A Real Life Review of Pocketwizards

This started as a real life review of Pocketwizards.

Basically it said, “Pocketwizards are bulletproof and if you know the tricks, they work over 95% of the time.” And then last weekend happened. Over the course of two weddings, three of my eight wizards broke.

One of them – a Mini TT1 model – broke during the rainiest and most humid wedding of the year. I accidentally overtightened the plastic shoe and by the time I realized it, the humidity and overcranking combined to cause the Pocketwizard‘s plastic shoe to jump off its track. Over the next day and a half, I managed to drop a Flex TT5 model, snapping the plastic off of its shoe, and then the battery door on another Flex TT5 snapped off completely. I’m still not sure how that happened.

Thankfully, I had backup gear, and aside from some minor frustrations, the shoots continued without a hitch. I shipped the …

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Tips for Instantly Improving Your Next Engagement Session

Engagement sessions are great ways to get to know your clients and to boost their confidence in themselves so that they’ll know their pictures will be beautiful when you show up at their wedding. Here are some simple, practical tips for instantly improving your next engagement session.

Have them start in a sitting position. People often talk about not knowing “what to do” while they’re being photographed. If they’re standing, they can start getting nervous and move around a bit. I try to put people in a position where they don’t feel stiff and they don’t have the option to move around too much. Having them sit is a great way to accomplish that! My favorite sitting position is to have the groom sit while the bride sits right in front of him, between his legs. If you ask them to look at each other, they’ll be pretty limited in where they can …

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Wedding Day Portraits, Part 2: Quick & Dirty Solutions to a Common Challenge

Rarely are we handed THE perfect wedding day (at least not in New England!). We’re always going to face challenges. Try as you may to help clients and advise them as they plan their wedding timeline, more often than not, wedding photography is as much about problem solving as it is about capturing moments. As in, how can I make this situation as beautiful as possible, given the conditions I’m facing?

Rather than try to think of every possible variable that could go wrong, I’ve picked a common situation that often challenges me and described ways I’ve dealt with it in the past. As with all my articles, it’s not rocket science, but hopefully you can take away one or two tidbits that will help you problem solve in a pinch!

Harsh Light & Midday Sun

No matter how hard you try to advise a client that mid-day might not necessarily be the …

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Price Objections: How to Deal

Statements such as, “Your prices are out of my budget” and “It costs too much” are the number one reasons for stalled sales. Yep, I said stall, not obstruction or objection. How do most of us respond when we hear these things? We get angry or offended or, worst of all, we drop the price! If you go that route, it pretty much implies that you were charging too much to begin with. So not only are you left with a potential client who doesn’t trust you, you lost some of your profit margin.

But I digress.

Potential clients complain about prices all the time. Heck, we even do this from time to time as consumers. When you realize why you ask these same questions yourself, you can understand why you get them from your clients. As consumers, we want to be in control, but we also want to be nice. You …

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Remote Camera Setup Made Simple

When you don’t want to put your expensive camera far from where you’re working, or prefer to avoid hoisting thousands of dollars of camera gear on a stand surrounded by crowds of people, a simple solution is the GoPro.

There are no remote controls, no triggers to plug in, and the camera is half the size of an iPhone. The camera easily attaches to a tripod, light clamp or light stand. While the GoPro can record in still and video mode, I use it only for still images so I can create a time lapse video of the event, wedding, conference, etc.

Recently I was asked by a charity group to create a time-lapse of a playground being built in New Orleans. I was also photographing the event with my Leica rangefinders. I needed to find a simple solution for a few reasons. First, there’s not a remote method to record stills with …

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10 Tips for Making Beautiful Bridal Portraits on the Wedding Day

Gifted photographers approach making beautiful bridal portraits on the wedding day in myriad ways. Drawing on a long tradition of wedding imagery from the past, some are classical in style; some are fashion-oriented, creating images that are grandiose, theatrical and sexy; still others focus on an unobtrusive, authentic documentation of events and wait for impromptu portraits that do not require any staging.

For every approach, there is an optimal client who resonates with and appreciates the style of work that is made. Our diversity in approach is what creates connection with specific clients. Regardless of what approach you take when making bridal portraits on the wedding day, there are several simple ways to improve your work.

As I thought about the specific strategies I have developed over the past decade to facilitate a creative and efficient portrait process, I arrived at a list of ten. Thus, I humbly present to you 10 …

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“Mutt Mugshots” The Art of the Dog Portrait

If you’ve heard of fabulous lifestyle and wedding photographer Jules Bianchi, you’ve probably heard of Olive, Jules’ four legged side-kick. Jules’ love for her dog is well known, and many clients who feel the same way about their furry children have commissioned her to photograph their weddings and families.

Dog portraiture can be a rewarding and lucrative genre of photography, as well as being a blast! Jules started photographing Olive over 14 years ago, when she adopted the tiny puppy who was only 4 weeks old. Olive has been her muse for every new lens and camera, a new lighting situation, or just because Jules can’t stop capturing her favorite subject. She started “An Olive A Day,” presenting a daily picture of Olive on her own blog, as a personal project to keep herself fresh and to do something fun. It grew into a book, “Olive Goes to Hollywood,” which won …

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5 Popular Posts You Might Have Missed!

Today we’re taking a look back at some of the most popular posts published on The Photo Life to date. Check them out to make sure you didn’t miss any the first time they were published. From boudoir to better lighting, these posts are full of helpful tips and tricks for professional photographers.

If you saw them the first time around, they’re worth a second look! You might even find a new nugget of information.


1. If Everyone’s a Photographer, What Makes us so Different? by Spencer Lum “The question in the modern age isn’t who is a photographer. It’s who isn’t a photographer? And what makes us different? Here’s what’s NOT the answer: Professionals don’t get better bokeh, sharper shots, luminous light, cleaner composition, and exact exposures. If that’s the answer, we are lost! Not because those things aren’t true, but because those things are not the human values of photography. Those are not …

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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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