Friday, September 28, 2007

Flower Girl on the Loose!

Last Sunday it was a beautiful day for Tippi and Travis's wedding out at the Sunol Valley Golf Course. I was a little worried we might get some rain, but it cleared up nicely for the wedding at 5:30.

After getting some pre-ceremony shots of Travis and his posse on the golf course, we got the wedding underway.

However, sometimes the flower girl gets away. I dunno ... guess she got bored or something. Good thing I was there to get it on film. Kind of makes the album a little more special if you can add fun shots like this.

I love shooting weddings when the bride and groom are so easy to photograph. You couldn't stop Travis from smiling all day. And his bride, Tippi, was just gorgeous from about any angle I could photograph her. I especially liked the "coy" shots we got from behind her bouquet.

Just after sundown, magic time for we photographers, I took Tippi and Travis down to the pond's fountain for a few romantic images. You gotta love water fountains for great backgrounds in shots like this.

We got some great images, even though I only took about 1100 shots. But that's plenty enough for them to choose 70 or 80 for a typically sized album.

It's always great to work with couples like this who make your job easy.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

ISP School Portraits

Every year about this time of year, I shoot the school portraits for several ISP home schooling groups. Above is a group shot of the moms from the LINKS group in Fremont. It's always an interesting challenge to photograph all the individual children in a family as well as sibling and family portraits, then let the whole family view the images on screen, pick their favorites, complete their order, and do it all in 10 to 15 minutes for each family. But somehow, we get through every year, and I'm always hearing raves about the results.

The moms and dads seem to appreciate the individual attention and the chance to choose (on the spot) their best poses rather than to have to "hope" the photographer picked out the best images for their family.

I started this practice 4 years ago when I shot my first school group. I simply didn't want to have to come back and set up for a few retakes if a couple of the parent's didn't like their photos. This way, everyone is happy. The parents are choosing "exactly" the images they want without any buyer's remorse, and I can do all the set up and photos in one day without the bother of doing a "make up" photo day.

It's what they call a "win win."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

David & Cynthia's Family

Yesterday I had the pleasure of photographing David & Cynthia's family. All 13 of them.

A week or so ago, I got a call out of the blue from David asking me if I could take a portrait of his entire family before one of his daughters moved to start a new job. He wasn't sure when all 13 of them would be together again, so he wanted one last family photo taken as children started flying out of the nest.

Now I had photographed his family before about 2 years earlier at an ISP school photo session, but had no idea David had kept my contact information. He told me he had been impressed with my work and extra service I had provided for his family by doing some extra Photoshop work at no charge on his last round of family photos. So that was nice to hear AND to know I got another job from paying attention to my clients' needs the first time around.

So we all gathered his entire clan at Fremont's Lake Elizabeth; one of my favorite outdoor portrait venues. Once the entire family managed to find the rendezvous point, we took about an hour to grab 3 different poses. And believe me, when you have 11 children to gather together and pose, it took the whole hour!

But amazingly, we managed to get all 13 heads looking towards the camera a few times for some nice casual family shots. I think once David and Cynthia see their proofs, they'll be very happy with the results. And hopefully I'll be hearing from David again ... when it comes time to marry off all 11 of his children.

It pays to work hard for your clients, they might just call you again!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Retouching Images

Recently I was helping another photographer with one of his wedding couples. He wanted to take them to Baker Beach in San Francisco for some classic shots against the Golden Gate Bridge as a background. The sunlight is beautiful during the last 5 to 10 minutes of sunset and makes for some gorgeous shots during those brief minutes. Unfortunately, our driver took a little too long to get us there in time, so we got down to the beach just AFTER the sun had sunk over the horizon. Thus we missed the golden light on the Golden Gate Bridge.

I rushed down to the beach with our couple and for about 5 or 10 minutes, grabbed what shots I could. However, for reasons beyond my control (and which I won't elaborate about here), I was forced to use an unfamiliar camera to grab my shots.

If you've ever seen The Ghost and the Darkness, you may remember the part of the movie where the character Michael Douglas plays says to Val Kilmer's character after he used a borrowed gun in an unsuccessful attempt to kill the rouge lions, "Don't ever go into battle with an untested gun." Well, I was forced to do just that.

So there I was shooting in the dim and dusky light, with an unfamiliar camera which was set wrong and which I couldn't fix. Well, I shot away and got some photos, but I wasn't sure how great they'd be.

However, being pretty swift with Photoshop ... if I do say so myself ... I think I managed to create a really nice shot, even a signature image, from rather poor material as you might notice from the before and after shots displayed above.

All this to say, even if some of my photos don't come out of the camera perfectly due to circumstances beyond my control or due to the simple fact that as a wedding photographer, I sometimes have to "run and gun" my shots if the action is happening fast ... you can count on the fact that with my skill sets in Photoshop which I've developed over the last decade plus of nearly daily practice, I'll usually be able to make your images look incredible. All this is something you can count on from this photographer if you hire me for your portrait or wedding needs.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sally & Rob's Lake Tahoe Wedding

Just got back from shooting Sally & Rob's wedding at North Lake Tahoe for Dennis DeSilva over at Studio Seven. Normally I shoot as 2nd for Dennis, but he had other weddings booked, so I took the lead on this job. Wow! What a beautiful setting for a wedding! I hadn't been up there in about 10 years and had forgotten how blue that water really is! We started the day off running around the north shore looking for some nice "Lake Tahoe" shots. Sally & Rob really love visiting the Tahoe area, so they wanted a lot of shots with the lake in the background. The good news was we had most of the day to look for photo opportunities since the wedding wasn't until 5PM. The bad news was mid-day isn't the best time for close-up portraits. So we had to take a lot of long shots like this. Another couple of problems were that, according to Sally & Rob, the beaches were uncharacteristically crowded for a post Labor Day weekend. So we had to carefully frame our shots to get the romantic we were looking for without a bunch of distracting people in the background. Also, many of the beaches were privately owned and operated. So were turned back several times by unsympathetic beach guards. However, Sally and Rob were troopers, and we managed to get some great shots for all our driving around the lake. But, all too soon, we ran out of time and had to get back to the Tahoe Convention Center for the wedding. Again, the light was a bit of a problem at 5PM right out on the beach. In fact, I don't know how poor Sally could see her groom as she was facing directly in to the sun during the entire ceremony. But we just turned the fill flash on high in order to lessen the harsh shadows and still managed to grab some nice shots during the ceremony. Again, that lake just made a magnificent background.

Finally, about 7-ish the light was perfect and I got Sally and Rob to leave the reception for about 15 minutes so we could get some nice portraits and then finish with some walking-along-the-beach shots.

We had pretty much run out of light and had just returned to the reception when I saw how beautiful the arch and decorative lights looked against the lake in the background with the sun setting over the mountains. So I grabbed Rob and Sally for ONE last romantic shot. The light was too dim to really create anything but a carefully posed silhouette shot. So after quickly getting Rob and Sally in place, I had to grab a chair to get the extra elevation I needed in order to see their silhouetted faces against the water. And with the remaining wisps of twilight, I was able to record this wonderful end-of-the-day portrait. I think Rob and Sally will be thrilled when they see it as well as all the rest of the day's photos.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Are your photos safe?

This isn't something either the bride & groom, or the photographer should have to worry about on the day of the wedding, but unfortunately ... it is.

Sadly, there are low-lifes who will try to take advantage of large, and even medium sized, wedding receptions by walking in and walking out with whatever they can carry. In this case (see the video below) the warning is about the photographer's equipment. However, it's not just the equipment which is in danger, but also your irreplaceable photos which can be stolen along with the equipment. Not to mention the same is true for wedding gifts or any unattended purses or valuables.

A photographer can't carry all of his/her equipment all day. I try to keep my equipment to a minimum, but I need to keep near me a certain number of lens, flashes and camera bodies to adequately cover your wedding. This is why I bring an assistant with me to all of my weddings. He keeps my gear near me so it is ready when I need it, and keeps an eye on it all day. This is another issue you should cover with the photographer you hire to shoot your wedding. Be sure to ask him/her if he/she has a method to keep your priceless memories safe. Usually shooting with an assistant is the best method.

But the bottom line is to keep your eyes open during a wedding for anyone who shouldn't be there. Make sure your coordinator and family and friends who are helping you with the planning and execution of the reception are also on alert. And if possible, if your budget allows for it, it's a good idea to consider hiring some security.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Photo paintings

Nothing earthshaking to report tonight. Just thought I'd upload one of my latest photo paintings. Certainly no bride wants a whole album full of these kinds of images, however, a painting like this can make for an attractive yet affordable canvas print painting. You can even use a photo painting like this as a transition image to lead from one part of your wedding album's story to the next.

In this case, this was a shot of the bride leaving her wedding which had just finished in the wine cellar at the Viansa Winery in Sonoma, California. I followed her up the narrow staircase and had her stop just a moment for a few shots. I think it has a very photojournalistic look, yet I took it with the idea of making it a very artistic and painterly image too.

If this type of artistry appeals to your wedding imagery aesthetic, then let's make an appointment to look at more of my images.

However, before I close this offering, I can't resist adding another favorite image from that same wedding. This was a TOTALLY photojournalistic moment. Just as the bride and groom were announced as Mr. & Mrs. for the first time and took their walk down the aisle, they turned and gave each other a spontaneous kiss at the rear of the wine cellar leading outside to a bright sunlit day. I was still at the front of the cellar where the ceremony had just finished and swung around to grab this shot. One of my all time favorites! Completely photojournalistic, yet I almost couldn't have staged it better if I had tried.