The time I shot a Big Brother contestant | A GQ Style Photoshoot with Clay Honeycutt

Last month, I accidently hired a former Big Brother contestant as a model for a personal project.

 
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Prior to that, I was burned out and on the verge of giving up completely. In many ways, 2015 was a great year. But by the end of it, I had stopped creating. Instead, I was just busy making money. Earning a living is important, of course, but as an artist, it’s dangerous if I let it be my primary objective. I make better art when I’m more focused on pushing myself and growing than in sticking with what I know I can do well.

When I get stuck in a rut of repeatedly shooting the same way, I stop feeling inspired. When I’m not inspired, I have a tendency to procrastinate. I become paralyzed with fear, and I look for distractions to keep me from thinking about what’s important. I turn to Netflix marathons, reading endless articles about photography gear, binging on social media, or just moping for days.

Lack of inspiration, procrastination, and fear are all tied together in my struggle with perfectionism. When I give in to fear (which is really the fear of not being perfect), then perfectionism wins and I’m not able to do anything until I’m ready to go out, try something new, and risk not being perfect. 

In December, I noticed that I was sinking into discouragement because with the holidays and being busy with family, I was losing the drive and momentum to find inspiration. But I did the opposite of what I normally do. I was looking through all of the photographs I had taken in 2015, and I realized that it had been a long time since I worked on a personal project without the pressure of pleasing a client. 

I decided to produce my own photo shoot. I called up a few friends I love working with and asked them to join me.

For a long time, I’ve wondered what it would be like to shoot GQ-style images in my own style. The only problem was there was no way I could do it alone. I also know nothing about fashion, unless you call a black t-shirt and jeans “fashion.”

I created a Pinterest board of ideas and sent it out to the team. They all loved the ideas, and we got to work. I had worked with Ashley Akins at the Campbell Agency before. From the selection of headshots she sent me, I found one who looked like he would fit in a GQ ad. So I booked him for the shoot.

The morning of the shoot, I still didn't know who he was. But Bella, our studio manager, told me just before Clay arrived that he had been a popular contestant on Big Brother last summer. Knowing he was famous made me nervous. Suddenly this was less of a fun concept shoot and more of a risk. I tried to shake off the pressure, knowing that more people would be interested in these images.

I try to keep the shoot light and fun.

I try to keep the shoot light and fun.

Clay was easy to work with and a humble, nice guy. He got along with everyone and we got some great shots. If Bella hadn’t told me he was famous, I wouldn’t have known from working with him.

Ricky putting finishing touches on Clay's hair and makeup.

Ricky putting finishing touches on Clay's hair and makeup.

Courtney's looks for Clay were on point the whole day.

Courtney's looks for Clay were on point the whole day.

Don't ask why I am standing like that.  I am trying to explain to him about the emotions he should feel...

Don't ask why I am standing like that.  I am trying to explain to him about the emotions he should feel...

He was never boastful about his fame that he had with being on Big Brother show.  You would never notice he was a popular guy unless you knew the show.

This shoot was a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with talented people and create great images. I like working alone, and I do it well most of the time. But I always enjoy creating with a team. This team inspired me and challenged me to create better work.

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These first shots only happened because Ricky, the makeup artist, thought it would be interesting to wet him down with water bottle. The rest of the shoot went smoothly because our talented stylist brought the right outfits and Ricky matched those concepts perfectly.

 
 

Here is the team:
Model - Clay Honeycutt
Agency - Campbell Agency (Ashley Akins)
Makeup - Ricky Flores 
Styling - Courtney Walker
Assist - Imani Chet Lytle


Here are the technical details for my fellow photography nerds:
Camera: Fujifilm X-T1
Lens: Fujifilm 56mm & 35mm
Lights: Einstein E640 (I used 1-2 lights for each photo. To save time, I had 3 lights with different modifiers set up at all times)
Modifiers: Paul C. Buff 22" Beauty Dish (when I want to slap someone with ton of light, this is what I use), Cheetahstand Rice Bowl (lovely contrasty light), Lumopro Strip (dramatic light), black v-flats (to cut light), and natural window light.

Background: Grey Seamless paper (Savage), cyc wall, and white wall.

The goal with the lighting setup was to create dramatic light.  To pull it off, the lights were close to the subject for a quicker fall off, and the modifier was a deep parabolic shape to create more contrast.  At times, I used the beauty dish to flood light with more of a punch.

I shot tethered to Lightroom via Macbook Pro.

One thing I learned is that I need to watch the time more carefully. My first setup took more than 40 minutes, which is longer than it needed to be. I got way too excited and kept on shooting until Ricky tapped me on my shoulder. After that, I had Bella remind me of the time every 15 minutes. Lesson learned: Get the shot you need and move on. Trust your instinct that you got the shot! You only need one or two “safety” shots, not ten.


Behind-the-scenes photos by Chet Photography

Mercy Street Dallas | Head Shots and a New Website

A little over a year ago, Hoyoung and I got involved with Mercy Street, a ministry serving the West Dallas community. We fell in love with the heart of this non-profit and the hardworking staff who are serving the residents of this impoverished neighborhood. 

Mercy Street believes in sharing the gospel message through intentional relationships with the West Dallas community. They have a mentorship program that builds into students in elementary through high school to raise up leaders rooted in the gospel. Mercy Street offers hope to the West Dallas community needing healing in the redemptive message of Jesus Christ.  

Over the past year, I worked with Mercy Street to build them a website that would be clean and simple to navigate.

You can see the full website here: mercystreetdallas.org

Hoyoung also took head shots of the wonderful staff for the website. They were all so kind and gracious - their smiles say it all!
Here are some of our favorites:

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You can see all of the head shots on the “About” page.


This Christmas season, please consider “Giving the Gift of Mercy” to Mercy Street to support this ministry that is being a light in West Dallas. Be a part of the work that God is doing there through Mercy Street.

 
 

We Support Small! Featuring: Local Press + Brew

Here at SOHOSTORY, we love supporting other small businesses here in Dallas and all over! We will be featuring some of our favorite small businesses, beginning with Local Press + Brew.

Local Press + Brew basking in the beautiful 7am sun as it slowly rises up over the treetops.

Local Press + Brew basking in the beautiful 7am sun as it slowly rises up over the treetops.

Located at 1605 N Beckley Ave, this charming cafe is a welcome addition to the Bishop Arts area. The staff are warm, friendly, and experts on the neighborhood as they all live nearby. Their knowledge and love of the craft and technique of both coffee and juice is inspiring.

Delicious baked goods from local bakery,  Reverie Bakeshop .

Delicious baked goods from local bakery, Reverie Bakeshop.

Owners Tiffany Vance and Ben Johnson started Local Press + Brew because they are passionate about providing fine coffee, fresh juice, and an intimate community space featuring arts and crafts from local artists.

Tiffany Vance, owner of Local Press + Brew.

Tiffany Vance, owner of Local Press + Brew.

The bright clean airy space is warm and inviting, perfect for enjoying a cup of coffee at any time during the day!

The bright clean airy space is warm and inviting, perfect for enjoying a cup of coffee at any time during the day!

A little nook to enjoy a coffee or juice with friends...

A little nook to enjoy a coffee or juice with friends...

Or a pretty setting to spread out and work.

Or a pretty setting to spread out and work.

Every cup of coffee is made to order so it’s guaranteed to be both fresh and exactly what you want. Their beans are from local fair trade small-batch roaster Noble Coyote.

Hoyoung's favorite was the “Nut-Shaken Latte,” made with fresh homemade almond milk.

Local Press + Brew makes the most delicious Nut-Shaken Lattes with their  freshly pressed almond milk and  refreshing  cold brew on tap from  Noble Coyote Coffee Roasters.

Local Press + Brew makes the most delicious Nut-Shaken Lattes with their freshly pressed almond milk and refreshing cold brew on tap from Noble Coyote Coffee Roasters.

They also have Holy Kombucha on tap!

They also have Holy Kombucha on tap!

Local Press + Brew fresh presses juices daily.

Their juice is served in glass bottles, not plastic, because juice is better experienced in glass.

With so many delicious choices, we could not decide on one. We had the juice flight and got to try 8, which we thoroughly enjoyed.

The bright colors of the juices, filled to the brim in sake glasses, look like little wells of paint.

The bright colors of the juices, filled to the brim in sake glasses, look like little wells of paint.

My favorite juice was the “Cacao Milk,” which includes raw cocoa powder, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, and dates. 

We highly recommend stopping by Local Press + Brew if you are ever in Bishop Arts area!