Celebrity Portrait Photographer Miami Kate Benson | New York Mets’ Jacob deGrom

Last week I had a photo shoot with Jacob deGrom, the New York Mets pitcher who was the National League’s Rookie of The Year in 2014. We drove up to Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie where the Mets have their spring training to meet with Jacob. The photos were to be used for the New York Observer and they wanted two different looks: one in his Mets uniform, and one in his regular street clothes. We had access to the field, the stands and the locker room, so we had to decide where we could best capture Jacob’s personality.

We arrived at the site about two hours before Jacob was to arrive because we wanted to check out the location and lighting options. It is difficult to plan for outdoor lighting at 9 in the morning when you will be shooting at 11 because the angle of the sun changes drastically, but we did the best we could. We only had 20 minutes to shoot Jacob, so we didn’t want to waste any time at all configuring lighting or finding perfect angles while he was on set. Instead, I used my assistant as the stand-in and spent about two hours testing everything so we would be one-hundred percent ready to go the minute Jacob arrived for the shoot.

Jacob walked out on the field at 11:00 on the dot. All 6’4″ of him. First off, let me say that he was incredibly nice and personable. None of his recent accolades have gone to his head. He chatted amicably, and even shared some of his hog-hunting stories with us.

We got down to business and ended up with some great shots.

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Follow this link for more work by Miami Portrait Photographer Kate Benson.

Follow this link to read the article in the New York Observer about Jacob deGrom.

Miami Portrait Photographer | Musical Artist Thiago de Melo

On January 20, I had the opportunity to shoot Brazilian singer/songwriter Thiago de Melo while he was in town from New York. He was looking for some natural photos that would convey his fun, relaxed personality and also needed short video clips of him discussing his new album (in both English and Brazilian). Both the photos and the video were to be used on his new website.

It was a lot of fun to work with Thiago, as his individualism and charisma came out easily while in front of the camera. Being both silly and serious for the shoot was no problem at all for him, as you can see in the following photos:




Thiago’s music is a wonderful mix of soothing and vibrant tones, combined with his gentle yet spirited voice. If you follow him on Twitter or “like” him Facebook, you can download a copy of his latest album, “Home, Family & Roots” for free.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThiagoDeMeloMusic

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thiagomusic

Thiago’s website: http://thiagodemelo.bandcamp.com/releases

Reviewing images from the shoot with Thiago. Photo: Kristin Stickels

Reviewing images from the shoot with Thiago.
Photo: Kristin Stickels

E-commerce Photographer Miami | How to Produce a Professional Photo shoot, aka “What the heck do I do now?”

Everyone has to start somewhere. Chances are good that if you are reading this blog, you are wondering what the heck do I need to do to produce a photo shoot? It’s OK! No one will tell! In fact you can message me with any questions you might have. My goal is to help my clients or anyone who finds themselves needing to produce a photo shoot. Ready? Here goes!

When planning a shoot, there are a multitude of things to consider in order to make your shoot successful. As the saying goes, “The devil is in the details.” Here are ways to plan out those details to make for a successful shoot. While this is a list of important items to keep in mind, the descriptions are purposely broad with some specific examples given; your distinct needs for your shoot will require you to refine, add and/or subtract items as necessary.

Some of the very first things to take into account are your budget, due dates, the shot list, and usage. Identify the budget for the shoot, and determine how rigid it is. This will help shape the decisions you make regarding the entire production. How much flexibility do you have if unexpected costs come up? Due dates are crucial to keep in mind. When are the images needed? Understanding your time frame will allow you to work backwards in creating a schedule. A shot list is also imperative. Brainstorm what photos you will need. Does your product need to be shot on-model and/or still life? Do you need various angles of each item? How many total images do you need of your product(s)? And don’t forget to keep in mind the usage. How will your photos be used? For advertising? Internally? On the web?

The next thing to plan is the art direction. This is something that can be done in-house or outsourced, but is a significant aspect of your production. Art direction involves sourcing inspiration for your photos (I suggest collecting visual examples for this), making sure the photos line up with your company’s image, and ensuring that the photos convey the mood and environment that you want your product(s) to have. And, of course, this all dictates the type of photographer that you will use. You wouldn’t choose a nature photographer for an action shot of a model, for example. Which leads us to the casting…

Your next step involves casting and determining the details of the actual shoot. Your casting may include hiring models, stylists, hairstylists, makeup artists, and, of course, the photographer (to name a few). You may also need to hire a professional retoucher for post-production. Some photographers can do their own retouching, but it is important to determine whether they can do it well. You then need to ascertain whether you will be using a studio or a location for the shoot. If you plan to shoot on location, you will need to obtain permits or permission to use the site, and you should have a back-up plan in case of weather issues. You also need to consider your set. What inanimate objects will you need to complete the shot? What wardrobe or accessories might you need for the models? Is a manicure necessary due to close-up shots of a model’s hands?

Within the location details (whether on location or in studio) it is essential to plan food and beverages for everyone at the shoot and possibly transportation to and from the site. You may even need to provide lodging for the clients, models and/or the crew, depending on the location.

Image selection is an important part of the process. This can occur either on set or after the shoot. If the photographer shoots tethered to a computer, you can see the images immediately as they are shot. This gives you the opportunity to select your images while on set, and it also allows you to confirm that you have everything you need before the shoot is done.

After the shoot has taken place, there is still work to be done. The post-production work includes file management (naming, re-sizing, and delivering the images as digital files), as well as any retouching that may be required. When budgeting for your shoot, it is important to determine whether these costs are built into the photographer’s fee or will be charged additionally.

After taking all of this into account, the big question is can this all fit into your budget? If the answer is no, it is time to re-evaluate some aspects of your plan. Can you get a higher budget? Can you be more specific in your usage? Can you reduce your shot list? What can be done in-house?

And lastly, don’t forget about payment. When are people expecting to be paid? How long will it take your company to pay?

So, here is a quick checklist to help you plan your shoot:

due dates
shot list
art direction
shoot details
location details
image selection
post-production work

Just remember, this is a list of important items to keep in mind, but the descriptions are broad. You will need to tweak the list depending on your own needs for your shoot.

Here is a handy flowchart for your reference:


Sofia’s Portrait :: Miami Portrait Photographer, Kate Benson

On Thursday night last week I was texted by Sofia asking if I had any time to take a portrait of her… tomorrow. It’s always a bit hard to make that work, usually by that point the next day is planned out to the minute. Sofia said she had been hoping to get a portrait done for a while and was finally able to make it happen. This is something  familiar to me, calling people last minute to see if they can see me, acupuncturist, physical therapist, etc. My schedule just doesn’t let me make an appointment a week ahead (at least not if I want to keep it). Was it karma? Fate? One way or another I know that with all the times people have accommodated me I was going to make this happen for her. I shuffled things around, and was able to give Sofia a time she was also available to take her portrait.

The shoot was awesome, Sofia is such an awesome person, who also, like many awesome people, has no idea how beautiful and awesome she is. This image was my favorite, she choose a few others, but I had to blog it. She is an artist and I imagine that if her work is half as awesome as she is then she’ll have lots of success.Sofia

Fishing and shooting (also known as what did I take pictures of on my vacations)

It seems when I am going to travel somewhere my schedule fills up completely before and after the trip. This, I’m sure, has nothing to do with me calling and warning clients I’ll be going away and so if they want images before I travel to schedule asap (note my cyber sarcasm). So everything went on hold while I busted my butt photographing everything possible. Then off I went to Phoenix, Oregon, and Kentucky. It’s a really nice time of year to get away from Miami, where it is brutally hot. But, in true Miami style, I was welcomed back by Tropical Storm Isaac.

So I’ve got nothing to do but sit down and write. Actually write a blog post. I couldn’t leave the house if I wanted to and shooting from in here to out there would look about the same as shooting a grey card at the moment (get it, because of all the rain? It’s not a white out like in a snow storm, it’s a grey out… like in a rain storm…. oh never-mind).

Truth be told, I didn’t take too many pictures while I was traveling. But in Kentucky, I couldn’t resist documenting our “Fishing & Shooting” day. Yes, a day where you drink beer, fish and then drink more beer and shoot. It took a lot of convincing to make me stop shooting my camera and try my aim at the guns, I’m not really into firing guns. I have no problem personally with them but (and this is really girly of me) we had a wedding 3 days later and the last thing I wanted was a bruised shoulder with my pretty little dress. I know, such a girl. Alas, I did fire a few rounds, I believe hitting mark (clay pigeons, not anything alive) a few times. I actually re-applied some of the gun aiming technique to my camera shooting in low light and found it really worked. It was a pleasant surprise. Here are some of my favorite shots of the day.

Monday Model Test

Because Monday is such a hard day *usually* I wanted to share mine with you. My Monday was awesome (sorry for gloating but it was). I photographed Naples model, Skyel Bella so she could rebuild her comp card. We wanted to show how versatile her look was, she has an awesome range from commercial to glamorous and the most amazing eyes! With the help of the awesome makeup artist Gina Dearing we totally transformed Skyel back and fourth through the different looks. Skyel will have her work cut out of her choosing which images to put in her book, but too many good choices is a nice problem to have!

These are my favorites!

Kate Benson Photography Miami | Model Comp Card | Shot 1Kate Benson Photography Miami | Model Comp Card | Shot 2Kate Benson Photography Miami | Model Comp Card | Shot 1

The Great Scott

One of the best parts of my job is knowing that I’ve given images to a client that they’ve never expected. Because I love that moment so much it is not unusual for me to prime clients with a slightly lower expectation that what I know I can deliver (I know, a bad idea). So I listen to the needs they describe and then tell them where there will be trouble meeting those needs (if any) maybe make a few extra suggestions on how we could improve even more on those ideas and then strive to blow their minds with the final images. Of course after hiring me a few times that surprise goes away but when someone comes who just needs photos once it is my chance to do this all over again. It makes being a photographer worthwhile for me. A week ago I photographed Scott. He needed a collection of portraits for print and online usage (all personal). Scott was a great sport and really trusted me. I knew we had some really awesome photos that day and with his permission, here is one of my favorites:

Kate Benson Portrait

Puff Dragon Boat Team, Miami Photoshoot

A bit back, I had the pleasure of photographing people I spend lots of time with (some would say too much). My dragon boat paddling team, Puff. Much like you, I had never heard of the sport until it was right in front me. A quick overview: what do you get when you have 1 long skinny boat, 20 paddlers, 1 drummer, 1 helmsman steering, and a whole lot of muscles? A dragon boat. Let images of viking war ships come into your mind….. now make it Chinese.

My friend-client-friend has an inventor for a father and he made this great natural product sports gel (like Icy-Hot or Biofreeze, something Dragon Boaters slather all over them because you can’t even move after a good practice). So in talking about new pictures for the website and how they wanted a good mix of different people to be in the photographs, images of my amazing teammates kept popping into my head. A golden opportunity presented it’s face and Puff headed on their way to a great new sponsor for the team and maybe a career in modeling…. I’ll let you decided that last part.

For my friends who are not on Puff, enjoy! For my friends who are on Puff, don’t be mad but these are unretouched (said while ducking as objects go wizzing past me). Oh, one last thing, all my teammates who escaped the photo shoot…. get your butts over here and have your picture taken!

Interested in more? Puff welcomes new paddlers, visit their meetup site to find out when the next “newbie” practice is.

Didn’t make the cut

Re-shoots happen. It’s part of the publishing industry. Chef Clay is an awesome guy, totally laid back and has a good sense of humor. I’m sure when Ocean Drive set up the shoot for him in a farmers market everything was thinking the same thing, white stalls, fresh fruits & veggies displayed beautifully in front of charismatic vendors. So upon showing up to the farmers market in Coconut Grove we were a bit surprised.

It was a photographers nightmare. A blue and white circus tent sitting under a tree so almost no light is available to shoot with and you can’t bounce because it’s a color shot and there’s blue on top. Decaying boxes of fruits and vegetables that are sitting on top of white buckets. Although the product looked gorgeous, it’s a far cry from the streets of Paris.

So we worked with what we could and despite the obstacles came away with a great shot that seemed to capture Clay’s easygoing nature perfectly. Although Ocean Drive couldn’t make it work, word has it this shot divided the office down the middle, half being able to appreciate it despite the third world characteristics and the other half unable to get past them. XOXO ~Kate Benson

Chef Clay

Chef Clay

Ocean Drive Magazine Dec 2010

The start of December in Miami is Art Basel. It’s an amazing time of year to be here. Everyone gets their art on, hitting the galleries and exhibits featured all over the city. The magazines are no exception, most of them viewing the December issue to be the most important issue of the year for them. Along that note it is always an honor to be personally featured in the magazines. Ocean Drive Magazine for the second December in a row asked me to be in the contributors section. Of course I happily accepted their invitation. Take a look at how Kate Benson Photography | New York | Miami is seen throughout this months issue.

Contributor to Ocean Drive

Contributor to Ocean Drive

Metis Tarta of Esveda Designs

Metis Tarta of Esveda Designs

Annie Evans of The Society

Annie Evans of The Society

Tui Pranich of Tui Pranich Designs

Tui Pranich of Tui Pranich Designs