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#14 – 08/28/17 – Wedding Season Wind Down

While the busy time of the year for wedding’s is slowly coming to a close for 2017, even though some folks get married well into the fall/winter, it is a time to reflect on what worked, what didn’t and the wonderful events that us as photographer’s have gotten to take part in during this year’s wedding season.

This year I got to shoot the biggest wedding I’ve shot to date, I mean, a 20 person wedding party is pretty big wouldn’t you say? I further learned that dress pants are not all created equal, and that a good & comfortable camera bag is essential for all day weddings…oh and shoes, can’t forget the shoes (if my Birkenstocks were only acceptible I’d be a happy man).

Royal Oaks Golf Club – Summer 2017

Wedding season usually takes place in the peak of the summer heat and unless it’s a beach wedding (yay sandals!) you are going to have to dress accordingly.  When it’s 30C+ outside preparation is key, whether you are a guest, working at the event, or the couple of the day, you have to be prepared as that weather will take it’s toll on you.

Don’t forget that you could potentially be standing (a lot) at a wedding and your feet and body could be screaming at you by the end of a busy wedding day, stay hydrated, wear comfortable shoes, and make sure to have enough food in you (heat stroke is not fun!).

Every wedding I try and take something away with me to lock in the memory bank, whether it be something to do with lighting, scheduling, where to stand to get the optimum shots, and so many other little details of capturing an event perfectly.

I urge people, in the day of the cell phone camera to not be jumping in the aisle to take photos (or in front of the photographer). As much as I completely understand wanting to “insta-snappy-tweet” the heck out of everything, the couple has likely paid the photographer a tidy sum to capture their day. Aunt Ethel stumbling into the aisle and blocking the photographer from getting the ‘kiss’ photo should be avoided if at all possible (trust me, it happens).

Weddings can be amazing events where people gather from all over for this one day (one wedding this year had people from literally all over the country), it is a time to celebrate after all, it’s a chance to see people you may not have seen in years and reconnect. For us service people it is a chance to make new connections, potential future clients, and interact with other vendors in the industry.

As bookings have already started to come in for 2018 (and even inquiries for 2019) I’m looking forward to doing it all over again next summer, with better shoes. ~ Cheers!

 

#13 – 07/10/17 – In Search of the Perfect Camera Bag?

Honestly…is there such a thing? I think that this has been written about on every photography blog, website, etc. since people started carrying around a camera and multiple lenses. It doesn’t matter if it’s a film camera, a mirrorless, or a full size DSLR there is no one perfect bag for everyone that I can see. Personally I usually have my Nikon DSLR and 2-3 lenses with me and that can add up in weight, which I’ve started to notice more and more lately (especially if I throw in my Macbook too). For five years now, I’ve used a Messenger bag that I purchased at American Eagle for, wait for it…$40…and started outfitting to use as my camera bag. I took some of those velcro padded thingy’s from older bags and threw it in this one and have used it diligently since. This bag has been on three or four international trips, to several weddings, to model competitions, car shows, family gatherings, many concerts, beaches, long drives, and into the woods on hikes. Needless to say it’s been a successful mod of a non-camera bag into a camera bag. But it’s starting to get a little grimy no matter if I wash it, it isn’t a camera bag per se so the safety of the gear has always made me a wee bit nervous, I could stand to have a bit more room and ‘dedicated’ spots for things I choose to carry with me. A disclaimer before I go any further…any manufacturer’s I mention in this post I don’t mean to slam in any way or dismiss your products. There may just be an aspect of your product that is not for me…don’t be offended, I’m sure you won’t be. Still friends? Good, carry on.

My trusty American Eagle messenger bag in all it’s glory.

I want to preface this with the fact that I can be a bit fussy, most camera bags are utterly boring and ugly…and I mean “f-ugly”, it doesn’t even have to factor in price, they can be $10 or a $1000 and be just as ugly. I tend to like unique things and I don’t want to set my bag down and it be lost in a sea of ugly camera bags, really, it doesn’t have to scream “camera bag” at all…and why are most camera bags ‘black’ for crying out loud? I have to factor in that a lot of these bags are made either in Europe, Asia, or the US and sold in US pesos…in Canada, exchange and shipping always kick us in the…gut. I usually check Amazon.ca first to see if it’s there.

What started me on this search was the increase in ‘security’ at airports prior to my last trip, and all of the horror stories I was hearing about gear being denied for carry-on and tossed into the belly of the plane…and we all know how that ended. This led me to the Pelican style hard shelled case, and I begun drooling over these as they seem like a great travel product, there were so many, and finally started eyeing their flight approved line of rolling cases. They are virtually indestructible, airtight, float…what’s not to like. Foam, or slot insert, add a laptop cover insert…hmm starting to creep up around $400-$500 here (remember the bag I’ve used for 5 years cost me $40). A ‘small’ problem crept in, the case I decided I wanted was literally less than ‘half an inch’ too long to meet my airline’s requirements for carry on. I contacted the airline and they told me it was at the discretion of the counter attendant, so I would take the chance that it may have to be checked. Also, was I going to spend that kind of cash on a carrying case that I couldn’t bring ‘everywhere’ with me (see my list in the first paragraph)? While someday I may have one of these, not necessarily just to travel…this was not the perfect carrying option.

I started looking at ThinkTanks because of hearing their name a lot…and when I found a pretty awesome backpack, albeit still in the fairly ugly category, that seemed to fit my needs…it was almost $1000. Yikes. Seriously, I get what you’re saying in “protection” for your gear…but I’ve protected my gear in a $40 canvas bag from a clothing store for 5 years now, what’s the other $960 for? I can’t do it, I just can’t spend that kind of money on a ‘backpack’. Unless someone wants to sponsor this cheery and very friendly photog, I’m quite sure that’s not happening any time soon.

Inside my current modded messenger bag.

As I started looking at gear that were more regular styled bags and backpacks. This brought me to a new dilemma, Backpack or Messenger bag? I’ve always been a Messenger bag guy, but I’ve noticed at a whole day wedding or event, one side of my back really hates me at the end of the day and muscle memory doesn’t allow me to switch shoulders and find anything in the bag without looking. Is there a better bag out there?

One of my favorite websites that I read, had an article on these gorgeous leather bags made by ONA, they look like something an old postal carrier might have used, beautiful supple leather, great worn look and color, check mark on the “unique” requirement. Man it sure is pretty…$1300-$1400 pretty…that’s seriously more than my first car cost! Plus it doesn’t solve the dilemma of Backpack vs. Messenger, and it’s actually ‘smaller’ than my existing bag…wait, what? Smaller? It’s pretty, but, nope.

I then discovered a kickstarter for a new bag from a company I was already familiar with, Peak Design. I’d had one of their “capture clip” camera holders for a couple of years now and it’s a solid product that works really well. (Side note, 1% of all sales from purchases of Peak Design products also go to Environmental non-profits…cool). They had a kickstarter out at the time for their new Messenger Bag, it was unique, wasn’t a black backpack (it even came in three colors, none of them black), had unique features and held a crapload of stuff, it even had a unique way to carry a small tripod. It also utilized the product I already owned from them, I was intrigued to say the least, had I found the bag, was the EveryDay Messenger the one? Well at $250 US it was the lowest I’d seen yet ($337 CAN currently on Amazon.ca, and fulfilled by Amazon, meaning not on a boat from China)…I was definitely interested. It also had a feature that you could strap the messenger to your body kind of like a back packpack…interesting. While I was thinking about this rather large purchase and was very interested in this bag…Peak Design threw me a curve ball…and started a kickstarter for…you guessed it…a backpack.
How could they do this to me…I’d almost decided on a bag…now I have a choice!? The EveryDay Backpack came in a 20L & 30L size, based on the interior space, has many of the features of the EveryDay Messenger…and comes in two colors…neither of them black. These are wonderful looking and functional bags at $259-289 US ($349-$389 on Amazon.ca). It looks like the sweet spot for a bag is going to be in the $400 CDN range it seems (think about this when you ask a photographer why they charge so much, lol).

Have I talked myself into buying one of the Peak Design bags, not yet…still looking. No I’m not endorsed by Peak Design (but hey if they want to, I’m certainly game!). So far it is the best contender for the title. There are an absolute ‘ridiculous’ amount of choices out there and I’ve only listed a few, some are insanely costly, some are impractical.  Whatever you choose it is no easy feat if you are like me, somewhat frugal, use your camera in many different situations, and want one (or at most two) ways to carry your gear. Good luck on your hunt, and if you’ve found the perfect bag that you think would meet my needs, please for the love of everything, let me know! Oh and Peak Design…you can email me about that sponsorship.

Note: Since this post I’ve purchased a lightly used Peak Design 15″ Messenger bag, so far loving it! ~ J

 

 

#13 – 04/25/17 – The End Is Nigh, Are You Ready?

It’s so close that you can almost taste it. All of the blood (from paper cuts), sweat, tears, all of the late nights and earlier mornings, all of the stress, anxiety, wardrobe changes, social achievements and failures, personal successes and stumbles. They have all led to this moment…graduation.

Scary huh? It’s almost done, no more walking into that building that has more or less shaped who you will be, well, forever. Some of you will wonder why I’m talking about that, well one of the things that happen over the next couple of months is commemorating that journey with the ever famous (infamous?) “Grad Photo”!

Some of you are now thinking, why the heck do I need that, well…let’s talk about that.

Graduations are an important life event for both the participants and their families, and a cause for celebration, it doesn’t matter if it’s Elementary School to University, College or Private School. This is literally one of the biggest days of your life, you mark it with a certificate, you celebrate it with others (reunions for the rest of you life), it is the starting point for the next step in your life.

As time passes we like to look back, trust me, you do. When you look back do you want to be staring at a photo that you really don’t like, or would you want one that down the road you can go, ‘hey I looked pretty good’, something that no matter when, you are proud of it?

20 years from now you will walk into your grandparents house and see your grad photo on the wall or mantle (trust me, it will still be there, faithfully dusted), do you want to cringe because you just opted for whatever photo you could get?

Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe that everyone should have the classic “cap & gown” photo. These are important and unfortunately, that’s likely the one that mom will pull out to show your new significant other a decade from now, hey it could be the ‘baby bathtub’ photo, so pick your battles.

But I also think that they should have a photo that represents you at that stage in their journey through life. Are you an athlete, musician, book worm, skateboarder, volunteer, painter…why not commemorate that too? Here you are at one of the most significant points in your life and what you have to remember it is that one photo, in a studio, with a funny hat and a dress in your school colors. (Again, you need the cap & gown shot too, please get that one too)

But wait…there’s more! Yup…you’ve practiced the footwork, you’ve shopped for the perfect outfit, found the perfect partner in crime (read: date), got your hair ‘did’ and had the makeup done…that’s right…will you go to PROM with me!? Yikes!

Don’t forget these two go hand in hand, graduation and the celebration. I say celebration because not every graduation will have a “prom” per se, but the celebration just the same. Trust me, you will look back at that photo over the years almost as much and possibly even more than the graduation photo…shouldn’t it be spectacular? Someday you’ll want to look back and say ‘wow, look at that dress, hair, car, etc’…count on it, you will.

You can take all the selfies in the world, the selfie stick and group shots will be out in droves at these events…but the selfies won’t be faithfully dusted on nana’s mantle, that shot you decided to have done to mark this step in life, that will put the sparkle in her eye.  Do it for nana!

#12 – 07/06/16 – A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Sales

AFY1
So what crazy thing am I talking about this time? Well, lately I’ve been in the cave (aka my studio room) in the dark, close up, experimenting…with ‘product’ photography.
Some would think, well that can’t be that hard. Have you ever tried to photograph a round, shiny, reflective surface without getting the flash bouncing off it everywhere, not getting you (or anything) reflected in the surface (don’t wear a red t-shirt), while balancing said round object on it’s ‘edge’ so you can see the branding and not have it roll away? I didn’t think so.
There are so many dynamics that I’m discovering that go into taking pictures of products, it’s fascinating. How do you overcome those things I talked about in the last paragraph? One solution was to shoot from behind a black piece of foam core so I wasn’t reflected in the shiny surface of a lipstick tube. Product photography is the land of ‘shiny’ in the world of ‘reflective’ for a lot of things.
How do you photograph that dull brown packaging that the company thinks is great because it’s recycled paper and the world adores everything recycled. Shooting in natural light perhaps, reflected light that’s bounced, surround it with things that make it pop (seriously what makes beige pop?).
How do you photograph a steaming cup of coffee in a shiny cup, surrounded by dark brown coffee beans (that are smooth/round/shiny), on a wooden table, in studio light and make it look like the best morning sunlight in the coolest little corner of a country kitchen you could ever possibly imagine? (maybe you don’t, or at least I haven’t figured out how yet, but I will)
Body1
A couple things that I have seen translate over is how photographing people in portraits, fashion, boudoir, etc has given me a different perspective on how to light something. Product photography takes that to different level in an interesting way, it has to be ‘precise’ to a point that you literally see a glaring flaw in a photo if it’s not. It will be interesting to see how practicing with this translates back to shooting the other styles. The other thing is setting the ‘scene’, where in a fashion portrait the focal point is the model and it may be his/her clothes, hair, makeup, jewelry so it’s less precise…but when it’s “just” the jewelry and there is a singular focal point, things can get more complex. It’s interesting how something with less moving parts becomes more complicated.
AFY1
Also…dust! Don’t even get me started, it’s crazy how dusty something can get from one shot to the next, it’s unreal. I’m not sure if the lipstick is magically charged to attract dust particles from other realms of existence, but they somehow magically appear. Fingerprints, uugh.
So the next time you look at a magazine and see a picture of that shiny, round, wiggly, wet, thing-a-ma-bopper…remember a ‘lot’ went into making that ‘thing’ come to life on that two dimensional page or screen.

 

#11 – 04/29/16 – What Am I?

What am I?

I’m a photographer. But what ‘kind’ of photographer people will ask me? What? I create with a camera, I take pictures of things, I visualize the world and it’s nuances through my camera. But still get, “what kind of photographer are you”?

I know that some photographers call themselves, food photographers, or boudoir photographers, or portrait photographers, or wedding photographers and that’s what they focus on, that’s what they do and they do it well. That is what they call themselves, that is their focus, and I totally get that.

But I have a hard time putting myself in a category, do I even ‘want’ to be in a category. Perhaps, I’m not sure, not being ‘in’ a category ‘is’ a category? If I had to plunk myself into a category at this point I’d have to say I’m a Portrait-Boudoir-Concert-Commercial-Senior-Food-Nature-Travel-Wedding-AnythingGoes…

Photographer.

It took me a long time to call myself a ‘photographer’, as it felt weird saying that. It felt strange that something that seemed so mysterious and cool not that long ago, to me, was what I was becoming. Sometimes even now, I have a hard time saying it, it sounds weird when I hear it come from my mouth. But I’d be fibbing if I said I didn’t smile a little on the inside, if it didn’t make my heart sing a bit (ok a lot).

Isn’t everything really a ‘portrait’ (and yes I know it’s defined as a drawing or photograph of a ‘person’)? It’s a portrait of food, of a sunset, of a destination, a wedding ceremony, a corporate headquarters…hmmm, so I’m a portrait photographer, “oh so you take pictures of people”…wait, what?

At one point I did a lot of boudoir shooting, people saw that I was doing a lot of shooting in boudoir and were hiring me to do boudoir shoots and I started to get labelled as a boudoir photographer…wait, no I’m not…how’d that happen?

I then started shooting a lot of portraits and fashion to move away from that ‘label’and show something else and people started calling me a portrait photographer…but that’s just people right?…wait, huh?

On a whim quite frequently I’ll go for long drives with my camera (it’s usually with me no matter where I go) and I started capturing some well liked nature shots…am I a nature photographer now? Not in my mind.

Sometimes, I’ll see something food related that I think “hmm, if I lit that this way and shot it from here, and dripped this various food substance here…that would look cool”. So I guess I’m a food photographer…no. I just sometimes get a cool idea about food, or get hired to take pictures of food.

I think you see where I’m going, does it matter, do I really need a label? Some will argue that if you focus on one thing you’ll get that much better at it. I can’t argue with that per se, an athlete in a chosen sport get’s better at that sport through practice, but does that make him ‘less athletic’ at another sport? I dont think so, and I think that applies to photography. Specialize or die!

Some will argue that you have to ‘specialize to succeed’, but isn’t that what we do with any photos we take? We are learning, growing, understanding, practicing. Why did that work, why did that not work? Some would say that to be too generalized, no one can label me…perhaps that’s the point? Perhaps that’s what the voices in my head are telling me not to do, or to do (sometimes they get confused). I just like taking pictures, capturing moments of the world around me and the people in it with me and the beauty in everything that surrounds us. Picking up a camera taught me to see things as we should see everything without a camera. There’s a lot of benefits to specializing, but if your main staple of your diet is ‘KD’ and hot dogs because your specialty didn’t bring enough business in that month then you need to move your proverbial butt off that specialty throne and do something about that.

Some will say you’re not a “______ Photographer” so you can’t shoot that. Ensuing blank stare from me…what do you mean? You see to me there are certain photographers that focus, they ‘specialize’ if you will, but there are also the ones that love to create no matter the genre. Please go tell the wedding photographer that he/she can’t take portraits because they are a wedding photographer, see how that goes over. Some classify themselves as Portrait & Wedding photographers to alleviate this, but is it necessary? A wedding photographer is also adept in family portraiture, beauty, editorial, boudoir, journalistic, product photography, event photography, food photography, travel, and architectural photography to name a few. They use natural light, strobes, ambient light, soft, hard and on and on.

Light falls on a subject, on a body, a face, a bottle, a storefront, a sandwich, a condensation covered bottle of beer, a sunset (well that creates the light but go with me here)…they all have shadows, colors, angles. You need to have an eye for composition, angle, style, shape…and you create the perfect moment of that captured in a photo, right?

Hey of course I may be ‘more skilled’ at one type of photo than the other, some types of photography baffle me, but am I curious about them, sure…would I be good at them, not at all. Some will say to me ‘you take great photos can you get us photos of this, or shoot this type of event’, or some such’…nope. I have learned enough of what I can do that I’m not going to say ‘oh I can do that’ when I know I can’t, yet.

Hmmm…I know that I mainly focus (no pun intended) on portraits, yes there are people in them, whether they be fashion, boudoir, nude, headshots, concerts, corporate, it doesn’t matter. So if you really want to label me, call me a creative portrait photographer, I guess.

I create, I commemorate, I preserve, I design, I style, I take photographs…what am I?

I think…a photographer. But perhaps, I haven’t discovered what I am yet, but what a cool and mysterious journey finding out.

 

#10 – 08/24/15 – Anything For The Shot

Moncton New Brunswick Canada Portrait Photographer Creative Portraits Summer 2015 Beauty Redhead Sexy Nature

Photographers are a bit nuts…if they try and deny it, they are fibbing and they know it.  We visualize a shot in our minds eye and we will risk life and limb to make it happen.  We will suggest ideas to people/models that will make them think we are possesed by demons and have lost our last functioning brain cells.  We will endure crazy weather, put ourselves on precarious perches, and shoot at ridiculous times of the day…just to get the shot.  This past weekend was a good example, the shot you see at the beginning of this post looks simple enough, our pretty model Natalie, sitting in a lovely rose and wood antique chair with a forest background…simple enough, right?  The past week in the area we’ve been having a summer heat wave, the kind that has the ungodly humidity levels that make you feel like you’re standing in the shower with your clothes on. (No mother nature I am not complaining about the heat!)  Another photographer and I had been planning this shoot for about three weeks and this is when all our schedules lined up, we weren’t passing it up.  So off we went into the forest behind her Dad’s house to scout a good spot, of course this ‘spot’ was a nice little grotto about half a mile into the woods, through gnarly thickets and such…but the light was perfect!  So the three of us loaded up gear, a stepladder, a 70 plus pound antique chair, the always essential when shooting in summer ‘bug spray’ and headed for the forest.  We reached our first impediment, we could walk between these two trees to get to our grotto, but the chair wouldn’t fit past the branches interlocking like teeth on a zipper…hatchet time.  After some sweat and curse inducing hacking by yours truly, the path was clear once again.  Many grunts and groans later we arrived with all of our paraphenalia, so we could begin right?  Wrong.  Now we had to put up our tarp shelter just incase, as the thunder rumbled in the distance threatening impending doom for all electronics in it’s forest path.  Not to mention, we had to ‘clear’ our little grotto of ‘trip obstacles’, those things your feet always seem to find while you walk with a camera glued to your eyeball and the other eye slammed shut tighter than a vise (I won’t mention how many trees, boulders, cars, walls, posts, et al I have walked into in the name of a shot).  It’s always quite miraculous how you can watch a photographer walk, looking through his/her lens, tripping over everything…but the camera never moves.  Finally, time to shoot…nope.  Time to bathe any exposed flesh once again in a layer of protective gunk from our good friends at “Off”, mental note don’t get on fingers, it smells ok, it tastes horrible.  So it must be time to shoot by now…wrong again…time to discuss wardrobe, between two girls and a guy, which outfit first?  What clashes with the chair, do we want the skirt and top, or the dress?  Uh-oh, wardrobe change, more skin exposed…Off to the rescue!  Do you ever notice that no matter how much you spray bug spray on…you always miss somewhere…and they alway find that spot, ‘they’ being those incessant buzzing bastards that look on you as the worlds largest buffet.  Shooting time?  Yes!

I’ve hung from trees over rivers to get a shot, precariously climbed cliff faces for a shot, waded waste deep into the ocean with thousands of dollars in electronics in my hand for a shot, stood on the edge of rooftops for a shot, hung off fire escapes for a shot, and so much more.  So it’s almost 40C (104F), in the woods with no breeze, surrounded by buzzing demons ready to make me their meal, I’m sweating so much I look like I just got out of the pool (with my clothes on), I’m bleeding from cuts I don’t know how I got (seriously, no clue how I got them) and I’m finally ready to shoot…am I happy with all that…you betcha.  Farthest thing from my mind is the fact that, I have to haul all this out when I’m done…anything for a shot.

 

#9 – 03/04/15 – Keeping The Creative Juices Flowing

Andrea2

The winds of winter can sometimes suck the creative life out us creative types, the daily grind pulling us into day after day of mediocrity.  The winter storms howl at our windows, the snow piles up and all we want to do is light the fire and hibernate until the spring flowers crack through the frozen soil in the warming sun.  The tribulations of life, bills, meetings, family gatherings, social media, the daily commute…they are all pulling you in a million directions, not letting your creative soul surface and be free to run.

The thing is, those same things can actually spark the creativity…as the winds blow we hear the sounds surround us and pull us into the revery that is our creative mind.  We watch the snow fall and picture it dance to the winds tune, seeing the flakes accumulate and contrast on the evergreen trees and thinking what a wonderful backdrop they make.  The flame’s dance in the fireplace and the brilliant orange, red, blue colours shift our minds to fabrics, sunsets and a photoshoot on a beach…the hot air making us ride through the sunset sky of our mind on a hot air balloon.

We sit in our car in traffic and the sun glints off a mirror on a passing truck and our mind dances to the creative corner storing a thought of how can I use that in a photo.  The thought may not surface again for months, but its there, bubbling in the microcosm corner of our mind that is our creativity.  The first tulip that pokes through the last of the snow in spring as water drips from a final icicle.  We want to paint this seen, photograph it, freeze it for everyone to see not just hold it for ourselves…freeze it in time for all to enjoy.  A recent discussion of someone on social media about dying their hair made my mind wander to a dress I’d just shot, hmmm, what if I dye it black and shoot it in the aforementioned snow ?   I did just that, it took me a month or more to do it, creating and recreating in my subconscious, looking for the right spot in the forest…but my creative mind never let go.

So if you see us creative types stop and stare at a beam of light on a very nondescript wall, watch someone attempt to parallel park over and over, stare at someone pouring cream into a coffee in a coffee shop, stop mid sentence and our eyes glaze over momentarily…we’re fine…we’re just creating for future reference.  If we stop and stare over a bridge at water bubbling over rocks, be out for a Sunday drive and suddenly stop and stare at an empty field…don’t panic we aren’t having a stroke (we may be so if we appear to be, you are scared, please check)…we are jumping into our creative work boots for a moment and building another set in our mind, to store on the shelf for later use.

Sometimes those juices slow way, way down…but they are always there, ready to bubble to the surface…don’t be afraid…just let us pause for a moment…and create.

Emily1b

 

 

#8 – 11/11/14 – What’s this ACTMA thing?

Chanelle - Summer 2014

Chanelle – Summer 2014

Wow have I been neglecting this blog…I know I said that last time…but wow.  I guess that’s a sign that I’ve been too busy shooting, marketing, editing, shooting, travelling, creating, marketing, workshops…you get my point.  But I digress, I post when I can the ramblings of my photographer happenings.  Several months ago a fellow photographer (does ‘fellow’ really work when it’s a female?) asked me if I wanted to shoot at a thing called ACTMA, which stands for Atlantic Canada’s Top Model & Actor, knowing very little about it I said “sure” and left it at that.  So as of this week, I’m shooting at ACTMA this weekend.  ACTMA is a three day event put on by modelling agency Facade International  and this is it’s 9th year running this event.  It gives people interested in the industry a chance to get a feel for what it would be like to enter the world of modelling, it shows them it’s not just about looking pretty, it’s about hard, hard work and what goes into it.  ACTMA brings together photographers, agents, models, stylists, Make-up artists and so many more for a weekend of workshops, networking, learning, and mixed in there some fun.

I will be lucky enough to be able to attend as many of the events as I’d like and shoot behind the scenes photos, and get more of a feel of what this event is about.  Plus, I’ll be getting to shoot with my ‘fellow’ photographer all of the modelling participants on Saturday morning…thirty people in four hours!  This should be an interesting experience that will further the learning process that is the crazy world of photography.

 

 

#7 – 05/20/14 – The Summer of “Creative” Love

Sam1crop

Wow have I been neglecting the old blog…no more I say (not making any promises on that)!  I have to say that winter sucked the creative life right out of me, I just wanted to hibernate and not leave the house, which led to a lot of computer time. Over the past few months I’ve been watching a lot of instructional videos on techniques, editing, lighting and just practicing more on it all (will never be done learning, there’s always something I need to know).    But, what manifested itself from all of this was the creative juices started flowing again.  It’s started as this little nagging tickle at the back of the brain (I think i dismissed it as a headache) and has now grown into a full bore wave of “let’s create”!

Over the summer I want to be wildly creative and explore strange new worlds, no I don’t have a ship called the Enterprise, but my camera is kind of like a transporter!  Now some may not see what I end up with as very creative, because lord knows there are way more creative minds out there than me, but to me, creativity breeds creativity….you have to start somewhere.

As some of you may have notice on my Facebook page or on Twitter, that I’ve already begun the exploration with some body paint creations.  It was a happenstance meeting at a party that led me to the ‘artist’ who wanted to explore more work and have it documented via photograph, we have since begun to explore this, with more to come!  Now that the weather is not so completely insane and frigid you will start to see some nature begin to creep into the photos being created with and without people in them.  There will be artistic nudes and semi-nudes featured in the elements of nature, surrounded by the world and its wonders around us.

Speaking of the elements, that is another avenue that I will be exploring this summer…literally, the ‘elements’ of nature.  Earth, Air, Fire, Water; all will be encompassed in many shots this summer.  In nature, with stone, and forest, and sun…can’t wait to explore the world and photograph it with people and without in the shots.

All this and so much more that I haven’t even thought of yet…It’s the summer of ‘creative’ love…come play with me, let’s have some fun!

#6 – 12/28/13 – Embracing Winter 

Ice Storm - Winter 2013

Ice Storm – Winter 2013

When I was a kid winter was exciting, snowball fights of epic proportions, snowmen that towered over us, a ton of pond hockey for the neighbourhood Stanley Cup, snow forts that would make an architect proud, skating until our legs would move no more, sliding like crazy fearless maniacs down hills and over jumps that would make the staunchest daredevil pale in fear…giggling the whole time.  We would brave subzero temperatures, wet mittens, and frostbite like it was simply an inconvenience.  We had to be hauled in the house kicking and screaming as the street lights came on around the pond or the sliding hill, just one more goal, just one more trip down the hill.  I played a lot of winter sports when I was young, hockey, curling, mixed with skiing, snowshoeing, and so much fun in the white stuff that fell from the sky and the frozen temps of the great white north.

Now that I’m an adult (jury is still out on that one) the sports are gone, the snow forts are gone, haven’t been part of a snowball battle in years, no hockey stick, skates are dull, and a hill has not seen me and a sled forever.  You’ll usually find me cursing the next impending snow storm while huddled around the nearest heat source to escape the chattering teeth and numb appendages that the frozen season brings.  Gone are the snow forts for snow shovels, winter wonders for winter tires, wet mittens for…well there are still wet mittens,  giggles and laughter replaced with grumbles and complaints.  Where we used to be hauled in the house kicking and screaming, we now become professional procrastinators when it comes to going out in the snow (usually to shovel a driveway).  Where we used to see that pile of show from the shovelled driveway as a future snow fort…we now see, a pile of snow, back pain…Ahh, to be a kid again.

As the snow falls outside my window, I think back to a couple of weeks ago to the day after our first heavy snowfall (yup, two weeks ago we had green grass, now there is at least three feet on the ground) where I looked out the window on a blue sky sun filled day and thought the trees looked really pretty.  I grabbed my camera and threw my new (unused) snow shoes in the trunk and off I went on and adventure, coffee and camera in hand to see what I could see…much like I would do in warmer weather except this time dressed like I should be loading up the dog sled vs. the SUV.

Winter photography can be a battle to get the picture coming out just right, getting the snow white instead of grey with everything else being properly exposed.  With sunlight bouncing off snow and snow mitts not making manipulating camera gear all that easy, just getting to some of the places I want to shoot pictures is sometimes difficult…glad I threw in those snow shoes, carrying a camera and gear on snowshoes is a neat skill I have yet to master completely.   A snow covered farm in a valley, something I’m drawn too for some reason, an ice filled river with the sunset reflecting off it, icicles dancing in the light along a lamp post, snowflakes slowing falling against a forest backdrop.  Ice mixed with light has has me fascinated and photographing it has become one of my winter endeavours…but whatever it is…it seems that thanks to my camera, I’m embracing winter a bit again.   Get out there…embrace winter a bit…you might see me trudging through a field on my snow shoes, camera in hand.  But for now…my driveway is filling up, where did I put that shovel!?

#5 – 10/22/13 – Why Does A Photographer Charge So Much? 

Why are Professional Photographers so expensive?  I hear it all the time, you’re making $100/hr…I am?

In today’s world where everyone has digital cameras, scanners and “smart phones” (ugh enough duckface selfies), when people can take their photos to a local store and pick them up hours later, we hear this all the time – How in the world do Professional Photographers charge $40 for an 8×10 when they cost just $2.99 at the local big box store?

Here’s why.  Simply put, you’re not just paying for the actual photograph, you’re paying for time and expertise in creating the image in the first place.  First, let’s look at the actual time involved.

For a two hour portrait session:

– 30minutes – one hour of travel to and from the session if it’s local
– two hours of shooting
– 30 minutes of setup, preparation, talking to the client etc. (I know I can easily spend half an hour sorting out my equipment before a shoot; checking that you have everything you need, charging batteries, working out travel times etc.)
– 30 minutes to load the photos onto a computer (Not to mention the cost of the computer, hard drives, power)
– 30 minutes to back up the files
– 30 minutes to an hour (or more) ‘per image‘ of Photoshop time including cropping, contrast, color, sharpening, enhancements, and backing up the edited photographs (removing that branch from the tree behind you that now looks like it’s sticking out of your head).

You can see how one two hour session can easily turn into more than ten hours of work from start to finish. So when you see a photographer charging a $300 session fee for a two hour photo shoot, you are not paying them $150 / hour.  I have a package that provides you with 10 edited pictures for $100…do that math using the formula above ;).

For an eight hour wedding – I won’t go into a plethora of details, but an eight hour wedding typically amounts to at least one full week worth of time.  Again, if they are charging you $4,000 for an eight hour wedding, you are not paying them $500 / hour.  In addition, all of the little “things” you want in the package, the album, the proofing, the prints, the albums, are not only expensive for the photographer to buy, but also require a lot of time by the studio to handle and produce.

Now on to the expertise….Shooting professional photography is a skill, acquired through years of experience and practice.  Heck, I’ll sometimes take several hundred pictures of the same flower, leaf, chair, family cat…just to see the difference each setting makes, each angle makes with each of those settings!  Even though our camera’s average $2,000-$5,000 for just the body, and most of our lenses are in the $2,000 category, taking professional portraits involves much more than a nice camera.

Most can take years to go from buying their first ‘decent’ camera to making any decent money with their photography.  In addition to learning how to use the camera itself, there is a mountain of other equipment involved, lighting, backdrops, lenses and so much more as well as numerous software programs used to edit and print photographs, run a website etc. (all which are paid for out of the fees we charge).  Also let’s not forget that you actually have to have marketing skills, be able to communicate, people skills make people comfortable in front of the camera – posing people to make them look their best in a photograph is a skill all by itself.  There is also add on’s like providing hair and make-up for the women, which we also have to arrange, schedule, and pay for.

Most photographers will tell you that with the ‘business’ side, combined with all of the working outside of shooting (editing, marketing, travel, etc.) that they actually spend about 10-20% of their time ‘actually taking pictures’!

Think of it this way – the next time you pay $100 at the hair salon, a pair of scissors only costs about $5.00 and you might be there an hour, maybe two…and in a few months be back spending it again (so you could spend $200-400/yr on haircuts).  You pay $50 for a 30 minute oil change…and in three months are back spending it again.  Sure you can cut your hair at home for free, or change your own oil in your garage for the cost of the oil, but you gladly pay a lot more to hire a professional to actually do the job.  You’ll pay a $100 for a dinner for two that lasts a couple of hours, but not $100 for images that will last a lifetime?

But as you can hopefully see photography is a very expensive profession, and photographers need to be paid enough to cover their costs if they are to continue practicing. Very few photographers get rich from what they do – but that is part of the sacrifice of doing something they love for a living…does that $100 photo session still seem so expensive? ~ JL

#4 – 09/11/13 – Step into the ‘boudoir’… 

I was looking at other avenues of photography that interested me and I found that I was always drawn to boudoir, the art of it, the usually subtle light, and thought I should explore it more.  Wikipedia defines boudoir as “a lady’s private bedroom, sitting room or dressing room”, now I don’t know too many ladies that have ‘private dressing rooms’ in their homes, but therein lies the illusion of boudoir.  You are creating that magic of stepping into a forbidden place, getting a glimpse of what’s behind that wall, that curtain and for a split second basking in the beauty of it.  A place where in photography style, elegance and sensuality are combined through the art form of the modern woman’s figure, sought out by the keen eye of an experienced and passionate photographer.

The process of course starts with the woman’s desire for boudoir photographs, the psychology behind why they want them, what are they for.  Brides want it as a surprise for their future husbands and then there are the events and milestones, birthdays, anniversaries and, quite frequently, changes in appearance: a weight loss or cosmetic surgery…some simply want to feel sexy, sensual, beautiful…for themselves.  It can be all over the spectrum ‘My boyfriend broke up with me; I lost a hundred pounds; I got a divorce; I’m turning forty.’  You have to come at boudoir photography not only from the aspect of beautiful pictures and stylish surroundings, but realize that as a photographer you have to put on the hat of a psychologist just a bit.  Some of the women (and men, yes men do it to, and so do couples), are nervous about doing this, they are worried about how their body will look, keep in mind we aren’t just taking pictures here, we are creating how the client wants to be remembered.  Helping them discover, or rediscover something inside of them they didn’t know was there, or had forgotten was part of them, that beauty that is in everyone no matter their age, size, or shape.  Not everyone that get’s boudoir shoots done are models, in fact, most aren’t.  They are every day people, doctors, lawyers, mothers, wives, sisters and they all have one thing in common…they want to feel beautiful.

My job is to capture you in the most flattering poses that fit your body type, let you have that moment where you feel like no one is watching, your most confident, sensual, powerful, beautiful moment…captured forever.   As a photographer, there’s nothing more rewarding than making you leave your shoot feeling confident, sexy and full of beauty.   So step into the boudoir, set the lights, pull back the curtain and bring out the power and beauty that is inside. ~ JL

#3 – 09/08/13 – Social Media, the Web, and new pages 

A while back I was looking at my web page and wondered why I needed a Facebook page and then discovered that as much as I wanted too I couldn’t communicate with people easily via my web page alone.  So in addition to my personal page I jumped on the Facebook band wagon and added a page for my photography.  I discovered something that I’d known already but never put into practice, social media can be the new ‘word of mouth’ that used to be verbal to your friend in the salon or pub, it’s now online.  Now I’d been a user of Twitter and had met many wonderful people via the web, networked, and joined many an event via the 140 characters of chaos that is Twitter…so I’ve now added the Twitter page as well…what’s next Tumblr and Pinterest…perhaps, stay tuned!  The web is a miraculous tool, but you can get bogged down in it, lost is the sea of information…think for a moment, we have the entirety of human knowledge at our fingertips.  So I hope that I can carve out my tiny space on the web and as people churned through the wires that something on my site snags them for a moment.  I’ve added new pages as in (more information to snag the wayward web wander, Facebook fanatic and Twitter tweep) this very blog page, which seems to be getting some attention, and if your reading this I don’t need to link to it do I?  I’ve added an FAQ for questions I get asked in person, or online…see a theme here…so if you have a question, send me a message through the vast ‘www’ and I’ll see if it joins the list.  There is also the new ‘Boudoir’ page that is just starting to grow as more shots get taken and will be the subject of a future blog post…I guess I’ve snagged you long enough, back on the web bus, places to surf! ~JL

#2 – 09/03/13 – Walk A Mile In Her Shoes  

A few weeks ago I got the opportunity to meet some remarkable women that were fighting for a great cause.  There is an old saying: “You can’t really understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® asks men to literally walk one mile in women’s high-heeled shoes. It’s not easy walking in these shoes, but it’s fun and it gets the community to talk about something that’s really difficult to talk about: gender relations and sexual violence.  On an early August Saturday I had several incredible women come to my home for a shoot for this year’s ‘awareness’ poster that I happily donated my efforts to shoot for.  Some of the woman had never met before and they proceeded to go around the room telling their ‘story’ of what had happened to them in their past, that’s right each one of them had been touched by the very reason this cause was fighting for.  I was flabbergasted by what I heard as one by one they listed off their painful truths, their burdens that they carried with them every day…and I was amazed.  These were strong professional woman, highly educated, respected in the community and many in that very community would not know they carried such burdens.  I can honestly say that I could see the pain, it was palpable in the room, and it was captured…I think…in the photos.  See this years awareness poster ‘Here’ and get out and support Walk A Mile In Her Shoes…are you strong enough? ~ JL

#1 – 09/01/13 – A Blog on a Photography Page?  

Many friends, fans, and other photographers have said I need to have a ‘blog’ to go along with my photography web site, that the Facebook’s, Twitter’s, Tumblr’s, et al are ‘social media’ not a blog, marketing tools yes, not blogs.  Hmmm, I created and write for another web site, (RefrainMusic.com) so this should be a breeze right?  As I sat down to add the page to my site, I did all the technical whiz & bang and all that, but then it hit me…What do I write about when it comes to photography?  So I set out to see what others in the photographic universe did with their blogs to get an idea.  Some write their thoughts about blogging (kind of like I’m doing right now), some tell grand tales about trekking up a mountain peak with their camera strapped to their back, a few others talk about that ‘moment’ where they knew they’d captured that special picture from a particular shoot.  I’m sure that I will have some of that and more from days when I’m not behind the camera, probably some rants, and humorous moment to share too, so I welcome you to journey along with me on this bloggy jaunt and see where we go! ~ JL

info@refrainphotography.com

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