Friday, July 31, 2009

Highlights, Lowlights, and everything in between

We ended our shoot outside on the road in the sugar cane that surrounded the abandoned building we were shooting at...and it was beautiful. I always look for conflicting things and can still come together to make a picture very dynamic but symmetrical at the same time. The picture below for example has a vanishing point that leads directly to the bride...both from the ground and the all the attention goes straight to her.

The other thing I like to do is draw some contrast with the bride. Sometimes a big white dress can drown out the person wearing it....that is the main reason I love to show some of the bride's legs in the pictures that you see. It makes the images much more dynamic and instead of just a straight white highlights of a wedding have the contrast of the brides legs...makes for a much more interesting picture. The key is getting your highlights and lowlights to come together to make everything work. It's like a salad where there are a lot of different ingredients but they can come together to make something that tastes great.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Gone With the Wind-using wind in photography

There are a few things I look for when starting a shoot. Light, clouds, and wind. Light is obviously very important, and while there are some times during the day where light can be harsh (during the middle of the afternoon like noon-2pm) it can also provide very dramatic effects. The shoot I did with Camlyn was actually done from 12-3pm. You can tell because if you look at the pictures you can tell the light source is directly above by looking at her shoulders and the shadows that fall under her head. This same light though is what makes the veil glow and provides the contrast and highlights that can make your pictures look fantastic.

Wind is also an amazing tool to utilize. Wind makes it more difficult to shoot...there's no disputing that. But without it you can't get these kind of results. I prefer too much wind compared to too little wind because you can typically find a way to block wind you don't want...but it's very difficult to manufacture wind if you don't have it. The best thing to do on a shoot is to set your subject in the location you want and start firing away. The first shot I love because the veil is so playful...and it matches Camlyn's face. The bottom shot is more dramatic and also fits her facial expression...and I love the effect it puts on her face.

The middle shot is more of a movie scene kind of an image and the wind was just slamming through the door which gave us the effect we were looking for. I really do like photoshop...but the more you create through the camera the better your images will be. You can try to create lighting, wind, and clouds in photoshop and they will look good...but nothing is as great as the real thing....

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Camlyn Part 3- Here Comes the Sun

After spending the first half of the shoot in the dark we decided to find some sun. The most difficult thing about shooting in an area like a door frame as you see below is the fact that you are dealing with vastly different exposure areas from the inside to the outside. The best thing to do in these situations are to set the camera on a tripod (or hold it very still...I held it for these shots), and bracket the image exposure. Most cameras these days have bracketing available....check your user's manual.

The shot below is actually two shots, one exposed for the inside, her skin, etc, while the other is exposed for the sky....which is why I was able to get both shots. While learning and applying photoshop is very important....there is an art to capturing the image. I always tell people in my workshops that photoshop can't make a good shoot can only make a great shot better. Getting the right shot in the camera is the way to ensure you get the images you want. Think of it as a cake. Photoshop is the decorative icing...but everything else is the shot. If you make a beautiful decorative icing but the cake is under/ will taste nasty. The same is true for photography. First learn how to get it in the camera...and then move onto the icing to make it special......

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Camlyn Part 2- Poison

When we first walked into this abandoned sugar cane building I noticed this room in the corner and it was all dark and dirty. I couldn't have had a better backdrop if I'd painted it myself. We went to this room (I inspected it first to make sure it was safe) and then with the use of two video lights we lit the room up. I loved the verbiage on the walls that made it fun to work with. I was able to shoot at 2500 ISO, with a 20mm lens at 1.8 at 1/80 sec for my shutter speed.

When I shoot with interns or other photographers and they ask me about the most important pieces of equipment to buy I tell them to first get a camera that has good ISO sensitivity (like my D3), but even more importantly is to buy a prime lens (low aperture, high speed) to really drive the results you seek. Shooting with a prime lens also gives you great depth of field and if you put your focal point on the subject's eyes, the result will be a picture that has great focus on their eyes and can add a soft blur (pre-photoshop) that will really make your pictures look great. I hope you enjoy!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Camlyn part 1- Mokulele Bridal Shoot

These are the first shots I'm releasing from the bridal shoot I did on the Mokulele Highway in Maui with the beautiful Camlyn Stoeberl. As you know by now I just love shooting brides in places you normally don't see them...I love the contrast of putting a beautiful bride in a white dress in a darker, dirty setting where it's almost like the bride's glow fights through everything around her.

Add some light, wind, and some fun photography techniques and you can create some real unique shots. I just love these and I hope you do too. I'll be releasing more pics later...and I have to thank Camlyn for doing such a great job!!


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Chances Are- the wedding story of Joe and Lidia

I am pleased to present the wedding story of Joe and Lidia Lopez! One of the benefits of getting married on the 4th of July is that you have a great fireworks show at night to be able to capture something neat. I can't thank Joe and Lidia enough for allowing me the opportunity to capture their day for them. I have to thank Cameron Lanier, Kari McBeth, and Chris Cahoon for joining me on the shoot! We had a great time. Click below to view their slideshow....I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hana Bride

I'm so sorry it's been so long since I've posted on the blog! I was hired to go and do 3 bridal shoots on the beautiful island of Maui, Hawaii this last week....and I just got back last night from the red eye. The shoots that I did were some of the funnest and most adventurous shoots I've done and I can't tell you how much I loved them. I was blessed to be able to find some very original locations rather than the typical beach settings. This shot was taken off of the famous Hana Highway and as you can see it is stunning.

This is a natural shot...enhanced but nothing added. I had the Bride hop over a locked gate and we got this shot. The wind was blowing so well and we had a long veil so it worked out perfectly. While in Maui I was able to shoot in abandoned sugar cane factories, the sugar cane fields, historic and abandoned buildings, the ocean, and in tiny little churches built over a hundred years ago in towns that had less than 200 people for the total population. I can't begin to tell you how excited I was to do these shoots. I have several weddings next year in Hawaii and I can't wait to get back there! Click on the picture to see it bigger....Blogger always compresses the color and such when it's enjoy it big!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My Marriage Story.....Proposal......#1

As Kara and I approach our ten year wedding anniversary I thought I would share some key parts of the road that got us here. It took three proposals to marry my wife...and I thought I would share all three in different segments with all of you. These stories are completely true.......


Back in 1996 Kara and I were like most college students, full of love and empty with cash. I was working as a forklift driver making a wonderful $8/hour doing rough work and Kara was a preschool aide. We were both going to college and spending the majority of our time dating each other rather than getting schoolwork completed. We met at a church function where I couldn't speak English very well because I had just returned from spending two years as a missionary in South Korea...and I met Kara just about 5 days after returning. I asked her out and took her to Koreatown for food in LA, and then to the beach where we held hands. We ended our first date slow dancing in a church parking lot to music coming out of my car stereo with the doors to the car open. No fancy stereo, just whatever song came on the radio. I kissed her on the forehead and gave her a note written in Korean...and I told her that I wouldn't tell her what it said until the time was right. The note in Korean said, "I will marry you someday."

We dated for about 5 months when I decided it was time to pop the question. My personal name for Kara is, "Kay," and I went into the local mall and found a wedding ring for about $ Kay Jewelers. I really didn't plan it that just worked out that they were agreeable to give me a credit card for the ring. So I bought it and as I left the store holding that black velvet box in my hand I was certain that our date that night would be unforgettable....

I thought it would be so unique and fun to make our "average date night" into a scavenger hunt. So I picked Kara up and we went to the Claremont colleges where the grounds are very pretty...and you take walks there when you don't have a lot of money. We parked the car and walked to the tree where we shared our very first kiss about 4 months ago. I asked her if she remembered the tree and she smiled and said she did. I told her we should carve our initials into the tree to commemorate the event....and so I took out my keys...and one of the keys was broken in half from when I tried to use it to fix (un-jam) my lawnmower at home, so it was a little bit sharper and perfect for carving.

We started carving our names into the tree and while I was carving the letter, "J" I heard police sirens and saw lights shining directly our way. We turned around to see a cop walking straight towards us and gave us the command to, "Freeze." I asked him what the problem was and he said we were destroying public property and were in possession of a weapon. He asked us if the green 1977 Pontiac (a hoopty looking car I had been given by my Grandma) was my car, and when I said, "Yes," he ordered Kara to go sit in the passenger seat and ordered me sit with my hands behind my back on the sidewalk.

I couldn't believe what was happening. The cop said, "So, what are you doing with this car, did you steal it? Why are you parked in handicapped parking....did you steal this car from a Grandma?" I replied, "No, I am legally handicapped and have a leg problem that I've had since I was 7 years old. Check your records and you will see the disabled placard is registered to me. This car was my Grandma's car but she gave it to me about 5 months ago. Why are you doing this?" He replied, "What's with the weapon?" I replied, "You mean the broken key? Are you serious?" By this point he had confiscated my keys and requested a second car for backup. I proceeded to tell him, "When did carving in a tree like they used to years ago....become criminal man? Don't you have a wife?" He replied, "Is that girl your wife?" I said, "I was hoping she would be as I'm preparing to propose to her tonight...but with your help maybe that'll never happen. What's the deal man, do I look like a gangbanger to you?

The cop replied, "You're going to propose tonight? If so, where's the ring?" I said, "My girlfriend doesn't know about it...can you keep it down? The ring is under the driver's seat...go check for yourself but don't let her see the ring." He replied, "I'm waiting for backup, there could be a weapon in there." At this point it was so ridiculous that I just let out a huge laugh...not to mention the fact I found it hilarious that this cop was afraid of me and my girlfriend in some hoopty style Pontiac Bonneville. This really made him angry and he proceeded to handcuff me behind my back and told me to lay down on the sidewalk! I told him it really hurt my leg to be in the position that he placed me in because of my handicap, and then he laughed and told me to, "Shut up."

At this point the second car showed up and it was a female cop. I was relieved hoping she would be more understanding. He explained the situation to her and then she came up to me and asked me if my story was really true. I responded, "Yes, it is true...I can't believe this guy is ruining tonight. Go check for yourself...the ring is under the driver's seat." She asked Kara to get out of the car and wait by the police car...and then she went and checked under my seat and found the ring. She discreetly put it back and told Kara to go back into the car. Kara asked her, "What are you looking for?" and the cop responded, "Don't worry about that Miss...go to the car and stay in your seat." She then ordered the cop to get me out of the cuffs. I thanked her and the she said, "We're still giving you a ticket for vandalism." At this point I just wanted to get out of there so I didn't say anything. The male cop protested her decision and she whispered to him, "This guy's story is true....we could be looking at a just be quiet."

She gave me the ticket and told me I was free to go. The cops had me out of the sidewalk for 45 minutes...just ridiculous. They told me I couldn't have the broken key back because it was a weapon. I just laughed under my breath and went back and sat in the car. Kara said, "What in the world just happened? What did she look for under the seat?" I replied, "These cops have nothing better to do...they were just looking for more weapons." She replied, "Why did she look only under your seat." I responded, "Well, I guess it's because I look like such a gangsta (which really if you've seen me....I don't)."

Determined to not let this ruin our evening I decided to skip all the other stops on our scavenger hunt (they were all the meaningful places we had together during our courtship) and skip straight to the end. We headed to Huntington Beach where we went on our first date and held hands together for the first time. I made sure to buy Kara a large drink while we were driving down there so she would have to use the restroom. We walked along the beach and when she said she needed to use the restroom I told her I would wait for her. While she was in there I got the velvet box and buried it under about 6 inches of sand...dusted myself off and waited for her to return. When she returned she said, "I know the cops ruined our scavenger hunt, but is there anything else we can do?" I said, "Well there is one last item on the hunt and it's buried under the sand right there."

Kara bent down and moving the sand aside she found the velvet box. She started tearing up and said, "What is this?" I smiled and said, "Remember that note I gave you? It said I would marry you someday." As she started to open the box I knelt down on one knee and said, "Will you marry me?" She started crying and jumping up and down and said, "YES!" We shared a kiss and the scavenger hunt was over....for that night...because little did I know that this wouldn't be my only proposal...just my first to get the girl I would be with forever....but that story is for another post.

By the way, about 4 weeks later we received a letter from the Mayor of Claremont apologizing for the extreme inconvenience we had been subjected to and he cleared us of all vandalism charges. In the envelope he sent the broken key saying he didn't think it presented too much of a threat to the community at large. Case closed.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ocean Wide- wedding testimonial from Sydney, Australia

Check out this new video my team just completed from our trip to our wedding in Sydney, Australia. We took clips from our extended interview from Mike and Melodie and included it in the video. As you can imagine shooting in Australia is one of the best experiences I've had for a wedding and I hope you enjoy what we've put together here!!!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Eric and Michelle

Below are shots from one of my favorite shoots ever! I had the opportunity to do an engagement session with Eric and Michelle at the, "Beach of the stars," Malibu Beach, CA. It was a beautiful day and we held the shoot right before sunset which worked out great.

The first shot shown was unbelievable....we were waiting for the right wave to come and when I saw his one rolling in I told Eric and Michelle to get ready because I thought it would be big. They started kissing and this monster crashed on the rock and came completely over! The water came all the way up to my waist and got my gear soaked....but it's worth it for a shot like this isn't it? I can't thank Eric and Michelle enough for being such great sports and making these shots possible. I can't wait to shoot their wedding next June!