Wednesday, February 29, 2012

WPPI - Photos

They say that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. There's even a Twitter hashtag (#knowthecode). But let's be serious... when you have a good time with friends all you want to do is share! So, here are some photos that should give you a pretty good idea of what we were up to in Vegas outside of the classroom environment of WPPI.

 If you didn't read my thoughts on WPPI, head on over here to give them a read.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

WPPI - A First-Timer's Thoughts

This year was my first time attending WPPI, the largest photography conference in the land. I have to say that I learned a lot. I definitely learned things that I'll apply to my business (which is why you go, right?). I also learned things that I'll do next year to make WPPI even more productive and fun!  Here are a few tips for you if you're thinking of going:

- Wear comfortable shoes. If you read anyone's list of things about WPPI, this should be at the top of every list! You'll walk all day and then go out at night and walk some more. After a few days your feet will be tired. Mine were and I'm a guy. I can't imagine going out in heels at night! Be kind to your feet. It will make your entire experience much more enjoyable.

- Have a game plan. You don't have to have every minute of your week planned out, but know which platform classes you're signed up for, which ones you'd like to see if you have time and when you're going to hit the trade show. Also, plan on some down time so you can relax and recharge. If you're from a part of the country that's cold in February and March, plan on getting outside and enjoying the sunshine and palm trees in the afternoons!

- Unless you absolutely must have your privacy, get some roomates! Not only will you save money, but you'll have a support network who will help you get out of bed in the morning when you're exhausted, encourage you to go out at night when you're exhausted and people who you already know to hang out with! Plus, if they're as fabulously good-looking as mine were, you'll have some great photo-ops!

- Get away from your roomates! I know that I just said it's nice to have roomates, but it's also nice to meet some new people. If you only hang out with your roomates, you're only hanging out with the same 2-3 people when there's 15,000 other photographers out there who you're ignoring! Me and my roomates ended up doing different things during the day and then spending the evenings together which worked out great.

- Vegas is expensive, so whatever you're budgeting for food and entertainment, you might just want to increase that amount by a bit. Inside the hotel, the Chinese fast-food place had a beef and vegetable dish that cost $20. At the same food court, different restaurant, a chicken sandwich was $12. Head out to a decent restaurant and you can plan on spending at least $50 a person for dinner and a drink. Not that there aren't cheaper options out there... I found a Del Taco within walking distance from the hotel and loved my $5 worth of chicken soft tacos. Same goes for In-N-Out Burger... cheap and delicious! You just can't realistically do that for every meal. Another option is to stock up on granola bars and other foods that you can buy ahead of time and keep in your room or bag for a quick meal.

Tess shot this photo wile I was sick in bed.
- I think over half of the people I know who went to WPPI got sick (and I'm sure the other half just haven't gotten sick yet). Some people stayed out all night every night, some had kids with them and were in bed by 10pm. The point is that with so many people, there are lots of germs being passed around and you'll likely catch something no matter what you do. Bring some Airborne or Emergen-C and drink up. Buy some NyQuil and DayQuil and throw it in your bag. While you're at it, buy the pain reliever of your choice as well. After you've stayed out all night dancing and your feet and head are killing you, you'll appreciate some ibuprofen. When you and your friends get sick, you'll be the hero for having DayQuil so everyone can still make it to class (and not having to spend a small fortune at the hotel shop).

- I'd highly recommend staying in the MGM just to save on walking and to make it easier to head back up to your room for a quick nap. Know this, though... not all rooms are created equally! In 2012 I stayed in the MGM Grand, but in 2013 I'll be staying in the MGM Signature. Why? The signature is actually closer to the conference and you don't have to walk through the smoky casinos every time you want to go somewhere. Plus, the rooms in the Grand don't even have coffee makers. No morning coffee?! Booo.

- If you attend one non-WPPI photography-related party, make it Airplanes and Blazers! It's a dance party filled with smartly-dressed photographers who just want to have a good time. There's photo booths, music and smiles all around. I didn't talk to a single person who didn't have a good time. I'm definitely heading back next year. Be sure to buy your tickets early, though. They do sell out. Also, when I first checked the pricing they were $20 and later went up to $35. I can guarantee that, through the sheer awesomeness of this event, you will be better friends with anyone who you go with after you leave than you were before you went.

- Finally, bring a camera. Sounds obvious, right? Well, you don't have to bring your DSLR. You probably shouldn't. But bring something so you can get some photos! Maybe you have an opportunity to get a photo with Jose Villa. Maybe your roomate is doing something ridiculous. Maybe you just want to take some creative photos on the strip. For me, it was all three. For you, who knows? Just make sure to bring a camera. It can be your phone, a point and shoot, anything. Just bring it and use it.

You can see more photos here!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Polaroid Diaries: Part I - Introduction

Over the past many months, I've been shooting with a variety of Polaroids and films. I've gotten some really good results and some really bad results. Good news: Polaroids rock. Bad news: Polaroid film isn't cheap. I'd much rather get more good results than bad results and I'm sure you would too. So, I'm going to try to document some of my experiences here so we can both learn something.

I'm going to start out with some initial thoughts and then get a little more detailed in the future. Here are the cameras I've been shooting with:
  • SX-70
  • 635 CL
  • 360 and 230 Packfilm Cameras
And the films I've been using:
  • Various Impossible Project films (PX 100 Silver Shade UV+, PX 70 Color Shade, PX 70 Push)
  • Fuji 100C, 100B and 3000B 
  • Polaroid Chocolate and Sepia Type 100 (expired)
  • Polaroid 600 (expired)
  • Polaroid 779 (expired)
If you're just getting started with the wonderful world of Polaroid, here are a few tips for you:

- Be ready to spend a bunch of money. No kidding. It's not cheap to buy film. If you're shooting a SX-70 or a 600 camera, be ready to spend anywhere from $2-$3 every time you push the button. The packfilm cameras are cheaper at about $1 per image.
- Be prepared for some disappointing results. Not every photo is going to pop out looking like it's straight out of the 1970s. You're going to get over exposed photos, under exposed photos and blurry photos. For quite a while, you'll get them more often than you get properly exposed and properly focused photos, and that's a promise.
- If you're buying cameras at yard sales, antique shops or Craigslist, be prepared to get some that don't work properly. Also, be prepared to waste some film figuring out that your camera doesn't work. And then there's the camera that you thought worked, but then decides not to work very well when you really want to use it. Seriously.

Fortunately, it's not all doom and gloom in the wold of Polaroid. You can get some great results with a little knowledge and practice! It's also a lot of fun and very addictive. 

If you've already got a Polaroid and want to get better photos, we're in this journey together. I'll offer up any tips I know or find out and hope that you'll do the same. Let's help each other. If you're just thinking about getting into Polaroids, maybe this will help you figure out if it's really something you want to mess with or if it's something you can be passionate about and master.

Here's a few images to close things out. You can be sure that you'll be seeing them again in some future blog posts. Also, if you want to stay current on all of my film shooting and personal work, head on over to my Tumblr page.

Fuji 100-C

Polaroid 779

Fuji 100-B

Polaroid Chocolate

Impossible Project Silver Shade UV+

Impossible Project Color Shade

Monday, February 20, 2012

Denver Valentine's Day Weddings

On Valentine's Day this year, I was surrounded by love. Not only did I get to spend the evening with my lovely wife and photograph a super-cute couple, I also got to photograph a few weddings. A few? Yeah, a few. Oh, and a barbershop quartet stopped by for a bit. And so did the mayor of Denver.

The Denver Clerk and Recorder's Office contacted me about photographing couples who came in to get their marriage licenses on Valentine's Day. Instead of treating it like just another day, they've decided to embrace the fun of Valentine's Day and decorate the office, serve cookies and punch and even give out prizes! In the past they've had a staff member photograph couples, but this year decided to take it up a notch and have a wedding photographer (me) come in and take photos.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I was told that I'd be taking quick photos of couples who had just gotten their marriage license in front of a backdrop that the office put together. I had no idea that the entire room would be decorated and the backdrop would have so many hearts on it! I was blown away with how amazing it all looked!

It turns out lots of couples who came in for their marriage licenses decided to get married this year! How many, you might ask? Fourteen couples! Fourteen couples got married at the Denver Clerk and Recorder's Office on Valentine's Day and I photographed them all! It doesn't hurt that Herbie "The Love Judge" Galchinsky was there to marry the couples. What a great guy!

To top things off, the entire day received some pretty heavy news coverage. I think four major news stations were there covering it, as well as local radio and newspaper. As if things weren't crazy enough, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock showed up to see what was going on. He even gave his signature as the witness to one couple's marriage certificate!

Here are just a few moments from Valentine's Day 2012. I can't wait to see what happens next year!