Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Stella, Max, Shane and Amber - Denver Family Photographer

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you might remember when I photographed Stella last year.  She had just turned 6 months old and her parents drove up to Denver from Pueblo for her portrait session.  She was also supposedly the cutest baby ever (at least according to her mom).  Well, Stella's back and she's cuter than ever!  Her family also makes an appearance here, so be sure to read on for some great family photos.

First, let's talk about Stella's older brother, Max.  Max is 3 and is completely obsessed with Woody from Toy Story.  He even wore his boots to the photo shoot!  Last time he was a little shy, but this time he was ready to get his picture taken.  Not only that, but he was also more than happy to get his little sister to smile when she started to get fussy.

Stella was in a pretty good mood today.  She was full of toothy smiles, even though they took a little coaxing once in a while.  This is where it's so important to have mom, dad and even big brother along.  Stella probably wouldn't have smiled for me, but she surely would smile for her family!  After getting photos in a few different outfits, Stella was done.  Thankfully, we got the photos we wanted.  We were even able to squeeze in a few family photos!

At the end of the day, we all had a great time and got some great photos.  After the shoot we went over to Borders to grab a cup of coffee and Stella decided to totally turn on the charm.  She was laughing, sitting in a chair and posing and just generally having a better time than she had in the studio.  I think she was teasing me, giving me a taste of what I can expect next time.  I can't wait.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tech Tuesdays: Adventures In Analog

Long ago, when the world had never heard of a megapixel and anything digital belonged in science fiction more than in our daily lives, photography was analog.  Cameras were essentially light-tight boxes.  Photographs were captured on film, not on a memory card.  Prints were made by hand in baths of chemicals in a darkroom.

I've decided to dip my toes into this pre-digital world and see what happens.  I know that I'll never replace my digital equipment with film, but I'd like to be able to use analog processes at appropriate times or for the right projects to, as my wife would say, "add a little glitter" to my work.

My cameras du jour are the Yashica-D and Polaroid SX-70 (you can read my mini-review of it here).  The Yashica shoots medium-format 120 film and I've been playing with color negative film as well as color transparency film.  I've got a few rolls of B&W film that I've yet to shoot.  With the Polaroid, I've only shot a few packs of PX 70 Color Shade Push!, but I can't wait to get my hands on some PX 100 Silver Shade and even some PX 680 Color Shade (all new films made by The Impossible Project).

I'm not going to claim I'm an expert at shooting with these cameras, so expect to see some, how shall I say it... interesting results.  I've already discovered that I can hook up my Pocket Wizards to the Yashica (see the photo above), so I'm really looking forward to shooting some film in the studio.  There's going to be a lot of trial and error, but in this case it's not really about the results as much as it's about the journey.  I hope you'll come on the ride with me!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring Flowers

Although it's officially Spring, it won't really start to feel like it around Denver for a few more weeks.  I've already got a daffodil that's blooming in my front yard, but really, we've still got a while before our gardens a full of flowers.  With that in mind, I thought I'd give you a taste of spring by posting a few flower photos I took last year in Victoria, British Columbia at the Butchart Gardens.

I'm not normally a flowery picture kind of photographer, but when you visit the Butchart Gardens, or any botanical gardens for that matter, you can't help but want to take a bunch of photos.  Not content with getting "normal" flower photos, I wanted to try something a little different with a unique lens combo I cooked up, sort of a twist on macro photos.  Here are the results of my experiments.  I hope you like them!

Friday, March 25, 2011

It's Friday Already? This Week In Photography.

Where did this week go?  It's been pretty busy around here lately, which might be the reason I haven't posted anything about what I've been up to all week long.  Last weekend was filled up with a wedding, some family photography and senior photos.  I also took a day during the week to catch the Flash Bus Tour as it made a stop in Denver.  Not to mention the fact that I'm finalizing the design on some new fliers and marketing pieces.

Here are a few sneak peaks for you.  Expect full posts soon!  Have a great weekend!

Max, Shane, Stella and Amber stopped by the studio for some family photos.

Gabby and I spent a few minutes downtown for a Senior Mini Session.
What's a Senior Mini Session?  I'm glad you asked!  Head on over to my Facebook Page for more info.
Planning a wedding in Denver?  I photograph weddings!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Use Spot Metering - Better Photos... Now!

Pop quiz!  You're at a wedding.  You're getting ready to take a quick photo of the groom.  He's fair-skinned, wearing a black tuxedo, standing in front of an amazing sunset.  Which part of this scene will your camera use to meter the exposure for this shot?  Which part of this scene do you want to be properly exposed?

Chances are you want his skin to be properly exposed.  If your camera exposes for the sunset, everything else will be underexposed because of how bright the sky is compared to everything else.  If your camera exposes for the tuxedo, everything else will be overexposed because of how dark it is.  If your camera happens to find the grooms's head and expose for it, you'll probably have a slightly blown out sky and slightly underexposed tux, but at least you'll know who it's a photo of.

Most situations you encounter aren't going to be this extreme, but what happens when you've got to get the shot and don't have all day to figure out the exposure?  Better yet, what happens when your camera isn't giving you the results you want and you need to take control?  Time to learn how to use spot metering!

Spot metering is very similar to spot focusing.  Your camera has lots of metering modes that it can use to determine exposure.  Spot metering just uses one small part of your composition (usually the point of focus) to determine exposure.  That means that if you're focusing on a person's face, you'll also get an exposure reading for that person's face, not her clothing or the sky behind her.

Using spot metering has allowed me to get some shots that I might have otherwise missed.  For example, at a recent engagement session in Golden, the sun was setting behind the mountains faster than we thought it would.  I literally had seconds to get a few shots with the last golden rays of sunlight backlighting Veronica and Luke.  Because I was able to meter off of their faces (and not the bright sunlight behind them), I got the correct exposure and some great shots that look different than anything else we got that day.

While there might be a time and a place for different focusing modes, I don't think I'll ever have a reason to take my exposure metering off of spot metering (at least not for portraiture).  Here are a few more examples of shots that would have been very tough to get with any other type of metering than spot metering...

In this photo of Mia, I'm basically shooting into the sun,
which is not an easy situation for a camera to meter.

For an image like this, the camera would have likely tried to set a long exposure.  I wanted a very short exposure
to capture the shape of the flames, so I metered off of the flames, not the logs.

Here's another photo shooting into a light source.  The difference
here is that the rest of the room was fairly dark, so I had no
idea if it would try to expose for the light or the darkness.
I hope you see how useful spot metering can be.  Whether you're looking for creative control or just confidence in your exposure, spot metering is very useful to master.

Read all of my DSLR tips here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tech Tuesday - Quick Review: Polaroid SX-70

The Polaroid SX-70 is one of Polaroids more famous cameras.  If you can believe it, it's actually an SLR.  Yes, it's a folding, single-lensed, instant-film SLR.  I've only had mine for a few weeks and in that time have only gotten a few good images with it, so I'm going to hold off on passing judgement and doing a full review until I've spent a little more time getting used to it and really learning how to use it.  For now, I'll just give you my first impressions.

I had been wanting to add a Polaroid to my camera arsenal for a while.  After a little research, the SX-70 sounded like the right camera for me.  Why?  Unlike most Polaroids, it's an SLR, so you get more control over your images.  It also folds up so it's about the size of a VHS tape (a VH...what?), which is pretty awesome.  Not quite pocket-sized, but definitely easy to carry around.

In working condition, these things fetch a pretty penny on eBay, so I decided to try my luck at some antique shops around town.  Actually, I went back to an antique shop where I saw a Rollieflex TLR for sale that I'm still kicking myself for not buying.  When I got there, the Rollie was gone, but I came across this beauty.  It said it worked, so I bought it for a great price.  That same day I ordered my film from The Impossible Project and waited for it to arrive.

The day my film arrived I just couldn't wait to use it, so I popped in a film pack (and the dark slide ejected, which was a good sign), aimed at the nearest object, focused, pressed the big red button and... nothing.  Finally, the photo popped out and it was blank.  I figured it was just bad beginners luck, so I shot another.  This time it felt like the mirror got stuck, which made me panic a little.  It turns out it was just too dark in my house and it was doing like a 10-second exposure.

After putting the camera down and doing a little research (this film wants lots of light), I was able to start getting good exposures and decent photos.  The film is still a little tricky to work with, so I'm definitely in the learning stages, but I see good things in my future with this Polaroid.  I'll keep you updated with my results and will hopefully be able to write a full review sometime in the future.  Also, expect reviews of the different Impossible Project films.

If you want to find out a little more about this camera, here's a great video that Polaroid put out in 1972 to explain how it works:


Monday, March 14, 2011

Randomness - Habits


It amazes me at how hard it is to break a habit. I'm not talking about an addiction, like smoking. I'm talking about a simple habit, something so insignificant, yet so ingrained, that changing it is a monumental task. What's the habit I'm currently trying to break? Looking at a clock.

Maybe it's more accurate to say I'm trying to stop looking where a clock used to be. A few months ago we did some remodeling to our kitchen, part of which involved removing a clock from the wall. No big deal, right? Tell that to my brain. Every time I walk through the kitchen, I glance up at where the clock used to hang. Every time I'm doing dishes and want to see what time it is, I glance up at an empty wall. It's not there any more. I realize what I'm doing as soon as I do it, but for some reason I just can't stop.

Which leads me to my next point. Habits are hard to break, so doesn't it make sense to develop good habits? If a habit like looking at a clock is so hard to break, you'd better believe that I'm going to try to create some good habits whenever I get a chance. I'm not just talking about turning off my phone before going into a movie theater or flossing before bedtime (both of which are great habits, by the way). No, I'm talking about business habits, about communication and workflow, about best practices.

I'm trying to record business expenses as soon as they occur. I'm trying to reply to emails as soon as possible. I'm trying to write a thank you note within 24 hours of a photo shoot. I'm trying to upload photos and charge my batteries as soon as I get home from a photo shoot. In short, I'm trying to make all of the necessary aspects of the business into habits so I can focus on the bigger things without worrying about whether or not I charged my batteries and uploaded my memory cards. I know how hard it is to break a habit. That's why I'm trying to make habits I won't have to break.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bridal Fashion Photo Shoot Part 2 - Denver Fashion and Wedding Photography

If you read yesterday's Bridal Fashion Photo Shoot post, you already know what happens when you bring together some of Denver's best businesses who are involved in weddings. You also know that I had a lot of photos I didn't post. Well, I couldn't just let those photos sit on my hard drive any longer, so here's a few more photos for you to enjoy. Happy Friday!

If you didn't get a chance to see the photos in yesterday's post, please head on over and check them out!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bridal Fashion Photo Shoot - Denver Fashion and Wedding Photography

I first started thinking about this bridal fashion photo shoot a few months ago. Denver has so many talented designers and amazing businesses that work within the wedding industry, I wanted to do something to pull all of this talent together for a day to see what would happen. I started making phone calls, caught a few lucky breaks and... well, you'll see the results in a minute, right after I explain the photo shoot.

The idea was to get some images that involved everyone who might normally be involved in a wedding, but without making it look like a wedding. That's why I wanted to go with the fashion direction for the look and feel of the images. Fortunately, everyone was on board with this idea! With so many people being involved (20!), it was a great feeling to have everyone's trust and support in taking the shoot in a different direction than a normal bridal shoot.

After weeks of planning, a few changes in who was participating and some last-minute luck, the day of the shoot had finally arrived. I had done a big shoot before, but nothing quite this big  Not only were there the makeup artists, hair stylists and wardrobe stylists you might expect to find at a photo shoot, but there was also a florist, caterer and even a DJ!  At times I thought I might have been in over my head, but I had lots of help from everyone involved, which made Sunday run pretty smoothly.

In all honesty, I am just thrilled with the photos we got. With a shoot this big, I was getting a little worried that I'd spend more time managing people and putting out fires than taking photos on the day of the shoot. Fortunately, Kimothy and Tess with Love n Joy Photography had my back (who I want to send a very special THANK YOU to... you two are just amazing and so much fun to work with. Hanging out with you makes me feel like I'm in one of those movies where the cool kid (Kimothy and Tess) asks the nerd (me) to prom just to win a bet, but since neither of you has asked me to prom yet, I'm feeling pretty good about things) and I had total confidence in them getting amazing photos if I didn't get to shoot as much as I had hoped. As it turns out, I got to spend lots of time behind the camera.  Check it out!

Yeah, considering I've got close to 200 photos that I really like (but don't have room to show you here), I'd say it was a good day!

Here's a complete list of everyone who was involved in the shoot. Without every single one of these people, it would not have been anywhere near as successful as it was. I want to send a huge thank you to the entire team. If you're ever in need of a service they provide, I highly recommend them!

Photography - Love n Joy Photography: Kimothy and Tess are two amazing photographers who made the entire day so much more fun and relaxing for me and everyone else at the shoot.  I'll say it again... you two rock!  I can't wait to work with you again.

Dresses – ECO-Bridal: Andrea supplied a great selection of dresses for the shoot, as well as a great eye for who looked best in which dress.

Stylist - Worthwhile Style: Tina not only spent the entire day coming up with looks for each model, but she also found time to style an entire room for us to shoot in! I don't call her "the Amazing Tina Gill" for nothing.

Veils and headpieces – Natalee M Designs: Natalee makes amazing headpieces. End of story. She can also take a pile of fabric and, within minutes, create a delicate flower to pin on a dress. It just blows my mind.

Jewelry – Boutique de Bijoux: Katharine has such a wide variety of jewelry we were able to find anything we needed within the pieces she brought to the shoot. Not only that, but she got some great behind the scenes photos throughout the day!

Hair – Rebelle Salon: Carly and Lauren came through with short notice to do some awesome hair for the shoot.

Makeup – Belle Amore Makeup Artistry: Jacki and I have worked together in the past, but never with such reserved makeup. Proving just how talented she is, she's just as good at bridal makeup as she is at fashion makeup.

Makeup – K Schell Designs: Kori did a great job with her models' makeup. Not only that, she started doing hair after Carly and Lauren had to leave! Yeah, I think we'll be working together again.

Flowers – The Perfect Petal: Katherine really embraced my request for something different and brought some beautiful bouquets. People couldn't stop commenting on how amazing they were!

Catering – Elements Catering: Kelly took great care of us. Not only did she bring wraps, but also pasta salad, regular salad and even dessert! I think she brought extra, but it was so good there was hardly anything left at the end of the day.

Location – Distinctive Mantle Designs: Rita was kind enough to let us take over their entire showroom for this shoot. I know she also rents it out for parties (I've been to one... it makes a great place to throw a big party), but I think it was the perfect place for a photo shoot!

DJ - Simply Entertainment: Phil is really the person who made this shoot a success. Without a steady supply of good music a shoot can flop. We were going strong all day long with the great music Phil was playing!

And finally, Wilhelmina Denver and the models.  I've heard from so many people how nice they were and how much fun they had working with these ladies.  I'd love to work with any of them again any time!  Thank you to Kellie, Kinsey, Megan, Morgan, Rose and Whitney.

One last special thank you goes out to my wife, Belinda, not only for helping out on the day of the shoot, but also for keeping me sane in the weeks of preparation leading up to the shoot.  You're the best!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Children's Group Photo Shoot

What do you get when you combine one of Denver's best child and newborn photographers with 10 kids, a big white studio and balloons? Amazing photos! This is exactly what happened a few weeks ago, but I wasn't the photographer who put it all together. I was just along for the ride.

Marina Lower, a good friend and great photographer, decided to put together a fashion shoot for kids. Her inspiration was this 2009 Gap commercial. Let me just say that this is not a project that I would ever undertake on my own. Not only would I be unable to handle 10 kids, but I would have no idea how to style them. Fortunately, Marina can style kids so that they look like they came right out of a Gap commercial! While she loves working with newborns, Marina sure had fun working with these 4-6 year olds. I have to admit that I had a good time too.

We wanted to do a big group shot, but we also wanted some smaller group shots as well as individual photos. Once we nailed the big group shot (no small task), we split up into smaller groups. I got photos of the boys mostly, but managed to get a few of the girls, as well as some of the siblings who were there.

One thing that Marina was very clear about was the kids who participated needed to have personality. The kids she found had personality to spare! Don't believe me? Just take a look at some of these photos... but first, let me just say thank you to Marina for inviting me along to participate in her shoot. I ended up having a great time, but really, she did all of the hard work and just let me have fun and take pictures. OK, on to the photos!