A beach portrait session with Brandy Gaede.

Brandy’s portrait session at First Landing State Park.

Brandy and I have been discussing getting together for a session for a couple of months. This past Sunday the stars aligned and we were able to join forces for a sunset shoot.

One of the reasons why I love working at the local beaches is that there are numerous backdrops to shoot against in a small area. For example – one look at Brandy’s magnificent green eyes and I knew I had to get her against some greenery. So, we sought out a location that would provide the needed hues. We worked there for some time trying different angles and perspectives that really accentuated her lovely face.

After that we headed to the dunes. I wanted to get some images of her in one of her dresses amid the dune grass and against the vibrant blue sky that Nature provided for us that day. It was magical.

Finally, after about an hour, we hit the beach in time to capture the setting sun. As always, for a beach sunset session, everything we had done was in preparation for this moment. The initial jitters were gone, we were comfortable and confident while working with each other, we knew what outfits were the best ones for the situation, and we were ready to roll.

That’s how I work. That’s why everyone looks comfortable for the Big Show – aka sunset. I always have people telling me how I must work with professional models all the time. Truthfully, I don’t.

Please don’t take what I’m about to say as a slam towards my fellow photographers, because it’s not. I just personally don’t see how some photographers have 20-30 minute sessions which really makes me wonder what they are getting in that short amount of time. I like to have time for everyone to relax, get comfortable, learn a few moves – if needed – and open up. That’s when the magic really happens.

My experience has shown that it takes a good 30-45 minutes to get to that point – especially if it’s with someone I’ve never worked with before. Sure, if it is someone that I’ve collaborated with in the past, that “warm up” time is considerably shorter but even they need time to relax and get into a good mindset.

It is this process that gets someone who doesn’t have modeling experience to look like they do because, by the end, they know how to move and pose like one. This is what I call
The Model Experience.



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