Posts in Category: Uncategorized

Havasupai: Amongst Many Yet a Singular Experience

I was surprised.

to say the least.

I was surprised that I would hike 10 miles in with a fully-loaded pack to a campground full of hundreds of people.

and yet feel like there were times when I was the only one there.

It’s akin to Yosemite in my mind… a place of such beauty that everyone flocks there, but you can still find moments of isolation and peace.

 

I hiked in with a friend and 3 others who quickly became friends as well. It’s hard to share a journey and not find a common bond. I felt honored to be among them, and be in this incredible location.

Little Falls

Little Falls

 

Grand Canyon the night before

Grand Canyon the night before

 

Hiking in at daybreak

Hiking in at daybreak

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SCI 2016 05_Havasupai-0164-Pano

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SCI 2016 05_Havasupai-0234

SCI 2016 05_Havasupai-0220-Pano-Edit

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Mooney Falls

Mooney Falls

 

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SCI 2016 05_Havasupai-0144

 

Havasu Falls

Havasu Falls

 

 

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If you can… go.

SHOT on A7Sii with Nikon 28mm

Behind the Scenes with Pretty Little Liars

It was such a blast to be on set for Day 2 of Freeform’s Pretty Little Liars key art shoot.

An incredible team photographing these beautiful ladies… how could you go wrong? I spend quote a bit of time for my regular shoots in post, so it’s rather refreshing to just pull these straight outta Lightroom.

A few of my favorite BTS shots of the day…

  • Pretty Little Liars BTS by Jen Serena
    Pretty Little Liars BTS by Jen Serena
  • Ashley Benson - PLL BTS by Jen Serena
    Ashley Benson - PLL BTS by Jen Serena
  • Shay Mitchell - PLL BTS by Jen Serena
    Shay Mitchell - PLL BTS by Jen Serena
  • Shay Mitchell - PLL BTS by Jen Serena
    Shay Mitchell - PLL BTS by Jen Serena
  • Troian Bellisario - PLL BTS by Jen Serena
    Troian Bellisario - PLL BTS by Jen Serena
  • Ashley Benson - PLL BTS by Jen Serena
    Ashley Benson - PLL BTS by Jen Serena
  • Troian Bellisario - PLL BTS by Jen Serena
    Troian Bellisario - PLL BTS by Jen Serena
  • Ashley Benson - PLL BTS by Jen Serena
    Ashley Benson - PLL BTS by Jen Serena
  • SerenaCreative_2015 09_PLL_579
  • Ashley Benson - PLL BTS by Jen Serena
    Ashley Benson - PLL BTS by Jen Serena
  • Troian Bellisario - PLL BTS by Jen Serena
    Troian Bellisario - PLL BTS by Jen Serena
  • Ashley Benson - PLL BTS by Jen Serena
    Ashley Benson - PLL BTS by Jen Serena
  • Shay Mitchell - PLL BTS by Jen Serena
    Shay Mitchell - PLL BTS by Jen Serena

 

CBS ACM Awards promo directed and shot by Ric Serena

 

 


ACMscreen

 

Ric’s unique talents as both Director and DP were put to use creating fun, driving promos for CBS’ airing of the ACM Awards. I think the following BTS shot (by Cliff Lipson) beautifully illustrates his ability to engage with the talent, (Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley) even while juggling two roles and a setting sun on set in the Neon Boneyard in Las Vegas.

-Jen

 

PB8A0789_R_r

 

Director’s cut for CBS and the Academy of Country Music Awards. The spot features hosts, Luke Bryan & Dierks Bentley. Client: CBS Promo Produced by Moving Parts, Inc. Music courtesy of Emoto Music, Santa Monica First AC: Ian Barbella Color Grading by Sparkle Shot on Red EPIC with Zeiss CP2 lenses Location: Las Vegas Neon Sign Museum Director/DP: Ric Serena

Will Work for Food

 

We’ve enjoyed many celebratory beers and tasty lunches at Tony’s Darts Away.

But one of the unexpected bonuses of setting up shop right next to your favorite bar (besides the obvious) is getting to know their amazing staff.

Their award-winning chef, Caroline, needed a professional portrait / headshot that she could use for publicity and personal work, so of course I was excited when she asked me to take them.

We wanted to keep it stylized but simple – to reflect her openly friendly, no-nonsense personality, and the tasty cuisine featuring simple elements that combine for an amazing meal.

 

  • SCI 2015 12_ChefCaroline-comp5
  • SCI 2015 12_ChefCaroline-comp6
  • SCI 2015 12_ChefCaroline-comp3
  • SerenaCreative 2016 01_ChefCarolineBTS-0591
  • SCI 2015 12_ChefCaroline-comp2
  • SCI 2015 12_ChefCaroline-comp4

 

The first setup (natural light with strobe fill) was shot in our back area and features the wood fence that separates our two properties. The second, brings in texture and depth. No hair and makeup, just fresh – like Caroline, and her food.

We had so much fun, I asked if I could follow her around the kitchen for an hour, so we could share some of her amazing food in photos as well. My first foray into food photography, my main job was to stay out of her way. (easier said than done in the tiny galley kitchen.) The results showcase some of her culinary skills in the unexpected environment of a local bar. And my mouth waters just looking at the food.

They do it right at Tony’s, as many of us can attest to… from craft California beers to vegan food options.. you’ll find lots to love there. Plus, they have the BEST CHEF OF BURBANK working hard for you.

(And don’t forget to give a shout of thanks to Caroline when that delicious meal is served! )

 

Read more about Caroline in this LA Times article.

PHOTOGRAPHY AND POST WORK BY JEN SERENA

Kirsten Nelson: not just a headshot

For many working actors, the headshot can become outdated before you know it. Kirsten knew she needed that one basic look, but I wanted to give her more.

We discussed ways that we could maximize time and give her a variety of looks that she could use beyond the standard headshot… to be used for editorial as well.

We opted for

  1. Casual & Classic: A natural light white and wood background were the perfect accompaniment to her denim look (tech notes: natural light with fill from strobes & bounce card)
  2. Dark and sensual: Giving her a darker edge, the single light and darker color schemes help accentuate a different side.
  3. Pop of Commercial Color: Kirsten ended up having 2 outfits that we couldn’t decide between… so we shot both. (tech notes: By keeping the lighting the same, we could change out backdrop and wardrobe and create two different looks.)
  4. BONUS! Kirsten is such an easy-going person, that also knows her body in relation to the camera, so we had time for one more. This time, I had her bring whatever crazy props/wardrobe/ideas she could think of, and I’d roll with it and make something on the fly… thus “No Regrets” was made.

 

 

  • Kirsten Nelson shot by Jen Serena
    Kirsten Nelson shot by Jen Serena
  • Kirsten Nelson shot by Jen Serena
    Kirsten Nelson shot by Jen Serena
  • Kirsten Nelson shot by Jen Serena
    Kirsten Nelson shot by Jen Serena
  • Kirsten Nelson shot by Jen Serena
    Kirsten Nelson shot by Jen Serena
  • Kirsten Nelson shot by Jen Serena
    Kirsten Nelson shot by Jen Serena
  • NO REGRETS Kirsten Nelson shot by Jen Serena
    NO REGRETS Kirsten Nelson shot by Jen Serena

MANMADE: craftsmen on Esquire

I’m not gonna lie… my husband is a REALLY talented guy.
His lifestyle pieces go beyond honest and thoughtful; they make you want to be there.
It probably stems from from the fact that he truly cares about his subjects (whether it’s a person, a product or a place) and will spend countless hours figuring out the best ways to tell their story (on budget and in time) in a unique way.

That’s why I was thrilled (and thought him the obvious choice) to be tapped as Director for Esquire Network’s MANMADE pieces.

Sharing other artisans’ stories… it’s obviously his passion as he’s created several award-winning shorts as personal projects. Check out his Ahrtuh-zen pieces: Dave Lefner and Jeremy Thomas where he explores the process behind their art and CZAPPA: a discussion about what it takes for one man to be an artist. In each of these pieces, like in MANMADE, the artist and their work helps dictate the story. Layering stills to show linocut in Lefner, using the deliberate pacing of the artisan and his craft in Thomas, and building stop motion segments to honor the builder in CZAPPA.

True, the MANMADE spots were different as each piece had to meet client needs as well as tell the story, but that’s also what makes them so great. To create compelling, creative stories in a quick, commercial environment, now that’s special. Ric is able to help these artisans share their craft and present them all in unique ways – just like the artists they’re portraying.

I know I’m biased. I not only get to see the beautiful end product, but also all the time, care and expertise Ric puts into each project – for the client, the subjects, and the creative team working with him.

…and maybe it’s just me, but I think it shows.

MANMADE: RISING SUN: Brought to you by Esquire Network & Samuel Adams, this sixty second on-air spot features Mike Hodis, owner and designer of Rising Sun & Co, as he discusses the importance of craftsmanship.

 

MANMADE: DEUS: Brought to you by Esquire Network & Samuel Adams, this sixty second on-air spot features Michael Woolaway, Design Director at Deus Ex Machina, as he discusses the importance of craftsmanship.

 

MANMADE: WHYRHYMER: Brought to you by Esquire Network & Samuel Adams, this sixty second on-air spot features designer & woodworker, Brandon Morrison, as he discusses the importance of craftsmanship.

 

 

Presented by Sam Adams & Esquire Network, these sixty second on-air spots features Michael Woolaway, Design Director at Deus Ex Machina, Mike Hodis, Owner and Designer at Rising Sun Denim and Brandon Morrison, Owner and Craftsman at Whyhymer Furniture, as they discuss the importance of craftsmanship.
Directed by Ric Serena
Creative Director/Writer – Patrick Condo
Produced by Moving Parts, Inc.
Producer: Brett Marx
Director of Photography: Chuck Ozeas
Edited by Jack Douglas (Rising Sun & Wyhymer) & Ric Serena (Deus)
Post Production Sound Mix by John Kelly
Titles by Chris Arens
Location Sound: Durand Trench

 

 

I SCREAM for ice cream: photography campaign

 

“I SCREAM” was created for a Quenelle, a boutique ice cream shop that has been expanding their presence with new locations – and thanks to the quality of their product – has limited marketing efforts.

This creative commercial photography campaign would give them a high-end polished look worthy of their product, infused with the delight that ice cream brings. We were ultimately able to create a campaign over many different mediums from one half-day shoot. A delicious success!

 

THE SHOOT: We invited Quenelle customers (and brought in a few select models to round out the diversity) to join us for a day of screams and smiles in front of the camera. It was an infectious day of fun – and we added the element of animated GIFs to the setups to 1) expand the marketing usage and 2) increase the “fun” of the piece. The great side effect was that it helped the non-models feel instantly more comfortable as they had an action to complete.

2-girls 2Thumbs-up Updown Spin2

 

 

 

{click on the images to animate them}

 

 

 

 

 

 

We felt the GIFs captured the energy so well, that we used them to animate the main tiled images, which was an added benefit as so many of the shots were worthy of publishing, we needed 3 groupings to accomplish it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I SCREAM_long

ON THE TECH SIDE: In order to quickly accommodate 32 people of varying ages and group sizes, we shot on white sic – enabling me to manipulate the color schemes more quickly in post for each setup.

THANKS: Huge props to Producer Pam Elliott for seamlessly scheduling model and non-model alike, and keeping the atmosphere fun and friendly. Thanks also to our intern Trevor Dalton and to Ric Serena who assisted on set, ran B camera grabbing some video footage of the fun, and were both forced to eat a few servings of ice cream as well. Kudos to Bobby Lory who quickly drew the Quenelle logo so that all participants could leave their mark .

And it couldn’t have been possible without Quenelle, the models and John, who hand-scooped each artistic serving.

A delicious day!

Images that MOVE

Audrey K Boutique was chosen to be one of the vendors for the Disneyland Dapper Day Expo… quite an honor! And one that she needed to capitalize on.

We had a very short timeframe to create an image that would stand out amongst the competition to showcase her beautiful, retro, but somewhat edgy style. She chose a model that could pull off a retro look and her original clothing designs, and I suggested instead of making a single static image, that we create an animated GIF to pull the viewers’ eye.

 

(click on the image to start animation.) 

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Plus, we got a few awesome stills while we were at it.

 

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  • SCI 2015 07_AudreyK-0253-Edit

BEHIND THE SCENES NOTE: With our quick turn-around and limited pre-pro, we opted to shoot on white so we could decide the best dress & action on set and add background color and logo in post. Definitely a good choice!

PHOTOGRAPHER/POST-PRODUCTION: Jen Serena
MODEL: Winter Fate
WARDROBE: Audrey K Boutique

 

Contact Jen (jen@serenacreative.com  818.568.4976) for ideas on how to creatively tell your photography story within your budget

See more of Jen’s creative commercial work

Jazz Violinist: classical to modern Nora Germain

Truly honored to have Nora Germain – jazz violinist  – and already a sensation at the age of 23 ask me to shoot her portraits. She’s hip, yet grounded and wanted to get a range of images to showcase her versatility. Youth, talent and style all in one package.

It was a quick session, but we managed to capture 4 setups and 3 different looks. She’s such a natural beauty that we didn’t want to go extreme with any of the processing or setups, but wanted to share her youthful vibrance with bold color, her sleek style with bright white, her natural easy-going nature with an outdoor setting and the classical stage vibe to harken back to her intense training and serious passion for her art.

 

 

  • Nora Germain by Jen Serena
    Nora Germain by Jen Serena
  • Nora Germain by Jen Serena
    Nora Germain by Jen Serena
  • Nora Germain by Jen Serena
    Nora Germain by Jen Serena
  • Nora Germain by Jen Serena
    Nora Germain by Jen Serena
  • Nora Germain by Jen Serena
    Nora Germain by Jen Serena
  • Nora Germain by Jen Serena
    Nora Germain by Jen Serena
  • Nora Germain by Jen Serena
    Nora Germain by Jen Serena
  • Nora Germain by Jen Serena
    Nora Germain by Jen Serena
  • Nora Germain by Jen Serena
    Nora Germain by Jen Serena

 

(Side note: I was stoked to finally paint a wall in my studio for a session. So far, we’ve brought in backdrops that have sufficed, but this time I went for a bold purple wall that rocked. I fell in love with the stage setup so much that I ended up using it for a later shoot with Stephnie Weir for her 1-woman show poster image. More on that zany and awesome project later! )

Read more about Nora and give her a listen here. If you haven’t heard of her, no doubt you soon will.

 

Contact Jen (jen@serenacreative.com  818.568.4976) for ideas on how to creatively tell your photography story within your budget

See more of Jen’s music photography here.

Powerful SuperGirl spot

There are some shoots where you plan every shot, every detail, and work your hardest to achieve that look.  Then there are shoots like the Supergirl “Powerful” promo where you can’t know exactly what you’re going to get, so you need to plan on a macro level and trust your talented team to know what ultimately is needed to build a spot.

 

The Premise:
CBS invited 400 moms and daughters to attend a sneak preview of their upcoming show, Supergirl, on the Warner Brothers lot.  Our production team worked in tandem with the CBS Creative Directors and WB Event coordinators to ensure that we could shoot a promo of the event, all the while making sure that attendees never felt like they were there for anything but a premiere screening.

Creative Roles:
My role as a director on these types of assignments is frontloaded.  Because I can’t be everywhere at once during the event/shoot, the most important job I have is to orchestrate where and when our team needs to be, and make sure everyone is on the same page about what we’re trying to capture.  Because we were shooting a 4 hour event for a :30 second promo, one would think “we’ll definitely be covered,” but when it comes to capturing the human emotion in a real setting, you have to roll a lot to capture those few moments that make the spot stand out.

Melissa Benoist and all the moms & daughters were energetic and enthusiastic to say the least.  Melissa’s excitement and gratefulness to all who attended was not an act.  I was incredibly impressed by her engagement with the girls even when she was being swarmed.  It shows on camera, but only because it was real.

And the team I had made capturing the emotion of the event entirely possible; because once we started rolling, I knew everyone had the end goal in mind and could work independently.  Romi and her production team at Moving Parts (including Wendell and Jake) always do an incredible job of handling the logistics of a shoot so that I can focus on the creative.  Andy & Lombardo (our two Assistant Directors) not only help me stay on schedule, but were so good with all the families that there were times it felt like our production was part of the entertainment.  I can’t credit them enough, because when you’re trying to get powerful reactions from real people in a short time, it all comes down to your brief relationship with each individual.  I learn from the two of them often.

Our DP/Operators, Kim & Brian, and their ACs, Ian & Chris, were able to move so quickly in an ever-changing environment – crowded with excited families – and still capture the cinematic look we were going for.  The majority of the footage was shot on the Sony F55 (one camera dedicated to 60fps), but we moved to a Sony A7S during the actual screening to capture the audience’s reactions under very low light.  And our sound team, led by Stan, pre-planned with the location to make sure we were able to get the best possible audio at every stage in our shoot.  He’s also meticulous about providing the best guide track to the cameras (which are often times ALL over the place) and back up audio files that sync’d in post with no hiccups.  It’s often undervalued the role a great sound department has on set, and shoots like this are all the more challenging.

But my biggest hero in this piece was the CBS editor, Brian Retchless.  Because post-production had such a short turnaround, Brian was on set with us (quietly observing), to get a sense of the order of the day’s events so that when he sat down with the footage it wasn’t quite as overwhelming.   As an editor myself, sometimes it’s hard to watch someone else’s cut of your material.  It’s healthy for sure, but still hard, because I have ways of doing things that may not be consistent with another editor’s.  It’s not bad… just different. And then there are times like this, when another editor brings SO much to the table that I’m able to sit back and say, “s/he did this way better than I would have,” and it’s a great feeling.  In this instance, Brian knocked it out of the park.

I am just one component in a craft that requires the skills and voices of many, and when I have a team that I can trust, it makes the job a lot more fun.