Last year I ventured out of my comfort zone of photographing people on my tripod, an idea that first came to me when I photographed my friend John Wells for his musician portraits. Using a tripod is a rather structured approach that has many benefits but moving off it I've discovered a fair share of liberating results as well. Realizing this I decided to create an ongoing project I called "Exploratory Portraiture". I know how to light my sets like the back of my hand therefore I know exactly how my images will look before I even take the picture, but something inside told me there was more for me to learn, an energy that remained untapped. I needed to explore this curiosity but I also needed to create an experience for my subjects as well, in this case actors. So just as I pushed my tripod and rules to the side and began to move around on set, I instructed the actors along the same lines. I wanted them to explore their environment, their expressions, their characters... I would essentially turn my set into an actor's theater where they were free to explore their art. I was only there to document them through my own exploration. The first person I invited on set was my good friend Joshua Loren, a talented actor now pursuing his career in Los Angeles. I explained to him what my goal was and we went to work. By merely adjusting my lighting positions and traveling around the set photographing from different angles and distances I discovered new ways to tell one's story. The images we began to create were layered with raw emotion and intimacy while finely wrapped in a cinematic aesthetic. To me, this was satisfying my curiosity while maintaining an artistic style I've built my brand around. What we have now aren't just traditional images of an actor you'd see on comp cards or iMDB, these are genuine moments of a person, an honest chapter of their story told through actors portraits. A unique piece of work that's can be hung on the wall as art or used in their personal branding when submitting for auditions. It is imagery like this that will Josh apart as individuals. Josh, thank you for embarking on this exploration with me and for all the wonderful talks we've had. Cheers!
"I think one of the cool things about working on a project like this with Gary is as an actor I get to embody moments and glimpses of the human spirit versus aiming for the right expression and smile for a headshot. I get to explore the internal world and let Gary paint what he sees. It’s a great experience because you get to play in a different way as an actor. Then sometimes you get something unexpected and even personal. My favorite shot of the set is one where I’m looking off to my left with a subtle, poignant look of hope and peace. This was such an encapsulation of my own life at that moment as I walk the line without a net, coming from a darkness and now seeing a future filled with hope. That’s what Gary was able to draw out and capture in his own artistic way." - Joshua Loren
Louisville actor John Wells and I have worked on various projects through out the years now, but never before have we worked on the personal branding for his acting career. Last November he reached out to me in need of something different, something more him. To be specific, he was looking to add a refined layer of theatrical headshots to his acting portfolio. However, during our discussions we decided to add portraits to further expand the content we would create. You see, John is a passionate believer in needing portraits as an actor, a cornerstone of branding which sometimes gets overlooked. With personal branding, sometimes a headshot is needed while other times a portrait is needed, especially in the online or social media world. The session day came and we quickly captured what we needed and within days John had started promoting the images online, they were well received! Another job, another collaboration of ideas and another story of success!
"Gary is not only a consummate professional, but a joy to work with. I frequently collaborate with him for creative and professional endeavors, because he never fails to create images that are striking, characterful, and uniquely and effectively "me." His work reflects the soul of the moment, and connects and resonates to evoke a true emotional response." - John Wells reflecting on the personal branding experience.
2017 is at it's end... and for a brief moment I can now exhale. It's been a year of setting goals, pursuing the drive to accomplish them and the fear of failing. I've been shooting professionally for over 5 years now, and I feel this is the year that has defined my career and given a clear path on where to move forward into the future.
At the end of 2016 I had two major goals for the new year, to start working out of a studio and to refine my business structure and niches. My first goal of getting a studio, induced a sizable amount of fear as it was equally a sizable risk, a risk I could not afford to fail at. So after searching around town for a perfect environment, I discovered Story Louisville. A community of Louisville's movers and shakers, who share their creativity in a common work space. Shortly after meeting with Natalia Bishop, the Chief of Happiness at Story Louisville, I made the decision to jump on board... I have not looked back since. Working out of a studio brings a higher sense of purpose and responsibility, a move that has been a cornerstone in my brand's growth. I now have a space to create images and tell the stories of all my amazing clients. That being said, working out of a studio laid out the foundation to my second major goal refining my business structure.
Running a business is no easy task, refining it to take it to the next level can be even more daunting. This goal was more complex to achieve as it was layered with several stepping stone goals. How did I come to this goal? It was simply by addressing something right under my nose the whole time. I would frequently get requests to do headshots, however having a friend who specialized in them I knew how much truly goes into them so I would honestly refer them out. I would do them here and there by special requests of friends but that was it. My wife and peers would mention to me that their is no reason why I shouldn't be doing more of them, I already have the lighting and people skills along with a distinguished brand in the community, so why not? I would just need to take what I already know from my portraiture experience with human emotions and dive deeper into the philosophy of headshots. So back in January it was off to headshot land I went. First stop, Peter Hurley's Headshot Crew! Chicago headshot specialist Michael Schacht invited me to check it out and see what they had to offer so I signed up then after browsing around for a few hours I was fully on board. This amazing community has set the standards world wide on headshot portraits so I knew I was in the right spot with where I wanted to take my own brand. This would be the vessel to help me navigate where I wanted to be on this day today (31 Jan 17). Through education, trial and error, I have elevated my brand 10 fold and now fortunate enough to be recognized as a premier headshot photographer in Louisville KY. Through this journey I'm also extremely proud to of earned the position of Associate Photographer for Peter Hurley and his Headshot Crew, a milestone not easily achieved.
Rounding out the year, is my creative body of work, ranging from fashion to lifestyle portraits. Running a business can easily become exhausting and at times, being an artist, this could cause one to become stale or stagnant. Understanding this, I feel it's important to the vitality of one's creative vision to always have some creative projects on the side. Sometimes I am blessed with an opportunity to be commissioned for my creativity as in the case with KMAC Couture. This a the city's most diverse fashion runway show and for the second year in a row, I photographed their campaign. Whether it's exploratory through light or the human emotion, there is always something out there to learn... if you are not searching then you will not discover what you may be missing.
So what do I have in store for 2018? Well let's just say I have several irons in the fire patiently waiting to be struck but in the mean time, here is a concise review of the milestones I achieved this past year -
Thank you to my amazing clients and teams!
All of this wouldn't of been possible with out the help and encouragement from several amazing people in my life. Starting with my family, my wife AnnMarie and parents Dan and Pam Barragan... your love and support means more than you will ever know! Friends and mentors, Antonio Pantoja, Clay Cook, Michael Schacht, Michael Sansone, Joey Goldsmith, Josh Eskridge, Josh Kroll, Pam Butler, Peter Hurley and Ryan Parker, thank you for all the words of wisdom, guidance and support. Your time is valuable and to pay it forward in the caliber you guys do speaks volumes of your character and heart, for this I sincerely thank you my friends. Bring on 2018!
What Next in 2018?
Exploratory Portraiture, but for now here are a couple teasers.
Sarang, pronounced sa-dang, it’s Korean for the word “love”. As humans, it’s been said that a child’s first true love is their mother. That particular bond, beginning at conception is undeniably one of the most amazing connections a person can have. The mother gives life, and throughout time, there’s always going to be motherly tendencies to overlook their children, even as they grow into adults. I’ve witnessed this amazing relationship first hand with my wife and her mother, to be honest, I would never have the right combination of words to truly describe what I see with them. So one day, while we were visiting the family, my mother in law, Oma (Korean for mom), brought me this photograph, it was a small wallet sized portrait, weathered and tattered in nature. This photograph, one of her as a child sitting next to her mother, was the only one Oma had of them together. Every photograph has a story to tell, and with the condition of this particular one, it became apparent the amount of sentimental value associated with it. A true heirloom that tugs at the heart. So back to this photograph that she handed me, she asked if I could fix it, an intimidating task given the condition, but I told her I would give it my best shot.
Over the course of several days, I would sit down for a couple hours and meticulously work on different parts of the photograph… restoring the textures of the dresses on one evening, or bringing depth back to their faces through a technique called dodge and burn. I am no restoration retoucher by any means, but it was a rewarding feeling to step away from my headshot and portrait work and apply my skillsets to something more personable for the family. Eventually the photograph began to visualize new life of a memory greatly cherished. Upon completion, I wanted to run it by a few peers to look over to make sure there was not anything I overlooked or something that could be done better. I’ve always felt it was good move to cross check your work and this was no different. All feedback came back positive, but one friend suggested I try to take it a step further… to colorize it. A technique even more intimidating than the restoration itself, but I did little research on that technique and gave it my best shot. I had my wife AnnMarie call her mom and see if she could remember the colors of the dress, from her recollection she could best remember as her dress had little red flowers. From there I envisioned the best colors to suit their Hanboks (traditional Korean dresses) and bring the story yet another layer of life.
When all the work was completed, my wife and I decided to have a few small prints made along with an 11 x 14 canvas wrap. Knowing how much this photograph meant to Oma we wanted to surprise her and present them to her as a gift. So on Thanksgiving, after the table had been cleared of the dinner and deserts, I handed her the canvas to be unwrapped. Oma’s reaction was simply indescribable, I could feel the strings of hearts being pulled, myself included. Tears of joys were shed as she began to describe her memories of that day and how she remembers what she was holding in her hand… it was small mint wrap candy. It’s times like this that remind me that I have more than just talent but a gift to make a difference in people’s life. We now look forward to seeing this heirloom hung on the wall where it rightfully belongs. My friends, life is good. :-)
Special thanks to Jim at Iris Pro Imaging for beautiful prints and canvas wrap.
Passing on the Portrait Tradition with the family's Hanbok
Since I am writing about my mother in law and her mother, I feel it's a perfect opportunity talk about my beautiful wife and a portrait session we did back in December 2015. Initially my wife wanted me to take a few snaps of her wearing her mother's hanbok, a traditional Korean dress. However I just I didn't want to do "snaps", I wanted to tell a story of this dress, another family heirloom. So we browsed Pinterest for some ideas and I asked my friend Ana Perez if she would be willing to collaborate. At the time, I had just recently purchased my second Oliphant backdrop and there is just something about the work that Sarah Oliphant creates that infuses so much soul in portraits. So this would be the first time I used two backdrops in my work, one hung up and one used as a floor drop. This would create the perfect stage for our story of beauty, love and tradition. To this day, this one of my absolute portraits I've taken of AnnMarie, and yes these are printed and hanging in the house, where they should be. Everyday when I wake up, I pass a wall that has her portraits along with our son and our fur baby... this is story that lives in our house, not a digital file stored in computer. As our life continues on, I'll always look forward to capturing new chapters of our stories thought the art of image making. Cheers amigo!
A few months ago my friend John posted an older video of him plucking the strings in the wake of the passing of his friend. It was a side of him I had not seen before, a side not many of us had seen before... I wanted to capture that in the most intimate and raw fashion possible. No planning, no strobes, no structure... I simply asked him to come by the studio and play while I captured the energy. He came and bore his vulnerable side, I was sincerely moved by the emotions evoked that morning... together we embodied the old soul of a true artist's portrait.
"It's about intimacy. Would you make love with shoes on? No.
Executive Producer - Ken Daniels
Producers - Nathan Thomas Milliner and John Wells
Story - Ken Daniels, Nathan Thomas Milliner and John Wells
Director and Screen Writer - Nathan Thomas Milliner
Cinematographer - David P Bonnell
2nd Unit Cinematographer and 1st Assistant Camera - Jimmy Sanders
2nd Assistant Camera - Kristine Renee Farley
Sound - Brad Reinhart
Score - Joe Stockton
Special FX - Nick Taylor
Creature FX - George Crenshaw
Production Photographer - Gary Barragan
Behind the Scenes Photographer - Bill Spangler
Wrangler of Ticks - Barbie Clark
Stunt Coordinator - Chad Zigmund
Costume Designers - Barbie Clark and Gary Collins
Props - Don West and John Sandor
Speeder Bikes and Props - Derby City Pit Crew
Autumn Barefoot – Make-up
Melissa Majors - Hair
Stunts - Chad Zigmund and Logan Abell
Shaman of Luck - Pocket Storm Trooper
Kanan Jarrus - John Wells
Mara Jade - Krystabelle Dawn
Lots Tane - Jonathan Garlinghouse
Cpt. Quarrie - Darrin Dickerson
Sgt. Saxon - Don West
Pvt. Pizzo - Chad Zigmund
Pvt. Ramos - Clark Spalding
The Ronk - George Crenshaw
Clipar Leader - Gary Collins
Clipar Extra - Phil B. Fox
On Location at the Moon Clipar to document these TK's
Star Wars Hand of the Empire Official Trailer
Behind the Empire Lines
A few outakes under the Emporer's Nose
Special Thanks to Louisville's Iris Pro Imaging for donating canvas prints to the family of Phil Parks at the film premier.
And there was just no way I going to leave set without throwing on a TK bucket! Because Empire Combat Photog. :-)
May the Force be with you...
Canon and Profoto Technical Info
Camera - Canon 5D Mark IV with 50mm f/1.2L.
Key Light - Profoto B1x (StarKiller) with 2 x 3 OCF Softbox and Grid.
Primary Fill - Profoto D1 Air 500 w/ White Umbrella XL (diffused), extra diffusion with Lastolite 6 x 6 Skylight.
Secondary Fill (Camera Right) - Profoto B2 w/ 1 x 3 OCF Strip Box.
Hand Painted Backdrops and Floor Drop - Oliphant Studio.
I give my utmost thanks to Ken, Nathan and John for bringing me on board.
Click on the HOTW Logo below for the official website!
Visit the official site below.
The Power of Clean and Natural Make-Up w/The Beauty Patrol and Louisville Photographer Gary Barragan
Now that we've covered all this, let's travel a bit further down the rabbit hole, or should I say deeper in the skin. Pam has always been a gracious educator when it comes to her industry and there are a few things we'd like to touch on that you can do to further help prepare for your shoot! First up, Vitamins! Not only do they assist in maintaining a healthy body, but there are some in specific that can help with a natural glow to your skin as well such as commonly known vitamins E, D and C. However, the human body also has its own natural substances such as hyaluronic acids which replenishes and secures moisture in your skin. This natural acid assists with having a youthful appearance but can also be boosted with additional supplemental hyaluronic acid vitamins and creams along with having a good skin care routine of cleansing. Sleeping in make-up is never good under any circumstances, as it can block your pores leading to issues such as acne, dry or irritated skin and in some cases inflammation of your eyes and surrounding areas. By sleeping with your make-up on you are essentially introducing counterproductive effects to what your body's hyaluronic acids are designed to do. If you have specific areas on your skin or face that you need to concentrate on then you may look at masks, scrubs and serums. There are several options out there on the market but Pam prefers Limelight by Alcone for her clients as it is an organic and chemical free brand with products for skincare as well as make-up. Pam also advises that make-up is subjective for most of our clients. What works for one person may not work for the next so her applications are customized to show the world the best true to life version of you while correcting any slight imperfections.
Lastly, we'd like to touch on a few additional simple tips that will not only help you prepare your skin for a photoshoot, but will also help with maintaining a healthy appearance on a daily basis! For instance, staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest can go a long way in keeping a refreshed look. This also helps with energy levels, so not only will you look refreshed but you will feel refreshed as well, which in return will naturally create an attractive energy. With summer around the corner, I know we all like to get a bit of sun but try not to overdo it, as skin can get permanently damaged through time. It’s recommended to use a minimum of SPF 15 when tanning BUT when it comes to photoshoots avoid any makeup with SPF (remember SPF blocks sun light, it will also have an effect on my studio light). It's highly recommended to refrain from tanning (spray or sun) at least 3 to 4 days before your session. During the healing process of your tan, your skin may become discolored beyond a realistic correction with either make-up or retouching and could hinder our team from capturing our best work with you. Following even these last few simple steps will help you go miles in keeping your skin refreshed while exuding a radiant glow which in return will have you looking quite stunning on our set and that is what we all want!
All hair and make-up below are by The Beauty Patrol officers
Stoic Trousseau, A Bridal Portraiture Collection by Louisville Photographer Gary Barragan, The Beauty Patrol and Modern Trousseau Bridal Boutique
Photography – Gary Barragan
Make-Up – Pam Jean / The Beauty Patrol
Hair – Brooke Meadows / The Beauty Patrol
Talent – Heather Weeks
Floral Bouquet – State and Arrow
Additional Styling – Morgan Edwards
Tiered Dress – Modern Trousseau
Hand Painted Backdrops - Oliphant Studios
Behind the Scenes
A personal journal about any given day in my photography career where I will write about anything from portraits and headshots to sharing my educational experiences. Thank you for taking the time to stop by, it's my pleasure to share my stories with you!