Another Brenizer

The Brenizer Method is nothing new. However, Ryan Brenizer has really made it at popular thing over the last few years. For those of you who don't know what it is, here is the quick and dirty; 

It's a method of stitching together a series of shots all at the same DOF with the focal point being on one single thing. In the image below, the single point of focus is the couple, and you can see it gives it almost a 3D look. Basically think of it as a wide panoramic with a shallow depth of field. See the images below. Enjoy! 


Winner Announced!

As you know, we have been announcing for a few days here that we are giving away an ONA bag, and the time has come to announce our winner! 

the first step was to collect and randomize all of the names and email address, then use the incredible tool over at to pick a number between 1 and 1247 entries! 

SO without further delay here is your winner;

Kendra Phillibaum, congrats!!! Shoot us an email and claim your ONA!!!! 

Shooting Indoors

So many photographers these days are focusing on “Natural Light” photography, and telling us how to take the best image possible when we are outside. And of course that makes sense, it’s where the magic happens! Shooting outdoors isn’t always easy, but it isn’t difficult once you practice at finding or creating the right conditions. And if you are curious about shooting better portraits outside, let me condense that for you… 1. Put the client between you and the sun. or 2. find some shade. 3 wait for sunset

There, problem solved… ha!

ANYWAYS, the issue with focusing on shooting only outdoors is that SO much of what we shoot, often happens inside! With the bride getting ready, inside a church during the ceremony, and of course the reception we often find ourselves in those awkward and tough lighting conditions. So  let me help you with 3 ways to get better images while shooting inside! 

1. Find a Window - This is the mother of all lighting conditions. The light is diffused and directional. What that means is it’s coming from one place and it generally places itself evenly on whatever subject your photographing. For me, when photographing a bride, this kind of light makes for those beautiful tight, soft images of her face. You can also create some really unique portraits by using the window to back light them. Regardless of how you place them, using window light can be the easiest way to light a subject in a poorly lit area. I often times, when the bride is getting ready, have them change the room around to ensure she is facing the window (Window behind me, me between the window and the bride, and have the bride face me) because of smooth even light and how it makes the brides eyes just pop! 


2. Room Lighting - This is a toughie... But you can make it work. First thing is first, if at all possible, stay AWAY from any over head lighting. It creates the worst shadows. And if you don’t have a flash, there is no way to fix that. If you do have a flash, well then carry on! (we will get to using your flash in a second) Often times you can have your subject back up a bit to allow the light to reflect from the floor to highlight more of those shadowy areas as well. There are a couple of things to remember here when shooting indoors and using the lighting in the room only. Make sure you pay attention to how you have your camera set up. In these situations both white balance and ISO matter! Before you start firing away, make sure first you have everything in order so that your post processing doesn’t get hung up on trying to figure out how to make those blues more cleaner or those reds less annoying!


3. Your flash is your friend - This is one of the more daunting things I have found for newer shooters. The idea of shooting your subject using a flash scares a lot of people but we can make it easy. And there are two ways to do it, TTL or Manual. TTL means “Through The Lens” and Manual is just setting everything (the flash and camera yourself) and both in theory or practice is an easy way to get a really even exposure. But sometimes Theory or practice goes right out the window when we get into the hustle of work. There are so many ways you get get around that but here are just a few;

When Using TTL

I set my camera to a lower aperture here and often shoot wide open around f/1.2-2.0 -

Bounce your flash behind you or above you - I prefer behind me if I am in a smaller room, and above me if I am shooting the reception hall or other bigger spaces. This allows the TTL system, which reads the amount of light including your flash, to help properly expose diffused light! It’s the best! 

When using Manual

This gets a little funky but the sure fire way to nail a decent exposure every time is to set your camera to an ISO between 400-800 and your Aperture to 2.8-3.5 and then set your flash to manual and drop the power any where from 1/16 to 1/32 and fire away. (This may vary depending on whether you’re shooting nikon or canon) I don’t like shooting Manually but Lindsey who shoots for me does, and she gets it perfect every time!

Remember regardless of what situation you are in, and whatever lighting conditions you are working with the best thing you can possibly due before a wedding is prepare! Know where you’re going and where you’re shooting. That way anything that comes your way won’t rattle you or affect your ability to provide the best absolute experience for the bride and groom!  

Let us know what works for you guys! What are your favorite ways to light your subject indoors? 

Moving Away From the Posed

Didn't we just address posing people? And now we are going to move you away from posing the client? Well it's Monday... and you know what that means. Nothing, except that we are answering YOUR questions. And its the day after Sunday. So... here we go.


Question :: I feel like I get really good posed/people looking at the camera. However, I would love to mix in some unexpected shots and more candid photos. So how do I get better with that ?

That is a FANTASTIC question. Shooting weddings back in the day used to be very  posey". If you look at your parents or grandparents photos, generally speaking, they are facing the camera and very posed and mostly include family and friends. Its rare that you find anything that resembles a photojournalistic approach to taking photos when looking back. 

In todays wedding photography culture you still see a HEAVY emphasis on those posed style shoots, and a lot of what photographers project are either detail shots OR those beautiful posed images from the session with the bride and groom. And our clients love that and I think they are an important element to the wedding day. However those candid images you see, where the bride and dad see each other for the first time, the bride and groom's first look, greeting friends etc. Those take as much, if not more work than the posed shots.  

The beauty of the posed shot is that they are intentional. They require less effort. I don’t mean from a technical standpoint. They absolutely require attention to detail and a technical acumen. But the ability to photograph a beautiful moment requires so much more. It requires patience, intelligence and most of all, practice! 

Without sounding super cliche, Henri Cartier-Bresson once said,

“Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they are vanishes there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.

I remember hearing that for the first time and the impact it had on my photography. I remember it shifting my thinking and approach to weddings completely. I went from the spray and pray method, or the just shoot it and move on, method to patiently observing what was happening. And I noticed a dramatic change in my work. It became more impactful. It became meaningful. Not to mention my editing time went WAY down! SO with all of that being said, here are a few things I have put into practice over the year to help me create and photograph beautiful, impactful moments as they occur.

1. Pay Attention - No brainer right? I don’t mean look around and be aware of whats happening. PAY ATTENTION - be engaged. I will go a step further. Be quiet, be attentive and be present. Immerse yourself in whats happening. I pay an emotional price for this. I am not a crier, but the speeches, the dances, and other moments sometimes get to me. And the next day I pay the price! 

2. Practice - Second (or tag along) shoot for someone and just focus on this part or aspect of your work. Go out on a Saturday or workday and photograph the city streets. Practice being attentive and immersing yourself in your surroundings. 

3. Prepare - Know your gear. Know your surroundings and settings. Know who you are working with and know your timeline. The last thing in the world you want is to miss something because you didnt prepare yourself ahead of time. 

That’s it! Pay Attention, Practice and Prepare! 3 easy things you can do TODAY to create better, more meaningful work. The posed images of the bride and groom in front of a mountain with sun setting can be inspiring. But remember these moments in time, with their family are here for a second and then gone for ever. We are in the business of remembering them forever! 



Posing Made Easy (Well... Easier)

It is one of the biggest mysteries for photographers both new and old. It can be a source of incredible frustration and will sap any level of creativity you have that day. You get to the wedding, you shoot them getting ready, you shoot through the ceremony and through them entering the reception and you look outside and see that beautiful moment when the sun hits the horizon. It’s time!! So you rush them outside and talk to them about how incredible the sunset is and how incredible these photos are going to be. And then it hits you. You have no freaking idea what to do! How are you going to pose these two? “They are staring at you dummy! Just pretend like you are metering or fixing a camera setting or something so they don’t think you’re a total ass” you think to yourself. 

 It happens to the best of us. We either don’t know what to do or we draw a blank on what to do. Fear not. I am going to give you three quick things you can do NOW to fix that for your very next shoot!

You’re in Charge

This one is sort of a no brainer but one I think is the most often overlooked. I can’t think of how many photographers I have talked to in the past who are scared out of their mind about shooting weddings. And more specifically, are spiraling downward into a panic as they get closer to the moment where they have to shoot portraits. One of the first things I tell them is to "remember who they hired… YOU” You were the one they chose. You are the one they connected with. YOU are the one they want to share this super intimate day with and have memorialize it forever! Does that add any more undue stress? Sorry about that… my point though is this; Even if you have to fake it in that moment (which I have) you are the one in charge. Just say this to yourself next time you feel that panic set in, “They picked me!” and take up confidence in knowing that they trust you 100%.  

Take it Personally

When we do our workshops one of the excersizes I run through with our attendees is running them through shooting the bride and groom. We get live models, we go outside and I will pose them, shoot, and repeat in different locations. I will then tell the attendees it’s their turn. One of the things I look for is how they handle the models in that moment and inevitably one of the things I see more than anything is how stand-off-ish (and obtuse) the photographer can be. 

I like to get in close and create a personal space. I put my hand on the shoulder of the groom and try to relax him while maybe joking with him about how awkward this is and how dumb it can feel. When posing them I give them physical cues up close. Instead of standing 10 feet back and shouting at them to drop their hand or fix their posture, I frame the shot, then walk up to them and gently do it for them. I think this helps build a comfortable space for them to relax but also gives you exactly what you need in that moment.  

Reframe the shot

King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 1:9 "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”  And when you shoot 150+ weddings a year like we do, and pose 150+ couples a year, that couldn’t be any more true for us. You’re not alone in thinking “I’ve done this pose before…” I deal with that every weekend. However there are things you can do to make it seem different both to you and to your clients. 

1. Get in tight - Pose them and shoot wide, then it shoot tight. Use your rule of thirds and frame them left and frame them right. Change your focal lengths, and focal points. Mix. it. up. That was easy right ?

2. Change your background - Use the relationship between your client and their surroundings to get a different look. It’s that simple. Use the space around you to spur creative change. I have shot West Manor 100 times. But I still get there and fall in love with that place because of the space they have there to create incredible portraits. 

That’s it! 3 things you can change today to break the cycle of concerning yourself with posing and get back to creating! 

Managing Your Email

Managing email can suck sometimes. I know for me waking up to 50+ emails in my inbox can be daunting if I allow it to be. But putting some hard and fast rules in place, and with some really great productivity tools I can make responding, and sending new emails a really manageable task. Here are a few things that have helped me over the past year and can help you go from frustratingly and constantly emailing all day to efficiently managing your inbox! 

Set Boundaries -  This one is a BIG one. I use a timer and I set time aside for specifically answering emails. This can be tricky. You can be seen as someone who doesn’t respond enough or in a timely fashion so stay on top of this one. For me I start out my work day with emails. And i set 10-20 minutes aside every two hours to answer emails. I should note I also use what I call “throw away time” as well. This would be time spent waiting for my oil to get changed, dr. appointments, etc. But you should be setting time aside every single day! As I said before, I know when I wake up I will have an absurd amount to get to so I need a full 20 minutes to get through that. And nothing gets in the way of that time. On the other side of that, I try not to pay attention after 5pm or so until right before bed. Although that last one is hard for me. I want to use that to spend time with my wife but sometimes I just get caught up! Setting boundaries in your work day allows you to work efficiently, but also take back time that should be used for yourself!

Use Productivity Apps - My life changed with the discovery of delaying or “boomeranging” emails and yours will too. Here are a few that I use religiously;

Outlook - Yes I said it. I am an apple user and I use Outlook. But only on my iPhone. My iPhone is a work horse when it comes to “GTD Apps” and work stuff and it is truly hands down the greatest mail client on the planet for the iPhone. I for some time used Mailbox, and it was great but it was buggy. I love that Outlook connects to my dropbox and google drive accounts, and also gives me full access to my calendar all within the app. For someone who gets distracted all the time by God knows what, to be able to stay in the app and stay focused on what I am doing is huge for me. 

GMAIL Tags and Filters - This one helps me with organizing my email. I like to be able to have a snapshot of new client inquiries, contracts sent, and a whole bunch of other things. If I need to go back and see information on something specific this can be really helpful for me.

Boomerang - This is the single greatest plug-in EVAAAAARRRRRR for gmail. Boomerang gives you the ability to delay sending emails, but more importantly for me, receiving them. You can snooze your email inbox all together, or have emails sent back to you at a certain time. For example, If I don’t get through those 50 emails in the morning I have the ones I need to work on, sent back to me in 2 hours to finish. If a bride sends me logistics information for a wedding a month from now, I can have that information resent to me in a month! I am obsessed with this feature! Side note, Outlook does this too and is another reason why I love it. 

Managing email doesn’t have to be a brutal task. With a few small steps and with the help of some of the best technology, you can take something so annoying as hell like email and you can make it something you can plow through with ease! And don’t forget to let us know what you guys use or what helps for you! 

Made Easy Series :: A Photographers Tool

When I first started taking photos I was terrible at it. TERRIBLE! I had no idea how to compose an image, and no idea how to create an image. I'd fumble through the settings, and on the rarest of occasions I would get it right. It would all come together and I would take the worlds greatest photo. Well, at least my best photo at the time. And let's be honest, after some time spent admiring that photo I would begin to think to myself, "How the !#@$ did I do that?"

Photography isn't easy. It requires thought, and it requires time to get good at. But some of us just need help understanding the very basics. That's why we are excited to announce that we have launched a Made Easy Series of eBooks to help you navigate the basics. No, this isn't for everyone. But this is a series designed to help you understand the basics so you can focus more on developing and curating a style, and focus less on figuring out how to setup your camera for any one situation.

Head on over to to find out more!