Tag Archives: Photographer

Practice, Practice and more Practice

One of the things that any professional photographer will do is constantly practice their craft. Practicing may not be dragging out the strobes and the fancy background, it can be as simple as just bringing a camera on a family walk.  For myself, I always have a camera with me whether it be my iPhone or my  “professional” camera. I find that like anything else, constant practice with my chosen equipment helps me on the job when I’m shooting for you and being paid for it. I personally and ethically believe that when I’m shooting “for real”, it is not the time for me to be practicing while on your dime. Any true professional would agree with that statement and when you are shopping around for a photographer, it’s something to consider.

You might question the use of an iPhone for practice but when I have limited equipment, I find that I get much more creative to get the most out of the camera and myself for that matter.  It’s no longer having a two thousand dollar lens or a five hundred flash, it’s all about me and what I can do with what I have. This translates directly into better pictures when I do have my expensive equipment handy.

I also practice with my normal shooting equipment but I may limit myself to a single lens or a certain setting to better learn how my equipment works under a wide variety of conditions. This works to your advantage as I can be shooting rather then messing around with the camera and constantly looking at the view finder while missing key shots. This becomes critical for events like weddings where things can be moving at a quick pace under a wide variety of conditions.

Here are some practice images that I took while on walks with the family using my main camera and a single lens.  I also use these images to push my post processing skills and learn new techniques.

Sara Portrait in Oak Canyon Nature Center Anahiem

This was taken at the Oak Canyon Nature Center in Anaheim right at dusk. I also used a technique in my post processing to give a soft glow to the image while keeping the eyes sharp.

Three sisters at Oak Canyon Nature Center Anaheim

This image was also at the Oak Canyon Nature Center and originally was more cyan or blue than the the finished print shows now. The sisters were in a cool shadow at dusk which does not lend itself to warm tones.  So post processing turned it around into a warm summer’s night as it was and gave the nice warm tones. Again, a professional can adjust to conditions both by shooting differently or by making critical adjustments in the processing of the image.

The final practice image shows how I can take a blah scene and literally change seasons with some judicious post processing. the original image is on the right and the changed image is on the left. This was practicing some advanced post coloring techniques.

Oak Canyon Season Change comparision

As you can see,  as a professional, I practice constantly just like any other professional. This way when you hire me, I can be ready to produce very high quality art and results without dithering around trying to learn on your dime and missing the images you hired me to produce.

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Posted in Articles, editing, iPhone, musings, photography, portraits, venue Also tagged , , , , |

Why You Should Be Printing Some Photographs

On a recent trip to Disneyland and to Chicago, I was struck by how prevalent the use of smart phones, in particular the iPhone was being used for photos. People were taking photos of themselves, where they were, friends, short video clips, long video clips, video conferencing to friends while on the road and more. Heck, I had a Nikon D700 with me and I still used my iPhone to snap a few shots of Chicago. What I did not see were any people sharing PHOTOGRAPHS, only electronic images. No wallet prints, no small albums or any other printed media. People were passing around their phones and other devices.

John Hancock Tower Chicago

In talking with a some of these people, I  learned that very few of them actual printed the images on to paper, ever. The images lived on the phone, Facebook, Flickr or home computer. They were  looked at briefly online and then never seen again as new images take their place. And unlike photo albums of years gone past, nobody pulls out their cell phone or laptop at home to look at pictures.

As it turns out, very few people are printing any of their photographs any more. That’s a real crime in of itself,  but it also goes to show that prints should be part of your collection. Yes, you can have a thousand images on your phone or tablet but what good are they if nobody ever sees them?  What good are they if the kids can’t see pictures of their vacation because they don’t know where the images are out on your hard drive, they don’t have access to your computer or they dont know what widget the images are on? How can they share with friends at school about where they went on vacation or show off to neighbors?

We re losing something precious by not printing photographs. Facebook is well and good but we humans are tactile bunch. W want to touch and hold in our hands things like prints. And it’s not the glow of a tablet, we  want pictures that do not require software, hardware, power supplies, dim rooms and all that goes it with the digital generation of viewing pictures.

This is something we as photographers need to educate our customers to do  and we need to do it ourselves. When was the last time you made 4×6 prints to show off to friends your last vacation around the dinner table or coffee shop? Did  you just dump a few hundred images on Flickr or Facebook and call it good? People get excited about holding real pictures.. They get excited about real time sharing of stories. They get excited about touching pictures. It’s time to get excited!!  Make some prints and spread them around!!

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Class is in session – Beyond the Basics

English: A Kodak Brownie Hawkeye camera with K...

Image via Wikipedia

Beyond The Basics

Taught by Professional Photographer and member of OC Photography Center, Michael Sweeney.
Have you ever wondered why the background of pictures are pleasantly blurred? How about that cool image of the child blowing out the candles on the birthday cake but they are not the typical white faced blasted look? Have you ever wanted to make art for your walls but none of your pictures look like those you see for sale? Have you wondered why so many of your snapshots look like everyone elses?

If the answer is yes to any or all of these questions, then this is the class for you.

This class is for those that have either completed our beginning photography class or have been working on their own and would like to take their photography to a new level. This class is where we will review the basics and then take things forward so you can start to be the artist you want to be.

The class will cover the following topics.

  • Basic camera operation refresh
  • Shutter
  • Aperture
  • ISO
  • Light
  • What is light, really?
  • Small lights vs. large lights – your pop up flash vs. the sun for example
  • Why is any of this important?
  • Shoot to the right
  • Sunny Rule of 16
  • Design Principles – How do I get the pictures to just grab you?
  • The rule of thirds
  • The golden ratio
  • Shoot high/shoot low
  • Don’t be a bullseye
  • Why the subject doesnt have to always look at you
  • A bit of blur can be a good thing
  • Flash is your friend at any time of the day or night
  • Why use a flash
  • Shootout at high noon or how I learned to love the sun
  • How to use flash as an accent
  • How to avoid that lovely white blasted vampire look
  • Capturing Pixels
  • What is all this about megapixals and what do I really need?
  • Why are over exposing highlights really bad?
  • The great war, JPEG vs RAW files
  • Does the lens really matter?
  • OK, I have pictures, now what do I do with them?
  • Anyone can print now, using online labs
  • Resolution and what it really means to you
  • Color space and no, it’s not something from Home Depot
  • Editing on the cheap, options for the non-pro but enthusiastic user
  • Putting pictures up on the web
  • How can I make a book or calendar?

Class Time
Evenings: Tuesday evenings
Dates: February 28th & March 6th, 2012
Time: 7:00 pm- 9:00 pm.
Fee: $90
Where: At the OC Photography Center
714-529-3686
Remember to bring your camera, something to take notes and smiles!
Please reserve your spot a least a week before first class. Thank you. Look forward to a great class!

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Cynthia and Annasel Wedding at Mission Inn, Riverside

I did a favor for a wedding shooter friend of mine, Angela Stanton and worked as a last minute second shooter for a same sex civil union (wedding) in Riverside at the First Congregational Church. Cynthia and Annasel were married at the church and then the reception was held at the Mission Inn which is  just down the street from the church. As a second shoot, I take my lead from the primary shooter but I was still able to get some nice shots.  I put together a short slide show of the wedding and the reception using just my shots. The couple obviously cared deeply for each other and the family was very supportive and happy for the couple. It was nice change of pace to be involved in this wedding and meet everyone involved. I hope you enjoy the slide show and congratulations to Cynthia and Annasel, I wish wish you the very best in the coming years.


The music is is “Crazy” from Stars Go Dim (SGD) and is licensed from TheMusicBed.com

The Mission Inn is an awesome venue to shoot at with great architecture and spectacular lighting in the evening. It was wonderful grounds to shoot at, passageways, arches, stonework and more.

 

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Musings on choosing your peer group

The few paragraphs below came about on Facebook in a private group I belong to called Photographers Unleashed. This is a place for photographers to hang out, ask questions, get critiques and complain all in the safety of a private area. It’s also an invitational group so one needs to be invited to join. Someone needs to think enough of you and your work that they think you can be part of the group. It’s a nice compliment when a friend does think this of you. We have a huge range of experience and talent but the overall common features are we all are passionate about photography and we want to improve both as a photographer and as an artist.

This story starts a few days ago when one of the younger photographers posted he was quitting the group and in a nutshell, he felt that he was being picked on and expectations were too high. He didnt say it that way outright but the message was there between the lines.

Getting older does have a benefit or two and one of them is to say what needs to be said without fear. It’s the idea of ” I really dont care what you think because there is nothing you can do that has not already been done, said or put on me”. Older also means (most times) that one has learned a lesson or two along the way. So when I read this post from this photographer, I sat down and wrote a short but heartfelt piece that only an older and more experience person could write. Several people commented on my words but I never did hear from the young photographer. He probably views me as more of a jerk right now but then when I was his age, I probably would have done the same thing. I just hope he read it anyways and took it to heart.

It was suggested to me to re- post it on a blog and I thought it sounded like a good idea. So here it is.

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You dont grow unless you stretch beyond your comfort level and if you dont do that, you become stagnant which is a terrible fate for any artist. Natural talent will carry you only so far, at some point you need a teachers and a community. If the community does it’s job right, they will support you and help you grow but that does not mean it’s always compliments.

More often than not, it’s something that hurts because we as artists tend to impart our images with a great deal of emotional energy. So when someone says something critical about an image that we think is hot shit, it stings all the more no matter how true the comment is. All artists are guilty of this at one time or another and we all have to learn to live with it and somehow process it and grow from it. You can grow or you can run.. not much else is available in the choice categories. As (name withheld) said, its the critical comments that really can add directiion to your path by showing you where you *need* to grow.

I put the word *need* in stars because it’s subjective but it serves to illuminate a point. I use critical comments all the time to act as a guide post as it were to help me see beyond my personal likes, dislikes, baggage etc and to get a glimpse of how other people see my work. Sometimes they see far better than I do because I’m too involved in the work, it’s too personal and almost impossible to pull back enough to see a bit of truth.

And yes, sometimes it stings.. alot. But, it’s a rare time I really let it get under my skin for any length of time. Note I said for any length of time, as it ALWAYS gets under my skin when someone is critical of my work. After all, photography is an extension of one’s self to a degree. But I can honestly say that in the past few years, after I learned to let go of of the emotional attachment and really listen to what was said, I’ve grown. Sometimes just a touch, other times it’s like the lightbulb going off.

You lose all of this support structure by hiding away from your peers or another way to say it, by hiding from those who would be critical of your work. It’s far easier to be somewhere where there is platitudes and accolades on how pure your work is, how cool it is and so on. But, the road less traveled is generally the better way to success. The path with resistance will make you grow and become a better person/photographer/friend . You just have to choose it and embrace it know that while it will hurt now and then, overall you will be in a far better place.

We can’t make you stay and we certainly wont beg but we would miss you and your contribution to the group. I personally wish you well on your path wherever it leads to.

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First Communion at Saint Norbert, Orange CA

A friend asked if I would shoot their daughter’s first communion at Saint Norbert which is a local Catholic church here in the city of Orange,  and of course, my answer was I’d be happy to. It was a smaller church and no flash allowed during the ceremony. Also, a local photographer had been hired by the church so I had to be careful not to step on toes and cause problems. But my F2.8 70-200mm zoom made short work of being in the back. I also shot some family pictures at the house when we were done at the church. The trick was to treat this much like I would a wedding with formal shots before the church service, shooting during the service like  wedding and taking detail shots, fill shots and more while getting the family shots.

In the end I delivered two dozen images plus a slide show to my friend. The side show was first shown using a Epson projector so the images were about 7 feet wide!!  Impressive to say the least. I did a second showing using my iPad which works very well for this sort of thing.

Here is the slide show I produced for the family.

Here are some of the stills that I used in the slide show and showed to the family.

 

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Behind the scenes of a photoshoot

Photographers love to show of images from their last photoshoot. Everyone likes to “ohhhh and ahhhh” over the images that are retouched, mashed up and worked over in a good way we hope. But, personally, I love to shoot the behind the curtain shots. You know, the things that make a photoshoot what it really is and can have you really appreciate all the more the very cool image when the environment is anything but cool.

I attend a monthly workshop that is a mix of a social hour, some food, shop talk, instruction and shooting over at Redgum Creative Studios. A friend of mine, Richard Radstone is the instructor and mentor for those of us who regularly attend these socials and it’s always fun to be there and be involved in the day’s shoot. We have a model or two with a MUA (make up artist) present plus the crew at Redgum to help pull it all together.

So in the spirit of sharing, I’m posting some of the set up and during the shoot shots of mine of the last social/training/breakout Redgum Studio shoot. It really will give you a sense of the afternoon and what a real photoshoot is like. I’m not talking about a “shoot” where the softbox is made from a empty box of corn flakes and the light stand will blow over with a single breath. I’m talking about a real photo shoot, with real models, make up artists, real grip equipment and a real studio setting. The only thing missing is the stress of  having the client on set breathing down your back.

I’ve already mentioned the MUA and I would like to point out the use of C Stands (century stands) instead of the more common tripod stands. These are portable only in the sense that you can carry them from one side of the stage to the other or roll them if they have casters. They are very stable and with the sand bags, they will not be falling over unless you really go out of your way to try to knock it over. The same goes for the big gun strobes, the hot lights, various bit of grip equipment holding it all together and the rest. Things are taped down, locked down and safe. Many photographers would do well to take some notes of the set up of the gear, I know I did when I first started and I have invested more than a bit of “extra” equipment that just makes putting a shoot together a bit more enjoyable and safe for all concerned.

In the other images you can see some of the students from Brooks Institute that were visiting, the cameras of choice for the day and of course, the model getting prepped and having some shots taken.

To myself one of the most interesting things are how the lighting is set up. You can see the lights used, the scrims and/or diffusion used and how the stage is configured overall. There is alot to learn from these types of events. And when you understand that the four hours of social mixing, shooting and listening only costs 25 dollars, you can see how it is a real bargin.

I hope you enjoy this short visit to the backside of a photoshoot and I hope you enjoy the detail shots. So here are two of the final images from the day. So now you know both sides of the shoot, the prep and set up of the shoot and the final outcome.

Final Portrait

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Playing director on a shoot

One skill that any photographer of people needs to work on and constantly improve, is the ability to direct clients/models/subjects to be where you want them, how they need to look and generally for them to feel comfortable with you. After all, you are shoving a camera in their face and most normally people are not used to that sort of thing. Professional models are more used to it but even they only give you what you ask of them.

A few years ago I would have never put myself down as a “people person” or a photographer that enjoyed shooting portraits. My how things have changed over the years. I used to shoot anything except people and now I tend to shoot just people with other things on occasion. I just had a client give me what I consider to be one of the best compliments in a long time when she said I was “a very relaxed photographer and a great people person”. On this one shoot I had adults and a child to work with and I had a ball with them.

High Key Child

High Key Child

The relaxed photographer comment showed in the images. My clients were happy and really having fun with each other and part of this was I was gently directing them where and how to be. To really get good images, you need to connect with your client. Standing behind your camera and just shooting without any direction or encouragement is a recipe for a disaster of a shoot. This is true even for a professional model. They need to know what is expected just as much as a average joe client. Sometimes even more so.
In the case of my little client here, I had connected with her about her stuffed bunny and I had let her rummage through my collection of AA batteries. I took a few fast shots of her goofing and let her see the preview screen and after a bit of time, she was used to be me being there and taking pictures. When I goofed around with her, I got very natural smiles and great expressions. When the parent were sent the proofs, they were thrilled as you can imagine.

 

Along with the personal connection, you need to tell your subject how to move, pose or look. They WANT your direction, you are the EXPERT and if you have made the personal connection, they TRUST you. Along with direction, running feedback for the subject is most of the time a good thing. Especially for non-professionals who are not sure of themselves or if they are doing what you asked. This “patter” is one of the most important skills a photographer can have.

Another “skill” you must have is the ability to make it look like “you meant to do that”. Very few things unsettle a client more than the photographer wandering around mumbling to themselves, looking lost, fumbling with equipment or looking at the camera view screen and going “oh sh*t”. You really need to know what you are doing, how you are going to do it and when you are going to do it. Or at least act like you. There isa quote from a set of commercials with celebrities  saying “never let them see you sweat” and that is so true in photography. You need to, no, must project confidence in yourself and how you make images in order for the client to be comfortable and to trust you. Dont mistake arrogance for confidence, there is a difference. If you are arrogant, you come off as a jerk and with confidence, you are someone that they can trust.
Happy Family

So after an hour or so, I was able to shoot this image of my clients and have everybody relaxed and interaction at a very natural level. It shows in the image with the body language and how everyone is comfortable with each other in this moment.

These types of directing and interaction people skills are something you need to learn and to practice. Salesmen know this and use it all the time. Watch a good salesman at work with a customer, they make the customer comfortable and feel relaxed around them. As a photographer, having good people skills is just or even more important than having that new hot shot 200mm F.28 super portrait lens. If you clients can not relax around you, it will show in every single picture you take.

So relax a bit, loosen up and enjoy the time with your clients instead of viewing it as drudgery.

PS – a friend of mine had some really good thoughts on this also:

Thomas Churchwell “Do not let the escort take control of the shoot. The first 15 minutes will always be your worse pictures even if they are great. The Tension and anxiety will take about 15 minutes before the models stops her posing that she knows are winners and relax enough to be herself. If you act as though your not there to be impressed but to have a good time then you will get a more pliable model who will stop trying to impress you and start being your muse.”

Thomas makes a very good point that when you are the director, YOU are the director, not the escort, not the model, not the friend, YOU are. Your images will sink or swim by how well you do your job not just as a photographer but as a director.

 

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Recharging your creative juice

It happens to everyone and not just photographers. You just can not get the creative juices flowing, nothing jells, nothing looks fun, you just feel blah. Sometimes it comes from shooting the same thing over and over, other times it comes just from the endless days of trying to make a living. But everyone gets there now and then.

I was in a bit of a funk several days ago when I was invited to a local car show here in Orange County at the proverbial crack of dawn. “Maybe” was my response to the invite from my friend when he sent me the email telling me about the show. About the same time,  I read a blog post by Scott Borne who is a photographer who I have only recently heard of but have really “connected” to via his blog, photofocus,  and other articles.  This particular post was called “12 tips for car show photographers and a second post was about why fast glass matters was about shooting cars with wide apertures and why you needed to use something other than a wide angle lens.. He talked about  using cropping and strong lines to make art instead of snap shots. This kinda of clicked with me on several levels since I have been a car enthusiast for years. Car show? blog? hmm.. a way to get out of a creative funk? Possibly.

So I found myself getting up at 5AM to meet my friend at the Irvine Cars and Coffee meet and greet along with my Nikon D300 and my 17-55mm F2.8. It did not start off in a  very promising way or so I thought, the light sucked, the coffee was weak, I had more excuses than carter has pills. But, I stuck with it and starting to shoot. And it was hard, harder than I thought it would be. But as the morning wore on, I really started to get into a nice rhythm and feeling like I starting to get traction for some nice “keeper” shots.

Here are some of my results from breaking out of a creative funk with some help from a blog entry.

Like I said, getting this pictures was harder than I thought it would be. I really had to look at the subject very differently and shoot a bit differently that what I am used to shooting for the majority of the time. With the shallow DOF, I had to nail the focus on the money so I was using my spot focus mode. I paid very close attention to my histogram to make sure I was not blowing out the highlights at all, I needed all the information I could get since I wanted to have a very saturated look. Angles were everything and I made a point of getting all the way down on my butt, stomach or standing on something to get up then down. Anything to get away from the normal 5 foot high shooting position. I also went in very tight alot both in camera and in post on a couple of images. A tight crop can work wonders on art like this.

My lighting was very overcast which at first I was cursing under my breath, ok, maybe out loud some too, till I understood that the very flat light would help a lot in keeping the image’s contrast flat till I brought it up in post to exactly where I wanted it. It did mean I had to shoot with a relatively high ISO even with a F2.8 aperture. So noise reduction software was a much to clean up the images. High pass filtering was used to really get the images to “snap” and show off nice sharp lines. I used LR3 for the majority of my post work and CS4 for the final touch up and finishing.

In the end, I had alot of fun at the car show, I got some cool images and made a few new friends and managed to get out of my funk. I meet a couple of car owners who I gave a few images to to thank them for letting really get up close to shoot their cars. In both cases, the owners were intrigued by what they saw as very weird angles until I showed them the images on the camera. So not only was I able to get out of my funk, I managed to make a few business contacts too. This was a win -win day for me all the way around, I just had to embrace it.

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Who is covering your back?

Money
Image by AMagill via Flickr

A wedding is one of the events much like a shuttle launch, it’s not really a “do over” type of event. Once the GO button is pushed, you are pretty much committed to it one way or another. Oh, with enough money and effort, you can fake it well enough afterwards but you will not have the “magic” of the real event.

With that in mind, it blows me away that “professional” photographers will shoot a wedding without backup equipment OR people. I’ve had electronics fail at all times and sometimes, just because they bloody well decide to fail for no apparent reason other than to piss me off. Or, someone hits and knocks something out of my hands like a flash, a camera body hits something just right and now the shutter is jammed and so on. And you, the photographer, you can fail too. Bad food, getting sick, injured (had a friend got a spiked heel nearly punched through his foot once), twisting an angle while running to catch the bride and worse can be your woes. And no second shooter? That my friend, is a lawsuit that will happen.

I hear it all the time, ” I can only afford one camera”. Really? So you can afford being sued instead? If you can not afford backup gear, you have no business shooting weddings. At the minimum, you cannot afford the two hundred dollars to rent a 2nd body and lens? Then you really have no business do weddings. You need to come back to the business when you have a bit more cash and equipment. Having a 2nd body is a must have as is spare batteries, spare flash, spare flash cards and for myself, a second shooter. It’s a  hard cruel world out there and people are lawsuit happy enough without giving someone a gold plated excuse to sue you.

And brides, pay attention, if you do not ask the questions like “do you shoot with a second shooter” or “can I upgrade to a second shooter”, you get what you paid for.  A wedding shoot is very much a  partnership between the bride/groom and the photographer. The bride wants really nice pictures and the photographer wants and needs the help of the bride/groom to get them.

As a bride, you have a vested interest in how the photographer prepares to shoot your special day and you need to make sure that he/she takes the precautions that will cover most of the normal wedding day chaos. Somethings to think about and find your own comfort level about are:

  • Do you shoot on small or large capacity flash cards? There are two sides to this story, one is that large cards means fewer changes but more risk to losing images if the card is lost or damaged. Small cards mean less risk of losing it all but the photographer does need to be well versed in when to change the cards on the fly
  • Does the photographer use a second shooter as a matter of course or do you need to ask for it? For myself, I never shoot a wedding without one but some will unless you as the client make a point of asking for it (and pay for it) Without the second shooter, it’s almost a promise that some pictures will be missed. It’s hard to shoot the groom getting ready when you are shooting the bride getting ready just as example. Of course, if some bad happens like I mentioned early, the second shooter can be the hero of the day.
  • Does the photographer have some type of insurance such as with PPA (Professional Photographers of America) where if something bad does happen, things can be done to help make it right or at least better. I know of one photographer who had a card failure which held the bride and groom formals and the PPA insurance paid for a re-shoot of the formals. Not anyone’s “fault” but still, it was nice to get to reshoot the formals even if it’s not on the actual day.
  • Do you “connect” with the photographer? This is a blatantly obvious thing but funny how many folks just look at the price tag and go with that. A photographer that you connect with can really make some special magic happen or you can just get some average pictures from someone going through the motions.
  • Do you like the photographer’s style? again, a very obvious thing but again, many potential clients overlook this till they get their pictures up in the gallery and suddenly realize they hate the style. This is very important and very much goes hand in hand with the previous comment about connecting to the photographer. If you dont like the journalistic style, then it is very important that you understand this and fully understand the potential photographer’s style. If they shoot in the journalistic style, there will be problems by the end of the shoot, that is a promise. So pay attention to the photographer’s book (portfolio) and see what seems to be the dominate theme in their images.
  • The little things really end up mattering a lot when the dust settles. By the time the wedding is over and the honeymoon is a pleasent memory, not having images ready for Facebook or an online gallery or pre-sized images for email  will be a big deal. Trust me, I know this one 🙂 Having a DVD with several hundred images at 3,000 pixels each is a daunting task when you want to email some out to friends. A photographer should as a matter of course, offer up presized images for you or at least a selection of presized images. It is always the details that can tell you a lot about the potential photographer. Are they a “run and gun” where they shoot and leave you a DVD with the several hundred images or will they take the time to give you a DVD with a mix of images ready for Facebook, Flickr, email or whatever? This may or may not be important to you but it is important to know the answer up front and not after the event.
  • Now this last one is a bit touchy for alot of folks. Does the photographer use current technology? Now, before the hate mail starts let me define this a bit first. I’m not talking so much the camera since a camera is just a box with a hole in one end. What I am talking about is the overall image of the photographer. Is he/she using a five year old cell phone? Is he/she using Photoshop 3 while the rest of the world is using at least version 4 or now version 5? Has the photographer embraced a real workflow that uses some kind of image management software like Lightroom or Aperture? Why is all this techie stuff important? Because, photography or more precisely, image generation is a moving target in today’s world and the more current tools the photographer uses, the better chance you have to get really nice images assuming the photographer can take a good image. Good tools wont make a bad image good but it can certainly take a marginal image and make it very usable. This is why the better photographers are shooting with high Canon and Nikon gear instead of the low end camera bodies and lenses. This is why some of the best photographers and staff use the newest software  tools to be more productive and more creative in their work. This is why a good photographer can offer you as the customer, a wide assortment of products such as online galleries, specialty albums, custom picture packages and more without blinking an eye about it. The photographer who is shooting with lower quality gear, printing at Walmart/Costco and behind on their software can not compete in quality or selection of final goods. Your wedding is more than just a box of 5×7 prints from Walmart or it should be as it is one of the most special days of your life.
  • Finally, a odd thing for a client to think about since you  are mostly concerned about wedding images right now. Does the potential photographer shoot anything else? Or are they a one trick pony?  Some wedding photographers are very, very good at weddings and that is all they do but a photographer who has shot other styles of images can bring a wealth of knowledge to your wedding day ranging from artistic choices to overcoming technical challenges. Does the portfolio of the photographer have just weddings or do they show a well rounded photographer who can shoot portraits, shoot studio work, shoot lifestyle or other styles? In my eyes, a well rounded photographer will always win out over the one trick pony of a single style photographer in 95% of the time. To be sure you want to see a heavy selection of wedding shots but some others can add balance and show that the photographer is adaptable to multiple situations.

As you can see below, the image is NOT a typical bridal portrait and is not for everyone. But it IS my style and the final result was very well received. The image was taken in a conventional manner but processed in a newer set of software tools which lets me expand the creativity of an otherwise ordinary image. This is why you want to poke around a bit with the photographer to find out how they shoot, their workflow and just how do they expect to produce your wedding images.

River of Love Bride and Groom

River of Love


I have not even covered things like contracts, deposits and other important items. Not to worry, I will  in a later post cover some of these items and few I bet you did not think of.

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