Dark Pin-Ups with April McClintock

I was recently invited to join a private photo shoot with Kelly of East Coast Artists, which involved a boat trip to an island – Frenchman’s Island out on Oneida Lake – for the day this past Saturday. Kelly and myself were the only two photographers, along with 3 models – Morgan, Taylor and Megan; as well as Kelly’s husband (our “OMG there is no way he can fit that boat in that tiny space!” boat pilot), their daughter (the group survivalist – if we had been stranded we would not have lacked for food – that girl can fish.) and Morgan’s mom (all-around helper and extra hand). The first thing I did when I got up was check the weather – it didn’t look good at first, but by the end of the day, you couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. Lots of storm clouds, on and off rain and very windy. “Perfect day?!” you say? Sounds like a photographers nightmare. That’s why I’m hardcore

Kidding aside, dark, stormy weather just fits my style. Grungy, dark and moody. We did get plenty of sunshine during the early parts of the day, which posed a bit of a challenge as we chased cloud cover for the perfect diffused sunlight, but towards the end of the day we were getting some very rockin’ clouds. The wind threatened to blow my Beauty Dish – flash and all – into the water at one point, but the risk was worth it for the shots we got. After make-up (provided by Megan, the model/photographer/make-up artist Renaissance Woman), we walked for a bit to this old abandoned lighthouse. Big cement building. Lots of graffiti. Great place to start the day. Morgan was our first victim model. Had to get through the typical 30 minutes of nerves as I’m running “Whatamigonnado? whatamigonnado?” through my head over and over all while trying to maintain an outward appearance of calm, serenity and confidence. I’m getting better at this part, but still – for future reference: if you’re working with me, don’t tell me anything you expect me to remember for the first 30 minutes or so. I’m too busy fighting the inner demons. So we got some shots of Morgan in and around the lighthouse, before we went back to get Megan and Taylor who were finishing make-up. Got some decent shots of all three ladies up at the very top of the lighthouse. Huge props to all 3 for making the climb up a rusted ladder in a building full of cobwebs – that’s some dedication.

Next up, we headed down to the water nearby. The first biggest challenge was ahead of us: Killing the glaring afternoon sun. Me and Kelly had two different approaches to the problem: she rolled with it and filled in the shadows with a light touch of on camera flash with great success. I decided to arm-wrestle the sun by rigging two flashes, bare, onto a stand and nuke my model. Was so-so until I realized that one of my flashes wasn’t working thanks to a busted hotshoe bracket – which eventually decided that, while hanging out over a foot of water, was a GREAT time to finally snap completely. My flash gave one final goodbye “pop” before taking the big dunk. Which was nice of it – kind of a “So long, and thanks for all the fish.” While, I do think the sun won in our wrestling match, I did pull this image before I walked away, defeated:

Took a break for some food and a dunk in the lake before getting back to shooting. Pretty much stuck to the pier at this point before heading over to 3 Mile Island and getting a few last shots. I’ll shut up for now and just make good with the…er…goods:

Oh and for some behind the scenes action, take a look at Kelly’s Facebook page