life cleansing v38.8

As May comes to a close I am reminiscent of what I call "life cleansing v38.8" 

I was living in a suburb outside of Chicago, work had moved me there a few years prior from outside Atlanta. How I got to Atlanta or to Chicago are stories for another time so lets stay on task and continue. I was living with someone, no I was "engaged to be married" to someone that had a profound effect on my life. She had helped me through a major life crisis- I had just overcome heart failure for the second time, having received a pacemaker/defibrillator, being placed on copious amounts of Coreg and some good old fashion traditional acupuncture and herbs. I fought hard and won yet again- I just wasn't ready to lay down. I was back on a flood tide and I was pacing the cage. Things between said "fiancé" and I were not all that great so I was nudged to move to Seattle. I gave away my furniture, put what little valuables I had in a storage locker and I packed Mac, my computer, and 2 weeks worth of clothes into my car. 

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I drove to Seattle. I purged my life, I turned the page. 
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2 months later I flew back to my storage unit with the full intention of packing all my crap in a truck and driving back to Seattle. I get into town, borrow a friends car and head to the storage unit. I open the door and the last thing I packed into the unit was my Stratoliner. Now for a side story- I purchased the Stratoliner on a whim, it was when heart failure was just starting to get the best of me. I had left work for short term disability, was still feeling ok and thought "what the fuck" I didn't want to die not owning a motorcycle. There is more to that story, for another time. So I sit on her, she starts right up,  I back her out of the storage unit, and I look up to the sky. I just sat there, who knows for how long- a minute, or 10, I just sat there. I was alive, and it was because I chose to be alive. I decided right then and there that I would leave everything in storage, pack the bag with a few clothes, and ride from Chicago to Seattle. 

I was … ALIVE
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Disclaimer from me - I am coming clean

Please understand, my posts from now on are going to get ... a little weird. As my lovely wife posted and as those of you dear to us who already know, I have heart failure.

Those of you who really know me know there have been some bad days over the years but overall, I've just. kept. swimming. This is the point in my epic Trilogy where I must once again; face it for the battle of middle, oh, enough with the bad movie references ... said NO falco EVER!

© kimberly falco 2013

First, I must address my lovely wife, Kimberly. Hold-on, tearing up a bit … Kimberly, you are simply amazing. Your positive energy, confidence, and over-all awesomeness drive me to be; the best that I can be. Fate could not of drawn a better card here; you are my perfect match, by first mate (ehem), and my motherfucking sunshine.

I am not going to make this a drawn out crazy long ass post, just know all is well in my world and as some things may need to go on hold, other things will be created.

I am of positive spirit and this is just a simple problem with a known solution. When I post, I am not asking for sympathy nor am I trying to draw attention to the problem. Please, my dear friends, let fly the smart ass comments, bad puns, and what ever else we can throw at this to make it light and entertaining, I know I am sure as shit sure going to!

I just want you all to know that I am merely inviting those of you who wish to come along with me on an adventure to tune in, those that don’t, simply tune out. 

beautiful - inside and out

How many times have you heard a photographer say, "Once in a great while I come across a subject that makes me smile" I know I've said it a few times now and I will say it again for the ever so lovely Gina. 

Gina approached me for some maternity shots, and at first I must admit I was a bit puzzled. Not only is she a fellow photographer, but surely she knew maternity was not my "forte". We got to chatting and she emailed me a few sample images of what she was tring to accomplish with our session. Flash, flash, flash! The lights went off in my head. She approached me for EXACTLY what my forte is: beauty shots. Gina wanted me to capture the true beauty of a woman bearing a child, and I set out to do exactly that.

Working with a client like Gina is an absolute pleasure - indeed one of those "once in a great while" sessions. Her comfort and confidence in front of the camera was incredible (for all those who say they hate being in front of a camera, read that sentence again knowing she said she was not usually this comfortable in front of the camera).

What you see below are the results of our efforts. I think Gina did an amazing job and she looks absolutely gorgeous. I will close these words with the last sentence from her email to me after seeing the selects:

"Thank you so much again, you have no idea what these photos mean to me and how much you exceeded what I thought was possible from this session." 

Nikon D300s w/ Nikor 24-70mm f2.8 - Studio strobes

traveling far to find what's close ... a love story

I know you've all heard it before, but I will say it again- she is my most perfect muse. Leave it to me to travel to Zion National Park to reconnect with my most perfect muse.

Yes I took pictures of the surroundings and yes I was awestricken by the beauty of it all but what really struck me with awe is how much this woman loves and understands me. Prior to this working vacation I was ugly- I mean downright evil, not quasai-evil, not the diet coke of evil but the Jolt of evil. The stress of every day life and a few health issues just wore heavily on me. Kimberly gave me my space and let me be for as long as she could, waiting for me to pull myself out. As we all know sometimes we are so caught up in it that until someone tells you to reach up, we don't see the light at the end of it. She suggested a little road trip and while traveling the 2.5 hrs from Vegas to Zion we had a talk- she let me know how much my evilness was effecting her and it cut me like a knife.

No need to perpetuate the drama so we'll now fast-forward to this series of captures. What you see below is how I see Kimberly, for her amazing smile, for all of her beautiful flaws, and for her utterly unexpurgated love for me. She centers me, allows me to be the Michael I am without letting me slide into the Michael I once was. We are two against the world and she is my ... most perfect muse. 

Nikon D300s w/ Nikkor 24-70 f2.8 - available light

my humble thank you to Brittany Oldehoff

I had met Brit on a shoot for Ravish Sands a while back and she just rocked it. Her on camera presence and personality is exactly who she is in real life, wonderful. Over the months, we worked on a few shoots together and I must say - she is a true talent and an amazing person. In the short time I have known her she has proven that hard work, perseverance, and dedication does in fact pay off. When we first met she was in-between agencies hoping to be signed with NEXT, then on a visit to NY she signed with RED NYC, and most recently with LENI'S of London. Brittany, you are officially international. 

Why am I saying thank you to this lovely rising star? It's simple; she gave an unknown photographer the opportunity to work with a true talent. This opportunity forced me to step up my game and she continues to challenge me with new ideas and concepts. Thanks to her, I have built a strong relationship with NEXT Miami, several other agency models, and have helped my images be known internationally as well.

Brittany: thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for seeing my talents before I did, for believing in me, and for giving me a chance to show my work to the world. I am grateful and I am humbled - I can't wait for our next shoot!

Below are a few shots from along the way and very first attempt at video production (I told you she challenges me). If you want to see more of Birttany, give her website a gander. 

Brittany in B&W from michael falco on Vimeo.

 

All that glitters is Nicole

Nicole is one of those models that you just know will bring it. I had seen her in a few peers portfolios and had to contact her. We spoke via text and emails for some time before we could set a date to shoot. Each time I spoke to her I'd look at her photos and get this feeling, her on-camera presence just draws you in. Let me tell you she did not disappoint- her personality is exactly what you'd expect.

Throughout the shoot Nicole was able to bounce from the witty and sharp conversations that had us both laughing to the super vixen you see below. She was able to nail her expression and pose each and every time- a true professional. I am looking forward to seeing where Nicole takes her modeling and hope I continue to be a part of her portfolio. 

Of course I must also mention the amazing hair and make-up of Olivia Smalley of OMgArtistry. Every time I work with Olivia, magic happens. If you have not yet booked her, trust me when I say you will not be disappointed in her skills and professionalism. 

Nikon D300s w/ Nikkor 24-70 f2.8 - available light

Cora in Charlotte

I often travel for business, and when I do I always try to work with a local model. Looking at models on model mayhem, I came upon this lovely lady - Cora. We exchanged a few emails in which I sent a few concept images to use as inspiration, and we set a time. After picking her up, we headed to a place she had shot at before.

One of the advantages/disadvantages of shooting while traveling is limited knowledge of the area for locations. As we were driving, I spotted a few abandoned old warehouses and pulled a quick turn into the parking lot. We looked at each other, and knew we found our location. Those of you who know me know that two places get my photo mojo going – the beach and old buildings. 

Cora was an absolute pleasure to work with - killer personality, professional attitude and as you can see, she was just switched on. It is always a pleasure working with a talent such as her. Here is just a little teaser from that day.

D300s w/ Sigma 50mm 1.4; 1/320th @2 - available light

Melissa Sky - the definition of glamour

I was introduced to Melissa at a Ravish Sands Swimwear shoot and was immediately drawn to her personality, and the way she presented herself. We had a great shoot, and got some killer images.

Fast forward to present - and what you see here is a sample of her latest shoot. After reaching out to me for some commissioned work, we went back and forth on what style of shoot she wanted to do. After a few emails and texts, she decided on shooting lingerie. I am always drawn to the classic glamour look. In my head I had a vision of how to show Melissa's true beauty.

I guess the best way to describe it is to just quote her after receiving her images; "You really know the perfect angles! You definitely know how to make anyone look classy." Well Melissa - you are classy, all I did was capture it. ;)

Nikon D300s w/ Sigma 50mm F1.4; 1/160th @ f5.6 AB800 backlit with AB800 in Beauty dish on axis

my ace in the hole, my muse

When I am asked about my images, about how I capture someone, the first question most people ask is "what is your inspiration" That's the easiest thing to explain, above all technical, artistic and creative abilities: Kimberly. Now this is not a rant to confirm to my wife that she is the apple of my eye or that she is the only woman I see in my head - this is more an explanation to what drives me to capture people the way I do.

It's rather simple, actually. I have spent my whole life searching for my equal, the other half, the ying to my yang. I've experienced a lot in my life, open-heart surgery, love, divorce, a later return trip to have a pacemaker implanted, some more love, sorrow, I've experienced... life. When I met Kimberly, it just all made sense. Every day is not a bed of roses, every conversation is not always positive - but that's not what it's all about. What it's all about is the look in her eye when she is happy, content but not complacent. She has given me the foresight to see what drives me to succeed photographically: the ability to make someone smile. NOTHING in the world is more powerful than a sincere smile. Be it on camera, or after seeing the images from a set. I cannot explain the feeling I get from putting a smile on someones face.

It's a simple recipe; her smile, her complete happiness is what makes me capture people the way I do. Call it what you will, I'm not interested in defining it but simply put, who wouldn't want to put a smile on someones face. 

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D300s w/ 70-200mm VR I: 1/800th @ f4, ISO 640

Elaina

Elaina and I found each other on model mayhem, we exchanged a few emails about concepts and set a date. We discussed some outfit ideas, but kept it rather loose when it came to the concept. When she came by the studio, the first thing I noticed was her smile. Elaina just has one of those smiles - I just knew we'd get something spectacular together. She laid out her outfit selections, we spoke about which to shoot when and where, and then we began getting ready to shoot. This teaser set was our second to last outfit and I've got to say: the more I worked with Elaina, the more I knew we'd be working together again. Stay tuned for more images from our shoot - trust me you will want to see the last set for sure! 

D300s w/ Sigma 50mm f1.4: f/9 @ 1/250th using a gridded ABR800 ring flash

 

A flare for Alex

Alex is one of those shining gems we as photographers come across from time to time. Quiet and reserved for the most part but when she's in front of the camera she just explodes. I highly recommend booking a shoot with her.

When doing portfolio shoots I often try to match the image to the personality, and Alex's personality just screamed 'flare', lens flare that is. In my minds eye, capturing personality conveys just as much to an agency or client who the model is as equally as what they look like. 

Of course I have to give the proper credits to the amazing skills of make-up artist Jessica Rivera and hair stylist Leslibeth Mora, they both make my job easy and fun. Professionals like these 2 are rare and I suggest you book them for your upcoming projects! 

introducing Ms. Jenifer LeGrand

I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Jenifer at an event hosted by the Academy of Glam. We hit it off creatively and got some great shots. She approached me to shoot again and who am I to say no to an amazing talent like herself. We met up on a Sunday morning and headed down to the beach. Below is just a sample of the shots from that day. Jenifer is an absolute pleasure to work with, simply stunning with a killer attitude. Her online portfolio is continually being updated and I suggest you go take a look. 

LML reason #...

OK, so I don't really keep track of the reasons I do in fact love my life nor do I really care to keep track of the reasons. The simple fact is, I love my life. There is something surreal in having the opportunity to shoot with a close friend like Jessie. She was an absolute pleasure to work with in every sense of the word. We shared a few laughs, shot a few pictures and had a killer time. The best part of it, showing her the pictures so she could pick out the teaser below. Nothing makes my job more rewarding than seeing the smile on a models face knowing I was able to give them a moment captured that she will enjoy for a lifetime. The best part of it all, getting a text from her a little later that simply said "I've never felt as beautiful as I did today" Jessie, you are a true beauty, inside and out... 

Nikon D300s & Nikkor 35mm f1.8; 1/125th @f2; natural light

 

it's all about teamwork!!

there is no I in team but there sure as hell is TALENT in this team! I have had the privilege to work with Jessica of Jessica Rivera and Leslibeth of Starlit Designs on a few projects now and all I can say is WOW! They continue to impress me with their talent and professionalism, not to mention some kick ass recipes here and there.

Thank you both for making my job all that much easier. Below are a couple of shots I had the pleasure of collaborating with them on. 

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Leslie: D300s & Sigma 50mm f1.4; 1/250th @f9

 

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Mahila: D300s & Nikkor 70-200mm 2.8; 1/250th @f13

can you believe it's almost bikini season?

OK, so maybe in South Florida it's always bikini season. Ravish Sands Swimwear and I had the pleasure of working with models Brittany, Jess and Natalia along with the amazingly talented make-up artists Michelle of 360 Makeup and Monica of RougeArtistry. Throw in a few unique stylings available at LaLa Couture As you can see, the combined efforts came out spectacular. 

Make sure you stop by and check out all the hot swimwear Ravish Sands has to offer, it IS bikini season somewhere! 


Emily and Ravish Sands... what a combination

It started with a facebook message, and it ended with this. Emily is a good friend and model from the Seattle area. She contacted me and asked about shooting when she was visiting her grandma in Miami, the answer was um YES!! We set the date, her and her wonderful mom drove to Castillo de Falco and we proceeded to spend the weekend shooting. Of course I immediately called Jessie of Ravish Sands, what's a shoot on the beach without her über amazing swimsuits?! Look for more shots of Emily soon but here is just a little teaser...

D300s w/ 70-200 f2.8 at 130mm; f4@1/640th, ISO100, natural light

Philip and the sunrise

I had the chance to work with Philip from Elite Miami the day after Thanksgiving. It was a 7am shoot and we had to coax our way into the park since it didn't open until 8. The sunrise was perfect, Philip was a pleasure to work with and we knocked out a few shots before we got kicked out for being in the park too early ;)

D300s w/ 70-200 f2.8; f4@1/500th, natural light