Pro's Big 35... Birthday Portraits

June is a busy time for birthdays in my life... especially during the Gemini and Cancer transition. I believe I have to celebrate about 14 birthdays around that time. 


This year, I have decided to shoot portraits for people on their birthdays... what other gift is better than getting documented on your special day?

Venue is shot at my boy's spot in the arts district of Pomona... called 11th Door Studio. He has a lovely spot which showcases amazing artwork and "feels" in a 1400sqft space. 

The initial idea was to create some spunk with the various textures and colors all around but we ended up taking on a different direction as we were inspired by various props. 

Anyways, here are some photos from the day and also some unedit images so you get a sense for what was going on .

Thanks for stopping by

Andrew Manley
Portrait Photorapher

Tina and Jesse Graduate Cal Poly Pomona

Tina and Jesse both had a long journey to get to the final stages of their undergraduate degree. Like many of us before them, the struggle to get to the end is terrifying cause we have thought about quitting so many times.... but something kept us going.

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 11.45.34 PM.png

Taking the weight off your shoulders knowing that you did all you could to push through to the end... well unless you are going back to school for a masters/PHD/doctorate, etc. Well then the struggle is just starting, so it seems. 

Talking with them reminded me of my struggles at UCI but it has been 14 years since I have graduated. Blink of an eye...

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 11.45.10 PM.png

They wanted some portraits but they also wanted to play with their cosplay toys so Jesse brought out his homemade Captain America shield and Tina brought out her lightsaber. 

We had a good time shooting at the Cal Poly Japanese Garden and in front of the CLA building. 

I wish both of you all the success in the near future!

Laura Headshots

Laura called me looking for headshots for her new career as a Political Science Professor at Cal State Pomona and Azusa Pacific in the new upcoming 2017 year. For someone who has never been professionally photographed, she did wonderful taking instructions. She wanted something professional, yet something that wasn't too uptight so we decided to go with an outdoor portrait. Here are some of the ones she picked.

It was such a pleasure getting to know you and taking your photos for your new job. I wish you all the best in your pursuit!

Andrew Manley
Headshot Portrait Photographer
Los Angeles Photographer

Family Portraits at Mt Baldy Mountains

This past weekend I had the pleasure of photographing three different families at Mt Baldy Mountains. It was such a lovely day to take photos as it was brisk yet warm when the sun started to break through the trees. 

I had the pleasure of documenting the lives of these 3 families all at different stages of their growth. A new family with a 5 month old, a family of 5 five with 3 pre-teens and a larger family where the kids were already grown and had their own child. 

About 8 years ago, I shot children lifestyle full time for 3 years so it has been some time since I have been hired to shoot a family. However old skills kicked right back in when I met these families and jumped right in to capture the essence of their lives. Since having a family of my own since then, I can understand even more deeply how important it is to capture children. Their lives change so fast and it's the only way to really remember them in all of their glory. 

Thank you to the Arevalo, Nguyen and Muon family for allowing me to capture your family.

Happy Thanksgiving all and spread love everyday. 

Andrew Manley

Impromptu boxing shoot with Arri Fresnel Lights

So last week, I got some Arri Fresnel lights in... 750's and 300's... these lights let off some beautiful light and is used commonly by videographers. However I was intrigued to use them for photography because some years ago at a wedding reception, a videographer left it running during the whole reception and it produced such great colors. 

Just to test the power of the 750's, I plugged it and shot it towards the opposite wall. Super bright but more than I needed so I changed it out for the 300's. The 300's were perfect for bringing in some of the ambient light we had. I needed a test model so I told Leonard to stand in front of the light. I tried a few different positions with the light beaming as a rim light and a kicker light for flare. Below is a gallery of the various angles and such. 

The very last shot in the gallery we used a reflector to bounce some light back on to the right of his face. You can see there is a huge difference from the previous photo right? There is no right or wrong. If you wanted to go with a darker/mysterious shot, then the one on the left would have been ideal otherwise the last shot produces some good detail with the fill light. 

Leonard had his Canon 5d Mark III already out with the new Sigma 24-35mm 2.0 Art series attached to it. It was a great time to put the lens to the test. From what I can tell, when it hits its the focus, the lens is pretty sharp at 2.0 but my keeper rate was not high. I will have to spend some more time with it to see if it was just too dark to focus properly. 

I ended up directing Leonard and he was playing the role pretty well so I told him to take his shirt off and pose like a Street Fighter. He was a bit self conscious since his hair wasn't done and he felt like he needed to do some push ups to tense up his chest and arms... lol. However I think all of it ended up working since this shot is more raw and grungy versus the other final shot below. We had a Lastolite difflector to the right of his face to bounce that light and pick up that beautiful fill. 

Since I was already feeling where the shoot was going, I had Leonard setup both the 750 and 300 in a larger space. Then we had him oil his arms and chest with Pro's vegan coconut oil... lol. He smelled like a Hawaiian dessert... must be nice. We then proceeded to wrap up his hands and wrist with black elastic. 

I am usually an anal bastard when it comes to backgrounds. Although I was a fan of how the previous shot came out, there were lots of distracting elements apart of the background. For this one, I wanted to use the lines of the garage to give it a symmetric texture. 

I ended up placing the light in the final shot... to some its a bit distracting but I wanted to spice it up just a bit. Perhaps the flares were too much but I'm just having fun for now. 

Let me know which one you liked better. The first or the second portrait.

I hope you guys liked this one and learned something.

Til the next one,
Andrew Manley

Playing with the White Lightning X1600 and photographing Calvin the Cowboy

So the other day, I found some old gear and brought it out to do some test shots. Since my boy was around, he was the perfect test subject to test some different lighting setups. Went with a simple White Lightning X1600 with a PCB Large Octobox. 

It's been awhile since I shot strobes outside and I wanted to try a few with the sun as a rim and kicker light. I didn't have my trusty Sekonic L358 light meter on me so I had to eye ball the exposure and the light separation from the strobe to the sun. I set the ISO to 200, shutter speed to 1/200th, f/8 and shot the strobe at full power. I did have a 82mm Marumi Circular Polarizer on the Canon 24-70mm 2.8 Mark II I was using. Typically polarizers stop down the exposure about 3 stops. I will explain my setup below. 

Started off by setting the strobe just left of camera and the sun was behind and high over my son's right shoulder. I didn't want to overpower the sun too much.... If anything, I was going for ambient to be half stop under the strobe. 

The light had a hardware malfunction as the clamping mechanism broke off so the light kept drooping downward. Good thing my model is only 3 feet tall... lol

The shot on the left is a BTS photo of me directing Cal to commit to the shot. I need a nice stern face and that is what he gave me. You can see examples by scrolling down. The other two shots I did with the sun actually behind my left shoulder. You can see in the portrait of him looking straight into the camera that he has apart of his cheek overexposed by direct light. Although this was not an ideal setup for me, I am glad I was able to give it a try. I think it created more shadows by shooting with the sun that high up

This is one of the first shots that I took and I could barely tell if the shot was good or not cause the 1Ds Mark II has such a tiny screen and it has a terrible viewing angle but I like how the light looks in conjunction with the ambient light. 

Since this is just for practice, I used a few different editing methods. If it were client work, I would have made all the edits consistent with each other so there would of been a nice flow from image to image. All of these had the sun directly over Cal's right shoulder. When I was outside, I wasn't really feeling the shots but when I got to the computer, they turned out pretty good. 

It was burning hot and I wanted the angle of the sun to be lower than it was earlier in the day. So we let 2 hours burn by and got the sun directly behind Calvin. Of the 4 images, can you tell which three were shot with a strobe and which one was ambient only? Go ahead, take a gander 

If you guessed the top right, you are right. You can tell that the light on his face is flat (no contrast) and doesn't have a gradient of light running left to right. The light was on the left side of the frame at full power. It was about 1.5 stops brighter than the ambient so that is why the background is darker than the one without the strobe. 

Although most portrait photographers don't like to shoot mid day cause it creates the harshest shadows, I think shooting high noon adds a certain character and mood that you don't see in late afternoon shots. 

I hope to utilize a few strobes on an outdoor shoot with a Fiat 500e electric sometime in the next few weeks. Should be a good one. 

Thanks for checking out the blog and make sure to read a few of the other posts I have.

Andrew Manley

A quick California Lifestyle shoot with two teens in a vintage VW Bug

Some time in 2012, I stopped contributing to an agency I was with due to a lot of corporate bullshit that was going on. Sometimes you have to know when to collect your chips and walk away from the game. This was one of the last shoots I did at that time back in Sept of 2012. I accidentally ran across the folder with these images so I wanted to put a little BTS post since people love to see what goes on behind the scenes. 

My original goal for this shoot was to express the young California spirit of these teen girls. I thought an old school VW Bug would fit the bill right so that's what I went with. I asked a buddy of mine who collects vintage Vdubs and found some girls that my old assistant Lloyd knew from High School. 

Due to time restraints I had at the time, my goal was to shoot by the shop but try to pass it off as if we were somewhere that was not Pomona... lol. So shooting tight was mandatory. The girls at the time didn't have much modeling experience which many times is a double edged sword. Double edged because they have little experience and they need a lot of direction but at the same time they have genuine emotions so it feels more "real". 

Normally I didn't have people shooting behind the scenes but that day we had Paul (owner of the VW) out with his camera so that is the only BTS we have. We had the car parked right along the building so that we could utilize the shade as much as possible. The light outside the window were blown out but it ended up working for me since I was trying to make it seem we were closer to a "beachy" area. Is beachy even a word? IDK. Only other piece of gear we used was a large fan to replicate the car moving. Some of the shots are not as consistent with the wind but it worked for the most part. 

Shot with a Canon 5d Mark III, Canon 35L and shot mainly these settings: f/2.8, 1/200th and ISO 400. Easy breezy. This was a short shoot as I had a few other looks I needed to get. 

The images turned out well... this was quite some time ago and I will be bringing some new shoots up in the future that work on the Cali Lifestyle... so stay tuned with that.

Thanks for reading. Share and comment if you liked this post. Appreciate it!

Andrew Manley
Lifestyle Photographer