I had the pleasure of photographing Nate & Kelly’s styled vintage engagement session at The Harding Allen Estate. Nate decided at his wedding interview that he would love to do a session like this for his engagement pictures. Kelly, not so much but we swayed her to our way of thinking and she rocked her outfit and style to fit Nate’s vision for these pictures. I would also like to send my sincere thanks to Carmen for allowing us the use of his facility. He was nothing but kind and generous allowing us the use of both the inside and outside grounds. It is always a true pleasure to work at this Estate. It is a stunning location and always has top notch service all around for not only the food, but as a venue site for weddings and functions.
I promised myself that in 2014 I would have some new goals for my business. My goals for 2014 would be to educate people on the benefits of professional photography and to work on different styles of lighting to create dramatic effects for my images. I had started working on each of these goals in 2013 but really wanted to bump it up a notch.
Now for education, I think I want to head in a different direction than most blogs do about why to hire a professional photographer. We have heard countless times about the cost of running our business, the expensive equipment, the editing time, blah, blah, blah. I have already written those articles myself too. Yup, got my dander up too just like everyone else in the business. My sister told me after I wrote the last “why to” blog that no one cared about all that stuff. And, to tell you the truth, many don’t. Everyone has their reasons for the choices they make regarding their photography. Whether it be style, price, quality or another reason all together. You all make decisions that you can only hope are the right ones for you. I respect everyone’s decision to hire whom they choose yet I want to address, yes, this is the education part I was talking about, a few points to consider. Today’s education has to do with wedding photography since that has always been a large area of my business. I have been fortunate enough to have couples supply information when I am not the photographer they choose. This gives me a foundation to work with and information to keep helping my business move forward in today’s economy.
When you hire your photographer whether it is a friend, someone right out of school, someone that does it on the weekends, someone that does it full time, whoever you hire….Please make sure to notice the quality of the work they are showing you. Now, this is another issue. Some people just can’t identify quality or are willing to accept sub par images because they just plain old don’t know the difference. This may help. Ask to see multiple weddings and a progression of images from one particular wedding. Make sure you aren’t being shown only a handful of the best images taken for the one wedding they shot. Are they creative? Are they well lit? Is the exposure correct? Are they composed well? Every photographer has a different style and artistic vision. There is a wide range of pricing depending on the level of experience and commitment to excellence that you will receive. When a newer photographer enters the market it only makes sense to offer their services for a nominal fee while they are creating a portfolio. I did it myself back in the day. That way, when I made all my mistakes, the client knew I was newer to the industry and was willing to sacrifice on some level. It was either that or they just really liked me:) Make sure to ask yourself, “What am I willing to sacrifice”? For a wedding, honestly, I don’t think I would be to willing to sacrifice my memories with a newer photographer. But, that’s’ just me. I know what it takes emotionally and physically to shoot a wedding. Many newer photographers haven’t had the years of experience dealing with venue bloopers, DJ issues, nervous brides, late florists and yes, sorry if I offend anyone because I know you have a job too, the makeup and hair specialists who tend to run late! What to do in those situations comes with experience. It is hard just to wing it when you haven’t dealt with the situation before. So back to quality! I have learned to go with the flow when a client tells me they have hired a friend or Uncle so and so is going to shoot their wedding. I totally understand and respect the fact that we all have budgets. I do too just like everyone else. Just be aware when making your photography choices that it is the images you will have after the party is over. One can only hope that your wedding will last forever. There is no “do over”. You get what you get. The feelings and emotions cannot be recaptured after the most special day of your life is over. Do your homework and really think about what you want to walk away with and what you are willing to sacrifice to make a budget. I have done my homework. Guess I am just a good student. Most Wedding Photographers in the Western Ma area that have had years of experience and are dedicated to excellence range in price from $1600 to $3000 for full wedding coverage. Make your choices wisely. If you are being offered an extremely low price, there is usually a reason. Unfortunately you may not realize that reason until it is too late. It is funny, when I get quotes for various services that I need, I almost NEVER take the lowest quote and sometimes take the highest. It’s all about the quality and workmanship to me. But then again, that’s just me here too. Do what you are comfortable with but make good solid choices and be armed with lots of information.
Okay, now on to the lightning part because I just LOVE this!! I have been experimenting with many different types of lighting. They all create different looks and moods depending on the artistic vision you are trying to create. (This is also something you should notice when viewing a photographers work for your wedding.) It was mentioned recently by a friend that I have really changed my style of photography in the last year and the images have been stunning. I don’t know if I have “changed”, but I have tried many different ways to shoot in the last year. I have been fortunate to be able to purchase new equipment which allows me the ability to create the stunning images I capture. I used to say it is the person behind the lens ( and to a degree of course it is) but it is also the equipment I use. I look back at some of the cropped sensor images I took in the past and now the full frame images I take and honestly I can say they are all good but the vibrancy and quality is just so much better with a full frame camera and spectacular lenses I now use. For lighting there are so many different options I work with. I now use daylight balanced soft boxes which replicate window light for my babies. I really like it better than my flash units because it appears softer and there is not the constant flash to disrupt the baby. I can also meter differently for the look I want to achieve. For high school seniors I worked with reflectors all last year and started with off camera flash (Thank you Nick for being my reflector assistant) With the reflectors you can create really dramatic lighting depending on which reflector you use and how you spread the light. I really enjoyed learning and experimenting with my reflectors. Off camera flash or should I say flashes because I will be using three for weddings, has been a ball practicing with. I have totally had my bloopers there as well but think I finally have it down pat. I Have to mention this as it flows back to what I said about weddings. I never “practiced” my craft with paying clients. I have always experimented with clients who I did not charge. I think it is important to continue learning but not at the expense of the paying consumer. Anyways, back to off camera flash. I have had so much fun with my friend Mike and his mannequins Stella & Manny practicing with all our setups. I Have to say the mannequins work fabulously because It saves me from annoying my children trying to get them to help. Lighting will continue to be my focus for 2014. I will post a few images with the settings and style of lighting to show the differences.
As you can see, there are various forms of lighting a subject. All of them create a different mood and a different feeling. I find that in the last year I now ask clients how they would like me to shoot. I find that I LOVE all styles and can usually create a vision with any form.
In closing, if we go back to the quality issue, many photographers may not be interested in different forms of lighting. In order to do so it requires additional equipment and expertise. The decision is yours as a consumer who you hire. Being in the business I obviously know what to look for. Educate yourself and make good choices when hiring your professional. You will find that you will be much happier in the end.
The “new” senior portrait is a topic I feel so excited to write about. I have spent countless hours scouring the internet and other senior portrait photographers to get ideas about what high school seniors are looking for these days. When I first began shooting senior portraits it was much like one would expect in the days of film. You would shoot a roll of Kodak Portra film, in studio only, and then sort through 36 images and pick the best images to showcase to your clients in a folio. WOW, so much has changed in the last ten and even last two years. Maybe five years ago I added environmental portraits to the mix. We would still shoot in studio, funny, one background color only, but also go to a location outside and shoot some natural light portraits. This worked for many years for my high school seniors but then the market started changing again. Now the new must have is a stylized shoot. Yikes, what the heck! I have three children. Two of whom have stayed very active vocally with my photography business. I have heard from the most vocal of the three, “Mom, the kids want something different .” Of course I didn’t quite get what the “different” was. My son kept trying to explain this new vision with his words and actually picked up my camera, shot a few images and tried to explain. Yup, I still didn’t get what he was talking about. I spent my winter months rebuilding my website and redefining my marketing. Winter became spring with an abundance of green and the wonderful New England colors. I started trying to shoot this new style of photography. Minimal studio work! The kids just aren’t looking for the posed images anymore. They want something fresh, something unique which defines their style and personality. I start thinking, this could be fun! No more perfectly posed images with perfect lighting ratios, blah, blah, blah. Just go with it I tell myself. So I give it a go and try to shoot the way I view everyone else online shooting. It so totally goes against everything I have ever learned in regards to photography. OK, so I don’t shoot “exactly” like the rest of the industry is doing. I still don’t get the high ISO. We were taught to shoot on 100 ISO with a minimum aperture of F8.0 for a portrait, but I have tried it and I have to admit, it has its purposes. At least the newer digital DSLR cameras have come a long way in efforts to make higher ISO shooting a much better quality image. I won’t go into all the camera settings, the crazy expensive fast lenses, the $3000 camera bodies with full frame sensors….I will just post some images which show the different styles of shooting. I do like it. It’s different, it’s fun, it’s fresh and it pushes me to think differently. I guess if you can’t keep learning and trying new things, you will never keep moving forward. Enjoy the series of images. I had a blast creating them and thank you to my high school seniors displayed who never complained when I asked you to do some crazy things and tell you to just, “go with it”
Telling a story without words requires vision, planning and execution. I decided to do a fashion shoot this past Saturday in the woods near my home. I envisioned long colorful dresses backed by the stark, naked woods. I wanted to create a feeling of dominance over nature. I fortunately had a few of my sons friends who were home for the holidays agree to model for me. They had each spent countless hours performing in theater and musical venues so when instructed, they were able to achieve the look and feel I was trying to create. My first model had on a beautiful pink flowing gown. Not a dominant color in nature. So, how was I to best use the color and beauty to tell a story. I looked around the woods and envisioned a fairy peeking out from the trees. I had her play a role as seen in the images above. Take a look and use your own imagination to tell this story. Feel free to send a response to this blog. I would love to see if our stories are similar.
My second model had a long red gown. Now THIS was the color I had in mind when I originally started planning for this session. I thought about this model in front of a big old tree on a particular path. The tree, towering above her with strong bulky branches, yet, she, was in charge. She was the dominant force in nature. My vision was somewhat derailed when I saw this section of woods near where I shot the first model. I loved the curves of the fallen tree and the strong subdued back light. We cleaned up the area and worked within the fallen area of tree. I was still able to create the feeling that I wanted in a slightly different location. Maddie appeared strong, in control, untouchable.
I will return to this area soon. I have additional visions with snow, fog, light and the colors blue and white.