Ely Roberts is a photographer from San Luis Obispo and when he brought his girlfriend to New York to propose to her he wrote and asked if I'd shoot an engagement session of them while they were in town. I've said it before but I love shooting photographers, haha. They're up for anything and whether they are or not they at least act like they're comfortable in front of the camera.
It was a blast hanging out with Ely and Abby that afternoon and I love the images from the session. Here are some favorites.
If you're a photographer or even just blogger you really need to check out BlogStomp. I've been using their actions to prep my blog images for about a year and a half but they just came out with an App that doesn't need Photoshop to resize, sharpen, create collages, add your logo or watermark, resize and save for web. It's unbelievable. Check it out.
I love this series, haha. Ely was playing around and jokingly got down on one knee reenacting the proposal... I wonder if anyone has ever done that for engagement pictures before?! Haha.
So, I suck. Between travelling, shooting, WPPI and everything else, it’s been a busy month. It’s taken WAY too long but it’s time to wrap this thing up
We have a winner…
Ashley Turner! Congrat’s Ashley, send me an email to claim your Madera Book! For the rest of the finalists I have something special for you too. Shoot me an email and I’ll fill you in!
I want to thank everyone so much for participating. This is a big issue in the industry right now and I’m really encouraged by everyone that sent in entries
Congrats again Ashley!
Last week I announced a contest. I grossly underestimated how much I would hate judging. You think it would be easy… it’s not. It’s a very difficult thing to place one person’s work next to another person’s work and say, “this one’s better”. I got a lot of great entries and saw some great moments. In the end I was so frozen with indecision that I had to enlist the help of my friends. We chose these five because of the strength of the whole collection. Some people had individual images that were stronger but we felt these as a whole conveyed the emotion of the day the best.
That said, THANK YOU so much for participating. Like I said before, I’m far from a pure photojournalist but I still take my job of documenting the couple’s day very seriously. And, in this day of styled shoots and wedding blogs showing almost exclusively details and portraits it seems like photographers have begun shooting for publication more than the couple.
If you weren’t picked please don’t hate me. :) I thought there were SO MANY deserving photographers, but we had to narrow it down to 5. If you click on the photographer’s name it will take you to their post of all of the moments from the wedding. Here are the finalists:
I shot Veronica and Jason's wedding in San Pedro a few weeks ago. As I was going through the images I loved how many great authentic moments there were. It got me thinking about my job as a photographer. Looking back over the images from Cyndie and I's wedding, the images that mean the most are the ones that captured a moment and more specifically an emotion. THIS is what weddings are about. Sure, I love to shoot portraits. I'd probably go so far to say that's my favorite part of the wedding day. But, the fact remains that in the end I'm there to shoot a WEDDING... and weddings are about 2 people coming together to join their lives. That is an incredibly emotional thing and we, as photographers, are given the responsibility of capturing it.
I've never received an email from a client saying, "I didn't even know you were there!" I talk, laugh, joke with my clients throughout the day. It makes them comfortable having me around and I feel like I get better images because of it. I'm definitely not a pure photojournalist but I take the responsibility of documenting their wedding day very seriously.
So after thinking about all of that I decided to do and entire blog post only showing "moments" from the day... no portraits, no details. The only images I had any hand in "staging" were the ones from the "First Look" and those I only told them where to stand. The rest were as real as they get.
So here's the contest.
If you're a photographer I want you to blog an entire wedding with no portraits, no details and no staged or directed shots. I don't care if you've already blogged the wedding. Go through and pick out the best moments and show me what you've got.
Leave a comment below telling me you want to be a part of the contest. You'll have 6 days to blog it. Next Thursday I will go through all of the entries and pick my 5 favorites. On Friday I'll post the finalists and we'll have a vote. Monday the winner will be announced.
One last thing... This is not about getting everyone from Facebook and Twitter to vote for you. I'll be checking up on everyone to make sure their not campaigning. Telling people to check out the contest is cool but none of this "I REALLY need your vote to win this contest" stuff I see all of the time. OK? Cool.
THE WINNER will receive a FREE 8x10 10 spread (20 side) album from Madera Books. (or an equal credit toward another size album).
Okay, now on to the images.
I love how everyone in the room has a hand in helping her get her dress on, haha. Only on a wedding day is that normal.
The first look and a quick prayer.
I LOVE this shot of Veronica and her dad watching everyone enter the ceremony. I was able to get this because I had my good friend and awesome photographer, Victor Sizemore shooting the processional. Good second shooters give you the freedom to take risks on the wedding day to get images you couldn't if you had to get the "safe shot".
Another great father/daughter moment.
A few shots from their communion that I love.
Shooting the recessional is always one of my favorite things. The couple is always so excited and usually shows a lot of emotion.
I also love focusing on the couple during the toasts. There's always a lot of great reactions.
You might have seen on here before that I offer private workshops for photographers affectionately known as WOODSHOPS. I don't put on huge group workshops because #1: they're a whole lot of work and #2: if that's what you're wanting there are already tons of them out there. If, however, you (or maybe you and a couple of friends) want to spend a day, afternoon, or lunch together picking my brain, listening to me talk about how I work and shoot, I'll happily oblige you. I usually do one per month.
A few weeks ago I had a WOODSHOP with a photographer from LA named Gary Coelho. We spent the afternoon together talking about how he could improve his photography and at the end of the afternoon we went out for a shoot to give him a chance to put his new knowledge into practice. We had to postpone the workshop a day because of rain so I was scrambling trying to find a couple to model for me. I put out the word on Twitter and within a few minutes my good friends Jake and Jessica Mariano graciously volunteered to be our subjects for the afternoon. We went out into the hills of Ladera Ranch for an engagement style shoot and had a great time trudging around in the mud. We had some beautiful light and got some really wonderful images.
If you're interested in a WOODSHOP check out the information page and shoot me an email.
Here are some favorites from that afternoon:
This incredible Nigerian wedding was held at the Penn Museum in Philadephia on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. It might be the most fun I've ever had at a wedding... well at least one I was shooting, haha. I want to shoot more Nigerian weddings... and more at the Penn Museum. So great.
The bride, Bola, is a wonderful photographer based in Philadelphia. It's always such an honor to be asked to shoot a photographer's wedding... it's also a bit nerve wracking. Haha. But you always know if you're shooting a photographer's wedding that you'll have plenty of time for photos, and more importantly, time in good light! We made the most of our time that day, here are some of my favorites:
So this afternoon, Jaclyn and Nate Kaiser, of The Image is Found, both jokingly twittered that they are making a new rule that they'll only travel to places that Jet Blue or Virgin America fly to. This spurred a little Twitter debate between Nate and I about airlines and it got me thinking about why I make the choices I do when I travel.
I'm not sure whether it's apropos or ironic that I watched the George Clooney movie, Up In The Air, on a flight to New York but I sure did identify with Clooney's character and his quest for frequent flyer mile domination, haha. As photographers, we get the opportunity to travel more than the average person. Over the past few years I've traveled a ton and since we moved to Manhattan earlier this year, the past 6 months I've traveled even more than usual. I've found that if you do it right you can both enjoy your travel more and make your travel and destination weddings more profitable. I thought I'd blog about the things I've figured out regarding air travel.
#1 Pick an Airline
There are a bunch of airlines out there and I'm not going to try to say that one is "best" because the "best" airline for you might be different than the best airline for me. The first consideration should be your location. Which airlines have hubs in or near your city. If you're in Dallas, American would be you're best bet. Houston, Continental would be a good choice... etc.
The benefit of choosing an airline with your city as a hub is that you'll have the most direct flights available. This is super important as a frequent traveller. Layovers make your travel days way longer, increase the chance for delays and generally suck. The more planes you take, the more chance there is for a flight to be cancelled/delayed...etc. If you fly direct, there is no connecting flight to miss even if your flight is delayed. Also flights in and out of hubs are, for the most part, cheaper and there are way more available to choose from.
Another consideration when choosing an airline is where they fly. One of the reasons I chose Delta is that when I was choosing an airline is that they were in talks with Northwest to merge and become the largest airline in the world. Either them or their partner airlines fly to more destinations than any other airline in the world. An airline like Virgin America or Jet Blue may meet some of the criteria but they are quite limited in the cities they serve. So if you choose them there's a good chance you'll have to fly other airlines at some point. Pick an airline that will take you pretty much anywhere you want to go and allow you to earn miles on all of your flights, not just on flights to cities they fly to.
#2 Stick with that Airline
Frequent flyer programs benefit "frequent flyers" and you'll never be a "frequent flyer" if you're flying a different airline every trip. All airlines have frequent flyer programs but the benefits vary greatly between airlines. If you fly a budget airline such as Jet Blue or Southwest, basically, the only benefits to frequent flyers is award travel (free flights). With full service airlines you'll still get the award travel but you'll also get a ton of other benefits.
#3 Rack up the miles
Once you reach elite status, usually 25,000 miles in a calendar year, you get all kinds of fringe benefits. Here's a list of a few:
Priority Check In. Frequent flyers always have their own check in line. There's no waiting in a line of a hundred people at the airport anymore to check your bags.
Free checked baggage. With Delta, my guests and I get up to 3 bags a piece at no charge and the weight limit is 70lbs not the usual 50lbs. This alone is worth hundreds if not thousands per year.
Priority Security Screening. At most airports there is a lane for first class or elite travelers. Again, no more waiting behind a hundred people. Security screening now only takes a few minutes.
Priority Boarding. As a photographer this is one of the biggest deals. When I travel with my camera gear, the last thing I want to do is gate check it. I want it with me the whole way. As a frequent flyer with elite status I get to board the plane before the general public, meaning there will never be a time when I get into the plane and the overhead compartments are full.
FIRST CLASS. This is huge when you fly a lot. I've never paid for a first class ticket but I now fly first class almost exclusively... easily 90% of the time. Delta, and most other airlines give free or very low cost upgrades to their frequent flyers. It makes a big difference having the extra legroom but the biggest difference is the "shoulder room". The fact that there are only 2 seats in first class where three fit in coach makes all the difference in the world. There's never a time when I worry about who is going to be sitting next to me in first class, but every time I have to sit coach I dread the waiting game of watching the people file in. I just know when I see the 6'5" 350lb mountain man, he's going to sit right next to me. Also, meals and drinks (even alcohol) are free in first class which is pretty nice.
Priority baggage handling. I think this is one of the coolest things Delta does. Whenever I check a bag a special tag is placed on it and upon arrival my bag will be among the first delivered to baggage claim. No waiting around for 30 minutes as bags trickle on to the carousel.
Bonus Miles. Once you make it to elite status, you get between a 25% and 125% bonus on your travel. Once you get to a certain point miles start adding up like crazy. At the beginning of the year this year it took me 5 round trip flights from LA to NYC to earn the 25000 miles for a free flight. Now it takes only 2.5 round trip flights because I get a 100% bonus on all travel... fly 5000 miles, get 10000 frequent flyer miles.
#4 Don't sweat it if you have to pay a little more to stick with your chosen airline.
If I were to fly American Airlines I'd have to pay $25 each way to check one bag. Sticking with Delta saves me *at least* that much over another airline. If the difference between tickets is even more than that, the fact that all of my miles are with one airline more than makes up for it. The average cost in miles for a free flight is 25,000 miles. If I have 6000 miles with Delta, 8400 with American, 3700 with United...etc, it doesn't matter that I've got 18100 miles in total because they're with 3 different airlines. I'm still 16400 miles from an award ticket. Don't worry about paying a little more for a ticket with your airline, you'll get it back later.
#5 Pack light.
If its possible carry everything you need on. The time you'll save by not checking bags and not having to wait for them at baggage claim is worth way more than having your choice of 14 pairs of shoes and 23 outfits for that week long trip.
There are lots of other tips I've picked up but this should do for now. Maybe this will help you, I sure wish someone had told me all this a few years ago. :)
If you have any tips I'm missing here leave me a message in the comments. I'd love to hear them!
Since posts without pictures are boring, here is an image from a wedding I shot in Anguilla (in the British West Indies in the Caribbean) last month. I'll be blogging the whole wedding this week!
A couple of weeks ago I met Kimberly Witort in Los Angeles for a Woodshop, a private, one day workshop. Kimberly is a great photographer from Washington and was in town with a couple of her friends for the week. We spent the afternoon going over business, workflow, processing and wedding day management and ended the afternoon with what was supposed to be a sunny shoot in Santa Monica. June gloom took the sun away but we still had a great time shooting at the pier.
Usually at the end of a Woodshop we'll shoot a couple or portrait session together but Kimberly decided she'd like me to shoot her and her 2 best friends instead. Here are a few of my favorites from the afternoon.
If you're interested in a private Woodshop shoot me an email. I'd love to hear from you!
Sometimes I get close to what I'm after, this time I got exactly what I wanted from a wedding party photo. I love *everything* about this photo.
Several months ago I was hired to shoot what I thought was going to be a pretty typical engagement session in New York. Time passed and as the date came closer I got in touch with the couple to firm up the details. They told me they had some ideas about the shoot and then said they wanted it to have a 1950's theme. They wanted to shoot outside a diner, they were having a '56 T-bird there for the shoot, they were dressing up in 50's attire... in fact, it wasn't going to be typical at all.
One of the things they told me is that they wanted to shoot with the car outside the diner and have the sunset behind them. Well if you know anything about photography you know that in order for that to happen you're going to have to use lighting. I guess I could have done some HDR stuff but its not 2006 anymore. :)
So I rented a Profoto set up and drove out to New Jersey to the diner. The diner was awesome but it was also surrounded by cars, not from the 50's, which to me kind of kills the whole thing. So we positioned the car in the middle of the parking lot and I shot from pretty much the only angle that blocked out the rest of the cars and still showed the diner. I felt pretty good about the images as we were shooting but I never get too excited because you really never know what you're getting until you open them up. I even turned the strobes off at a couple of points and shot natural light just in case things weren't turning out as good as I thought they were.
When I opened the images up to begin working on them I just fell in love. Its so different from what I normally do but man they're so freaking cool.
While I typically work with natural light, when I was first getting started I never wanted to be in a situation where I felt unprepared so I learned as much as I could about off camera lighting. I'm by no means an expert but knowing this stuff has helped me get good images out of bad situations.
So here are a few of my favorites. I put in some of the natural light stuff as well. I think the difference is really interesting. Let me know what you think.