1117 E Van Buren St #221
Phoenix, AZ 85006
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Blog

Why Monitor Calibration Is Important and How To Use It.

If there's one thing that’s certain about photos on the internet, it’s that nobody sees the same thing as you. In general, most monitors are too bright, and the color profiles vary by manufacturer. As the monitor gets old, the colors tend to change also. It’s more of an issue with older bulb light monitors, and less so with LED, but still, these colors change over time. This tool is especially useful when you use multiple monitors or print your work. 

In this video, Aaron Nace of Phlearn examines the topic of color calibration and why this is an especially important issue for photographers.

 

Why You Should Be Using A Tripod.
Thomas Ingersoll at Blok Studio's Pierce location. 

Thomas Ingersoll at Blok Studio's Pierce location. 

I'll admit when I started taking photographs I thought tripods were cumbersome. I wanted to move freely while shooting and initially felt tripods would slow down my workflow. Being that photography (Camera, lenses, accessories) can be very expensive, especially when you first start out, I couldn't wrap my mind around spending hundreds of dollars on a tripod. I did what most newbies would do and purchased a cheap tripod that had decent reviews on Amazon. It wasn't long after as my kit grew that I started to realize the importance of having a GOOD tripod. Think about it - you're putting expensive camera gear that you spent your hard earned money on. Outside of making sure you can set your camera up and walk away with confidence, here are a few other benefits for using a tripod. 

Low Light Situations.

Tripods are an absolute necessity in low light situations. When you find yourself in a low light situation, you will need to reduce the shutter speed in order to increase light. Unfortunately, reducing the shutter speed means that your camera will be susceptible to camera shake. To ensure that you avoid the blur that may be introduced by your hand movement, a tripod will be essential.

Landscapes.

Landscape photography is one of the most popular types of photography. However, this type of photography typically requires that you use an aperture of at least f/8 and up to f/16 for most of your shots in order to ensure you achieve a wide depth of field that will put everything into clear focus. When you use these aperture settings, they narrow the amount of light coming in. To correct this, you will need either to increase the ISO or reduce the shutter speed so you can get the right exposure for the shot. Be aware that increasing ISO will introduce noise to the image so a good option will be to reduce the shutter speed. Placing your camera on a tripod will ensure you are getting the sharpest images possible by avoiding camera shake. 

MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY.

As a food and cocktail photographer, I often take photos that are in close range, any movement in the camera is amplified and much harder to control when holding in your hand. When using my favorite lens the Canon 100mm 2.8 L the depth of field is very thin at its widest apertures, so it’s helpful to use narrower apertures — meaning your shutter speed goes down. In most cases, a tripod is essential in food photography to keep your image in focus and your aperture closed down enough that the whole subject is sharp.

Around The Blok. Vol 1. - Daniel Primero

Phoenix is the 6th largest city in America (Population: 1,563,025), so there's no shortage of talent across the valley. However, Phoenix does tend to have small-town vibe at times. In our new segment "Around The Blok" our goal is to spotlight individuals making an impact on the city's ever-growing creative community. Today, we are thrilled to feature Phoenix-based Photographer, Daniel Primero.

PHOTO BY: Daniel Primero

PHOTO BY: Daniel Primero

Favorite Camera: 

The Contax G2, people would argue that the autofocus is slow and inaccurate. Using the camera takes a bit of patience. The structure is exactly what I look for in a body, sturdy and simple. The camera partnered with its Carl Zeiss glass has been my go-to for a while now.

Favorite Lens: 

The Canon 24-70 2.8. Versatile, fast, and sharp. I don't really care to shoot anything lower than 2.8 and it's really nice to be able to have that option of an ultra wide and portrait lens in one. If I were to have one lens for the rest of my life, the 24-70 would be the choice.

PHOTO BY: Daniel Primero

PHOTO BY: Daniel Primero

What is photography to you: 

My Pops raised my siblings and I with a camera in his hand. So photography has a bit of a sentimental value to me and that’s how I got started. Other than that, photography is work and play. It’s what pays the bills, but also gives me some sort of solace.

Favorite aspect of Blok:

My favorite thing about Blok, besides the team that runs it, would have to be its versatility. I’ve had clients wanting natural light and strobe work in the same shoot. I’ve always been a big fan of natural light, and Blok has it. The early morning lighting the Van Buren studio offers has created some heavy contrasted and dramatic work. On the other hand, Blok has offered a great space for studio work. I’ve never had an issue with natural light leaking onto the subject when I’m working with strobes. The versatility of both Blok Studios is incredible.

PHOTO BY: Daniel Primero

PHOTO BY: Daniel Primero

If you weren't a photographer what would you be: 

If I weren’t a photographer, I’d probably still be somewhere in the creative field. If not, then I’d be some sort of small shop owner. I’ve always been into quality goods. My dream has been to have a small shop. Not to make a killing, but to have a place where my friends and I could kick it and talk about our days. A place where the neighborhood kids would come by just to hang out. That kind of hometown hub that you’d see in cinema.

PHOTO BY: Daniel Primero 

PHOTO BY: Daniel Primero 

You can follow Daniel on Instagram HERE

Pups On The Blok

This year we're a sponsor for the Arizona Animal Welfare League (AAWL) Models Mutts Meow calendar! AAWL is a rescue and adoption shelter in Arizona, every year they create these calendars to raise funds for the care of the animals. They spent several days at our studio capturing images for the new calendar and there was tons of press coverage. All the participants involved have donated time and resources to this incredible project and we're excited to be part of it! 

Why You Should Start Attending Photography Workshops In 2017.
Thomas-Workshop

Make New Friends.

Photography is an activity often associated with independent initiative, but the rewards to be gained from participating in a workshop are many. The energy and dynamics created when you bring together a group of like minded individuals with a common goal. There are the many opportunities to share knowledge and experience that may even spark new ideas. A group of people working together to build something special promotes camaraderie. You often leave workshops with a group of new friends. 

Learn from an expert while developing your own style.

A good workshop leader will ensure that every participant gets the level of support they need and will be on hand to offer help as needed. An experienced instructor will help you master technical skills while providing ample time for participants to explore their own vision. With expert guidance, your creative insight becomes keen, allowing you to develop your own personal style.

Get Inspired. Be Inspired. Inspire Others. 

It can be difficult at times to stay motivated and inspired to go out shooting on a regular basis.  However, we need to shoot on a regular basis to improve our photography.  It's a lot like exercise for our bodies.  Getting into, and staying in, some kind of routine is important.  Missing a day or two here and there isn't a big deal, but if a day or two turns into a week or two, then a month or two, we lose a lot of the physical fitness (or photography fitness, as the case may be) that we've worked so hard to build. Workshops can definitely help get the creative juices flowing! That same momentum will inspire you to improve your overall photography skills and create new projects.

You can find all the updates on our workshops and education classes HERE!

We Are Brothers.

Caleb Alvarado is an architect turned commercial & editorial photographer/cinematographer based in Phoenix, AZ. His work constantly conjures human connection and creates new perspectives for the viewer. We were lucky enough to have front row seats to this masterpiece created at our Pierce location.

The artist statement can be found below.

'We are Brothers. You are my blood. We have fought and we have loved each other. I know we know we will never cease our love, there is nothing greater than the “love that allows us to share our name.”'

“We are Brothers” 
featuring @slawek_wozniak @mwozniak1 @masterballetacademy
#Choreography: @slawek_wozniak @mwozniak1
Cinematographer & #Director: @CalebAlvarado
Shot at @blok_studio
Postproduction @CalebAlvarado
Music: Dead Island Theme composed by Giles Lamb
Special thanks to @jrrevolver @revolver_creative @chavezcarlos1 @raininggreenbug

 

Blok Studio Collaboration | Agency Arizona.

A collaborative video showcasing our locations and featuring models from The Agency Arizona.

Agency Arizona Talent Featured:
Kennedy Basham - @kenbasham1
Helene Hart - @helene_hart
Jaclyn Reid - @jaclyn.reid
Ellie Thumann - @elliethumann

Blok Studio Artistic Team
Director/Producer | Matt Martian: @matt.martian
Assistant Director | Justin Sission: @justin_sisson
Cinematographer/Editor | Anthony Swann: @swanndive
Stylist | Cheyna Carr: @cheynacarr
Hair & Makeup | Morgan Teresa @morganteresamakeup

WORK-LIFE BALANCE.
Matt-Martian-Camp

In today's busy world, prioritizing between your work and your personal life can be a huge challenge. Poor work-life balance can result in high levels of stress, unhappiness, and even reduced productivity. Here are a few tips to help you stay balanced. 

Taking Time for Yourself.

Taking a little time for yourself refreshes and re-energizes you. It allows you to think more clearly and make better decisions. If you take part in something you enjoy during your personal time-out, be sure that you use your time for leisurely activities. Do not push yourself to complete anything. Simply enjoy the time. Other benefits include the ability to sleep better, less anxiety, and less tension overall.

Become self-disciplined.

Self-discipline is the ability to do what you know you should do, whether you feel like it or not. It's the most important quality for any person who is juggling daily task. Without it, we struggle between the forces of doing what is necessary and what is fun. Fortunately, self-discipline is a skill that can be developed. Focus on the task at hand, and avoid multitasking.

REGULARLY COMMUNICATE WHAT’S WORKING AND WHAT IS NOT.

People who are good at staying on task make a conscious choice to continually talk to the important people in their lives about what is working or not, and make decisions to change direction if needed. While life happens and situations change, they avoid ending up in a place they didn’t want to because of their clear intentions. 

MAKE DELIBERATE CHOICES ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT IN LIFE.

People who achieve work-life balance make deliberate choices about what they want from life and how they want to spend their time. It’s critical to have that conversation with the people around you to properly communicate your priorities. 

5 Ways To Get Inspired!
Photo By: Matt Martian

Photo By: Matt Martian

As creatives, we are constantly seeking inspiration to continue the work we do. Occasionally, we all run into that day where the ideas just aren’t flowing how you’d like them to. These 5 tips are simply tools that can help you when you need them or even support them in your current day-to-day. 

1.) Take a trip. 

Taking a trip could mean visiting a new place, such as coffee shop you’ve been meaning to check out or even visiting a new city. The trip is less about the distance and more about the experience. If you’re driving to a location, you may even want to take a new route to your destination. My personal favorite is to take a long walk around my neighborhood. Fresh air and new surroundings typically incite inspiration. 

2.) Meditate.

Meditation is a great way to clear the mind and allow new ideas to flow through seamlessly. Often as creatives, we are constantly pushing the limits of our mind and it’s very important to reset your thoughts in a proper manner. I’ve personally picked up the practice of mindfulness which has become the cornerstone of my day. You can find a very helpful app called HeadSpace HERE.

3.) Create a vision board.

Vision boards are a great way to organize current ideas and even spark new ones. You can create a vision board in your workspace by simply printing or drawing items/people/places that inspire you. If you’re like myself who prefers a digital vision board, Pinterest is a great place to create a digital vision board for on-the-go inspiration. 

4.) Exercise. 

There are many studies that support exercise on a daily basis can improve overall creativity. Having this creative avenue often leads to inspiration. Exercise also creates a great platform for problem-solving. If you are going through a bit of a creative rut, exercise is a great place to start. If you need an extra push to get active, reach out to a friend! Group fitness is a great way to keep yourself motivated. 

5.) Surround yourself with other creative people.

They often say, "You are the sum of who you spend your time with”. It’s important that you are directly involved with people who lift you, inspire you, and motivate you to do and be more. When you’re surrounded by creative people, you’re surrounded by passionate people, which ultimately will inspire you to create! This sense of community makes creative challenges much more manageable. You’ll have others who can show empathy and remind you that you are not alone.  

Importance of Strobe Lighting

Yesterday we announced the launch of blok EDU and made our first course available for sign up. Within a few hours all the available seats were filled and we couldn't have been anymore excited about the reaction! As mentioned before our goal for this program is to empower, build knowledge and inspire. In this post, we feature some insight from lighting class instructor, Thomas Ingersoll, about the importance of strobe lighting. Enjoy!

Three reasons why learning about strobes is vital

1. Lighting shapes photography, it's the very essence of a photograph.

Light controls every aspect of photography; shape, contrast, color, exposure, mood, etc. Learning how to control light will fundamentally change the way you shoot.  Although there is an art in capturing available light, there is an even greater reward in being able to control any environment you find yourself shooting in. Using strobes is another tool on the knowledge belt, just as conquering available light is a tool, and to be a well rounded photographer you should have and master both tools. I don’t approach every shoot wanting or needing to use strobes, but more often than not I find myself wanting to control the light using strobes.

This stairwell was very poorly lit and the florescent lights looked terrible on the model’s face. To overcome this I used 2 strobes. One B800 with an orange gel pointed at the ceiling to give a nice even fill light for the whole image, and one B800 with a beauty dish and a grid as a key light to isolate the model.
 

2. You are only as strong as your weakest link, don’t let that be lighting.
Even if you are an avid natural light shooter, gaining some basic knowledge about strobes can be extremely advantageous. Sometimes a subtle fill or rim light can make or break an image. Using strobes does not mean that you have to use them all the time or change your style of shooting, it simply means you can have more control over the outcome of your image. There are times when strobes can be the focus of your image or help you balance light in a poorly lit condition.  Mastering strobes can help you overcome any situation and deliver the best to your clients.

Using strobes in a studio doesn’t have to be boring. Learn how to use different modifiers to control and shape your light.

3. Show your clients that you can overcome anything.
Whether you shoot weddings, fashion, commercial, sports, etc., learning how to use strobes can show your clients that you can always deliver, no matter the environment. Take your photography to the next level by learning all that you can about light. Learn and master how to use natural light, strobes, a scrim/reflectors, and to bounce light and nothing will stand in your way.  Start learning now, even if it’s buying and learning how to use a cheap speedlite. Grow outside your comfort zone and have no limitations.

Adding strobes can create depth to on location shots. Learn how to blend ambient light with strobes and you can create more dramatic images.

I am constantly broadening my horizons with lighting knowledge. I seek out different lighting methods and unique ways to utilize light constantly. Peppered throughout my portfolio are shots using strobes, natural light, and reflectors. Control the light, don't let the light control you.
 

blok EDU Launch

Well folks, the moment is here. We've officially launched our education program!

We curated this program with the intent to bring a unique learning experience to the community.  Courses will cover a range of genres and topics within the creative realm. Free Photoshop and Lightroom lessons will be offered as well as seminars designed to inspire. As if that isn't enough awesomeness, we have some incredible giveaways from great sponsors. A calendar of these courses will be found here. Sign up for our mailing list or follow us on instagram and facebook to stay updated on new courses as we will be adding them frequently.

Tomorrow we'll be featuring a guest post from one of our instructors, Thomas Ingersoll, that ties into our first class. He will also be leading the monthly Photoshop and Lightroom lessons. Thomas has a deep passion for photography and teaching. He's done some phenomenal work around the state. You can check out his work here.

LIVE, LEARN, LIGHT.
blok-van-buren-plant

LIVE, LEARN, LIGHT. These words encompass Blok Studio's entire purpose for existing. We believe that promoting a healthy lifestyle allows a more effective creative process to ensue. At Blok Studio, we provide a platform to cultivate new ideas and collaborate with creatives through our many classes and workshops. Through continued support from our community, we are able add to a wide range of educational services to our programs. These programs provide a supportive setting to creatives from all different types of backgrounds and knowledge. We truly believe it takes a team to build something special. This ability sheds light on the many talented individuals that have helped to shape the new Downtown Phoenix area and beyond. 

Five Products For a Five Minute Face!
Photo by Matt Martian. Sabine and Marta wear Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerise and MAKE UP FOR EVER Ultra HD Foundation Stick.
Photo by Matt Martian. Sabine and Marta wear Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerise and MAKE UP FOR EVER Ultra HD Foundation Stick.

Don't believe the hype. You can look pulled together and camera ready without spending hours in the mirror or makeup chair. Whether it's for a day at work, a photo shoot or a journey into makeup artistry, we've compiled the five core products you need for a five minute face. 

Brow Pencils: There's nothing more pertinent to makeup application than a well-groomed set of arches! Brow pencils are compact, easy to use and offer instant results. 

Blok Favorite: Anastasia Brow Wiz, $21 www.anastasiabeverlyhills.com

Photo by Justin Sisson. Deja wears Hennè Organics Luxury Lip Balm.
Photo by Justin Sisson. Deja wears Hennè Organics Luxury Lip Balm.

Stick Foundation: Evening out skin tones is now easy and fast. Deliver swift swipes to the forehead, nose, cheeks and chin and blend over the face and neck with your fingers. 

Blok Favorite: MAKE UP FOR EVER Ultra HD Foundation Stick, $43 www.makeupforever.com 

Cream Eyeshadow: No brushes or complicated steps needed. Cream eyeshadows deliver a shot of smooth neutral pigment to your eyes and can also be smudged under the lash line. 

Blok Favorite: Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerise, $32 www.charlottetilbury.com

Photo by Morgan Teresa. Sarah wears Glossier Cloud Paint.
Photo by Morgan Teresa. Sarah wears Glossier Cloud Paint.

Blush: A dab of blush will leave you looking beautifully flushed and vibrant. Cream or liquid blushes are our picks to dab onto the cheeks. 

Blok Favorite: Glossier Cloud Paint, $18 www.glossier.com 

Lip Balm: Keep your lips supple and hydrated with a super rich lip balm. Try using one with a little color to add contrast to your face.

Blok Favorite: Henne Organics Luxury Lip Balm, $22 www.henneorganics.com

Photo by Matt Martian. Josie wears Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz in Caramel.
Photo by Matt Martian. Josie wears Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz in Caramel.
The Unknown.

This past weekend, Blok Studio teamed up with The Agency Arizona to create a visual story that showcases talent and studio space. We are very much looking forward to releasing this project to the world! Here are a few snippets from this weekend!

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Unknown video bts
Unknown video bts
Unknown video bts
Unknown video bts
Unknown video bts

Director/Producer - Matt Martian

Assistant Director - Justin Sission

Styling - Cheyna Carr

Make up and Hair - Morgan Teresa

Videographer/Editor - Anthony Swann

Talent - The Agency Arizona