AndiAndrea Picks: My favorite shots of 2014 (and the stories behind them)

Curating your favorite shots from the past year is as therapeutic as it is motivating. Here's to capturing more surprises, more creative visions, and more first-tries in 2015. In no particular order, take a look at 10 personal faves and read the surprising stories behind them.

1. Dog vs. Master

Isa Medina de Treviño starred in the October fashion editorial "MRS" which weaved the story of a young housewife living in a lap of luxury. Isa's great dane, "Nala", was just a puppy when her husband gifted it to her shortly after they were married. I snapped this as Isa was trying to settle Nala down before we did a dog walking shot, and it ended up being used as the promo for the whole spread. The juxtaposition between Nala's playful grin and Isa's stern scolding is candid gold.

2. First-Timer Philly 

In April, I had spent a week with my sister in Pittsburgh, the managing editor for "TABLE" magazine, and a talented crew of photogs, art directors, and food stylists. Two weeks later and overflowing with inspiration, I tackled my first attempt of food photography with friend and home chef, Mauricio. I definitely bit off more than I could chew (pun intended), insisting on shooting all of the raw ingredients first, before he began to cook. It was a 3 hour tedious shoot, and served as a great teacher. This overhead shot was one of the last frames. The blue gingham is actually the sleeve of one of Mau's shirts he brought to wear for his headshots.

3. The Russian

In September, I attended the Cecy Young "Fashion Stories" workshop here in Monterrey. During an 8 hour day, I worked along side Ms. Young's production team of stylists, make-up artists, and casted model: Svetlana Legun. The Russian beauty, who currently works full-time in Mexico City, was given the challenging task to take direction from budding fashion photographers (most with broken English) in a workshop setting. We were split into rotation groups so only 4 of us were up to bat at a time. Observing her growing irritation on the sidelines, I decided to capture her in between directed poses, when her face would almost freeze into a refined disgust as she took orders from the next amateur. View "THREE FACED."

4. Back-to-School Fair

During the fall, I picked up a fun project to "candidly cover" a renown private school's carnival held right on their own campus. I made my task simple: capture sheer expression on every ride.

5. Wind-blown Jose Luis

Jose Luis is the Department Chair of Art at Tecnológico de Monterrey, the city's most prestigious university. A year and a half ago I had the opportunity to pay a visit to his office and show him my portfolio. Since then, he has become a wonderful mentor, dear friend, and a companion for crepes about every 2 months. I wanted to photograph his striking look since the I met him, and it became a reality in the spring of 2014 in an abandoned classroom studio on campus. View the full editorial "Jose Luis."

6. Night Owl

After the ever popular Barrio Antiguo nightclub, "Casa Morelos," lent me their space for an album cover shoot, I returned the favor with some promotional shooting covering a hot August night's event. Three house DJs were on the scene, #3 taking over a purple-lit rooftop. To capture the ambience of a night club, I knew I didn't want to use any external flash. Only being lit by the glow of his craft, a spinning dance floor went frozen for a second. (And then I was so giddy about the shot, I waltzed right over to him to show it off) View "Casa Morelos."

7. A Very Ralph Lauren Reality

It's so hard to just choose one image from the "Collegiate" Editorial because the entire shoot was a creative highlight of 2014. It was a dream I had wanted to make happen ever since I saw the Ralph Lauren Big Pony commercial in 2010. Planets just aligned with a crew of 6 models, stylist Adriana Madrid, and MUA Isabela Medina, whom all came together in collaboration to make this happen. Not to mention, the dear people of Hipico EQUS, who let us take over their stables for an afternoon of posing in knee highs and Maria Galan backpacks.  It was when undirected Caleb squatted next to the ranch's dog for a quick break in a fitted blazer and skinny tie that I realized I had made this creative vision a reality. An almost identical shot happens in the original commercial.

8. Flatten it Out

After consuming Shay Cochrane lifestyle and product photography for days, I set out to make my first flat: favorite items around the house with a loose AndiAndrea lifestyle theme. I set everything up on white posterboard in the corner of my miniature apartment, shot handheld, and leaned as far over as I could without losing my balance, bouncing my 430EXii speedlite off the white wall in front of me. After adjusting settings between the first 11 frames, I let out a giddy squeal when I finally saw a crisply lit flat on my screen. In the following weeks I whipped out 4 more flat concepts, and have since went on small shopping purges for props. Flat lifestyle photography has quickly become my new interest and favorite hobby.

9. It's Like Rain on Your Wedding Day

It was already raining when I left my house for the shoot. That kind of wind blown mist rain that seems to never fall, it just gets you wet and sticky. Knowing there are no "rain checks" for photos on your wedding day, I grabbed a black umbrella as I ran out the door. Frida posed with my white Westcott that is usually mounted with my speedlite and with a gust of wind it just came together. They were just the happiest on the grayest day.

10. Lights, Camera, Pose!

With David in a bowtie, and me in a gold sequence number I could call mine just for the weekend, I orchestrated a mini lover's shoot before we headed to the wedding of the year right before Christmas. Home studio, tripod up, speedlite and umbrella positioned high and just slightly to the left of my camera, and a shutter remote hiding in my left hand. Boom! Happy Anniversary one week later :)