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from the March 2010 category

So, this weeks tips and tricks is going to be you picking the topic on areas that YOU want hear about!! So, tell us what you would like to hear on  and it might just make it into one of our Tuesday Tips & Tricks posts!  Anything from lighting, posing, interaction with clients, business or marketing.

We have had soooo many of you comment that you love this blog series that we started, so we really want to give it back and customize it for you. We want to help you guys in any and every way that we can and that is what we love doing more than anything else!! :)

So, make sure to leave a comment below on this blog post and we will answer!

So, of course, we won’t leave you hanging this week and here is today’s topic!!

Camera Height and Its Effect

Today’s tips and tricks blog is all about making our clients look the way that we want them to in our images by controlling the perspective on our shots. The height of your camera in relation to your subject can have a HUGE effect on them, how they look and what you draw the focus to.  Camera placement can sometimes make or break an image and make our client love it or hate it.

When we talk about this subject at our IN-CAMERA workshops, we always talk about how you can manipulate what the viewer sees in an image by simply adjusting your camera height. Camera height can make someone look normal, taller or shorter and can make parts of the body look bigger or smaller as well. So, does anyone out there know how tall say, the Olson Twins are?  In looking at the below professional photo below taken by Peggy Sirota, they look very natural and you would have no idea that they are actually 51’1 and 5’2.

Now, look at the below shot.  See how unnatural and squat they look?  That is a big NO NO!

You as the photographer can manipulate reality (for the good or bad) by shooting your subject from just the right camera height to make your subject look squat, natural, or really tall and slender.

The basic rule of thumb to follow if you want your clients to look totally natural in their height and perspective is to place the camera at exactly the center height of your frame. So, if you were shooting a full length portrait of a bride, then you would need to have the camera at her waist height (the center of the frame that you see in the viewfinder). Or, if you were shooting a head shot, then the camera would be around the eye level of your subject. So then, if you want to deemphasize something in your frame, then you can raise the camera above that height and everything underneath the center of the frame will look smaller, or you can lower the camera, and everything above the center of your frame will be over-emphasized and appear bigger.

One problem that some photographers can encounter in their images is that they don’t understand how this effects their subjects and they end up making a short bride look even shorter (which is the last thing she wants), or a bigger bride look bigger. If you are in the habit of shooting full length shots from a standing position, then most of your subjects will look unnaturally squished.

So, let’s take a look at a few images and talk through what was going on behind the scenes.

This first shot is of our awesome model/good friend Lindsay Kirkendall and was taken by us for her portfolio. We wanted her to look natural and tall (which she is) so we took this image from her chest height which makes the shot look the way it does.

This next image was one of our brides from 2009. We wanted to do a very dramatic compositional shot of her and really make it seem vast. This bride is maybe 5 foot 4 tops. The camera height for this shot was around 1 foot off the ground which makes everything on top of the frame look much taller than it is. This was also exaggerated more with a wide angle lens.

This next image is of our awesome friends from Kansas City Dan & Amy Cogan. This shot was similar to the one above where we wanted the shot to be dramatic, so we lowered the camera just below waist level to make them look a bit taller than they are. Dan is about my height (5’8) and his lovely wife is around 5 foot 4 or so.

This last image is of one of our brides from last year. We wanted to do a shot that was all about her eyes so we raised the camera 1 foot above her head, which made everything underneath get deemphasized. If you had a bride that was bigger (this bride clearly is not) this would have a slimming effect on everything under the center of the frame and will be very flattering on her.

Don’t forget, let us know what YOU want to hear about and you may see it in future Tips & Tricks!!

Mar
22
2010

Headshots for the Amazingly Awesome Jen Johnson

by Jody on March 22, 2010, posted in Uncategorized

It’s time to share some images of the shoot we did for photographer Jen Johnson!

We first met the fab Jen Johnson on Twitter forever ago it seems like.  Then, we actually met her in person when we brought our IN-CAMERA Workshops out to CA.  And yes, she was just as cool in person as she seemed to be on Twitter :)  We love Jen’s upbeat personality and how she seems to go at everything with gusto!

Jen asked us to take some headshots of her at WPPI in Las Vegas, so we set it up (we’ll leave out the whole Zach arm dislocating saga) and even with the breezy chill, Jen rocked it out.

LOVIN’ her heels and pink camera strap

Is this hair piece not the cutest??

Insert wind! Aw yeah… just like a fashion photo shoot…

Way to work it, girl :)

This shoot would not have been possible without the help of two fab ladies who we met at WPPI and came out and offered their extra hands!  Thanks Lindsi Rian (Crossed Focused Photography) and Jalene (Jalene Dort Photography).  You two are the best!!!

Mar
19
2010

Friday Fun – Inspiring Kids Through Photography

by Zach on March 19, 2010, posted in Friday Fun

Zach and I attended WPPI (a yearly photographer’s trade show and conference) in Las Vegas this past week and it was great and fun, and we met all these people and learned a lot, blah blah blah…. BUT all of that drastically pales to what we did Saturday, March 6th, the day before WPPI initially started, all thanks to Pictage.

We were approached a few months back by the coolest people EVER at Pictage (our AMAZING online hosting image gallery, among many other things)wondering if we would be willing to be a part of a charity event with the Boys and Girl’s club of Las Vegas right before WPPI.  Kids?  Photography? Helping other people?  Count us in!!!!!!  We flew out a day early and were really excited but had no idea of what would really unfold.

For those of you who aren’t really aware of The Boys and Girls Club and what they do… Their mission is to “...enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.  Club programs and services promote and enhance the development of boys and girls by instilling a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging and influence.

The day was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G and seriously, such a blessing.  I think it’s very possible that us photographers got more out of the day than the kids did…

It started off with a group of phenomenal Pictage photographers all  gathering together from across the US while the big man (by title, not size), Jim Collins kicked us off and then we headed off to lunch with about 80 kids of the Las Vegas Boys & Girls Club.  We got to know the kids a bit (aka goofed off with them) over a pizza lunch and then split off into smaller groups to talk a bit about the different elements of photography.  After that we all bussed over to Springs Preserve and the kids had a photo scavenger hunt putting what they learned into practice and having FUN!  Afterwords, we all came back to the center where each kid was awarded a certificate for the work they did that day.

At the end of every WPPI there is an awards ceremony.  Pictage was given the platform to share about the event with the Boys & Girls Club of Las Vegas and we’ll now digress to Ron Dawson describing on his blog what that was like.

The video I shot that Saturday was finished by Sunday and showed at the WPPI awards ceremony Wednesday night, March 10. About 40 of the kids from the event were on hand to watch themselves on the big screens, then get a standing ovation from the crowd of photographers. As the kids marched out of the ballroom to go back home (it was a school night after all), they were greeted by high-fives and congratulations. How cool an experience must that have been for these kids, many of whom are underprivileged.”

How cool!!!!  It all was fantastic and we are soooooooooooooooo thrilled that we were able to be a part of it all.  There simply is nothing better than giving back.  It’s hard to describe it all but we hope that the images below and the video at the end communicate a bit as to what that day was like :)

A HUUUUUGE thanks to Pictage for putting this event on, to CEO Jim Collins for having the heart for this a long time ago and helping others catch his vision, to Canon USA for donating the usage of the cameras and then donating 3 cameras to the BGCLV, and then of course to the Boys and Girls Club of Las Vegas, and to Ron Dawson of Dare Dreamer Video for capturing the awesome day in motion.

We’re so glad we were able to be a part of this event with photographer friends (old and new!).

Mike Colón
Joe Buissink
Will Jacks
Kenny Kim
Mike Larson
Justin & Mary Marantz
Chelsea Nicole
Shawn Reeder
Ray Santana
Matt & Stevi Savage
René Tate

Enjoy the pictures and don’t miss the VIDEO at the end!!

Canon cameras donated for usage…

Shooting to the death with Justin Marantz while Emily Engle plays around with all the new toys :)

Eric Cotter & Mike Larson trying to get their gansta’ on

Mike Larson refuses to take more than one shot on a camera before he throws it away. Hard on the back carrying all those cameras around on a wedding! ;)

CEO, Jim Collins beginning the day…

Getting to know and having fun with the kids as we all waited for PIZZA!

Ron Dawson doing his thing, capturing all the good fun.

I (Jody) wanted to take this kid home with me :)

A photographer not to be named, trying to achieve Mike Larson’s famous “Camera Toss”

It was up there for a while.

Having fun with the kids!

Will Jacks beginning our teaching session!

Gotta love on the girls who have CONVERSE ALL STARS!

These were Zach’s personal body guards for the day.

Bus ride with the kids to Springs Preserve!!  LOOOOOOOOVE bus rides! Firmly believe that the best connection times are on bus rides :)

….I wanted to take this precious child home with me too..

The scavenger hunt photo challenges!

Bringing out the diffusers & reflectors!  Aw yeah!  Our group was Big Time! :)

Future photographer right here, folks!

Pictage CFO KEVIN RUBIN! (Coolest CFO we have ever known…)

Ninja Joe Buissink, capturing the event :)

This kid here (believe it or not), was really shy at first and really held back… he totally opened up and was loving it all (as you will see on the video as well!).

Mike Larson getting ready to do his famous Camera Toss with all of us surrounding him in one big circle!

Kenny Kim getting ready to capture the Camera Toss action!

Ooooh, ah, pretty photo!

Mike Colon wishing he could do the camera toss with his Nikon ;o)

… this is where we will conclude our photo story and pick up with the amazing video captured, directed, and produced by Ron Dawson. This will give you a deeper glimpse into how special this day was for all of us.

Lens & Learn – Inspiring Kids Through Photography from Ron Dawson on Vimeo.

THANK-YOU Pictage for this awesome opportunity!!!!!!!!!

And once again, here is the awesome camera toss photo by Mike Larson & his camera :)

PS.  iPhone photo of the day – me and my girls on the bus together!

Mar
18
2010

Meet Our Intern & Follow Her Intern Journey on Twitter!

by Jody on March 18, 2010, posted in Uncategorized

Well folks, many of you applied for our Spring internship and if we could have taken you all, we would have!  Sadly, we only had room for one person.  After combing over all the applications (42 of them!) and checking out everyone’s FaceBook pages (just kidding, we didn’t really do that), we narrowed down the field and finally selected our intern!!  It’s been 2 weeks already so we thought it was high time that we announced our intern!!

It is time to officially introduce you to you….

(drumroll please….)

Kate!!!

Kate hails all the way from North Carolina for this internship and has already been a HUGE asset to us and our business.  She’s sharp as a tack, great to be around and yes folks, she even helped us move from our apartment to our new home before she even officially started for us.  (We didn’t force her to, we promise!).

Take a moment and get to know Kate:

Hometown: Oak Ridge, NC babyyyyy!

2 adjectives that describe yourself: Sincere + spontaneous

Fascinating fact: I rode racehorses a few summers ago for my summer job at the same place Barbaro (the winner of the Kentucky Derby) was trained! Rawr!

Childhood career dream: I wanted/still want to be a school bus driver. I want to make blueberry muffins and pass them out to the bambinas and bambinos on board.

Favorite Pasttime: I’ve been riding horses forever and I LOVE the freedom you feel when you’re on the back of a 1,000 lb baby mammal.

Strangest food you ever ate: A hamburger grilled in my fireplace.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you bring with you: face wash, q-tips, fire

The biggest thing that you’re excited about in regards to this internship: I love love and I’m so excited to be learning about this business from two people who are going for the best in their business, in their marriage, and in their faith ;)

Want to follow Kate in her journey as our intern?  She’ll be tweeting the cool and fun work we have her up to ;) as well as anything else her heart desires in relation to her internship!

FOLLOW KATE ON TWITTER at @GrayPhotoIntern

Come on and welcome her into the family!

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 you take of them. These moments are constantly happening all around us and we, as pro photographers, have to be ready to take the shot. Even if (hold your breath) the light is not perfect! Or the crop is not exactly as it should be or the f-stop was not at 2.8 instead of 1.6.

There is a reason that old film cameras were held at hip height and the photographer looked down through the top of the viewfinder. That was so his eyes could look straight at his subjects and he or she could engage with them in a real way while clicking away at the hip, getting real expressions. These days the camera blocks your face and makes you into something that no one can relate to. You as the photographer become the guy with the giant camera attached to his mug!

So, Jody and I spend lots of time at shoots looking for the in-between shots and do our best to be ready for them when they happen. It usually happens when we are engaged and talking with our clients and they are telling a story, or talking with their new husband or wife (or spouse-to-be!) and just for a second, they forget that there is a huge camera in their face and they become who they truly are. That is when you need to be ready and get the shot; even if it is not “perfect.” So I want to dispel a rumor going around. There are no “perfect” images, only perfectly true moments. It is simply our job to record them.

So, here are a few images that I love that Jody and I took on a session with some great friends of ours who are also really amazing photographers (talk about people who know good images when they see them!). Meet David & Tammy Molnar of DavidMolnar.com (click the link to see what I mean!)!

The first shot is a cool one. It looks good and they both have a nice look on their faces (and we totally set this shot up by telling them what to do).

This next shot was one where we all were chatting with each-other and letting them relax and be themselves, and then David or Tammy did something that is so them, and this little moment happened and thank goodness my finger was on the trigger and we got this shot.

Guess which one is printed and hanging on the wall in their house? This moment was so much more real and they loved this shot. Even though the background is slightly crooked, their eyes are not exactly at the top 1/3 of the frame to make them dominant and blah blah blah. They loved the moment and that was all that mattered to them. Ahhh….

So I ask you, who are you shooting for? Is it for you, your clients, or is it to maybe impress other photographers? That is something to really think on because at the end of the day it is the client who puts the images on their walls, and that work should really represent them and who THEY are more than anything.

Below are a few more shots, and see if you can pick out which shot they did NOT get printed.

The middle shot, although very rock-star esc, was one that (to my surprise) did not make their wall (what the heck man?! That one is cool!!). I love the shot and think my lighting was cool and the wide angle was edgy and the background was very straight :) But, alas, no connection to real life. The other shots were either totally natural light or accidentally lit with a reflector while walking from one location to the next (Jody and her mad moment-catching skills!). Those were real moments between them and that is why they loved them.

So I challenge you this week or whenever your next shoot is, to shoot for the in-between because you will find who your clients really are in there. Happy shooting!!