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Welcome to the blog!

I am Michael Avilez  a Fairfax, VA based photographer. I am interested in all types of photography from landscape and travel to commercial, street, portrait and fashion. But I have a special interest in photographing people and capturing both mood and emotion. My hope with this blog is to share some of these frozen moments with you. So come back and visit often and share your comments. Sit back, relax, and enjoy my work… Thank you! ~michael
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December 4, 2011 | People

The Present

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Contradiction Dance



 


The Present is a dance performance by Contradiction Dance artistically expressing the present of living in the present. The performance is already in motion as you enter the theater and it takes a moment to realize that you too need to be in the present and start to take in the performance. I had the opportunity to sit in on a couple of the rehearsals leading up to the show and was both intrigued and amazed at the progress of each iteration. It’s a testament to the commitment of each of the dancers. It really is fun to see a great show become greater…


Dancers: Shelley Alinas, Carlos Bustamante, Erica Chamblee, Ben Drexler, Eleni Grove,  Makeyda Hilliard, Anneliese Parisi, Matina Phillips, Lyndsey Pressley, Dani Quirion and Alison Waldman


Choreography: Kelly Mayfield

Director of Theatre: Melissa-Leigh Bustamante




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September 29, 2011 | People

Chrissie

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At the end of a shoot earlier this year with the kids of Contradiction Dance, dancer/instructor Chrissie Leong stepped in front of the camera for a few elegant moments… Thank you Chrissie!










 



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September 23, 2011 | People

Momentum Dance Theatre

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Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to work again with Roberta Rothstein (Artistic Director) and some of the wonderful dancers from the Momentum Dance Theatre. Hanging out one weekday night in an alley in Washington DC.



Dancers: Charis Humphrey and Aquiles Holladay




 



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September 14, 2011 | People

Personal Rain Forest

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That is how it seems in the greater Washington, DC area as our summer comes to an end.



 


 




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May 28, 2011 | People

Cora Shoot

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Model: Cora Zon / Makeup Artist: Crystal Davis


I had a great time working with Cora and Crystal on a recent shoot. We quickly agreed on a direction and looks we wanted to accomplish and we were off. Lighting for the beauty shots were inspired by friend and photographer Bo Zhang from a recent workshop. I’m constantly looking to add variety to my way of lighting and have become very deliberate in how I light each client. The goal to be variety in lighting but consistency with results. And of course to have fun, be inspired and grow with each shoot. Thank you Cora and Crystal…


Mission accomplished!







 



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May 12, 2011 | People

Kathy…A Portrait

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The Birthday Shoot…



So my good friend Kathy reached out to me on Facebook and asked about a portrait… We hadn’t spoken in a while and it was wonderful to catch up. She asked about a portrait session, I rambled about outfit changes and makeup. She talked about a nice portrait for her birthday and I talked about a studio…lighting…and oh, make up artist and it’ll be fun and don’t worry… I got this…

It’ll be fun… Hahaha… And then off I go to plan a shoot, not letting on how much work this would be for her.


Unwitting Model: Kathy Taylor Mealy


Make up: Tunisa Williams



One of the challenges of any shoot is to get your subject to relax. Doesn’t matter how long you’ve known each other…you shove the camera in your friend face they will freeze. Why do you think I’m behind the lens!? But Kathy just plugged right in. We talked…click, click, click…talked some more, click, click, click…



Not enough attitude…too much attitude…click, click, click… Turn like this, no back, no like you were…click, click, click…




Inevitably we’d just start cracking up… Or, well… she would… What a blast…Ok, where were we… Oh yeah, Attitude!



ARE WE DONE YET! Even close?





We got some good shots…


Happy Birthday Kathy!!! Beautiful work…




 


 


 


 


 



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Angela: Kathy, the pictures are beautiful but how could they not be with you as the subject! (May 17, 2011 8:41 pm)

Valette King: The photo shoot looks awesome and of course you had a great subject who made it look so easy. Kathy, You Rock!!! (May 17, 2011 1:12 pm)

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May 4, 2011 | People

The Disorder Of Things

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Contradiction Dance



I recently covered Contradiction Dance as they presented The Disorder of Things at the Round House Theater in Silver Spring, MD. (April 22/23 2010)


Via Contradiction Dance…


In the often black & white world of medical, religious and social institutions, The Disorder of Things examines the relationship between the three and the shades of grey among them.


Under the Artistic Direction of Kelly Mayfield, The Disorder of Things features Contradiction Dance, MASSIVEATTACK and Revolutionary Motion.


The Disorder of Things…from pensive to energetic; Well choreographed and beautifully performed…























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April 15, 2011 | People

Save the Dancers Part II

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Members of Contradiction Dance cleaning up with those tiny foil packaged towelettes  as they try to “Save the Dancers!” They have so much ground to cover before their campaign ends on 4/18…


Contradiction Dance has been fundraising for their spring production, The Disorder of Things which comes to Round House Theater on April 22 and 23. They have been working so hard! Here’s the original post.



L-R (above): Meghan, Melissa, Ayana, Carlos, Veronica, Drex, Makeyda and Eleni.




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April 6, 2011 | People

Photoshop World 2011

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Westcott Shootout


 



I spent most of last week in Orlando, FL at the spring edition of Photoshop World (PSW). This is a chance to get together with other photographers, graphic designers, authors, vendors and others in the photographic community. And also a chance  to press the flesh and put a real face to some recent Twitter and Facebook friends. This conference held by the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) is jam packed with educational opportunities and fun after hour events and of course vendor row where some of the latest gear is available to play with. There are much more classes and workshops given than can be taken so as a result it’s possible to schedule classes from morning till night most days and not see some of the side events that are going on all week long. That’s the path I chose.



 


Model:  Rebekah Corey/High Fashion


All Makeup by: Candace Corey


The opening keynote ceremony played off of Project Runways’ high fashion theme with Project Photoshop. It was very well done ending with a balloon drop with balloons that were filled with prizes but sounded like they were filled with gunpowder. As everyone clamored for balloons the sound pretty much drowned out what was going on, on stage. It was pretty comical.



 


Model:  Rebekah Corey/High Fashion


I was in classes most of the time but did have the opportunity to participate in the FJ Westcott shootout. Westcott provided several shoot sets with the new continuous Spiderlite TD6 lights. I think you needed to push your ISO up a bit using these lights to keep a workable shutter speed. Each shooting area had changing models and themes and caused the usually photographic frenzy that occurs when photographers see a set. Bravo to the models, make up artists, stylists and set designers and thanks to Wescott for all the lighting setups. They begged us to talk to the models but we just pointed our biggest lenses and CLICK…CLICK..CLICKED like there was no tomorrow. I can’t imagine how many thousands of the same pictures were taken. This was a VERY popular and fun area of the conference. I had a few very brief opportunities to guide a couple of the models. After the first day my schedule was very full and I took less time out to make pictures.



 


Model:  Rebekah Corey



Model: Andrea Wong/Geisha


One of the great things about Photoshop World is the openness of all the industry players and their willingness to share their thoughts and experiences. I had some really great and inspiring conversations and the instructors were top notch. I had a great time and kept a schedule that kept me running and exhausted… but it was a good exhaustion.


You can leave your  comments at the end of the post.



Model: Quan Nguyen/Samurai



Model: Hope Roberts/Phantom of the Opera



Model: Hope Roberts/Marie Antoinette



 


Model: Andrea Wong/Steampunk



 


Model:  Rebekah Corey/Red Riding Hood



Model: Heather Flora/Rapunzel



Model: Hope Roberts/Jester



Model: Rachel Todd


 


 



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Lori Esque: wow... WOW.... WWWOOOOWWWW!!! Such wonderful work here, Michael! Thank you for sharing this with us all! It's inspiring! =) (April 6, 2011 8:45 pm)

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April 2, 2011 | People

Save the Dancers!

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Contradiction Dance



 


Two weeks ago I got together with Kelly Mayfield the Artistic Director of Contradiction Dance along with several of the dancers to work on a fundraising project for their spring production, The Disorder of Things. Their campaign runs until April 18th so I encourage you to see what they’re about and how much they contribute to the community and donate to their production if you are moved to do so.


I think we all wished it was a little warmer but all of the dancers were so willing to do what we asked of them to get some amazing shots. This was a real collaborative effort. We roamed the streets of Silver Spring, MD the home of Contradiction Dance. Eleven of us in all, the Contradiction Dance crew, myself and Frantz a good friend and VAL (voice activated light stand) for the shoot.


Geek speak: For the shoot I used an SB900 triggered with radio-poppers since I rarely had a line of site to that flash from the camera position. Frantz feathered the flash into the scene and I was able to control the flash (in manual mode) from the camera position.



L-R, Dancers: Melissa, Eleni, Carlos, Drex, Ayana, Meghan, Veronica and, Makeyda. And that’s Kelly in front.



No Money Kept in Office, poor Melissa (Dancer and Director of Theatre: Melissa)



There’s No Such Thing as a Free Carlos



Dancer: Makeyda



Dumpster Diving: by Drex



Dancer: Eleni



Dancer: Meghan


 



Dancer: Veronica



Your Bread is our Brick and Mortar: starring Ayana



L-R, Eleni, Ayana, Drex, Veronica, Meghan, Melissa, Carlos, Makeyda



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Save the Dancers Part II | Michael j Avilez photography: [...] Contradiction Dance has been fundraising for their spring production, The Disorder of Things which comes to Round House Theater on April 22 and 23. They have been working so hard! Here’s the original post. [...] (April 16, 2011 9:27 am)

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March 28, 2011 | People

All You Can Shoot “Buffet”

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A sampler.



Over the weekend I participated  in a photo shoot-a-thon at the Union 206 studio in Alexandria, VA. Billed as an All You Can Shoot Buffet, this was an opportunity for Union 206 members to get together with models and an entire team of artists (Make Up Artists, Hair and wardrobe stylists) along with the Union 206 crew to create some unique and interesting images. From white wall to full sets there was something for everyone. This was a chance to flex your imagination and really have some fun.


I’ll post additional images from the shoot after PSW…


Here’s some of my samples from the buffet…



Model: Vanessa Arias



Model: Vanessa Arias





Model: Heather Shue



Model: Heather Shue





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March 25, 2011 | Different

Landscape one X six

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Experiment!



This is a post to encourage you to experiment with your images. A very basic landscape shot processed six different ways. With all the imaging editing software on the market it’s easy. And of course there are apps for that. Use whatever came with your camera. There are no rules! Just crank those sliders and start to understand what each one is doing to your image. Soon you’ll start to figure out what you like and maybe even a style for processing your images.


I’ve recently been taking more time to go through the software I have and the menu items and dials and sliders and such that I never touch. Checking out presets that I loaded who knows when and for what reason. There are an infinite number of variations for any image. I played around in Lightroom and Photoshop and tried several different techniques with varied success. The point is to just have fun.


Here are some of the results…


The starting point with a slight vignette.



Textured overlay.



more overlays… See the rainbow?



Black and white conversion with a slight sepia tone.



Black and white



HDR. This was not shot as a true HDR but since it was shot in raw there is +/-  1.5 – 2 stops of leeway. I processed the image with a -2 and a +2 exposure change and along with the original image fed to Photoshop. There are an unlimited number of ways to process as an hdr image from photo realistic to a more extreme and even cartoonish look.



So start experimenting and have fun!



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February 25, 2011 | Different

Monopod City

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All over the city I noticed that these new monopods are going up. If you’re into night time photography and not in the mood to carry a tripod well, you’re in luck. In the photo above left I’m handholding my camera…a ah, Canon G10. No amount of stabilization will help this out. But by using the city provided monopods I can use longer shutter speeds and capture much clearer pictures.











…And 3am traffic is brutal…



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Lori!: I cannot do this kind of photography to save my life... but you make it seem so easy and natural! Love it! =D (March 16, 2011 1:30 pm)

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February 19, 2011 | People

Living, Breathing, Human Organism?

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Contradiction Dance



This last season I have been working with Kelly Mayfield, (Artistic Director, Contradiction Dance (CD)) and the dancers at Contradiction Dance and MASSIVEATTACK to capture some images from their performance of Living, Breathing, Human Organism. A really exciting show which explores how we have lost touch with ourselves and our environment. Let me quote CD…


 


Conceived by Artistic Director Kelly Mayfield, Living, Breathing, Human Organism? explores how we have lost touch. Our preoccupation with our thoughts leads us to detach from both our physical self and that self within the environment. Despite this, our daily lives play out in a menagerie of animalistic tendancies that are telling in both dark and humorous ways.


 


I had a great time at each performance while trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. Not always possible as the guy in the corner where the CLICK…CLICK…CLICKING was coming from. I have put the silent shutter on my wish list. In any event I appreciate everyone tolerating my intrusion. Bravo to all the performers! Well done…















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February 7, 2011 | Different

Year Of The Rabbit

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Here are a few images from this years Chinese New Year celebration in Washington DC…














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January 21, 2011 | People

A Lighting Workshop

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I attended a lighting workshop at Union 206 studio in Alexandria, VA last night and had a very interesting and productive time talking about lighting concepts. I also had a chance to play around with a ring flash and a softbox about half the size of a twin bed.


This first set of images uses an Alien Bees ring flash. The customary halo shadow blown away by another  light aimed at the background.


Model: Lauren McMahon




Decided to drop a different background into this next image…



This next set of images is using a giant soft box. This crib sized soft box guarantees soft light when working at close distances.


Model: Christine Hodges






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January 17, 2011 | People

Model Mashup 2

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I was at another Model Mashup at Union 206 Studio that morphed into a mini workshop about lighting male models. So I did more listening than shooting but I did have an opportunity to shoot model Raheem.





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January 1, 2011 | Different

Happy New Year!!!

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Go make a splash!…





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December 25, 2010 | Different

Merry Christmas!

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| People

Jazz, Hip Hop Nutcracker

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Merry Christmas!



I covered two shows for Momentum Dance Theatre’s presentation of the Jazz, Hip Hop Nutcracker. A very eloquent, energetic, fun and unique rendition of the Nutcracker.

























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stephanie: What a fantastic after Christmas treat Mike! I love all of your work but I think you know I that performancephotography holds a special place in my heart (eyes??). Absolutely wonderful work Mike! (December 26, 2010 11:25 am)

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