May 23, 2015

I love working with new models. It all starts with being able to see their potential before the shoot happens and then pulling it all together to create a solid set of portfolio images for their book. This is one of those shoots where I worked with a brand new model, Doran Mauldin, and everything turned out better than I imagined. Don’t you just love when that happens? With Doran’s tall thin frame and long blonde hair, I knew that I wanted to create a diverse set of looks that have a laid back indie vibe throughout and range from professional to casual.

We started downtown with some formal business looks. I enjoyed the geometric compositions of the buildings and how the light was bouncing through the streets. We gave Doran a leather briefcase, a pair of black frame glasses, and had him cross the street for that “suave business man on the go” look. He nailed it.

Next we ventured to a large alley that runs through downtown Pittsburgh. I have to say that this was my favorite location of the day. There were some many possibilities with the length of the alley and various textures and weathered architectural elements scattered throughout. To my surprise there was steam that was rising through the alley that was perfectly backlit by the sun. One of those “at the right place at the right time” moments. I had Doran walk through the steam, which gave off a surreal and otherworldly effect and made for some incredible images.

After we were done shooting downtown, we ventured to an area of underpasses that is tucked in on the side of a busy highway. I became fascinated with this area because it is on my way home from my commute from work. Every time I drove by I enjoyed studying the light. It bounced and reflected off of the concrete walls and pillars of the underpass, creating geometric lines of light and shadow. Gritty grays created a color pallet that was urban and distressed. Perfect for shooting Doran with a more casual outfit and skateboard in hand. I knew he was in his element once we discovered a makeshift skateboard park right around the corner from where we were shooting.

Our final location was an area of Pittsburgh that is less traveled but filled with amazing industrial buildings that have seen the test of time. Here we found outfits that complemented the colors in the surroundings by using a pallet of rustic reds, greens, and blues. We got some great full body and close up head shots among the industrial landscape. After stumbling across a bike trail near the river, we broke out the skateboard again and Doran impressed us with his skateboarding skills- again I love the element of surprise. Doran skateboarding in the golden evening light created some epic lifestyle photos. I even impressed myself with my timing and caught him in mid air a few times. Needless to say, it was a lot fun to break it up and capture some big air. How many models can work a skateboard at the same time?

We wrapped up the shoot back in an alleyway flanked by a large old red brick warehouse building. This building caught my eye because there was a small cluster of trees growing out from the building that had just started to show their buds. I liked the contrast of the old industrial building with the fragile and sparse touch of nature making its way through. This was the last location of the day so the light was soft and diffused and made for some dreamy back lit shots.

Throughout the day we covered a lot of ground over the city and everything fell into place exactly as I imagined, but those extra elements of surprise took the shoot to the next level. A thumbs up for steam and skateboard tricks! A big thanks goes to my team for keeping everything organized and efficient. Of course, a huge thanks goes out to Doran for hanging in there with a long day of shooting and being able to flawlessly transform into every look we shot. Watch out modeling world, Doran has arrived!

Behind the scenes photos courtesy of my awesome intern and assistant Leah Schonauer. Check out her work at

Photography: Kaela Speicher Photography

Assistant: Leah Schonauer

Men’s Grooming: Hannah Donovan

Wardrobe Styling: Teeara Doner