Blog Archive

Breakfast Blend: What Are We Thinking?!

Ever wonder what is going through a photographer's mind during a wedding shoot? When we are shooting a wedding -- which is really a series of portrait and candid sessions strung together in different weather conditions and lighting scenarios -- our minds are constantly evaluating our surroundings, seeking out light sources, playing with different camera settings in our head and eventually, pressing the shutter release. 

For example, take this image:

Believe it or not, I didn't pull over on the side of the road when I saw a beautiful bride sitting (posing) on a vintage bench, with a backdrop of our wondrous Connecticut forest behind her. We made this shot. Here's what had to happen:

  1. We were shooting inside a house, so step one was checking out the property to see what we had at our disposal for a bridal portrait session. 
  2. While documenting the getting ready process, I knew I would have about 5-10 minutes alone with the bride, so I started thinking about where we could shoot. Inside by a window? Outside in front of some trees? about we exercise some creative freedom here...let's mix some natural surroundings with our own limited "props" to achieve a certain feel.
  3. Speaking of "feel", how did we know that we wanted an outdoorsy-chic shot? Well, for one, our wonderful bride (Shannon) is really laid back and was up for anything. Secondly, her dress was Anthropologie, which has an organic/natural style. Thirdly, the whole wedding was outdoors at a stunning lodge, so it just made sense.
  4. I saw the bench when taking detail images earlier in the morning, and with Anthropologie on my mind, I asked permission to bring it outdoors set it against this idyllic backdrop of a garden, fence and forest.
  5. Now we had to determine the shot...which lens? Lighting? What about posing? It doesn't just fall together. I wanted a normal angle of view, not too wide, not too close. So 50mm it is, shot fairly wide open. I wanted the background, but I didn't want to lose Shannon in it. I also didn't want to just blur the background out and lose the appeal of the green in contrast to the ivory/cream dress.
  6. Lighting: I opted not to use off-camera strobes for this image because it felt a bit counter to the whole "natural vibe" I was going for. 
  7. Pose: comfortable but stylish. Nothing extreme. Added some dynamics to the shot by giving her whole body a slant that has her looking off-frame. The pose prior to this, she was leaning forward and looking off the other side of the frame and it wasn't quite the feel I wanted. She crossed her legs on her own and I think it showed off the fabric of the dress perfectly.

So that's what it took to get the shot, in camera. Then we processed it in Lightroom with VSCO Kodak 100++ tweaked and added some light particles for texture. This isn't the exact image I gave her, because the light particles would have been over the top, but I added them later when doing some digital advertising, I felt like it added a nice touch without being gaudy. 

So there you have it...lots of though all going into one image! Feel free to ask any questions in the comments...

- Nate

Breakfast Blend: Catalysts and Constancy

While speaking with a friend recently, we juxtaposed the popular trend of being a catalyst with the need for more people who value constancy. The difference is this: it is very easy to be a catalyst. When considering the years of effort and sweat it takes to grow a vision, it's relatively easy to start something and leave it for other people to wrap up. What we lack in our culture of immediate gratification is people of constancy; individuals who are regarded not only for their vision and drive, but their dependability and resolution. We need more people willing to go beyond casting a vision; people who will go through boredom, stress and obstacles to protect the infantile dream, letting it mature and strengthen into a movement. We need less starters and more finishers. 

This is true for your business and your goals as an individual and as a family. This is true for your faith and your friends. Don't just start reading a book, finish it. Don't just make a marketing plan, execute it. Don't just plan to do things with your kids, do them. As you watch these visions grow into reality, you just might find yourself growing as well, and those dreams you once thought were fantasy start to look reachable. Be a person who values constancy. 

Here are some examples of my photographic/business goals over the next year. This is part of the plan of becoming a person of constancy: 

  • Slow down: weddings are fast, and we never want to interrupt the flow of the day, but as much as possible we want to be a source of confidence for our clients. We also want to be intentional about the images we make. I don't want to rush through every moment, scrambling to fill my CF cards. In every situation, I want to consider, compose and capture. 
  • Follow though on marketing goals: I don't have a large marketing budget. Scratch that. I don't have a marketing budget. This means that I need to make the best use of free marketing in order to showcase my work and attract new clients. Social media, face-to-face networking, above average service and amazing images are free ways to meet marketing goals. 
  • Network: In a popular art form like photography, there is much to learn from our peers. I plan to assist and work alongside other talented and passionate photographers in the area. 
  • Find creative outlets: I want to continue to push my creative brain by experimenting with new methods and images. 

What are some ways you can move beyond being a catalyst and demonstrate constancy in your own life?


Embrace the Leak

We bought a house this past summer and absolutely love having our own space. We repurposed antique drawers and used them as shelves. We found restored end tables to sit aside our couches and added character and personality to every corner of our home (except for the playroom which looks like Toy R Us and the McDonald's ball pit made an explosive love child). 

It's been mostly amazing. I say mostly because, since moving in, we've broken one window, put a hole in a wall, had a water leak from the bathroom go through all three levels, scratched and dented door frames, lost one dryer, and today, our roof started leaking. So…yes, just mostly amazing, but amazing nonetheless.

Not to fear though, because there's a lesson to be learned in all of this (I had to come up with something otherwise I'd be soaking my keyboard with anguished tears of betrayal). At some point, we need to make something our own, whether it's a home, a passion or a career. The only problem is that once we leave the protection and insulation of condo living, our dreams and efforts face broken windows and leaky rooftops. Problems arise and you may wonder what, exactly, you were thinking going out on your own. It would have been easier to stay back and watch everyone else give it a shot, right? Sure. Easier but not better.

There is a time for condo living, for watching, for weighing your options and learning how the world turns, but at some point you will need to jump. Yes, there's risk involved and you'll need to have faith. You'll need to believe and work and be fearless. But it's worth it, I promise you. When you own something and put your sweat and blood into it, you are building a legacy and contributing your uniqueness to the world. We need you to be one of the few who take that leap. 

I don't regret choosing to be a homeowner because of a leaky roof. I don't regret being a photographer because of a saturated market. I don't regret choosing the family life with a beautiful wife and two children who I adore even though the stained couches and late nights require divinely imparted perseverance.  I don't regret these things because it's in our nature to take something and make it ours. It's our responsibility to give our utmost to make this world a better place, a more beautiful place, and we can't do that by waiting for the moment when everything gets easier so we can leave the comfort of our cave. 

So, with all that said, I encourage you to embrace the leaky roof and discover what you really have to offer. By the way, all of these crazy things that come along with a life well lived are good, temporary, and always have solutions. Expect setbacks but persevere and don't fear, you're never alone!