Wedding Day Problems: How to Troubleshoot Them!

When I started second shooting at weddings, one thing became incredibly apparent. The well thought-out, fine-tuned, photography timeline often went south. The shooting environments, which could have been ideal, were often impossible to utilize for a variety of reasons. And I discovered that detailed consultations with the bride prior to the wedding were often not enough. Although my mentor handled these situations with grace and professionalism, I vowed to address these problems with my brides before their wedding day and develop a plan of action in case it not only went south, but blew out the window with hurricane force.

1. The Hotel Suite: I Can’t Find the Bed

Have you ever walked into a bridal suite to find beds covered in clothing, suitcases, shoes, you name it? The chairs, tables, and other furniture are also adorned with everything from cell phones to keys? I let my bride know that we often …

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The Best Thing I Ever Learned

Sometimes the best lessons are simple, one-sentence thoughts that often seem trivial at the time but turn out to be monumental. I came across one some eight years ago; it forever changed not only my photography but also my business.

I was a student at the Foundation Workshop (FW2), an annual workshop held in Texas that shaped me not only as a photographer but also as a teacher. I was a student that year but have since been involved in every workshop since – all eight of them.

The Foundation Workshop is for wedding photojournalists who have no photojournalism experience or those who want to learn the art of visual storytelling; it is run by some of the best wedding photojournalists in world.

When I attended Foundation I had been in business for only about two years and was trying to find my sea legs in the world of wedding photography. Before then I …

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Splurging : Convincing Clients That You’re Worth It

Why do we go to Starbucks when we could get the same coffee for $3 cheaper at 7Eleven? Some would say it’s because it’s BETTER coffee while others would argue that the coffee is the same, you’re just paying for the brand and the experience. It’s true, I feel sophisticated, modern and important in Starbucks and when I’m standing in line at 7Eleven, I’m just trying to get out of there as fast a possible!! We pay MORE for things that we value, things we feel connected to and things that give us warm fuzzy feelings inside. I don’t even drink coffee but I bought a Pumpkin Spiced Latte from Starbucks on the way home from a shoot last week just because it’s fall and that’s what you’re supposed to do in the fall!! Starbuck’s marketing is working. When I pay $5 for a tiny frap, I don’t feel like …

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The Power of Photography: It’s Not About The Pictures!

Gasp! Did I really just say that? Yes, yes I did. Why, you ask? Because a couple of weeks ago I was personally reminded where the power of photography truly lies.

The power of photography is not in the pictures; it’s in the time you give your clients to spend together. It’s about giving them the excuse to ink in – not pencil in, but permanent-marker in – quality time on their calendars. Time together that bans the phones and to-do lists and allows them to let the rest of the world go blurry. It’s reminding them how it felt when he first held her hand, spurring the memory of how they fell in love, and getting them lost in a hug. It’s showing that they could be anywhere in the world right now, but exactly where they are – together – is the best.

Between a busy Saturday wedding out of town and a final …

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The Most Valuable Skill a Mentor Can Teach You

A few months back, Drake (@drake) tweeted: The first million is the hardest. Moments later, T.Boone Pickens (@boonepickens) replied with: The first billion is a helluva lot harder. To which draked responded: @boonepickens just stunted on me heavy.

This recent event reminds me of a classic quote: “A mentor is someone whose hindsight can become your foresight.”

I’m fortunate to have many mentors in my life. Through the years, 1 insight about mentorship stands out above all the rest. Surprisingly, very few people talk about it. Before we dive in, please know that I’m assuming the following sentence is true for you:

There is this problem or fear or challenge or concern or simply, you want to make sure you’re doing “it” right.

If I’m completely off the mark, this article is probably a waste of your time. But if these examples sound familiar, please keep reading. Speaking from experience, I can relate to …

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Backup Strategies: Cover Your Ass!

A few weeks back, Amazon’s web services had a major outage in their Virginia data center that took down some of the web’s heavyweights like Netflix and Instagram. People took to social media with pitchforks in hand immediately denouncing The Cloud and its ability to keep your data safe. One such pitchfork welding photographer stated how he has never trusted the cloud and he only backs up his data on site, but that was not the kicker. The kicker was one particular comment where someone stated that handing off your critical data to a cloud service for safe keeping was a kin to asking a complete stranger to watch your home and family for the weekend. I actually screamed at the computer when I read that; something to the tune of: “No! It’s more like asking the Secret Service to watch over your home and family for the weekend!”

Think about …

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A Photographer’s Journey to Find Purpose and Meaning In Expanding Horizons

“It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go we have come to our real journey.” –Wendell Berry

I have been a commercial photographer for about 16 years, but my journey as an artist—even as a human being—started two years ago. Two years ago I took my first trip to Haiti. Somehow, on this island littered with destruction yet filled with hope, my paradigm shifted—my heart crumbled—and I discovered my purpose and mission in life. It’s my hope that I’ll encourage you to do the same.

I have captured most everything and anything through the language of photography. From chefs to musicians, celebs to fishermen, artists to business people, and architecture to food—I have had a blessed career thus far.

Yet somehow, even with the most creative jobs and supportive clients, my …

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4 Tips to Creating a Successful Photobooth

While the life of a photobooth photographer may seem glamorous, I assure you – it is.

With that said, here’s your guide to creating a successful kick-ass photobooth. 1. Supplies

Backdrop – either a 5 ft or a 9 ft backdrop can be bought at your local camera store (serious camera store, folks, not Ritz) for $25-$50.

I’ve tried patterned backdrops, as clients have suggested them – the result? Follow your heart.

Sometimes less is more, and this is a time when that’s exactly the case! A simple, subtle backdrop makes the subjects more prominent, and much “less” like they’re posing for Santa!

(This booth below seemed more like a ‘magic eye’ than anything!)

Lights – I use two White Lightning x1600′s, and bring along one backup just in case. I like to use the cybersync battery-powered radio transmitters to relay the flash, but a sync cord also works – as long as you position the lights so they can catch each other’s light (if they’re …

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Lighten Your Load: 4 Tips to Reduce Gear on a Shoot

How do I reduce gear on shoots?

I ask myself this question almost weekly. Since I shoot 100% out on location (most requiring travel), what’s in my bag can either cost extra baggage fees or save my keister on a shoot.

Just because I can lug a three-light setup, doesn’t mean I should.

My key: Be prepared not just as an artist, but as a Boy Scout.

Gear holds me back more often than I admit. This coming from a frugal Boy Scout who admires MacGyver. Give me a van full of photo-related gear to bring to Burning Man (see above photo) and I’m happy as a clam. Granted, I used about 55% of it, but glad I had it all.

It’s easy to say, “I’ll take quality over quantity.” But which tools get left behind? My answer:

1) Be creatively prepared. There’s a difference being prepared as an artist, versus Boy Scout prepared. You never want …

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Giving Families a Slice of History: Make a Wish Foundation

I didn’t get into photography for the art of it; nor did I get into photography for the passion of it (which isn’t to say I’m not passionate about my art).  I got into photography because after moving to Los Angeles to write for television, and doing that (and then not), I needed a job.  A steady one.  That I was in control of.  I chose photography, because I am passionate about family.  And about family history.  And about leaving a legacy.

I live and work in the entertainment capital of the world – where everyone is beautiful, where if the sun doesn’t shine every day of the year, it can be painted in, and where even the unglamorous seems glamorous.  I have delivered chicken soup to Aaron Spelling’s house as a gesture from his writing staff in hopes he would get better (and approve their scripts); I have dressed in black tie …

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