Trying Something Different


For this blog post I want to talk about personal projects and exploring new forms of photography. I love being out in the scary unknown places that other photographers might try to avoid. I used to stay safely in my comfort zone but when I ventured outside of that safe place I grew as a photographer and I became considerably more creative not just behind my camera but in Photoshop as well.

I think it’s pretty easy to find safety in our photography. When I became serious about my location portrait work I quickly discovered it was anything but safe. My success as a photographer comes from being completely comfortable whenever I’m in a situation filled with challenges. I have confidence and I’m able to show leadership to my team and whoever is in front of my camera no matter what complications a location throws at me. To be at my best in these situations I embrace the unknown and put myself into new photographic situations as often as possible.

To get more comfortable with new situations I like to give myself personal projects and I like to get creative for the last shot of a shoot that is completely different from what I’ve done in the past.¬†For this blog entry I want to share the story about an “end of the shoot” image that wasn’t like any shot I’ve ever taken.

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Photographing a Wine Bottle


Part of my recent engagement photo shoot with Tom and Julie involved some very special wine bottles. You see, Tom used two bottles of wine he had made with custom labels including one that was his marriage proposal.

While planning the shoot we talked about using the bottles in a few shots but I also knew that these bottles had plenty of potential for other uses (like save the date mailers). So when the shoot ended Tom and Julie agreed to leave their special wine bottles in my care so that I could give them a proper photo shoot. But like all product photography, getting a killer shot of a wine bottle is a lot trickier than it sounds. For this blog entry I’ll talk a bit about the challenges I faced, my solutions to common problems, and I’ll share my thoughts on this unique form of photography along with some behind the scenes looks into my product photography area.

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Engagement Shoot


Recently I had a great engagement photo shoot with Tom and Julie. I had a few ideas and I knew that they had some ideas as well. Together we put together a nice mix of traditional studio pictures, some outdoor shots and some really fun shots. For this blog post I’ll share some pictures from the shoot and I’ll talk about the process I go through when I’m photographing new clients.

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Disney World Memories (part 1)


My 2012 Disney World vacation is just a few days away now. By this time Saturday I’ll be on a plane with my wonderful girlfriend, Deb, and Orlando will be our destination. For seven days I’ll be seeing as much as possible and doing my best to relax at the happiest place on Earth.

This will be my fourth year visiting Disney World and it never seems to get old for me. Every year I bring home pictures and after years of photographing the big iconic touristy stuff I’m planning to capture more of the smaller details this year. But before I leave I thought I’d take a few minutes to share some pictures from last years trip. Looking at these pictures always brings a smile to my face.

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Different ways I use flash gels


People that have known me for a while know how much I enjoy using shoe mount flashes to get different looks for my photography. While I often share my wilder shots I’m happy to report that I can take shots without flashes, light modifiers and colored gels. In fact, when I’m shooting for clients I start with simple shots and when I’m certain that I have shots that they’re happy with I’ll see if there’s some interest in pushing things into more creative places. Most of the time my photo subjects have grown comfortable enough with me near the end of a shoot that they’re willing to try some different lighting setups to see where the shoot goes.

To get different looks I’m big on using flash modifiers like grids, barn doors, softboxes and colored gels. I use velcro straps from Honl Photo and LumiQuest and I use gels from Flash Zebra, GAM and Honl Photo. I take a ton of gels with me on a shoot and to keep things organized I’m using Case Logic CD cases (I picked mine up for about $5 each at my local Best Buy). For this blog entry I want to talk about colored gels and some of the different ways that I like to use them on a shoot.

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My photo shoot with Jordan


Recently I was asked to photograph a good friends dog, Jordan, who is getting older and having some health problems.

Shoots like this are crazy important to me and before the shoot I’m spending a lot of time thinking about how I’m going to get the best shot possible. No tool or technique is off limits for shoots like this.

When the time came to have the shoot we chose an outdoor farm location to give us plenty of options. While I definitely wanted to get some outdoor shots I also knew that I’d need some studio style shots to get the images I had in mind. So I packed up my gear and arrived on location to set up a mobile studio in one of the buildings on the farm.

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the Cape Lookout Lighthouse


On a recent vacation to the coast of North Carolina I had a chance to visit the Lighthouse at Cape Lookout (located on the Cape Lookout National Sea Shore). I’ve been sharing some pictures from my trip on my social media sites like Google+ and Facebook but I thought I’d compile some of my favorite shots from my trip into a single page along with a few facts and some history I learned while I was there.

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Dusk Photography (with Flash)


Location photography is all about showing your environment and making it look like someplace others want to visit. Location portraiture is all about getting great portraits and including a cool background (but not letting the environment dominate the shot). An easy way to get killer shots (and tone down the background in your portraits) is to shoot early in the morning or really close to sunset. Having a little less brightness in your background lets you bring out your own lights to take control of your final shot.

Whenever I walk into a location shoot I start by looking around and trying to figure out the story I want to tell with my final image. Sometimes I see my shot immediately and sometimes I have to search a bit to find my image. The bottom line is that you have to look past what’s in front of you and think about what it could become. For this blog entry I’ll be talking about how I get into the mindset of finding my shot and how I work through the process of setting up a shot using small flashes.

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Photographing Hummingbirds


Where I live in northern Virginia I see a lot of wildlife “in the wild”. In late spring/early summer I see lots of birds, owls and butterflies right in my yard. Outside of my office window I have a Mimosa tree and it really attracts the various winged creatures. I’m not what I would consider a wildlife photographer but I do enjoy taking pictures of animals. This year I’ve been seeing lots of hummingbirds so I thought I’d try my luck at getting some hummingbird shots. I learned quickly that this kind of photography is a huge challenge and with this blog entry I’ll talk a bit about how I got my shots and the camera settings I used.

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