Had the distinct pleasure of capturing Steven’s surprise proposal! It warms my heart to see true romantics still out there. Congratulations to you both as you start the next chapter in your lives with this blessed day!
For Brides shopping around for a photographer, this is a quick read. One that doesn’t even factor in video. It has a note saying they had their uncle who is a professional videographer tape it, and wiped out the whole tape. <<my heart breaks>> Read the article here.
Had the pleasure of working with Mindy’s Dance Center on yet another awesome commercial. They are offering summer camps for a second year in an expanded capacity. It was a success year one and now we are going to fill those extra spaces!
Someday I’m going to make a visual graphic that depicts my life. Where my time goes, where my income comes from. Where I want to be, where I’ve been. This the analytical side of me yelling out. I’ve been blessed with drive and ability to end up in a decent position. My freelance business has been growing for nearly a decade, my job-job has never been better and my lovely bride is at the job where she wanted to be for years.
I’ve heard the term lifestyle design thrown around in podcasts and it sounds like the gist is this. Design the lifestyle you want to live first. Then find the work that fits that lifestyle and live happily ever after entering the Zen mentality forever. This sounds like pie in the sky to me, however, in the position I have worked so hard to get into… maybe some life design is in my cards.
Why I retired from second shooting.
Nothing is more valuable to a wedding photographer than the experience of second shooting. Personally I did it for years, not because I was unsure of my ability to be the lead photographer, but because I knew of the post processing time I would feel necessary to put in. As a perfectionist, I can’t let photos go to client that ‘could be more’ even if it’s a photo the couple will just flip by in their album. Second shooting was a way to really get creative, enhance my experience, learn something new every wedding and at the end of the day I made a decent check, handed over the raw files to the lead photographer and was finished!
Then the blessing of twins came along for my wife and me. In no time they started sleeping through the night! Going to bed at 6pm no less. Working my 8-4 job that meant during the week I was seeing my kids only about two, two and a half hours a weekday. Then when the weekend would come, Nick would be off to shoot a wedding. There goes virtually half of the time with my children. While the money was good, I can’t buy time.
By dropping 12-16 second shooting gigs a year, the income can be replaced by 3-4 bookings as the lead photographer (or videography). So if income is a push then the result is 9-12 Saturdays free up. Yes, this should add a few weeks’ worth of post-production, but as I said, the kiddos go to bed at 6pm and my wife a couple hours later.
This went into effect six months ago and it has been fantastic. I spent some time focusing on getting new clients and have exceeded the bookings to replace the income.
Why I am blacking out Memorial Day starting THIS year.
If the first sacrifice was for my children, this sacrifice is for my bride. When we were dating I made a promise to show her the world. For our honeymoon we went to Australia, New Zealand and stayed in San Francisco for a few day while on the way home. Anniversaries were spent in Europe, New York, Colorado and the list continues.
Just like a high percentage of Americans, our anniversary falls on Memorial Day weekend. May and June are by far my busiest months, literally a third to half of my business income falls in those sixty days. So it goes without saying those days are precious to my business. And one weekend is even more precious to my marriage. Therefore, unless the gig is a $5,000+ budget, I am closed on Memorial Day… indefinitely.
Last week I was one of the local ‘celebrities’ to read to a Bradley Elementary class. My sister is the teacher and I figured they were hard up for readers since they were asking me. I film all their recitals as a volunteer service and the DVDs are duplicated at no charge so the kids *might* know who I am.
At the beginning of the event, all of the speakers introduced themselves, told what book they were reading and to which class. This was done in front of the entire school. Not a problem for me, until the ex-Kansas City Royal introduced himself. Great, now I’m just the photographer guy. Then the coach at St. Mary’s, then the owner of Play Bounce Jump (the mecca for kids in the area). So, to try and keep the energy going I pulled power from the good ol’ George Lucas.
I was reading a Star Wars book. Throwing in “for all the STAR WARS LOVERS” into my spiel turned out to give me some cred.
I don’t advertise it much but over the last year, I’ve been getting a decent amount of videographer work where I’m JUST the videographer. This is a treat because the subject matter is always new and refreshing. While I do offer complete package deals (where editing is also included) it’s nice to only wear one hat every now and again.
If you are looking for a videographer in the Kansas City area, please contact me for my day and half-day rates. I have a list of clients whom have asked me to work on things ranging from a basic interview set, corporate training, messages from CEOs and to sometimes just b-roll highlights.
Typically these type gig’s call for three point lighting, superb audio (I use Sennheiser G3 wireless lavs) and HD video. I mainly use a PMW-EX1 but sometimes utilize the Canon 5D Mark III with L-series lenses.
I look forward to helping you with your video projects!
Focus on Lighting Photos by Fil Hunter and Robin Reid, part of the focus on the fundamentals series.
What a gem of a book. For those who have the basics of photography down and are ready to move up from the “I’m a natural light photographer” this is the best book to hold your hand in the process. I love shooting off camera flash… I consider the Speedliter’s Handbook: Learning to Craft Light with Canon Speedlites to be THE book for people wanting to hone their skills. But just like all things in photography there are MANY levels to understanding your flash. I am going to highly recommend Focus On Lighting Photos: Focus on the Fundamentals (Focus On Series) as a first read.
It’s a quick read with crystal clear language. I will be looking for more advanced books by the authors because their ability to not deviate from the SUBJECT OF THE BOOK is fantastic. **so many books try to cover too much and go down too many different paths they get muddled. This is not the case here, bravo!
I picked up some pretty cool tips that I’ll be sharing with my entry level photography students! 5 stars!
Extremely humbled to receive a handful of awards from Pixoto.com, a global photography competition site. Two photos won Best of 2012 (top 5%), one from my associate photographer, Cory, that got in top 10% and I had SEVEN in the top 20%.
These are all wedding photos and if you sort by photographer ‘rank’ I am currently #61 in THE WORLD! Very cool stuff! I only started posting in the last half of 2012! Looking forward to rising in the ranks in 2013
Contact me if you are interesting in booking me for your special day!
A friend and up and coming videographer asked me the other day, “What inspires you?”
There are absolute answers but they feel cliché. Mother Nature, human creations and God’s work all inspire me of course. The beauty of a sunset, the architecture of the ancient Romans and the love between a Bride and her Groom the first time they see each other at their wedding… While these answers are absolutely true, it’s almost a ‘softball’ answer that a politician would give… you know, “I think babies are great!” (…OF COURSE you do!)
Giving the question some thought, I came up with two individuals whom I consider an inspiration to my freelancing career.
In an era where everyone seems to be a ‘professional’ photographer, Briana Gray of Shades of Gray Photography is a model professional. Her passion and drive to grow a successful business is not only standing the test of time but is flourishing, even in what many are experiencing as a very difficult economy. I shot with Briana when she just started out in the wedding business and remember her willingness to learn and take the next steps in her business. I believe that she and I have always been great photographers but she excelled at vision where I excelled at the techy side. This combination of skills helped create amazing photographs for many couples. Unfortunately, to “make it” as a business, amazing photographs are not enough. Sadly any artist must be more than an artist. They must be business minded and have courage to take risks. This year Briana’s husband retired from his work to focus more on Shades of Gray with Briana and that, to me, is a significant next chapter for their business. Congratulations Briana!
I hope that Briana always remembers me as her ‘geek’ and I will always view her as a photographer with drive, passion, and courage.
On to my second inspiration… If you have enough uncles, you have the experience of the world…
The other person who has played a monumental role in my freelance life is my Uncle Dave. Dave worked as a DJ when I was in middle school so instantly he was a cool uncle. He moved to television when I was in Jr. High and in my sophomore year he helped with a project that would change my life. In chemistry we were assigned to do a written report with an accompanying oral presentation and some sort of visual. The subject: one element from the periodic table, my element was nitrogen. I wrote the report, did the oral presentation, and asked for an extension on my visual aid… after all, it was going to be a short film!! This was 1995, when MOBILE phones didn’t even have digital signals and the word digital itself wasn’t even used in video. We shot on tapes man! I got my storyboard, shot my b-roll, did my interviews and needed a way to make it all… happen. Enter Uncle Dave, the use of Fox studios in Tulsa, and a 6 hour day over Thanksgiving break. We did visual effects, music editing, graphics, cut everything together and out came a 6 minute video that would be my first real video project. The seed was planted. I hope it was at least a little fun for Dave and not ‘work’ because it was like going to Disney World for me.
I ended up going into college as a triple major in accounting, economics and finance. Three subjects that I really do enjoy, but two and a half years into school I switched majors to Commercial Graphics. When I called Dave to tell him, his response, ‘Oh thank God.’ And in that instance, I realized he never, not once, questioned my original choice in majors.
Uncle Dave has worked with TV stations, worked on a feature film, and now for the past few years has been enjoying life making music videos in Dallas. When you talk to him, you hear the passion and excitement in his voice that we should all aspire to have about our careers.
If it weren’t for you Uncle Dave, I’d be working in a cubical on some company’s taxes.
Occasionally a bride or groom has an idea of a shot that they want to try.
For this wedding I was hired by Shades of Gray to lead, Briana was already booked for the wedding day so she asked me to lead the shoot. We all met months before the wedding and had a great time talking about Nick + Lea, Shades of Gray and my work.
Part of the conversation was about setting up/posing for my signature shots. As an example I talked about a previous shot which had a Goodfellas style and Nick loved that idea. Nick suggested Fidel’s Cigar shop in Westport Kansas City, MO for the setting. I called them to make sure everything would be cool. Talked with Scott and wanted to become a smoker myself. Such a great guy and fantastic shop.
When talking about the concept I did not realize there were going to be thirteen people in the shot! Logistics instantly became an issue. Thankfully a few customers were very cooperative in letting us take over the store for a minute. I decided illuminating the wall behind me would be the best option for the room. Had a second flash being held by an assistant firing as well.
Overall very happy with how this shot turned out and more importantly the groom was a big fan!