My commercial portrait work has a definite vibe. It’s typically well lit; there a sense of emotion and I always want my subject to look beautiful. It’s a style I’ve fallen into over the years. When I first started out in photography I heard about the need to have a style, but didn’t know how to get one. Without knowing it, my style found me. In most cases when I am shooting portraits I want emotion over everything else. I want sexy and sultry yet still commercial.
Every once in a while I look at other photography and ask why cant mine look like that? I’m drawn to moody, uncontrived photos; very spur of the moment, filled with life or mystery. Sometimes I go out and deliberately try to shoot in a style that’s not my own. But there’s this force-field that pulls me back. My experience, knowledge and what I know resonates with the people I have photographed pulls me back to my comfort zone – well-lit and pretty.
This happened on my shoot with Taylor. I’ve known and been working with Taylor since 2006 . Unlike our previous shoots where I was driving the shoot, she called me with a concept that suited her needs as an artist and musician and the direction was out of my norm. When a client approaches me with a job that is a different style from what I do I always ask for reference photos. When I saw her reference images I thought quirky, edgy, snap-shots. Even though that’s not my style she felt comfortable enough to come to me with her concept knowing that I could take her input and produce photos that matched her goals.
When I started to get serious about my photography I took a class/seminar about building a portfolio. This was in 2005. I had been shooting long enough that I had amassed a body of work that I thought was worth showing and wanted someone else’s opinion on how best to present my work in hopes of booking jobs. The class was worthwhile and I left with some good information; I also left with some misinformation. I don’t remember hearing much constructive criticism during my portfolio review. One note was that I was shooting too many landscape images and if I wanted to shoot for magazines I should shoot more portrait shaped images to match the layout of magazines. When I think back to my “skill” level in 2005 and look back at the photos I was making around that time, most of them were shite and it makes me wonder about the validity of her advise during my review. Did she not want to tell me my photos sucked because I payed for the review? Or because I was in a “class” with other photographers on the same level were mine were slightly better than the rest?
The photography industry is rife with people ready to give advise and tips. Some of the advise and education is free and invaluable. Some costs money yet is still a huge value. Look to CreativeLive and Strobist for great and usable photography know-how and education. One is free the not really free but a huge value. Along with an industry of photographers trying to sell me advice there are tons of trade magazines with full of industry “standards” and suggestions…How to show your work, what to put in your portfolio, how much to show.
In that portfolio review in 2005 the photography consultant cautioned about showing more than one image of the same person in my portfolio. Up until recently I adhered to that but as of late I call bullshit. Case in point; Devon. I met and first shot Devon in 2009. In the past four years we’ve shot together six times and every time we’ve worked together we both come away with great images.
There are a handful of other actors and models that I share the same experience with. When I’ve got a relationship with someone and we work well together I tend to work with them over and over since I know the results will be great. Why not show multiple images of the same person in my portfolio or on my website? That rule was dumb.
I bring this up because as I grow and learn about myself and my photography I have begun to make my own rules based on my own experience and information.
As much as I hate updating my websites I’m due for an overhaul. Stay tuned and plan on seeing more than one image of the same person. Especially Devon.
I currently have 585 photos on my iPhone. I love my iPhone. It’s an amazing tool to have in my pocket; so much so that it’s the camera I use the most when I’m not being paid by someone. When it comes to dragging a seven pound chunk of metal to Grace’s ice skating lesson I’d rather just reach into my pocket and pull out my phone. If you think the quality isn’t up to par, the following photo was printed at 20×16. I bring this up because, like me, the majority of my clients have hundreds of photos on their phones and in their digital library that they never do anything with. If you are like me, most of those images don’t see the light of day. Maybe a couple end up on a blog or on Facebook, some end up on Instagram but for the most part they are left in digital purgatory and after a few months the special moment you wanted to document is lost. I took it as we were heading out the door to have our family portraits shot.
Like most two year olds, Charlie doesn’t smile for the camera. He gets uncomfortable and goofy and often moves his eye-line away from the camera. This moment was special because both of my kids looked great…at the same time… and in the same photo. I love seeing this every time I walk in the door. It’s a reminder and a keepsake.
When it comes to hiring me to shoot your wedding, children, family portrait, fill in the blank; I want you to leave with something you can touch and cherish. This is a 16×24 Giclee canvas I recently made for a client.
In 2011 I started using this image of Tutu in my promo material. When Tutu’s mom saw the mounted 18×12 print she loved it. I asked her what she did with the CD of files she purchased from me; she confessed that she hadn’t made time to do anything with them. Life is full; we all get busy….I want your experience with me to be easy and result in photos hung in your house that make you smile when you stop to look at them.
I shot this (riveting) video to show the results of one of the hard cover press printed books I offer. This is the fourth book in a row I’ve made for this client and when I dropped this off she remarked how special they are and that she loves having them to look back on.
By handing over a disc or a digital file I am handing you work. It means you have to make the prints, buy the frames, frame the prints, send Grandma a copy of the prints…..I don’t want your experience with me to be sullied by the stress of added work after the shoot is over. This is the reason I offer the products and services that I do. I want you to enjoy your photos. Granted clients still want copies of their digital files which are available, but as a photographer I want you to have something you can touch.
A few years ago I made a slideshow using photos from every assignment I shot during the year. The idea stuck and has become a great way for me to reflect on what I did right and what I did wrong during the year. 2012 was both challenging and incredibly rewarding. All of those experiences brought one theme to the forefront – Family is Everything. And by family I’m not limiting myself to the family I was born into or married into. It’s the people that I have chosen to surround myself with. This year we have had the warm blanket of family wrapped around us when we needed it and we were able to be that same blanket of warmth and strength for others when they needed it. This year was life-changing for so many of our friends and loved ones.
Over the past couple years I’ve skipped using photos of my family in the slideshow, after all they weren’t paid assignments and so many were just snapshots. This year I’ve included them because my wife and kids are my world and are definitely the most photographed subject in my life. I also opted to include more than one image from the assignments. Limiting myself to one single image per shoot didn’t represent the scope and the fruits of my labor.
As with every slide show I always struggle with music. Each year I want to use a song that I fell in love with during the year. This year there were a couple of contenders.
Mumford & Sons – I will wait
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Thrift Shop I dare you to not bounce your head while listening to this song. I was bouncing my head for a couple weeks before I even listened to the words.
Ryan Adams – From The Ashes In January NPR streamed a pre-lease of this entire album. I listened to it over and over until the day it was released. Go buy it directly from his label/website.
Walk the Moon – Anna Sun This is probably my favorite song on the album but I opted for Tightrope becaue it matched the tempo I wanted for the slideshow.
For those of you that supported me and helped me create this year I owe you a world of thanks. Without you I’d be stuck behind some desk.
Photography is present in every are of my life. If i don’t have my DSLR in my hands I’m reaching for my iPhone. When it comes to my kids they are well documented. Each year around their birthday I look back at the previous twelve months and make a slideshow. It’s great to see how they’ve grown and it reminds me of a lot of special moments that have been cast aside to a hard drive.
Charlie’s birthday was November 28th. For the past couple weeks I have been thinking about this slideshow. As with every slideshow I make my biggest struggle is what song to use. The answer to that question came quickly; Step in Time from Mary Poppins. Charlie loves that song. Literally everyday, dozens of times a day he breaks out into the chorus – step in step in step in time! The problem is I don’t really like the song. I love the meaning and that it means so much to Charlie but I felt it wouldn’t work well for the slideshow. I scoured my iTunes library only to realize it was the best song for Charlie and this time in his life, regardless of my personal preferences.
Like most two year olds, Charlie is hard to photograph. He doesn’t understand (or care) that he is supposed to smile and look at the camera at the same time. I can usually get one or the other but rarely at the same time. Regardless we love him and these photos are all memories. Meet our son Charlie.
As a photographer I get to watch and participate in a lot of momentous occasions. Whether it’s a wedding, birthday or birth it’s an incredible feeling to contribute to a family’s history. I love that my images will be cherished for a lifetime. Knowing that the photos I made will outlast me is pretty cool. Earlier this week I was referred to Jordan by a friend. Jordan was planning on proposing to his girlfriend and wanted a photographer to document the occasion. Other than my own proposal this was a first for me.
I met Jordan at Palisades Park about 30 minutes before Suzy was scheduled to arrive. In addition to having flowers ready Jordan had arranged for a car service to pick her up and bring her to the park. We waited. I didn’t want her to see me when she arrived so I stayed about 100 feet from Jordan. Being that this is north Santa Monica I think most of the people thought I was a paparazzi. Jordan would shoot me texts with updates.
Suzy arrived just in time. My heart was racing. I was excited for Jordan and Suzy and needed to make sure I got the shot. It worked out perfectly. When everyone around us figured out what just happened they started clapping and cheering.
The following is a slideshow of the proposal.