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"wedding"

The ever increasing value of photography

September 10, 2010 | By | No Comments

I just received news from a bride whose wedding I recently photographed that her father just passed away. In sending my condolences, she shared with me that “… Steve, I must tell you, you captured some of the best moments I have with my father on film. I’m forever grateful to you for that.”

When I tell people that I really love what I do, because I am capturing moments that only become more meaningful and valuable over time, I really mean it.

May your dad rest in Peace Shannon.

#9. Move Around.

June 16, 2010 | By | No Comments

Move Around. Crouch and look up. Stand on a ladder & look down. Put your subjects above you. Put them below you. Get real close. Provide your viewers a look, an angle, different than the one they see in everyday life.

Look around at a wedding. 99% of the people with cameras are either standing or sitting, taking their photo with the same view one sees by just standing there.

Move around and suddenly your photos look different, you’re *making* photos.

#8. Shoot Into the Sun.

June 16, 2010 | By | No Comments

If you don’t have off-camera strobes or don’t know how to use them [see #4], turn your subjects’ backs to the sun, shoot in manual mode and expose for your subjects’ faces. Your photos will immediately be better than any point-and-shoot civilian who tries this. Their photos will be dark and underexposed.

Turn your subjects’ backs to the sun.

#5. Get Closer. Get Further Away.

June 16, 2010 | By | No Comments

Seems everybody’s got a camera at weddings nowadays.

One way to make your pictures look different than everybody else’s is to get up real close, and to pull way back.

Use a long lens (200mm) to get in real close.

Get close with a long lens, or by walking right into the action (not advised during the ceremony!) You’ll have captured the feelings of the moment, and your brides will be forever grateful when she looks at your photos.

Get far away - see the moment differently than everyone else.

Use a wide angle lens (like 17mm) to get far away.

Step Outside of the Action. Capture the Big Picture. Get far away to take in the big picture, the cityscape, the landscape, the drive into town, the outside of the reception hall, the whole room.

#4. Invest In Yourself. Take Workshops.

June 16, 2010 | By | No Comments

Invest in Yourself. Take Workshops. All clichés aside, you’re worth it! If the workshop is good, and you put that learning into practice, then you’ll quickly earn back its cost with your next several shoots. If you don’t have $1,000 or $500 to go sit at the feet of someone you consider a master, then you’re not trying hard enough, and you’re not serious about becoming a better photographer. Sell your couch. Sell your TV. Have a yard sale.

If you don’t take workshops because you think you have nothing to learn then you have bigger problems 😉 and you may want to consult a member of the psychology profession 😉 Please note, that last comment is not directed at Joe McNally or his peers 😉

Following are some of the workshops I’ve taken that have moved my photography forward:

  1. Doug Merriam, Studio Lighting, The Santa Fe Workshops
  2. Joe McNally, Location Lighting with Small Flash, The Santa Fe Workshops
  3. Matthew Jordan Smith, Glamour Portraits, The Santa Fe Workshop
  4. Denis Reggie, 3 Day Wedding Conclave, Atlanta, GA
  5. Nate Kaiser, Shoot Shop, Oceanside, CA

#1. Shoot Ordinary People.

June 15, 2010 | By | No Comments

When starting out in portrait photography, I shot the best looking people I could find, models and aspiring models and other members of that human minority who enjoy being in front of a lens.

It took me a while to realize that my beautiful models were carrying my bad photography.

Models not only look great just standing there, they usually know how to pose themselves and bend this and that without direction.

If you’re like most photographers who shoot weddings and portraits and high school seniors etc., the vast majority of your income will come from photographing normal people. Regular people have no idea how to pose themselves, and about 95% of people are just not comfortable in front of a lens. As a working photographer, it will be your job to get regular people comfortable in front of your lens. It will be your job to bend and pose them in the most flattering ways.

I can hear the purists now saying “well I don’t pose anybody – I’m a pure photo journalist, and I only capture what’s actually happening.” Here’s a bonus inside secret about earning a living as a photographer. People buy the photos in which they look the best. With zero exceptions, the brides who have hired me who tell me that they only care about photojournalism (pj) buy and ooh and ahh and share and make their avatar POSED DRAMATICALLY LIT PORTRAITS.I love pj and I do a great job of it. But, if you want to make your living selling your photography, you must learn how to bend and pose people to look their best.

Better to shoot average, awkward people as you strive to improve your lighting, composition, story-telling, scouting, banter, post-processing. Then when you get a photo that you and everyone else loves, the love you’re feeling is about your photo, and not your model.