Luxury Pet Fashion Photography for Susan Lanci Designs

Being based in Boulder, Colorado often means I shoot a lot of outdoor work. From riding and running, to simply enjoying what Colorado has to offer, brands that are based here want active imagery on location. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t get to work on advertising and catalog shoots in completely different realms such as this one with Susan Lanci Designs in San Diego.

For the overhaul of the Susan Lanci Designs look, a luxury pet fashion brand, I shot ten different fashion setups in a high end home in San Diego this spring. From couples in cocktail attire, to family picnic scenes, to a shirtless male model with a dachshund over his shoulders – we created a wide range of images for this client in just one [well orchestrated] day with the help of LeeMarc staff.

Backcountry Hut Trip Ski Photography

I had the pleasure of participating in my first winter ‘hut trip’ in the backcountry mountains of Colorado this past weekend – specifically, the Lost Wonder Hut near Monarch Pass in the Sawatch Mountain Range.  Mother nature hit us with a double edged sword in the days leading up to the trip with 30″ of new snow in the 48 hours before our trek up to the hut began. Usually I’d never complain about substantial quantities of new snow – but this much creates high avalanche danger and therefore really limits options for ski-able terrain if you want to stay safe (which I definitely do). However, the new snow created some great scenery and lent itself to nice active lifestyle scenic images like the one below in black and white.

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This trip wasn’t based around a client or a highly produced test shoot with experienced model athletes, which gave me a nice challenge of capturing more editorial feeling images of my friends on the hut trip. I believe a fair number of active and outdoor companies are leaning this way with less produced, more ‘real’ images – so getting into the backcountry with the full size camera was good practice. Just figuring out what photography essentials to pack was a learning experience: Nikon D4 with a 50mm prime for grab and go candids while skinning to and from the hut, the 70-200mm lens for ski photography (should we find anything safe enough to descend), and a 17-35mm for inside the hut – around the dinner table drinking wine and playing games and music. The following is a collection of active lifestyle images captured over 2 days.

Batte at F-Stop Ridge

I’ve been seeing this going around for a bit now and finally watched it.  Hilarious, awesome and very well done.  The gunnery effects remind me of borrowing some of the Canon 1D something somethings during the Peter Read Miller Workshop I took – it shoots so fast and the sound makes it seem like there is a slide mechanism that’s ejecting Raw files and bringing the next cartridge into the chamber.  Props to The Camera Store for putting this together.

The ‘Uber Legit’ Cycling Team Photo Package

What the heck is the ‘Uber Legit’ Cycling Team Photo Package?

Good question, read on my friend

About 3 years ago, I switched gears from (attempting to) making a living racing bikes to making a living through photography.  I get the same rush, challenge and excitement from both.  After being very active on the road and mountain cycling scene in Colorado for 12 years, I’ve learned a thing or two about putting together teams, acquiring sponsors and trying to make everyone happy.


Recently, I was hired to shoot the Rio Grande Elite Cycling Team in Fort Collins, Colorado.  The Rio, being an active financial sponsor of their cycling team for over 10 (possibly more) years, understands the importance of representing sponsors who contribute to the team.  For them, professional photography of the riders with their equipment and sponsor-laden clothing was a no-brainer. This got me thinking that there are many, many teams in Colorado that receive significant help from their sponsors in cash or equipment who, at the end of the season, send their sponsors thank you letters with a list of accomplishments with possibly a handful of podium shots and/or event photos captured by teammates.

And your sponsors deserve something more…something shiny, something rad.

cycling team shot
The Rio Cycling team in their domain

Enter my “Uber-Legit” Cycling Team Package

Why not give your sponsors a slick poster of your team looking awesome with their brands represented?  Think of it as the cycling version of band photography.  Pro teams do it all the time.  They have a stack of these posters and their athletes sign ’em and give them away at trade shows.  Represent yourselves appropriately and deliver to your sponsors something they’ll be proud to put on their wall, and help them remember why they write that check or mail out boxes of gear for you, and why they should do it again next year.

What you get:

  • Professionally styled and lit, commercial quality, on-location portrait of your team
  • Head shots of each rider (if your team has over 20 riders, might have to make some adjustments here, but we’ll make it happen regardless)
  • A STACK of 100, 12×18 team posters to mail out to each of your sponsors, host housing families, supportive relatives and friends, you name it.  Artwork preparation with sponsor logos is included. Come with your own sharpie, bring a well practiced John Hancock and prepare for stardom

The package is 550.00.  Locations can be anything from near a race venue for rider convenience, to a grittier urban scene, to somewhere along the front range with great scenery.

BUT WAIT! There’s more!!

Can’t help laughing at that line, but it’s true

Customize anything you like and I’ll put together a package that works for your needs.
Say you want product shots of the equipment that awesome pedal sponsor gave you?  Done.
Action photos of the riders for trading cards? Done.
Take a look through my work to check out the different types of work I do and what we can put together.
Call me at 720.310.5784 or email Allen at to find out more, dates are limited and availability is greater the earlier you book.

The Pipeline – Late March, 2011

After a nice stay-cation with my lady in Silverthorne, Colorado, the H is O (the heat is on) as Will Ferrell would say.  Here’s a quick summary on recent happenings and what’s in the pipeline for Hardcastle Photography over the next two weeks…

Recent Work

Sundown Social – Band photography for a local, high-energy start up group inside of Old Main on the University of Colorado Campus.  Doesn’t hurt when a band member is a part of the program council at CU!

Hotel Boulderado – covering the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Building Energy Modeling Innovation Summit.  Very high-level discussion on the state of the industry, current trends, where stakeholders would like to see changes made and invaluable collaboration on ideas and improvements over the course of two days.

Team Rio Grande Cycling – coverage of the team launch party, performance testing at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine, and video/still coverage of their three day team camp in Fraser, Colorado; laser biathlon at Devil’s Thumb, a 4 hour team snowshoe, sports psychology lecture, and performance testing results briefing.

Coming down the pipeline….

First – A trip down to Telluride beginning this Wednesday with my roommate Kevin Suhr and our good friend Ryan Hamity. Our friend Nicole Nugent is setting us up with a place to stay and a couple days’ lift tickets in return for shooting images for her cookbook.  Rewind: the purpose of this trip is to continue expanding my ski/snowboard and mountain lifestyle portfolio.  There will be epic-gnar-rad magazine-cover-esque images, studio food photography in a commercial kitchen with more stainless steel than….(I’ve got nothing, I apologize), lifestyle images from the amazingly gorgeous town of Telluride, Colorado and possibly even some climbing shots courtesy of Kevin and Ryan.  External hard drives, portable studio lighting, alpine touring ski gear, laptop for editing on the road…maybe we’ll see what else will fit in the Subaru – who knows. We’ll be down in Telluride through Sunday the 3rd of April.

Second – I’m attending the Peter Reid Miller photography workshop in Denver, Colorado for six days starting Monday evening the 4th.

9am to 9pm, Monday through Sunday, and driving to and from Boulder each day.  If you took a look at the link, you might be wondering why I’m headed to such a sports photography focused workshop.  Well, Colorado is an active-industry intensive state.  With companies like GoLite, Spyder, Descent, Scarpa, Pearl Izumi, Newton, Lafuma and more (literally just listing those off the top of my head in 30 seconds) – Colorado is home to more outdoor sports businesses than any other state.  Within those companies, catalogs and advertisements are created, short video pieces are used for social marketing campaigns, and more.  My intention is to sharpen the sword that is my photography skillset into a lean, mean, active lifestyle shooting machine.  Rolls off the tongue nicely, doesn’t it?

Awareness and fundraising calendar for The Mike Altschuler Foundation – this calendar will showcase individuals who have successfully battled with  addiction.  The foundation, Opportunities For Hope, was created in 2010 to help families in their quest for addiction recovery.  Calendar will be created throughout the summer of 2011 with 12 location portraits and related stories.

That’s all for now!

Ski Trip

Yep, just got back from a pretty awesome backcountry ski trip in the neighboring states of Wyoming and Utah.  Nothing like a 9 day trip to shakeout new gear and really get some things figured out with between 4 and 7 hours of skinning and hiking each day.  Ben Kadlec, Dana Mosman and myself made the journey to Jackon, Wyoming and Alta, Utah.  Props to Ben for putting together this video combining a lot of different footage scrapped together throughout the trip.  Pull up a chair and have a look!

Pet Portraits! Just in time for the holidays

Looking for a last-minute holiday gift for a pet lover in your life?  While businesses are shut down for the holidays and commercial photography is on hold, I’m running a great discount on gift certificates for pet portraits.  The gift certificate includes 30 minutes of shooting by me with the lucky pet (no sharks or angry chimps, please) and a retouched 8×10, chosen by the pet owner!

For a limited time (up until midnight, Christmas Eve) I’m selling these gift certificates for only 75.00 here on the website.  To keep things simple, when you purchase the gift certificate – I’ll email you a pdf that you can print at home and deliver however you please.  The regular price for this offering is 200.00!

Hardcastle Aerial Imaging – Fall 2010

I’ve taken on a new challenge that get most people laughing the first time they hear of it.  Yep, learning how to fly remote control helicopters with the intention of adding aerial imaging and video to my repertoire.  Obvious, no?  Ya right – here’s how it came about….

Recently, advances in digital imaging and video have really taken off.  Over the holidays, I found a video recorder marked down to $59 that records in 720p HD video and is the size of a cell phone.  Incredible.  It’s the kodak version of the Flip brand video cameras that are stripped down to the basics, but in return extremely compact.  Combine that with one of the things coming out of the CES (Consumer Electronics Show), there was this.


A remote control helicopter, equipped with a forward video camera, that you control from an iPhone.  The video quality leaves a little to be desired, but in due time, we’ll be able to fit a 1080p HD recorder in the same size package.  Full HD quality video, recorded via a remote control helicopter, streaming to your iPhone where you also are piloting the ship, and who knows – GPS enabled geotagging of videos, instant upload to youtube and facebook…as one of these R/C companies claims – the sky is no longer the limit.

How does this relate to me?  Well I’ve always been into remote control flying things, even if I haven’t exercised my interest by actually owning one.  I had a plane that my dad and I built when I was too young to fly it.  With the help of an instructor at an R/C airfield in my old hometown of St. Charles, IL – I flew it one time for about 5 minutes.  I think it took us almost a year to build.  However, the building process was probably more valuable at the time, hanging out with dad in the basement for a few hours a week, but I digress…

Last year about this time, I was putting in my typical hours of research before buying some gadget-esque item, and I nearly pulled the trigger on an R/C helicopter purely for the fun side of flying it and the challenge involved.  One year later, in a PhotoPlus Expo web article I came across, a company called Aericam makes a remote control helicopter outfitted with a mount for a professional DSLR sized camera or video camera.  Now a perfect excuse to combine something that always looked like fun with a potential for a business venture (albeit a far-fetched one).  The video below was taken using one of their products.

With a steep entry fee of $9-$12k depending on the arrangement you choose, not everyone will be jumping online to place their order.  Combined with the fact that flying the helicopter in the first place is a serious challenge requiring plenty of training flight time, it isn’t for the masses.  Which is why it’s great.

I picked up an E-Flite Blade CP Pro 2 from Hobby Town USA in Westminster last week (while on lunch break at the Spyder shoot) to be my learning rig.  I’ll keep you posted on the progress and how many parts I can break en route to remote control helicopter mastery. Will I conquer the skies and bring back pictures to tell everyone? Or will I crash and burn?  Only time will tell…

It’s photo assistant time

There comes a time in every man’s life…this is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind…it was the best of times, it was the worst of times…a long time ago in a galaxy far far away…

Ok  maybe not quite that monumental, but there have been some good times out at the Spyder showroom in Louisville, Colorado lately.  I’ve been working with photographer Michael Robson to shoot the 2010 Spyder clothing collection.  The shoot consists primarily of high-end studio and photo equipment, a mac workstation, Robson+assistant and Grant (Spyder marketing)+assistant…a setup that stays in place for weeks with tireless changing of clothes on our three mannequins: Bruce, Ursula and Becky.

I took some video to give you a look into a typical day, arriving on location, and a time-lapse of our clothing adjustment – super pro.


Freshies from Cyclo X Boulder

Ahhh yes, waking up to 8″ of snow (and still coming), 10 degrees and knowing I told Lance Panigutti I’d be there to shoot a race for the entire day.  Actually – no problem with it at all, thanks to Nikon’s sealed camera bodies and my Keen winter boots.  Throw on the snowpants, some long underwear, some more long underwear, a down jacket, a rain jacket over that, and my ghetto fab neon orange dickies work short (screen printed at Goodbye Blue Monday, back when I was a marketing intern there) and I’m out the door.

Lance Panigutti - promoter of Sunday's Cyclo X Boulder - all smiles despite the weather

The event was the first Cyclo X Boulder put on by Without Limits Productions.  Anyone who made it out there looked like they were having a good time – from the juniors racing at 830AM, to the guys battling it out in the 3’s after the sun went low, to the woman who was doing her first race ever in the blowing snow…with a smile.  Good people, great times and here are some images from the day:

You can see all the images at Hardcastle Photography here:

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Sunrise Images

Breakfast options, assuming I wasn’t going to cook myself the standard 3 egg breakfast, are slim at 5am in Boulder, CO.  My visits to the ‘McWorld’ are pretty limited, so I actually had to google where the nearest McDonald’s was after discovering Amante Coffee didn’t open until 530 (Amante serves Breggos, tasty little breakfast sandwich/panini things).  Can’t lie, I was excited for McD’s breakfast, probably 1 out of the 4 or 5 times a year I have it.

I have been eyeing this spot for about 5 years – every time I ride by on my bike really, since I was in high school.  It’s a place east of Boulder where a farmer plants his crops in strips that run north to south.  The strips alternate between planted and wild (er, not sure the right terminology there) each year and they trace the rolling terrain in the foreground of the foothills…behind them, snowcapped peaks.  Sounds pretty good for a photo, no?

Back to the morning.  Arrived on site at 515am via a short walk with all my gear from somewhere appropriate to park.  In the field, I dialed in the Nikon D700, coupled it with a 14-24mm wide angle lens and circular polarizer and went in to the menu to work on the other settings.  I knew I was going to shoot at least a portion of the images with the intention of combining them into an HDR.  Getting the dark soil rows and the vibrant sky all visible in the shot would require more tonal range than the camera could capture in a single shot.  I setup the camera to shoot between 9 and 7 frames, half over and half under exposed, in continuous high speed mode – after a 2 second delay (so my hands on the camera wouldn’t add any minor blur).

Then the sun started to rise and the whole plan changed.  Instead of shooting to the west as planned, I was now shooting to the east – as the heavy banks of clouds were getting lit up – acting like big soft reflectors of deep red light.  The sunrise was incredible, but I knew I’d be skunked in terms of that early morning light I originally planned for.

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At first I was concerned with the traffic from people commuting to Boulder, but in the end it added some extra interest to the shots.  I ended up shooting in one place for about 3 minutes, then packing up the tripod and running, with a fully-loaded LARGE camera bag, across a frosted field to the next place I thought would make for an interesting shot.  Probably 5 or 6 different locations over 30 minutes, and entirely different than what I had planned ahead of time.


I’ll be going back again soon, to try and capture the idea in my head.

Middle Cross MCX09 at Manhattan Middle School

_DSC9540The 2009 Middle Cross event had a massive turnout. Great to see such a wide range of kids racing and learning cyclocross. There were guys and girls ranging from those on cyclocross teams in their team kits, to a guy on a bmx bike who’d lost a shoe somewhere on the course.

I was in touch with two of the organizers, Catherine Powers and Mike Eubank, beforehand and mentioned that I wanted to help out by offering up my photography for free. I told them I would shoot all the kids and post their images online here where they or their parents could download to the files completely free.

From a photography perspective, I wanted to come and shoot the event with the goal of getting one, if not a couple, shots of each participant.  This way, everyone has a photo of themselves if they want!  Below is a sample gallery of some of the shots…

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