Sexy Shoot With a Playboy Playmate

The naked truth about a crazy magazine shoot.


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I was recently hired to shoot a cover and inside article for a new magazine. It’s my favorite kind of shoot, beautiful, sexy images to go with an interview. To make it even better, the subject was a beautiful one, former Playboy Playmate of the Year Julie Cialini. I have a few friends who are Playmates, they’re usually as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside. Julie is no exception. She proved to be both experienced and professional and a downright riot, joking around the whole time.

We had booked a ranch in Southern California for the day, since the magazine was about horses and cowboys. But this magazine has an interesting plan, to feature sexy, beautiful women. I was all for that!


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The plan was to feature the ranch and some great California sun. For some reason, when it rarely rains in Los Angeles, this day was an exception. Of course. I always come prepared to make great pictures, but outdoors in the rain made our stylist’s day hell. The light drizzle that came in early in the day eventually gave up, but the rain and humidity made the hair much harder to deal with, even with a covered staging area. The makeup and hair took much longer than usual with this, cutting deep into our day. When I have a day to work with a model or personality, I expect the makeup and hair to take an hour, maybe two. This time it took significantly longer.


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The good news was that time gave me a chance to work with my crew to plan very specific shots with a lighting plan for each, along with the outfits to make it an even more efficient shoot day. We were working on a ranch with horses, who are easily spooked. We used a 6×6 with a silk or solid for several lighting scenarios, we’d have to set it up at the last minute and we couldn’t move it around much, it scares the horses. Also had to be careful with where the flashes were used, for similar reasons. That coupled with the sun going in and out of the clouds constantly, we had to take care to shape the light to make it look great and be nimble enough to change with conditions. I was testing the new Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 units for some of the lighting, having a couple of small lights in a few places was great, and the capabilities of those things is incredible.


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For all of the craziness with the weather and makeup and other challenges, Julie was a dream to work with. Experienced in front of the camera, she’d get right into the shot and make it come to life. She had fun with it, and her personality came out. She was even a trooper when we created sunlight artificially after the sun went down, and it was really cold and we wanted her naked for the shots. Ok, she was wearing cowboy boots and some jewelry. I was working quickly, she made it all easy.


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When you work with experienced professionals and have a great crew and go into a shoot prepared, curveballs don’t throw you off, you just roll with it and still come up with amazing images. I love challenges and am grateful to have incredible people to collaborate with.


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Yeah, I love my job!

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