Memory card strategy on the wedding day

A wedding photographer friend asked me about my strategy with memory cards.

In a perfect world, you have a camera with two memory slots. I’m not sure all the models that do and don’t but my camera of choice does, the 5D Mark III. This might be something to consider when looking at your next camera upgrade.

What I do, is put in a 64GB SD card shooting either full or medium RAW. This has priority over the other slot for deleting/rating (more on that later). Then a backup JPEG going to the 32GB, normally full-JPEG. I prefer SanDisk or Sony. A 64GB Sandisk is only $35 and free shipping on Amazon Prime. Pretty hard to beat that deal.

I have shoot to the SD because they are more affordable. CF cards are still a bit pricier. A 32GB CF card is around $40-70.

If your camera only has one memory card slot, like most cameras. Two choices:

  1. A BIG card; the 64GB is my choice. RISK: If that card fails… you lose EVERYTHING.
  2. Another choice is a handful of 8GB cards. Then I’d say keep them in their original cases. Right pocket “all- RIGHT- to use” Left pocket = “LEFT alone.” If you have tossed the original cases in the trash, get a multi card case. Here is a case that is water resistant and holds both CF and SD cards –, for $20, which is pretty cheap. I prefer the hard cases vs the soft ones.

Another overall strategy I recommend; rating your photographs in camera instead of culling them down. At some point you will accidentally delete a photo while culling and rating them instead protects you from that mistake. I rate the delete photos as 1-star and the signature shots as 5-stars. When I get home I copy everything form the SD card to my computer, then again to an external hard drive. In Adobe Bridge (or Lightroom if you prefer) I then move all 1-star photos to a folder titled, you guessed it, 1-star. This is a very conservative approach but I do not see a down side. Rating photos is just as quick as deleting them, not to mention if you want to do a sneak peak, boom, just use your 5-star rated photos.

This post was created with wedding photography in mind, but honestly I use this method for everything, family photography, senior photos, event photography, etc.

Hope this was helpful!


Anndrina + Michael Wedding Photography

We were blessed with a VERY beautiful day in the middle of June to shoot this wedding. Temp didn’t get above 80 and there was cloud cover! To top it all off, we were photographing this wedding in my hometown Leavenworth, KS! When we got to JW Cancers for the reception I was delighted to see JF Productions was our DJ!

Jeremiah and I have worked a handful of weddings together (highly recommended btw) and when we had a minute to ‘talk shop’ I made a comment about the hours I spend in Photoshop making my ‘signature’ shots. While looking at a quick preview on my camera he so politely said, “Why would you even need to open this in Photoshop?!” That is a huge complement… and while I could have delivered the photo straight out of camera, I thought I’d share a little of my post production work.Leavenworth wedding photographyAnother example is taking this wedding dress shot taken by my assistant, Ali (who does great work!), and taking what was already a fantastic shot and putting the effort into creating one of my signature pieces.

Wedding dress shot in Leavenworth, ks post production from a raw photo to a mastered shot.There is a small glimpse into my world of wedding photography AFTER the big day! Most vendor’s the work is done when the guest leave the reception… for me, it’s just the beginning! For a larger sneak peek of this wedding please visit (and like!) my Facebook page!


Lifestyle design… the first two steps

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.

Best of 2012 wedding photography at Pixoto!

Extremely humbled to receive a handful of awards from, 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!

the fellas

the fellas is a photograph taken at Fidel's Cigar Shop in Kansas City, MO 64111. The groom heard about a photo I was part of in a previous wedding and wanted to take aspects from that and add to it by putting the setting in the cigar shop. Major thank you to Scott at Fidel's for being so extremely kind.

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 lovFidel's cigar shoped 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!


Upgrading gear: from Mark II to the 5D Mark III

Canon is taking preorders for the new EOS camera, the long awaited Mark III…
and I am in line.

I’ve been waiting for the Mark III for nearly a year and will say the specs and price leave me a bit disappointed. So why upgrade when I love my Mark II?

Being a videographer and photographer there are a few cameras that have come out in the past 6 months. The 5D Mark III, 1Dx and the Scarlet were all on my radar. Convinced I was going to either purchase the Scarlet or the Mark III put me in a mental position for a large gear purchase.

The Scarlet would have been a massive upgrade over the EX1, but did not make the cut due to price point and no hot-swapping of cards. **I’ve worked with a Scarlet and it is every bit amazing as dreamed!

There are great specs on the Mark III but fell short on a few things I really wanted to see. No RAW video (the main attraction on the Scarlet). It has the same slow motion capability. No GPS built in.

The things I like are the larger LCD, anyone that has upgraded cameras that were not the same size knows how valuable a quarter of an inch is. Dual card slots are very attractive to me. 61-points of focus is great (note that is an increase of 52!!). Multiple exposures improved but I can’t find how many shots… I’m assuming it’s more than 3, hoping for 7! Silent shutter mode will be nice for weddings! Increased video run time from 12 minutes to 30 minutes, this is actually a pretty big deal to me.  And thank you for keeping the same batteries!

I approach upgrades VERY business minded. From the measurable specs (i.e. dual card slots, 3.2” screen,…) they are worth maybe $500 to me. Having a new camera body, for ME, is another $500ish. The cost is $3,500, minus the $1,000 in upgrades leaves me with a delta of $2,500 to justify. I will sell my 5D Mark II but there will still be a significant price gap to justify for my ‘business mind’!

Without experience with the DIGIC5+, new CMOS, and iFCL Metering I am making this decision… hopefully those three things blow me away!

So, why upgrade? Because I “want” to. Occasionally I need to check my ‘business’ mind at the door and open the “creative” hobbyist and that guy, passed on the 1Dx, passed on the Scarlet, and loves new gear and photography.

Now booking wedding dates! *smile*

Wedding Photography post work

This wonderful couple had their wedding day on July 29, 2011 at the James P. Davis Hall (Wyandotte County Lake) in Kansas City, KS. Jake and Bonnie planned for the perfect amount of time for Bride and Groom photos. This is where I love landing that ‘signature’ shot! Certainly found my signature shot and went to work in post-production.

The all-important capture! You want to try and get as much of the photo right at the time you click the shutter. Full disclosure, I am a pixel punishing Photoshop ninja. This day was a very bright (and extremely hot) day. In order to try and balance the exposure I fired an off camera flash to avoid creating a silhouette. The pose we were going for mixed with the temperature meant I wanted to spend as few minutes here as possible! Some shots had better exposure but this was my favorite out of the camera. I’m not entirely happy with the photo out of the camera… I began the pixel pushing! Thank you RAW!

Nick Schale Photographer - Wedding photo post work

First step was to bring out the sky, it’s over exposed. This was done by creating a LARGE adjustment brush, and getting the sky how I wanted it, popped the saturation a bit and erased over the mask over the couple. Then I added a few gradient maps to pull focus even more towards the couple. Created another adjustment brush for the dress, removing the blue overcast which kept it a more pure white! The tux being black needed a slight adjustment, trying to restore some detail in the dark shadows. I then put a lowering exposure gradient on the grass. Then I did some spot healing as the aperture was pretty small, so there were some dust spots, small, but they bug me. The result without firing up Photoshop below.

Nick Schale Photographer Kansas City - After CameraRAW processing

This photo could stand as is. In fact I did put it out for a few photographer’s critiques. As anticipated the rock in the foreground dominated the feedback. While I love putting something in the foreground in landscapes, this was about the couple and ultimately was distracting. So, I removed the rock and actually cropped down out a bit of the grass. This crop changed the layout too much for me, moving the couple too far to the left. I then created a small sliver to add to the left of the photograph, putting the couple at a ‘rule-of-thirds’ intersection.

Nick Schale Photography - Kansas City - Step Three, Photoshop

The final image (click it for larger resolution)

Nick Schale Kansas City Wedding Photographer Demo

See a few other photos from this wedding on my Facebook page: Link

Jodi and William Wedding (reception) Photography

I was honored to be the wedding photographer for Jodi and William’s wedding reception held in Northeastern Missouri. Jodi had a great idea: re-creating a photo of her grandparents had taken on a bridge. We unfortunately didn’t have the exact bridge but William found a very suitable match while scouting the area. Since the couple is from San Francisco, they took a picture of the picture and emailed it to me; I instantly thought this was going to be a pleasure.

On the day of the event we made the bridge photo a priority… with a copy of the original photo on my phone held up, we repositioned Jodi and William, a little here and a little there. “Jodi don’t smile” Click.Wedding Photograph re-created!

Both the newlywed couple and I were very pleased with the final product! Oh, and we also took some photos for their grandchildren to recreate. Enjoy!

Wedding Photograph Samples from Jodi and William's reception!