Studio photography is hard to beat. I have dreamed of being the photographer on a real studio set for a long time. In August I was able to bring that dream to life with two of my best friends and incredibly talented photographers, Sej Flores and Marcos Romero Turner. Marcos connected with Sean from Desert Island Studios and we were offered some studio time. Eager to make this happen, we quickly coordinated a date, pulled together all our gear and our best outfits and got to work.
When we arrived we finally met Sean in person and we knew it was going to be a great session. He gave us the tour of the studio and all the amazing equipment they have collected, much of which came from different sets from the 70s, 80s, and 90s productions. I did my best to be a quick study with the lighting equipment as we only had a couple of hours and I was determined to capture the type of shots we pulled together on our inspiration board (seen below). Creating an inspiration board, vision board or something that combines your goals in one central place is critical for success, especially when you are given a small window of time. If you are no photoshop pro no problem, a free tool like Canva works perfectly. It is all about executing, regardless of your experience or skill.
It took us a few minutes to get in a groove because all three of us had never taken photos in a studio setting before. I could feel the clock ticking inside me and our time was slipping away. None of us were going to "be ready" because we were all over thinking it, so I told Sej and Marcos, "get in front of the camera I am shooting you guys first!". Once my camera settings were on point and I had a few excellent photos in the bank, we were able to get in our zone. In each different set we built, we took turns making each other look and feel amazing. Everything became so fluid and time became a non-factor.
The cherry on top was that we were all in sync when it came to music. For the three of us, music is critical to us achieving our flow state and luckily Sean was on the aux and he understood that. From Kendrick Lamar to ?Teó? we connected as we sang, rapped, and danced our way through the rest of the shot list. When one set got stagnant, Sean would step back in and help us elevate the environment. By the end of the shoot, we could hardly believe that we were capturing photos this good! We wrapped with some fun photos of the three of us, exchanged SD cards and parted ways. Sej and I went back to my house to take a look through all the photos and we did indeed strike gold! We knew that this was some of the best work we had ever done and that it was just the beginning of a future full of more learning and more incredible photos.
Fast forward a couple weeks after the shoot, one of the Instagram Reels I made (also featured below) was noticed by Desert Island and they wanted to use it on their page! Liz Moughon asked me what the purpose of the shoot was and I responded with "DJ Biersack, Marcos Romero Turner and Sej Flores are all embarking new chapters of their life graduating college and embracing their creativity through photo and video. Their goal is to highlight their mixed ethnicities and inspire other creatives from similar backgrounds to work together and make art that goes beyond themselves." She loved the fact that we were not there for a product launch or something with a more finite goal, our purpose was infinite; simply create. If you have read here, I challenge you to get up from your desk, your bed, or wherever you are reading this and embrace your creativity. Whether you grab an instrument, a paint brush or a camera, take time to create something simply to create today.
I wanted to thank Sean, Liz and all the folks at Desert Island for welcoming us into the space and allowing us to create and inspire future creators. Finally, thank you for following this fun journey with us, I cannot wait to show you more from what is to come.