How to Get the Most out of Getting Ready pictures by Nathan Peel

Tips for Great Getting Ready Wedding Photography Images

When I started photographing weddings, I wondered how those famous photographers got gorgeous pictures of their clients getting ready on their wedding day. The shots seemed so “in the moment,” but also beautifully lit. When I walked into a hotel room, church basement or (gasp!) grandma’s living room, I wasn’t achieving the same results. Was it the location? Or the subjects? Sometimes.

However, there were often a few little steps I could take to get similar results.

Here’s How to Get the Most out of Getting Ready pictures:

1. Show up early. Standard start time for us is about one hour before the bride is in her dress/groom is in his suit. “Start time” is when we tell clients we’ll arrive. We actually show up 30 minutes prior to start time to park and do a bit of scouting before we walk into the room. Then with any extra minutes, we get …

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Photography for the Professionals {10 Truisms} by R.J. Kern


I’m a fan of age-old photography wisdom that’s still relevant today.

When I stumbled upon the book “Photography for the Professionals,” written by Robin Perry in 1976, I thumbed through the dusty pages. What I found surprised me, no different than this 1937 gem.

If age-old wisdom stands the test of time today, imagine future value? That’s something a new book won’t buy!

Despite being published over 37 years ago, the abundance of ‘golden nugget’ information relevant to today’s professional photographers inspired me to write this post for The Photo Life. Here are Ten Truisms from the book “Photography for the Professionals” that are applicable to today’s professional photographers.

Ten Truisms, 37 Years Later:

10. The key to success in photography (or anything else for that matter) is education.

As Mark Twain said, “Never let school interfere with your education.” Going into debt for photography school isn’t a sound investment. At all. However, self-improvement …

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Tips for Booking and Rocking Same-Sex Wedding Shoots

© 2012 Cindy M Brown

© 2012 Cindy M Brown

Documenting the story of a same-sex wedding is really not that different from documenting the story of any wedding, at least from the perspective of a wedding photojournalist. In both, a photojournalist’s job is to capture the personalities, the emotions, the moments, the context and the details that work together to give viewers a sense of the love shared by the couple, their family and friends on that one special day.

© 2012 Sharon McMahon

So, how do I go about booking same-sex weddings?

1)  Seek this business only if you are truly supportive. If you have any reservations about the right of gays and lesbians to make meaningful, legal and sacred commitments to each other, that uncertainty will likely show when you meet with couples.

2) Make it clear on your website that you’re open to photographing same-sex unions. Show photos of same-sex couples if you have …

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5 Ways to Keep Portraiture Natural on the Wedding Day by Ned Jackson

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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Photography Notes: Doing the Hard Thing by Jared Platt

We all go through times of struggle in life, but they are often the times of greatest personal growth. We build our muscles through our resistance to those trials. This concept of growth through struggle is also valid in our photographic lives. Doing the hard thing is where photographic depth and skill is obtained. I had the opportunity recently to assign myself such a challenge…

Photography Notes: Doing the Hard Thing from Jared Platt on Vimeo.

Special Thanks to: Shanliegh & Dustin (the bride and groom) Kimberly Jarman Leica Triple Scoop Music

About Jared Platt

Jared Platt is a professional photographer and photographic educator. He studied photography at Arizona State University where he earned his undergraduate and masters degrees in Photography. He teaches college photography courses as well as workshops for professional photographers and provides online education for photographers and photo enthusiast throughout the world.

Join one of Jared’s upcoming Lightroom Workflow Webinars here on The Photo Life!

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What Donald Draper Tells Us About Happiness by Elizabeth Villa Ippolito

Photo by The Youngrens

Photo by The Youngrens

“Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is OK. You are OK.”

Donald Draper (Mad Men, 2007)

Even the old school ad guys got this one right.

My good friend Don (yes, the fictional character Donald Draper) knew that he was never just selling products, he was selling happiness.

In order to do this he had to figure out how what he was selling resonated with his ideal client’s unique idea of happiness.

Your products and services aren’t just products and services. They represent memories, legacy and happiness. And, they hold extreme value for your clients whether that’s a couple, a family or a business.

How are you painting a picture of happiness for prospective …

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Intimate Invitations: The Photo that Changed the Course of My Career by Rachel LaCour Niesen

midwife by photographer rachel lacour

The camera is an invitation to experience intimacy.

I didn’t understand that powerful principle until I was given an unforgettable assignment for my college newspaper, The Columbia Missourian.

A writer and I were working on a story about midwives. It seemed simple on the surface: visit a few homes where mothers-to-be were meeting midwives.

With my camera over my shoulder, I tentatively stepped inside a family’s quiet house. What happened then simply changed the course of my career.

The mother and midwife graciously invited me to photograph a pregnancy progress exam in the home’s small sunroom. I crouched in a corner, hoping to minimize my footprint within an incredibly intimate scene.

As the midwife began the exam, the mother’s toddler tiptoed into the room, climbed onto the window seat, and tenderly placed his ear on his mother’s belly. His blue eyes closed, his tiny mouth opened, in a moment of pure wonder. I felt surprising …

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Top Ten Galleries Every Photographer Should Visit by Rachel LaCour Niesen

A Gallery New Orleans

Call me old school. Go ahead, it’s true. I love seeing photographs in galleries. Not the galleries confined to a computer. I’m talking about the ones with walls.

There’s just something magical about stepping into a gallery and approaching large photographs hanging around you. It’s like meeting a kindred spirit for the first time; by standing face-to-face, you have a chance to savor their subtle nuances, to get lost in the rich hues of their eyes. Above all, you feel comfortable exploring, discovering and learning.

Sometimes, my palms sweat as I walk into a favorite gallery and glimpse a new exhibit. Rounding the corner of Canal and Chartres in New Orleans, I instinctively look up, toward the worn wooden sign and bold red door marking the entrance to A Gallery for Fine Photography. It was the first real photography gallery I visited, when I was a high school student discovering my passion for photojournalism. When I’m in New Orleans, A Gallery is my first stop. The space always draws me in, like the magnetic force of first love.

When I view photographs in a gallery, I don’t just see them. I experience them. It’s like full immersion in another culture, and it can’t be matched by a computer.

For years, I’ve been visiting galleries, cataloging my favorites. Here are my must-see galleries for photographers. I hope you’ll have a chance to stop by each of them and get lost for awhile. Please share your favorite galleries in the comments section. I look forward to finding some new places to visit!

1. A Gallery for Fine Photography, New Orleans, LA

Located in a 19th-century building at 241 Chartres in New Orleans’ French Quarter, A Gallery houses a dazzling collection of historic photographs spanning the 19th and 20th centuries. Set up like a living room, or informal Parisian Salon, the gallery immediately makes visitors feel at ease. Poke around, walk upstairs, and stare at images of Ernest Hemingway and Louis Armstrong. The singular vision and unforgettable personality of gallery owner, Joshua Mann Pailet, are evident around every corner. That’s precisely why this space feels like home to me.

2. Monroe Gallery, Santa Fe, NM

Located just off the historic city center, The Plaza, the Monroe Gallery specializes in classic black-and-white photography with an emphasis on humanist and photojournalist imagery. From Robert Capa’s pioneering photojournalism to Joe McNally’s contemporary coverage of New York city firefighters, the Monroe gallery is a living, breathing archive of photojournalism. Plus, the owners are casual, friendly and willing to strike up a conversation about their passion for photography.

3. Polka Galerie, Paris, France

The Polka Galerie is located in my favorite Parisian neighborhood, The Marais, and is actually part of three outlets dedicated to photography. The physical space is supplemented by a beautiful, quarterly magazine and a website showcasing exhibits. The founder and owner of Polka is Alain Genestar, former editor-in-chief of Paris Match, which is one of the most powerful weekly magazines in France and is renowed for its use of photographs.

4. Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York, NY

Formerly a photographer and founder of The Center for Photography in Woodstock in 1977, Howard Greenberg is one of a small group of gallerists, curators and historians responsible for the creation and development of the modern market for photography. The Howard Greenberg Gallery, which was founded in 1981, was the first to consistently exhibit photojournalism and ‘street’ photography, which are now accepted as important components of photographic art.

5. International Center for Photography, New York, NY

Nestled in the heart of New York City, the International Center of Photography is dedicated to exploring the photographic medium through dynamic exhibitions of historical and contemporary work. More than a gallery, ICP is a haven for education and scholarship. ICP also holds the famed “Mexican Suitcase,” which comprises a rare collection of rediscovered Spanish Civil War negatives by Capa, Chim, and Taro.

6. The George Eastman House, Rochester, NY

The world-renknowed George Eastman House combines the world’s leading collections of photography and film with the stately style of the Colonial Revival mansion that George Eastman called home from 1905 to 1932. This is the world’s oldest photography museum and one of the world’s oldest film archives, which originally opened to the public in 1949.

7. Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

The Fahey/Klein Gallery is devoted to the enhancement of the public’s appreciation of photography through the exhibition and sale of 20th Century and Contemporary Fine Art Photography. Since the gallery’s inception, exhibitions have embraced a diverse range photographers from Edward Weston to Berenice Abbott; Man Ray to Henri Cartier-Bresson.

8. Robert Klein Gallery, Boston, MA

Founded in 1980, the Robert Klein Gallery is devoted exclusively to fine art photography. The gallery deals with established photographers of the 19th and 20th centuries including those who are considered masters such as: Muybridge, Berenice Abbott, Ansel Adams, Irving Penn, Brassai, Cartier Bresson, Helen Levitt, Yousuf Karsh, Man Ray, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston and Walker Evans. The exhibition schedule is also designed to introduce new photographers to the public. Recently exhibited contemporary artists include: Julie Blackmon, Bill Jacobson, Jeff Brouws, Cig Harvey, Laura Letinsky, Wendy Burton and Chip Hooper.

9. Photo Eye Gallery, Santa Fe, NM

If you’re into collecting photo books, especially rare and out-of-print volumes, don’t miss Photo Eye! Simply put, it’s a treasure trove of photo books. You’ll be consistently surprised every time you step into this gallery a few blocks off Canyon Road. Dealing in contemporary photography, the gallery represents both internationally renowned and emerging artists.

10. Peter Fetterman, Santa Monica, CA

Peter Fetterman set up his first gallery over 20 years ago. He was a pioneer tenant of Bergamot Station, the Santa Monica Center of the Arts, when it opened in 1994. His gallery has one of the largest inventories of classic 20th Century photography. Diverse holdings include work by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Sebastião Salgado, Ansel Adams, Paul Caponigro, Willy Ronis, and André Kerstez. Peter and his colleagues are committed to promote awareness and appreciation of photography in an intimate, user-friendly environment.

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How I Shot a Wedding with my Lensbaby by Kerry Garrison

I have been a huge fan of the Lensbaby selective focus lenses since I got a Lensbaby 2.0 years ago. I then starting using the “Franken-Lens”, the Lensbaby 3G, and now I use the Lensbaby Composer with its different interchangeable optics. For years now I have wanted to use a Lensbaby lens to shoot an entire wedding from start to finish.

While the Lensbaby lenses are generally used very sparingly for a few portraits and maybe a few detail/ring shots at any given wedding, certainly nobody would want to do an entire wedding with one. Part of it is that us wedding photographers strive for perfection, this is not really a strong point for a Lensbaby as its purpose in life is to distort perfection by causing a smearing (smudging + tearing) effect that is amplified the further you get away from the focus “sweet spot”. This smearing effect adds a …

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Inside the Image- Lightroom Custom Vignettes by Jared Platt

Living in the desert is a unique experience.  Forget about the 120 degree summer days and the horribly unfriendly plant life.  To me, the weather is quite fascinating.  I love the monsoon rainstorms and the lightning is fantastic.  Other places in the world have their own challenging weather situations, many much more dangerous.  There are tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, blizzards, etc…  and none of these options are very appealing to me, which is why I prefer my native state of Arizona.  But we do have our own unique weather effect: the dust storm.

I was traveling back from a job in Tucson and took a back road route home (rather than the freeway).  I enjoy doing this because everything goes by so quickly on the freeway and there is no inclination to stop and look at anything (and of course, it would be illegal to do so).  So the back roads are much more enjoyable as road trips go.  On my way home, I saw an approaching dust storm and immediately pulled off the road and pulled out the camera and went hiking.  The Arizona dust storm has a beautiful effect on our world.  It creates a ghost of anything in the distance if not, it completely obscures it.  Like a blizzard, it creates a thin sketch of the landscape with little to no contrast.  I am generally haunted by vacancy in an image.  I am not sure why, but of all the photographs I would select to hang in my home, it is those filled with quiet and solitude that appeal most to me.  That doesn’t mean that I choose to photograph this way all the time, but it has the deepest emotional affect on my soul.  I think it is because that is who I am at my core.

If you are drawn to a particular style of photography, or art, and looking at that work brings you home, you can be sure that that attraction says a lot about you as a person.  In fact, weather you like a photograph or don’t, says less about the photographer or the photograph and more about you as a person.  Which is why, I think, that I get along so well with my clients.  They have selected me as their photographer based on their emotional and intellectual response to my work.  Which means that they, in some way, deep down at some root level, are like me.  We agree on what gives us peace and brings us home.

When I got home and started working with this image, I asked my wife about this image.  ”Am I off base, or is this image extremely haunting and beautiful?”

“I can see what you are attracted to in the image,” she replied, “but it’s not all that great!”

No, I wasn’t devastated by her comment.  I just decided she was wrong.  It is great, but perhaps only to me and people like me.  Remember, her reaction to the photograph says more about her, than it does about the photo.  In contrast, I think my friend Isaac Bailey would like it.  But I think we share a common love for solitude (or perhaps it is a sullen longing for sleep).  My wife grew up in the city with all of its distractions and noise, I grew up on the prairies of Northern Arizona where the only noise is the constant wind.  So, my wife’s take on this photo was an instructive reminder to me.  My wife is a good judge of a photograph, which tells me that this image is different, my attraction to it isn’t just about some other brilliantly employed compositional strategy, I didn’t make this picture to sell something or even to make a statement.  I made it because something inside me wanted to go home for a little while and relax there in the shadow of the Zuni Mountains and look over the endless flat land, smell the dust, swap stories with my brothers and wait until dark for a ride back into town.  This was a free ticket back to Bitter Springs after the long climb through The Gap to witness the brilliant view from the tops of the Vermilion Cliffs.  Sometimes photography isn’t about the subject in front of us at all.  The subject is just a catalyst for memory, a sort of psychiatrist’s couch for introspection and self discovery.  And sometimes, a photography session reminds you of who you are.

These introspective moments almost never happen while the camera is in your hands.  They come in the quiet times in the darkroom, or the Lightroom as you study the results.  And while my mantra is always about efficiency in post production. When I feel that prompting, I do my best to slow down, and examine my work closely without distractions or deadlines and find out what it is, I have been trying to say to myself.

LIGHTROOM TECH TALK: This image was completely processed in Lightroom.  It was never opened in Photoshop.  Tones, grain and vignettes were all added in Lightroom without the use of any additional plugins etc.  To learn more about making unique vignettes in Lightroom, check out my video below.

Jared Platt Lightroom- Custom Vignettes from Pictage Films on Vimeo.

Tune into my podcast for more lessons in photography, post-processing and Lightroom, go to

Written by Jared Platt

Jared is a professional photographer and photographic educator. He studied photography at Arizona State University where he earned his undergraduate and masters degrees in Photography. He teaches college photography courses as well as workshops for professional photographers and provides online education for photographers and photo enthusiast throughout the world.

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