Wednesday, December 1, 2010

We Are The CURE

Charity Art campaign to raise HIV awareness in Africa shot by Photographer Maya Guez
Today is World AIDS Day, 1 Dec 2010. I wanted to do a special post about this topic from a slightly different angle... This is a close subject to my heart because it has touched my life knowing young people that has contracted HIV. Some of these individuals decided to go public to raise awareness despite the heavy cost to their personal life and privacy.

I was born in Israel in a small town, my mother was and still is a nurse that works in pediatrics. We lived in the workers dorms of the hospital and often after school I would visit her at work, Mom takes care of children with conditions such as HIV Aids, cancer and hepatitis... from my wonderful mother I learned the meaning of compassion and always admired her strength. Many of this Innocent children lost there struggle to HIV or cancer... I didn't understand how could she continue to work that job day in and day out with the mental ware it puts on a person. Many of the children with Aids were Ethiopian origin since Africa is the most affected part of the world with HIV, latley many celebrities have joined the fight to bring better health care and contribute to the education in that part of the world for HIV prevention.

Today, knowing people with this condition I can only do my small part with this blog to promote awareness and safe sex practice, please notice that I referred to HIV as a condition not a disease. At this day and age you can maintain a healthy living for many years with the right medical care, while there is no cure its impotent people know it is not a death sentence... its no different then any other serious illness that can be manged and lived with. I am IN NO WAY saying go out and have unprotected sex cause its "no big deal"... If you contract HIV it is still going to change your life.... its a permanent life style change-taking medications every day, being more sensitive to other illness/infections and outbreaks, choosing a sexual or romantic partner and letting them know and the possibility of never being able to have children of your own, these are all things someone with HIV has to deal with, But like everyone else people with HIV are entitled to LOVE that means giving and receiving love, sex, relationship, and acceptance... I have herd friends that have ignorantly referred to the condition as "The Monster" or other ignorant terms when speaking of someone with HIV. Saying they can never date someone who has it or that "these people" should immediately reveal their HIV status... Let me tell you one thing: LOVE CONCURS ALL. Even the risks of HIV. I have been a witness to this with a couple I know in which only one side has this condition. Anyone that uses such terms or in some way implies that theses HUMAN BEINGS are not entitled to anything and everything a human should enjoy in there life including Sex and Love is basically condemning themselves.... You never know where you will be tomorrow and you cant understand the challenges and tribulations of a person with HIV until you walk a mile in their shoes. And God said: "As you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me" Matthew 25. If you exclude people out of your life out of fear you are the one loosing out in the end of the day.

The fear campaign tactics that were launched since the 90is have done good on one hand promoting people to take resposiblity for their own bodies and practice safe sex but at the same time making it very difficult for people with this condition to live openly because of fear of being discriminated and isolated... Think carefully if you had this condition would you be telling it to every individual that approaches you knowing society perception of HIV? NO you would not because us as a society have made them wear this as a badge of shame. Individuals with HIV have to take the responsibility on themselves to practice only safe sex, maintain their viral load low and then also inform their partners of the risk and that is not an easy task when your afraid the minute you do so- your partner will be runing to the hills or violate your privacy. So today I am left with these tow messages:

Educate, promote and practice safe sex no matter what your partner say or how "healthy" or "honest" they look until you are both in a monogamous committed relationship and repeatedly got tested keep the condom on.

Secondly we must embrace love and accept the people who have this condition understand their situation and not let fear or ignorance be our guide.... Treat others the way you want to be treated and you will find that ALL of us deserve happiness and fulfillment and the human heart can overcome even the biggest physical challenges.

Charity Art campaign to raise HIV awareness in Africa shot by Photographer Maya Guez

Charity Art campaign to raise HIV awareness in Africa shot by Photographer Maya Guez
I have shot this Series a few years back, at the time I was asked to donate some of my work to be auctioned in an HIV art benefit I gladly offered one of theses pieces... it was meant to symbolically portray the pains of Africa... so much Beauty trapped inside so much Pain. The organizers rejected the piece for being too controversial and feared it will make people feel uncomfortable in what was supposed to be a light and fun event.... they wanted a fluff piece that would not be as disturbing. While I understood their point of view I think making people uncomfortable is what I want to do...! Make them think and take a minute out of their day to examine something beyond their daily life spectrum. Africa is the region of the world most affected by HIV and that is only one of the problems the continent has with poverty, education, corruption and hunger. This series fell back to the depth of my hard drive and I think now after all these years its time to bring it out for this blog. In these images I used Khadim who I met in Harlem "a real right of the boat proud African" lol not an experienced model. I was impressed with his painting like features and he agreed to model for me and let me tell you, every single image of his film was beautiful he could have given some tips to the pros. You can view the series on my site "personal" gallery or click on images.
Charity Art campaign to raise HIV awareness in Africa shot by Photographer Maya Guez
Working on these images brought me to tears a few times as I did the research to get the exact statistics I wanted to place regarding Africa. I also listed non profit organizations you might want to donate to or be active with.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Manuel Mendez hot import!

Today's spotlight is a new face in modeling, a charming young man and a Dominican hottie name Manuel A. Mendez... I met Manuel through some mutual friends, he expressed that he hesitated for many years if to pursue modeling but recently through the support and inspiration of his surrounding he decided to give this dream a chance to come true.... luckily for me he chose me to be his first (photographer lol).... our shoot was fun and i was impressed by the different sides of his personality he is able to bring out in the pictures, which led me to believe the man was a natural! The shoot was styled by the amazingly talented TY Hunter that hooked up Manuel with some hot wardrobe.
Manuel has unique features, a great athletic physic that is getting better and better each time we meet and he is very dedicated to looking and bringing his best in a photo shoot, he has a great combination of style, sexiness and child like innocence you will immediately fall in love with.... Since our shoot Manuel has been on his way knocking out photoshoot after photoshoot and has worked with some top photographers such as Rick Day, DeAndre DaCosta, and fernand&Victor photography.
Check out some shots from our shoot!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Style; More then just a name

Male model Style Bell also known as Sir Style was given a birth name that compelled him for great things: "a particular, distinctive, or characteristic mode of action or manner of acting, a mode of fashion, as in dress, esp. good or approved fashion; elegance; smartness". "an elegant, fashionable, or luxurious mode of living" and let me tell you he is definitely living up to the name.

I met style a few years ago, I was instantly impressed by his caramel skin, unique features and beautiful pearly white smile but I didn't know I was also going to have an inside look to the world of a person who has had his share of tribulations and hardships from a very young age but through his "style" of dedication, positivity and never stopping go was determined to look at life in a positive way, letting no limits or definitions hold him back from realizing his dreams. The man is truly dedicated to a healthy physic and living, its a life style for him that includes doing everything challenging from kick boxing and football to rock climbing and bicycling.... Style is a hard worker and it shows not only by his obvious great physic but also looking through Style body of work; modeling portfolio and commercial reel you see this "go getter" attitude has been applied across the board. Despite being slightly over 5'10 style has one of the most professional and diverse books you will ever see when sitting down with a male model, he has proved that although sometime a model might be a bit short or a bit too tall ultimately the proof is in the pudding. When someone shows capabilities such as he has as a print model they will be recognized and rightfully so. I'm glad to say Style has just been offered a contract with NTA modeling agency, a prominent model management agency in LA and I, along with many other photographers and Industry professionals such as Michael Maddox ( are eagerly awaiting to see more from this great model and friend.

Here is style's comp card shot by yours truly Maya Guez (click to enlarge or download):

This is Style modeling for Andrew Nowell menswear ( proving he looks fresh and sexy in and out of clothes shot by Maya Guez:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The importance of photo editing

This post is not only my take on photo editing but is also a guideline informational note for models and companies that wish to work with me, for those you might want to skip 2 paragraphs down to read the info.
I remember a large BW photo print of my grandmother as a child with her sister in my parents house, taking a closer look at the beautiful portrait that was about 85 years old i noticed the photographer manually retouched certain element in the photo by using a special color brush and black and white dyes that blended almost seamlessly in the photos, looking at the some more old family portraits I was made aware of the same things, as well as the "colorized" affect photographers manually used to enhanced the photo, making a black and white image into a colored one before color film was invented.... whats my point? Photo editing is and always was a part of photography, it used to be much more limited and hard to do convincingly but now days in the digital age with great user friendly programs the possibilities are endless. If your just color correcting or retouching a skin imperfection/a hair fallen out of place or if your creating a whole new backdrop and doing intricate composite work almost every image now days could use a little adjustment to reach its perfect state.
Good photo editing is by no means necessarily a heavy one. Subtle changes to color and contrast and undetectable skin retouching while maintaining the textures of skin and materials in the shots are often the best and my favorite; It provides the image that balanced finished look while maintaning its orignal look and feel. When shooting with the intention of editing I shoot in a way that will provide me as much color and gradient information possible in the shot so then after in the post work i can take it to any direction i want. Also, I don't pay special mind to things such as a reflector or light fixture in the shot because I know they can be easily edited or cropped out and my main focus is just making sure my subject is well lit and posed, this was not how I did things in the past when i shot with the intention of going straight from film to photo print, knowing that there will be no editing I was much more careful regarding such background objects as well as camera settings and the vibrancy and contrast the specific film would provide.

It seems although most of us photographers are quite aware of all this, our clients some times are not. Numerous times I had clients look at the raw images off the camera and say: "This looks amazing it doesn't need editing it looks retouched already!" This became a problem when clients either posted and published flat unedited images or even worse tried to edit them themselves.... my god the HORROR! lol... You should see how my face cringed when I first laid my eyes on a client picture he butchered doing his little photoshop tutorial experiment and topped things of by placing my credit on the image. I have even had clients that opted to post online edited right beside unedited images from same set almost like a "before and after"! they fail to understand that only makes them look bad.... To me its like running a 40 mile Marathon and then 50 feet before u finish pulling out a lawn chair sitting down and while everyone else passes u by to the finish line u just say to yourself "I'm just gonna sit here and chill and maybe when i finish chilling I'll start running in the opposite direction" lol.

I am very conscious about my reputation as a photographer who produces the utmost high quality imagery and that's why I have a strict quality control policy to make sure what ever is put out there under my name matches the final high quality product that people come to expect from my company. Having a photo with floor showing, the edge of light stand or fan or blue tape on wall as well as skin, hair or silhouette imperfections or less then perfect cropping of the image can make a photographer look sloppy or armature, theses things can easily and quickly be edited but when left in they just "kill" the shot.

That is the reason many photographers now days do not give out any unedited images and will only provide clients with a few final edited images they chose. I provide my clients a CD with easily viewable proofs they can go threw (just like people used to look threw a contact sheet in film camera days) so they can pick the images they would want edited and printed out (instead of trying to review the 90 megabit file each of original raw image, proofs are easily browsed on any photo program).... When I say "I do not release unedited images and proofs are for the clients selection process only as a preview" that's exactly what it means. The proof as indicated on it is a VIEWING SAMPLE ONLY not to be published or posted anywhere on any medium. After choosing images to be edited client receives another CD with the high res edited images as well as 9 by 12in prints for a portfolio presentation or as a color reference for press. Editing is priced per picture depending on whats needed and agreed with client.
On a general note every image we see on an album cover or magazine layout had some level of editing, even the most gorgeous perfect 19 year old supermodels and superstar recording artists need a bit of a touch up...! so if you want to compete on that level you shouldn't cut corners. You do not need a slew of images, just a few strong HIGH IMPACT perfect ones..... its not about choosing 30 images that look almost the same with the same wardrobe and set design... that is boring and repetitive. Choosing 1-3 best images from a set is quite sufficient. Its quality not quantity. Iconic images don't come in batches they come in singles.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What Artists and Models need to know!

Being in this industry you must have thick skin, Actually, being in this world you must have thick skin! I see every day models, actors and other professional in this industry trying to leave their mark on the world. In every persons life we will encounter the nonbelievers, haters and doubters, you must first know who you are and what you are capable of, and its true, you must first love yourself in order to survive the constant competition and criticism thrown at you especially when it comes to the entertainment and fashion Industries.

While a measure of realistic perspective is important, in most cases the people who doubt your abilities are the ones who doubt their own: If they truly believe they can achieve anything they set their mind to then why wouldn't they believe others can do that as well? They would try to make you feel like your not good enough, or that they are better then you... They would find anything to hold above your head - your black, your white, your too skinny or too fat, your gay, your strait, you been to jail, your an immigrant, your too young or too old, your too short or too tall.... the list goes on and on... most of the time they don't even think what they hold above your head is that bad they just want you to think they do. Their objective is to make you feel less then what you are and what you could be. So let me say this; NO ONE is better then you. NO ONE is higher then you, we are all human beings created equal, we all come and leave this world the exact same way, someone can be better at something then you but he is never better then you. You are a world within yourself. We all posses different qualities theses qualities can't always be measured or put in a scale, for one person your a goddess for the next your trash, so which one is it? It is how you see yourself that counts and how you apply yourself with hard work and dedication to achieving your goals and potential.

The fact one photographer has his photo on the cover of Vogue and one has his image in someone's home gallery doesn't mean one image is "artistically better" then another, it just means it served that purpose better. So don't be discouraged and don't measure yourself by other people's standards measure it by your own.
In the history of art and music there are so many people who had tremendous talent some known and some unknown but the people who are ultimately remembered are not the ones that fallowed the rules but the ones who broke them, not the ones who were up to standards but the ones who redefined the standards. The ones who changed the game up are remembered because they fallowed their true artistic vision and by doing so, up against the wind, made you have a new point of view of things, refreshing and opening your mind. They took the risk of not being understood, never being appreciated and validated by the majority and mainstream because they defined themselves, not let others defined them.
So fallow your heart people! The only measure of success is the one you set for yourself, so regardless if you made a million or not, regardless if you made the cover and everyone knows your name or not, if you bravely fallowed your heart you are a successes.

Here are a few of the questions from my interview in KRAVE magazine that might shed some light about my views on modeling, photography and the industry:

Q: Are there any photo secrets or tips that you can share with models?
A: Be confident and aware of your body - its advantages and disadvantages. Know your angles. Don't try to be something you're not; celebrate YOUR type of beauty. I don't like when models try to force themselves into a body type that is not naturally theirs just to fit a mold of what the industry considers fashionable or beautiful. There is more than one kind of beauty and there's more than one type of modeling. You have to realize that there are a lot of beautiful people that are not "model material" and there's a lot of models who are not "beautiful" so don't use modeling as a validation of being attractive; that is something you should feel from within regardless of if you can or cannot be a model. And don't take it so seriously, have fun with it!

Q: What inspires you and who are some of your favorite photographers?
A:Talent and exotic, unconventional beauty inspires me. As a visual artist, provoking a new point of view drives me and photographers who are able to make you find the beauty in things that went unnoticed is inspiring. Art is meant to open your mind and provoke emotions by giving you new perspective and pressing the right buttons. Sometime simple elements can wow you... for example when Herb Ritts shot Djimon Hounsou with a black octopus on his head and at first sight you didn't know if it’s his hair, a fashion accessory or a part of his body. Also, the way David LaChapelle makes you see aesthetics, structure and richness in his chaotic busy compositions and colors.

The picture above is of BBW plus model Velvet D'amour. As I was bronzing her 300 pounds hips of fun on our new shoot - this time for a "VOUGE curvy" story about her(Vogue curvy is a division of Italian Vogue for curvy woman) I was yet reminded how fallowing your own path can lead to great success. In her late 30is this vibrate beautiful woman has modeled and walked the runway for designers John Galliano and Jean Paul Gaultier, as well as been in acclaimed movies in Cannes and Sundance/Tribeca film festivals and a reality hit show in Europe. She is also having an exhibition of her work as a photographer currently showing in upstate NY... Truly sexy inside and out this woman is an inspiration.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Maya Guez in Krave magazine

Check out KRAVE magazine . I just got a hold of a copy of the new Krave mag with Devin Thomas gracing the cover sharply dressed by a wonderful designer I had a pleasure of working with before - Andrew Nowell . So, in this current issue you might notice that one of the headlines on the cover says that i can make anyone look good... Well I don't know if that's true since I'm a photographer not a magician or plastic surgeon but i think i can definitely make anyone look their best and that's all you can really ask for.

Inside you can read a write up about my work and an interview with me about photography and the industry in general.
Turns out that according to the reporter who interviewed me I'm a mesmerizing exotic beauty! lol well Thanks Krave for the love! I get it from my momma.

You will also find inside an interview with new England Patriots NFL player Bret Lockett, The images of him where shot by me and Wardrobe Stylist Douglas Hickman had immaculately dressed Bret in Dolce & Gabbana and Hugo Boss attire.
Also, check Bret on KRAVE FIT cover that I shot coming out soon... inside this new fitness addition of Krave you are going to find a hot (yet challenging) workout with Bret we recently shot just before he headed out to training boot camp for his team. Krave Fit will be dropping in the end of September.
Bret Lockett photographed by Maya Guez , All images are copyrighted and cannot be used or published without permission. CLICK ON IMAGES TO VIEW LARGER

Well I'm gonna go mesmerize a sub sandwich and read the rest of the Enjoy!

Monday, August 2, 2010

New Studio...!

Maya Guez Studio space in NYC Manhattan, main room 30ft long 21ft wide 
After quit a hiatus from the online thing I am back in affect! I have recently decided to change it up a bit and travel to the west coast to check things out, I had a lovely 3 weeks in LA fallowed by a semi lovely few days in Las Vegas... On the good end of things I got to check out the market on the west coast and do some location shoots which I don't do very often but on the not so good end I quickly found it to be true that theres a lot of talk in Hollywood but not a lot of doing... After alot of name dropping and hype talking it seems people in LA like to talk more than they like to actually do... I got accustomed to the new york mentality i guess where people have very little time to waist and would not sugar cote things just so u feel good...

 Sitting area 16 feet wide

When I returned to NYC I began the dawning task of Moving to my newly renovated apartment /Photography studio. I have converted a 3 bedroom apartment into a large lofty space that can comfortably accommodate small scale productions and shoots.

I am also making my studio available for rent for such productions or visiting photographers who are seeking a Manhattan location affordable photo studio. Some of the features of the studio are:
Uptown west side Manhattan location close to central park and morning-side park which also have great shoot spots. Elevator building, a block from C and B trains
Main room 9 feet ceiling, 30 feet long and 21 feet wide on one end and 16 feet on other.

New hardwood floors, 5 large windows and plenty of natural light if needed.

Full kitchen and bathroom/shower. bedroom is utilized for make up and hair station.

Some equipment is included in rental fee such as backdrops (paper and fabrics) light stands, tripods, booms, reflectors, computer gear, wireless triggers and receivers, light shaping tools such as beauty dish, umbrellas, various soft boxes, gels, spots and such.
You can contact me for affordable half day or full day rates. Optional affordable rental for lighting and camera equipment such as profoto lighting system(regular flash heads and ring flash head) I have a total of 7 flash strobes available.
Mamiya AFD with various lenses and 32 megapixel Phase one back.
Other 12 and 15 mega-pixel SLR available. Also film 35 mm and 6 by 4.5 format available for film lovers(r there still any? lol)
Also, I have battery pack for outside location to power your equipment if u choose to go on location as well as 2 compact battery powered strobes that are easy to take with you outside.
Some of the available camera equipment
I am present during the whole or most of time u are using the space and will gladly help or advice u on any issues you may have. You can contact me with serious inquiries:
Maya Guez with model Loren Dixon

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sea Spa Ad campaign shot by Maya Guez

I recently shot advertising campaign for a wonderful cosmetic and skin care company "SEA SPA" that offers natural products that contain mineral and nourishing moisturizing elements and oils from the Dead Sea, Being that I had a chance to visit this amazing place called the dead sea a few years ago - the lowest point on the planet I got to experience myself the amazing healing qualities the mud's, salts and minerals that are in the hot springs and in the sea water, This experience of connecting with nature healing powers is what inspired me to create pure feeling almost spiritual or dream like images with the glowing salts the model is laying on, beautifully blended with her aqua eyes and the sky blue backdrop... I remember I went on a midnight swim with a girlfriend in the Dead Sea... Not a sound around since no animals can live in, or drink those water and the sea is practically without waives since it is surrounded by desert mountains... The water were so warm and salty they almost felt like hot aromatic oils surrounding your body.... You naturally float on them because the amount of salt and minerals... It was a full moon that night which the white salt on the grown reflected and glowed threw the crystal clear water.... It was amazing and relaxing and that serenity is what I wanted to relay to the viewer...
You can visit one of the company web sites at :
You can also see the images featured on the merchandise boxes, bags, posters in stores and billboards in London. Model: Hayley McCourt. Photography, MUA, Art direction, Post Production: Maya Guez. Hair: Fabien Magris.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What type of photo equipment I work with?

OK time to start this blog... :-) been pushing it forever... I am going to use this blog to give updates about my work and projects as well as answer questions... it seems people have alot of questions about my work so instead of endlessly answering them individually which I really don't have time u guys can ask me and I can post answers if time allows. I am also going to use this stage to voice my opinion and personal experience about topics in the industry. So don't get mad... Also dont be mad at my spelling I am not American so English is a second language.

So first of all I'm going to answer the most common question I get from a lot of fellow photographers...

Q: What camera I use and lights?

A: I currently work with Mamiya AFD II with Phase1 medium digital back 32 mega pixel quality (16 bit per channel) this allows me to have great fine details and the high resolution is sufficient to anything u would need such as billboards, magazine covers, campaigns, and large art prints... I found that my 12.3 mega pixel Fuji camera with Nikon lenses that alot of the images on my site were taken with provided great quality but I was unhappy with the detail quality when printing above 24 by 36 inch or when shooting tall people full body, which prompted me to move to medium format digital. again the difference is not really visible on web or small prints but more in enlargements.

Lights: I use profoto light system with a variety of light shaping tools, soft boxes, spots, umbrellas and beauty dishes are all commonly used. I use less expensive strobes to light backdrops and as fill lights.

Post production: Mostly PS and I specialise in beauty retouching, I love seeing textures in skin and fabrics so my retouching is very meticulous to maintain those, I am mostly self taught and have less experience in composite work so 99% of what u see are real backgrounds and set designs even if they sometime look "computerised" I TRY TO ACHIEVE AS MUCH IN THE PHOTOGRAPHY so u don't need to retouch too much, that's where my make up skills come into play sometime u will see me doing full body make up if necessary to give that flawless look and minimize any retouching. If something doesn't look right I don't shoot it....

Experience: I BEEN DOING THIS FOR A MINUTE.... After majoring in art at school where I learned about variety of arts I took some classes in photography to get some technical information, those days- there was no digital and I worked with manual cameras and film. Also used to develop my own film and prints and had a dark room in my studio back in Israel which i cant tell u how happy I no longer all the fumes I inhaled and smelling like vinegar all the time... ones I moved into digital photography never went back to film.
I come from a family of photographers, my dad was an armature photographer and I "stole" his camera and experimented with it first when I was 17 over ten years ago... my brother went to 4 years of photography school and worked as professional in the field he hooked me up with all the dark room equipment. Who knew it would be the girl in the family that would make it a full time succsful career.