On location photoshoot lighting!!

This was one of the looks we did, when I was in Atlanta shooting with Angela. One of her outfits, when we were sorting them for the shoot, just screamed parking garage for some reason.  So we found a part of the parking garage near her building that had some empty spots and where people wouldn’t bother us. And off we went! Now I will explain the setup, may sound cumbersome for an on location setup but it took me 15 minutes to set it all up by myself. The result was worth it, and we got nice high contrast lighting with good spill control, and the lighting was directional, as opposed to on camera flashes. There was no light in the garage, except some overhead florescent lights, with a really cold color temperature….but the use of strobes or flashes would overpower any color cast that could be caused by any overheads lights.

The main / key light was an Alien Bee 800 and a medium softbox, feathered and not direct. It was about 6 feet away from her to her left, with the center of the softbox about even with the top of her head, very little downward angle. She was about 15 feet away from the wall where the blue color gel was feathering it. I placed it slightly further away from the subject area, with the gel covered pan reflector and that strobe right up against the wall. When working with gels, you have to be careful of spill. The distance between it and the subject area eliminated the possibility of getting color spill from the gel. If working in a tighter space, the use of a flag may be necessary. To the subject’s right, from about a 45 degree angle behind her, I used a 20 degree grid, from a c stand up about 10 feet high, aiming down as the rim light to the subject area, about 10 feet of distance between it and Angela. This was to create some contrast and brush light on her, where there would have otherwise been light falloff areas. It was a matter of metering and positioning, especially when working with grids and gels, positioning may take some playing with to get it in the right spot. Oh yea….almost forgot. I used a Pocket Wizard receiver on the key light and the background light with the gel, to eliminate syncing issues, the background light was able to trigger the rim light, so a third receiver wasn’t needed. There was no power in the garage, so I used my new Vagabond Mini on the Key light and the background light, and my old vagabond II for the rim light. This way i didn’t have to run extension cords everywhere.  Hope this helps!

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Oh, what to do when this happens?

I combine my errands to save fuel. Recently I was out running a couple errands in the area where my gym is, two birds, one stone, and after a workout, I stopped at the Chinese restaurant across the street. It was getting kindof late, I was a little tired and hungry and just did not feel like taking the time to cook that night. I saw these 2 people near the restaurant’s entrance, one was a guy maybe early 20’s and the other, honestly wasn’t sure if it was a guy or a girl, about same age LOL. They asked me if I had any money to spare because they were hungry and needed something to eat. They were polite and humble, yet they usually are. And you never know if they are well meaning people who had hard luck and really are hungry, or if they are just panhandlers looking for a crack rock or a bottle of whiskey. I just don’t like being approached by random people because you never know their intent. I have worked in some bad areas and have heard every story in the book….but again, some may be legit. I just told them, sorry I do not have cash on me but I wished them luck and went on. Which I really don’t ever carry cash, I use debit card for everything pretty much, so I was telling them the truth.

My first instinct as a business owner, that this is not good for business, having their customers approached by panhandlers. So I told the manager that there were 2 people outside that say they are hungry and are asking for money, and it may prevent some customers from entering the restaurant. Looked like he asked them to leave the premises and they did. One way to tell if they were legit, was to invite them in and offer to cover their dinner tab, since it was a buffet and maybe would have been 25 dollars. If they accepted the offer, I’d know they are for real, but if not, I’d quickly know they were looking for their next fix. I don’t believe in supporting peoples’ laziness or habits, when I work for my money…..but also I don’t mind giving the hungry something to eat. Now I kindof wish I did that, not that I have 25 dollars to burn, now especially, but if they were hungry, and I helped feed them, it’s just good karma and it would help them out. Maybe the fact that I thought about this afterwards is symbolic of something, just not sure what, but I hope they got the help they needed, if it was food. Next time that happens, and they say specifically they need food, I’ll offer them food, now that I think about it, I think I should have done that with them.

Shoot with long time muse, awesome time!

I have known Angela for 7 years now, and have done many photoshoots with her. Both for artistic and commercial purposes. I’ve always appreciated her friendship, as well as her dedication to everything she does. What separates a muse from a model, is the muse and photographer is a rare combination, where the 2 collaborate, for mutual benefit and certain things are just understood about their arrangement that don’t even need to be discussed, it either falls into place or it isn’t there. To be a muse requires working together on multiple projects and helping each others’ conceptual visions and image overall. This arrangement means we respect each others’ time, and not cancel or waste the other’s time, and comfort / respect boundaries are automatically in place. I have that with Angela. She puts equal effort into every shoot we have done together, even though we have always lived 2-4 hours apart. There have been times where we have shot fairly frequently and also where lapses of 2 years have gone by,  and we didn’t miss a step when we got back on set together. That’s not something to take lightly 🙂

 

She has lived in Atlanta for a few years and has changed her look considerably. Totally different hair and new tattoos…..so she wanted to showcase her new look and get it all captured in detail. And do a shoot with some edge and attitude, as we have always been able to produce together…so I went to Atlanta and shot with her in her apartment, a parking garage and a breezeway, all on a pretty cold day mind you. LOL. So outdoor time was kept to a minimum. I used all natural light with a reflector with these, with nice shallow depth of field. After our shoot, a group of us went out to a Midtown Atlanta club, Vanquish, which was a lot of fun. Yup, I needed that. Satisfying my creative outlet helps me in all I do, and she is also inspired by doing our photoshoots. Angela always brings it, and I am so thankful for our friendship and great working relationship. New adventures are always fun!

Turning point of every booking

As we move from engagement session, to booking and shooting season, the dynamic changes. The relationship between vendor and client changes as we move from talk to action. This is my favorite part of the process. Initially it’s about presentation, and showing the customer why I am the right photographer for the job, and showing them my work, print presentation, albums, and help them structure their package. I would hope that if they book me as their wedding photographer, they feel confident in their decision. This is why the brides where price is their only concern, let them book any of the others on Craigslist who are cheap, and unqualified to do so. It produces a much better result when they book me so I am the one telling their story about their lives and their wedding. Once the retainer and paperwork is over, they need to remain confident in their decision, based on the business reputation and stability.

As the time to “put up or shut up” approaches, whether actively planning with my clients, doing their engagement session, etc. is to me, where the biggest thrill begins. That is one reason I love doing a couples’ engagement photos before the wedding…..we all have a chance to work together and learn each others’ personalities etc. and I have the chance to exceed their expectations by delivering the goods, before the big day. Sure, it’s a lot of pressure, and a lot riding on it….but I thrive on it. It’s my shot to drive home in my clients’ minds that they hired the right photographer who can get the job done, as well or better than they expected. This also increases the couples’ excitement for the capture of their wedding day! I just think it changes everything when after months of planning, and talk, the camera comes out of the bag for the client.

Time for people to learn Dropbox :)

I realize not every person has FTP, file transfer protocol, which is used to transfer / share files from user to user, in large or small quantity, any format. The standard for delivering files / images, whether to a client or a model,etc. has been burning to a disc and sending by mail since digital media became the norm. In more recent years, file sharing websites like www.yousendit.com and www.dropbox.com have surfaced, and become quite popular. They are to share high resolution files with other users, where email is not a sufficient space option, as many email services have file size limits that most modern day digital cameras’ high resolution files exceed. Yousendit is nice, and it’s easy. However, if you are a free user, you can send one zip or photo at a time, and there is a 7 day expiration on the download link the person receives that you send it to. This is why I am favoring Dropbox more lately. It’s free, and as you share it with others more, and others start their account after you share yours with them, you get more space added to your account.

 

This would not be a feasible option for delivering large amounts of photos, like a wedding photographer provides the client from the wedding. But for a portrait or engagement session, model photoshoot, etc. where select photos are provided, it only makes sense to use this option as opposed to being stuck in 1998 and mailing CD’s. Of course the disc does have one advantage, the archival value. Again, never trust any one form of media for backing up important files. Backup hard drives and discs are good, redundancy is good. There is no excuse for trusting one computer as the only source of keeping important photos and documents. How Dropbox works, is I can start a folder and title it, then invite anyone I like, even multiple people but entering their email address in the share folder option box. Only those people have access to the folder, and everyone invited can download the files they want, and they are not compressed or downsized in this process of uploading them to Dropbox. Plus it’s instant. The people who have used it love it, I honestly don’t understand the problem, why some haven’t tried it when invited to a folder through Dropbox. Anyone who can do apps on a phone or use a computer somewhat competently can accomplish this. It’s a very easy, and time efficient way of sharing files, I encourage you to give it a try.

Introducing Clay and Tiffany!

I have had the pleasure of meeting this very nice young couple a few months ago when they booked me to photograph their April wedding. Very recently I met up with them in their hometown of Clarksville, TN. to shoot their engagement photos. Americana at it’s finest….Tiffany is an accountant specializing in tax preparation, and Clay is active duty military, stationed at Fort Campbell. They met, and had their first date at Riverwalk Park, on the Cumberland River, right in Clarksville. They wanted to keep it simple for their engagement session, one casual wardrobe selection that represented them on any random given day…..and they thought, hey, what better place to do our engagement photos than where our first date was? I couldn’t agree more.

 

I wanted to capture the couple with a journalistic feel, the whole mood as in their natural lives, talking and interacting, and displaying their love for one another. I love these kind of photoshoots because of how connected the photo subjects are, makes it very telling about how well connected they are in real life. The way they walk together holding hands and talking / laughing, without a care in the world and the breeze blowing / sun shining is part of that candid mood I wanted to capture. As well as them sitting and talking, kissing, watching the river and enjoying the sun, makes time stand still. I hope they enjoy these photos for a lifetime, I am certainly pleased with them. Very soon I will be shooting their wedding. The couple is to wed in April, at The Cumberland Room in Clarksville, a combination of indoor and outdoor. I look forward to capturing their wedding and I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with, and get to know this very nice couple, congratulations guys!!

 

Number of wedding guests / cost of coverage?

So, what’s one got to do with the other? Lots of brides planning their own wedding often want to know this. The only dumb question is one not asked 🙂 I have had several inquiries about my basic starter wedding photography package, which is meant for small one location weddings, with maybe 30-50 guests. Ceremony, a few setups with bride and groom, wedding party and immediate family….and maybe some limited reception coverage, maybe….depends on the group and bride and groom photos, and length of ceremony. But that package suits the needs of some clients….and I have captured some sweet and intimate moments at those small weddings, so they are nice to do sometimes. But that small package is not designed for weddings with multiple locations or many guests. The logistics just don’t work out for that time block.

 

Number of guests does affect the cost of most wedding vendors, whether photographers, caterers, venue rates, etc. When the part of the discussion comes around about their wedding, and giving them the proper price quote and which package fits their needs best, there is sometimes surprise when they tell me they have 150 guests and they are interested in my starter package. If all they want are ceremony and some bride and groom and family photos, and no reception coverage, it would work out fine. But to cover a reception with that many guests takes a good 2 hours by itself. Between the different events and capturing the candid interactions of the guests, that takes time…..and I try to get everybody I can. These are people who are important to the bride and groom, and these are the photos they really enjoy seeing. Natural element of social interaction, hence my journalistic approach. Plus, life is short. Grandparents and guests unfortunately can pass on in the future…..and couples are always so thankful to have those photos.

 

I understand these are tough times. They are for all of us. But you have to think what is worth cutting corners on and what isn’t. A perfect example is my farm wedding. They really didn’t know the cost involved originally but they knew exactly the story they wanted told through the photos. They didn’t have money to burn but also didn’t want to short change themselves….and wanted to make the people they loved part of the story. That’s why wedding clients hire me, to tell a story. Too much abbreviating can water down the story. A wedding is a once in a lifetime event, and certain things you can’t do over again. I never advise going into large amounts of debt or overextending yourself, but to have a clear idea of your expectations and needs going into it. What lasts and what memory fades. When going through the expense of hiring a wedding photographer, it’s better to sacrifice some 6 dollar cups of coffee a few days out of the week, and after a period of time, you have the money for ample coverage. Definitely a lot to consider when planning your guest list, and how that affects other expenses and planning aspects of your wedding. I hope this helps.