Taj Vaccarella – Santa Barbara Painter

One of my favorite parts of doing photography is the people I get to meet. As part of a project I started during the time at Brooks Institute, I photographed Taj Vaccarella, an amazing young painter with a studio in Santa Barbara. I was pushing close to a deadline without even having a shoot booked, and sent Taj an email to check if there was any way I could photograph him in his studio. I didn’t expect the shoot to go through as I needed to shoot within a few days, but was surprised by how positive his answered was, and just a day or two later we were loading my gear into his studio to set up and shoot.

It’s awesome when you get to work with people who are just easy going, and you are strangers when you walk in their door and good friends when you leave.

During my last semester at Brooks Institute, I did several portrait shoots every week, and after finishing up the shoot with Taj, and going over and discussing the shots, I finally started to see the pattern in how I photograph people if I get to do whatever I want. I definitely have my preferences when it comes to lighting, but also when it comes to the subjects body language and expressions, which became very obvious in this shoot. Of course, all of this will depend on my clients needs, but I am definitely starting to see a pattern when I look through the series I am currently working on. Here’s some of the shots we did in Taj’s studio!

Make sure you stop by his website to see his work here!


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Definitely a fun shoot! Here’s my favorite outtake (this one still cracks me up, and I know Taj is waiting for this one), and some setup shots.



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