Rockin The Ceremony!

We often get asked what our game plan is for ceremonies and how we shoot them together, so today we will dive into our mentality when shooting the ceremony and where we position ourselves to capture the important images from this all important portion of the day!   When it comes to shooting the ceremony, our overall goal is to stay out of the way, not distract from the events, and of course, get great images. The Game Plan: When the processional begins, I (Jody) am staked out in the aisle way, about halfway down, depending on how long the isle is. Usually I have the 24-70mm on, (or a longer lens depending on how far away the bride is going to be) which allows me to shoot the story and the faces of those in the audience as well as zoom in a bit, if I want a tighter shot.I am always looking to get a great expression on the brides face, because we know that our clients are looking for content in their images first and foremost. Zach is usually out in the atrium (wherever the bride is coming into the ceremony from) area capturing the final moments before the bride walks in and will also stand at the back of the church once the processional begins. Usually he has the 70-200L 2.8 or the 85L 1.2 on his camera. Zach’s focus is to shoot the shot of the groom’s face as the bride walks in. He will also capture images of the bride from behind as she and her dad walk down the aisle and will... Read More

Getting Awesome Preparation Shots!

We are out on the Pass Premier Tour bringing this to you LIVE from the good ‘ol state of Mississippi en route to Atlanta! We are having a blast getting to meet so many cool photographers and sharing stories of how we are all navigating this business together! For this week’s tips and tricks blog, we wanted to focus on a key area of shooting the wedding day – nailing great candid getting-ready images. So, on to the post! First things first: When we show up to shoot the final preparations, the first thing we do is start looking for where the good light is in the space we have to work with. If we can get our clients into the good light, then we are guaranteed to get great images of them doing their thing. We usually look for indirect window light and try and place our clients around 4 to 6 feet away from that light facing toward the window. We also try and make sure that the center of the window is around the height of their heads so that we get more light on the face and less light on the body and legs. This helps the dress of the bride to not get blown out and also helps the focus be on their cute little mugs as that becomes the brightest part of our shots. Second: We try and turn off all the lights in the room. This helps avoid mixed lighting where there is one color of light coming through the window, and another color light coming from a lamp or overhead light.... 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

First Dance Reception Lighting

Hey everybody! We hope that you all enjoyed your Christmas holiday and had a joy celebrating the real reason for the season :) For today’s post, we are super stoked today to be talking about a topic that sooo many of you have been asking about ever since we shared how we light and shoot details for receptions (Part 1, and Part 2). Today we will share with you how we shoot people images at the reception! There is a TON of ground to cover when it comes to reception lighting, so there will be a few posts to come including some exclusive content with video for those of you who are signed up to our Photography Newsletter. Are you on the IN List? If not, sign up HERE! OK, so today we are going to keep it simple and build our foundation for shooting the first dance. So, we walk into the reception and here is the scenario (in posts to come we are going to work our way through other scenarios that pose other lighting problems and how to conquer them). We have: – A dance floor with a stage or DJ in corner of the room – White ceilings and white walls – Our super hot couple about to have their first dance What do we do to get great looking images in this scenario using nothing but our bounce flash that is on our camera? 1. We find the best place to shoot from. The best vantage point to shoot from in this type of situation is NOT where the crowd of people are standing... Read More

Reception Lighting Part 2!

OK, so last week we did a post on gear that we use to get reception shots. You know, all of those little details at a reception when there is not any light on the cake or table settings AND there is no place to bounce light off of. So, today we are going to explain how we balance the light so that we get just the right amount of flash vs ambient light in the shot, get it every single time and do it REALLY fast! Here we go! Problem: Ever point your flash at a cake or person in a reception hall and the background is pitch black? Your flash is blasting out your subject but there is no detail in the background, thus losing part of the story. Solution: Lighting Ratios!! Hang in there :) So, where we like to start when shooting reception details and getting awesome shots, is a 3 to 1 lighting ratio. “Whoa!” you might be saying already, “did you just say ‘ratio’ and are you going to talk about math, going to make me read some schematics and make me more confused then when I started?” No sir! We say that because 1) we want you to think we are smart ;o) and 2) because all that means, is that our subject (in this case details at a wedding reception) are a little bit brighter in our image than whatever is in the background. Specifically, the subject is twice as bright as the background. So, how do we get there without a slide rule, without a hand-held light meter and without guessing?... Read More
Nashville, TN Wedding Photography

Nailing the Correct Focus – Servo Mode vs. One Shot

We hope that everyone is having an amazing day and that all your photography dreams are coming true as we type! ;) Today we are going to do a simple post on a cool little topic – FOCUS! Have you ever been shooting your client and they start moving or running and all of a sudden all your images start coming out blurry? Or, on the other hand, have you ever been shooting your client and you press the shutter half-way to focus on their face, and when you recompose the shot the camera then changes focus on something else? Well, there are tons of little factors that play into how your camera focuses, but one thing we need to understand is the focus MODE that our camera is set to and how that effects the way it handles focusing. One Shot: When you have your camera set to one shot (check your specific owner’s manual for how to do this), the camera will focus when you press the shutter button half-way down and lock it in, and then you finish pressing the shutter button all the way down to take the shot. This MODE is great for shooting stationary subjects that are not moving around. It is cool because you can focus on one thing (like their eyes) then recompose your shot (while keeping their eyes in focus) and then take the image. This helps you be more creative in framing your shots, especially if your camera only has a handful of focus points inside the view finder. The Canon 5D mark II only has 9 focus points... 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

Eliminating the Middle Ground

Today’s blog is about a simple, yet effective way to get a big impact out of your portrait shoots. Every photographer wants to have images where the subject of our shots seems to be larger than life and jump off the page (or in most cases these days with photography, the computer screen :). So today we are talking about “eliminating the middle ground” as my friend Mike Larson dubbed it. What does it mean to “eliminate the middle ground?” It is simply to take your subject, either a person or a detail shot, and place them in an area where there is space between them, the foreground and the background. When we do this, our subject immediately pops out of the image much better because they are the only thing in sharp focus. Example image from our recent engagement shoot with the amazing Sarah & Ryan! Notice how they seem to jump off the screen and have some much dimension, even though the lighting is not very contrasty at all. Now, if you want to ramp up the effect, you can do this by implementing a few other techniques at the same time. If you don’t have your subject near something like a wall that you can use to lead into your shot (which would increase the effect) then you can get low to the ground like in the shot above to bring more of the foreground into the frame. This helps blur everything in the shot except our subject which makes them that much more 3D looking. If you were to shoot from high above, then more... Read More

Shooting for the In-Between

As a guy and as a perfectionist, I (Zach) sometimes struggle with photography because I want everything about an image to be perfect in every way from the lighting to the crop and color. Shooting with excellence and giving every shot all that you have is definitely important and getting the lighting, the pose and the “look” just right is great, but it’s not really what matters most from the client’s perspective. Over the past 3 years there’s a constant reminder to myself (thank-you, Jody) that photography is not JUST about me being totally fulfilled as an “artist” with my images (not that I really am an artist compared to some),  but about giving my client something that THEY truly love. Honestly, the average client does not really know the difference between an amazingly good photo and a perfect one, do they (no offense to some of you brides & grooms out there!)? We as photographers spend tons of time learning, perfecting and dissecting images on a weekly or daily basis and we know when the lighting or pose (or whatever) could have been better, but clients do not see that the way we do. The client is looking for something that they can connect with, something emotional or something that is real. Clients definitely know when the shot is fake and posed and has no life in it! So, long ago, I learned that some of the great photographers always shot for the in-between. They were looking for moments that happened between moments. Moments when the client drops their guard and truly become themselves in your image that... Read More