Wedding Photography and “Uncle Bob”

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This picture has nothing to do with "Uncle Bob." I just feel bad when I write a long post and don't have any pictures..

There are so many issues that wedding photographers can argue about:   light, composition, equipment, price, style and so on. I think it’s a hoot that the one issue that always seems to get the most varied and heated opinions has nothing to do with the actual art of wedding photography (I’m a wedding photographer in Tampa, FL).

I’m talking about “Uncle Bob.”

If you’re a wedding photographer  then you know exactly who I’m talking about. For those of you who don’t know, “Uncle Bob” is the guest at the wedding with an expensive camera who has decided to become an un-official wedding photographer for the day. Every time you pose someone for a shot, Uncle Bob is right there snapping away. If someone steps in front of you at an important moment during the reception, it’s Uncle Bob. Uncle Bob means well, but he’s oblivious to the fact that you’re doing a job and he’s interfering (I once had Uncle Bob get mad at me because I wouldn’t “wait my turn” to take a picture of the Bride and Groom during an emotional moment at the reception.)

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Naneu UrbanGear U220 Review

Last week I got a call from a company called Naneu

They make camera bags (they make quite a few camera bags in fact) and   they asked me if I would field test one of them and give them some feedback. Well, there’s no way that I’m going to turn down a free bag so I jumped at the chance. (more…)

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Lumiquest Softbox III: Review

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You know how this story goes: I’m working alone on an engagement shoot with a second speedlight on a tripod when suddenly a gust of wind catches the umbrella and everything comes crashing to the ground. This is how I found myself in need of a new umbrella.

One of the hardest things about working without an assistant is managing your off-camera lighting (plus, you have to get your own coffee, massage your own feet, change your own flat-tire, etc.). I go back-and-forth on  it whenever I am about to do a shoot where I think I will be moving around a lot. Do I carry more equipment and sacrifice portability?

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Developing your own style as a photographer

When you first decide that you want to be a professional photographer, there are so many things that you have to learn. You’ve got to learn the equipment, the software, and the business side of being a professional photographer. Then there’s the unbelievable amount of knowledge that you have to absorb in order to develop an eye and a talent for the entire operation. So much information, in fact, that any good photographer will tell you that they are still learning all the time. The one thing that can often fall by the wayside while you are trying to dig yourself out of of the mountain of education that has landed on your head is that you also have to develop your own style.

This can be very hard to do. When you take into consideration the fact that Photoshop provides a virtually unlimited palette from which you can paint (not to mention the hundreds of ways in which you can shoot) it’s easy to wind up all over the map. Occasionally I’ll come across that photographer who seems to have a clear idea of what they like and how they want to present themselves, right from the very beginning. I hate those guys. Nobody likes someone who seems to have it all together while the rest of us are flailing about with our water wings in the shallow end of the pool. Don’t even think about sitting at my table during lunch. Seriously.

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Taking wedding pictures that stand out from the pack

I think it goes without saying that a professional photographer produces unique and creative images at a wedding that the ordinary guest can’t hope to duplicate. I’m saying it anyway because more and more I see people doing their best to do my job.

At a typical wedding there are 2,347 cameras. Everyone has a camera and everyone is taking snapshots.   Then, all the snapshots go on Facebook for the world to see … right next to the shots that I have uploaded for my client. Also, the client sometimes uploads a ton of pictures from the CD I provide and they all mingle together in the giant Facebook stew of photography.

It’s easy to tell which pictures are mine.   There aren’t many guests at a wedding using off-camera strobes for the formals or bouncing flash. However, there may be plenty of guests with decent, high-end camera’s taking snapshots. Many times these snapshots are good. So, what can  I do to distinguish  myself from these people? (more…)

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Rules for Good Photography

I think now, more than ever, it’s hard to tell what makes a “good picture.”

Photography, like all art, is subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, etc, etc. And with Photoshop becoming such an integral part of the work process, it’s getting to the point where the old “rules” for good photography are being tossed out the window. I think that’s just fine, and I’ll tell you why. (more…)

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Wedding Photography: Death of the Formal Portrait?

Oh Formal Wedding Portrait, we hardly knew ye.

It seems that lately I am beginning to see more wedding photographers who are “photojournalist only” or “natural light.” I don’t want to get into a debate about the merits of these specialties as I’m a big believer that whatever works for you and your clients is great. Everyone doesn’t have to do it the same way. In fact, it’s a good thing we don’t because then wedding photographers would be like gas stations: Whoever has the lowest price gets the business.

That being said, it still seems like we are starting to move towards a complete elimination of the “formal” wedding portrait. I know for a fact that many photographers hate to shoot them and some flat refuse to. I don’t understand that mentality.   (more…)

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How to stand out in the client interview

Of all the things that I do, from the late nights working on new lighting techniques to the hours of building wedding albums and retouching photos…   nothing is a stressful as the client interview. When a client comes in to interview you about shooting their event, it’s like the worst job interview in the world. Unlike other jobs, photography is so subjective that just being able to convince someone you take good pictures isn’t enough.

You have to convince them that the pictures you take are substantially better than the pictures that your competitors take, or at the very least, possess some form of artistic merit that screams for them to hire you. While it’s true that they would not even be speaking to you if they didn’t like your work, it’s also true that there are usually at least a few other photographers in town who produce work similar to yours.   This is why it’s important to differentiate yourself from those photographers during the pitch. (more…)

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Wedding Photography Lighting – Find the level that’s right for you

I was talking with a friend of my wife’s yesterday and she asked, “Can you help me pick out a new camera?   I want to take better pictures of my kids.”

I get this sort of question all the time and it’s a tough one to answer. Most people don’t understand that good photography comes in levels (like Donkey Kong). Sure, it starts with a decent DSLR but then it moves up through many different levels of skill. The real question you have to ask yourself when you want to take better pictures is:   How much time am I willing to dedicate towards learning to take good photographs? Then I can help you choose your equipment.

The same question applies to wedding photography. Search the web and you will find prices from $500 – $5000 for a wedding photographer. How can that be? Well, it’s all about the levels and like Donkey Kong there are several different ladders you can choose to climb if you want to reach the big gorilla. So, with that in mind, let’s talk about the “Flash” ladder.   (I’m a wedding photographer in Tampa, FL) (more…)

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Wedding Photography and the Zoom Lens

If you get a bunch of wedding photographers together in a room (like AA), talk will eventually come around to lenses. A bunch of photographers talking about lenses makes watching paint dry seem glamorous. Everyone has a favorite lens and everyone has a particular style and it can be tough to decide on what your style and lens choices will be. It’s really just trial and error. Eventually, you will find yourself reaching for the same lens again and again and suddenly, before you know it, you have a style!

So, let’s talk about the almighty zoom lens.

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