I have no idea where this was shot,” Kesler Tran says of his third Ben Trovato story. Tran and the three models - Kelley, Leore and Colleen, got in the car one afternoon and set off into the desert with one thing on their mind: Let the location inspire them!

The result is a simple and natural story, with a somewhat dark undertone. “It was almost as if we welcomed the sunset in a spiritual way, after a blistering 115 degree afternoon,” Tran says.

Refugee was brilliantly styled by Kelley, who’s not exactly a newbie to Ben Trovato, having been involved in more than five stories prior to this one.

Although the team was minimal, and the heat unbearable, Tran couldn’t have been happier with the decision to just leave the city and shoot something completely improvised. “And the girls were great, especially considering how hot it was, driving around from one location to the next.

Hey, Cool Babes by Emman Montalvan

Marga and Mike is such a crazy duo!” photographer Emman Montalvan tells us. Inspired by their friendship and unstoppable attitude the LA based artists brought the two models up on the roof top of his building to hang out and shoot until they ran out of polaroid film and battery. “It was perfect because they are best friends. I wanted the shoot to be really laid back with no fuss,” he continues, before explaining that it was a true please to work with both of them.

I’ve worked with both of them before on separate assignments. I did a shoot with Marga last year and Mike I recently worked with on a look book shoot. When I found out they were best friends, we instantly collaborated on this little project!

The story is styled by Emman and Marga, while Maria Noble was the assistant on set.

Photography by Emman Montalvan
Modelling by Marga @ PhotoGenics & Mike @ Wilhelmina LA
Styled by Emman Montalvan & Marga
Photography Assistant Maria Noble

The Colors of Love by Nicole Hill

Last time you heard from Nicole Hill on Ben Trovato was on New Years Eve just about 6 months ago. We’ve finally, well most of us, recovered from our Ben Trovato New Years Eve, and today we’re substituting champagne, balloons and confetti with a feast of colors! Nicole brought model Jennifer McManis, and her team, to the legendary Salvation Mountain in Niland, California, in order to shoot her third Ben Trovato story, The Colors of Love.

“This story is all about being bold and not being afraid to be who you are.”

Nicole describes her story with great enthusiasm, and continues: “It’s about a girl who is bold, strong, courageous, colorful and free.”

Salvation Mountain and Leonard Knights, the artist who created Salvation Mountain, were actually Nicole’s two main sources of inspiration while planning and shooting the store. “Leonard’s hope in building Salvation Mountain was to spread the message of love. He wanted the world to see this message so that people everywhere would show more love and compassion for their fellow man. He did whatever he could to spread that message. His strength really sparked something in me and inspired me to shoot this story.

As Nicole has shot model Jennifer McManis before, she knew Jen would fit the role of a bold, courageous, colorful and free spirited girl perfectly. “Such a babe, an absolute wonder to work with!” she tells us. “I have shot with Jen several times before, she is such a crack up, always fun, never complains and has a great attitude. Love her!

She has also worked with both makeup artist and hairstylist KC Whitkamp, and stylist Chesley Tolentino before -who actually styled our New Years Eve shoot as well.

Since we decided to shoot at Salvation Mountain, a man-made masterpiece, we wanted to take the clothing and styling to a whole new level,” Chesley explains. “The location was filled with amazing colors, I wanted to make a bold statement with using a lot of color in the outfits as well! Highlighting the top Spring/Summer trends, I styled Jennifer with tons of mix-printing, vibrant color blocking, head to toe florals, and printed maxi-dresses.

“The result: a vibrant, bold, and eccentric piece of art!”

Photography by Nicole L. Hill
Modelling by Jennifer McManis @ Photogenics
Styling by Chesley Tolentino
Makeup & Hair by KC Whitkamp

Sunday In Pomona by Susanne Kindt

Both Susanne Kindt and model Amanda Smith has made it on to Ben Trovato more than most others, and we will never get enough of their amazing work. In fact, Susanne’s debut story for Ben Trovato, Rain, actually featured Amanda.

Today they are reunited on Ben Trovato, with this wonderful story taking place in Pomona, California, where Amanda’s from. “The story is really just about a Sunday in Pomona, just hanging around the place Amanda is from, biking and getting a soda,” Susanne tells us, adding: “I just wanted a very natural and have her do the things she likes to do.

Her main inspiration for Sunday In Pomona was of course Amanda herself, and the California life.

“I love working with Amanda, she has such a unique look and personality!”

Makeup and hair was done by Jennifer Fiamengo, who’s making her debut on Ben Trovato with this story, and Susanne says they would definitely work together again: “Yes, she is such an amazing talented girl!

Photography & Styling by Susanne Kindt
Hair & Makeup by Jennifer Fiamengo
Model - Amanda @ Photogenics

Nostalgia by Aaron Feaver

Aaron Feaver has had a fairly impressive run on Ben Trovato in our three years of existence; two stories (1, 2), one frame of frame, and a feature in our best of post last year. Thankfully it won’t stop at that. Today we’re presenting Aaron’s latest exclusive story for us, entitled Nostalgia.

The story that features the mesmerizing Kasimira from Photogenics was shot in the beautiful afternoon light in Malibu, with some wonderful clothes from L’ecole des femmes, and a few breathtaking vintage pieces brought in by Shannon Roxanne. ”My biggest inspiration was the setting, a gorgeous house and grounds overlooking the ocean,” Aaron tells us, adding “And Kasimira was great. She was only in town for a few days, so I was very fortunate to be able to shoot her, and she was perfect for the mood I wanted.

The only one to join Aaron’s team was make up artist and hairs stylist Danielle Cedillo, who Aaron says is “always amazing.

“Especially when she is set free to do whatever she wants. The hair especially adds a lot to the story, and that was all Danielle.”

Danielle has been featured on Ben Trovato twice before, doing the hair and makeup for Aaron’s last story for us, and the hair in Graham Dunn’s I Just Wanna Have Something To Do.


A behind the scenes look at Danielle working.

Photography by Aaron Feaver, Feaverish Photography
Hair and Makeup by Danielle Cedillo
Clothes by L’ecole des femmes
Additional styling by Shannon Roxanne.
Model - Kasimira @ Photogenics

Moonblinked by A.L. Canterbury

A.L. Canterbury started experimenting with a camera back in 2006 during her senior year as a business major in college. “I started out with a tiny point and shoot but mostly learned on my grandfather’s old Canon AE-1 film camera. I’d go on little ‘photo adventures’ day and night, all around town. I figured out pretty quickly that this was something sweet,” she says. Three years later she left her small home town in Florida for Los Angeles to pursue photographs full-time, and today we’re releasing her first story for Ben Trovato, Moonblinked.

I wanted to shoot something futuristic with a nod to retro fashion,” A.L. explains, adding “I chose primaries for the palette and set them against a dark, moody background so the colors would really pop. I like to start with a simple canvas and add what is necessary to tell the story.” Model Alli Cripe from PhotoGenics was lit entirely with light bulbs of various sizes and intensities for an atmospheric effect.

Alli was a joy,” A.L. says about the model, and elaborates: “Her beauty is striking and on top of that she was a lot of fun. She’s a sweet girl with a great attitude, she even helped me break down the set! It’s always more fun to work with a model that is happy to be there.

The rest of the team included fashion stylist Melanie deJesus, and makeup artist and hair stylist Tania Russell, -who’s worked on stories for Ben Trovato before. ”It was my first time working with Tania and I really enjoyed having her on set! She really knows her stuff. Melanie and I are good friends and work together often. I usually know what I want in terms of styling but Mel really takes it to another level - she’s always on point and has great taste so I love collaborating with her.

Melanie explains that it’s always a strange thing doing something this conceptual with so many off beat elements (like the light bulbs): “You don’t know if what you’re doing is really going to work because it’s such a departure from current street style or even what you’re seeing on the runways, but my answer to high concept is to get even weirder with the styling. Hence the ceramic owl mask and the gaga/fem-bot/Robert Palmer look. Anyway, I feel like it all came together in the end and that we created something off-beat and beautiful.

Photography & Art Direction by A.L. Canterbury
Styling by Melanie deJesus
Makeup and Hair by Tania D. Russell
Model - Alli Cripe @ PhotoGenics

We Recommend: Fashion Photography Exposed DVD

Early December last year Melissa Rodwell made her debut on Ben Trovato, but to most of our readers we suspect her name was already fairly familiar. As the creator of the Fashion Photography Blog she’s shared advice and behind the scenes experiences for almost four years now, becoming one of the most popular resources for any photographer trying to learn and make their way up in this business.

In 2010 Rodwell and her team decided to turn her experiences into an educational DVD for hopeful fashion photographers around the world, and late 2011 we got the results. The Fashion Photography Exposed DVD has been in our possession for quite some time now, and proved from the first play to be a valid investment to anyone looking to get an unfiltered peek into a cynical business.

Right from the start the DVD takes you into the world of a fashion photographer, as we follow Melissa when she is picking out clothing for one of her shoots at Rodney Burns’ amazing store, Church. From there and on the DVD shows you the ins and outs of the business, from technical advice on lighting and equipment, to interviews with insiders such as an editor at Genlux Magazine and the head booker at PhotoGenics model agency in Los Angeles. But perhaps the most valuable aspect of the DVD is when it takes you behind the scenes of two Melissa Rodwell shoots, one on location and one in studio, and when we get a openheartedly interview with Melissa where she shares invaluable advice and experiences in an honest manner.

We at Ben Trovato especially like the DVD as it gives an honest picture of how the industry works, and not only from a technical perspective, but also the personalities and the good and bad attitude you deal with on a daily basis making your way up. Interviews with the two industry insiders at Genlux and PhotoGenics goes only to show how important a platform such as Ben Trovato - that aims at showcasing aspiring artists - is to the up and coming artists in this industry.

Without revealing too much, we can conclude that we’d recommend Fashion Photography Exposed to anyone with serious ambitions in the business. What we consider to be the absolute strongest parts of the DVD would be when we get to experience Rodwell in her element as she shoots a story on location and one in studio, and of course the great Q&A with the photographer herself.

The price of the DVD is being set down from its original price at $299 to the more affordable $249 as of today, and as it might seem like a pricey investment, we can assure you it’s a good one to make.

Go check out the details of what the DVD includes and make up your own mind.



Double Sunset by Emman Montalvan

Emman's One Frame Fame with Leore

When Emman Montalvan shot Leore for Ben Trovato summer of 2011, in a beautiful story entitled Park Ranger, they found a connection that has proved to be fruitful for the two arising stars. Since then the two have appeared together on BT on two additional occasions, in Leore & Martine, and in Emman’s One Frame Fame in December last year.

This time the two are taking us to the eclectic Venice Beach, one of BT’s favorite places in the world, in their story Double Sunrise. “I really wanted to capture Venice and show how its such a staple place to visit if you’re in Los Angeles,” Emman says, and continues “Venice kinda sums up LA in one whole place. Its always tricky shooting around Venice because it can get too crowded. But we shot on such a good day where the California lighting was just rad!

His inspiration for the shoot was California and Californian girls. He explains: “- Californian girls are just so rock’n'roll and fun loving. I love them and can’t get enough of them.” But perhaps the most important source of inspiration was the band Bee Eyes, and especially their song Double Sunset which the title of the story is taken from. The editorial was actually shot while also shooting Bee Eyes’ music video for the song. The music video is set to be released in March, and was directed by Steve Tirona.

About the collaborations between Leore and himself, he says he loves working with her: “- I work with different models all the time, but the chemistry that Leore and I have is just unexplainable. From the first time we shot with Park Ranger, I knew we were both creatively on par with each other. Its kinda like if Kate Moss is to Mario Testino, then Leore is to me. I believe Leore has a bright future in this industry- her gorgeous yet relatable look and kick ass attitude makes her amazing!! She’s a true gem.

The shoot was styled by the two, and makeup was done by Leore herself.

Photography by Emman Montalvan
Model - Leore @ Photogenics

Shot by Emman Montalvan

Fashion photographer Emman Montalvan‘s one frame of fame. Emman is based out of Los Angeles, and this is his fourth appearance on Ben Trovato. He made his debut on Ben Trovato in July 2011 with his Park Ranger story featuring Leore Hayon with PhotoGenics. His second appearance was in September same year with a story entitled Leore & Martine after the models featured in the editorial. His One Frame of Fame is another shot of the beautiful PhotoGenics girl Leore Hayon.

Grunge Glam by Michael Stonis

Once in a while when you assemble teams together for shoots, you just know it’ll produce dynamite. We were contacted by Gasoline Glamour some time back about their new shoes, and as you might remember, we’ve successfully featured some Gasoline Glamour pieces before. Jaws fell to the floor as we saw the new goodies, and we immediately agreed to include them in a shoot. We then contacted Michael Stonis, who we’ve wanted to do a shoot with for a while. He then got in touch with stylist Jacqueline Lavaun who also styled the amazing story by NIcole L. Hill we produced a few weeks ago. Asha and Amanda from Photogenics were booked. Amanda making her fourth appearance on Ben Trovato, the popular Libertine by Harper Smith being the most recent one. In other words, this was a true Ben Trovato production.

Makeup artist Jason Sanchez and hair stylist Jose Monzonw joined the team for the shoot at Geisha Studio in Los Angeles, making their first appearance on Ben Trovato.

Michael says he wanted Grunge Glam to have a very free-flowing and natural with a vintage feel to it. “The tough part was bringing the shoes into the concept. That’s where the idea where the girls taking photos of each other came in. I think it gave purpose and transition from grunge to glam,” he says before adding “I envisioned this shoot to have a sense of reality to it. Having pieces I could see people wearing out on the streets with a dash on glam.

Michael explains that he try to always concept ideas inspired by everyday life. “I think it helps keep things real and natural. I daydream a lot and always keep a pen and pad of paper in the car. I’m always taking notes or scribbling down ideas.

How was it working with the team? “I have worked with Jason (makeup artist) and Jose (hair stylist) quite a few times, which is very comforting knowing their quality of work they bring, plus they are fun to be around and have great energy. It was my first time working with Jacqueline. We had a few conversations before the shoot about the direction and how we would tie together the hippy/retro vibe with Gasoline Glamour’s over the top style. I think she knocked it out of the park!” Michael says. “Amanda and Asha were both very easy going and great to work with,” he says when we ask him about the two gorgeous models. He continues “On a side note, next time I won’t give Amanda a camera with a new roll of film in it. She plowed through the entire roll in 40 seconds posing with Asha taking her picture. Haha!

Click on the picture to enter competition to win a $500 Gasoline Glamour giftbag!

Jacqueline is also excited about the story as we ask her about the styling: “- This editorial spread was one of my favorite to style to date. Often, as a stylist, you interpret themes and concepts and only a trace of your own personal style comes through.

I was really excited about this story, marrying the grunge of Kurt Cobain rocker inspired clothing with the glam of Lady Gaga-esque accessories creates my dream closet.

It becomes a story about girls who dress exactly how I want to dress each and every day. The overall vibe becomes fresh, fun, and edgy, but still manages to stay feminine.

How was it working with the breathtaking Gasoline Glamour pieces? “- Working with Gasoline Glamour is the best kind of sensory overload. When I pull Shannon’s accessories out on set, it becomes the most exciting version of show and tell ever. Photographers, makeup, hair, models- everyone instantly gets a burst of inspiration (and often ends up in an iphone/facebook photo upload frenzy).

“That’s when you know you are working with a revolutionary designer- when simply pulling their pieces out of wardrobe boxes and bags inspires an entire team.”

And to build on the good vibe of this production, Gasoline Glamour and Ben Trovato are giving out a giftbag full of Gasoline Glamour products worth over $500 to one of our great followers. All you need to do is to head over here end follow the instructions.

Photography - Michael Stonis
Assistant to Photographer - Connor Stewart
Styling - Jacqueline Lavaun
Makeup - Jason Sanchez
Hair - Jose Monzonw
Models - Amanda & Asha at Photogenics
Location - Geisha Studio Los Angeles

Still by Nicole L. Hill

Nicole Hill didn’t pick up an interest in photography until about 5 years ago. We’re lucky that she did.

Her interest began when she kept borrowing her friend’s point and shoot camera, and subsequently she became obsessed with taking photos of her friends in fields. “I got hooked on the feeling of freedom we found in those simple photos, and I just didn’t want to stop shooting,” Hill says. “I jumped at an excuse to get out of my hometown so I moved to Santa Barbara, Ca. and went to school at Brooks Institute of Photography.” She graduated last December and has been working professionally for almost a year now.

“The majority of my inspiration comes from nature,” she says. “Growing up in Southern California has made a large impact on that, I was always outside. There is nothing like feeling the wind on your face and getting those moments of freedom away from the city.”

The fashion editorial titled Still was inspired by musician, Trevor Hall and his song Brand New Day. Hill explains the lyrics, “There are a few lines in the song, ’Come rise up, come give love. What you waiting for? It’s a brand new day.’ I kind of based the shoot around that theme. I wanted these girls to be travelers/friends/sisters/runaways that are starting off new, finally waking up, finding freedom,” she says.

Hill shot with makeup artist and hair stylist Bethany Ruck, and worked with stylist Jacquie Lavaun for the shoot. Models Morgan Chelf and Sasha Blue are featured in the shoot and Hill explains how they were “really great together” on-set.

From looking at this shoot, the most apparent feature is the natural light that is used. Hill states,

“I’m a sucker for natural light. I really wanted to give the feeling of breaking free, so I wanted the lighting in the images to be very bright, soft and glowing.”

Looks like we’re ready for the light.

Photography - Nicole L. Hill
Videography - Miles O’ Sullivan
Video Editor - Nicole L. Hill
Makeup Artist & Hair Stylist - Bethany Ruck
Stylist - Jacqueline Lavaun
Styling Assistant - Michelle Faurer
Models - Morgan Chelf @ Photogenics and Sasha Blue @ Ford

Video from the set of Still

Libertine by Harper Smith

Being huge fans of Los Angeles based photographer Harper Smith, Ben Trovato contacted her this summer to see whether she would be interested in shooting a new story for us. After all, it had been more than 6 months since we featured her last time, and we’d seen the quality work she keeps putting out.

The shoot was scheduled, and an amazing team was put together. A few weeks later the fashion editorial Libertine featuring Amanda from Photogenics, was born.

Harper, how would you describe Libertine in your own words? “It’s a little about liberation. A lot about freedom from sexual identity. And mostly about the carefree life of a tomboy. I guess you could say its a little self reflection as well.

Early in the process of planning this shoot you said one of your main inspirations for it was Adam Ant. Why Adam Ant? “Honestly I know very little about him. I love his androgynous look and carefree mentality. We were inspired by his pseudo-punk style….and beautiful face.

You’ve worked quite a bit with Amanda, and when we plan shoots in LA her name pops up more often than not. What is it with Amanda that appeals to us so much? “Sometimes its hard to explain how or why. I just connect with her. She is beautiful, but in a unique way. I typically shoot girls like that. There is something in her deep down that takes her moves and actions during a shoot to the next level. She really is limitless in her ability to portray the characters we are inspired by in for shoots.

Libertine was styled by Coryn Madley, and she did an amazing job. You seem to have a great working relationship? “I work very closely with Madley. She is a dear friend and a conceptual genius. Sometimes we will call each other up with the same random concept and dork out for hours pulling references.

And last but not least, since last time you appeared on Ben Trovato, what has changed for you? “I have had an emotional year in my personal life…one filled with a lot of new challenges and obstacles…but it has done the world for my creativity.”

The new driving force for my shoots is emotion. In the case of Libertine… it was freedom.

A behind the scenes from the preparations and shoot is coming on Ben Trovato next week, along with a more in-depth article about Ben Trovato stories in general.

Photography - Harper Smith
Styling - Coryn Madley
Hair & Makeup - Tsipporah Liebman
Model - Amanda @ Photogenics
Prop Stylist - Jane Connelly
Video - Paul Mocey-Hanton