Category Archives Guest Blogger

NEW FRONTIERS

All photographers have familiar subject matter. Maybe you are wedding photographer, a sports shooter or a headshot specialist. You cover similar events and subjects year after year. The natural progression is you start asking yourself, â˜is there a different way to photograph this familiar subject?' Sometimes unique perspectives or new locations prompt spikes in creativity and original ideas. Sometimes new lighting or post processing creates fresh looks. And other times new gear comes along that lets you realize new possibilities.

I've been photographing adventure sports for almost 30 years, and I have watched how trends, techniques and styles have all evolved over time. Just when you think you have seen it all, photographers figure out new techniques and perspectives and things become fresh again. Right now the adventure sports genre is experiencing the â˜drone revolution.' Video and still photographers have a new tool that permits exciting new ways to photograph climbing and kayaking. And combine that with athletes climbing cliffs and paddling off waterfalls that were thought to be impossible, and adventure sports photography is looking good right now.

My own evolution came with a phone call from my friends at Elinchrom. I have shot with Elinchrom lights for as long as I can remember, and nothing makes me happier than hauling my Rangers and Quadras into the woods to light up a rock climber on a cliff. But this time Elinchrom had a new light for me to try outâ¦the Elinchrom ELC Pro HD 1000s. These lights are 1000 watt AC unitsâ¦and so much more. What knocked me off my seat was the spec that said "these lights can shoot 20 flashes per second." After crawling back into my chair, I fell off again when I realized, "these lights can recycle as fast as your Nikon D4 can shoot." If the specs were true I could finally realize a shot I had imagined for years; creating a sequence shot with every frame lit by flash.

To test out the lights I headed to Salida, Colorado to photograph pro skateboarder Shea Donavan. Shea has a huge half pipe skate ramp in his backyard, and he spends hours each day perfecting amazing aerials on his board. Shea and his dad Bill are always up for skating shoots; we set up the lights for cross lighting Shea when he caught air off the ramp, and waited for twilight for optimal conditions. But we didn't anticipate one thing; the blinding power and speed of the ELC 1000s.

On the first pass Shea catch huge air. I started shooting at 10 FPS, and the ELCs were popping off every frameâ¦and completely blinding Shea. Halfway through the jump he grabbed his board and prepared for a hard landing. Time seemed suspended for a moment, but somehow Shea landed on the ramp in control (but not on his board!). Lesson learned, we repositioned the lights, and on the next jumps, Shea knew what to expect and hit some amazing tricks well out of the half pipe. I was amazed to see every frame was perfectly lit. Instead of only having one frame illuminated per pass, I now had 10 shots to choose just the right shot from the jump. Bill Donavan and Dangerous Circus Pictures created a video of the shoot.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLcG6J3QLcI

After seeing these amazing lights crank off hundreds of lightning fast shots, I knew I had the tool for my sequence shot. I had one challenge. Since I often shoot away from AC power, I needed a generator that could power two ELC 1000s strobes and keep up with the fast recycling time. I found that my 2000 watt Honda generator worked great, and better yet, it only weighs about 45 pounds. For my flash sequence photo, I hired a pro BMX biker, Chance, for the shoot. I told Chance well in advance to start with easy jumps since the lights might be a little distracting. But on this shoot we shot in brighter conditions with the lights at about 500 watts. And sometimes you just get lucky; dramatic clouds starting rolling in creating the perfect background for the shoot. I underexposed the background about 1.5 stops from what the flash exposure was on my biker. To help project the lights into the scene, I added sports reflectors to the heads.

Chance started with simple jumps, and then progressed into backflips and more advanced tricks. Each pass I was shooting my D4 at 10 FPS, and every frame was lit perfectly. What really amazed me was the consistency of flash throughout each sequence. We also shot a short video behind the scenes of this shoot:

http://vimeo.com/104026963

I later seamed up the individual sequence shots into one frame in Photoshop using layers and brushing in the rider into the shot.

I continued to experiment with new sequence techniques using these lights. The ELC 1000s also have a terrific stroboscopic mode. Instead of combining multiple frames from a sequence, you keep your shutter open for long periods of time while a moving subject is flashed moving across the frame. The end result is one frame with your subject in multiple positions. I experimented with karate competitors and dancers for some interesting effects.

I don't think many photographers are ever satisfied with their work. I know I'm not. I create some images I feel are successful, and I may be complacent for a few days. But then I get restless, and feel the urge to create something bigger, better and more creative. I want to explore new frontiers. This year new technology, the Elinchrom ELC 1000s, have allowed me to explore new frontiers in my photography. But I'm starting to feel restless again. Perhaps this video best explains why I became a photographer, and why I just have to keep on shooting.

http://vimeo.com/120904640

You can see more of Tom’s work at TomBolPhoto.com, follow him on Facebook and Twitter, and check out his classes on KelbyOne.

First off, I want to thank my friends Brad and Scott for inviting me back as guest blogger. I love these dudes - because they love photography and because they love helping photographers, around the planet, make better photographs. They are also really good people.

This post is about Creative Visualization, which is the title of my latest book, Creative Visualization for Photographers. In this post I will share some highlights from the book.

What is creative visualization? Basically, Creative Visualization is envisioning the end result - and doing this is often the key to making a good photograph. It's kind of like going on a road trip: If you know where you are going, you'll know how to get there, making the right travel decisions along the way.

When it comes to making a photograph, if you envision the end result, you will know what camera settings to use, what lens is best to convey your creative vision, and what accessories might be needed. What's more, you'll envision how your image can be enhanced/processed in Lightroom, Photoshop and with plug-ins.

So seeing the end-result, developing your creative vision, is important.

This is one of my favorite photographs from my Route 66 road trip -- which my wife Susan planned out (envisioned) so we knew where we were going.

Here is the original shot from which I made the image. No, it's not HDR (High Dynamic Range). The train was actually speeding past us. This image is what I call an EDR (Extended Dynamic Range) image. EDR is about extending the dynamic range of a single file.

Knowing the EDR power of Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) and Photoshop, I snapped a quick shot.

Here is what I did to push the limits of ACR.

Increased:

Exposure - makes an image brighter.

Shadows - opens us shadow areas.

Clarity - makes the image look sharper by increasing detail.

Vibrance - increases the saturation of non-saturated colors.

Saturation - increases the saturation of all the colors in a photograph.

Decreased:

Contrast -reduced the difference between the shadows and highlights.

Whites - preserved the highlights.

Highlights - brings back (and rescues in some cases) detail in bright area.

Blacks - makes blacks look bolder and add contrast to a file.

In case you were wondering, I corrected the perspective (pole on the left leading into the frame) in Photoshop: Select All > Edit > Transform > Perspective.

I envisioned a black-and-white image. To convey that vision, I used Nik Silver Efex Pro, using a red filter to darken the sky.

Photographing What We Recognize is an important concept. It's another chapter in the book.

What do you see - or recognize - in this photograph? Take a good look. Take your time.

When I show this photograph to my workshops students, most see a silhouette of Christ's crucifixion. That is precisely what I saw when I took the picture . . . and why I took the picture.

Other comments on this photograph have included:
– A man raising his arms to a crescent moon.
– A blue sky with a low sun.
– A lady dancing.
– Neptune and his trident.
– Sadness.
– Christ, monsters, faith, welcome, danger, decay, a duck.
– Evocative image. Very “Rorschach." There are many things to see in this image.
– A man with a crown, birds at the end of his arms, leaning against a pole with a crescent moon.
– A poor exposure and bad cropping.

The point is that photographers, myself included, usually photograph what we recognize, consciously or unconsciously. What's more, some photographers specifically travel to popular locations to get the "iconic" shot, the same shot that a million other photographers on the planet have taken. That's not necessarily a bad thing. It can be fun and rewarding, and you can learn some things by doing this.

The same is true for musicians, including myself (and my friend Scott Kelby may feel the same way). Sure, I like to improvise, but I also like (try) to play the "iconic" leads of my favorite guitar players: Santana, Jimi Hendrix, The Allman Brothers. As I said, that's not necessarily a bad thing. It can be fun and rewarding.

In the chapter, Looking vs. Seeing, I talk about, among other things, seeing a picture within a picture, and the difference between just looking around and actually seeing a photograph.

This portrait of a novice monk is one of my favorite images from my trip to Myanmar.

This is a snapshot of the same scene. Had I not been looking for pictures, I might not have focused on the single monk on the right of the frame. And speaking of envisioning the end result, I wanted to create a "sense of place" image, so I chose a medium aperture to slightly blur the writing on the wall in the background, while still being able to see that there is writing on the wall.

Photography and the Death of Reality, another chapter in the book, is not a new topic, but as we move more and more into digital darkroom enhancements, the topic becomes more and more important.

The chapter leads off with this image of the Blue Swallow Motel on Route 66, which we planned to be at for sunrise - because, again, we envisioned the end result.

Before I go on, I'd like to share a story with you about Ansel Adams, relayed to me by one of his assistants, the talented John Sexton. Here goes: A man writes Ansel Adams a letter (condensed here): Dear Mr. Adams, I have your wonderful books. Your beautiful pictures of Yosemite inspired me to visit this National Park. However, when I got there I was disappointed. The park does not look like the pictures in your book.

So much for reality.

Since the early days of photography, people with cameras have made images that don't represent reality, even when they tried. That's due, in part, to the way cameras record light, and how lenses bend light and compress or widen a scene or subject - not to mention that we see in 3D and camera see in 2D, and that our eyes have a dynamic range of about 13 f/stops compared to the five or six f-stops our digital cameras see (in a single exposure without digital enhancements).

The chapter has three main messages:

One, it's designed to encourage you to make your most creative images ever, and not to be afraid to follow your heart when it comes to making digital enhancements.

Two, it's important to consider the reality of your photographs and the photographs of others.

Three, photographers are somewhat like magicians, or illusionists if you will. The creative process of image making is like the art of doing a magic trick. If you don't know the trick, the trick is amazing. If you do know the trick, you know that it's a relatively simple procedure.

The scene needed some digital darkroom magic, for sure. This is a straight shot (no image processing) of the scene.

The magic started with a bracketed set of images, from which I created my HDR image.

Here's another example of creative visualization, combined with some HDR magic and basic image enhancements. It's an image from Fairy Glen in the Conwy Valley in North Wales.

The scene looked like this upon arrival at Fairy Glen.

In the book I talk about the space-time continuum - which may sound a bit far out. I'll end this guest blog post with this concept for a good reason: I think it will make you feel good about being a photographer.

The space-time continuum is a mathematical model that combines space and time into a single idea. That concept came to mind when I took this photograph of a lenticular cloud near Mt. Rainier in Washington State.

If you had been there, you might have chosen a different space (composition) for your photograph. You might have taken a wider or tighter shot, or you may have composed your image differently.

What about time? You may not have pressed the shutter release button at exactly the same time as I had, so the clouds might have been in slightly different position. You also may not have used the same shutter speeds that I used, which could have affected the movement of the clouds in your photograph.

Back home, you probably would have processed the image differently, perhaps making it a more saturated image or a black-and-white image.

When you think about, a photograph you take is a single idea - of your individual creative vision. Acting on your ideas, and accomplishing your goals, will give you a good feeling about your work - and yourself.

Creative Visualization is not limited to photography. It applies to your life, too. In his book, Real Magic - Creating Miracles in Everyday Life, Dr. Wayne Dyer talks about (basically) how you can create your own reality. Visualization is the key.

You can see more of Rick's work at RickSammon.com and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Rick will also be talking about creative visualization at Photoshop World in Vegas later this year, and you can check out his classes on KelbyOne.


Available in paperback and Kindle versions

Hey Gang! Holy cow am I seriously writing as a guest blogger for Scott Kelby?! I am honestly a little freaked out right now. When I started working for Scott and Kelby Media Group almost 5 years ago, I never would have imagined I would be asked to speak to such an amazing group of readers. Some of the brightest and most talented photographers on the planet have graced these pages and I am truly honored to share my time with you.

Some of you may know that I direct our on-location KelbyOne classes with our amazing line up of instructors. But I also teach classes on KelbyOne showing you how to edit video in Adobe Premiere Pro. As I sit here trying to figure what exactly a videographer can talk about with photographers, one big topic comes to mind; how can you, as photographers, start to become filmmakers? So I came up with these 5 tips:

TOP 5 WAYS TO GET STARTED IN FILMMAKING WITHOUT GOING TO FILM SCHOOL

1) Watch Behind The Scenes On Your Blu-Ray Movies
This is, for me, one of the most underrated and most valuable first ways to learn filmmaking. Most movies will come with some kind of behind the scenes footage on the disc or in download form. By watching these, you will get to see how the film's set works, hear from the director and cinematographer, see all the fancy gear that's being used, and you may even learn out how they pulled off an amazing shot in the movie.

I have two tips for you in regards to these BTS videos. First, if you buy the "Special Edition" version of the movie (like the Anniversary Edition, and even the 3D Blu-Ray combo packs), they tend to have much more BTS features than just the normal version of the film. Second, do not skip over watching the film with the commentary turned on, often times that will be the most detailed conversation on the film you will ever hear.

2) Make Short Films⦠Lots Of Them
Another great way to learn filmmaking is by telling simple short stories. They can be about your dog roaming the neighborhood, or your kids playing at the park, really any short story will work. Now, your first set of films are going to suck. And that's okay. They are not supposed to look good. But rather it is supposed to help you start thinking like a filmmaker and help you gain valuable experience by making mistakes.

3) Be A PA (Production Assistant) On Someone Else's Film Set
Not only will you see how things are done during filming and how people work on set, you will gain lots of experience and titles for yourself without spending any money. In fact, you might even get paid to learn by working on their set. Another benefit besides seeing how things work on set is that you will most likely see how things can go wrong on set as well. So you can learn valuable lessons from someone else's mistakes and that can save you a ton of headaches in the future.

4) Use Your Smartphone Video Option
One of the cheapest, simplest, and most effective ways to practice filmmaking is by using your smartphone. You can practice camera angles, and test how your scenes will look before you actually film with more expensive gear. There is a phrase in photography that goes like this: "The best camera is the one you have on you," and this applies to video as well.

5) Mute Your Films
This tip can truly be a game changer for people just getting into filmmaking. You need to watch films. Lots of films. From the summer blockbusters, to the less popular independents, to the "lovey dovey" romance films (yes, guys I said it) to comedies. All types of films. But, the one major thing you need to do when watching films for study is turn off the volume.

Yes you read that right. By muting the film, it actually takes you out of the illusion that is the film story, allowing you to really study the scenes in the movie. Pay attention to how shots are used and how scenes are edited together. Look at how often they cut back and forth, and how long they hold on shots. It's much harder to do this with the volume up because the sound draws you in and you get lost following the story instead of studying the filmmaking process.

Conclusion
So there you go! Those are my 5 tips to help you get started in the world of filmmaking without going to film school. As you can see, you don't need a fancy degree (although it helps) to learn to tell visual stories. After all, we ALL already do that with still images right? The major difference is instead of concentrating on just the one frame, as a filmmaker we are now concentrating on 24 frames every second.

I want to give a big shout out to Scott Kelby and Brad Moore for asking me to share some of my experience with you all here. I am truly honored and thankful for the opportunity!

You can check out Brandon’s classes on KelbyOne, and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Firstly I want to thank Scott and Brad for allowing me a space here. I wondered what to write about, but I suppose, in the end, I thought it just made sense to tell the story of why I shoot and how I shoot.

<<<< REWIND >>>>

It's a Monday in June 2009. My wife has just given birth to our first daughter. I get up at 5am. I get on the train at 5:20am. I sit on the train for two hours (same seat, every day. Same newspaper, every day, same people around me, every day). I get to my desk in central London at 8:30am.

Tip, tap, tip, tapâ¦.. I tinker away at the computer keyboard writing code. I have lunch at 1pm, with the same people. Every day (cool people btw). At 5:30pm I leave my desk. At 6pm I get on the train and stand for the next two hours next to same people I stand by every day. I get home at 8:30pm.

Gemma has already put my new daughter to bed. I go and see her. Smile, a little, and then thinkâ¦â¦ it's time.

I go downstairs.

Gemma, looks at me like only a wife who knows you are about to drop something very substantial (but not necessarily in a good way) on her plate.

I've not said a word yet. She looks. I look. She sits down. I sit down. Then I stand up again. Then I get a beer. Change my mind, and grab a Scotch instead.

Gemma looks on.

"I've quit. I'm going to be a wedding photographer," I say.

Boom. There it is. She looks at me as if a second head has popped out of my ear.

"A wedding photographer?" she says - like only a wife who's just had something substantial (but not necessarily in a good way) dropped on her plate.

"But you've never even owned a camera!" And I hadn't. But I knew I'd need one soon.

Gemma went to bed. I finished my Scotch.

<< FAST FORWARD >>

It's Monday 23rd March 2015 and I'm writing this. I'm sat in my studio, in my home town. I've just dropped my kids off at school and here I am, writing something for Scott Kelby's amazing blog. In a few hours I'll pick the kids up, we'll go home.

And here⦠I'm going to be talking about my pictures.

My pictures. Talking about MY PICTURES.

That's me, talking about my pictures, to you, and to Scott, and to well, anyone else who cares to readâ¦â¦ You get the idea.


5D2: I like to look for the extraordinary in the ordinary


5D2: This little fellow has the same opinion of formal shots as me!

This is quite something. I wonder how on earth this has happened. My pictures are far from technically perfect, far from it, and I know many people won't like them. But hey - here we are and I wanted to recite that little story as I know there are many people out there who want to make that leap of faith. It can work. Honest.


X100S: I love to capture the "feeling" of the wedding itself


X100S


 X-Pro1: I like humour to play a big part in my images

I shot my first wedding on the 9th August 2009. One day before my 35th birthday. It was hell. The pictures were OK, and the client's lovely, but the experience was hell.

I did everything I thought I should do. I played by the rules and followed all the instructions I'd read about in wedding photography magazines, online forums and social media (as it was then). I shot 41 group shots, I got a lovely close up image of the wedding rings in their boxes, I made lovely portraits of the bride and groom, I got them to walk up and down in a field for thirty minutes while I changed the settings on my new Canon 5D Mark 1. I took photos of them doing a "mock" cutting of the cake in front of an empty room. We went for a walk at dusk and took more portraits while their guests drank champagne and wondered where they were.

Lovely. Lovely pictures. I was happy with them. But then it hit me. I'd given up my career to do this, every Saturday, for the next however long. I didn't enjoy it one bit.

By now Gemma had started talking to me again and I discussed it with her. She said, "Why don't you just shoot it the way you want to?"

Bingo. Epiphany number one.


5D3


5D3: Eye contact and simple interaction are core elements of my images

Since the "epiphany" back in 2009, I've shot near 300 weddings and I've made some of the most amazing friends on that journey. I've been around the world, and I've even written a book.

But mostly, I've completely and utterly changed my life, and that of my family and for the better too.

Although I'd never been a photographer of any kind, I always found myself drawn to story-telling pictures. Pictures of a photojournalistic nature. I was drawn to people such Mel Digiacomo and so, from wedding number two onwards that was the way I was going to shoot.

I pretty much decided, there and then, to shoot "reportage," "documentary," "photojournalism…" Whatever you want to call it⦠Really, I decided to shoot in a candid way going forward.

And, with the odd bump here and there, it hasn't changed at all since.

Now, to go completely against the clich©, I actually don't like weddings. I know, right? I'm a wedding photographer who doesn't like weddings. Crazy.

But that's not the end of it. I can turn that clich© around and follow it up with, "But I love people." And I do. I love photographing people, being people.

I love the humanity element of weddings. I don't like the contrived, formulaic elements of it. And I shoot my weddings as a Street Photographer would shoot on the streets of London; searching for moments and looking for the unexpected in a world of expectedness.


X-E2: Emotion is such a powerful thing, yet I think we leave it behind a lot of the time


X100S

I look for light, I look for moments. And I love that.

For me, a wedding is about the interaction, it's about touch, it's about eye contact, it's about humour, it's about emotion, and it's about loveâ¦â¦


X-T1

I wanted to give my clients the view of their wedding from their guests’ point of view. I wanted to deliver my clients bang, right back at that moment in time.  I wanted to see my clients smile, cry with joy, laugh⦠I wanted to see my clients "remember" their wedding, recite moments that happened and give them the opportunity to witness moments they didn't see on the day.


X100T: People, being people

So, I have to say this, because it's very true; although I shoot in a candid way, this doesn't mean I don't have an appreciation for photographers who shoot more formally. There are many clients who would shriek at my pictures, and for them there are many wonderful wedding photographers out there who will deliver images way above my skill level and ability.

However, what rocks my boat, is the story. And it's the uncontrived story I like to tell, through my pictures.


X100T

I originally started shooting using the Canon 5D (Mark 1,2 and 3 in the end). Initially I was shooting using the big 70-200 and a 24-70.

But I knew there was something missing. I couldn't put my finger on it but for the first year I wasn't really satisfied with any of my wedding photographs.

Then I decided to ditch the zooms and use a two lens system only. From then on, I shot 100% with an 85mm f/1.2 and a 35mm f/1.4 lens. They were heavenly. I adored those Canon systems and I adored those lenses.

I genuinely believe that shooting with a couple of prime lenses adds a uniformity to your images. Across the board editing, workflow, and look and feel of my images were brought into line. The 85mm f/1.2 especially was a lens that brought me some very memorable images.

I was shooting 95% available light too, with the odd flash brought out for the first dance when the ambient light wasn't good enough.


X100T: I prefer to shoot with available light as far as possible


X-T1: Light remains paramount, even in our dark winter UK churches

The Canons were great, and I loved them, and would never knock them but…

I then had another epiphany at Photokina in 2010. I saw a picture of this little retro-looking camera in a little glass box. It kind of looked at me, as I looked at it. I was intrigued and at the time I was going through another crisis of confidence. Once again I couldn't put my finger on it but my pictures weren't quite delivering for me what I wanted. Clients were loving them, but for me, there was something I wasn't quite connecting with.


X100S: Even seemly ordinary moments can hold interest, and certainly memories

I didn't know it at the time, but when I gazed at what was the Fuji X100 in its little glass box I wondered if what I was lacking in my images was a rawer connection with my subjects. Something I could perhaps only get by getting closer. Getting more intimate, but at the same time remaining as discreet as possible and ensuring the integrity of the moment.

I pointed my stubby little finger at that camera and said, "…that's it.  That's what I need."

About five months later I received one of the first Fuji X100's that came into the UK. I took it to a wedding, I shot all my normal stuff with the Canons, and then I shot an hour or so with the X100.

I took the X100 home. I looked it squarely in the eye again. It looked back at me. And I said to itâ¦"Now mister - I like you; you are small, you are discreet, you are deadly silent and you are good to my back. But, if we are to get on, you are going to have to work faster, more reliably and make me swear a lot less often."


X-Pro1: I'm always looking for context around the wedding setting


X-E2: There are stories within stories at the periphery of all wedding moments


X100S

At the time, the Fuji X100 was really my only option at getting on board with the [affordable for me] mirrorless technologies. Of course, there is also now Sony, Olympus etc who each have amazingly good systems. For me, though, at that point I'd pinned my flag to the embryonic Fuji X-Series tree and whilst in the beginning I saw "potential," I now, four years later, see how moving to the X-Series has dramatically changed the way I shoot weddings.


X100

I now shoot 100% with my X-Series of cameras. The current set up is an X100T and an X-T1 with the 56mm f/1.2 lens attached. It's no coincidence that that setup, in full frame equivalent, is approximately 35mm and 85mm - just like my preferred shooting lengths with my Canon system.


XT-1: Using lighter, smaller equipment has definitely added a dimension to the way I like to shoot

Here's the thing about these cameras for me; they allow me to get closer still. They bring an intimacy to the imagery that I simply wasn't able to get with the Canon system (the images were fine of course, it was a mindset of shooting more than anything).


X100S

I'm now just a guest at the wedding. In fact, many guests have larger and more expensive equipment than me. Has any client ever said to me "we expected you to be using large SLRs?" No. Never. Has any client ever said "Wow, really, we just hardly noticed you all day." Yes. Many.

So, going back to what I wanted to shoot and with regard to shooting "people being people" - the Fuji cameras have really exploited that ambition for me and allow to fulfill that for myself and for my clients.


X-T1:  I like to capture the moments in between

It's imperative to me that my pictures reflect the honesty of the wedding. There are many "wedding photojournalists" who work in the same way. There are equally as many who call themselves wedding photojournalists yet stage and contrive the images. For me that's not the same. Shooting candidly is not necessarily the same as making documentary pictures and so I prefer to use the adjective â˜candid' (which the dictionary defines as "truthful and straightforward") when describing my style of photography.


X-T1

For me it's all about the integrity of the moment. I often say to my clients that I'm simply the curator of memories. You, and your guests, make those memories - I simply record them. I don't want to have any influence on anything at the wedding itself. It is my responsibility to understand the given lighting conditions, take note and understand the characters at the wedding, be responsible and sensitive to every situation and use all my senses help me to record, in pictures, the story of their day.


X-T1: Ultimately, it's about emotion.  It's about humanity. It's about allowing people to be people


X-T1


X-Pro1


X-E2


X-T1: And it's absolutely always about the love

This incredible, short journey, has given me some great privileges, but I think the most humbling experience in my career came last year when another photographer who had been at one of my workshops approached her to document the Caesarean birth of her daughter.


X-T1:  First Moment

At first I was very reticent to take this on, but I wanted to do something at that stage of my career that was out of my comfort zone and this was the perfect canvas.

In a nutshell, that's the story of my story so to speak. How I went from corporate misery to shooting social documentary photography. I made it sound so easy right?

Well, it was kind of easy, because I unshackled myself from the "rules" of the industry. I believed in the way I wanted to shoot, picked up the ball and ran with it.

But let me tell you, running with that ball hasn't been all plain sailing. I could write just as much about how often I've wanted to give it all up.

How my wife has saved me from doing so on several occasions.

I could tell you about the anonymous hate email I received stating "your photographs are snapshots. Why don't you leave it to the professionals?"

I could tell you about how I've sat and watched my images ripped apart by judges at international competitions and dismissed as "snapshotography" (and by the way, they had a point).

I could tell you about the time that a simple sentence from Zack Arias whilst having a beer in a Japanese bar saved my career.

I could tell you all of that stuff too.

â¦but instead, I'd like you to press play on the video below. Turn the sound up and at the endâ¦.smile. Life is good!

http://vimeo.com/99063734

For me, the key here is the human story. I use the clock to anchor the segments together but the little looks, the eye contact, the touch, the first sights of Majaâ¦.

So bringing it all back together - I enjoy story telling pictures. I enjoy stories that have a start, a middle and an end. I enjoy creating picture essays that curate these memories for my clients.

It's different to the "norm." There is no formula. It's 100% candid and I guess I simply enjoy taking pictures of people, being people.

I hope you've enjoyed my ramble, and even if you don't enjoy the pictures, I hope it helps people teetering on the edge to make a decision. One way or another. Life changing decisions usually work out for the best!

I'm happy to answer any questions you may have, just leave them in the comments.

Thanks so much for reading!
-Kevin

You can see more of Kevin’s work at KevinMullinsPhotography.co.uk and The-Owl.co.uk, and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


An imperfect pub shot is both a rare portrait as well as a great memory

Recently the Ethernet support on my DroboPro stopped working so I thought I lost access to 12 terabytes of archived photographs. I had used Drobo's dual disk redundancy feature to make sure I was covered if a drive crashed, and I had seen this work flawlessly several times over the last few years. However, I didn't count on the connection between the computer and Drobo dying. After multiple attempts to get help from Drobo that went unanswered I started to panic!


Photos from fun days with our family are irreplaceable

I used to have all my images backed up "in the cloud", but after spending nearly a year getting all of my images upload my service providers rate went from $9.99/mo to nearly $400/mo so I cancelled the service. I kept saying to myself that I'd take care of this problem next week, but I kept procrastinating. When the iCloud hack happened I also began to get concerned about having my images in the cloud, so that had me reconsidering my local backup solutions again.


Priceless expression photos are the ones I treasure the most

This experience really got me to think deeply about what had happened and what I'd do if I could go back in time. The funny thing is that I didn't think much about losing my money making commercial photos that had provided for my family. I did think about losing the snapshots and videos taken of my family and I was sick to my stomach about it! My older children were born when I still shot film so I had negatives to fall back on. However, my youngest (age 5) was born in the digital age so the only backups were electronic!


Kids grow fast, so milestone shots remind you of those fleeting moments

After racking my brain I remembered that all wasn't lost because of the work that I had done for my printing series a few years back. While I certainly hadn't printed enough, I did have some prints of some of my most cherished moments with my family. I also had some images stored on Facebook as well as my very rarely used sites on 500px and Flickr. I don't like storing my best images on social media so all that was really there were a bunch of cell phones shots or stuff that I didn't care as much about.


This unexpected pose from my grandma "in-law" is a priceless treasure

What was missing for both print and online were the personal photos that captured memories of my favorite life experiences, few of which would be considered works of art - ha, ha! It was for this very reason that I hadn't taken the time to print those, because even I don't want to wallpaper my house with photos from my kids' birthdays, pictures of my meal from a great anniversary dinner, or the incredible hotel room in Asia with the jaw dropping view. These aren't works of art, but they are more valuable to me than my photos which had built my career. In the old days these were printed out as 4×6" photos and stored in photo albums, but the cost of film and printing limited how much I actually kept. In addition, negatives in a safe deposit box offered a plausible backup for the print photos that I'd toss for lack of storage space for them.

I never throw away old hard drives, so I did find a few years worth of photos on my fireproof ioSafe, as well as some scattered across loose drives. About a week after thinking the rest were lost, I remembered that my DroboPro not only had my normal iSCSI Ethernet connection, but also a USB connection. I plugged it in and I was back in business, albeit slower than before.


A rare shot of a my wife and her mother who are now a half a world apart

With access to my photos restored, the first thing I did was export my entire collection from Lightroom as JPEG's that were large enough to print at 8×12". After a couple of days of my computer chugging away, this shrunk my massive storage needs down to a more manageable 500 GB. This gave me "at least something" I could hang onto if all were lost again. I also took this time to go back and look at some of the photos that I had feared were lost forever. This sent me down the rabbit hole of editing some photos that I never planned to edit where I discovered another problem - some of my images shot in only RAW format were no longer readable by current raw processors from major camera makers. Sure, I could see the thumbnail but that's just a small jpeg. However, the ability to use that precious raw image data was gone. Using older versions of their raw processors that I thankfully still had backed up on CD worked - but only after I found an external CD drive to use to install them!


The last pre-puberty shot of a camera shy son isn't art, but it's important to me

Last year I saw this article entitled "This may be the oldest surviving photo of a human." Earlier this year I also read this great article about "Why your digital photos might die before your grandkids see them," and as I was writing this article the web was buzzing about an article entitled "Print Your Photos or Risk Losing Them to the Digital Dark Age, Internet Pioneer Warns." In the end, all of these great articles say basically the same thing - the most certain way for your photos to outlive you and deprecated technology is to print your photos (using archival worthy ink and paper). However, I have hundreds of thousands of photos! I have neither the time nor the financial means to print them all, much less space store them all!

As a result, I've decided to go about solving this problem in a more manageable way.

  1. I'm returning to storing my photos locally on one ioSafe drive for each year as I used to do back when I got a new ioSafe each year. This spreads my risk to only one year per drive and protects me against fire, water, and connection problems between the drive and my computer. I already break my Lightroom catalogs up by year, so this old system is one I will get back into the habit of doing again.
  2. My backup software will now backup all of my drives to a new NAS. Currently I'm considering the ioSafe NAS powered by Synology. This gives me a solution for the big backup of everything that is available for quick access and recovery, yet protected from on-site disasters. This isn't a cheap solution and it may not be for everyone, but with my 12 TB of data that will likely double in the next couple years it works for me - for about the cost of a new camera body.
  3. I'll use one a 1 TB drive to hold JPEG's large enough to print at 8×12 for my whole collection, and I'll store that drive in a safe deposit box. This will be my digital photo album of everything that uses a format that should be around for decades and saves me the hassle of sorting through tons of photos for what needs to be backed and what doesn't.
  4. I'll definitely start printing more of the memorable photos at 4×6 again with a printer that uses archival ink. I wrote an article about Getting Great 4×6 Prints Without Any Hassle for those "honey, can you just print this" scenarios that never seem to go as smooth as we hope. It's time for me to stop waiting for my wife to ask me to print and just get in the habit of doing it at least monthly. I'll also take a few extra minutes at import into Lightroom time to mark the photos that need 4×6 printing so they are easy to find when I'm ready.
  5. These images that I flag to print will also get uploaded to my Zenfolio account in the form of a private password protected gallery. This experience made me and my wife realize how many photos we take that the world never sees simply because there's just not enough time to edit them (even with Lightroom).


A day with the gators is a trip that we still all talk about

Caution, Don't Be Too Ambitious
Decades from now when people see your meaningful family photos they will care less about the color, cropping or distractions you removed in in Photoshop. Even today my mom still can't understand why I don't put my subject in the center of all of my shots so she sometimes thinks the unedited shots are better - ha, ha!

When doing your archive printing I also recommend that you print any of the photos that you haven't already edited straight from the in-camera JPEG (if you have it, otherwise the from the RAW). I learned this lesson long ago which is why I just buy extra memory cards and shoot RAW+JPEG. This allows me to have a JPEG that matches what I saw on my rear LCD when I took the shot, not today's software interpretation of how it should process the RAW file (which does change over time and not always for the better).


Like many people, I have many photos that are awaiting the final step – printing

Since I love printing, I've never had a problem printing the photos that I've taken hours to edit as that's my favorite part of the creative process. To hold a print in my hand rendered exactly as I intended gives me the ultimate satisfaction. I don't have to worry about other's poorly calibrated displays or web browsers rendering things differently than I intended as you see the image exactly as I envisioned on a substrate that adds to the experience. As a result, I can take a little time to mark the photos that I'd like to give this attention to later, but the key point here is to not let yourself get bogged down trying to edit while you archive print. If you do, archive printing will be so cumbersome you'll never get it done.

Are Your Images Really Safe?
I've had conversations about backing up with fellow photographers and geeks many times over the years. Nearly everyone I talk to falls into two camps: those who think they have it all figured out; and those who know they are screwed if something bad happens. To find out what camp you are in, consider the following ways your data could be lost:

  1. Your computer hard drive crashes and you lose the photos you spent the last couple days editing. Imagine your client is threatening legal action if they don't get their images today no matter what your signed contract says.
  2. Your house destroyed by a natural disaster (fire, tornado, flood, etcâ¦). What if the disaster was so bad your hard drives can't be found (mudslide, etcâ¦)?
  3. A hacker gets remote access to your computer without your knowledge and unleashes a virus that corrupts every file to every computer connected on your network and those connected to them remotely.
  4. The file format your raw files are stored in stops being supported and the current operating systems (perhaps a new future smartphone OS) you use can't run the old software? What if all software dropped support for DNG 10 years from now because it wasn't popular enough? What if PSD was an unsupported file format 20 years from now?
  5. Your computer and external drives are physically stolen and lost forever.
  6. You die and nobody knows how to get to your images.


The joy of my son who sees his dad for the first time in 3 months

I know that I have work to do to really protect my data, so there's not really just one solution to address all the possibilities. I'll have an offsite backup solution with a regular schedule for updating and storing that drive offsite (TIP: having two to rotate between is wise). I'll also print to make sure my most cherished photos are archived saved for future generations to protect against technology challenges. Finally, I'll store those 8×12 sized images of my most cherished photos online in a private protected gallery for family members so that there's zero chance that they'll never be seen.

I hope this article inspires you to think about the true value of your non-portfolio shots to yourself and your family. I also hope it helps you to put together a plan to make sure those images outlive you by many decades or even centuries to come!

You can see more of Ron's work at RonMartinsen.com, keep up with his blog at RonMartBlog.com, follow him on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter, or learn about his Printing Series, right here!

What’s going on, I am Justin Wojtczak with 375 Photography from Atlanta, Georgia. We are commercial photographers who do 40 weddings a year, have been voted Best of Weddings for the past three years and I’m an instructor at KelbyOne.com.

As a commercial wedding photographer, light can be your best friend or worst enemy. We have been doing this for almost 10 years now and I have found that what has helped stand out is the ability to light and get the shot that the bride and everyone at the wedding will remember and talk about. At the beginning we relied on speed lights. They were great and easy. But there were so many times where we went out to light a shot and the speed lights did not fire. They became to us an unreliable light source.

So in 2012, we got introduced to Profoto by Lee Morris and Patrick Hall of Fstoppers. Ever since then, we rely on the D1 Air light kit. With these lights we can light any situation that we encounter during the timeline of a wedding day.

Let’s get right down to the good stuff and break down three shots.

http://vimeo.com/119823444

The Moment
At 375, we get to know each client on an emotional level throughout the wedding day reading their body language and how they react to certain people.  With this shot, I knew in advanced that she and her dad had a great relationship. Knowing your subjects allows you to anticipate these moment so you’re ready when they happen.

The Breakdown:
This was a two-light shot.  We had one behind the bride and dad set to 4.0. Then we had our key light behind the camera with a shoot through umbrella pointed at ceiling.  TIP: Use the ceilings to help bounce the light to light your couple. This will make a big difference in your shot.

Last Light
This is actually two shots. With this wedding, it was all after dark. We did not get to the wedding location till 5:30pm, which was 15 minutes after sunset. I knew beforehand that catching any sort of sky would be critical to making the pictures beforehand memorable. After rushing down the stairs to the front of the house and getting the bride in place, we started to shoot. When trying to capture the sky, I wanted to draw in as much ambient (natural) light as possible.

Tip: Your shutter speed controls the ambient light in a shot when using flash. We had one Profoto with a shoot through umbrella at 7.0. as high as we could go, angled down. Look at the difference between the next shot as the umbrella being high and just facing the bride:


Umbrella facing the bride


Umbrella above and angled down toward the bride

The simple change of the angle of the umbrella made all the different in the feel of the image.

Settings:
5D MkIII at 1/20 sec, f/3.2, ISO 200
Key light: D1 Air at 7.0 with shoot through umbrella
Lens: Sigma 35mm f/1.4

Dusk
Having been to amazing venues all over the southeast, I’ve learned that it is critical to build trust with your bride and groom so when you see a shot that takes a little bit of time to get to, they know that you are asking for the best shot possible. This was up a ridge at her parents’ 1,000 acre farm. We had to take a truck to the parents’ house, then run down the fence line to the gate, then sprint to the edge of the ridge. It was well worth it!

The breakdown:
What made this shot was the height and angle of the umbrella. I wanted the umbrella just out of frame, right above their heads angled down so it illuminates the bride and groom but then to get a little spill onto the grass. I love the how the bride and groom and the grass give you a feel of the location and for the background.

Settings:
5D MkIII at 1/20 sec, f/3.2 ISO 200
Key Light: D1 Air at 4.5 with shoot through umbrella
Lens: Sigma 85mm f/1.4

Conclusion
Shooting weddings every weekend and being in sometimes remote places, it is critical that our ability to light any moment is not hindered by our light source not working for a mysterious reason. Since shooting with the Profoto D1 Airs, we have not missed a moment. They are reliable, consistent and add value to our final product. Using the D1 Air has advanced our understanding of light and has enabled us to capture moments every time where in the past it was a frustrating hit or miss moment. Capturing these moments in the way that 375 does helps to add to the bride and groom’s experience which goes well beyond the wedding day.

Thanks to Brad Moore, Pete Collins, Justin McGough and Grant Norwood for the help of this video, and to Scott Kelby for giving us this platform to share with each other!

You can see more of Justin’s work at 375Photography.com, and follow him on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, and Vimeo.

Close