Saturday, April 18, 2009

Wedding bell blues...

It's real easy to get the wedding bell blues as a wedding photographer.  They are hard work.  They are physically and mentally exhausting (I feel like I ran a 5K and did the SAT's after shooting a wedding).  It's easy to get burned out on weddings.  However, if you balance things just right (don't book too many weddings that they become a chore, but don't book too few that you feel rusty or out-of-practice shooting them), they can be a blast!  

One thing that really helps a wedding assignment is the subject matter.  Simply put, the people you are shooting can make a wedding fun or make it a disaster.  Wedding couples may be shopping you, but you should also shop them.  What do I mean?  Well, they meet with you and other photogs, trying to get a feel for your personality - and it's often just as important as pricing and package value.  

Just as they are shopping me, I am studying them, making sure they are compatible with my style of shooting and my personality.  Why bother booking someone who will just be unhappy with your style, and who will just make you miserable for eight hours straight?  

Anyway, I'm starting to ramble...  I really just planned to post a few pics from this recent wedding.  I was really happy with things, partly because I was so happy at the wedding.  The couple and their guests were so nice and fun to shoot.  It made shooting them real easy, because we all just seemed to work well together.  

I skimmed through the images and a few caught my eye as interesting.  I didn't go through them to pick perfect album shots or classic wedding images.  The bride and groom can do that when they return from their honeymoon.  No, I just decided to post a few random, fun, engaging images from the day.  They are in no particular order:

The above image was interesting to me.  I know the dancing dip shot is caught all the time.  I've captured quite a few good dips over the years.  I just thought something was fun about this one.

I always love the hugging and kissing shots.  I don't know what it is, but there's this pure emotion that explodes onto the film when it's captured just right.  There's a very short window of time to capture a hugging or kissing shot JUST right, so you have to be fast!  If you are a micro-second too early or too late, you miss the pinnacle of the emotion.

Again, a kissing shot.  I told you they get me.  The bride and groom kiss at every wedding, so it's not a unique moment in that respect.  However, the fact that the bride might've been 5'2" and the groom was at least in the mid 6' range...  well, it made the image a little more interesting.  He squeezed her tight and lifted her up off the ground as they kissed for the first time as husband and wife.

The above shot was totally spur of the moment.  This gentleman was taking a break from all the excitement.  He was resting his head in his hand and gently smiling as he watched the bride and groom enjoy the reception.  I always try to glance around the room for special little moments like this.  He looked up towards me right as I got him in focus, and I snapped.

The cake cutting shot...  They are having fun!  I think this image grabbed me, because I was fondly remembering those tasty cupcakes next to the groom (they were great).  The cake cutting shots are always filled with energy.  They can be the most exciting shots to take at a wedding.  They can also be the hardest.  When the bride and groom stand behind the average white wedding cake (this one happened to be green, instead), you basically have a large white object just waiting to throw off your flash and metering.  If you aren't careful, you'll end up with a blown out cake and a bride and groom that are under-exposed.  Not this time, though... they are just right!

As you can see, Aggies were everywhere.  This Texas A&M alumnus borrowed a few more rings from the other Aggie groomsmen to show his school spirit.  Sometimes these moments will pop up out of the blue, and you have to be ready for them.  On the technical side of things, I decided to play around with a little Photoshop post processing here.  I dulled the colors and adjusted the contrast to make the image seem more vintage.  I didn't want to go all out and start shifting the color, adding dust and scratches, and other techniques to make it seem retro.  I just wanted to add a touch of timelessness to the image with some minor tweaking.  I think too much post production nonsense can make an image feel fake and cheesy.  

Well, there you have it.  A few images that caught my eye while skimming through a recent wedding.  I wonder which images will wind up being the bride and groom's favorites?


Rainy day wedding...

I'm on my way out the door to shoot a wedding in Ft. Worth.  It's raining pretty good right now.  Hopefully the wet weather won't mess with the bride's big day...


Friday, April 17, 2009


I really enjoyed this blog post:  

It is short, but it is to-the-point.  It also reminds us of something we often forget - you don't need a special environment to capture amazing photos.  A bunch of flowers aren't going to make a huge difference, if you can't capture your subject's essence/soul/character.  Sometimes the best shots will come from a place where your subject feels most comfortable and natural.


With a little help...

I've helped out photogs in need.  If I was down in the photo pit and someone needed extra batteries or ear plugs, I'd give them some.  I've let younger photogs test out my L series lenses.  I've loaned equipment to photogs in emergencies.  I don't see any reason why I shouldn't help others.  It's just the right thing to do.  

Well, Karma must be real, because I was paid back for some of my good deeds the other day.  I had a shoot at DFW airport for one of my news wire clients.  It was a total last-minute assignment, so I had to rush out there and rush back.  

Normally, the airline PR people will help get you access and escort you all over the place, but they were in the middle of some important work.  They gave me free reign in their ticketing area, but couldn't escort me to get close-up airplane shots.  It was suggested to use the public area, just outside of the airport.  I think it's called Founders Park?  

Anyway, I wasn't REALLY equipped to get great shots from a distant location - my biggest lens is a 70-200 2.8L and my extender sucks too much to really use (it is just too soft and blurry compared to simply cropping and upping the file size).  

So, I go out there anyway, because I have to shoot SOMETHING...  When I arrive, I see a guy with a massive lens.  I've used a lot of the big boys before - the 300 2.8L, the 400L, the 600L - and they are nice lenses, but massively expensive.  Well, this guy had the 800mm L series Canon lens, and it was nice!  

We get to talking, and it turns out that he makes a living off of aviation photography.  He's been doing it a long time and I'd have to say he is one of THE guys to go to for aviation pics.  His name is Jim Wilson, and you can see his website here:  

Anyway, long story short, he let me borrow his 800mm lens for a minute.  It really helped me get some better stuff.  I could only use it for a minute or two at most, because I had to run back to the studio on tight deadline, but it would've been nice to play with it a bit longer.  

Jim sent me a pic he took from the other day, and I must say it is nicer than what I got.  I could comfort myself by saying it's due to the fact that he had a while to sit and shoot and I had to snap and run.  However, I think he would've left with the winning shot, even if I had all day to sit and snap away...  Here's the image he sent me:  

Just for comparison, here is an out take from my images  (due to my contract with this specific news company, I can't share the best images I sent them, only my out takes... sorry):

As you can see, his shot is much nicer.  But you'd expect that from a guy who is one of the top aviation shooters in Texas.  I'd be more surprised if my stuff was better than his.  I only shoot aviation stuff a couple times a year for news stories - not every day like Jim.  

So, the point of this story is that Karma may just provide for you in your time of need, assuming you reciprocate.  I look at it like a bank account in a way.  Good luck and favors can only be withdrawn if you are making regular deposits.  I always try to help my fellow photogs, and I've been lucky they return the favors.


New Pocket Wizard goodies...

I'm totally liking the potential this new Pocket Wizard transmitter/receiver has:  

I can definitely see some very cool potential in this little thing!  Plus, it will work with your current Pocket Wizard pieces, so its even that much more versatile!  Now, if they were only giving them away free...


Online workshop...

I'm not huge on doing these online workshops, but the print making one here sounds pretty tempting:   

Besides, it says it is free, so the only thing wasted is time.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I've always enjoyed shooting clouds.  They are so amazing, so unique.  Every time you look up, there's something new and different.  I was leaving a shoot this evening and looked up to see this:  

Since I was just finishing up a photo shoot, I had my camera gear at hand.  I'm glad I did, otherwise I would've missed this image...


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Joyce Tenneson in Dallas...

Did you know that Joyce Tenneson was going to be in Dallas this week?  I just found out, thanks to and Pegasus News reporting it:  

Fannin Performance Hall (Richland College)
April 16, 7p.m.
Joyce Tenneson lecture, image presentation, and book signing

Joyce is a well-known photographer and author of thirteen books.  According to the Pegasus News blurb, she was voted as "one of the ten most influential women photographers in the history of photography".  I'd go if I didn't already have a shoot scheduled at that time.  If you aren't working, you should attend.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Got the fever?!?

I've done lots of DIY projects in the past, making camera parts out of all sorts of stuff.  I used to do it a lot during my college days, when I had more time and less money.  This guy has the same spirit of using trash and scraps to make something useful - a Pringles can was turned into a lens extension tube!  

I've been meaning to make a homemade tilt/shift lens for my slr's, but never got around to trying it.  Maybe I'll get around to the project soon.  That link has inspired me...


Easter egg hunt...

Those pictures I posted in a previous blog, showing me doing some video reporting at an easter egg hunt...  This is the story I was covering:  

Since I am still pretty new to the whole video thing, I'd love to get some comments/feedback from you all.  I think I'm doing pretty good.  I could use a bit more training in Final Cut Pro and some more/better video equipment, but that all will come with time, practice, more assignments, more money... you know.


Yet another...

I found yet another photographer online (this one is based out of Atlanta) that has some nice work and an interesting blog:  

He has several nice shots worth looking at and a pretty nice/informative blog.  He could stand to edit out a few blah pics, but overall, his portfolio looks very nice.  Check him out.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Me, in action...

A friend sent these images to me.  She was sent them by a friend who was at an event I was assigned to do a video story on.  I forget the original photographer's name, but I'll try to find it and attach it to these images.  She deserves proper credit, even if the subject matter is something boring like me...  


Anyway, now you can see me in action - looking all goofy.



Why is invoicing clients so horrible?  I try my best to put it off until I have to.  I procrastinate and look for ways to postpone it (like writing blogs, instead).  You'd think it would be the very first thing that I wanted to do.  

When you are billing clients hundreds or thousands (or occasionally for me, tens of thousands) of dollars, you'd think the invoice would be a celebrated and joyous event.  Well, there is a certain amount of pride that comes with seeing a large dollar amount attached to your hard work (it's much better than doing a lot of work and being unpaid and unappreciated), but it is still office work.  

Maybe because I'm an artist at heart, or maybe everyone hates this sort of clerical stuff...  I don't know.  Either way, I absolutely hate having to create and send invoices.  It is so boring.  That's the life of a freelance photographer, though.  25% fun art stuff and 75% boring business/office stuff.  Get used to it, if you want to be in the business.


Another blog...

It's interesting what all you find on the net for inspiration.  I spotted this blog and liked a few of the shots on it:  

Her style is much different than mine, but that doesn't mean I can't get inspired from some of her work.  Maybe you'll look over it and see a few things that catch your eye, too?  It's always good to look at other people's work and draw inspiration and ideas from it.  I wouldn't suggest trying to copy it, but you can take little tidbits from everywhere/anywhere in the world and incorporate it into your own personal style...


Photo Contest...

This contest is run by a chapter of the ASMP, so it is legit.  It also means you'll probably be up against some pretty stiff competition.  Only enter your best work:  


Pinhole photography...

There have been a lot of photographers attempt the art of pinhole photography.  I spent an entire semester in an independent studies photography class focused on pinhole photos during college.  It is a very challenging and very rewarding art form.  

It's been years and years since I pulled out any of my homemade pinhole cameras (I built them from old scraps of wood, tin cans, or any other light tight object I could find).  I was reading the Sunday edition (yes, it's Monday already...  I fell a day behind in the newspaper, because I was really busy yesterday) of the Dallas Morning News and noticed a fun story in the Guide Sunday section.  

The story was about one of the DMN photogs - G.J. McCarthy - titled "In Trash, Beauty".  In the ten years I've been contracted to shoot for them, I've seen a lot of the photographers up there try some pretty fun and creative photo essays.  I think this is the first pinhole essay, though.  

There is a video link on their website, if you missed the printed story.  It shows a few pinhole pictures and has an interview:  


Current issue...

I'm pretty happy with the current issue of Quick.  I think my photo of Denton, TX musician Robert Gomez looks pretty darn good.  A great cover is not just a great photo.  It takes the photo, the initial idea/plan, the layout and design, and a good editor to make sure the vision/idea actually translates well in the final product.  

I've seen plenty of publications get things "kind of right" or "not so right", because they messed up in the planning stage, photo, layout, or final edit stages.  It really takes a lot of effort to make something look effortless...

The current issue is filled with my photos, but I'm not going to copy and paste ten pages worth of my images.  You'll just need to pick up a copy around town or download it at to see everything.  I will share this page, though:  

Why this one?  Well, I just think it's interesting when a photographer photographs another photographer.  I think I captured Scotty Mankoff's spirit pretty well.  His interview is a pretty fun read, as well.  The quantity of pictures that he's taken over the last couple years is mind-boggling, so I wanted to show him buried in his photos - literally!


Canon tutorials...

I was talking with the canon rep recently, and he suggested that I visit here for some cool videos and tutorials on the new gear:  

It looks like they have some fun info on their stuff and plenty of tips and tricks.  You should check it out, too.  It's funny, but I actually know a couple of the guys giving the tutorials.  I guess if you are in the business long enough, you get to know some pretty talented people...


Sunday, April 12, 2009

I was in Paris, TX today and saw this:

In case you didn't already know, I've been working on a religious theme project for the last twelve to fourteen years now.  Most of it is religious graffiti or messages that a single person has created.  However, a few of the subjects are big murals, billboards, or other large pieces like this one.  

I eventually plan to show it in a gallery, though I'm still feeling like I'm a year or two away from doing that (besides, I just had that big show last fall).  I think I'll just "know" when the work is ready for a formal show, hopefully.  I'm not getting the feeling just yet.  Too bad, because I'm anxious to show it.  I've already got a ton of very interesting, moving pieces...