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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IN-CAMERA Noise Reduction!

Hey all! Today we are hitting a cool topic that photographers often talk and think about all the time. The question? NOISE! The talk? How do we get rid of it?! So, today we are going to talk about two techniques that you can do to actually reduce noise in the camera! You know we are all about that!! Back in the film days, noise, or “grain” as they called it way back then (what was that like 5 years ago?) was actually part of the beauty of the final shot. Digital grain, at low levels, can look cool, but usually once it gets going it starts to look like someone left your photo out in a sand storm and is not all that appealing. So we do need to be able to control noise when needed and not have it blast the faces off of our clients! We have images printed in albums that were shot at ISO 6400 that are 10 inches high and 20 inches tall and they have zero noise reduction done on them. So the real question is, how do we do that without the latest and greatest noise reduction software? Let’s break it down! There is two things that we need to keep noise to a minimum. Exposure and a correct understanding of ISO. Exposure: Whenever you are shooting at low ISO, like 100 or 200, we always preach that if you are at all concerned about not having the correct exposure, that you should be sure to shoot it a little bit dark. That is because you have more room for error... Read More
Photography Tips and Tricks

Luminance = Lovely!

Today’s blog is about getting your client’s skin looking vibrant and having it pop, without having to do much in the way of post production. When I (Zach) first started out, a friend of mine named Evan Baines from www.evanbaines.com showed me this awesome editing technique that really helped make our brides and groom’s look their best. So, what is the great trick to getting that life breathed into the skin tones? It’s called Luminance! We use the luminance adjustment in Adobe Lightroom 3 anytime that there is a person in the shot. The luminance sliders are located in the HSL/Color/B & W section on the right hand panel of the Develop module in Lightroom. You have to first select “HSL” then you can click on the Luminance section just below that as highlighted in the image shown here. The skin tones that effect most people are the Red, Orange and Yellow tones with most of the skin tones located on the Orange slider. Now, if you were to just pull up the saturation of those colors, then you would have an image that looks like a Disney Channel cartoon. Not cool. You NEVER want to pull up the saturation of an image with a person in it (or any other image IMHO) because then the shot starts to look very unnatural. The really cool thing about the Luminance sliders, is that they only effect the Brightness of those colors, but do not alter the colors themselves. So, if you slide up the orange channel, then your clients skin will get brighter. Cool! The trick here is to keep... Read More

Time better spent!

Today’s post is all about saving you, the awesome photographer, time, which is your most valuable asset. Time is the only thing you can’t get more of in this life, so you need to use it wisely. Sometimes as photographers we just trudge along in many activities within our business and never think about how much time we are actually spending on certain tasks that we do. If you know Jody and I at all, you know that we spend very little time in actual post-production because we work very hard to shoot our images how we want them right in the camera. We do that because we want to spend time with each-other, time building our business and time enjoying life, and not be stuck behind a computer all day editing photos. It’s all about having the freedom to do what you want. It is really important to not just look at the bottom line at the end of the year to see how “well” you did, but really look at how “well” you are doing per-hour of time worked. It is cool if you can make 100k a year, but not at the expense of losing your personal life and neglecting those that are most important to you and those that need you. Most of us can be scared to look at what our hourly wage might be, but need to do so. When you do, you realize what your time is really worth and what things you should be doing, and more importantly, should NOT be doing! We could write an entire blog post on just this... Read More