Sunday, 07 February 2016

Melissa Misfortune Interview

Taylor Mahoney Photography 
MUAH: Melissa Misfortune


Melissa Misfortune (Sinical #8 contest winner) is an alternative model based in Flagstaff, Arizona. This interview was featured in issue 08 of Sinical Magazine. Print copies can be ordered here.

Sinical Magazine: Where were you born and raised?

Melissa Misfortune: I was born and raised in beautiful Flagstaff, Arizona right along Route 66.

Sinical Magazine: How did you get started in alternative modeling?

Melissa Misfortune: I had been dreaming of pursuing it for several years before I ever did anything about it. In 2007 a friend photographed me when she was going to school for photography. We lost touch then got back into contact 3 years later in 2010 and shot again. J Cervantes Photography was the first photographer I worked with and I hope to shoot with her again soon. After that I decided to shoot as many ideas as possible with as many photographers as possible!

Sinical Magazine: What are your measurements?

Melissa Misfortune: Height: 4’11” Bust: 34” Waist: 24” Hips: 37.5”.

Sinical Magazine: What do you think makes a model stand out from others?

Melissa Misfortune: Creativity! Original ideas (or new takes on old ideas), unique designs and incredible styling all make for fantastic and memorable photos. I also think shooting what you love really makes your photos stand out. The more you love it, the more it shows and the better the shots will be!

Sinical Magazine: What is the most interesting or amusing thing that has happened to you as a model?

Melissa Misfortune: I once did a shoot that involved mint flavored theatrical blood, I kept sampling it, it was just so tasty! There is a behind the scenes photo of me and the other model licking the blood on my Facebook page. I also am a master of cheesy dance moves, Edson Carlos took a shot of me doing “The Carlton” (ya know, from Fresh Prince of Bel Air) and I especially love to do The Sprinkler to loosen up on shoots!

Sinical Magazine: Who are some photographers you’ve worked with and who are some you would like to work with?

Melissa Misfortune: Over the last two years, I have had the pleasure of working with so many amazing, talented people. I have shot with Edson Carlos, Kat Attack Photography, Chris Gomez Photography, Cherry Club Photography and many, many more! I work with Taylor Mahoney Photography, Jillian Danielson Photography and Saaty Photography regularly. Just to name a few, I hope to one day work with I Must Be Dead Photography, Viva Van Story, Travis Haight, No Regrets Photography, Tage Michael Photography, Mannon Pictures, and Vestige Photography.

Sinical Magazine: who is more of an influence: Bettie Page or Dita Von Teese?

Melissa Misfortune: Personally, I admire them both but if I had to choose, Dita Von Teese. I have always respected people that do what makes them happy, not what makes others happy like both of these incredible women have done. Bettie Page and Dita Von Teese have helped a lot to pave the way for girls like us and thank goodness for that. I love to read interviews with Dita and often read many of her quotes when I am feeling uninspired. A couple of my favorites are “It’s not about seducing men, it’s about embracing womanhood.” and “True sexiness has many facets. The elements include things like confidence, strength, intelligence and humor.”

Sinical Magazine: Who are the top 5 alt. models, currently?

Melissa Misfortune: That depends on who you talk to. I honestly don’t really pay close attention to who is getting the most work, getting published the most and has the biggest fan base. I can however, tell you who my five favorites are. In no particular order: Mosh, Projekt Malice, KandyK, Ulorin Vex and Micheline Pitt.

Sinical Magazine: Who are the top 5. alt. photographers, currently?

Melissa Misfortune: Again, it really depends on who you talk to. Five of my personal favorites that I see as a few of the top alt. photographers are Shannon Brooke, No Regrets Photography, Kat Attack Photography, Redrum Collaboration, and Andy Hartmark. 

Sinical Magazine: Clothing wise, what is your main fetish?

Melissa Misfortune: It’s a tie between latex and corsets. Please don’t make me choose!

Sinical Magazine: Who are some of your favorite designers?

Melissa Misfortune: I have always had an eclectic style so many different designers appeal to me. I adore Betsey Johnson, Vital Vein Fashion, Pierced Heart Clothing, Miss Lizzy D. Creations, Cinched Tight Corsets, Vintage Suits by Mary, Red Devil Clothing and Naucler Design. Over the years, my amazing seamstress of a mom has made me many custom and reproduction pieces that are favorites in my wardrobe. Although she has been sewing for a very long time, she has just started her own business, BlackJack Threads. For accessories, I drool over Pearls and Swine’s incredibly creative fascinators, half masks and more. Yardley December is one of my favorite jewelry designers. I really love Sugar Lily Accessories’ head bands. They are so pretty, well done and comfortable! She also makes gorgeous jewelry and flowers. One day, I hope to splurge on a pair of Vivienne Westwood heels.

Sinical Magazine: What type of music do you listen to?

Melissa Misfortune: Anything and everything! I really love rockabilly and psychobilly, which is apparent in my day-to-day wardrobe. I especially love Moonlight Howlers, Voodoo Swing, Three Bad Jacks, Mad Sin, Hillbilly Moon Explosion, Zombie Ghost Train and well, there’s just too many to list. Punk will always occupy part of my heart. Most people are surprised to learn I also have had a long time love affair with metal, goth and industrial. Wumpscut, Rasputina, Killswitch Engage and Covenant are bands I play a lot and I go to a lot of Black Orchid and Hemlock shows. Other than that, I also listen to The Faint, Metric, The Distillers, Streetlight Manifesto, Hank III, The Cramps and lots of others.

Sinical Magazine: What is the alt/fetish scene like in your city?

Melissa Misfortune: It varies a lot. The metal scene is almost always great (hooray for that!), the rockabilly scene comes and goes as does the punk scene. As far as I’ve seen, there isn’t really a fetish scene here at all. The closest place to go for that sort of thing is Phoenix, about 2-2 1/2 hours south. In general, Flagstaff is a pretty alternative, open-minded place. I love it!

Sinical Magazine: Where can Sinical readers see more of your work?

Melissa Misfortune: You can see more photos, find out about events I am attending, order prints, contact me and stay updated by checking out my Facebook page at and soon you’ll be able to stay updated through my website at!

Sinical Magazine: What’s up next for you?

Melissa Misfortune: In my modeling life, I have more publications around the corner, some work with companies that I am really excited to share, lots of events and as always, more shoots! In my personal life, I plan to start beekeeping this spring, get more tattoos, and I am currently on the hunt for a rat rod to build.


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Shooting In Manual Exposure Mode

If you are new to photography Manual exposure mode may be intimidating but you will not get the most out of your camera until you start shooting in Manual mode. Your photography will not evolve until you get out of "auto" mode. In Manual mode there are three things you can adjust in your camera to get correct exposure: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO (the exposure triangle). 

The Exposure Triangle -

Aperture: controls how much light enters your camera by setting the f-stop.

Shutter speed: controls how long the aperture is open to admit light to the digital sensor.

ISO: controls the sensitivity of your camera's sensor to light.

Aperture also affects depth of field (DOF), shutter speed affects motion blur, and ISO affects image noise.


What camera settings should you use to start off with?

1. You should set your aperture first at a setting that will give you just enough depth of field. A wider aperture is great for portraits (f1.4 - f2.8).

2. Set your ISO at a low setting to give you as little image noise as possible. 100-200 will work if there is lots of available light. If the the scene is dark, you will have to raise the ISO.

3. Keep your shutter speed at a setting that will avoid motion blur.  You want to start off at 1/125 - 1/250 sec for portraits.

To determine correct exposure look at the light meter inside your camera. There is a bar that shows a + on one side and a - on the other side. When it is in the middle (or at zero) the camera is telling you that on the scene your exposure will be correct. It's up to you to determine if the reading works for what you are doing. You may want to intentionally over-expose or under-expose an image.

White Balance is also a key factor in Manual mode. We will get into detail about White Balance settings in a follow up article.

~ Danny Stygion

editor (@) sinicalmagazine (.) com

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Gracefully Wicked Artistic Photography Interview

Model: Alyson Marie, MUAH: Michelle McBride, Claws: Trudi Bell, Neck Corset and Gloves: Karen von Oppen.

This interview was featured in issue 08 of Sinical Magazine. Print copies can be ordered here.

Gracefully Wicked Artistic Photography is based in Plano, Texas and is the husband and wife team of Jeff and Tiffany Carter. We had the pleasure of speaking with Tiffany Carter.


Sinical Magazine: How did you get started as a photographer, Tiffany?

Tiffany Carter: I really can’t remember not having a camera in my hand. I am a completely self taught photographer and went professional a little over 3 years ago. This passion to create art through photography has always ran through my bones.

Sinical Magazine: When creating a composition what is your main focus?

Tiffany Carter: My main focus for composing an images always begins with the eyes. Once I have that done, then I will look at my surroundings and decide how I want to compose.

Sinical Magazine: How much planning goes into a shoot?

Tiffany Carter: Most all of my shoots are extremely artistic and some require months of planning. I’m very particular in choosing the correct model for the shoot. It makes all the difference.

Sinical Magazine: What do you view as the most important aspect of a photo shoot?

Tiffany Carter: Getting the perfect makeup, hair, wardrobe and model teams together! TEAMWORK is the key to a successful photo shoot!


Model: Sabra Johnson.

Sinical Magazine: What photographers have been a source of inspiration to you?

Tiffany Carter: Dorthea Lang, Gerard Goh, Herb Ritts, and Mark Delong to name a few.

Sinical Magazine: What type of camera and lighting equipment do you use?

Tiffany Carter: I use the Canon 5D Mark III and the Canon 7D and I use Alien Bees as my lighting equipment.

Sinical Magazine: Do you have a preference for shooting pinup or fetish?

Tiffany Carter: I don’t like cheesy pinup but I love film noir, vintage and fetish photography.

Sinical Magazine: Do you prefer to shoot on location or in a studio?

Tiffany Carter: I love both but when I have my partner in the studio with me, we really get to be very creative with the dramatic lighting. The natural lighting has always been so fresh and beautiful especially during the fall. I like to take advantage of that.


Model: Jennifer Reed.


Sinical Magazine: Your partner is your husband, Jeff Carter?

Tiffany Carter: Yes, he is my lighting guru and makes a lot of our props. With his engineering background, he is very skilled with our lighting concepts.

Sinical Magazine: What are some of your favorite lighting set ups?

Tiffany Carter: I love to do dramatic and film noir lighting and I use fog in a lot of my sets.

Sinical Magazine: What are some of your favorite outdoor locations to shoot at?

Tiffany Carter: I have a lot of places near my home in Plano, Texas that are full of nature and flowers and seclusion which can be much needed if any artistic nudity shots are being done.

Sinical Magazine: Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to working with models?

Tiffany Carter: I have been very blessed when working with the models I have worked with. The only thing I would say would be a real pet peeve is showing up excessively late which causes the entire team to be inconvenienced.


Model: Minxie Mimieux


Sinical Magazine: Who are some models you would like to work with?

Tiffany Carter: That is a hard question because I have been blessed to work with so many wonderful models. I frequently work with Alyson Marie, Sabra Johnson and Melissa Meaow.

Sinical Magazine: Have you had many issues with copyright infringement or models breaking your policies?

Tiffany Carter: I unfortunately have to deal with copyright infringement due to the vast amount of people on the internet now. I have had only a couple of models break my policies.

Sinical Magazine: Who does the make up at your photo sessions?

Tiffany Carter: I have had the pleasure Tiffany Carter: of working with several wonderful makeup artist such as Michelle McBride, Rene Teague-Smith, Amber Lynne Downs, Mickey Gunn, LaDonna Stein an several other wonderful makeup artist.

Sinical Magazine: How do you find the time to balance out your family life with your work?

Tiffany Carter: That was very tricky when I first started out. I worked an 8-10 hour day for a billing company and then would do photo shoots in the evening and every weekend. I soon realized after 3 years that I couldn’t focus the amount of time with my family, job and photography. I then quit my “day” job and became a full time photographer which balances out my family time and photography much better.

Sinical Magazine: What projects are you currently working on?

Tiffany Carter: I’m about to start an edgy Steampunk project, an Erte costume shoot, and a couple of dark edgy high fashion shoots. |

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How Much Should You Charge For Your Photography?

Model: Ambe DeVille.

50mm - 1/60 @ f2 @ 200 ISO


We're an alternative modeling & photography magazine so we won't be discussing how much you should charge for wedding, food, or event photography. At a later date we will post an article on "How Much Should You Charge For Your Modeling" from a model's perspective.

The first thing you should ask is: how much is your time worth?

How much should you charge for your photography (style & standard of quality), travel time, post-processing, and media? Photography is a highly competitive field and it can be time-consuming searching for new clients. How much you should charge for your photography depends on multiple factors.

  • Experience. If you are just starting out, you should look into becoming someone's assistant. Learn the basics. Once you start shooting solo, you should do trade shoots until you've built up a substantial portfolio. Find some friends that are willing to let you shoot them. In the beginning, if you want to photograph an established "name" model, you will likely have to pay to work with them. In year one, I didn't charge anyone for a shoot. I have now been shooting for 10 years.
  • Research. Do some research and look at your local competition and see what they are charging. Most photographers post their rates on their websites. Are your photography skills on the same level as your competition? Is there a demand for your style of portrait photography? Don't lowball. Your rates should be around the same level or not too far off from your competition. If you start too low, it will be hard to raise your rates later.
  • Limits. If you are doing a portrait session, you should limit the amount of edited photos you deliver to the client. 5 edits. 10 edits. Never give the client all the raw photos. Only deliver the best and be clear in the beginning about how many photos you will deliver. Don't promise a quick turnaround time, if it's not possible for you. Be realistic about when you can actually finish the photos.
  • Prints & Licensing. Don't stop with just giving your client a CD. A good portion of your profit can come from selling prints and licensing.
  • Equipment. Beyond your camera, portrait lenses range from $100 - $2,500. Then there's lighting equipment, background stands, computers and software. Eventually, you will need to pay off your equipment. If you're experienced, don't shoot for free!
  • Time. I recommend charging per look and not by the hour. If you're subject wants additional looks, there should be an additional fee. Don't have a rush shoot because you are charging by the hour. Make sure you get the shots you need to satisfy your client.
  • Make-up. Hook up with a local pro make-up artist. If your client wants professional make-up, offer that option at your make-up artist's rate. Some clients have no idea how to apply make-up for a photo shoot, so you should have a make-up artist available, if needed.
  • Goals. What is your goal for the year? To earn a little extra income to pay for your gear or to make a living doing just photography?


In part 2 of this article we will discuss how to break down your daily cost of business (DCOB).


~ Danny Stygion

editor (@) sinicalmagazine (.) com.

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