Friday, October 31, 2008

Get Caught Doing It!

Here is a picture of me my buddy Paul, of AM/PM Photography, took of me the night of the Denver Zombie Crawl 2008. I desperately wanted to participate in the event as well as take pictures of it. I debated whether I should dress up as a zombie or put a duct-tape "X" on my chest so I could be "attacked" and "turned." But worry about having something bad happen to my camera ate away at my insides (pun intended). So instead, I asked someone along the parade route if they could make me look like a zombie. A woman whipped out some red lipstick and went to work on me. I think I look great. What do you think? I am sticking my tongue out because I am a new zombie, and I have yet to acquire the taste for brains. Brains nasty! ;)

Happy Halloween Shutterbugs!

This Weekend: Presenting Engagement Photos; Shooting Family Portraits


Told ya things were going to get crazy! As the winter celebrations grow nearer, clients are starting to see photographs as great options for holiday cards, family portraits and parties.


This weekend, I will be presenting photos from my first engagement session to Kim and Michael. I thought the shoot was a success, and Confluence Park near the South Platte River was a wonderful location. It was important for me to be able to capture this active couple as well as some of their favorite things to do together. They spent most of their time courting while skiing and bike riding, so I wanted my shots to be able to remind them how their romance progressed.


This presentation will be the first time I use music to highlight a slideshow of the images that my MacBook Pro can create. I hope it's not too cheesy, but I've been told that music, even food and drink, can set the tone for the presentation and make it a more enjoyable experience. I also plan to have several of my favorite images already printed up in hopes that I can get some immediate sales during the presentation. I will also have a new proof book available for the couple to take with them so they can chose which images they want printed.

A few hours before my presentation, I will be shooting my first outdoor family portrait session with the woman who owns my dogs' daycare center. Cristal and I worked out a deal in which she would exchange free daycare for the cost of the photo shoot and prints. Again, I think exchanging goods and services instead of paying out money is a good idea during the troubled economy, and day care is just expensive enough that I think it's a great trade option! I loved Confluence Park so much that I suggested we shoot the portrait session there again. Cristal said she wanted to take advantage of the fall colors, and the park is bursting with reds, golds and cinnamons.

Tips of the Trade: Capturing that Ghost Effect This Halloween

I regularly subscribe to various Digital Photography 101 tip pages, including emails I receive from Lifepics' Digi Pixels. I thought this week's episode explaining how to capture the ghost effect in pictures this Halloween would be extremely timely.

"The Ghost Effect creates an eerie blurry trail around your subject without losing focus, giving the impression that a ghost has haunted your picture!

Set the Scene...
To begin, set your camera to manual mode. Use a longer exposure (around 1/2 second), set your aperture to f11, and set your ISO to 800. The exact settings will depend on the amount of light you are using, so use these settings and adjust from there. The key to this shot is to make sure your flash is set to trigger; the flash will help create the ghost effect.

...and Take the Shot!
Next, get your victims -- I mean subjects -- ready. As you take the shot, move the camera intentionally, or have your subjects move while the shutter is still open (for example, ask them to jump as you shoot). The flash will freeze the scene, but the movement will create the ghost-like trails surrounding the subject. Be sure to take a few shots and adjust if needed. For lower light situations, raise your ISO and slow down the shutter speed, and do the opposite if you are shooting in a lot of light. Keep shooting until you get it right!

A Few More Tricks (or Treats)
Another technique you can try while shooting the Ghost Effect is to raise your ISO to intentionally make the picture grainier or noisier. Try ISO 800 or 1600, or even 3200 if your camera goes that high. This technique works best for dimly lit areas, like your outside porch. Also, try placing a color gel (such as orange) over the flash to add some more color to the shot. Finally, take a look at the last email I sent about converting the image to black & white or sepia for another spooky enhancement."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Q and A: Lighting Setups

QUESTION: Kim B. asks:
"I found your site while researching Spiderlite info on the internet. I am an aspiring boudoir photographer who is not yet comfortable enough to use strobe lighting. I want to use the Westcott Spiderlite TD5 because if its halogen/fluorescent versatility. If the light is placed within 4 feet of the subject, does it cast enough light? If so, are you able to create moody, artistic high contrast photographs as well as wrap-around light? Thanks so much for your time. I love your photography by the way!

Hey there Kim, thanks for writing. I am still learning how to use strobes
myself, so I can understand your concerns. However, I LOVE the Westcott Spiderlites because they produce enough light to be main "hot lights," but the softboxes also
make sure they stay cool. Few people can tolerate hot lights for very long
in a studio setting, but I haven't had any trouble with my models who pose with the Spiderlites.

With the TD5, you can change the light source, the light output and the light temperature. Five separate controls on the back allow you to run from 1-5 lamps changing the ratio without changing the color temperature. That should help you achieve varying moods in your shots. The first boudoir session I shot, I used a Spiderlite and an Alien Bee strobe. You can see the quality of the light here and what you can do with them.

"Thanks so much for your thoughtful and quick response. I think I'll buy a Spiderlite, and (gulp) one little strobe. Here is a link to some of my photos as I haven't done a website yet. Most of those photos were done in low light situations using 75 watt tungsten bulbs. Most of the models are over 35, my specialty. If you could give me any constructive criticism (other than lighting), i
would greatly appreciate it. I will gladly do the same for you, if the need ever arises. I appreciate your input, and thanks again for writing.

" Girl, who are you trying to fool?! Your photos are INCREDIBLE and you could definitely teach me a thing or two about boudoir photography. It's cool if you want to boost your war chest and your skill set with some strobes because they give you great lighting options, but I think what you are already doing is great. Your available light is so soft and gentle on these shots. The woman are feminine, strong and sexy. I love the shots that almost seem historic in nature. Lovely! I wish I could shoot like that!

BTW, if you buy a Spiderlite TD5, it comes with strobe lights, as well as fluorescent, halogen too, so you get the best of both worlds for hot lights and strobes. I haven't used my strobe setting on the TD5s yet, but you won't need to buy anything else for a long time if you get the TD5 set. It's a great lighting option for people on a budget.

One more thing I've done to get more comfortable with strobes is to join a local Flickr group called Colorado Strobist. They hold meet and greets at locations where more seasoned lighting experts show us noobs how to work with strobes. They helped me out a tremendous amount. I would check around your neck of the woods to see if you could join a similar group there! Shoot happy!"

Community College of Denver

QUESTION: Jim T. asks:
"Nice work (on those campus logo shots). How did you light the interior shots? I think your portrait work is really getting good."

Hey there Jim. I used the basic three set lighting kit that the Auraria Campus had in it's new studio. Definitely nothing fancy, just two lights shot through an umbrella for key and fill light and a third smaller light shining up the background (a piece of black paper) to separate the subject from the background.

What has been essential for me is watching videos and reading books on lighting setups. I even watched the DVD that came with my Westcott light kit, paying special attention to where the lights themselves are placed in relation to your subject. I've also been using educational DVDs from Ed Pierce to see how to get the best environments with my Westcott Spiderlite system.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Get the Job Done: Auraria Campus Gear and Logos Shoot about a busy weekend! I shot three photo sessions with Auraria Higher Education Center students modeling university gear and logos for Metropolitan State College of Denver, Community College of Denver and University of Colorado Denver. Marketing directors plan to use the images to advertise the clothing line. And several of my photos will be displayed in large 20x30 poster size prints around the Tivoli Student Center as part of that marketing effort!

I have only touched the surface of the 400 or so images I need to sort through, but my contact at the campus is already requesting a CD today of the first 25 images I've processed. I've included some of my favorites from the shoots held Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Seems they are in a hurry to get some newer images up as soon as possible, which is understandable given the fact that many of the ads they have up now were shots taken in the 1970s and 1980s. The original images lack the diversity in student population that exists on campus now. So it was important that we showcased the fact that a large percentage of the student body consists of ethnic minorities, including a growing Latino population and nontraditional students, such as seniors and the mother featured below with her daughter.

One of my main jobs will be to gradually update those images with some fresh perspective of how the campus buildings and students look now. I've got to get a shot of someone pounding away on their laptop since nearly every student has one. And I think this photo I took on Monday showing a group of students all texting or talking on their cell phones portrays the current environment of the Auraria Campus.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tips of the Trade: The Importance of Marketing with Jim Turley

I got an email today from my friend and business management instructor Jim Turley that I thought would be helpful for my blog readers. Turley tipped me and several of his students off about The Wedding Report, a site that features statistics and market research for the wedding industry. I quickly joined the site and receive regular updates and news such as this report on Colorado wedding statistics. You need to join and login if you want similar access.

Turley says wedding photographers have to consider the fact that all of us will be working harder to attract the attention of a shrinking number of brides while the numbers of new photogs entering the field keep growing.

"Not quite as bad as GM selling SUV's to a shrinking market, but the
same factors are involved," says Jim. "Good marketing will be even more important
in the coming years so you get more than your share of the market because the market size will decrease."

Jim pinpointed this report on wedding trends completed in September prior to the start of the economic crunch.

"The contents are not encouraging; less being spent on photographers,
increasingly popular to have friend/family shoot the wedding, etc."

The Wedding Report just released the results from their most recent online report, which can be purchased for $129. Competition is frightening in the $60 billion wedding industry, so this report might be worth the cost of having a leg up.

It covers:

What the future online wedding market holds for your business
What tools brides want to see on your website
How social plays a role and what it means for you
What future web trends you should plan for now
How important your web presence is
When you should spend your online marketing dollars
What key SEO trends you should focus your content on
Who the top Internet players are and why

It's food for thought definitely, and I'm starting to considering more options for marketing my company as well. I finally have enough money to get pay for having someone create my business logo. That's an important step I should have taken a long time ago, but I never saw the importance of it until now. I have to start making my business stand out from the hundreds of other photographers working in Colorado now.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monthly Photo Assignment Extended This Week

After talking with gcmandrake about this month's turnout for his High Noon topic, we decided to extend the assignment in hopes of getting more entries for the voting pool. I know several people remarked that they loved Matt's idea because it's extremely challenging to get a good image in the middle of the day when the sun is high in the sky.

But my worry is that the crush of the upcoming winter holidays starting with Halloween is already starting to affect people's schedules, giving them less and less spare time.

So now you've got until Nov. 2 to get your image in! Get Out There and shoot something already! I'm getting myself in gear too!

Instructor's Tip: Use Contrast For Impact

By Russ Burden

REMINDER - No Photo Tip Of The Week next Monday as I'll be in Bryce and Zion doing my tour

Use Contrast For Impact
The word contrast refers to the extremes in the range of tones from the brightest highlight to the darkest shadow. With B&W, it relates to the range of gray shades from pure white to rich black. In either case, the more extreme the range, the higher the contrast. Conversely, if all the tones are close, the contrast is low.

NATURAL CONTRAST: Living in Colorado, I experience weather extremes. One year the weather was beautiful but an early May snowstorm blanketed my town in white. Being one who never turns down a photographic opportunity, I grabbed my camera and walked around the neighborhood. I turned to my left as I heard a clump of tulips call my name. Being careful to not disturb their snow hats, I captured the concept of contrast that occurs in nature.

RELATIONSHIPS: When I think of the word contrast, I associate it with the word “opposites.” Divergent subjects make great photographic subjects. I was photographing a hot air balloon ascension in Snowmass, CO. Having a number of traditional hot air balloon photos, I wanted to capture something with a different twist. Seeing the already launched balloons become smaller as they rose, I decided to juxtapose a just launched one against the smaller one to create big to little contrast.


Enjoy this week's "Instructor's Tip" by award winning nature photographer Russ Burden. The photo(s) in this post were taken by Russ Burden. To learn more about how Russ captured this image, join him on one of his photo tours. Visit Russ Burden Photography to get more information.

To take a class with Russ or a fellow Digital Photo Academy instructor in your area, check out the Digital Photo Academy. I took Russ' intermediate and advanced courses last year, and he continues to be a strong source of knowledge and encouragement as I progress in my photography.

Don't forget to check Take Great Pictures for Russ' most recent tips. On the home page, click on the "Photo Tips And Techniques" button in the left hand column. Additionally, check out his "Digital Tip of the Month" found by clicking on the Digital Photography button.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday Morning Cartoons

Of course professional photographers would NEVER do this; it's completely unprofessional and enough to get you blacklisted, not to mention beat up by a parent! But boy, don't you wish you could do it in some circumstances?

Enjoy today's installment of Aaron Johnson's photocentric comic strip "What the Duck." The popular comic is celebrating it's 2nd year anniversary. Congratulations Aaron! And thank you for encouraging me and others to seek comfort in our sense of humor when the ebbs and flows of the photography business threatens to overwhelm us. The comic is available now for syndication as "W.T. Duck," appearing in a local newspaper near you!

Friday, October 24, 2008

This Weekend: Time to Get Back to Work

For the last couple of weeks, I've been enjoying a lull between photography assignments, organizing my office, backing up images and shooting fun (though unpaid assignments) for myself. But the holiday seasons are upon us, and it's time for me to get back to work!

This weekend will likely be a harbinger of how hectic the next few months could be now that people are starting to think about photography gifts they can give to friends and relatives, including portraits and seasonal cards.

Roadrunner logo for Metro State College

To kick things off:
Saturday: I will be shooting a session with students modeling Auraria Campus bookstore clothing, including items with logos from the Metropolitan State College, Community College of Denver, and University of Colorado at Denver.

Sunday: I will be shooting Kim and Mike's engagement session. We narrowed down several location choices and decided to shoot along the bike paths near the REI Building and the Platte River in downtown Denver. The couple spent a lot of time there during their courtship, and I can't wait to capture some fun panning shots of them on their bikes. Here are a few images I took of the Platte River and numerous walking and bike paths which should serve as great location shots.

Meanwhile, I plan to do some bartering for my photography services with the owner of my dog's daycare center: she needs a family portrait for her holiday cards and in exchange she will give my dogs a month worth of free days. During these touch economic times, I think it makes sense to take advantage of exchanging goods or services without handing over cash. It's a great way for people to share their expertise, save time and never spend a dime. Plus, I could use some new family portraits in my portfolio and doggie daycare is expensive, so I think it's a good deal.

One of my neighbors who received my business postcard asked yesterday if they could use it for a portrait session. He wants to surprise his family with a nice photo of himself since he often shies away from the camera. "Can you make a guy like me look good?" he asked shyly? You betcha!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Get the Goods: Canon Offers Another Round of Rebates

Canon just released information about yet another round of rebates -- this time for better glass to put on any new bodies you may have purchased during the previous batch of discounts. I snagged my 5D using the rebates that allowed me to take $300 off the camera I now love. Now I've got my eyes on the Canon 24-70 2.8 and this might be the time to invest in it.

I have enjoyed my Sigma 24-70 2.8 for the past year, namely because I think it's a great general use zoom lens. But when I tried to use it on my 5D, I had a devil of a time getting it to focus. I don't know why...maybe it has something to do with incompatibility with the 5D's full sensor. I thought there was something wrong with the lens and it needed to be repaired. On a lark, I tried using it one more time on my Canon XTi, expecting the same results, but the resulting images from the XTi are just gorgeous and extremely sharp! Here is an example of a photo I captured with the Sigma lens during the Denver Zombie Crawl 2008 over the weekend.

Evil Harry Potter

While pleasantly surprised, that still left me without a general use lense for my 5D. :) Looks like the Canon 24-70 will have to be my next purchase, but it might be awhile even with the rebate since it retails from $1,029 to $1,543.

Rebates are valid from Oct. 19 2008- Jan. 17, 2009

EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro = $35 Rebate
EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS = $100 Rebate
EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II = $100 Rebate
EF 17-40mm f/4L = $50 Rebate
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L = $80 Rebate
EF 300mm f/4L IS = $85 Rebate
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L = $90 Rebate
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS = $125 Rebate
EF 70-200mm f/4L IS = $75 Rebate
EF 70-300mm f/3.5-4.5 IS = $50 Rebate
EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 = $50 Rebate
EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 = $70 Rebate
EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro = $30 Rebate
1.4x II Tele-Converter = $25 Rebate
2.0x II Tele-Converter = $25 Rebate
580EX II Speedlite = $50 Rebate
430EX II Speedlite = $30 Rebate
430EX Speedlite = $30 Rebate

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Get the Job Done: Denver Zombie Crawl a Scream!

Those Eyes!, originally uploaded by Sheba Wheeler.

I had a great time last night shooting the 2008 Denver Zombie Crawl. I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard that I had a hard time remembering to push the shutter! Of course yours truly just HAD to get some makeup done, and I'll be sure to post up some of those pics of my face covered in "blood" later. I enjoyed watching others get their makeup completed, as well as hearing the screams of "victims" getting infected by the living dead.

Screaming Victim

I loved the crowd reactions which ranged from freaked out and disgusted to thrilled and amazed.


It was some great tongue-in-cheek fun, with only a few instances of irritation from the Ann Taylor store on the 16th Street Mall. Store clerks were less than pleased when a pair of bloody hand prints were pasted on the storefront's front door.

Bloody Downtown Storefront

It was also a great opportunity to finally meet members from the Digital Photography School social group I created called "The Mile High DPS Group." The turnout was great and group members met up later that night for a quick bite at Dixon's and to share shots. I enjoy being around talented, like-minded photographers, and I can't wait for our next outting. I suggested we shoot Seven Falls in Colorado Springs since several group members drove down from the Springs to attend that Zombie Crawl.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Get Out There: Shooting Denver's Zombie Crawl Tonight!

Shots taken of the 2006 Denver Zombie Crawl by grim

Everybody knows I've got a thing for know, the strong, silent type that like nibble on your ear? ;) Anyways, when the features editor received a press release about the upcoming 3rd Annual Zombie Crawl at the Denver 16th Street Mall, she knew to forward it to my email. I wrote this article about the event and told all of my photo buddies about it so we could arrange another shoot and greet.

As it turned out, I couldn't make it to shoot at Garden of the Gods thanks to a terrible stomach flu that worked it's away around the newsroom, affecting more than half a dozen people. So I can't wait to meet all my new friends from the social networking group I created at the Digital Photography School. So we are meeting at a local coffee house in downtown Denver and then will follow the crawl route, shooting along the way. I want to be able to photography the participants as they are getting ready, putting on makeup and dressing in their "bloody" ripped clothing.

I only have one problem: I can't decide if I want to be a zombie myself or if I want to get "attacked" by putting a giant duct-taped "X" marks the spot on my chest! I could be a zombie photographer...but I worry about my equipment. :)

Saturday Morning Cartoons

Enjoy today's installment of Aaron Johnson's photocentric comic strip "What the Duck." The popular comic is celebrating it's 2nd year anniversary. Congratulations Aaron! And thank you for encouraging me and others to seek comfort in our sense of humor when the ebbs and flows of the photography business threatens to overwhelm us. The comic is available now for syndication as "W.T. Duck," appearing in a local newspaper near you!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Get the Job Done: Anne is Back!


A very cool thing happened to me this morning. I got a message from a very talented model asking me if we could get together to take more photos of her to help build our portfolios. Even though she says she's not a model and she only likes to pretend to be after a glass of wine to tame her shyness, I completely disagree! Anne Filler takes some amazing shots, and having her ask me to shoot her is a great honor.


I met Anne last year during one of my first digital photography classes at the Denver Darkroom with instructor Efrain Cruz, who is now director of Illuminate Photography Workshops. Efrain always ended his classes with an opportunity to shoot a model in studio, and Anne was one of ladies who came up from Colorado Springs to model for us. I will always remember this particular shoot because it was the first time when I really felt brave enough to pose the model myself. Anne was open for pretty much anything, and I had an idea of standing up on a ladder and shooting her from below.


"Look up at me as if you are sultry siren and you are coming to get me!" I said. Yeah, yeah, go ahead and laugh because even I can admit that was extremely cheesy. But look at this amazing shot! It's one of my favorites and is one of the most popular shots on my website. Anne is a dear, and I can't wait to shoot with her again. What's her big idea: "an edgier lingerie shoot with some paint poured all over me!" Bet you wish you could be my assistant for that shoot, don'tcha?!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

From My Portfolio

This little boy must have been the only child at the Denver Food and Wine Classic I covered a few weeks ago at the Auraria Campus. I had so much fun shooting him as he crawled closer and closer to my camera. I was shocked by how un-camera shy this youngster was...until I realized what had captured his attention: my Gary Fong Diffuser!

Even though I wasn't shooting portraits at the outdoor event, I still use my diffuser to soften my fill flash light (plus tons of people seem intrigued by it and are more likely to think I'm a professional!). The large white diffuser captured this little boy's attention as well and made it possible for me to get these great shots of his creamy complexion. He couldn't take his eyes off the diffuser. Hey...whatever works to help you get the memorable shot, I say!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

An Aside: A Case Study in How NOT to Shoot

While visiting the threads on the Digital Photography School forum this morning, I found this great discussion on Crestock's archive of "Today's Worst Image." The Norway-based stock photography site doesn't just post these horrendous photos, but their critiques from the infamous Judge Ross explain in great, useful detail why the images were rejected. At the same time, take advantage of the "Today's Best Image" samples and the critiques given of those stellar images to get tips on how to get the job done right as well as insider clues to what stock agencies are looking for. Here is an example:

"The polar opposite of today's best, this photo succeeds in being both boring and lacking the quality we always look for. Washed out colors and a tedious composition has this coffee mug almost looking like it contains tea, and this is not working in anyone's favor. The colors are washed out and even if this photo had a one of a kind item in it, it would still fail to qualify for our collection."

"Obviously when you have an archive with several hundred thousand images you end up with quite a few duplicates; which works because a client might want certain details in their photo, or just variation in the selection they can make. The challenge lies on the photographers and their ability to think of new ways to take a new photo of an old subject. This twist is quite nice; you've got the silhouette working to a degree where this image almost looks like an illustration while still keeping some of the photo feel. The softness of the lines also works really well to set a nice soothing mood, and had me thinking of a delicious cup of warm coffee. Good job!"

Monday, October 13, 2008

Instructor's Tip: Include Clouds For Impact

REMINDER - No Photo Tip Of The Week next Monday as I'll be getting ready to head to Monument Valley and Capital Reef.

Include Clouds For Impact
Clouds can be integral components of landscape photographs. They provide dramatic color at sunrise and sunset, they take a featureless blue sky and add interest, they cast shadows and highlights upon the environment, and they impart mystery to impending storms. As nice as clear sunrises and sunsets can be, there’s nothing like the drama of color blazen skies or carefully placed cumulous or lenticular clouds. They can often be as important as the key element in the landscape.

FAIR WEATHER: Fair weather clouds add interest to blank blue skies. As mornings progress, fair weather clouds begin to billow. It’s at this point they make the best subjects.

STORM EDGES: As storms draw near, banks of clouds roll in and leave the sky dreary and dull. But right on the cusp of the incoming storm, cloud structures are often quite dramatic. Sometimes seen as cotton ball patterns, they add a lot of drama to images.

RISE + SET: When I run my photo tour to the Oregon coast and there are no clouds in the sky, my tag line is, “The coast is clear.” Yet this is not what I want to say. Shooting into the setting sun with nothing to diffuse its brightness causes flare. It is also associated with a lack of color or drama in the sky. When the right amount of clouds is coupled with clear skies below the horizon, the sky can go electric.


Enjoy this week's "Instructor's Tip" by award winning nature photographer Russ Burden. The photo(s) in this post were taken by Russ Burden. To learn more about how Russ captured this image, join him on one of his photo tours. Visit Russ Burden Photography to get more information.

To take a class with Russ or a fellow Digital Photo Academy instructor in your area, check out the Digital Photo Academy. I took Russ' intermediate and advanced courses last year, and he continues to be a strong source of knowledge and encouragement as I progress in my photography.

Don't forget to check Take Great Pictures for Russ' most recent tips. On the home page, click on the "Photo Tips And Techniques" button in the left hand column. Additionally, check out his "Digital Tip of the Month" found by clicking on the Digital Photography button.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Saturday Morning Cartoons

Enjoy today's installment of Aaron Johnson's photocentric comic strip "What the Duck." I chose this strip to feature on Picture Your World because I think it pretty much explains how Aaron feels about clients offering so-called publicity for a photographer's image instead of paying for their use. I'm guessing he would disagree with me giving free images to Schmap and other companies like it. I think I need to just make a personal policy never to give my images away free again and leave it at that.

Friday, October 10, 2008

This Weekend: Preparing for my First Engagement Photo Session

Last night I booked my first engagement photo session! My contact who helped me secure shooting the National Brotherhood of Skiers summit conference in January referred me to Kim, my new client, who is getting married next year out-of-state. Kim and her fiancee Michael want to have an engagement pictures as well coverage of their engagement party next month here in Denver, and they have asked me to shoot both events.

I'm not worried about the party, as I've had plenty of experience shooting these type of gatherings. I have asked Kim to give me a shot list and assign someone to point out important people to make sure I get photos of all the family members who will be traveling to the party, but probably won't make it to the actual wedding.

But I need to spend this weekend researching how to take engagement photos. In my initial consultation, Kim told me that she and Mike met while skiing in a Slippers-n-Sliders club event. So I definitely loved her idea of trying to recreate the first time they met by dressing them up in ski gear and hoisting their skis. I wish there was some snow on the ground! I also like the idea of shooting them where Mike proposed. And I definitely want to capture the romance and fun of their relationship.

Know any examples of engagement shots you love? Please send them my way so I can check them out. I've also visited several Flickr E-session groups to get some ideas on posing. And I will be hitting my photography books to see what I can find about lighting this situation as well, since we will be holding the session outside.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Get the Job Done: I've been Schmap'ed

Ready for a Bouquet, originally uploaded by Sheba Wheeler.

I got an email today confirming that two of my images (one seen above) has been selected for inclusion in the newly released fifth edition of the Schmap Boulder Guide featuring Eldorado Canyon State Park. The second image featuring Denver street festivals can be seen here.

Schmap also created this widgetized version of the guide to include on my blog.

Several of my trusted colleagues say they have not gotten any exposure from having their photos featured in Schmap, while others on the Flickr forum say the inclusion has led more referrals to their account, although no royalties for using the photo. There also seems to be some controversy over whether anyone should allow Schmap to include their photos without payment as seen in these various Flickr discussions. The jury is still out for me, as this is the first image I've had accepted, and as of yet have not had any other inquiries for purchasing this image. It's also one of the images that is available for sale in the Heidi's Deli in downtown Denver.

What do you think? Is this an instance where a photography shouldn't allow usage of a photo unless they are being paid for it, or is the free exposure payment enough?

An Aside: Interpret this Dream

Last night I dreamt that I was shooting a wedding. The only thing is, I was taking photos with a disposable camera! Everyone kept coming up to me telling me how great the camera was. And they weren't being sarcastic! It was as if I was using some new technology that no one had ever seen before, and everyone was truly impressed. I kept thinking: "This can't be right. Where is my 5D?"

OK, have at it: what the heck does that mean? :)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Get the Job Done: Event Yields Stock Photography Images

I love mojitos!

I was pleasantly surprised after editing my images from the Denver Food and Wine Classic that the event yielded some great shots for my new stock photography portfolio. Even though I don't feel as if stock photography is something I'm very skilled at, I'm always up for the challenge of learning a new skill. I try to keep the concepts of this particular kind of photography in the back of my head at all times, taking advantage of shots when they present themselves. Here are some of my favorites from the event:

Lemons used for making alcoholic beverages

A tower of wine glasses

I don't think this shot would work as stock because you can clearly see the trade name of the wine bottles these stoppers were taken from. But I still love it for it's color and simplicity.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Get Out There: Join Flickr Groups to Improve Your Photography Skills

Caught You Laughing

I happened upon this great Flickr group over the weekend that I wanted to share: "high school senior portraits-living on the creative edge." I joined this group, added several photos to the group pool and have left tons of comments on photos that have simply amazed me because of their quality and creativity. The photos are inspiring and really have great examples of some outstanding, non-traditional senior portraits. It's the kind of direction I want to go with my own senior portrait photography, and I think you can learn from seeing how the best do it better.

Flickr is fast becoming a key resource for advertisers to seek out (or troll, however you see it) new talent. But at it's heart of hearts, Flickr is still about connecting with other photographers, sharing your work with as many people as you can, earning accolades and constructive criticism, and getting ideas to make your own photography stand out. Take advantage of this resource by uploading your own photos and joining groups.

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