Thursday, October 29, 2009

the age of the laptop

It is something that I fight all the time. How in the world can my laptop truly be the center of my image editing and production business? All that is in me wants (notice the word choice) a desktop. I find a desktop aligns with my inner Tim the Tool-Man Taylor and my desire for MORE POWER! I even find myself thinking about how backup would be so much easier with a desktop. Two drives configured in a RAID array, external storage that I can take off site. Let me compare it to this:
You want a new car. Not just a car in general but a specific car. The new 2010 Camero. You love that car. You go online and configure your custom built dream machine. You start having debate sessions with your inner soul in the shower every morning ... possibly on the drive to work. Before you know it, the car has become something you need. You did an amazing job pitching it to yourself. But guess what? You already own a car. A really nice one. And no matter how cool the new Camero is... it is not a transformer... never will be.
I have been doing the same thing with desktops. Not because I need one, quite the opposite. I conveniently forget the fact that a year ago I sold my amazing desktop for the current laptop system I am using now.

This is sort of a follow up to yesterday's post. I love my laptop. In the past two weeks I have been plotting and scheming about building a premium desktop system. Just a quick thought - what lens could I buy instead of the desktop? What advertising could I invest in rather than create redundancy in my computer hardware? We all have a limited amount of financial resources - it is important to be strategic and focused around where we place those resources. There is a standard that each individual MUST determine. Where do you want to go? What do you want to accomplish? Now lets get there!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

why spend the money?

As a photographer one is bombarded with the ever-evolving digital market of hard drives, RAID systems, wireless flash systems with TTL, the latest calibrated LED flat panel, i7 Quad Core Processors ... the list goes on and on. How much time do we spend obsessing about the gear that we used? When you talk to fellow photographers where does the conversation linger? So let's talk about gear for a moment. I shoot with a Canon 20D. Yeah, I know what you are thinking. A 20D? That camera is pushing 7 years old! Indeed it is. Guess what... it still makes AMAZING images. The screen is sorta small and the ISO performance isn't as great as some of the newer Canon cameras. So ask me - when are you replacing the thing? When it breaks or fails to consistently deliver the results I demand. Last year I attended an amazing masters class that completely revolutionized my photography style and perspective. I could have spend the money on a camera - but I would argue that I got more out of the class than I would have gotten out of a new camera. If you are looking at a new camera or new flash system - stop and ask yourself if that is the best place to spend your money as it relates to your craft. Don't get me wrong. I am all for spending money. I am focusing on investing in glass because the lenses I have at my disposal directly affect the quality and style of my images. Changing camera bodies won't really accomplish that. I would encourage you to pick up a photography book. Everyone knows that I am a HUGE fan of Scot Kelby's digital photography book series (it is a 3 volume set now).

We should all take a deep look into our camera bag and figure out what tools we just lust after and what tools would actually make our craft better. Your camera bag is made up of MUCH MUCH MORE than just what is physically in your camera bag. All your knowledge, software, tools, lenses, flashes, cameras, etc make up your camera bag. So why are you spending money? Are you chasing the next cool thing or are you out there to enhance your craft?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New Site Design

Greetings. It is time once again to revamp the Rick Mead Photography home page. Our branding as a whole is going through a change from Rick Mead Photography To Rick Mead Distinctly Different Weddings. I have wanted to change from our old branding for a while. I have been geeking around with alternate versions of the site and logo for a few months now. I finally got it set up to my liking.

I feel like this new branding is going to be huge. Take a look at the site over the next week and let me know what you think of the changes. Most of the changes aren't live yet. I will be swapping pages one at a time as I get them complete so keep checking back for updates.

Modern Bride

What is today's bride truly looking for? The easy answer is a great photographer. Lets take a few minutes to get a little more detailed than that. What makes a "great photographer" may change from person to person. Perhaps she is looking for a stronger formal aspect to her photos or on the flip-side she might want more spontaneous journalistic run-and-gun style images. A bride's taste is distinct. How well one caters to that taste is the line that separates the men from the boys.

I hear photographers say "Well I am a photo-journalistic style photographer. I don't do poses and formal photos." Most of the time that is because he or she doesn't know how to capture a formal image while maintaining a trendy look and feel. On the other side of the tracks are the photographers who rock portraits (you know who you are). Their creative approach is all in the pose. They are highly technical and very experienced. This style photographer is getting harder and harder to find for a few reasons. Popularity of the photo-journalistic style has driven new photographers away from the technical side of posing mixed with people with little to no training shooting weddings.

Is there middle ground? Under most situations I would say no. Formal, well posed images are becoming more and more rare because of the rigidity the photographer generally brings to the table. A very wise photographer once told me that people will recognize quality in any form. Produce quality and people will hire you. The question comes to applying your style while maintaining said quality.

I started thinking about this post because of all the simply ok images I have seen online here and there over the past weeks. What are brides looking for? They want no, they deserve quality. Are your images consistently visually evolving into technically superior images? A photo-journalistic approach is a great place to start but what are you adding? Anyone can buy a digital SLR and a zoom lens and run-and-gun a wedding... and they do. What will you do to separate yourself from the rest of the pack.

When was the last time you attended a seminar or invested something into your training and talent? When was the last time you scoured the web for other photographers who are doing new and different things? Maybe someone overseas or in a different area of the country. Shoot, you could even take in the technique of someone who is in a different photographic field. Every time I am in a book store I dive into the wedding magazines. Probably the only straight guy who read's modern bride and the knot ... no comments.

As photographers we have to be educating ourselves about proper techniques and that assist us with expressing our vision. Which side of the face should be lit with an off camera flash? What does the soft vs. harsh quality of light bring to your images? Are you counting on Photoshop to saved your poorly conceived and poorly captured image? As David duChemin says - "There is no un-suck filter in Photoshop."

Don't fool yourself. Don't slouch. Modern brides want the strength of great portraits with the spontaneity of a photo-journalistic approach. Where are you weakest and what are you doing about it? Become a better photographer. Do it for your brides. Do it for yourself. Do it for your vision.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

our stuido is moving

For about the last year I have run my studio out of a cramped corner of our one bedroom apartment. I sit right next to our refrigerator and bounce on a yoga ball as my chair. Next month we are moving to a much more modest apartment that will allow our life to decompress a bit. I will have a room specifically for my office and I can't wait to work out of this new space. I will be uploading pictures as soon as we get moved in, painted, and walls decorated with photos.

I have been all over the place this past month and haven't been able to post something in quite a while. I have several irons in the fire in the form of video tutorials. I have created an amazing process for reducing/removing chub from under a person's chin area. I also have some amazing techniques for portrait retouching in Lightroom. I plan on recording these this week and having them up directly. Thanks so much for your patience. Look for this month's calendar wallpaper tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

almost a kiss

That moment just before contact. Sometimes it is tough to catch. When I look over a serries of photos from a wedding or an engagement shoot I often see two couples with faces smashed together and think ... wow they look goofy. Most people look kinda strange. Either her nose is pushed up or his lips are off center or something. We never really think about it for two reasons.
1) When we kiss our eyes are generally closed so we don't see the squish
2) When people kiss it happens so quickly that we don't have time to take notice of any distortion or goofy faces that are created when faces collide.

The moment before the kiss has such a build of anticipation. Everyone knows what is about to happen. It is like having a snapshot of two cars driving at 80mph on a collision course seconds before the impact. What is about to happen makes us brace. In the same way we see an image like this and it makes us think about all that will happen. It builds drama and weight to an image. You have to think ahead though. An image like this doesn't just happen - you have to plan for it. It isn't a hard image to capture - but it doesn't usually happen by accident. It is a detail. Something a lot of photographers don't think about - but something ever photographer should tune in for.

Most of the time "the shot" happens before the action - so look for the details and enjoy the anticipation.

Windows 7 - Woo Me!!!!!

As an informed computer user I am always looking at the latest and greatest. My current platform of choice is Mac OSX on a previous generation 15"MacBook Pro (the one before the unibody system). Prior to that my primary production system was a Windows Vista system produced by HP (didn't stick around long) and prior to that was my favorite laptop of all time - the 12" PowerBook. That being said - please do not confuse me with an a-typical apple fanboy because I am not. I enjoy using Mac OSX and will continue to do so for the considerable future. In recent years I have nudged people toward OSX over Windows because of Vista. Vista was a decent operating system - BUT ... there is always the ever present "but." ... but it is a memory hog and has compatibility issues and it doesn't run well in VMWare, and it won't run on a netbook. Those are a lot of buts! Enter Windows 7. A few months back I installed the first public Beta of Windows 7 on my Mac using VMWare (I currently run Windows XP for my album making software on VMWare) I liked the layout; however, I was not really impressed with the speed on my computer. Now granted it was running on a virtual box and on 1GB ram but it still did not replace XP for my use. I just loaded Windows 7 RC (release candidate) and WOW! Super fast, super slick. I have been using it all morning and I am amazed. You have got to go check this OS out. FINALLY OSX has some real true competition in the operating system market again. I am not saying I will be trading in my MacBook Pro for a windows based system; however, I will be keeping a close eye on it and ditching XP from my virtual system when Win 7 ships.

UPDATE: A little perspective... I have not been simultaneously surprised and impressed by an OS since I originally saw Steve Jobs (in all his "Reality Distortion Field" goodness) present Panther and WWDC 2004. I had never looked at a Mac or really use an apple computer before. I remember this feeling of awe and wonder. This was it - my next computer. Looking at Windows 7 I am feeling the same vibe. My wife is in the market for a new machine. I am seriously considering picking up a clearance Dell or Gateway and loading Windows 7 on it.

Monday, June 8, 2009

blow-out those highlights

The rules.  They exists to establish a standard.  A standard that is established so that when one feels the need to break the standard others take notice.  The almighty histogram is a great friend and a formidable foe when working on location.
A photographer is wise to consult the great histogram - or a least it's hot cousin the blinkies.  These tools insure that highlights and shadows do not clip and thus produce a lack of detail in the highlights and shadows which can be problematic in post production.  Our camera's can see approximately a 3 stops of light while our eyes can see about 7.  That means there is a set range of highlight and shadow you camera can view at any given time.  As photographers we have to always be aware of our camera's range - particularly the highlights as they are easy to clip.

But as stated above - sometimes a rule is meant to be broken.  The image above is such an instance.  The blow-out look gives this image its pop.  Just remember, if you shoot something blown out on purpose it should look like it is supposed to look that way.  If there is a question of whether it was an accident or intentional stay away from it.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

June 2009 Wallpaper

Camera Canon 20D Lens: 14-40mm f/4 USM L
Settings: 1/80 f/5.6 ISO 200

We are always looking for new ways to adapt our images and lighting.  We spend so much time looking at locations and gear.  In the end the couple makes or breaks the photo.  This engagement session was in one word FUN and it shows in the images.  Great locations and great couples make our job so easy.  Downtown Louisville is such a dynamic backdrop with limitless possibilities that make it so easy to be creative.

My assistant mike is just out of frame to the right with our standard off camera setup (a 580EXII speedlight shooting through a 36" translucent umbrella).  The light is set to about 1/4 power to just kiss the subject with a little soft fill while leaving the wall behind untouched.

This should have been up last week; however, I was on a houseboat all week and my aircard decided to stop working so we have pushed this out as soon as possible.  Enjoy!

Standard Size [click here to download] 1440 x 900
Large Size [click here to download] 2560 x 1600
(for you folks with stinkin' huge monitors, you know who you are.)

Monday, May 25, 2009

social photo videos?

I will be the first to admit that I am not a "video guy." I haven't ever owned a camcorder. Growing up we were a picture family and not a video family. Something our studio has started to experiment with are photo videos. Most video editing software on the market allows one to insert photos with a ken burns effect that creates a very cool look and feel to still images set to music. Our clients love the new feature and the ability to upload the videos to Facebook really fits into our marketing campaign to plug into social networks. This is a video I put together from a recent engagement shoot. The couple was amazing to work with and it really shows through in the images. ENJOY!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

May 2009 Wallpaper

Camera: Canon 20D 14-40mm f/4
Settings: 1/800 at f/6.3 EV-1/3 Aperture Priority ISO 100

We spent all day in Clearwater, Florida last week and it was an amazing time. As we planned out our day I wanted to make sure I set myself up for some great sunset photos. A photographer once told me that a sunset is only as good as what you put in front of it. As we walked up and down the diverse assortment of charter boats for hire they all boasted an "unobstructed view of the sunset." My family asked me if I was interested in that. NOPE! Clearwater has an amazing pier that has lots of flat surface to reflect a setting sun. I probably captured 150 frames of the sunset during its final hour of decent. Tward the end my inlaws were goofing off and asked me to take their picure in front of the sunset. I popped one off and looked down .... holy cow! I quickly had them move a bit so they were in front of the sinking sun. Underexposed a bit and the rest is history. I used a spot removal tool in Lightroom and added the callendar in Photoshop - that is it. Nothing like snapping it on your first go with no post. I hope you all enjoy!

Standard Size [click here to download] 1440 x 900
Large Size [click here to download] 256o x 100
(for you folks with stinkin' huge monitors, you know who you are.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

keep it clean

Correctly placed and controlled - Lens Flair can be an amazing tool to enhance the mood of a photo. One thing I learned very early on though - less is more when dealing with lens flair. If you aren't careful it will take over your image and take away from what you are trying to communicate with your photo.

My primary lens (Canon 17-40mm f/ USM L) is such a workhorse. I use it all the time which means it is regularly cleaned. I have another lens that I use only occasionally and so it is frequently dirty when I pull it out of my bag. When working with lens flair (or just shooting into or around the sun with a wide angle lens) it is crucial that your lens be spotless. From the photos above you can see TONS of lens flair elements on the top image - if you need help seeing them look at the photo below.

The small dots around the faces are retouch marks - the larger cicles represent all the lens flair I removed from the image. I could have saved myself so much time and headache if I had cleaned the lens before using the lens. The next time you look in your bag and see a lens you haven't used in a while - take a second, pull it out and clean it. When you need it later you will be glad you did. Your lens should not be a candidate for an Orbit commercial. Dirty Lens? -- Clean it up!

Camera: Canon 20D Lens: 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 with (dirty) wide angle attachment
Settings: 1/80 f/11 ISO: 100
Light: Lastolite tri-grip diffuser being held out of frame camera left to cut the hard sun light by my assistant.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Shoe In

Camera: Canon 20D Lens: 17-40mm f/4 USM L
Settings: 1/250 f/6.3 ISO: 100 17mm

About 10 seconds after meeting this couple I wanted to make this shot. I am convinced that great shoes make or break an engagement shoot. This was captured at the last location we shot and I knew I had to get it! My assistant is off to the left with the 580EXII shooting at about 1/4 power through a 36" translucent umbrella. I love the reflection the off camera flash creates on the shoes. As soon as I saw this in the viewfinder I knew I had it. A few frames and light changes got the light where I wanted it. I bumped the shutter speed up to 1/250 in an effort to kill some of the ambient light and get a more striking light from the flash. Enjoy!

Monday, April 6, 2009

April 2009 Wallpaper

This is one of my early images from one of my first destination weddings in Charleston, SC. This image is simple and dramatic. The image was captured moments before the ceremony started in the bridal room at the back of the church as the bride started laughing at a story one of her bride's maids was telling. The smirk was there one second and gone the next. The image was shot using a borrowed Canon 10D with an 18-55mm at f/5 1/60 -EV .33 with a 540 EX flash bounced of the wall to the left.

Standard Size [click here to download] 1440 x 900
Large Size [click here to download] 2560 x 1600
for you folks with stinkin' huge monitors, you know who you are.)

Friday, March 27, 2009

my backup

I have had a few readers asking me about my backup strategy. What hardware do I use, how many backups do I make, is there some trick to making it easy, etc. Before I dive into my way of doing things it is important to understand that the key is duplication. If you are duplicating your files in multiple locations on multiple media and you can manage it you are doing alright.

I am going to take you from camera to archive here so hang on for the ride and refer to the map below.

  1. Captured images in the camera get transferred to my laptop on location. While the images are being imported to the laptop they are also being copied to an external hard drive. This insures that on location I have three copies. [1 - memory cards 2 - laptop 3 - external hard drive]
  2. When I get home the backup images from the smaller external drive are moved to a larger desktop drive and erased from the one that lives in my camera bag.
  3. I do my major editing on the laptop. When I am done I export high resolution JPG files for building the album, uploading to pictage, etc.
  4. Once the edits are done the image files are moved from my local drive into an external hard drive on my desk. Once a week I sync that drive with another external drive that lives at a friend's house any time I am not using it.

That's it. Nothing magical. I really like David's idea about keeping 5 star DNG files on your local laptop drive. Makes sense - I never thought of it before. I know what I will be doing on the next 2 days off I have. The key to it all is that I have a process. More importantly, I follow the process. Any images I have been paid to capture are stored on three drives. (1 - Original data from the shoot 2 - edited coppy on my desk 3 - edited coppy off site should something bad happen)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

just one more copy

PixelatedImage Blog - Backup Strategy from David duChemin on Vimeo.

I thought I was crazy about backup... David duChemin from the Pixelated Image blog goes over his "basic" backup strategy that is anything but basic. I can't say this enough - if you aren't backed up you are asking for trouble. Drives fail all the time. If you believe differently go work for a retailer selling computer hardware for a few weeks and you will quickly change your mind.

I live entirely on a laptop so I am grappling with what this backup stratagy would look like on my system. Any ideas out there? What are you doing - would be interested to hear from you.

Monday, March 23, 2009

treat yourself to HDR

For those of you who love rocking great desktop backgrounds I have a treat for you. A co-worker reminded me of this site a few days ago and I have been all over it. There are so many "background" and "wallpaper" sites out there that are just filled with ads and blah. The images over on are anything but blah. Many of the images are HDR; however, there is a good assortment of amazing imagery.

Some of the images are better than others - but it is a community so the great images tend to rise to the top. You could seriously get lost for hours on this site just enjoying the images. They even have an iPhone application available that gives you the ability to download the images and use them in a format that is friendly for your iPhone or iPod touch.

This is a great place to find some fresh new ideas and get inspired. Check 'em out at

note: images in this post were downloaded from I do not own the images or stake any claims on them.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Anaheim Califorina Day 4 (Santa Monica)

Just off the bus, I was a little frustrated because the sky was overcast. No blue skies. First day we have been in CA that the sky hasn't been blue. No worries though - I used my powers for good and not evil. Grey sky ... I can work with that.

Ashley and I ate a wonderful meal on the Santa Monica Promenade. The meal was great and part of the experience was a street musician. A highlight was when some girls sitting at the table next to us commented that he should try out for American Idol. I'm pretty sure there is a firm age limit... sorry dude. Anyways, I captured this image to remember the day.

Come on - you have wanted to do it... admit it. Take pictures while on a roller coaster. And just so you know... looking through the lens while on a coaster multiplies the feeling of weightlessness so be cautious when doing it. The scenery on the Santa Monica pier is amazing so it felt appropriate to shoot this shot.

Ashly is not much of a fan of carousels so it is a wonder that I got her on it - but the view was well worth it. Ocean and the coast in all directions makes a normal carousel seem less exciting. Great time - I hate that we have to leave tomorrow but all good things must come to and end.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Protector

Those of you outside Best Buy will not understand how huge this is - but for those of you who do... I GOT TO MEET THE PROTECTOR! Very cool opportunity. When he saw my camera he said, "HOLY COW, that thing is huge how many maga-pixels is that?" I replied "8." To which he said, "that's it? Are you serious?" I smiled and said - "it's not the quantity that matters it's the quality." And he came back with (in a deep serious voice) - "That's what I always say!" ... it felt like a good time for a "that's what she said moment." Anyways - Ashley and I are having a blast out in CA. Thank's to Nathan for taking my picture.

Anaheim Califorina Day 2

I spent most of the day at a Vendor show getting tons of swag - you can cry for me later if you want. Anyways, after the glad handing was finished Ashley and I headed over to Downtown Disney (which was a farther walk than we anticipated).

On the way there I saw this image as I looked up at the horizon of blue (I love dusk on the west cost). I loved the composition and snapped this one as we walked.

On the way home we were walking down the boardwalk under some palm trees like the day before. However, now they were wonderfully lit by some up lights so I stopped for a moment and took it all in.

By the way - all images on this vacation are hand-held. I am not on the trip to take photos I just happen to be taking them as I go. I didn't really have room in the suitcase for a tripod based on my purpose for the trip. Anyways - I hope you enjoy the images.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

spring - 2009

Camera: Canon 20D 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 w/macro attachment
Settings: ISO 100 1/80 @ f/11 Aperture Priority

Spring is at the door. Literally... I looked out the sliding glass door of my studio and the tree outside was blooming (pictured above). For some spring is exciting because of new cloths and better temperatures. For others spring is a pain because of all the pollen and what not that reeks havoc on the sinus'. For those who have found medication (as I have) the former is true of the season. I get so excited when I see things start to bloom. I see engagement shoots outside and June weddings under the sun. I see my dog chasing after squirrels and ducks every time we go for a walk. Now is the time to be watching the plant life around you for amazing images.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Anaheim Califorina Day 1

John Wayne America: Outside the Orange County Airport this statue towers in front of a grand American flag with the afternoon sun. Before I hopped on a bus to head to the hotel I snagged this shot. I got way down on the ground to frame the flag behind the statue - good start!

Ashley and I went for a walk after checking in to our hotel room and as we walked down the boardwalk I looked up and HOLY COW what a view!

After Lunch Ashley and I dropped by this new shop called Lush. They make fresh hand-made soaps that smell fantastic; however, they look kinda like cheese. Anyways - I snapped a shot of a stack of the stuff with some cool light through an adjacent window.

easy pano

Yesterday I posted about the Harris Brothers. Today I want to share this image with you from the event. Perfect example of how much Photoshop's Pano stitch has improved in CS4. In CS2 (the first version with built in pano stitch it was rough. You could do everything right and it would still come out all choppy. Now when I say right here is what I mean ... camera on tripod, manual exposure mode, manual focus and overlap your photos 20% or more. Kinda a pain. CS3 added some better blending but a tripod was still a must. Today in CS4 everything has changed. This image was taken in Aperture priority - exposure was just whatever the camera said it should be. I was hand-holding the camera and I was only roughly making sure I had a decent overlap. I pivoted on my center and hoped for the best.

Night and day from what we used to have to do! I don't consider a pano to be my bread and butter by any stretch of the immagination. I guess what I am trying to articulate is ... Panoramas are so easy to shoot now I usually pop one off in about 15 seconds that I can stitch together later. I am not counting on it as a shot (If I am counting on it I will usually take the pano three times doing it slightly different each time just to be sure). It is just a nice shot to have. Great for backgrounds and web galleries. A pano just looks cool. So go out and shoot some panoramas and have FUN!

Monday, March 16, 2009

do hard things...

Sunday I got an amazing opportunity to photography Alex and Brett Harris giving a talk to our Church's youth group. Super sharp guys. Weather you are a religious individual or not it is amazing to here these guys talk about breaking the current American culture that says the teenage years are just for goofing around and that your life doesn't really start until after college when you get a real job and start out in the real world.

At 17 they competed for an internship with a prestigious law firm - something normal reserved for pre-law students in college. They have spoken to millions of teens across the globe and continue to draw huge attention with their blog "The Rebelution."

They are even tight with Chuck Norris ... I don't care who you are. If you are friends with Chuck Norris you are pretty awesome. By the way if you were wondering... Chuck Norris doesn't have an email address... he reads your mail!

Photographing these guys was a ton of fun mostly because I got to hear them speak at the same time. I shot totally available light and rocked ISO 800 for most of the day. You can check out Alex and Brett Harris on their blog as well as on twitter @therebelution.

emulate first

EMULATE–verb (used with object)

  1. to try to equal or excel; imitate with effort to equal or surpass: to emulate one's father as a concert violinist.
  2. to rival with some degree of success: Some smaller cities now emulate the major capitals in their cultural offerings.
You've heard it said that we have to walk before we crawl. This holds true in so many ways - probably why it is considered a cliché. Sometimes as photographers we need to emulate before we can innovate. Sometimes we have to go out and copy someone else before we can step out on our own and be confident enough to create something unique. Foundational excellence is not derived from coming up with a cool new way of doing photography. Solomon said it best when he said,
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 1:9 (ESV)
Perhaps we should spend less time attempting to come up with a new way of looking at the world and exchange that time for viewing the world as others have seen it. Learn from their mistakes first hand. Put our eyes in their camera. Every serious photographer has a photographer he or she admires or aspires to be. My encouragement to you today is to build your foundation. Find someone who is creating foundationally excellent images and try to copy them. Start by copying a style and soon your own will glean the nuggets of excellence from that photographer. Soon copying will turn in to an influence. If you ever sit down with an older master of any craft they will tell you of people long gone who were instrumental in shaping their style. Who shapes your style? Who influences your images? Important questions ... but how you answer them is up to you.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I am a control freak - ok, I went out and said it. I like having complete control over all I do professionally from meeting with the client to shooting the event to proofing and communicating after the wedding. But I am getting tired. I am getting worn down. This week I had something drop in my lap. I was sitting next to a co-worker and he was looking at his friend's wedding photos from the previous month online through a company called pictage. I was impressed at how the images were organized and like the structure. The browsing experience looked fantastic and my co-worker was having a blast on his laptop looking at these images. Fast forward to Tuesday of this week. I was in the studio working on a few things and I started listening to TWiP (This Week in Photograph). This week they interviewed Jason Kiefer - founder of Pictage and he gave an amazing interview. I went and poked around the site, took a look at their services, and I am completely sold on their service! Take a look and listen to the interview over at

CORRECTION 3/15/09: TWiP photo link has been corrected.

Monday, March 9, 2009

paint with light in lightroom 2.0

A few weeks ago I posted an article entitled "wait for it...". I took a look at an image I had initially dismissed while doing a photo walk that ended up being a pretty cool image after I got over my initial reactions and frustrations with the day. Today we take a look at how I shaped the light in this image and how to ad drama, depth and dimension to any image using a few simple tools in Lightroom.

CORRECTION 3/15/09: Holding the "o" key not the zero key but the letter "o" while in the brush or gradient tool brings up the red mask. Thanks so much to reader s_erez for sharing that tip.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Like so many of you out there I GO GO GO GO GO until eventually I have to crash. We push our selves to run at 120% like there's no tomorrow. I have felt sickness crouching at my door for about a week and just continued truckin' along. Eventually your body just makes you stop. I have spent the past two days sleeping, coughing, sneezing, and just being miserable.

Even though I feel like death warmed over I wanted to pass along a great new site I ran across: DTownTV. It is hosted by Matt Kloskowski and Scott Kelby from Photoshop User TV and Kelby Training. It is geared toward Nikon shooters but the tips on HDR and image stabilization in the first two episodes universally apply to all SLR cameras. You should check it out.

Monday, February 23, 2009

weekend wedding show

We had an amazing weekend at a local Bridal Show here in Louisville. We made tons of great connections and got a lot of great feedback from prospective clients. We also got to connect and network with several local photography studios who were all very friendly and amazing.

We have been piecing together the components for our booth for about a month now but it wasn't until the show that it all came together. I loved the look of the booth and we are so pleased with the ability to represent our services. If you stopped by thank you so much and we look forward to working with you in the future.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Proper Perspective - not so much fun

We all have rough days, weeks, months, seasons, years. I have found that perspective is the difference between standing in shadow or basking in sunlight. I hope this video encourages you and inspires you to take your photography to the next level. I was encouraged. Our studio is preparing for a Bridal Show this weekend and we have dumped a ton of cash into this thing with more to be dumped within the next three days. As we can see the bottom of the coffers I have to remind myself that clients are coming and there is a time and a season for all things.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

the Mpix experience

I got my first set of photos back from Mpix today and all I can say is WOW. These are the best prints I have ever seen (speaking of the print not the content... though the content isn't bad either but I may be a bit bias). The color reproduction is spot on and the detail is so crisp - no corners cut here.

The packaging is the first thing that stands out. Massive amounts of protection for the photos to keep them clean looking and protected for their FedEx journey. I placed my order on Monday evening and by Wednesday afternoon I had the prints in my hands. Disclaimer: I paid a little extra to have them overnighted ... I think it cost me about $10.00 in shipping so all in all not to shabby. I will be using Mpix from now on as they offer better pricing than my local shop and better quality. Those are two paramount concerns for our studio.

If you are looking to have prints large or small printed look no further than Mpix - Simply Amazing.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Editor's Keys - ARRIVED!

A few days ago I talked about a new tool I had run across - Editor's Keys. Last week I ordered a set and they came on Monday.I wasted no time getting them on my keyboard thus transforming it into the coolest keyboard ever.

It is really amazing to see Photoshop tools at my fingertips. I have only been using it for a day so I don't think I have fully absorbed what this will do for my work flow. However, I feel that I am thinking about photoshop more visually. I see the tools as more than just a button on the screen - they are labled and color coded out for me. Anyways - I think that is enough cheese for one post.

Intalation was a snap. They give you a tool to make sure you get the stickers on straight. They even supply an cleaning pad so you can clean your keybaord before applying the stickers. If you are looking for something that will supercharge your photoshop workflow I solidly endorse these. They are WAY cheaper than a full on editor's keybaord and if you don't like them you can just peel them off and get on with your life. I think you will like em - I will keep everyone posted and probably post a followup review in a month or so.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Fast Banners in Photoshop

Today we take a look at how to quickly design banners within photoshop. Working with files that measure in feet rather than inches are often so large (assuming you are working in 300dpi) that simple adjustments take minutes to complete. Thanks to smart objects the process can move much smoother and can be completed much faster - check out the video.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

wait for it...

Camera: Canon 20D 1/250sec at f/5.6 Lens: Canon 17-40mm f/4.0 USM L
Flash: 580EXII 1/2 power

When all else fails ... wait. A few weeks ago I went on a short photo walk in downtown Louisville and walked away with two things ... 1) the need for a cup of Starbucks and 2) a memory card with nothing all that great. I was a little frustrated and almost didn't even import the images into my computer. This morning as I was preparing to record a video for next week I ran across the image above (but un-edited as displayed below).

Something clicked in my twisted head and I jumped into the develop panel in Lightroom. I started experimenting with darkening the background and shaping the light. One of the frustrating things from that photo walk was the sky. It was mid-day and completely overcast. This killed any shadows I was trying to create with my speedlight coming in from the left. After playing around in Lightroom for a bit I realy like what I came up with and it is very much what I was going for on location. I will be doing a tutorial on this image tomorrow - so until then go back into your catalogue of images on your hard drive and re-visit images that initally didn't impress you (possibly due to the situation or emotional state you were in when you photographed them or initally viewed them on the computer). They might be worth a second look!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Digital Photography Book

I have talked to countless people who want to know what will make them a better photographer. They want to know if a better lens or a faster - higher resolution camera will answer their problems. While some people have literally outgrown their gear - most would be better suited with training and study.

The digital revolution has given the world of photography so many pluses we sometimes look past going to the next level as a learning phase when the market tells us that gear is the answer. Canon and Nikon want you to believe if you purchase their newest dSLR you will capture all the great professional images you desire. Unfortunately that is not always the case. For about two years now I have had a go-to book for people who are looking to take their photography to the next level. Actually it is two go-to books. Scott Kelby has written the most foundationally solid photography books I have ever had my hands on. His straigh forward and honest approach makes things that should be complicated by my calculation into a simple two or three point instruction... he has this ability to de-complexify things that would normally be out of the reach of an average consumer. I always tell people that the first book is a MUST and then if you find yourself wanting more then pick up volume two for more advanced lighting and technique.
The digital revolution we have all been a part of has had some wonderful and amazing side-effects. For one, it has re-inspired people who put down their cameras because of prohibitive film and processing costs and it has ignited an inspiration for capturing images and sharing them in this generation that is second only to the initial 35mm revolution. More people are taking pictures now than ever before. More images are being shared and viewed over the internet now than ever before. We should feel honored and privilaged to be called photographers in such a time as this - let's help people who want to go to the next level with their photography.