My first model photo shoots were done with a point and shoot camera and three $5 lights I bought from Home Depot. With what I had I put together my first “portfolio”. At the time I worked in sales at a car dealership and one day I came across a potential customer that upon a conversation told me he had been a professional fashion photographer and illustrator in New York. I told him I had my own portfolio here in my office and wanted him to see it. He graciously accepted my invitation to check it out and we sat in my office as he slowly took in each image page by page. His gaze was much more concentrated on each image then friends and family members that had seen it before and commented, “nice”, as sort of a pat on the head type of polite compliment. When he got to the end, I was expecting another polite comment of some sort, but he said, “You’ve got talent. You have an eye. I would be willing to work with you to teach you some things if you would like?” I was pleasantly surprised and so it began…
Michael Francone lived in Los Angeles and I lived in Orange County and weeks after we met, we arranged for him to come down and talk photography and see my set up and camera. I had no idea what he would tell me or teach me. I was thinking he would tell me to get this light or buy this camera or this setting was what you needed to use or something like that. But before we met for the first time, he told me this, “I want you to go to the news stand and get an Italian Vogue, not the American Vogue, make sure it is the thick Italian Vogue. Get that and make sure you have that when I come down”. I was perplexed as to why, but I went and got the magazine and had it when he came down a few days later.
When he arrived at our apartment, we sat for a few minutes of chit chat and then he asked for the magazine. He had me sit next to him as he took the magazine and we looked at the cover photograph. He asked me to look at the photograph and tell me where the light creating image was coming from? How many lights are being used? What type of light is being used? Hard? Soft? Key? Fill? He showed me where to look and observe and decode all of this information and more by studying carefully what was in the image. And so, it began, we spent the next few hours studying every image from every ad and editorial in the magazine. His “training”, his “teaching”, was all about training my eye to start.
Michael became my photography mentor for a number of years until we lost touch. I will always appreciate the time we spent together and his generous giving of his time and knowledge.
In the beginning I went from cheap $5 lights to various continuous lighting set ups, to an elaborate flash set up to designing and building my own lighting reflectors to get the lighting control and effects I am looking for and shoot with today. I went from a point and shoot to a 50 megapixel monster with Carl Zeiss lenses tethered directly to a computer! I love it now just as much as I did in the beginning. I get excited for each shoot and look forward to trying new things and working with new and different people.
This gives you just a little bit about how I got started. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.
Also go to our Images collection to download some full resolution images. It is free. Some of them are “Hot”! Click here.
We also have some limited edition signed and numbered metal prints that are available. Click here.
Tokyo Monee Founder