out I was a top photographer in the world, was a shock. It was not until I was told that I even fathomed such a concept. I think that being used as a celeb photographer for over 100 times a year is actually a mythical number of shoots; but to tell the truth, the numbers are much higher. I was blessed with companies booking me daily across the country and yes sometimes around the world.

DCN: You have been named one of the greatest photographers when it comes to celebrity headshots, why do you think you have garnered such a stellar reputation among the stars?

John Strand: I have no idea. I just work. I am so humbled that I get this kind of recognition but I am so uncomfortable about it. I just want to work and not have the entourages that come with the celebrity shoots. I tell everyone that they need to leave their attitude at the door.

DCN: Which celebrities have been your favorite to shoot and why?

John Strand: Olympic Champions are my favorites. I love Janet Evans, Rulon Gardner and Jim Craig. My three miracles.

David Cassidy was fun as he had not done a photo shoot with a professional photographer in 20 years and he was quite nervous.

Danica Patrick was cool as I shot her at SEMA Show and there were hundreds of photographers watching me shoot.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was fun as I knew him from the film business and he is now a pretty big draw. I do not enjoy the big A- list movie stars at all. Unless I know them well, it’s just work.  Basically, I do mainly NDA work.

However, I must add that shooting for Playboy wasn’t a bad gig.

DCN: What star would you love to shoot which you haven’t already? And why?

John Strand: Elvis but that dog don’t hunt. Maybe Sean Connery. I have no real celebrity quest at all.

DCN: What’s your motto in life?

John Strand: Smile hard and work happy. Surround yourself with people who are beautiful on the inside and your life will prosper.

DCN: And your advice for anyone breaking into the business?

John Strand: Start working at whatever you love NOW and don’t look back. The biggest mistake people make in life is not taking that first step because they fear failure, but the only way to ever succeed is to start taking those steps in the direction you want your life to go.

Thanks for the great interview, Melissa!

Before and After Two: Rose

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Rose Jamal Before and After

Rose’s before and after photos highlights the skill of photographer and the importance of retouching when it comes to headshots. Celebrity Portfolios also benefit from retouching and models appear picture-perfect.
John Strand is noted as the best photographer in Los Angeles. He is a hugely successful and accomplished commercial, portrait photographer and he offers the best pricing when it comes to men, women , kids, actors and models headshots.
He is also a veteran when it comes to corporate headshots.

An Actor’s Approach to Shooting Actors

 If you’re going to shoot an actor, aim for the heart.

Haha, seriously. As a long-time performer in front of and behind camera, I know myself and I know the people I’m used to working with. Shooting photography one-on-one does not differ from establishing a relationship with a new woman (or man, in qualifying cases). Your conquest will be timid, at first. Or maybe not. There are all kinds of performers and people, after all. But generally speaking, when a new person walks into your studio they are counting on your professionalism in not screwing them (at least not on the first date). You have to make them comfortable.

Proof of acting


And really, that’s the first and most important rule in taking an individual’s picture. Group shots are one thing. Landscape photography might as well be an entirely different profession altogether. You don’t ask the setting sun to relax and try a bigger smile. When you take your pictures back to the lab you may be using the same editing tools, and more objective viewers may approach an image of the California coastline the same as a girl glowing against a green screen, but ultimately the products are measured and manipulated in their own way, and serve a completely different function on the market.

I was gifted with a naturally deep voice that has a calming influence on my clients, and for that I am grateful. You may not have that. All you have to work with is your personality and a few basic rules of thumb.

You are expected to take control, so have it and maintain it. Know what you want your subject to do, where you want them to stand, what position they need to take to get the best lighting. Know what you’re doing in advance.

Don’t make your model stand around all day because you didn’t plan the shoot properly. Time sitting or standing around the studio while you’re still obsessing over lighting configurations is time for your subject to second-guess themselves, get bored, tired, hungry, and uncomfortable. Don’t do that to them or yourself.

One thing that I do that seems to help a lot is to show my models the images of themselves as we go. It’s easy, can lighten up a shoot, and with technology today allowing for instant monitoring from the back of your camera, there’s no reason not to.

I suppose I could go on on the subject, since I think it’s a strong suit of mine, but I’d better leave more for future blog posts… 

Diversify Your Portfolio!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What look do you want?
We can provide it.On thing to remember when going out for your first head shot shoot is to bring a change of clothes. In fact it’s that kind of think ahead that indicated readiness to adapt on any set, video or photography. If you work in Hollywood, it’s a good habit to get in to.And as far as head shots go, you’re going to want to have some flexibility with the end product. We can give you that, but you come in to it as well. Bring your look so we can enhance it. Bring your makeup, your wardrobe, your props, your attitude.