Donnie + Katie's Wedding Trailer is up! View via the embedded video below or head on over to my Facebook page to check it out.
I recently had the honor of being interviewed by Voyage ATL Magazine for their "Atlanta's Most Inspiring Stories" piece. They contacted me back in October and our interview was published today. It's an honor to be a part of this community of awesome entrepreneurs! The interview can be viewed here:
LAUREN + JOSH'S WEDDING TRAILER:
Here's some select wedding and portraiture shots taken throughout this past year:
Hey guys! Just a reminder that I give wedding referrals a free, transferrable photo session.
Know someone who needs a wedding photographer? Send them my way!
Highlights and Case Study
Typically, there are two separate films made from the footage my team and I capture at weddings: one short film for social media and one longer film generally for personal viewing. The longer films have more shots of decorations and venue, smaller details, and sometimes voice-over as well (such as spoken vows, personal messages, etc.). Not all weddings are the same and as such all photography and video packages presented to the client are unique to their needs and the conditions of the wedding.
Their video opens with a wordmark which I created to accompany any online media from the wedding. While this sort of thing isn't always implemented I thought it would give the video a nice personal touch.
For this wedding we had two photographers and one videographer (all with different viewpoints), so there was a surplus of photography to accent the video where needed. A photo was also used to create a zoom-out, snapshot type of moment after the couple walked down the aisle.
I should add that the score was commissioned by local Atlanta composer/musician Future Form. I gave him free range to improvise whatever he wanted before the ceremony, helping with very minor details during the process. For the ceremony, a rendition of Vance Joy's "Riptide" was used (the song they walked down the aisle and had their first dance to).
At the 4:19 mark, another photograph was used to accent the film; only this time, I used one photograph to create a 2.5D parallax effect. One photograph is chosen, separated into layers in Photoshop (9 layers in this example), and positioned and moved in a 3D space in software (After Effects). It sounds a bit more complicated than it is, but it is undoubtedly time consuming if the effect is to be aesthetically enjoyable. This particular parallax clip took about 3 hours to get just right for about 9 seconds of video. The second and more simpler parallax is seen at the close of the video with the couple and the wordmark on screen at the same time.
For the photography, there was some substantial Photoshopping necessary to deliver what I felt was a sufficiently appealing product. While this type of dramatic editing isn't always necessary--I would prefer to have everything done in camera--sometimes it is unavoidable. There will undoubtedly be factors beyond our control during a wedding, such as natural lighting, location changes, and time scheduling conflicts during the big day.
Look at the difference between these two photographs:
The photo on the right is unedited. You can see there has been substantial photoshopping of the environment to make it more appealing. While I didn't necessarily change the essence of the location, I did remove objects from it.
Here is another example:
Again, the photo on the right is obviously out-of-camera. In this instance, it took longer than than allotted for some of the wedding party to get ready which in turn afforded us less time for portraiture. This time shift also left us with almost no natural lighting, which is not ideal. Once group portraits were completed, I was given a 10-minute window with the bride and groom for the couple's photos. I grabbed my Gary Fong diffuser, my 70-200mm lens, and a golf cart and we drove to a location I had eyed earlier. At this point the light was all but gone, but after some editing the final product turned out just fine. This kind of adaptability and problem solving is very beneficial in wedding photography.
Here are some of the photograph highlights:
I'm a little late getting around to posting these, but here are some of the shots from the Lower Dens show at The Earl on 8/4/15. I freaking love this band. In case you don't know Lower Dens, check out this song off their newest album:
Young Ejecta from Neon Indian opened. Got some great shots of her as well:
Lately, I've had a lot of people ask me how they can get into photography, and I think it's awesome that everyone is interested. It's pretty overwhelming at first, especially with expensive price tags on entry level DSLRs and decent lenses (hell, even bad lenses can be expensive). The good news is that it really doesn't have to be that expensive, at least starting out. In fact, I would recommend against breaking the bank for your first DSLR.
I started in film photography about 8 years ago using a Nikon N80 SLR (fantastic 35mm camera you can pick up for about $30 on eBay) and a really mediocre Nikkor zoom lens I ended up breaking shortly after I got the camera. This turned out great for me because I picked up an old Nikkor 50mm 1.8 (about $80 on eBay) not knowing much about it that I still use to this day. That's crazy to think about since this was one of the first Nikon AF lenses and came out in 1986. This lens is almost 30 years old and I use it regularly. The age doesn't matter as long as it was taken care of because the optics are great. Keep in mind that older lenses might not be as sharp as newer lenses in some cases, but there are some fantastic lenses out there that are under $100 that are great for beginners and professionals alike. For newer lenses be sure to check http://www.dxomark.com/ for reviews and ratings.
Here's a variety of photos I've taken with this lens on a few different camera bodies (they're cropped, click for the full images).
Film is a great way to get into photography because you literally pay for your mistakes. For about $110 you can get an N80 and 50mm f1.8 and produce some fantastic images, but you would have to buy the film and pay for the processing, so in the long run using film can become expensive. Another great film camera with a larger film size (this would mean a larger sensor size in digital photography) that I use is the Russian Kiev 60 medium format. This thing looks like a 35mm film camera on roids. It's heavy. It looks weird. And it makes beautiful photographs. You can get it for about 100 bucks on eBay with a lens (usually comes with an 80mm). It's got a 6x6 image size, which really aids in the creation of some iconic imagery.
Just look at Oleg Oprisco's work. He is one of my favorite photographers and he shoots with a Kiev. You owe it to yourself (photographer or not) to check out his stuff:
If you aren't sure if you're going to enjoy photography or not then go for film to test the waters out. Film looks great, it's fun, and can arguably have more dynamic range (think of this as the combined amount of highlight and shadow detail) than cheaper DSLRs.
Another fun, still cheap alternative in the digital area would be to invest in a mirror-less DSLR camera and use old lenses (like the Nikkor 50mm f1.8). You can't buy a nice digital camera and skimp on the new "glass" because your images are going to look like garbage. Lenses are important. Just about any lens you buy brand new that costs under a few hundred dollars will more often than not produce sub par photos. Luckily, older glass is cheaper and is a fantastic alternative if you're just starting out. Some even have really interesting effects that add character to your shots, like the swirly bokeh of the $30 Helios lenses (I've got one and it is hands down one of the best deals in the photography world).
For the camera body I would recommend a micro 4/3 (called this because of the sensor size) mirror-less because they have been around the longest (since 2008). They're small and lightweight; great travel cameras. You can use basically any lens you want (with $10 adapters on amazon) which is the reason that these cameras are a fantastic way to learn digital photography for cheap. The Sony NEX 5T is about $200-300 and is top-rated. The Panasonic Lumix GH2 is great for video (I wouldn't recommend it for photography) because you can hack it to produce a higher bit-rate to produce video quality that is good enough to have been compared to $3,000-4,000 cameras. Shane Carruth even shot his film Upstream Color with a GH2.
There are a few caveats to consider when using a micro 4/3 mirror-less camera. One is that the focal length for lenses that aren't designed for your specific camera are going to produce a different focal length when used (but this will be an issue with every camera you use unless it is a "full-frame" camera, also known as "more expensive"). You get a 2x magnification factor due to the smaller size of the lens on micro 4/3, so a 50mm lens becomes a 100mm; on a Nikon crop-sensor, like my D7000, the magnification is 1.5x; on a Nikon full-frame camera it becomes a true 50mm. Another issue is that mirror-less cameras generally have EVF's (electric viewfinders) or no viewfinder at all, just an LCD screen. This might reduce battery life and some people aren't comfortable without a real viewfinder. Also, many of the older lenses like the Helios I mentioned above aren't multi-coated, which can mean glares, flares, and a washed-out look around bright lights that can reduce contrast (filters can help this).
One advantage to micro 4/3 is that you can buy a focal reducer to fix the focal length and at the same time increase the shallow depth of field. They can be a little expensive, ranging from $150 to several hundred dollars. The chart shows 1-stop increments (halving the amount of light). These adapters increase the amount of light by 1 full stop and almost fully correct the focal length so a 50mm f4 lens becomes a 50mm f2.8, which is pretty cool. If you're new to this, a larger aperture means a shallower depth of field (which is something people pay premium prices for when considering lenses not only because of depth of field but also because if the lens takes in more light then it aids the camera in taking better photographs in low light conditions).
There are disadvantages and advantages to each of these options. Just keep in mind you don't have to go out and spend $1,000 on a brand new DSLR to produce beautiful images. I wanted to provide a few alternatives to the default assumption that you have to buy an expensive DSLR to get a certain look. If neither of these options look appealing, then KEH has refurbished cameras that work perfectly and have been tested (I've purchased refurb here and never had any problems). If you found this helpful or interesting, or have any questions feel free to leave a comment below!
These not only apply to filmmaking but life as well:
- Always take the initiative.
- There is nothing wrong with spending a night in jail if it means getting the shot you need.
- Send out all your dogs and one might return with prey.
- Never wallow in your troubles; despair must be kept private and brief.
- Learn to live with your mistakes.
- Expand your knowledge and understanding of music and literature, old and modern.
- That roll of unexposed celluloid you have in your hand might be the last in existence, so do something impressive with it.
- There is never an excuse not to finish a film.
- Carry bolt cutters everywhere.
- Thwart institutional cowardice.
- Ask for forgiveness, not permission.
- Take your fate into your own hands.
- Learn to read the inner essence of a landscape.
- Ignite the fire within and explore unknown territory.
- Walk straight ahead, never detour.
- Manoeuvre and mislead, but always deliver.
- Don't be fearful of rejection.
- Develop your own voice.
- Day one is the point of no return.
- A badge of honor is to fail a film theory class.
- Chance is the lifeblood of cinema.
- Guerrilla tactics are best.
- Take revenge if need be.
- Get used to the bear behind you.
Taken from Werner Herzog - A Guide for the Perplexed.
I am a predominately "out of the studio" type of photographer at the moment. This isn't because I don't like studio work or I don't do it, it's because I don't have the room for a studio right now. I'm in the middle of a move to Atlanta and almost all of my possessions (except for my computer, bed, and cameras) are in a storage unit awaiting my return. So most of my work is out in the field.
Strangely, I've noticed a lot of photographers in this area just don't do studio work at all. I think this is because most people seem to believe that studios are immensely expensive or perhaps over their head in the technical proficiency required in assembly. While it is definitely true a lot of studio equipment is almost criminally expensive, there are much cheaper and just as effective ways of getting your own studio. You don't need to spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars in assembling a "professional" studio set up.
The misconception is that the most expensive way is the best way, and this simply isn't true. You can build your own studio in a weekend for a couple hundred dollars. There's this guy on YouTube who makes how-to videos for this type of stuff. His name is Joe Edelman. He outlines how to make a fluorescent lighting studio for under $200 dollars. $200!! I mean, that's nothing as far as camera equipment goes. Here's the link:
The guy's kind of a goober, but the information is there and the studio he builds is pretty dynamic. In fact, the pictures in this article were taken in a studio set up very similar to Edelman's.
My friend, fellow photographer, and frequent collaborator Trevette Brown took my head shots. Like Edelman, he also built his own studio in his garage for a couple hundred dollars. He runs Lucent Creations, a production company him and I co-founded early in 2014. The quality of the photos he gets from the studio set up he built is truly phenomenal considering it costs a fraction of what a "professional" set up costs. So naturally, when I needed head shots taken for my resume I gave him a call.
Expensive equipment investments and learning curves on said equipment are some of the reasons that photography services can be so pricey. Just remember: expensive is not always the best. This goes for everything. Sometimes it's worth the money, sometimes it's not. Just look at Beats By Dre. They didn't do anything but give a pair of headphones a popular spokesman and overcharge people for them. As far as marketing and sales goes, Beats control something like 70 percent of the headphone market at the time of writing this, which is awesome for them. Objectively, their products are overpriced and just not as good as the rest, like any audiophile will let you know. Don't be afraid to question things. Don't be that "avant garde" guy/girl spending all their money on Vibram's, Beats, and bad photographers. They aren't running any better and their headphones are mediocre, not to mention they've been taken for ride.
So do your research and always check photographer portfolios before hiring. How many of their photos are actually good? Is it the rule or the exception? Say you see someone running around holding their flash above their head, facing directly in their client's face, casting all kinds of unflattering shadows everywhere. They probably don't know how to bounce their flash and it's safe to assume that your potential photographer has a lot to learn, even if they are expensive. The problem would be if you hired that photographer and a year later saw them making the same mistakes. They probably aren't worth your money. All it takes is gumption and a camera to charge people for photos; to become a good photographer it takes drive and a desire to constantly improve.
My goal here is not to get people to go for the cheapest option (that's not always the best either), but to think about what they are paying for, whether it be studio lighting, hiring a photographer, or even buying headphones. Are there better options? Hiring a photographer can be a daunting task, especially since for the layman photography is totally subjective. Always do a little research to make sure you aren't being taken advantage of. In the end, if the client is happy with the photos then that's all that matters.
If you like the quality of my head shots, get in touch with Lucent Creations on Facebook, and Trevette will take care of you. And if you're interested in what photographers I would recommend based in the Montgomery area, here's a list of the companies or individuals I've worked with or follow that know their craft:
It was a really nice day outside, the temperature was comfortable, and the family was really nice and relaxed in front of the camera. There were a lot of group shots to do and with several young children involved sometimes this can be a challenge keeping everyone corralled, but the kids were great, patient, and just silly enough to where my photoshopping of faces was kept to a minimum. Children are always interesting subjects because they can't help but be genuine characters.
My assistant and I arrived at Dr. Allen's land in Shorter, AL about an hour and a half before sunset so that gave me plenty of time to walk around and scout the location. After we found a great spot about a quarter of a mile from the cabin, we got everyone in place and I positioned the subjects comfortably in front of a large area of golden, wheat-like grass. Behind the grass field there was a heavily wooded area and behind that the sun was setting, which I used as a kicker, or hair light. This gave the subjects a great glow and cut them out nicely from the surroundings. (Due to the position of the sun at sunset and the awesome lighting during the "golden hour" this is best done in the afternoon.) I then had my assistant to my left hold the fill light (an SB800 flash speedlight on a stand with a shoot-through umbrella) at a slight downward angle a few feet above and toward the subjects' faces.
If I was to expose my camera for the background without using a fill light, I might get something like the first underexposed photo of the girl and her brother above. Notice that there is also a lens flare from the sun. If that's what you're going for then that's fine, but for this shoot I didn't need that so I positioned the sun directly behind the subjects' heads or bodies to avoid flares.
Here's a top down diagram of what the lighting setup looks like for those interested. It's simple and easy, and it makes fantastic, professional-looking images very easily. Just remember to shoot during the "golden hour" (shortly after sunrise or before sunset) and make sure the sun is located behind your subject(s) to provide the hair light. Also, you will need to expose for the bright sun lit background. After that, set your fill light up at a slight downward angle to the subjects' faces but not so much that it casts unwanted and unflattering shadows.
I forgot my transmitters so I had to trigger the flash with a cable, which was a hassle but worked nonetheless. I shot entirely with my Nikon D7000 and my trusty Nikkor 50mm 1.8 (stopped down to about f8), but I also got a few shots with my 28-85mm for the large group portraits.
Some of the shots required a little more editing than usual (this is to be expected from large groups, especially involving children). People make faces sometimes, they blink, maybe someone was in a shadow or moved behind someone else's head; this is why you take at least two shots of these kinds of images. These photos then become composite photos by necessity (clients certainly wouldn't like a photo of themselves blinking or not visible). So then it's the photographer's job to combine certain aspects of different images to create the best shot for the client (of course it's always ideal to get the best shot in camera, but sometimes things just happen). For instance, in the shot to the right, the infant looked very uncomfortable and was blinking in the first shot that I took, but everyone else looked fine. So I simply copied the child's face from another photo in Photoshop and edited it onto this photo (which happens to show the baby looking ridiculously personable). It's still a photo of the same child, just improved. The 4 shots below are the same child from that photo and also became a composite shot for a different reason.
Afterwards we all went back to the cabin and watched some football and Dr. Allen and his family treated us to a gigantic dinner (he also owns a shrimping boat so we had fresh Gulf shrimp and oysters to shuck). Even through all of the hours spent sitting at a computer desk editing, hauling equipment around, standing on my feet for 12 hours on a wedding day, the good days and bad days, I can still honestly say that I love my job.
If you have any questions about the lighting setup used here, the edited process, or about anything to do with photography in general, feel free to comment in the box below.
The Local Foxes Magazine logo design and print publication has been completed (also featuring some photography of mine). The release party at Railyard Brewing Company had a fantastic turnout. You can view the magazine online by clicking here or order your own copy by emailing the lovely ladies over at Local Foxes Magazine at email@example.com.
I'm also currently doing design work for The National Institute of Student-Centered Teaching and Learning (that's a mouthful) and Fitness Solutions. As always, I am also available for photography sessions. Just shoot me an email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, I'm moving to Atlanta next month!! So if anyone knows of any areas where we might have success finding a house with a yard please leave a comment below.
There's been a big update over in the Design section of the web site! I'm slowly finishing my portfolio. I expect to be up to date with major updates by the end of the next two weeks.
Also I'm still looking for any older motorcycles (70's Honda CBs or cafe racer styles) for use in an upcoming photo shoot if anyone know where I can get access near the Montgomery area.
I've got a couple of really fantastic projects around the corner that I've been lucky enough to be involved in and I'm excited to share them with everyone. I apologize for the deliberately vague post but stay posted because updates are coming soon!