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Photo Workshop and Party at the Palms!

Photo of Mari, art direction, Playboy photographer Arny Freytag.  Photo taken after the Phoenix Mansion photography workshop.

Photo of Mari, art direction, Playboy photographer Arny Freytag. Photo taken after the Phoenix Mansion photography workshop.

Note: Just announced, next Phoenix Mansion Shoot with Arny Freytag. (info here)

I just returned from a fabulous photography, semi-private instructional workshop featuring Playboy’s top photographer, Arny Freytag.  On occasion, Arny comes out and guest instructs at some of our photography workshops, most recently the Las Vegas and Los Angeles photography workshops.  Next month he’ll join us for a day as a guest instructor at the Los Angeles (workshop info here) photography workshop held at a 6,000 sq.ft. studio location with six gorgeous models including Playboy Playmate Holley Dorrough and American Idol star, Amy Davis.

Arny also indicated he’ll make an appearance at our Las Vegas workshop and birthday bash celebration this August at the Palms Casino where we’re alway treated well from the owner and staff. This will be our third photography workshop at the Palms Casino and at our Dec. 2009 glamour photography workshop, Arny spent two days instructing our attendees as we photographed models in the luxurious, 6,200 sq.ft., Sky Villa Penthouse suite—in fact, some of those images are in my new photography lighting book, Rolando Gomez’s Lighting for Glamour Photography: Techniques for Digital Photographers.

The Palms Casino and Palms Place always provide for some great shooting and touring of the clubs for all the attendees, and this photography workshop will be the best as Playboy Playmate Holley Dorrough and I will be celebrating our birthdays on Saturday evening throughout the casino along with a few other Leos who have their birthdays very close to ours.  The workshop is on Friday and Saturday, then more fun begins Saturday evening as we head out to tour the clubs at the Palms like the Rain, The Lounge, Moon, Ghost Bar, Satellite Bar, and even the Playboy Club.

Playboy photographer Arny Freytag, Palms Casino Owner Gavin Maloof, Playboy Playmate Holley Dorrough and I at Gavin's house.

Playboy photographer Arny Freytag, Palms Casino Owner Gavin Maloof, Playboy Playmate Holley Dorrough and I at Gavin's house.

We’ve got a few slots left, so we hope to see you there, so far the guest list is looking great and our models Holley, Amy, Mari, Candice, Eleya and Heather are looking forward to pose for all those digital cameras.  We might even add a few more models to make it fun and exciting for everyone! We’ll even have our top make-up artist, Stephanie Dawn. All attendees get special room rates, so there will be no need to leave the Palms Casino during this weekend workshop and celebration.

Hopefully you’ve signed up before we run out of spaces, but regardless, don’t forget our men and women in uniform who make all our freedoms possible along with the sacrifices of their families and friends, God Bless! Rolando

Amazing Friends! Playboy Photographer and Casino Owner

Note: More behind scenes photos on my Facebook page!

Playboy's #1 Photog, Arny Freytag and I with Elite Model Jenni and KT

Playboy's #1 Photog, Arny Freytag and I with Elite Model Jenni and KT

As I return back from Las Vegas from a two-day semi-private instruction workshop and our three-day “Glamour, Beauty & the Nude” weekend workshop the thought of friendships come to mind—especially since I had several friends associated with this event, Arny Freytag, Gavin Maloof, Igor and Lucy Rivillis, Holley Dorrough, Jeff Whitted, Stephanie Dawn, the group of photographer attendees and my team of talented models.

Arny Freytag, Playboy’s top photographer, provided amazing instruction as a guest to our semi-private instruction first few days.  Gavin Maloof provided us with VIP treatment at his Palms casino and even had us over his house one evening so we could watch the NBA team he owns, the Sacramento Kings on his gigantic television in his theatre room.  Igor & Lucy Rivillis joined us for any support we needed as usual, and of course, I couldn’t have pulled this workshop off without my second in command, my make-up artist, Stephanie Dawn from Atlanta.  My models, what can I say, without them our lenses are left lifeless.  My hat’s off to all eight of the them and especially the attendees for all their efforts—everyone pitched in to make this Las Vegas workshop a cherished memory.

Palms Casino and Sacramento Kings owner Gavin Maloof at his house with (L to R) Stephanie Dawn, Playboy photographer Arny Freytag, Playboy Playmate Holley Dorrough, myself, Elite model Jenni and KT

Palms Casino and Sacramento Kings owner Gavin Maloof at his house with (L to R) Stephanie Dawn, Playboy photographer Arny Freytag, Playboy Playmate Holley Dorrough, Elite model Jenni and KT

Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many people, with those encounters comes new friends, though not all friendships last, which often makes me wonder how people generally define friendship.  When I was much younger our parents would make us watch 60-minutes and in one famous interview, the late Malcom Forbes described the meaning of success as when you could truly identify one real friend for each finger on each hand—Forbes claimed he was still working on his first hand.

Elite model Jenni poses while shooting at the Sky Villa Penthouse, Palms Casino during my workshop.

Elite model Jenni poses at the Sky Villa Penthouse, Palms Casino during my workshop.


I’m sure a lot of people who thought they were his friend that day, questioned with a gut check, their own definition of friendship.  Mine is simple, I follow Forbes formula when it comes to gauging my success, but I break down my friendships into two categories, business and personal, though sometimes the two will mix.  Then I further breakdown those friendships into the subcategories of political and realistic as I know many friendships exist for political correctness in today’s society.

So a politically correct business friendship is just that, they will only be around while it’s for the benefit of business and politically correct—Martha Stewart is a great example of learning who her business and personal friends were during her legal crisis.  I saw it in the U.S. Army when Command Sgt. Major Freddy Manning was the senior enlisted soldier who only answered to the United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) Commander-in-Chief, Gen. George Joulwan.  We were all a team and everyone loved the SOUTHCOM sergeant major, everyone was his friend, from four-star generals on down, from every branch of the military.  While his uniform and position commanded respect, Sgt. Major Manning respected his troops and they respected him and his retirement ceremony was that of a general’s.

Eleya poses in the hot tub of the Sky Villa penthouse suite at the Palms Casino.

Eleya poses in the hot tub of the Sky Villa penthouse suite at the Palms Casino.

A few years after his retirement, I visited Sgt. Major Manning down in Georgia as we had done the Latin American Drug War together while I was stationed in USSOUTHCOM, and prior to that, we had been stationed together at V Corps in Frankfurt where he was the V Corps Command Sergeant Major.  We had more than a politically correct friendship, we both put in four years working personally for Gen. Joulwan at V Corps then USSOUTHCOM.   We traveled extensively together and on trips, you tend to bond.

While a few people stayed in contact with Sgt. Major Manning, he felt somewhat abandoned because after he quit being Gen. Joulwan’s right-hand man, the Christmas cards stopped flowing in and he was an example of having many “friends” that were only politically correct friends.

While our Vegas workshop was awesome, it had a few glitches, though my friend Gavin Maloof came through as a true friend to help us out and this says a lot about his character as he has no reason to be a “politically correct” friend with me—what can a photographer of my caliber bring him?  Nothing, the man has everything from owning a top Las Vegas casino, an NBA basketball team and even the ARCO arena they play in.  But Gavin Maloof was there to make sure we had what we needed.  Now that’s a friend and I salute you my friend.

Playboy's number one photographer Arny Freytag, Elite model Jenni and myself at the Palms casino on the day we arrived.

Playboy's number one photographer Arny Freytag, Elite model Jenni and myself at the Palms casino on the day we arrived.

I salute all my friends, especially those that helped out so much this past week to ensure Las Vegas was a success—you know who you are and what part you played!  Arny Freytag, I can’t say more than enough and I’ll see you soon in Jan. then in February as a VIP guest at my Los Angeles workshop.  And for those that want to know, yes, we’re back in Las Vegas (info here).

Thanks, and as I close, I ask everyone to not forget our military members, their families and friends, especially over the upcoming Christmas holidays, God Bless!  Rolando Gomez

Found in Sports Illustrated Swimwear

Evan Williams Liquor Ad, Found in Current Sports Illustrated Swimwear

Evan Williams Liquor Ad, Found in Current Sports Illustrated Swimwear

Often I’m asked, “How did you do that?” Well sometimes the answer is simple and sometimes the answer is a bit more complex, but everyone that has ever met me at photography workshops, seminars and events knows I love to spread the gospel of photography and never hold back. Most recently, I’ve been frequently asked how the photographs of Playboy Playmate Monica Leigh were taken for the Evan Williams Liquor advertisement found in the current Sports Illustrated Swimwear edition and also in Maxim and Playboy.

Normally I like to keep my photographic lighting to a minimum, but in the case of that advertising photo, it was a bit more complicated as the art director, creative director, brand manager, account manager and others all wanted to provide their feedback—and when they are standing there watching you shoot, you have to treat them politely and work with them while reminding them that time is money and it’s a true team effort. Depressing the camera shutter is only 5-percent of the equation to deliver the results they demand in a short and allotted time period.

Behind the Scenes w/Playboy Playmate Monica Leigh

Behind the Scenes w/Playboy Playmate Monica Leigh

Basically I had less than a full-day to complete the shoot. Call (make-up and final set preparation) was at 7:00 a.m. and I was there bright-eyed and busy-tailed by 6:45 a.m., as no one got the message to me that call was moved to 7:45 a.m. because the model’s flights were delayed due to bad weather. However, the end time was still the same, end at 5 p.m., as the model had to be on an airplane back to Los Angeles that same day. Luckily for me, I’d arrived the day before to set the lights up and do some test runs so I’d only need to fine-tune for the model. I basically used the art director’s secretary as the stand-in for my light checks.

Playboy Playmate Monica Leigh gets a touch-up from the make-up artist

Playboy Playmate Monica Leigh gets a touch-up from the make-up artist

The set took nine lights, one main light for the model that was modified with a Chimera Oct57 Octabox (soft box) assembled in a 7-foot width. I added a medium Chimera Soft Strip with a Lighttools 40-degree grid as the fill from camera left. I also placed a small Chimera Soft Strip above the red window curtains fitted with ROSCO Cinefoil on the front so I could control any spill light to the front of the image.  This strip would highlight the darker curtains a tad. Behind the make-shift window, I placed a large Chimera Soft Strip with the modeling lamp at full-power and flash tube turned off, since my white-balance was at 6000K and the modeling lamp is 3200K, I knew the color of the box would mimic the warmth of an evening sun filtering through a window.

Playboy Playmate Monica Leigh modeled three dresses for the shoot.

Playboy Playmate Monica Leigh modeled three dresses for the shoot.

The other five lights were fitted with 7-inch reflectors and various grids of 10- through 30-degrees were placed on their fronts to control the light path. Two were used to accent the model on each side plus another light for her hair. Another was aimed at the small table next to the model to bring out the wood color and grain. The final light was used to help illuminate the model’s purse. Several were fitted with Cinefoil to reduce spill light and to control and shape the light so I could have it exactly where I wanted it.

Once the lighting was tweaked and placed exactly where the art director and I wanted them, we then focused on the common thread of the two images that would make the ad function, the curtain rods. If you look at the advertisement you’ll notice the curtain rods, though different in shape, connect the two photographs. The importance here was to ensure the top of the model’s head was the same distance from the curtain rods in both images and that the rods were perfectly straight horizontally. It was this requirement that made me breakout a tripod, something I rarely use as I’m more accustomed to a photojournalistic style of shooting and mostly use a monopod if I need some type of stabilization.

Ultimately the red dress was chosen for the Evan Williams Liquor ad.

Ultimately the red dress was chosen for the Evan Williams Liquor ad.

The camera I used was the Canon 5D with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L USM, image stabilized lens. The tripod allowed me to keep the curtain rods straight at all times, while also locking in my distance from the model so the background would be very similar in the compression created by the lens set around 90mm effective focal length. This was very important to keep uniformity through the shoot as the model would do three complete wardrobe changes plus both final images would have to match with the curtain rods.

While the original story-board sketch provided by art director was approved by the liquor company, I asked if we could add a purse and some keys as the concept of the after picture was the model going out for the evening. Obviously the before photo, taken to simulate a bathroom, was simple and only took about thirty-minutes to shoot. The after photo, plus a lunch break, various breaks for the designer to download the Lexar digital cards and check the images in the pre-made advertising templates took a bit of time too, though often I’d be shooting on another Lexar digital card while they downloaded the previous cards.

In the end, we were done by 5 p.m., though eventually we’d learn the model’s flight had been cancelled, due to weather, but we still completed the shoot on the allotted time. While I normally do my best to work with simple set-ups for lighting, this assignment called for the more Playboy feel and I was happy to have brought enough photographic lighting gear in my Lightware cases to get the job done. Thanks and I hope to see you at one of my photography workshops someday soon and to see more higher-resolution images from this shoot, please visit my pro site by LiveBooks.com at www.RolandoGomez.com.  Thanks, Rolando.

Art Director Keith Rios and the MUA prepare Monica for the shoot.

Art Director Keith Rios and the MUA prepare Monica for the shoot.