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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The Fear Every Photographer Must Conquer

There is one piece of photographic advice that is guaranteed to change your images.

It is rooted in Robert Capa’s famous quote, “If your pictures are not good enough you are not close enough.”

Simply put, conquer your fear of getting closer to your subject.

I first learned this lesson from a college professor who was looking at my photographs and asked why I was so far away from the subjects? I replied that I didn’t have a telephoto lens. Which of course was the wrong answer. He asked if I had feet! Confused, I replied YES. He fired back by pointing at my feet, saying “There’s your telephoto lens. Get off you’re a$& and go make the picture!”

Lesson learned.

Fifteen years later, I still think about that lesson when I’m faced with the challenges of putting myself in the middle of the action at a wedding.

When asked how they work on a wedding …

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Six Steps to Amazing Family Photos on the Wedding Day

McClellan Style

Family formal time is one of my favorite times of the whole wedding day. No, really it is! I love getting a picture of the bride with her Dad or making sure that the groom has a picture with his grandmother to keep forever. That’s why it’s always surprising to me when I hear a photographer say, “I hate family formals!” Today I want to talk about that because all I can think is…“then you must be doing it wrong!” :)

Family formals don’t have to be a chore for everyone involved, or boring in the worst possible sense of the word. These photographs are guaranteed to be at the top of the list in importance as the years pass, so you might as well make them memorable and enjoyable

Here’s how you can do just that!

When I think of our own wedding photographs there two that really mean the most to me and …

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5 Ways to Keep Portraiture Natural on the Wedding Day

One of the best compliments I receive from potential clients is that my photographs feel natural and aren’t forced. That’s music to my ears because I consider myself a storyteller first and foremost.

Probably 90% of my wedding photography days are spent covering the action in a photojournalist manner. At the end of the day, however, I gravitate towards portraits. It has always given me great pleasure to have clients who tell me “we’re so unphotogenic,” and then deliver images that truly wow them!  Let’s face it, if you can make someone look good, you’ve just earned another advocate for your work. Seriously, who doesn’t want to look amazing on their wedding day?

How do you keep things natural? How do you make people feel comfortable enough to be themselves in front of the lens? That’s the real art. 

The technical aspects of lighting, composition, posing can all be learned. Making a connection …

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Making the Move from Second Photographer to Primary Photographer

I am an earnest beginner. Just starting out. A weekend warrior. A never-been-to-art-or-journalism-school-photographer. A business owner who never imagined owning a business. As I wade more deeply into the wedding photography world, I am making the switch from second shooting to shooting weddings as a primary photographer. Along the way, I’ve focused on three things: craft, confidence, and clients.

1) Craft

I don’t know about you, but I got into this business because I wanted to make beautiful, meaningful images for couples in love. If I can’t consistently deliver those, then I have no basis for being in business. Given this belief, my first step was to build a technical and artistic foundation for my business honing the craft of photography.

Read. There are so many amazing websites and blogs (like this one) that provide considerable information for free! You can learn about lighting, posing, composition, how to make people feel comfortable in front …

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Best Business Practices – Part 4

Spring is here, so we’re sharing a series of Best Business Practice posts featuring the team of ACEs. Get to know them and learn tips and tricks that will streamline your studio this season! As any ACE will tell you, you can’t do it all. Successful photographers understand this, which is why they are masters of time management.

When building your business systems, use these time management tips:

1) Automate: Don’t waste time on monotonous tasks! Automation is as simple as creating template email responses to FAQs, automating invoice reminders, or setting up a standard workflow that you follow for each shoot. If you’re wondering how to start automating your studio, ShootQ is a great tool to help! It automates client correspondence, aspects of your workflow, and your other administrative processes.

2) Create a Set Schedule: Rather than reactively doing tasks as they pop up during your day, set certain times for different types of tasks. Not only does this establish accountability so …

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Best Business Practices: Part 2

Since Spring is here, we’re sharing a series of Best Business Practice posts featuring the team of ACEs. Get to know them and learn how their tips and tricks will streamline your studio this season! As any ACE will tell you, the reality is you can’t do it all. Successful photographers understand this, which is why they begin with a clear vision for their business.

Start by asking “Why?”

The most valuable question you’ll ask throughout the lifetime of your business is “Why?” When you’ve established a clear purpose and goals for your business, frequently asking yourself why you do what you do will hold you accountable to your overall vision and keep your business on track for success!

So, why do you do what you do? First identify what your business “stands for.” List the top five things you want your business to stand for and edit your list until you have one statement that accurately …

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The Art of Automation

There was a time when every automobile was built by hand.

Today, there are only a handful of manufacturers that put their cars together one at a time, but those cars are so ridiculously expensive that few of us will ever sit in one, much less own one.

The reason we can all afford a car today is because of automation. Automation is also the reason that there is incredible consistency in the quality of any line of cars. There are too many wedding photographers who want to build their photos one at a time, the old fashioned way. They want to create perfection in each one, but that kind of old-fashioned thinking leads to either unsustainably high prices, or unacceptably long turn around and absolutely no consistency in the quality and style of the product.

Learning lessons from manufacturing mavens.

Automation saves on labor costs and creates consistent results. Of course, you’re an artist, so may …

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Learn How to “Read” Light

Since there is so much to discuss, join me at Office Hours on March 5, 2012 (10:00 AM PT) for my FREE Webinar Series. The topic of discussion will be exposure, both in the camera and in post-production. You all know that I’m a Lightroom advocate, so we’ll be talking about Lightroom 4 and all the new exposure controls in this new release of the software. As always, this is a first-come, first-serve webinar, so sign up and show up early!

Jared Platt’s ‘Office Hours’ are Sponsored by The Photo Life and Pictage. For more information about Jared Platt go to For more information about Office Hours and The Photo Life, go to

Let me take you back a few years. Just ten years ago, we were transitioning from film to digital and twenty years ago, digital was still very Buck Rodgers and while it was a cool idea, everyone said that …

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Five Tips for Dramatically Improving Reception Photos

When I shot my first wedding in 2007, I was lucky! The reception was pretty bright (and my camera was worthless above about ISO 400, so that was a good thing!) Since then, I’ve learned – sometimes the hard way – that not every wedding reception is inundated with light, and you know what? I love that.

Bright is great, but dark is full of endless possibilities. Consider a wedding reception outside at 2 p.m. under a clear sky (I know, not common, but play along). There’s not much you can do with that light, right? Your hands are pretty much tied; you’re not competing with a cloudless sky with the speedlights that most wedding shooters have in their bag!

Now take a pitch black 9 p.m. reception. Much more common, right? “Oh crap, the bride’s making her grand entrance in 5 minutes and it’s ISO, 12,800 at 1/2 a second in here!” …

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