Archive for August, 2010

Article written by Scott Bourne

It’s easy for me to write photo tips. I’ve done it pretty much every day since November 1, 1998 when I published the first edition of Photofocus online. But it’s harder when I constrain myself and don’t talk gear or technique. This is the meaty stuff that actually makes you think. Some of my audience don’t like these tips as much because they require you to stop and invest your soul into a photo. It’s much easier to hope for a magic button to press to get a great shot. Well sorry, this isn’t a magic button kind of post – so get your thinking caps on!

Tip #1. Aim for quality over quantity. What if you limited yourself on your next outing to just one photograph? You couldn’t shoot more than one subject. You couldn’t shoot with more than one lens or in one location. If you did that, you’d be photographing to make a point – to tell a story. Try to FEEL your next photograph. Limit yourself. Think about it. Plan it. Work hard to research where and when you’ll make that image. Get to know your subject. In this scenario, you literally only get one shot.

Tip #2. Keep a notebook handy at all times. I love to keep a little Moleskine Notebookwith me most of the time so that I can write down notes about things that visually inspire me. Whenever I get into a rut, I start paging through my notes to see if I can find something that shakes some fruit out of the tree. A more modern-day equivalent would be an audio recording device such as the voice recorder on an iPhone. I do think however that there is some additional value in being forced to write something down. It sticks better.

Tip #3. Start teaching. No matter where you are in your photographic journey, you know at least one more thing than someone else does about photography. Find someone who you can help and go do it. I spend more time teaching these days than shooting, yet, I am convinced my work is actually improving. One of the reasons is that the old adage is true – if you really want to learn how to do something, agree to teach it.

Tip #4 Shoot for yourself. No, I mean really shoot for yourself. Think of a photo project you’ve always wanted to do. Only this time, think of it as a private project. YOU are the audience. You have to make a pact with yourself. You will NEVER, EVER show the images from this project to ANYONE. In fact, you will delete the images once the project is over – all except for one which you will use as a reminder that shooting from the heart makes the best photograph.

Tip #5 Avoid cliches. Think about the current “trends” in photography. How many times will I be forced to look at a beautiful model standing in the lake with her head just above water at sunset – lit in “strobist” fashion? I see hundreds of these shots. Joe McNally really made this concept popular by putting this shot on the cover of one of his great books. But you going out to duplicate that shot isn’t really you shooting. It’s you imitating. Don’t get me wrong, there’s value there. You can learn how it was done. But what I really hope you can do is find your true self in your next big image. You don’t have to concentrate on breaking the rules or being gaudy for shock value (Thank you Lady GaGa) – but try to focus on what you really want to say with your camera. Do you want to make images that last? Do you want to make images that really stand the test of time? Then be yourself. Shoot for yourself. Shoot what your heart wants you to shoot. Don’t just try to be cool for being cool’s sake. Be true.

The tip of the week is provided by John Mireles who is an amazing photographer.  I was prompted to post this after hearing a photographer talk smack about a really great videographer.  I have personally worked with a bunch of great videographers, and I feel uncomfortable with the attitude that some photographers have about being more important than the videographer.  Can’t we all just get along?  It will make both of our jobs much easier and a whole lot more fun for everyone involved. Let’s face it, the end goal for both of us is to give our clients a great product.  Let’s move our egos aside and do just that by working together! Oh and in case you are wondering?  My all time favorite videographer in Utah is Nathan Pickett Films.  He rocks…his work rocks…and he doesn’t think he is cooler than me! Cheers!-Andrea

Avoiding Videographer Hassles-John Mireles

Is there a photographer out there who hasn’t had a problem with a videographer running amok at a wedding? Any photographer who’s been in this business for more than a day no doubt has a horror story or two about a video crew getting in every shot or overpowering the romantic reception lighting with a WWII searchlight.

Not only can the video crew ruin a great shot, it’s stressful dealing with uncooperative or even hostile vendors while you’re trying to do your job and enjoy yourself. I’ve actually had videographers physically threaten me on two separate occasions. (Yikes!) Not fun!

Unfortunately, dealing with videographers is not getting any easier. As more videographers give up their old video cams and adopt the DSLR as their shooting platform, the style and way they’re working is changed. Increasingly, videographers are acting as cinematographers seeking to create a stylized movie rather than act as more passive observers as they did in the past.

The downside for photographers is that, more than ever, videographers seek to get in close – which means in your frame – for the shot to take advantage of their new capabilities. Although that shallow depth of field looks great, it also means that more shots will be out of focus so now the videographer needs a second shooter with a wider lens to make sure nothing is missed. So now you not only have more people around, they’re getting in closer too – which means more shots ruined. Sound familiar?

All is not lost however. There’s a lot you can do to make sure that things go right. Here are my suggestions for a wedding day devoid of vendor fisticuffs.

So as You Sow…
If you act thoughtlessly and inconsiderately towards the video crew, you’re going to get the same treatment in return. Be considerate to the needs of the people working alongside you. Be aware of the placement of the video crew so that you don’t needlessly block their shots. Know that the video crew needs continuous and unobstructed views of the vows, readings, and toasts. Be especially aware of your positioning during these key moments.

Never once have I heard a photographer begin their videographer rant with “I was a complete inconsiderate jerk” yet I’ll bet there are plenty of knucklehead photographer horror stories making the rounds among videographers. The more aware you are of how your actions impact those around you, the better relationships you’ll have with everyone you’re working with.

The Best Defense if a Good Offense
The best way to deal with a problem is to make sure it never has the opportunity to occur. Instead of just leaving it to the client to hire some nightmare video company, make it a point to recommend a company that you like and work well with. Clients generally hire a photographer long before they hire a videographer so use that to your advantage.

Before recommending a videography company, take a look at their finished work to see if it meets your standards. Then promote that company exclusively to all of your clients. You’ll find that when you are the referral for the job, the videographer is going to take very good care of you and make sure to not step on your toes.

One word of advice, be sure to pick a videographer with competitive rates. Any money that a client spends on the videographer is money that may not get spent on photography. Sure, you may want to refer the super-high-end guy, but that stack of money to book him is a stack that may get taken away from your album upgrade or parent albums.

Set the Ground Rules
You’ll notice that a common theme with much of my advice is to avoid problems before they occur. In that vein, bring up the potential for “challenges” with the bride and groom before the wedding. Discuss with the client the potential issues that may occur and how it can affect not only the photos you’ll deliver, but can negatively affect their experience on the wedding day.

I explain how videographers are becoming ever more intrusive, that there is the potential for shots to be ruined and it’s frustrating to have to compete for the best angle. The main thing I like to ask is, “What is more important to you? The video or the photography?” If it’s the photography, then I ask if I have permission to act as air traffic control on the wedding day.

The key is that I want the clients to be aware of the potential issues and have them on my side if/when they do arise. Usually, the photography is far more important to the client, (a fact that is reflected in their budget,) so they don’t want the video guy screwing up my work. If I have the client on my side, I can then be more authoritative in my directions to the videographer.

Get on the Same Page
All too often the photographer and videographer will warily eye each other at the wedding without ever getting to know each other. Big mistake! Instead, I suggest that before the two teams start shooting on the wedding day, you make it a point to introduce yourself and make a plan for the day. Opening up communication and establishing rapport makes it much easier for you to avoid and correct problems.

In this little introductory meeting, I like to ask questions about how the video team operates. What lights they use. Where they are going to set up during the ceremony. If there are specific shots they want. How they handle prep and formals etc. I ask if there’s anything they need from me. Again, the idea is to get the communication going and eliminate surprises.

I like to keep the meeting light and friendly. I don’t proclaim myself to be the boss-man, but I do make it be known that I won’t tolerate being stepped on or over. There’s a fine line between arrogance and confidence; I try to keep it on the side of the latter so as to not make enemies.

One Person Rule
Everybody wants to be in with the bride when she’s getting ready and other special moments. No surprise there. But when you have the photographer and her assistant plus a videographer and his assistants, you end up with a frustrating cluster mess and everyone in each other’s shots. Plus, it kills the moment.

To deal with this, I’ve adopted the “one-person per team” rule, which means that only one photographer and one videographer are allowed in the room while the bride is getting ready. I recommend getting the bride’s okay on this when you talk to her in advance and then getting everyone’s buy-in during the pre-shoot meeting with the videographer.

If the video team has a problem with this, you can say that you’ve discussed this with the bride and groom so any change has to be agreed to by them.

Work as a Team
Instead of trying to fight each other, think of how you can work together to get better results for the both of you. During the first dance, I’ll sometimes offer to have my assistant hold the video light for the videographer so that we both can use it off-axis.

I used to get frustrated when a videographer would try to step in and shoot formals. Now, I welcome it. I let the videographer know that they’re welcome to shoot formals at any point. I use that as an excuse to second shoot and get angles that I might not ordinarily. It’s a welcome break when someone else is doing the directing and it allows me to think of new and different ideas for my shots.

Once you start working collaboratively, the mood changes, everyone has a better time and the end product is better too.

Be Prepared
The bride and groom are seconds from cutting the cake and you’re all set. There’s beautiful rim lighting coming from above and gentle ambient lighting bouncing in from the sides. It’s a gorgeous moment until… the video guy turns on his monster video light and blasts the scene with more light than a nuclear explosion.

Sometimes there’s no substitute for being prepared. Have a secondary setting on your camera set for automatic mode so that you can quickly switch to it. Have another camera with a flash so you can overpower whatever the video guy throws at you.

Better yet, ask beforehand how the video guy intends to cover the a given event so you’re not surprised at the last second. Remember, the difference between the newbie and the experienced photographer is that the latter is always thinking two steps ahead and not just reacting at the last second.

If All Else Fails
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you’ve still got the videographer in everyone’s face or setting up in the middle of the aisle during the ceremony. What most photographers do is ignore it, bitch about it afterward then ask what they can write into their contract to prevent it from happening again. I’m sorry but that’s the wrong approach.

The solution is to firmly but nicely, let the videographer know that he’s blocking your shot and getting in your way. If you’ve got buy-in from the bride, you know that your work is more important the video so you can more confidently direct the videographer. (On the other hand, if the video is more important, then it’s you that needs to work around the videographer. At least you know where you stand.)

If the video guy is creeping into every shot, photograph him. I realize that the tendency is to crop him out – and you should for some of the shots, but also keep him in since he’s part of the day. If nothing else, you can use these images as part of a friendly notice you send to your clients about the hazards of obnoxious videographers along with a list of who not to hire. This photographic evidence serves as all the more reason for the client to hire your recommended videographer.

The key to all of this is to think ahead and plan to avoid the potential for problems long before the videographer steps in front of you as the bride is walking down the aisle.

John Mireles

Modest Couture by Elizabeth

August 11, 2010

Are you a girl who LOVES the vintage look, you dress on the modest side AND you are getting married? You are in luck! There is a brand spanking new dress designer in town from California who is kicking it vintage style. The only thing I can say is check her gorgeous dresses and accessories out to see what all of the buzz is about for yourself.   Go to Modest Couture by Elizabeth here.  If you are looking for a killer venue that fits the vintage theme, check out Rickenbacker’s. They have awesome banquet rooms catered specifically for brides!  If you need awesome hair and makeup check out Bride For All Seasons. They provided the hair and makeup for the 2nd shoot done at the airport.  Candace Goralski and Emily Lindsay provided makeup and hair for the 1st shoot.

Enjoy the slideshow!

Mike Posner Part 2

August 11, 2010

What can I say? I am a huge Posner fan. This is the second time I have been able to photograph him.  Go here to see the first set of photos.  I was THE HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHER for this V.I.P. event.  Make sure to check out 3Four Group and all of the cool events they have lined up.  Chances are you will see me there as the photographer!  Enjoy the pics!

I am extremely honored to announce I will be the new co-host with Adilfa Ford for Utah’s Pictage User Group Meetings! I absolutely love Pictage and am so thrilled to be collaborating with such a great company.

I am very open to suggestions and I would love to hear from you. Don’t hesitate to call or email me with questions or ideas for our PUGS!

For our August PUG, we will be meeting at Pictureline (305 West 700 South in SLC) on Wednesday, August 25th from 4:00-5:00 p.m. Leslie Nielsen is going to be teaching a class all about lenses.

Lens Class Outline:

The only thing between your subject and your sensor is your lens, it affects the “look” of your picture more than any other accessory. In this class we will unravel the mystery of camera lenses so you will be able to select and use them more effectively.

We will specifically discuss:

The language of lenses – What do all the numbers mean.

Lens selection – which lens to use for the look you want.

Primes vs Zooms – building a lens kit.

This class is limited to 25 people, so please RSVP!


L.A. Fashion Week was a frenzy of makeup, models, red carpet, celebrities, after parties, and a whole lot of battery charging on my end! Enjoy some highlights from the Fall 2010 Collection!

As always, here is a killer slideshow for you to enjoy!

Snoop Dogg

August 9, 2010

I was one of four photographers with media credentials for  Snoop Dogg’s concert in Park City, Utah this year.   I have found that most people either love or hate him.  Either way,  there is no argument saying that he is a huge superstar, and I was there as a photographer for the event.   Enjoy the slideshow!