The Day a Natural Light Photographer Busted Out a Flash for a Portrait Session

I’ve always called myself a natural light photographer. If you visit my site and peruse my portfolio, you’ll be hard pressed to find a single portrait on the site where I used a flash. Like many other photographers, I’ll bring out aflash for the reception, but when I shoot portraits – whether at a wedding, engagement session, or family shoot – I prefer to find the light that exists naturally rather than create my own light. I’d even go so far as to say I have never used a flash during a portrait shoot of a couple.

Until this past Wednesday.

Christi and Ndu hired me a few months ago because they had missed out on having engagement photos done before their wedding, and wanted to hire me to shoot some photographs that captured them in their daily life. A few days before their session, the three of us spoke about shoot details and they mentioned …

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So you have a camera that shoots video; you must be a filmmaker!

To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place…I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them. – Elliott Erwitt

You’ve got the gear – wireless mics, a slider, a monopod, some kind of knock-off follow focus. You’re ready to take on the world of wedding “videography.” You even know where to get the best indie songs that nobody’s heard yet that totally capture the essence of your couples, dude!

Wait. Hold up.

Why does the movie industry seemingly keep putting out horrible movies but people keep spending money to go see them? It’s not because they use the best equipment (they do usually). It’s not because 3D is the coolest thing in the world (I can’t attest to that). It’s because of the stories. As horrible as you may think they …

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5 Traits Professional Photographers Can Learn from FastCompany’s 100 Most Creative People

Creative types are all alike. That may be a sweeping generalization, but there are undoubtedly some specific traits that distinguish creatives from the general population.

In Fast Company’s annual celebration of business innovators who dare to think differently, they name 2012’s 100 Most Creative People in Business. The individuals they dubbed “most creative” represent a cross-section of industries and professions. The two common characteristics of these creative peope is “taking risks and discovering surprising new solutions to old problems.”

Despite their diverse backgrounds, there are 5 key traits that professional photographers can learn from FastCompany’s “100 Most Creative People.”

1. Harness Unbridled Optimism

Creatives are the ones who chime in during contentious corporate meetings with exclamations like, “We can solve this!” In fact, their Quixotic attitude is why Steve Jobs annointed them “the crazy ones.” They sincerely – often vehemently – believe that even the most mind-boggling problems have a solution. And they’re the ones who lead teams toward unconventional …

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12 Questions to take Wedding Photography Pre-Planning to the Next Level

You’re the visionary, the service provider, the confidante and the photographer.

When a bride hires you, she’s envisioning her wedding photos as the perfect reflection of her special day. If you’re like every wedding photographer I’ve ever met, nothing would make you happier than to exceed her expectations!

Yet I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a bride say, “my photographer didn’t get XYZ and I really wanted that picture!” At the same time, what I hear photographers say is, “the bride was upset that I didn’t get XYZ, but how in the world was I to know she wanted that picture?”

So many of these stories can be avoided by asking the right questions in the pre-planning stages.

Based on all of our wedding experience as well as stories of countless brides and fellow photographers, Sean and I have fine-tuned our wedding pre-planning questionnaire over the years. I’m going to share …

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Film vs. Digital: Why do we still debate it?

Film is dead. Well, maybe it’s on life support according to some experts.

In April, the British Journal of Photography reported that Fujifilm had plans to drastically increase the retail cost of its film. Most professional film will now be twice the price. That may mean that film photography will become a true niche art form. And if it’s a niche art form, does that mean that digital is professional photographers’ saving grace, or a security blanket for faux artists?

Clearly, the debate continues.

A few years ago a friend of mine displayed his latest personal project in Nashville’s largest art museum. As Whitney and I viewed his show, a couple entered the room. They were excited to see a photography exhibit, until the man exclaimed to his girlfriend and everyone else in the room, “That’s the problem with photographers today; they all use digital. Look! You can see how horribly pixelated all these images are! Film is …

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5 Rules for Better Website Design

Your website is your storefront, and in today’s marketplace it’s increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd in a virtual world. Consumers are bombarded with web-content on a daily basis, so keeping your audience’s attention is challenging.

As a professional photographer, you may be working harder and harder to drive traffic to your website. Perhaps Facebook, Pinterest, and SEO are guiding prospective clients to your work, but once they are on your website are you able to keep them there?

Making your website simple, easy to navigate, and user-friendly will increase your chances of converting visitors to fans, or (even better) paying clients.

Consider 5 areas of website navigation and design:

Tell them who you are: Post your logo and location in a highly-visible area. There’s nothing worse than coming to a website and not knowing if you’re in the right place, who owns the content, or even where they are located in …

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7 Ways Photography Business Owners Can Use ShootQ Studio Management

There is a reason Apple coined the term, “There’s an App for that.” If you need to get something done there’s most likely an app that can help you get it done faster. As creative, small business owners we try to do it all. Photography, accounting, advertising, sales, social media guru, Photoshopper, blogger, janitor… and the list goes on! Yet, we only get to put one or two titles on our business card, “Photographer, Owner,” or maybe both.

Dr. Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People wrote, “managers pick the best path through the forest but leaders make sure you’re in the right forest to start with.” Too many business owners get bogged down by their single-track focus and get lost in the forest. They have little time to step back and think about their business and how it operates. They have even less time to investigate new …

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4 Photography Business Keys for Scalability and Sustainability


To build a scalable and sustainable photography business, you must first acknowledge that there’s a difference between “being a photographer” and “running a photography business.”

Not only is there a difference, you can actually do either – without doing the other! You can be a photographer without running your own business, if you work for someone else. Or, you can run a photography business without ever clicking a shutter. For many of us, however, we find ourselves standing squarely in between both worlds. We are photographers who are balancing being creatives and learning to be business professionals who happen to be creative.

The tension of being “both” is what causes us to struggle when it comes to growing our business. In fact, our roles as photographer and business owner sometimes find themselves with conflicting interests as we examine what it means to expand and grow our business. Often we are …

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