Here’s a portrait session I set up with Reggie Ray back in December, 2016. Reggie is my good friend and dance compadre. He is an aspiring choreographer, rapper/songwriter, comedian, and actor. He wanted to shoot with me to create some artistic portraits of himself that showcases what he appreciates about life and his vibe as an influencer and content creator.
He’s created a big name for himself as “Luni” on Vine and later as “LivingToDance” on Instagram after Vine’s shut down in 2016. Under his alias, @LivingToDance, Reggie focuses on recreating key moments from popular live television events, music videos, award shows, and reality TV shows through videos that he shoots in his own home.
When I first met Reggie, I met him as a dancer first. I remember us hanging out together and dancing with each other in classes and in different studios between Durham and Raleigh. Later on, he noticed my work as a photographer and became interested in not just working with me, but becoming a major supporter of my craft as a returning client. That’s how this first shoot came to life.
We shot on NC State’s campus since I was currently attending classes during 2016 and Reggie lived close by. Even though Reggie wanted to create some portraits for his social media platform, I don’t really consider this to be your conventional “brand shoot.” We didn’t really come up with a theme that was centralized around what he creates as an artist. This was more about what he enjoys to see visually in life. He’s really attracted to nature like trees, flowers, and sunsets, so that’s what we aimed to capture in this shoot.
He wanted us to capture the autumn leaves, however, because it was December, most trees had already lost all of their leaves from the cold winds. There was one vibrant orange tree that still had all of its leaves, so we started off the shoot posing him by it. Since this was the only tree with orange flowers, I had to get creative with how we used it in the photos.
There was a deep overcast of clouds above us during the afternoon which gave us super soft lighting. If you read my other posts describing this, you know how much I love soft lighting. Once the sun began to set, we decided to keep shooting anyway. We found a streetlight that I had him walk under to create some pictures with a totally different ambience, but with similar colors to the orange tree. The blues from the sky and his outfit were a great compliment to the orange tones in his skin and the streetlight.
Afterwards, I moved him over to some bushes with white flowers to capture more of the nature element he was looking for in his photos. These worked really well with his hat which was a light pink color that didn’t look too saturated on camera. Once it became almost completely dark outside, we noticed some more street lights turned on in the distance. We wrapped up our shoot in an open field with the lights in the background.
Since Reggie isn’t necessarily a model, I didn’t want him to feel confined to those types of expectations while shooting with me. I just wanted him to be himself because this shoot was about him and what he envisioned. I liked this about shooting with him because one, it’s less work for me, and two, people are always so concerned about their self-image that it was refreshing to work with someone who has a natural charisma about themselves.
Enjoy the photos below and let me know what you think!