Friday, August 21, 2009

Dog Days of August Special Event

Sign up for any senior standard senior session by 9/1/2009 and get a free 5x7 and 16 wallets added onto your order on the house! (and oh, yeah: you get a free burrito from Chipotle, too!)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Senior Portrait Sessions in Full Swing

Here are the senior mailings we have going out right now showing the front of the first one, the front of the second one, and the front of the third one (yet to mail). Also is the back from the first card. I pretty much kept the same text from the back of card 1 but changed the layout for the back of cards 2 and 3.

All these cards feature photos from seniors I've shot from several different high schools including air academy, liberty, sand creek, falcon, doherty, cheyenne, and sierra. I have shot kids from other high schools also including Rampart and Coronado, but I ran out of room with my layout to include everybody!

I enjoy shooting weddings, models, families... heck, I enjoy photography, period. But some of my favorite subjects to shoot are high school seniors. Sure, we get the cocky ones, the ones that know everything, and they're fun to shoot because of their confidence.

But we also get kids that the shy brainy type or the jocks that just may not feel that comfortable in front of a camera. I love working with these types of kids because they sometimes just don't know that they -can- look good in a photo: they've had too many bad experiences with lousy photos shot by family or friends, photos that never should have been seen, even!

But it's all good - we ask that seniors come in with a parent to have an initial meet and greet meeting from which we schedule the session when we're going to shoot photos.This gets us over the hump of meeting for the first time when we're ready to take photos, and we talk about wardrobe, props, locations, and some of the print products we have.

Then when it's time to go out and shoot, we can just rock and roll. So far this year I've shot on railroad tracks, in the rocks (on the rocks) (around the rocks) (we have alot of rocks in Colorado!), in the woods, in the grass, by brick walls, downtown, on the bluffs and mesas, and it seems a dozen places in between.

Most yearbook deadlines are coming up in the next 3 or 4 weeks, some schools earlier, some schools much later, and we'll take a few simple head shots to pick from for the yearbooks and get them to the schools in plenty of time, but it's the rest of the photos that let us get fun stuff in for use as family gifts, wallets to give to friends, and images to hang onto and enjoy when you're older that may have more meaning.

So I love this time of year when I'm shooting some weddings and families and executive headshot photos, but aloooot of seniors.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wind, Rain, Sleet, Night: It's Not A Challenge, It's Ambience!

That slogan from the post office that they no longer use about something like neither wind, snow, rain, sleet or gloom of night... whatever... is something that still applies (to me anyway!) I went downtown with Krystal monday night to shoot some photos for her modeling portfolio. We had already postponed this once due to rain (a heavy consistant rain, only cool to shoot in if you're looking for that runny-makeup drenched-hair kind of thing (which was NOT the intent of this shoot)).

We had done some shots on one side of the street and I suggested we move over to the other side (dodging cars and catcalls as we went) and we started to shoot there. Something out of the corner of my mind nagged at me for a second or two before it came into focus: those clanking clinking sounds I was hearing was hail starting to come down! We were under a few trees and didn't get hit (right away) which gave me time to yell at Krystal "jeez, what is that?" "Hail or something!" "quick, run for cover!" & we pulled under a store front that had a generous overhang.

One of these shots (here on the left with her hand up on her head) was taken just at the edge of this overhang with available light while it was raining (in fact in other shots I have taken around this same time you can see streaks of rain falling behind her... but they're a little distracting). You'll see some hot spots as far as lighting on her right, but some cool side and backlighting. The side and backlighting was actually by design. In the limited room we had to move, I couldn't use the flash because it would have been too overwhelming... so I kept moving her right and left and I kept rising and squatting until the angles were all right with all the different street lighting around. The light on the right was from some blinking little christmas light LEDs in the window that would fire off at random times... so in this image they came out a little hotter than I would have liked, but still an interesting lighting situation overall. Note to photographers, this was at iso 4000 with a slow shutter, hand held, but check out the exif on the white balance: I dialed it down manually to 2650K to neutralize all the amber and tungsten tones from all the street and store front lights! Thats why the light from those LEDs looks so... so... white!

The hail turned to rain & wind and it seemed ugly for a few minutes, but then lightened up, eventually slowing to a drizzle, then it stopped. So we ran back out into the street to get a few more shots using the reflecting lights off the wet pavement as part of the shot.

I think we got some killer shots, although as you can see I was partial to the shots we got after the pavement had been wettened down (wettend? is that a word? looks funny!).

The only shot before the rain that I think we may use now is one where I was trying an experiment and leaving the shutter opened for like 25 seconds, then popping Krystal with a flash right before the shutter closed (yes, I used the stop-watch function on my watch!) Anybody know why I did this?!? It gave me an awesome background shot but apparently I wasn't pitching just enough light on Krystal - I think the flash unit was timing out because I had to hit the test fire button on the remote a couple times in a row to get the flash to shoot (thus also throwing off my timing).

But this is an effect I'm going to try and try again until it's perfect... check out the light trails of moving vehicles! Thats what I was after! This late at night on a weeknight I think the traffic was lighter, so a busy night or at a better location is going to be an awesome approach to a very unique photo.

Photo Mojo

A couple posts ago I mentioned being exhausted from a trip into New York for some serious shooting. These examples I took from that trip illustrate how just a little thought in "posing" and composition can give you absolute monster looking photos... things you'd typically see in magazines that, on the one hand you might say are too "over the top" (but secretly be thinking: wowwwww!)

I know there are alot of different styles of photography out there and just as many people who have their own ideas of what makes a photo good. I know what -I- like, and thats all I can go with. I can shoot traditional formal photos (and have done so) but feel that some of the more personal images say more about the spirit of the moment than traditionals do.

I like a photo to look unposed, but many times some guidance (if not actual "posing") has to happen to get people to interact personally. (In fact I'm always dumbfounded at weddings where during the reception the groom is way way over there, and the bride is way way over on the other side!) It's hard if there are alot of people standing around watching, so especially for bride and groom interaction shots, it's best to get them off by themselves without the wedding party around.

I have to say though, that the portrait photographer side of me really likes some of these (very) posed shots of the bride alone. You can get this awesome emotional feel if the pose is done right coupled a little "letting go" by the bride. I think these are very personal photos, very dramatic, not things you normally see (which to me makes them even cooler).

It's funny, but absolute strangers aren't nearly as threatening or interfering as are our own friends... we're more aware of friends and self-conscious about what they may be thinking than we are (or care) about stangers. Kind of a human psychology factor we have to take into account. (This photo - like the others ones here taken in NYC - had hundreds of people walking by watching.)

The other interesting observation I'll make as I think about the photos here from this wedding is that it's not "location" that makes a photo, although there are elements of a location we can use to enhance the feel or emotion of the image; but the emotion of the bride and groom themselves set the stage for how the photos will come out.

As a photographer, I like interacting with people and getting them to feel totally at ease with each other and themselves rather than having them be conscious of "hey: we're getting out picture taken!" which totally messes up the flow! But this interaction has to be non-invasive from the standpoint of the bride and groom... after all, this is all about them!

Getting some dramatic poses from the bride is just cool... I mean, really: she's got on this awesome dress, has spent, like, all morning working on hair and makeup... why not take advantage of it and treat her like a fashion model? She will love it! (But she's got to relax enough to be into it which open up all kinds of photo ideas).

So - a little tweaking in the posing by the photographer (I think) is useful to get those "rock-star" photos that will be so cool to look at 20 years from now, but it can't be forced: and that's the beauty of it: we all get to let our little light shine through.

Just, sometimes, we need a little help doing it.
And that's what a wedding is all about after all, isn't it?

(for a couple anecdotes and additional photos, read "i love new york" earlier (farther down) in my blog).

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Shove Chapel at Colorado College

I have to admit that after having shot several weddings in the past couple weeks that were all either outdoors, in someone's home, or in a new modern church, is was just awesome to shoot a wedding today in the wonderful chapel at Colorado College, Shove Chapel. According to it's web site it's built in a Norman Romanesque style, modeled after the famous Winchester Cathedral, a stone from which was used as the cornerstone of Shove Chapel.

From a photography standpoint, there were plenty of plusses, and only a few minuses. On the minus side: it's a very dark interior from the back up to the transept and alter. And, there are many columns supporting the infrastructure which you have to work around. Both of these minuses are far outweighed by the positive aspects of shooting there (and easily worked around).

I have to admit I'm a total sucker for "heavy" church when it comes to the structure of a church building. One of my favorite things to do when traveling (especially in Europe) (and I have hundreds of photos to prove this) is to visit cathedrals and basilicas, getting as many photos as I can from different angles, of different features. I think I shot in 6 different churches my last visit to Paris alone. I love the sense of awe you can get out of stained glass, flying butresses, dark corners that rise up into sunlit rafters, whatever: I'm a fan.

So Shove Chapel at Colorado College in Colorado Springs is a very nice (and an ok size for an American church, seating just under 1000). With two lofts at each end of the transept, there's some vantage points to shoot down from. There's also a loft in the back of the church over the entrance... requiring a zoom to shoot from (which I used here in this photo).

But they've added some stage lighting from the two side lofts which help illuminate the stage or alter area, itself containing a beautiful pipe organ in the back of it, and with a grand piano.

Shove has nice side aisles under cascading arches, a smaller side chapel dedicated to the Shove family with an interesting plaque giving a brief history of the family from the early 1600's, and many features to shoot with on the outside.

This wedding in particular had 4 bridesmaids in red gowns, groomsen in supporting colors under black tuxedos, the bride in a beautiful white gown, everything was perfect for the location.

They left in a '68 mustang convertible... you don't get much more classy/hip than that!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Making Tracks During Senior Portraits (literally and figuratively)!

Ok, ok, this was fun... I was shooting a senior session yesterday on the tracks right by my studio in Rockrimmon in Colorado Springs. As I'm shooting at one point, something's nagging at me but it just doesn't register. I glance over my shoulder and see this monster train bearing down on us (although it was a safe enough distance away moms and dads!) that we both were like: YIKES! and laughing hysterically (with nervous laughter, I think) : we got a nice safe distance off on the side well before train got to our spot, and I whipped up the camera to try to get a shot of the engineer laughing at us (I saluted, he waved, and then he gave us a couple quick toots on the horn)!

Outside of the craziness, one of the cool things I did then was to position myself a little farther back shooting up towards Erica with the train rushing by in the background. I slowed the shutter down and pantomimed some poses to her (cause it was wicked loud, especially with the amplified echo of the train coming out of that overpass), so we got these incredible shots of her hitting cool looks with the train a nice blur behind her as it rumbled along. This was so awesome I can't tell you. Not sure why I hadn't done that before.

Some days it pays to be crazy.(most days.) (well, ok, within limits! I may be ugly but I'm not -that- stupid). We moved down into the overpass area you see in the shot here
on the left and got some killer shots against the painted rough cement wall down there. Another train came along: but this time we were both "dialed in", heard it and moved long before we even saw it coming around a bend.

I'm not kidding: it was a great shoot with awesome pics & a great story! Besides the two trains, there was a nice perfect breeze blowing out Erica's hair a little & with the light & dark areas you can use for shooting there, what more could you ask for?!?

(Dont tell: I'm totally stoked for shooting there again!)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

i love new york (but man am i TIRED!!!) :-)

Just back from New York today where I was in a workshop with Doug Gordon and Kevin Kubota and other photographers. Shooting in New York City was way cool. Here's a nice shot I made of a bride and groom with the Empire State Building as a backdrop. Got alot of nice special photos from this foray into the city during the workshop.

We had one fun incident where we were shooting in Times Square - the bride was laying down on the pavement and about 500 onlookers gathered around and the cops came... we shot for another couple minutes and moved to the other end of times square... here she is twirling (much to the amusement of the crowd!)

I'm tired because because I slept 2 hours one night and 4 hours the next night... then flew home today and had all these great ideas for short tutorials on photography, so I didn't sleep on the plane. But it's catching up with me.