Cyber Monday is here! Save 60% on Workshops and Courses!

We have massive savings in our storefront and we don’t want you to miss this opportunity to get one of our available tools for 60% off that can change your business forever that is 100% guaranteed! Visit the storefront now! The Hottest Selling Items: Buy The Store If you want to have a thriving business that gives you a great income and every tool you need to shoot incredible images, then you need this bundle. It will give you everything you need to know to take your shooting & business to the next level. Includes: The Complete Wedding Course ($500 value) The 6-Figure Business Course ($500 value) IN-CAMERA: Light ($249 value) IN-CAMERA: Natural Light ($249 value) Lighting Fast Post-Production ($249 value) Reception Lighting Made Easy ($249 value) Harvest Business Workshop Studio Lighting Made Easy ($249 value)  Save 70% off the regular price of $2,495 and get all of this for just $849! BONUS! Includes a 90 day FREE trial of ShootFlow, The Proven Workflow Solution! ($87 value) Grab the bundle now! The Complete Wedding Course (NEW!) The Complete Wedding Course is almost here (early spring 2017)! Follow us along on an entire REAL wedding shot LIVE in Nashville, TN! Walk with us in incredible HD footage as we guide you through our entire approach to photographing amazing images no matter what type of wedding day you are dealt. BONUS! Includes a 90 day FREE trial of ShootFlow, The Proven Workflow Solution! This Complete Wedding Course will cover: All aspects of the wedding day (getting ready, portraits, ceremony, reception, lighting, locations, posing, cameras and lenses and more) Interaction with their clients to get the best images possible Controlling the wedding day schedule to... Read More

We just lost an entire wedding’s images!

…I am sooo glad that we have never had to say this! :) Now that we have your attention though, read on so that YOU never say this to a client.     “I treat my back-up process like a new baby. Never drop it just because I’m tired!“ – Zach Gray Let’s talk back-up systems and why the system you choose to use will either make you and your clients happy while keeping your precious images safe, or why it will potentially cause a MASSIVE problem in your business that you might not recover from. Even if you don’t shoot weddings, it does not mean that you can re-shoot something if you lose images. We had a friend who shot a senior session, and 2 weeks later the senior passed away. That may not ever happen to you, but it is just good practice to do everything within our power as a photographer to protect and back up images each and every time we shoot. Here is our system:  Step #1 – Download the Safest Way Possible     I first download all the images using the SD cards ONLY from my Canon 5d3. I use the SD cards because they only have a contact plate instead of 16 pins (like in your CF card) and there is less chance of breaking something when it is removed from the camera. I only download them in the office on a quality, Lexar USB 3 card reader that never leaves my office. It never leaves the office because the reader or the cables it uses can be damaged during travel, which gives you a higher chance... Read More

…and the point is??

Have you ever asked yourself the question, “What in the world am I doing here and why am I doing this?” “There are far more activities and opportunities in the world than we have time and resources to invest in. And although many of them may be good, or even very good, the fact is that most are trivial and few are vital.” -Greg Mckeown, Essentialism What am I focused on? As I (Zach) was on a four hour flight from Nashville to Las Vagas for WPPI two weeks ago, I was reading Essentialism by Greg Mckeown. In his book he asks, “What is your highest point of contribution?” … In essence he’s asking, “What is the one thing that actually matters more in your life and business?” When I took a moment to answer this question something very interesting happened to me… I had no answer. I sat for about 30 minutes pondering what my highest point of contribution was in our business. Still, I didn’t know what it was. Jody and I were headed out to the biggest wedding and portrait convention in the USA to teach, speak, lead workshops and connect with the people and companies that we work with, and this question kept nagging me… WHY are we here and WHAT are we doing this for?  Do you ever find yourself asking that question? Spread too thin Oftentimes our lives are so busy just trying to stay afloat with our shoots, clients, spouse, kids, grocery runs, managing the books, cleaning, and just LIFE that it’s hard to have time to focus on what’s really important. Sometimes we... Read More

Did you miss the big announcement?

Are you a wedding photographer looking to get your life back? ​ Instead of trying to figure out the best system to keep your clients happy, organized, and energized to tell all their friends about you, wouldn’t it be awesome to just HAVE the perfect system? This is exactly what we have been working on, just for you. For more information you can sign up HERE. Watch our videos that released last week sharing more about this exciting piece of software! The #1 Question Photographers Ask   The Biggest Pain You Face as a Photographer   What it Really takes to Succeed   PS. Shootflow will go into Beta soon, and we are only taking a very limited amount of sign-ups when it launches, so if you want it, sign up... Read More

How to create a Painterly Effect on your Images

I (Zach) have been asked a few times why some of my images or backgrounds have a painted look and how I create that effect. Today, I am going to show you how to do it. The Artists Just 3 days ago, I photographed the Matt & Ben from Likewise near my house in Franklin, TN. We are updating their promo shots and  getting them a cover shot for a new single. We had a stellar day with some blue skies and some nice clouds, and even though the direction of the shoot was not necessarily that style, we wanted to capture a few images of it all. Sometimes you want to go in one direction for a shoot, but something else you do ends up being the favorite from the day. Getting the Painted Look We then headed to this spot that had a nice open view of the afternoon sky and set up. The reason that the images have a “painted” look, is 3 fold which I will break down for you.   Key 1. Large Light Source (image of the 59 inch Zeppelin Modifier used for this shoot to give you an idea of the size) Many of you know this and we preach it all the time, but the larger the light source the softer the light. What I sometimes forget to mention, is that large, soft light looks like it is Painted On to your subject because of the way it creates beautiful (soft) transitions between highlight and shadow. Small light sources create much harsher shadow lines and therefore looks much more “flashy” and a lot less painted.... Read More

Reduce Your workflow with Custom White Balance

Last week we posted a blog talking about 3 ways to cut your workflow time in half. One key area we talked about was finding bottle necks that slow down your editing. One of the BIGGEST time suckers in editing other than retouching, is adjusting exposure and color in all of your images. Today, we are going to help you reduce the amount of time you spend doing that by around 90%! How? Read on if you are ready to get your life back!   How the Camera Thinks   A question we get asked a lot is how do we get vibrant colors and consistency while shooting thousands of images during a shoot. The best way that we have found to get awesome color in our shots is to custom white balance our cameras. Digital cameras are designed to understand color and exposure the best when they are given a baseline to work off of, which is 18% grey. When you give 18% grey to your camera (correctly exposed) and “tell” the camera that you did so, the camera then can easily make all the other colors in that particular lighting scenario become much more true to reality. Your whites become true white, your red becomes red, and so forth. Exposure Nailed Because the camera works off of the 18% grey baseline for color and exposure, you can also grab your perfect exposure at the same time that you are getting your color! This is awesome because in one simple process (for most shooting in any live scenario), we can grab exposure and color in about 3 seconds or... Read More

3 Essential Steps to Cutting your workflow time in HALF!

If you do what we tell you to do in this post, YOU can cut your editing workflow time in HALF. Find that hard to believe? Read on if you dare. : )      It is hard to have someone tell you to change your workflow. After all, it’s yours. It is a part of you. It has a lot to do with HOW you think and HOW you manage your images and your editing.   We want to challenge you. Don’t think of this post as telling you to change who you are or just generically edit your images to save time. Think of it as telling your workflow to work for you. Think of it as telling your workflow to ALWAYS behave because YOU are in charge of it. “(Workflow) goals are valuable because they are EASY to measure, and what can be measured, can be managed.” -Lewis Schiff, Business Brilliant Why does speeding up your workflow matter? It matters because THEY matter. Your clients matter, your kids matter, your spouse matters, and your friends matter. There are people out there who NEED you and the only thing most of us don’t have any more of is time. Give the people you love the most important thing you can; your attention. Your time spent in editing matters because people are counting on you. And those people are your family. (tweet this out!)   So, with that in mind, here are 3 Essential Steps that we KNOW can cut your workflow in half. 1. Write down Each Step in YOUR process   When you write down each step in the process (be as specific as possible!!) you do yourself two favors. The first one is that you... Read More

Protecting your images at destination weddings

 (Washington, DC wedding) We are back with more Q and A and today, we are taking a question from Walter from Walter E Homan Photography!   He asked: “I know my back up process when shooting local weddings, but we have our first destination wedding coming up, so how do you protect the images when your away at destination gigs? Also, we get to spend 2 nights in a nice hotel and I’d like to take my wife out and enjoy the town a little the day after. What do you do with your gear? Just leave it in the room? What do you do with the cards?”   Back it up baby!               When shooting destination weddings, we always bring a back up USB 3 hard drive and do a back up of all the images the night of the wedding in the hotel room. We ONLY take out the SD card from our camera and leave the CF card in the camera. We also make sure that we use a high quality card reader and are careful to not damage the reader or the cables. A damaged card reader or cable is one of the top reasons for a “card failure.”    Back up while you shoot! We shoot with the Canon 5D3 which allows you to shoot with two cards at once and mirror the images. This means that each time you take a picture, the camera can record it in two places. We use the 64 gig Extreme Pro SD card, and the 64 gig Extreme Pro CF card... Read More

Friday Finds | Color Calibration

The Spyder 4 Elite is what we use to calibrate all of our monitors in our studio to ensure that what we see on the screen, is what we will get back in print. Calibrating your monitor is an absolute necessity if you want to make sure your bride and groom’s faces don’t end up orange in their album. :) The Spyder 4 Elite is really versatile and can tweak any monitor you have including your laptop, your iPhone or even the flat screen TV you use for showcasing images to your clients at in-home sales sessions! All you do is download the software, place the Spyder over your screen, and it shoots out and array of colors and contrast settings and then reads it, tweaks it and streamlines your color, brightness and contrast. It is amazing! If you have never calibrated your monitor, when you first do this, it can freak you out since everything might look way different. But just remember, it always looked that way, you just didn’t realize it. :) A few things to keep in mind when it comes to color calibration and editing: Laptops screens for the most part can never really be calibrated as they are not able to accurately show colors, contrast ratios and are not designed for editing. They also can shift their color in a matter of days or weeks and need to constantly be re-calibrated just to be in the ballpark (and many can’t even be adjusted to any real accuracy at all). If you are in the habit of heading to your favorite coffee shop with your laptop to adjust color and tweak... Read More

Friday Finds | Black X

This is the Black X from Thermaltake. This is a device that allows you to take an internal hard drive (inserted in the top in the photo) and have your computer read that externally. We use this as a part of our back-up process as our way of getting images off-site for cheap. What we do, is we get home from shooting a gig, then download our RAW images to multiple hard drives with this being one of them. We then take this hard drive out of the Black X, put it back in the blue static bag that it came with (static can mess up hard drives when they are exposed) and then send the RAW images on the drive over to a friends house. This allows us to have an off-site back up in case of flood, fire or theft, and protects our clients images as best we can. We highly recommend doing that especially if you shoot weddings which can’t be re-shot. The Black X is only $50, and then you can buy one internal hard drive for around $69 or so, then just erase it when you need to once your JPG images from the shoot edited and backed up online. For $119 total you can have an off-site back up system that works great! Check it out and pick up a Black X HERE, and grab an internal WD hard drive... Read More

One Tool that can save you HOURS of editing!

  When you spend your day multi-tasking, like going from building an album, to checking an email, you lose a small amount of productivity as you move between tasks. According to Tim Ferris (4 Hour Workweek), you lose exactly 45 seconds each time you move from one task to another. So about 90 seconds is lost as you move to a task, work on it, then move back. Yikes!! In a typical work day, checking 30 tasks (like email and FB) will lose you about 45 minutes of total productivity. The same applies for EDITING. When you are culling images (like picking the keepers for your clients) or editing, you end up moving your mouse, then pressing buttons on your keyboard with only your left hand. This is unnatural and causes you to take your eyes off the screen, and look down at your keyboard, then look back at the screen which slows down productivity. So, what is the answer to this problem?   So, today we want to introduce you to a simple, yet powerful tool that can literally speed up your post processing times by hours. Introducing the Shuttle Pro V2 I first heard about this tool from Jared Platt, and what is powerful about the Shuttle Pro V2 is it is an ergonomically designed quick control key that you can program to take over simple or complex functions in any program you choose. So for example, instead of pressing “P” to pick an image as a keeper in Lightroom, you can simply press a button that is in an easily muscle memorized location on the Shuttle. This allows you to... Read More

Creating Panoramic Images

Today we are going to show you guys how to create really cool panoramic images! Maybe you want to shoot a really scenic shot of the venue or location of a wedding for the wedding album, or you want to create a panoramic canvas for your clients wall. If so, then this is how you do it!   We are going to show you an image that we actually shot yesterday at our in-camera: Light workshop (more images to come soon!) as an example.   What you will need: Camera to take awesome photos, Lightroom 3 or 4, Photoshop CS5 with your RAW plug-ins up to date Step 1. Shoot the pano images – You have to shoot more than one image to create a true pano shot, and you do this by simply framing up your initial shot that you want, then panning the camera either right or left (or both) and taking another image. You can do this by hand and don’t need a tri-pod, as long as you stay on the general axis point that you started with.   First image that I wanted to use Second image of the sky just next to our model I took by simply panning my camera to the right (make sure both images are close to the same plane, and make sure that they overlap each other a little bit)   As you can see in the above two images, there is a little bit of overlap of the sky on the right in image 1, and the left in image 2, which is needed later on to stitch... Read More

Tuesday Photography Tips & Tricks | Our Wedding Day Prep Checklist

“We are taking time off spending time with baby Gray, but have put together our favorite Tips and Tricks from the last two years for us all to review!” Weddings are like any normal photo shoot, but 100 times crazier. Weddings are fast-paced and physically demand so much. We like to relax as much as possible before our weddings and what allows us to do this is prepping the day before so we can enjoy our friday evening and the morning of the wedding without adding any additional stress. Here are the things we do the day before to ensure that we are relaxed and ready to go for our weddings: 1. Start charging all of our camera batteries. 2. Charge up our two-way radios. 3. Print off wedding timelines (we print these at 2 to a page so they are smaller and easier to carry on our person. We print multiple copies for each of us, our assistant, and one extra for our camera bag). 4. Print off 3 copies of the family shot list (one for each of us, one for the camera bag). 5. Put a copy of the timeline and family shot list on Dropbox (which is FREE and the best way to share and access documents anywhere) in case we happen to lose all of our hard copies. 6. Make sure bride, groom, maid of honor and best man’s numbers are in both of our cell phones. 7. Sync camera time stamps (we want to make sure that when we combine our images later in post they are in the right order with each... Read More

Speed Post-Production Tips | #RECLAIMYOURLIFE Week #4

  Last week we shared how having a great editing system can save you hours and allow you to RECLAIM YOUR LIFE! Not only did we share testimonies from photographers who have adopted our lightning-fast editing system (and cut down their editing time by HOURS) but we shared a few of our top five Post-Production Productivity Tips. If you missed it, you can read last week’s newsletter HERE. We have an insanely fast editing process that allows us to download, cull, edit, retouch and upload ALL the shots from approximately a 3,500 image shoot (& deliver 600-900 finals to the client) in just 2.5 hours or LESS. We know that sounds nuts, BUT, we promise you, it can be done! It is all about creating an incredible system for your editing process because we know that SYSTEMS can give us FREEDOM. So, what are the steps in this system? Having a great system involves simple and practical steps to follow. And when you can measure something that way, it can be managed!   When you utilize our system which is based on HOW you shoot and the MENTALITY that you edit with, you can achieve a workflow that can save you 50-75% of your editing time! Does that sound awesome, or what?!   So let’s dive right in to 3 more keys that will help speed up your editing!   _______________________________________ Post-Production Productivity Tip #3: Consistent Shooting   Shooting with Consistency = Speed in Editing So many photographers ask us what the secret to editing so fast is, and I always say that the FIRST thing you have to... Read More

Reclaim Your Life Week #3 | What could you do with an extra 18 hours?

Hey Friends! Welcome to week #3 of… We hope you all were able to set aside some time this past week and get some systems rolling in your business to save time.This week we want to focus on an area that is a HUGE time-waster for most photographers – Post Production. As we have toured the country and literally spoken to THOUSANDS of photographers, we have realized that the biggest time-sucker in most photography businesses is in image editing and work flow. The average wedding photographer in America is spending around 22 hours to JUST edit their images. This steals time away from running an effective business, not to mention time with family or community!   This is an area that we are passionate about helping photographers to overcome and teaching them how we created our 2.5 hour image work flow (based off of a 3,500 image wedding shoot) that includes culling, editing, retouching and hitting that button to upload! If you could cut your work flow time down by 80%, then what could you do with an extra 18 hours per week? Here are what some photographers who are Reclaiming Their Lives are ALREADY doing with the extra time they have saved by using our incredibility fast editing system! _____________________________ “Weddings used to take me 8-10 hours to edit fully. I can now blaze through weddings in less than half of that time…. With my extra time I’ve been doing a full home renovation on a 3 story Victorian that is 100 years old! Before I could never imagine editing weddings while taking on a house project, but now,... Read More

$330 Giveaway Times Two!!

          Are you ready to WIN this $330 CF Card that WE use when we shoot weddings? Here is what you need to do to win: 1. Sign up for our creativeLIVE 1 day course at http://bit.ly/creativeGRAY 2. Tweet and Facebook (or Instagram), “Win a $330 @Sandisk #CFcard. Enroll in @zachandjody‘s @creativeLIVE course! Sign up & RT to win http://bit.ly/creativeGRAY“ 3. You MUST sign up by Friday the 13th!! We will pick a winner Wednesday September 18th and announce it via Twitter! Oh, did we mention we are doing TWO giveaways? How sweet is... Read More

Dramatic Studio Lighting | Burst Shoot

A few months back we had the privilege to shoot a commercial gig for BurstClub.com that happens to be owned by our dear friends Nathan and Jenni Oates. These guys were amazing to work with and we all had a blast on the shoot! The images are for their new promo material and for their 4 DVD set. The images needed to be very slick and styled, so we had to change up our shooting style to get the job done!   This shoot was a lot different then what we normally do for wedding images where our brides want that soft, pretty light that makes their skin look painted on. This shoot needed much more of an edge to it with the lighting, but also keeping some of that Zach and Jody style with the soft buttery look. So the first thing we did to achieve that look was to not use our typical 24×32 Wesctott soft-box that we use on all of our lit wedding portraits, and opted instead to use a 22 inch silver beauty dish from Paul C. Buff.   The real benefit and difference between using a soft-box (which is basically like having a big soft window), is with a beauty dish, you still get that soft buttery light when it is used in close, but you have much more dramatic shadows and highlights. Because of the design, it shoots out a narrow, 45 degree beam of light that allows the light to be shaped and placed much more specifically then with a soft-box. The cool thing about the silver vs buying a white... Read More

Having your Black & White images look like Butter (video)

Today we are pulling a video for you from our Newsletter Archive that until today, has only been available to those on that exclusive list! We wanted to pull this video for a few reasons.   1. To show you some of the cool extra goodies that are inside our monthly newsletters (if you want to sign up, just enter your email above and to the right where it says “Get the Newsletter”)! 2. This is one of our highest requested editing tips videos, so we thought we would make it available for all!   (A few notes on this video: This was shot before we had a nice mic, so turn up your volume! It was also shot using Lightroom 3, so if you use Lightroom 4, substitute the brightness slider with exposure. If you have questions that you want answered, then email us from our contact form on our Photographers website!) Enjoy the video!... Read More

Behind the Image, Salt Barn

Jody and I just got back from Toronto where we were guest Keynote Speakers for the Exposure Show and now we are back and rockin out today’s tips! Today, we are going back to a series we started last fall where we take images from weddings and workshops, and break them down for you guys so that you can do them as well! Ready? Here we go!!   So this image above, although it can seem crazy looking, is actually not that difficult to pull off and the entire look was done all in-camera with zero Photoshop! Images like this are something that we do for workshops, for engagement sessions and for bridal shoots (or if we shot senior sessions, this would be something we would rock out) because we have a little bit more time to set them up and light them. The above shot was taken later in the afternoon (about 45 minutes before sunset) in front of this cool salt barn that is just near our house in Franklin. Here is how we did it.   Exposure Settings on the 5D Mark 3 with 24-70L 2.8 lens ISO 100, 2.8, 1/100th of a second Here is an image that we took of the barn with a down the middle exposure trying to capture a little detail in the sky and a small amount of detail in the salt barn itself. As you can see, it is MUCH brighter in the sky (the sun was setting behind the salt barn so it is back lit) and much darker in the foreground of the composition. We wanted to... Read More

Lightroom 4

To buy, or not to buy! Today for Tuesday Tips and Tricks we are taking a quick look into Lightroom 4 and a few really cool features that we are excited about! Instead of typing out a super long and wordy post, we decided to make a video for you all! Mainly because we think you all are worthy of a video and KNOW that you love seeing our little tiny faces! ;)   So, enjoy the video and then decide for yourself if the upgrade is worth it for you! If you are currently in Lightroom version 4, then the upgrade price has dropped down to only $79 which is really nice. You can check out Lightroom 4 HERE and grab it the download! If you are still using Photoshop to edit, then stop as fast as you can and start using Lightroom!! :) See you all next week!! [iframe: src=”http://player.vimeo.com/video/38543726?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0″ width=”800″ height=”450″ frameborder=”0″ webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen... Read More

Winner Announced + Weekend Special! | Reception Lighting at a Whole New Level

It is time to announce the winner of the Rouge FlashBender 3-piece kit (Large FlashBender, Small FlashBender, and Bounce Card) by Expo Imaging! The winner who followed the four steps (followed Zach & Jody and then ExpoImaging Twitter, signed up for our newsletter, and tweeted the given message) and will now add to their gear collection the Rouge FlashBender 3-piece kit is…. @augieshoots! Congrats to Augie! Contact us at winner@grayphotograph.com with your mailing address and we will get your prize sent out to you!! Congrats!! Thanks again to Expo Imaging for the giveaway! For those of you who didn’t win, we have a weekend special that Expo Imaging has created just for you all for this weekend only!! The Special: For this weekend only, if you purchase the Rogue 3 Piece FlashBender Kit or the Rogue 3 Piece FlashBender Kit + Grid from the ExpoImaging website, they will throw in the Bounce Card for free! The pricing breakout & savings: 3 Piece FlashBender Kit for $74.90 (regularly $104.85) 3 Piece FlashBender Kit + Grid for $124.85 (regularly $154.80) Discount Code to enter at checkout on ExpoImaging.com: graytweet. This sale ends Sunday night so don’t miss out on having your reception lighting look as awesome as the below :)... Read More

Win to Have Your Reception Lighting Taken to the Next Level!

Have you ever been stuck in a really cruddy lighting situation either outdoors with nothing to bounce your flash off of, or indoors, but the walls and ceilings are miles away or made entirely of dark wood or some material nearly impossible to us bounce flash? So what can you do to bring in some lighting awesomeness to your shots? We would like to share with you the Rouge FlashBender by Expo Imaging. We found ourselves in the above lighting dilemma when we were shooting a wedding here at a venue right outside of Nashville – all the walls were brick and the ceiling was wood. There wasn’t too much ambient light in the room either except for a LITTLE bit of uplighting and Italian hanging lights. So we put on the biggest flashbender that came in our 3-piece kit (10″ x 11″) because remember, the bigger the light-source, the softer the light, and for extra effect, we took our flash off-camera. Then for fun, we set up a kicker light in the background shooting toward back at our awesome couple. (At the time we had our flashes controlled by the Pocket Wizard Pluss II Transmitter & Transceiver but have since switched to the CyberSync Transmitter and CyberSync Receiver).   (To view more reception shots from Aaron & Mallory’s wedding, follow this link to view their wedding blog post). Pretty cool, eh? AND, it gets even cooler… The reason it’s called the Rouge FlashBENDER is because you can actually bend the rouge to help direct the light where you want it to go. Want in on this excitement? Here’s... Read More