Monday, June 27, 2011

P & A - Denver Wedding Photographer

Last month I helped Karina Heneghan photograph this beautiful Indian wedding.  I had never even been to an Indian wedding, let alone photograph one, so I was grateful that Karina asked me to help her out.  What a wonderful experience!  Although it lasted for 3 days, I was only able to help photograph two of the days, so please enjoy some of the details from P & A’s wedding.

You can view more of my wedding work by visiting the wedding photography gallery on my site.

You can also see a video of this wedding that was shot by the talented Kyle Hodge here:

Video from Kyle Hodge on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

10 Years of Awesome Love

It's hard to believe that 10 years ago, on a hot summer day in Pueblo, CO, Belinda and I stood in front of friends and family and said "I do".  Although it seems like it was only yesterday, when I think about all of the moments, hours and days that we've enjoyed together, I start to wonder how we've done so much together in only 10 years.

We've been on multi-day road trips across the country.  We've relaxed on beautiful beaches and swam with exotic sea creatures.  We've climbed rocky 14ers, hiked to secluded alpine lakes, scrambled on Utah slickrock and trekked through redwood forests.  We've eaten at some amazing restaurants, met some fabulous people and been to some incredible concerts.  She's indulged my geeky tendencies (fountain pen convention in Chicago geeky enough for you?) and I've indulged her affliction for all things sparkly (she made it pretty clear that her 10 year anniversary gift would be quite sparkly).

Although we've had a lot of fun together, marriage is about more than having fun.  She's been my biggest supporter when it comes to my career.  When I have questions or doubts, she's there to guide me back to my path.  When I have moments of success, she's there to congratulate me and then push me towards bigger things. I do the same for her and her career.  We wouldn't have made it this far if we didn't both support and believe in each other and what we do.

Before we got married we were best friends and I'm happy to say that after 10 years of marriage we still are.  I still make her laugh and she still makes me feel like the luckiest guy in the world.  We have frequent coffee shop dates, just like we did in high school.  We still hold hands when we walk and snuggle with each other on the couch when we watch a movie.  Most importantly, we still dream.  We dream about the next year, the next 10 years, the next 50 years.  Our first 10 years of marriage have been amazing... I can't wait to see what the next 10 years hold in store for us.

If you didn't get your fill of sappy lovey blog posts yet, you can also read all about our first date.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

M & J - Denver Wedding Photography

A few months ago I was fortunate enough to help Karina Heneghan photograph M & J’s wedding in Evergreen, CO.  Since I was mainly responsible for capturing details and moments during this beautiful wedding, I won’t say much and get right to the photos. 

M & J were kind enough to let me capture a quick portrait of each of them.

Some of the photos that Karina and I took were featured on the Magnet Street Weddings site!

To see more of my wedding work, please visit the wedding photography gallery on my site.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tech Tuesday - What's Your Backup Strategy: Part 2

Let's talk data backup strategies.  Not interested?  You should be.  If you read last week's blog post, you should be at least a little worried about backing up your data and developing a strategy to protect it from many different disaster scenarios.  Today I'm going to tell you what my new backup strategy is.  Please, keep in mind that this is what works for me, but it might not be what works for you.  I'm offering this as a starting point so that you can consider if you need more or less protection.

Since I am a photographer, protecting my digital images is a top priority.  I tried to consider a few different scenarios when devising my backup plan.  I think that I came up with a good compromise between safety and sanity.  I'm confident my images will be safe, but I don't have quadruple layers of protection and redundancy (OK, maybe I do, but no more than quadruple!).

Here are a few of the things that I considered and had to work into my backup strategy:
  • Images should be immediately backed up once they are uploaded to my computer.
  • An archive of all of my images should be kept off site.
  • My Lightroom develop settings for every session should be backed up.
  • Final images should be backed up in full-resolution.
So, what did I come up with?  I'll tell you.
  • I'll always have 3 "active" external hard drives.  Two (HD1 and HD2) will be hooked up to my computer.  The third (an exact copy of HD2) will be kept at an off-site location.
  • Once I upload photos to my computer's hard drive, Lightroom automatically makes a backup to HD1.
  • SyncBack SE will continuously monitor my computer's hard drive and will mirror any changes to HD2.
    • As soon as I upload photos to my computer, they exist on three different hard drives (plus the memory cards until I format them)
  • SyncBack will also back up my Lightroom Catalog every day to both HD1 and HD2.
    • That means it will exist on three different hard drives at all times
  • Once I'm done editing photos, I will export the photos as a Lightroom Catalog and burn it to a DVD for archiving.
    • This means I have all of the RAW files plus my edits in one place.  Technically I could put that DVD into any computer with Lightroom installed and it would be no different than editing them on my computer.
  • I'll also export the images as full-resolution JPGs and upload them to my Smug Mug site, where I can download them from anywhere I have internet access.
  • Every week or two I'll swap out HD2 with the copy that's kept at the off-site location and make sure they're both synced.
As you can see, there is a bit of redundancy here, but since most of it is automated, it's not really much of a hassle.  Once I'm done editing a photo shoot, I'll have a copy of the edited photos on my computer's hard drive, two copies on external hard drives, one copy on a DVD and a copy of all edited JPGs in cloud storage.  I think this is going to work!

If you have any questions about what I'm doing or why I did something, feel free to leave a comment and I'll do my best to answer you right away.  I hope this has inspired you to rethink your backup strategy.  Regardless of if your data is professional or personal, you'd better back it up.  If it's not backed up, one of these days it's going to be gone for good.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sneak Preview - A Few Weddings

For those of you who think I've been slacking and not shooting or posting any weddings, your wait is over!  I had been holding on to these images from weddings that I've been a second shooter at to give the main shooter a chance to post photos.  Get ready for some exciting posts in the next few weeks!  Here are a few previews of what you can expect:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bridal Fashion - Denver Fashion and Wedding Photography

It seems like ages ago that I shot some bridal fashion photos for a few different Denver wedding vendors, but I'm only just now sharing them with you here on the blog.  Why the delay?  I had to wait until the magazine I was shooting them for was published (I just love saying that)!

When Natalee Moldenhauer with Natalee M Designs asked me to be her photographer for an upcoming feature in Herlife Magazine I immediately said yes!  I had worked with her a few times in the past (for her spread in CRAVE Denver and also in my personal bridal fashion shoot) and knew that she did beautiful work.

Fortunately, we had beautiful weather and the crab apples were in full bloom.  Natalee trusted me enough to give me control over the look of all of the photos, which was both very exciting but also somewhat stressful.  I could be as creative as I wanted, but the photos had better work for Natalee and Herlife!  Since we had an entire day to shoot and access to the entire building and grounds of the Wellshire Inn, lack of options was not an excuse!

At the end of the day we had shot inside and outside, driven golf carts all over the place, climbed in trees, and had a ton of fun!  All of the models were great to work with and really worked hard to give Natalee what she wanted.  It was hard to just sit on these images for the last few months and not show them off, but I think it was worth the wait.  I hope you think so too!

Headpieces: Natalee Moldenhauer with Natalee M Designs
Flowers: Natalee M Designs
Gowns: ECO-Bridal Gowns and Marie Margot Bridal Couture
Hair: Katie of Scarlet Salon
Makeup: Allison of Scarlet Salon
Location: Wellshire Inn
Models: Lori Auguste, Lori Baird, Becky Klatt and Tracy Shellooe Donna Baldwin Talent

You can see more photos from the shoot in the June issue of Herlife (see it online here).

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tech Tuesday - What's Your Backup Strategy: Part 1

We live in a digital world, from the cameras we use to the hard drives we store our photos on.  Unfortunately, digital fails.  We've all heard it before: it's not if your hard drive is going to fail, but when.  What's your backup strategy?

First, let's discuss why you need a backup strategy.  We already know that hardware fails.  What happens if lightning zaps your computer?  How about fire or flood?  Theft?  Virus?  User error?  There are so many different ways you can lose your data it's not even funny.  Then there's the scenario where you don't lose your data, but you can't access it either?  What happens if the hard drive with your operating system dies?  All of your data is safe, you just can't access it.

So now that you have an idea of why you might want to start thinking about a backup strategy, let's talk about what a backup strategy might include.  A successful backup strategy should include all of these features:

  • It constantly backs up your data
  • It's easy to use
  • It's accessible
  • It's redundant.
How about a real-world example?  Let's say you just photographed a wedding.  You import the photos to your computer and they automatically get backed up to an external hard drive.  That was easy.  Now if one hard drive crashes the photos aren't lost.  You spend the next week editing the photos so that they're perfect.  The bride is going to love them!  Oops, your hard drive just crashed.  "No worries!  I have them backed up on this external hard drive!"  Unfortunately, you didn't back up any of your edits, so now you're starting over from scratch.  After another week of editing, you have the photos ready again and all of the edits are backed up to your external hard drive.  Nothing can go wrong now.  Except that your backup is sitting about 2 feet away from your main drive.  You better hope your house doesn't burn down!  Maybe you should move your backup to an offsite location?

I hope that you are at least a little scared by now.  Will your hard drive fail today?  Tomorrow?  Next week?  Probably not.  But it will fail.  You don't know when, which is what makes it extra-scary.

Next week I'll be posting Part 2 of this article, detailing my specific backup strategy.  Until then, I hope you think about your current backup strategy, how well it's working for you and what you want to change.  I am currently re-evaluating my strategy and will be reviewing it from the ground up.  

Keep in mind, I'm a photographer, not an IT guy.  If you don't like my strategy or what I'm saying here, feel free to ignore it or send suggestions my way!  And please... if you're really serious about backing up irreplaceable data, do more research than just reading what I have to say.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Love the Beast - A Car Movie That's About More Than Cars

Anyone who knows me from high school knows that I'm a car guy. Back then, I drove a variety of classic cars. My first car was a 1966 Dodge Dart. Then I upgraded to a 1968 Ford Galaxy, which had a bigger engine and fewer doors. Finally, I ended up with a 1969 Plymouth Roadrunner, a real muscle car. All of my friends drove similar cars: Mustangs, Novas, Camaros and Corvettes. We were car guys.

In a way I still am. Sure, I don't drive a muscle car. I haven't had grease-stained fingers for years. I can't look at a nut and tell you what size of wrench it takes anymore. Get me near a classic car, though, and I'm suddenly in a different place. The lines of the metal speak to me. The smell of the interior, the exhaust and the garage bring back memories. The chrome and leather and wood of the interior put me back behind the wheel.

When I first heard of this documentary about Eric Bana's car that he's owned since high school I was immediately interested. I mean, he gets the car of his dreams in high school, goes on to become a movie star, yet he still owns the same car he bought in high school? And now he races it? Yeah, it went right into my Netflix queue.

Ultimately, it's a movie about Eric and cars and racing. It documents his history with the car and his relationship with his childhood friends who have always helped him work on the car. It documents his passion for driving and for racing. It culminates with him racing in the same race that first made him fall in love with his particular model of car.

Mixed in with all of the cars and racing are the relationships that have formed over the years. There's Eric's relationship with his friends and his father. There's Eric's relationship with his car. There's his father's relationship with his car. Dr. Phil talks about what's going on here from a psychological point of view. Jay Leno talks about how he's never sold a car that he's owned because of the relationship he has with every single one.

In the end, it's a documentary that's about a lot more than cars and racing. It's about relationships, both with cars and with people. Eric said something that really made an impression on me. He said that the car was he and his friends' campfire. It was something they gathered around while they talked, something that brought them together. I really liked this analogy.

Most car movies aren't really considered sentimental, but I have to admit, I teared up at the end of this one. I don't know why it got to me but it really stirred something inside of me. I'm not inspired like I was after I watched It Might Get Loud, but this movie definitely made me feel. It didn't make me feel like I wanted to go out and drive fast cars (OK, maybe it did just a little bit). Instead, it made me feel something that I've lost, something that I once knew and had forgotten. It also made me feel fortunate for having had the experiences with cars that I've had in the past.

I really enjoyed this documentary. Even if you're not a car person, I'd still recommend it. It's entertaining, funny, touching and has some great guest appearances. It might even touch you in an unexpected way like it did me.

Here's my 1969 Roadrunner.  It was loud, fast and a few different colors.

Here's my 1968 Galaxy.  We measured it once.  It was over 19 feet long... and was only a 2-door.
It's also the first car I ever did burnouts in.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Brittany and Jeff - Denver Wedding Photography

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of helping Tess from Love•n•Joy Photography photograph a wedding just outside of Denver in Littleton. I just love helping other photographers photograph weddings because it gives me a chance to focus on the details and look for expressions or moments that can help compliment the main photographer's photos. Here are a few of my favorite photos from the day...

Here's Tess in wedding mode: one part business, one part fun, all parts awesome!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Don't Delete Photos - Better Photos... Now!

If you ever photograph in natural light or changing lighting conditions (think of a wedding where you can quickly move from shooting inside of a church to outside in the sun), you'll eventually get a good photo that is severely under or overexposed because you didn't change your camera settings quickly enough (you are shooting on manual, right?).  Don't delete that photo!  If you're shooting RAW, you'd be surprised at what you can do with a little post processing.

Of course, shooting a poorly exposed photo isn't the only issue you might have.  Maybe your subject moved and you got some motion blur.  Maybe your focus didn't lock where you expected and you got an out of focus photo.  Maybe a dog ran in front of the camera.  Maybe it was just a test photo.  All of these are very real possibilities and, although they might not have given you the image you were expecting, you might just be happy with the results anyway.

I've also heard stories that deleting photos in-camera can mess up the formatting on the card and, on rare occasions, corrupt other photos.  While the odds of this happening are pretty small (I don't personally know anyone this has ever happened to), if there's a chance it might happen at an important event like a wedding, it's probably not worth deleting a few photos just to free up a bit of extra space.

Here's an example of an overexposed photo before and after processing.

And a few more recent wedding photos that illustrate my point:

This was just a test photo before Payal's portrait.  She was talking to her brother when I took this.

Again, this was a test photo while the group was messing around.

Someone else's flash fired at the same time I took this photo.  For some this is a ruined photo, for others it's beautiful.
Read all of my DSLR tips here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Congratulations Veronica and Luke!

You might remember Veronica and Luke’s engagement photos from a few months ago.  Their wedding was this past weekend in California.  Although I wasn’t there to photograph it, from what I saw on Facebook it was a beautiful wedding! 

Congratulations Veronica and Luke!  This is definitely the start of something good…