Such a beautiful day to shoot a wedding!
The incredible space at Sierra Vista always allows for stunning images. And these two didn't disappoint!
We love to travel, and we have been so lucky to get to travel to some beautiful locations to photograph some incredible weddings. AND This one was no different! Enjoy!
"Real talk. How do you stay inspired and creative when you shoot so much?"
I got this text from one of my photographers the other day. At first it made me chuckle and I almost went to my go to answer (music, lifestyle photography etc etc etc) And, YES I get it... I have written about this before. And YES, I have so many things I run to when I need inspiration. But this one stuck with me this time and it got me thinking a little bit differently for some reason. This time I responded differently. And in so many words I responded with,
“To you, what is the greatest thing about this work we do? And do you LOVE it?”
Thats annoyingly vague and even more annoyingly cliche. But, listen, let me lay a few things out first. I know for a fact I am not the most talented photographer in the world. I know it and I reference that fact often. I may not even be the most talented photographer in the SSP Collective. However I know that I love my work. That sounds so narcissistic... let me clarify. I have found what I want to do until the day I die. That is my anchoring point in the every day “ho-hum” details of what I do. And I OBSESS over it. I LOVE what I do.
But to get back to my original question... what keeps me inspired is the exact thing that keeps me obsessed with my work; the couple and the people I serve
When I look at a beautiful image that i have taken, I rarely see anything else but the couple.
What I love more than anything else about photographing weddings is the connection I have with the people I serve on a daily basis. I love hearing their stories. I love seeing the look on their face when I get them to interact with each other during their portrait sessions. So when I am feeling uninspired, I lean in on that. And believe me I DO GET UNINSPIRED. We shoot 100+ weddings a year and half that in engagements and bridals. It happens!
But when it does I try to take a second from shooting with them and think about that connection. I ask more questions. I find out more about them. What is their story? How did they meet? What drew them to each other ? What is their love story? I try to remove the focus off of me, and what I am feeling in that moment and whatever it is that is causing me to make it about me, and put the focus back on them and what they share together. Let me explain by showing you a few photos;
Yes, I can absolutely do some technical things to keep posing, framing and composition fresh. And you can as well. Practically, pick 5 poses you love, and shot around those 5 poses. Get in tight, get wide, use some atmospheric technique… all of those things are great. But I would push you beyond that and encourage you to also find out what it is about your work you love. Have you ever asked yourself that question? Have you ever taken a few minutes to think about and find out what that is and if you are struggling through this fall season being uninspired, lean in on that one thing and let it move you to creating work you love.
This wedding had so so many incredible details and so many beautiful things going! We are always really excited to get to shoot at the Marriott Ranch in Hume, Virginia because of all of the opportunities we have to shoot in so many beautiful locations! Enjoy!
Sometimes you just get the exact and most perfect conditions for the most beautiful images! :: I love these two images because of so many reasons! 1. the couples were incredible. Being willing to get away and (a. get wet or b. in the case of mindy and Dan on the right, get mauled by coyotes.) do whatever crazy idea we had in that moment. 2. We decided to do something different and the payoff was beautiful! Push yourself beyond what you normally create. Who knows what will happen! You may just surprise yourself!
This venue, Sierra Vista is such an incredible place to get married! So many beautiful spots to take the bride and groom! Take a look!
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!
Rain or shine, it doesn't matter... these two were relishing in an incredible wedding day. Im so thankful for they were willing to go out in the rain and do this! And thanks to Sundara for being so prepared and accommodating to everyone at the wedding!
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 Random.org 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!!!!
Such a beautiful evening celebrating with these two!
Shooting at the beach is always the best! Such a beautiful time with these two yesterday!
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?
As many of you know (Mainly because I drone on and on and never shut up about it) I have made the switch to shooting weddings with the Leica M full time. And it’s been one of the best decisions I have ever made. Sometime ago I even wrote a review on shooting with the M and I can say, now after spending a lot of time with the M, it’s absolutely worth every penny. Every.Single.Penny!
However, this is about the Q. Leica dropped this little fella on us a few months back and the internet has been a buzz with reviews, unboxing videos, and videos and reviews of people using it. And for the most part people have been really pleased with it. There is, with most Leica products, those who question it’s cost. But to me, if it works, and it does what you need it to, then why does it matter what it costs?
Anyways, let’s get on with it. Let me tell you what this review won’t be. A pixel peeping, explanation of every single minor detail technical detail that the camera does or can do. What it will be, is a straight forward, honest editorial on how it worked for me as I went about my work day. I shoot weddings so there are some pre-requisites that a camera has to hit before I will even consider keeping it.
1. It couldn’t inhibit the process of creating
2. It absolutely had to push me beyond the place I was currently in. I didn’t want to spend money on something that would allow me to just keep doing what I am doing. What’s the point in that?
The second point can be a bit vague, I know. Basically, I don’t want to buy new gear for the sake of buying new gear.
The Q is a 24MP Full Frame, Fixed lens camera. With a Summilux 28mm 1.7 ASPH that is incredible… more on that later. It also has a 3” LCD, Full HD, Aluminum & Magnesium body, AND Wifi/NFC Connectivity. Far more in the feature department compared to the M. I will say the EVF is nice. It was kind of confusing at first. I felt like I was staring at a television while taking the picture. I generally keep both eyes open when shooting, so that messed with me at first but I got used to it.
I was really disappointed with a few things. I will start with that. Let me explain. I was incredibly excited about the features, I was excited about the full frame, and even excited about the 28mm 1.7! But as soon as I took it out of the box, I thought to myself “Oh… this is it?” Maybe it’s unfair to compare it to my M. But maybe not. Why shouldn’t I expect it to feel beautiful? And it looks clean, don’t get me wrong. But I hate how it feels. Leica missed the biggest no brainer when it comes to tricking people into thinking they need to spend $4500 dollars on a camera! It needs to FEEL substantial! And it doesn’t. It's light and plastic and it feels light and plastic.
BUT I can get past that. "It’s a Leica, and it WILL produce beautiful images.”, I thought to myself. And from the first click I was impressed. It DOES produce great images. However after speaking with my friend Sam Hurd, I began to see what he saw as a problem. The more I shot with it the more I found myself thinking "These are too perfect. Is that possible? How can this be THAT sharp? The tones are solid. Great color and contrast… MAN that is SHAAARP”.
That isn’t a bad thing. But I don’t feel like i had to work to take a good photo. And again, that isn’t a bad thing. But a totally different experience from the M. I have had my M for a year now and I finally feel like I am just now beginning to get into a groove with it. The Q, out of the box, will produce very clean images. But will it work for me?
Let’s get to the actual part where I begin to use it. I had my Canon 5D MK3 with me and my M as I always do. One or the other always equipped with the 35 or 50. And wouldn't you know it, my MK3 died. (not really sure what happened to it but its dead) Fortunately it forced me to really focus on shooting with the Q! So I did. And in the beginning it shined. The photos of them getting ready, that tight space, and shooting wide open in low light… that camera kicked that part of the wedding's ass! It was fantastic. And the time it takes for you to focus and fire is as fast as it is with my MK3. (the technical term I generally use fois “really fast)
As we moved to the portraits I started to see the problem. 28mm is a weird focal length for portraits. It was ok for those wider groomsmen, and bridesmaids shots. Even family stuff was ok. But the portraits of the bride and groom, or just one of them on their own was a strange experience. I love my 50mm because of how personal I can be with the client during that time. And the opposite is true, and the reason why I don't like shooting with the 85. Its too impersonal for me. The 28mm, for all of it's wonderful rendering of images was far too personal… offensive even. But I worked with it, and I am somewhat happy with what I got. And as we moved to the ceremony, again… 28mm was really limiting as far as what you can get in that situation. And I figured that going in. I was more concerned with how it would handle low light and movement. And it did really well.
I was really REALLY excited about using it during the reception... again, lots of low ambient light, and lots of motion. A perfect time to see how it would do. Except, right as they entered the reception the battery went from 3 bars to dead. I got maybe 5 hours of use out of it. I admit, you may squeeze more out of it if you fine tune some of the features, and don’t play with the WiFi as much. But I am used to shooting two days with no charge on the M. So I don’t have much for you there. I got some detail shots, and some dancing, but that’s it. I will say, again, it focuses well, handles movement well, and shines in low light.
I will start with this… I am not sure it’s for me. However, I do see what the excitement is all about. The images it produces are incredible and its a flawless process. The battery life sucks, and the EVF is weird. Being able to post images directly from the camera to Instagram was really great. (although I do that with my EyeFi Card and my M anyways). Overall I was pleased with the camera itself.
The Leica Q is a camera that is absolutely all on it’s own. There isn’t much out there like it. For me, a wedding and portrait photographer, its was limiting me in what I was able to do. However, the image and it’s quality is always paramount. And there is no question that the Leica Q is about creating a beautiful image. The question I keep hearing (seems to be the theme with those who are considering the Leica brand) “Is it worth the money?” And the answer simply is, It depends. But if you move yourself past such a subjective question, and to a place of asking yourself "Will this allow me to be about what I want to be about as a photographer?" you can really appreciate what the Q does and doesn't do for YOU.
(Below is a gallery of portraits from the wedding and an engagement session I shot with the Q)
Absolutely loving these images from Amanda and John's engagement session at Sierra Vista!
This is why i LOVE shooting in Va!
Love these colors!
Such a great, classically shot image! Love it!