Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking Back On 2014

We are just hours away from the end of the month and the end of the year, so I will take just a few moments to recap both.

During December I finished up all of my work from the last post as well and two weddings from earlier so I could get everything out before Christmas. 

The second week of December I shot Tony and Stacie's wedding here in Newport News. I had a great time working with them and they were naturals in front of the camera!

I often attend the wedding rehearsal which gives me an idea of the lighting and how everything will unfold for the ceremony. I arrived at the rehearsal a little early and I was treated to an amazing sunset on the James River. I knew that if the weather forecast remained true, we'd be in for another one tomorrow. 

Everything worked out with the weather the next day and, at the last moment, I switched the order we were going to do the group and family photos. After the ceremony, the glow from the sunset was coming through the church's windows. I told everyone in the church hang tight for a couple of minutes and I took the couple out to the edge of the river for the sunset. You couldn't ask for better colors in December!

Later in December I had the chance to shoot a few friends who play original music. A local band, Kepone Cowboys, played at Shaka's Live in Virginia Beach, VA. They are described as "If the Dead Kennedys had babies with Dwight Yoakam;" so you know it was going to be a good time! Here are a few shots from the show...

Here's a recap of 2014, with about 800 photos, in just 120 seconds (click "HD" when the player starts for best viewing)... LOOKING BACK ON 2014

I had such a fun year shooting and I met a ton of great people along the way. Thank-you to everyone for an unforgettable year! I'll see you in 2015.

Canvas Prints by Royal Canvas

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Change and Challenge

Along with a change in the seasons, came a bit of a change in some of the work for the month. 

No weddings this month but I started out the month shooting football. A friend of mine was a coach for the Grafton-Tabb Tigers' junior team. They were getting late into the season and made the playoffs so I shot a few of the games.

I donate session gift certificates to organizations and charities for them to give as gifts or to auction for their cause. I recently had one redeemed for a fall family session. As you may already know from previous posts, I no longer do family sessions. Since this was from awhile ago, I took it on and presented it to myself as a challenge. It went really well and I ended up with some nice candid shots too.

Anyone who has done a family session will invariably get one of these. They will definitely look back on this and have a good laugh.

Although it was fun and before anyone gets any ideas, I'm not throwing my hat back into the ring and doing family sessions...hahaha. I do have gift certificates available and they make GREAT holiday gifts! I have senior sessions, couples/engagement sessions, sports coverage, event coverage, and even a full wedding day gift certificate! Contact me for more info.

I did a shoot for an article on one of True Blue's management teams. True Blue is the nation's largest industrial staffing firm. They wanted one image. That's it. They secured a location, sent samples, specific instructions for the pose of each person, and the placement of the subjects in the image to allow for copy to be added. It is always nice for someone to tell you exactly what they want and how they want it. Since the article hasn't been published yet, I can't show you anything. Sorry, that's just how it goes.

In between sessions and editing, I did find a few hours here and there for some free time. I met a few friends and spent a little time on the range doing the other kind of shooting.

I photographed girls soccer this month too.

I shoot a wide range of sports every year and it is something I absolutely love to do. I see more and more parents opting for DSLRs instead of their smartphones to photograph their child's game and that's great! That means they're tired of getting bad smartphone photos of their kids in action. That comes at a price for a DSLR, a long lens, the time to learn how to use it, and the editing. That is far more expensive and time consuming than hiring me to do it for you! I know, I'm plugging myself but I am cheaper than a new set up. If you do have a camera and a long lens, here's a tip for better sports shots: Sit or kneel when shooting. Sometimes I even lie prone and shoot. It is a much better vantage point than standing up. A decent monopod is also helpful to stabilize your camera for sharper images.

I had two sessions with couples who were already married. The first was with Melissa and Robert in Newport News Park.

The next session was with Abbey and Sully at Oak Grove Lake Park in Chesapeake.

Nearly every day I take my pup to the dog park to, as I call it, "play with her friends." We had a few days of rain at the end of the month and when she finally got to go, none of her friends were there. She happily played with me instead and her smile said it all!

At the end of the month I was nominated by a good friend of mine to take the 5 Day Black & White Challenge. The challenge is to take a B&W image every day for 5 days. It was a great exercise. It pushed me to spend a little time (sometimes 10 minutes, sometimes an hour) doing something different. It happened to fall during the week that, as I mentioned above, it rained pretty good for a few days straight. Here were the images I shot and selected for the challenge:

Day #1 was a shot of something I pass by nearly everyday while walking the dog and, for years, I'd thought about photographing. The challenge helped push me to finally do it.

Day #2 was born from another idea I had for a long time but never executed. It rained non-stop and I actually felt guilty about going out and shooting for the challenge instead of editing for my clients so, I skipped a day. It was going to rain all of the next day so I worked instead. The following day, I went out for 15 minutes to shoot in the rain. 

Day #3 was Thanksgiving. I spent the day with family and wanted to do something tied to the day but a little different. So I decided on a cooking turkey's perspective.

 Day #4 was shot based on a glance and remembering an image. I'd taken the pup to the dog park to play with her friends and decided to kill two birds with one stone by taking a portrait of her while she was there. She got her daily play time and I got Day #4 out of the way. It worked out and you'll see the portrait later in the post. On the ride home I felt like I cheated. I intentionally took the safe and easy shot. A challenge, by definition, is not supposed to be easy and my decision to take a "safe shot" wasn't sitting well with me. When I got home I happened to glance at a carved, wooden camel I bought when I was in Israel. I instantly remembered a National Geographic photo of a caravan of camels walking across the desert. What made the image so striking was that it was late in the day and their shadows drew your attention, not the camels. So I took a few minutes to do something that had some challenge to it instead of taking the easy route. You can see some behind the scenes photos below.

Day #5 was the last day of the challenge and once again I wanted to combine the challenge and something else in order to get back to work. So I was multitasking. I took the pup to get her exercise, work on some obedience training, and knock out a photo at some point. Mission accomplished on all fronts! I felt this image captured the day and conveyed the completion of the challenge.

Here are two behind the scenes images from Day #4. The first shows my set up...super technical, hahaha.  It was a speedlite on a small tripod, a sheet of white foam core, a small wooden camel, and a bodyboard (propped up with a hiking boot) as a reflector. Hey, it was a reflective white surface and I didn't feel like getting my 5-in-1 reflector out of my truck.

The next one was the shot I used. I dropped into Photoshop, created a new document, rotated the image, and copied layers side by side.

Here are a few additional shots I took for the Black and White Challenge. They aren't bad photos but most of them didn't make the cut because they were the "safe" shot. The other "splash shots" didn't make it, although the first one I really like, because the timing was a bit off on the GoPro.

It felt too safe and too obvious.

A "safe shot" of a buddy at the range.

 I made about 10 passes to get these two shots with the GoPro. Had the GoPro been angled a little higher this would have made the cut.

I tried about a dozen times and ways, in the pouring rain, to get a splash shot I liked.

A "safe shot" taken later through the sunroof

Neat in color (using a headband flashlight set to red) but not in black and white.

The "safe shot" from Day #4 before the camels.

Cute but didn't feel it for Day #5

Moments later it was play time. "Tag! You're it!"

It was another fun month! I'll see you in December with some more shots and little something special to wrap up the year!