Your Camera Bag Can Save Your Life

Today we want do a review of some new gear that we recently purchased and give you guys the skinny on how and why we chose the new camera bag we did. Jody and I have been using the awesome Lowepro Pro Roller 2 for the last 4 years straight (you can see a video of “what’s in our camera bag” on the blog HERE to see more of this bag that is now discontinued). The Lowepro Pro Roller 2 was replaced by the Pro Roller X300 which is also a stellar bag, but just came short of the one we decided to purchase for 2012. We ended up getting the Think Tank Airport Security V2.0 and are extremely excited and happy with the buy! So, why did we get this bag and what makes it so great? Let’s dive in!   So there are a number of features that made this bag go over the top for us and help us make the decision to purchase it. After using our Pro Roller for 4 years, we really know exactly what works, and what does not work with a bag and lots of thought went into this decision. First up, one of the best ideas we have yet to see in a roller bag, are Think Tank’s “Emergency Shoulder Straps.” These straps are hidden on the back of the bag for normal rolling use, but in the rare occasion that us wedding photographers are shooting at a venue that is all gravel or not condusive to rolling a bag, we can bust out these straps, lock them to the... Read More

Westcott Winner Announced + A Friday Laugh…

It’s the morning you all have been waiting for! It is time to announce the winner of one, 7 foot (yes, you read that right – SEVEN FEET) Parabolic shoot-through Umbrella with mounting bracket, stand, and travel case from Westcott Lighting! Check out what it can do in this past post HERE or click on the image below!! We were using this bad boy during an artist shoot yesterday evening… here is the silhouette of it… ah, what a beauty :) Stay tuned to the blog to see another shot of what the light looks coming out of this bad boy. Because the light source is so big, it paints the light on the subject(s) and looks AWESOME! The winner who followed the four steps (followed Zach & Jody and then Westcott Lighting on Twitter, signed up for our newsletter, and tweeted the given message) and will now add to their lighting modifier collection iiiiiiis…. @_meganbennett all the way from Sydney, Australia!! Congrats to Megan!!!! Contact us at winner@grayphotograph.com with your mailing address and which umbrella you would like (listed below) and we will get your prize sent out to you!! Congrats!! Three Umbrella Options: White Diffusion Umbrella White Black Umbrella Silver Umbrella Thanks again to Westcott for the giveaway! We are honored to be a part of their Top Endorsed Pros. Make sure to come back Monday where we will be having one more giveaway for this month!!!!!!!! :) :) Now, for those of you who didn’t win, we do have a little pick-me-up if you are a little down about not winning… My (Jody) sister sent me... Read More

Winner announced for the SanDisk USB Flash Drive!

Now it is time to announce the winner of the SanDisk Cruzer Edge 8 Gig USB Flash drive!!! The winner who followed the four steps (followed Zach & Jody and then SanDisk on Twitter, Sign up for our newsletter, and tweeted the given message) and will now add to their SanDisk collection with this 8 gig flash drive is…. @yusufgunawan!! Congrats to Yusef! Contact us at winner@grayphotograph.com with your mailing address and we will get your prize sent out to you!! Congrats!! Thanks again to SanDisk for the giveaway! We are honored to be a part of their SanDisk Extreme Team. Make sure to check out the other photographers on SanDisk’s Extreme Team Website! Thanks for playing, stay tuned tomorrow because we have another giveaway going up by the one and only Westcott... Read More

Keep It Simple (Stupid ;o)

Hey all! Today we want to chat about a topic that has become beyond important in our day to day business lives. Simplicity! simplicity: relates to the burden which a thing puts on someone trying to explain or understand it; the opposite of complexity.   Time is a really valuable asset and quickly becomes the only thing you have left once your business gets off the ground. Using it to the best of your ability is one of the main things that will help you grow your business. As our business began to really take of in 2008, we realized this principle really fast! We started to run out of time, and noticed that even the most remedial tasks needed a serious overhaul if we wanted to keep expanding what we were doing. We started looking at everything from how we downloaded our images, how we shot, how we edited, how we tracked our finances and everything in between to make sure that we were not wasting time doing things we shouldn’t. One area that was overlooked for quite some time, was wedding albums. We started to finally realize how much time we were spending doing things the hard way. We finally decided to make a change (gasp!) and switch album companies for 2011. Change can be hard in your business, and change can be scary. But many times this is just what you need to shake up your thinking and set you back on the path to succeeding!     We officially switched over to KISS books as our exclusive album company and do not offer any other... Read More

And the winner goes to…

Now it is time to announce the winner of the Expo Disc!!! (For those of you who checked back here yesterday, we thank-you for your patience – we had a family emergency come up). The winner who followed the four steps (follow GrayPhotography and then ExpoImaging on Twitter, Sign up for our newsletter, and tweet the given message) will now receive the tool that will dramatically change how the color of her images look IN-CAMERA, and will result in WAY less editing time on the back-end is… @RhemaFaith Congrats to Rhema! Rhema – contact us at winner@grayphotograph.com with your mailing address and your Expo Disc will get sent out to you!! For the rest of you – Expo Imaging was gracious to give us a 20% discount for those of you who you would like to purchase your own Expo Disc – it’s AMAZING!! (Good rule of thumb – buy the Neutral disc and in regards to size – get the Expo Disc for your biggest lens) Instructions on claiming your 20% off: When checking out at ExpoImaging.com, use promo code: graytweet (all lowercase). Promo code expires Monday, August 1st! Thanks for all of you who tweeted and stay tuned for more... Read More

Win to Have Your Editing Time forever Changed!

Do you want your shooting forever changed? Do you want your editing time reduced dramatically?? Well, we are giving away one free Expo Disc from Expo Imaging which will do just that for you!!!! See the difference that the Expo Disc can make! Here’s how you can enter to win: 1. Follow Zach & Jody on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/GrayPhotography) 2. Follow Follow Expo Imaging on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/ExpoImaging) 3. Sign up for Zach & Jody’s Photographer newsletter for free monthly exclusive photo tips & tricks (http://tinyurl.com/yhudaqt) 4. Tweet the following message (multiple tweets do not help the cause :) Text for you to copy: WIN to have your editing time forever changed w/ @GrayPhotography & @ExpoImaging w/ the ExpoDisc! Pls RT Info- http://tinyurl.com/3v8jucz About the Prize: Winner will receive: 77mm Expo Disc Neutral Value: $99.95 + lots of your editing time! :) Don’t you hate it how sometimes you spend FOREVER in Lightroom or Photoshop trying to get the stinkin’ correct white balance for your images? Waste time no more! The ExpoDisc will change all of that!! Read our past blog post for more information on the Expo Disc and what it does: Prize Redemption: Winner will be announced on our blog, Friday July 29th, and it will be the responsibility of the winners to contact GrayPhotography (winner@grayphotograph.com) within 24 hours with mailing address or new winner will be chosen. Restrictions: Prize cannot be redeemed for... Read More

Keywording so Potential Clients can find YOU!

Hey guys! Today’s post is all about something that is super important to do when getting your images online. Anytime that you upload images to the internet, you want to make sure that Google can see them, so the way we do that is with key wording! Google can’t see images, so we need to add some keywords so that people that are out there searching can find your photos! So, check out the screen cast video below to see how to do that in Lightroom in one fast and easy step!   [iframe: src=”http://player.vimeo.com/video/23896326?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0″ width=”750″ height=”450″ frameborder=”0″] We are still on the road on the tour and are having a blast! We are headed out to San Diego today and can’t wait to see some of you... Read More

Creating Lightroom Catalogs

Hey all! Today’s tips and tricks is a video screen cast that we did just for you! We are demonstrating how we make Lightroom catalogs!   Have you ever opened Lightroom and waited, and waited and waited for it to just open? Then, over time, it seems to run slower and slower? Well, this video has come to your rescue! There are a number of different ways to speed up Lightroom and keep it running fast, but this one is what we do and is very low maintenance and also helps keep your images very organized.   Check it out! [iframe: src=”http://player.vimeo.com/video/23896285?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0″ width=”750″ height=”450″ frameborder=”0″] Thanks a ton for checking out the video! We will have more videos to come while we are out on the Pass Premier tour, so stay... Read More

Secret Service Shooter!

Hey all! This weeks  blog is about none other than communicating like a Secret Service agent/ninja! Let’s jump right in! When we are out shooting weddings, we have to be a lot of things to a lot of people. From tie tier (one who ties ties), dress bustler (one who bustles dresses), cake cutting instructor, to being the impromptu wedding planner! We have lots of jobs at the wedding, but the most important one is of course, being the photographer. And nothing is worse when shooting with a spouse, a second or an assistant and not being able to stay in constant communication. The hardest thing during a ceremony is trying to get another person’s attention when they are across the room or the on the other side of the vineyard, especially when you need them in two seconds AND they are totally in your shot (I, Zach am never in Jody’s shots just for the record ;) so, we need a way to stay in touch without having to pull out the cell phone and have guests thinking that we are updating our Facebook status. Insert awesome walkie talkies! (Thanks to Instagram for the photo!) Jody and I have been using these bad boys for the last few years and let us tell you, not only do you look cool as all get out, but they really come in handy when you need to chat! We can’t tell you how many times we have needed to say something really fast in order to get the other person’s attention to be able to nail a shot, get something done... 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

Setting the Mood with a Video Light

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s blog post! We are beyond excited that you guys come here week in and week out to check out the goodness, and we are super excited to have you here! Today we are going to go over the basics of utilizing a video light in your wedding or portrait work. The video light is an awesome tool that we have been using for a few years, but as many of you may know, it can sometimes be super difficult to use for portraits because the light can either look really awesome, or REALLY bad! Most of the time, we use the video light for things other than just taking portraits, like using it to help us focus on a really dark exit shot, using it as a background light to add some more depth and separation, or using it to light small things like flowers or the cake at the reception. We will get into those uses in another post, but today we wanted to dive right into the most difficult way to use it; as the Main Light source for a portrait shot. Sometimes you are just stuck shooting the bride and groom in the reception, or in a dark room with little available light and you have to get an awesome shot. You don’t want to use a strobe because it is too big, or too much set-up work and you want a constant light source that makes focusing on your subject easier. So today, we are going to share some basic tips for getting your video light portraits to look... Read More

Reception Lighting, Part I

It’s Tuesday!! Time to share some more goodness! Some of the biggest challenges in shooting a wedding is the dreaded RECEPTION! With low lit reception halls, or outdoor receptions with no walls or ceilings to bounce light off of, lighting can most definitely be not for the faint at heart… Today, we are going to tackle one part of reception lighting – how we shoot the details and get fantastic shots consistently and with some style. Pull up a chair, sit back and relax and watch us tackle Part I of Tuesday Tips & Tricks | Reception Lighting. Gear we referenced: 42″ 6-in-1 Reflector Kit Pocket Wizard Transceiver Westcott Lightweight Stand Westcott Adjustable Shoe Mount Canon 580EX Speedlights Micro Apollo 8″ **Make sure to come back next week for Part II, and don’t forget that once a month we are releasing exclusive Tuesday Tips & Tricks via our newsletter! Make sure you are subscribed to our photographer... Read More

Is the iPad REALLY Beneficial to a Photographer’s Business?

You have heard the rumors… … You have wondered if they are true… …. And you have come to the source to find out… … Ok, ok, we admit it! Yes, us PC users have added another mac to our collection of technological toys… We have an iPad! Is this necessary? Maybe not. Has it been convenient and fun to have? Yes. There have been many discussions as to if the iPad is actually beneficial to a photographer and their business or is more of a luxury. So lets let the public decide. What do you think? As you ponder this deep question we thought we would share the cooler apps we have accumulated up to this point… Our Favorite Fun Apps so far: -Words with Friends: Crossword puzzles with each other and with friends! Does it get any better than that? -NYTimes: We don’t get the paper so it’s a nice and quick way to stay up on the latest news -AllRecipes: A super cool app for cooking! You can search by ingredient, prep time, dietary needs, and more, and the coolest thing – you can change the serving amount and it will update all the ingrediants! So nice for when we cook for only two of us! Our Favorite Business Apps so far: -KeyNote: This bad boy isn’t free but it lets us run our powerpoints from it! Sweet! -Simplenote: A really cool way to take notes and then share them with others simultaneously. It allows them to edit the document and it updates in real time. Coool… -Square: We just got it and have yet to... Read More
Nashville, TN Photography Workshops

Big Light vs Little Light

Today’s photography tips and tricks blog is all about the difference between big, powerful light sources and small, low powered light sources. Many photographers might wonder how (and if) you can use a small light source and still get that painted-on look with light, so we are going to talk about the reality of that, and how to get the look you want, and use the gear that works for you. You can get that painted-on light look by using great, natural light like in the shot above, but today we are going to talk about off-camera light sources and break down the “quality” of their light. All of the principles we will discuss directly relate to natural light as well, so keep that in mind! So, what is the big difference between a large light source (like a big soft box) and a small light source (like a speedlight 580 or SB 800)? The difference in the “quality” of the light source is night and day! And by quality, we mean soft, even light that looks like it was photo-chopped before you actually photo-chopped it. Let’s look at the real difference between large and small light sources. Large light sources: Soft and pretty looking, softer shadows, light that appears to be painted-on, very flattering to any skin type, easier to work with and more room for error Small light sources: Harsh looking light, added contrast, not flattering to skin (especially in-perfect skin), slim margin for error when using it It is very important, I believe, to be able to handle both small and large light sources because you... Read More
Nashville, TN Wedding Photographers

Enhancing Your Images with a Reflector!

There are soooo many awesome techniques out there to enhance your imagery, but today we wanted to talk about a tool that sometimes can get overlooked – The Reflector! Photography IS light, and having a reflector on hand at any type of portrait shoot can truly make or break your images (and not having one when you need it can kill you in post-production trying to fix your shot)! We always carry a few Westcott pop-open reflectors and diffusers with us on any shoot that we do which enable us to control bad light, and enhance good light to make it into great light. Rarely do we come into any lighting situation, especially when doing stylized portraits, and see some truly amazing light, so we are almost always reaching for a tool that can bring our shot to the next level. So, today we are going to show some images that we have taken recently utilizing reflectors (before and after shots) and we are also going to talk about HOW to properly use a reflector to get the best looking shot possible with it. We will also touch on which colors to use and when, because as many of you know, reflectors have up to five different surface color options to use – black, white, silver, gold and silver/gold. Let’s start with the surface colors and what each color is for: White: Used to reflect whatever color light is out there. It does not warm or cool down the color of the natural light. Used best for reflecting direct sunlight. Silver: Used to add a little more light to... Read More

Ten Minute Photo Shoots

Today’s blog is about something that we get asked about pretty often. Here is our question from Walter in New Jersey: Hi Zach & Jody, My wife and I have been following you two for a while. I was glad when you started with PhotoVision. I love “being” with a photographer on wedding day. Which leads me to my question, how do you convince a bride that if she wants all of the pictures on her list, she needs to leave us some time to get them? Example, last week we shot a wedding of a great couple. Good looking, naturals in front of the camera, great venue, great place across the street for portraits (but unfortunately) we had less then 10 minutes with the couple. For some reason we keep booking these couples that jamb the time line so tight we have less than 30 minutes to get everything done (bride & groom, family, and bridal party). I watched your segment on PhotoVision and everyone seems relaxed and moving at a normal pace. I’d appreciate any advice you can give! This is a GREAT question and a problem that many wedding photographers run into. As wedding photographers who have done this a few times, we know the time needed to get all the images that we love to shoot during the portrait session of the wedding day. The problem is, for most brides, this is the first time they are getting married and they have no idea what to expect and plan for. As modern photographers who not only shoot with a photojournalistic flair, we, here at Gray... Read More

Making File Sharing EASY!

We are all about sharing products and tools that work well for us and that we love!!! Here is our latest Tuesday Tips & Tricks that has made some areas in our business much more easier and efficient! One of the most biggest complaints we hear from vendors is that they never get images from photographers. As photographers it does take a little more effort and time to do this, but it is SO WORTH IT. After you have gone through all of the work to pull out the images for the vendors, the next biggest hurdle is to actually get the files to the vendor easily so they can use them on their blog or website. You can send them in the mail but then you have to burn a disc, get a nice case, package it nicely, put the address on and then finally make a trip to the post office. OR the other option is to email the images, but then not only do the files clog up your email but also their inbox as well. What a pain! You can use FTP programs or have them download them from your site, but sometimes that can be a little cumbersome. There IS a another option… We have a great, FREE solution we would like to share with you that we have been using for the last six months to send images to vendors, brides, companies, family, and even to each other. Friend and fellow photog Kristine Neeley introduced it to us and it has been awesome! Introducing…. Dropbox! Dropbox is a single, secure place on your... 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

What’s in Our Camera Bag, Part II

Welcome to Part II of What’s in Our Camera Bag! Via the goodness of our HD flip video camera we continue on with the contents that we carry in our main camera bag to weddings. If you missed the first half from last week CLICK HERE. Enjoy :) Constant lighting for this video provided by Westcott’s SpiderLite TD5. To find the products mentioned in this video click here! ___________________ On another note… … it’s that time to start talking about workshops again!!!! We are releasing dates & locations soon for our fall IN-CAMERA workshops!! Make sure you are signed up for our photographer Newsletter to have the opportunity to be the first to register for our Nashville classes 24 hours before anyone! … Not close to Tennessee? Well, we have something special coming up just for you peeps!… You might just have a say where we bring our out-of-state workshops to! Stay tuned to our blog for more details :) If you have any questions or comments, we enjoy hearing from... Read More

What’s in Our Camera Bag, Part I

Welcome to the latest rendition of the blog! This week we bring our tips and tricks via the goodness of our HD flip video camera! We decided to take you guys through our main camera bag that we take with us to weddings! Enjoy :) Constant lighting for this video provided by Westcott’s SpiderLite TD5. To find the products mentioned in this video click here! If you have any questions or comments, leave ’em below! Check back next Tuesday for Part II as we share the rest of what is in our camera... 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

The Beauty of the Expo Disc & White Balance

Don’t you hate it how sometimes you spend FOREVER in Lightroom or Photoshop trying to get the stinkin’ correct white balance for your images?  Waste time no more!  These next minutes will forever change your editing time, and therefore will change your life. Guaranteed. Read on :) When we first started shooting professionally back in ’07, we (well, really Zach :) stumbled across this awesome little guy called the ExpoDisc, and it truly has changed our editing and edit time.  You know how we’re big advocates of shooting everything in camera so your edit time is next to nil and how we show clients images as we are shooting because they look so great right on the back of our cameras?  Well, the ExpoDisc, my friend, is a HUGE part of this. The ExpoDisc is essentially a gray card.  Just smaller and more accurate. For those who like to read the detailed information of its workings, you can visit the ExpoDisc web page on Expo Imaging’s site. The Awesomeness of the Expo Disc: – It’s small and comes with a strap where you can wear it around your neck or in a little carrying case that attaches to your belt.  SWEET. – Allows you to get a custom white balance, set it in your camera and all the following images will have beautiful color!  Try showing your subjects your images as you are shooting – they will FLIP! – If you forget to get a custom WB (which it really takes about 5 seconds and doing it beforehand is the way you want to do it :) then you... Read More
Nashville, TN Wedding Photography

Our Favorite Lenses Part 2! 100mm Macro

Last week we talked about Zach’s favorite lens and why he loves using it. Today, its my turn!! I love using longer lenses and sneaking into moments from a distance so that our brides do not even know I am there. One of my favorite lens is the Canon 100mm Macro 2.8. I like to shoot in really tight. One of the coolest things about this lens is that you can do that easily while still maintaining a nice distance from your subject. A lot of wedding photographer’s go-to lens for makeup shots is maybe the 50mm 1.4 or even better, the 50mm 1.2. The cool thing about the 50mm 1.2 is one can shoot at a really low aperture where everything but what you’re focusing on becomes really soft, but there’s two problems with that – 1) you have to get right up in the bride’s business to get that close up shot, and 2) you have to be at least 1.5 ft away to focus. So it’s hard to get that tight shot because the lens can’t focus that close. Boo. What I love about the 100mm Macro is that if I want, I could get in as close as 5.5 inches away from our bride… not like I would want a shot of literally just her eyeball, but you get the idea :) This lens is also GREAT for ring shots. Because it’s a Macro lens and it can focus as close to 5.5 inches away from any subject, you can literally fill the frame with a ring if you want and get in REALLY close!... Read More

Our Favorite Lenses! 16-35mm

Using the right lens for the right job is critical in not only getting the shot you want or need, but evoking a certain type of feeling when you do. There are many things to consider when it comes to purchasing and using certain lenses, and some of the things to look for in a lens when buying are how it affects the look of your shot, how fast and easily it focuses (without good focus you won’t get the shot), how clear is the image you produce with it and how does it represent the color of the image. Today, I want to talk about one of my favorite lenses and why and how we use it! Let me introduce you to the Canon 16-35mm L 2.8 Oooh! Ahhhh!! This lens is great for the photographer who wants to get everything in the shot from a close distance and create high drama. This lens really distorts reality by stretching everything on the sides and drawing it into the frame. I love it! Check out some example images from a wedding we did last fall to see what this baby can do! In using this lens, composition becomes all the more important because you really can see EVERYTHING in the shot.  What you put in the frame becomes vital and can either add to the shot or actually distract the viewer’s attention from the main subject.  You also want to make sure you avoid putting anything you DON’T want warped near the outer edges.  For example, take this shot I took of Jody awhile back: This shot is not... Read More