Sturbridge, MA / Old Sturbridge Village / Engagement Session Katie & Drew

Katie & Drew set up their engagement session for April 27th assuming it would be bright , colorful and warm.  Isn’t it warm in almost May in New England? Our date was a little on the cool side with minimal color due to the late spring this year.  We chose a location that color wouldn’t make a huge difference.  Kate and Drew picked Old Sturbridge Village which is a personal favorite of mine.  I was so excited to photograph in a place I loved with a wonderful couple.  We spent a couple hours walking around the village and stopping to play and create when the mood struck us.  Katie and Drew danced in the field, chopped wood and even recreated a famous country classic image.  They ended in a favorite building of Drew’s with wonderful window light. A truly romantic spot to end our day! Drew’s grandmother worked in the village so this location was a perfect choice to tell their love story.  They were an amazing couple to photograph with such spunk and vitality and obviously very much in love.  It was pure pleasure working with them.  I can’t wait for the wedding.2014-04-28_0001IMG_0004IMG_00242014-04-28_0003IMG_0206IMG_0066IMG_0078IMG_0048IMG_0046IMG_00442014-04-28_0001IMG_0096BIMG_01062014-04-28_0007IMG_0195IMG_0196IMG_0197IMG_00422014-04-28_0009IMG_0207IMG_0221CIMG_0211IMG_0218IMG_3965

Photography Education 101

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.

IMG_7472CThis image is shot at 6400 ISO 1/30 sec at 2.8 with available light from the bare bulb in the room.  Loved the cool grungy feeling.

IMG_0656CThis was shot with off camera flash to the left of the model.  Notice how one side of her face is lit and the background still retains all its beautiful color. Image shot 400 ISO 125 sec at F22

IMG_0346This was also shot with off camera flash.  flash held high on a mono pod to couples left. This image was shot at dusk.  Notice the nice lighting around the couple. 1250 ISO 1/80 sec at F1.8

IMG_0018This image is lit with a reflector.  Light is being filled in from the left with the silver side of the reflector. 400 ISO 1/2500 sec at F2.8

IMG_8208BThis is my softbox lights balanced for daylight.  Nice soft light for babies. 800 ISO 1/125 sec at F2.8

IMG_8449CThis is natural light overexposed intentionally for the dreamy look (+1) shot near dusk  1250ISO 1/60 sec at F2.8

IMG_9479This is window light diffused through a curtain.  No flash. 200 ISO 1/60 sec F4.5

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.

A Winter Wonderland Wedding, The Society Room in Hartford, CT

This particular wedding was a very special wedding for me.  I have known the bride Katy since she was a young woman in high school.  I have watched her grow into a beautiful young woman over the years and blessed to not only have witnessed her wedding but be her wedding photographer.  It all began with Katy modeling for me many many years ago.  I have done her senior pictures, have had her sit at camp fires in my yard and on a crazier note, her Dad was my two youngest son’s principal at their elementary school. Wow, what a ride over the years.  Katy was a dazzling bride with her prince charming groom. She had her fairy tale winter wonderland wedding on December 22, 2013.  What a surprise to wake up that morning to a 64 degree winter day in New England.  Thank you mother nature for your little gift. The snow and glitter were contained in the Society Room that day and a beautiful wonderland it was.  Many blessings to Katy & Dan.

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The miracle of finding love twice in a lifetime

I had honor of photographing  these two beautiful people Thanksgiving weekend at Saint Thomas in West Springfield. They had a lovely catholic ceremony followed by a family reception at Storrowntown Tavern. During our pre wedding meeting I had the opportunity to view the friendship, love and respect that Bill & Mary Lou had for one another.  They had both known each other for many many years and were blessed with finding a second love with one another. They united in marriage and united childhood friends, their children from previous marriages, into one big happy family.  I absolutely adore working with my wedding couples and leave feeling like one of the family.  I love being involved in those special precious moments and capturing what will be treasured memories of a lifetime. Many many blessings to Mary Lou and Bill as they journey in their married life together.

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Molly & Ken…..” and the rest is history”

I love all the stories of how my couples met. And ultimately, how they came to be engaged and married!  Some are sentimental,  some are funny but all tell a story of a love in the making.  Here is Molly & Ken’s story. Molly met Ken at the Herrick Tavern on Karaoke Night by sheer fate.  He was dragged out by a mutual friend that Molly hung out. It was only the second time that Ken had been out and Molly herself had not been out in months.  For some reason that particular night she felt the need to get out! It was a night to remember and they began dating. As Molly quoted, ” and the rest is history”.  Ken proposed on Christmas Eve four years later and they were married on September 7, 2013. Enjoy the journey of their wedding day.

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Ceremony & Reception: The Courtyard Marriott, Hadley

Dress: Alibers Bridal, Greenfield

Tux: Anne’s Bridal & Tux, Gardner

Rings: Belden Jewelers, Holyoke

Cupcakes: Gregory’s Pastry Shop, Hadley

Flowers: Brooks & MacMannis, Athol