Starbucks Trip Adventures | Cabo Mexico! Our Photog Retreat Adventures!

We had a blast on the Photog Cruise (the week after WPPI in Vegas) and one of the highlights was our stop in Cabo San Lucas! Here is our Mexico Mug!! They did have Cabo specific mugs but they sold out before we got there!! :'( … so sad. Our cruise ship! This was the scene as we headed off the ship in the little boats that carried us to shore. Freestyle! We took a little water taxi over to see “Lovers Beach” which was awesome! Fish, sea life and Sea Lions were everywhere! It was really cool! Cabo is small city is surrounded by some amazing rocks that shoot right out of the ocean and there are some beautiful clear water beaches everywhere! This was the sight to see just about 1/2 mile off shore. Amazing! We stopped off at our own little private beach and took in some snorkeling, swimming and sun tanning! The water was a little rough, but Jody made it over in one piece! Here is Stephen Knuth doing his Hasselhoff impression. Soooo hot! :) Here is one of the couples who came on the retreat – Jessee and Christina of Visia Productions – they are so cute together! Another oh-so-sweet couple who were a blast to be around – Tiffany & Dean Deming from Follow Your Heart Photography! Us! This was the scariest dog ever! Soooo cute! Starbucks in Cabo! This was our bill for 3 coffees… no worries it’s in Pesos. :) We almost took this little guy home with us from one of the shops! Fresh sea urchin for you!! We... Read More

Pt. II Dunkin Donuts vs. Italy’s Favorite Coffee

This blog post is a follow up post in response to last Tuesday’s post from Dunkin Donuts vs. Italy’s Favorite Coffee. We posted the below two photos and asked you this question in regards to two images that we took when in the CT airport the other week: “Why is it that everyone was in line for Dunkin’ Donuts coffee… but no one was in line for Cafe Lavazza – Italy’s FAVORITE coffee?”   There were some great thoughts posted on the blog, lots with REALLY valid points from branding to product consistency to customer service. Thanks to commenter Doug, we even got the view from his friend who works in the coffee industry (Starbucks to be even more specific). It’s interesting how his friend got all down and specific with the coffee in regards to the consumers preferring maybe a sweeter taste over a more bold taste… but we think Liz ultimately nailed it on the head. She wrote, “Brand recognition can even trump a superior product…“   Read it again, “Brand recognition can even trump a superior product…“ About 3 months ago we blogged about the Law of Leadership, taken from The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing (Jack Trout & Al Ries), and what we are looking at here with Dunkin vs. Little Italy is a case study of exactly this. This law essentially states that it is better to be first in someone’s mind than to be better. Dunkin Donuts built a powerful coffee brand and became the #1 coffee in people’s minds (at least in the North East ;). Little Italy comes in and thinks, “Hey,... Read More

IN-CAMERA: Light | Sacramento Photography Workshop Recap!

IN-CAMERA: Light Sacramento was so awesome! Great weather, awesome attendees, great models, killer lighting and fab images – who could ask for more? It’s amazing what one high-powered strobe on location can do! We wanted to share with you some of the images of the day! Zach showing the IN-CAMERA magic (below). Photo courtesy of Beth Baugher of True Love Photo. Below is what the natural light setup looked like for this next shot you are about to see… And here is the result! No PhotoShop folks! :) Guiding our group through the set up… as we laugh and have fun. ha ha… Got to love an awesome sun set! Thanks to everyone who came out! We had a blast with you all!! A special thanks goes to the oh-so-awesome Carmen Salazar with Carmen Salazar Photography for helping us put all the workshop details together and then Beth Baugher of True Love Photo for letting us use her suh-weet studio... Read More

Starbucks Trip Reflections | Los Angeles

Between WPPI and then leaving for the Photog Cruise, we had two days to refresh and relax in Los Angeles, where we added one more mug to our Starbucks collection! The biggest highlight is (thanks to Ginny Corbett’s travel channel prowess), is we hit up the famous Randy’s Donuts!!! These donuts were YUMMY and dee-lish. Other than that, we chilled in the hotel, caught up on sleep and refreshed for the cruise!!!!! I think this was maybe our third trip time in Los Angeles.. what are the other things we need to make sure to do when in the Los Angeles area next time?? Thank-you for joining us in the latest addition of our Starbucks trip adventures!... Read More

Our Sacramento Adventures | Speaking at PPSV and The Sac. PUG!

We just spent the last 5 days speaking, shooting and meeting an amazing group of photographers in the Sacramento, CA area! We flew in and spoke to the PPSV group (Professional Photographers of Sacramento) and were blown away by the turn out of over 110 shooters! After our talk we did some impromptu print judging (which was a first for both of us!) and then headed out to do a lighting demo. We can’t believe how warm of a welcome we received from all the photographers and were sooo blessed to be able to talk about all the tools that we have used in our business to make it what it is today and then FREELY share that knowledge with anyone and everyone that we can to help them take their businesses to where they want them to go. We love that we get to do this and love that we have met so many new friends, and love how our story was able to connect with some specific photographers in that area at that time and place. Check out some of the shots below from our time at PPSV, and from the Sacramento PUG group! We headed out afterward to do a lighting demo and it was sooo cool how many photographers stayed as late as they did to shoot with us! We had the worst lighting conditions imaginable, but showed how just one light could really make a huge difference! The Before: This was the ambient light that we had to work with which was basically just one street light behind our subject lighting the tree in... Read More

IN-CAMERA: Sacramento Photography Workshop Recap! (Shooting & Post)

The Sacramento IN-CAMERA workshops are officially completed and it’s time we share some Sacramento goodness with you all! We have been in Sacramento for a week now and we’re sad to leave this morning. We have met so many great people here! Here is a recap of the first workshop day – IN-CAMERA: Shooting & Post. This workshop focuses on getting killer images, in-camera and without needing to lean on PhotoShop. This class focuses on controlling your camera as well as working with natural light. Seeing that photography IS light, we talk about where to find it, how to control it and make it work for you and have your images look awesome! First we start off with class time… And then we go out and shoot!! ….. This day had 100% rain in the forecast… It was pouring the night before, was raining the morning of, and when we went out to shoot – the rain stopped!!! At the end as we were lining up for the group photo we felt a rain drop… another one… and soon enough it began to pour again. Yay! So blessed the rain held off for our shoot time! PTL… And here are image from the day :) Started off demonstrating and walking people through our process… look at the beautiful light that we have here on a cloudy, overcast day! After the shoot time, Zach wraps up with taking everyone through our post production process, from organization, to importing, culling, turning the RAWs back to JPEGS, and exporting! Good stuff! And the group! This is everyone supposed to be doing their... Read More

Dunkin Donuts vs. Italy’s Favorite Coffee

One week ago, we were in the Hartford, CT airport and came across this interesting sight: Below is Dunkin’ Donuts with everyone and their mom in line… About 10 paces down on the other side was this coffee shop… Why is it that everyone was in line for Dunkin’ Donuts coffee where, let’s be honest, their coffee really isn’t that good (actually, we would rather go without coffee than drink DD’s coffee… sorry North-easterners ;), but no one was in line for Cafe Lavazza – Italy’s FAVORITE coffee? Why do you think this is and what can we take away from here and apply to our own businesses? Put your thoughts below. Stay... Read More

Starbucks Trip Adventures | WPPI 2011 Las Vegas

We have been traveling a lot over here and you know what that means – more Starbucks mugs that we have added to our collection! … not to mention it’s good closure for us! lol. And now we present to you the final recap of our time in Las Vegas! You saw our Desert shoot at WPPI, we blogged on our Master Class, and the other awesome big thing that we were involved was an event that Pictage had with The Boys and Girls Club of Las Vegas! Yes, we were a part of this last year and begged for them to let us be a part of it once again. We split into smaller groups and talk about cameras and photography and then we go out and shoot with the kids! It’s a great chance to pour into these kids and just love on ’em. Below is our group! This kid here, Paul, became Zach’s apprentice. Talk about shadow for the day and SUPER Talented! Zach gave Paul his camera (this is a big deal here folks!) and gave Paul some pointers and this kid took off and got some REALLY stellar shots! Talk about artsy! :) Pictage had a studio setup and so our kids had a great time posing and taking shots with each other :) This is me with my precious girl, Kayden. We met last year when we came to the Las Vegas Boys & Girls Club, and we were soooo excited to see each other again. Kayden wants to get into model so she’s practicing her look here :) Short of the desert... Read More

IN-CAMERA Photography Workshop Registration is Open to All! | Maui, Sacramento, Nashville

The news you have all been waiting for!!! Registration for the early Spring 2011 IN-CAMERA workshops is open!! As you all know, our newsletter subscribers got first dibs on the workshops and seats have sold like crazy! Nashville is almost sold out completely, so get what’s left while you can! Visit the official IN-CAMERA Workshop Website. NASHVILLE, TN Sunday, April 3rd | IN-CAMERA: Shooting & Post SOLD OUT! Monday, April 4th | IN-CAMERA: Light SOLD OUT Tuesday, April 5th | Business & Marketing: Executing the Dream SOLD OUT MAUI Sunday, March 27th | IN-CAMERA: Shooting & Post COMPLETED! Monday, March 28th | IN-CAMERA: Light COMPLETED! Tuesday, March 29th | Business & Marketing: Executing the Dream COMPLETED! SACRAMENTO, CA Sunday, March 20th | IN-CAMERA: Shooting & Post COMPLETED! Monday, March 21st | IN-CAMERA: Light COMPLETED! Tuesday, March 22nd | Business & Marketing: Executing the Dream COMPLETED! AWESOME GIVEAWAYS For Each Worskhop Class 1 year free subscriptions to Showit and a free copy of Slideshow (value$667) 24x32in Silver Softbox by Westcott (valued $205) Free subscription for 6 months for Pictage Starter and ShootQ Startup accounts ($310 value) And more to come!! IN-CAMERA: Shooting & Post Behind-the-Scenes Video Videos by the fab 2Duce2. Can’t wait to see you... Read More

Friday Fun | The funniest “We Are Pregnant” Video

Earlier this week we came across this video on facebook of expecting mother, Melissa, telling husband, Gary that (after a long journey) she is finally pregnant. Oh my gosh, this made us both laugh and yes, maybe tear up too. Love it! Happy Friday! To read the full blog post of the story behind her telling him, you can visit their family blog HERE. Congrats, you... Read More

Our Connecticut Adventures | Speaking at CTPPA

Sadly, the beginning of this mug does not start with a Hartford, CT Starbucks mug :( Can you believe that we didn’t make it out to one?? So sad. However, we have not let that ruin our spirits and still blogging on the event :) This past weekend we were honored to speak at Connecticut’s PPA convention in, you guessed it, Hartford, CT! We flew on out Saturday afternoon and arrived to cloudy and overcast weather, with a few piles of snow still on the ground where the sun had yet to reach. Crazy! Our talk was on Sunday and we had a 3 hour time slot and then that evening after the awards ceremony did a mini lighting talk then demonstration. The Marantzs and Jasmine Star and hubby JD were also a part of the festivities and rocked the house with their goodness. Earlier in the day on Sunday we had the chance to touch and play around with an older film camera. It’s totally crazy using it (looking through the viewfinder is a trip!) and it definitely makes you have respect for the photographers who actually shot weddings with it. Good times!! Thanks to the CTPPA staff for having us out, Marietta for her awesomeness in arranging all the logistics and bringing us in and Eric Foley for taking care of us :) Thank you... Read More

WPPI 2011 Master Class Recap!

We feel that it is high time to share with you how our WPPI 2011 Master Class went! We had a blast hanging out with our MasterClass attendees at WPPI, not only once but twice!! We had an awesome time doing the 5am shoot the day before with about 20 of these photographers, and then we got to spend another 2 1/2 hours with all the registrants going over the technical side of lighting with a demo shoot at the end of our class. To see images from the 5am shoot we did in the desert, click HERE to see the past blog post! Thanks to Eric Farewell for coming in to take the behind the scenes images below and for being an all around rockstar! Also thanks to the below companies we work with and use for providing some awesome giveaways!! Expo Imaging KISS books Pixel 2 Canvas Showit Westcott Lighting Thanks again everyone for coming out and we hope to see you again soon!! This was the in-class section of the Master Class where we went over the why and how of our system that we use to light the bride and groom. The system allows us to set up, light and get the exact image we want in just a minute or two. Here we are outside of the MGM Grand near the tradeshow floor where we decided to do our demo shot. This was not the most ideal place, but it was great because the ambient light was getting pretty low and we were able to demonstrate what we can do with one simple, powerful... Read More

How Well Do You Rate?

This week’s post is from an article that we participated in at WPPI for PhotoShelter. We did an interview over lunch with PhotoShelter co-founders Allen Murabayashi & Grover Sanschagrin. They wrote the below article based on our and other photographers chats with them and on their personal experience at WPPI. The article highlights 5 positive traits that they have seen in successful photographers and is a great reminder of how important being positive is in this business. Check it out and see how well you rate compared to the 17 photographers they interviewed. Have you ever been in a room with a whole bunch of positive people, and as a result, you walked away feeling optimistic and positive too? That was the scene at WPPI in Las Vegas the last week of February, a trade show for wedding and portrait photographers. People were so positive, upbeat, and happy, that I needed to find out why. This year, Allen and I decided to attend WPPI – but not by setting up a booth on the trade show floor. We just wanted to talk to people in a more pleasant atmosphere than a crowded and noisy show floor. We wanted to talk to people about their photography, their businesses, their outlook on the industry, and strategies for success – and felt that if we stepped out of sales-mode (which you really cannot escape if you’re standing inside of a booth) we’d be able to learn a lot more simply because we’d have the time to listen. This trade show was booming with an estimated 16,500 attendees. I’ve been to my share... Read More

Photography DVD Review | Jeremy Cowart’s LIFEFINDER

As most of you who are familiar with us know, we are all about getting great content into the hands of photographers that truly enables them to run their businesses better, more efficiently and hopefully guide them towards the tools that will inspire them in their creative endeavors. That is exactly why we decided to review Jeremy Cowart’s Life Finder DVD in order to help those of you who follow us make an educated decision as to whether or not you should purchase this DVD. About Jeremy: Jeremy Cowart is a celebrity photographer who hales from Nashville, TN (go NashVegas!) and has shot images for major record labels and television, and he has done philanthropy work all over the world. He was also the creative mind behind Help Portrait which has taken off worldwide. Jeremy’s skill s are second to none when it comes to creative imagery and he is admired by photographers in every aspect of this industry. We know Jeremy personally and he has inspired parts of our work with his off-camera lighting images. But, does all of this qualify him to produce a DVD to educate you, the photographer who is looking to gain insight into how to do what you do better? Here is our review. After watching the DVD in its entirety, we came to a few conclusions. 1. This DVD is really well produced as compared to other DVD’s that we have seen floating around the industry. That is a huge plus because the content in it is clear, easy to find and broken into chapters and spaced out into simple, easy to... Read More

Friday Fun | Oh, the fun we had on Photog Retreat…

Last week, right after WPPI we went and spoke on a cruise for photographers! We had a great time, and you better believe that photos are coming… However, our the-bomb-dot-com friend, Ginny Corbett put together a little video of the time we had together and we wanted to share that with you…. :) May this be your laugh for this Friday :) … and by the way if you’re wondering if that is Zach under there, it is... Read More

Win A Seat to IN-CAMERA: Light!

Thanks to workshop sponsor, Showit, you are able to win a seat to our IN-CAMERA: Light photography workshop (Sacramento or Maui) AND one free year of SHOWIT! Want to learn how to do the below? … IN YOUR CAMERA? You can!! How to enter: – Follow @GrayPhotography on Twitter – Follow @ShowitFast on Twitter – Tweet the following message (multiple tweets do not help the cause :) “Enter to win a seat to @GrayPhotography’s IN-CAMERA: Light workshop sponsored by @ShowitFast! Pls RT More Info-” About the Prizes: SHOWIT Showit is the platform that we have built our fully customizable website and is seriously one of the most powerful tools that we use in our business that frees us up! The winner will receive one free year subscription. For more detailed info on showit, check out our Showit Blog Post. Value: $468. IN-CAMERA: LIGHT IN-CAMERA: Light is our off-camera portrait lighting workshop that we teach and is part of the IN-CAMERA workshop series classes (Shooting & Post, Light and Business & Marketing). This workshop is for the photographer who is ready to take their in-camera images to the next level. If you want to learn how to shoot in any lighting situation and create light instead of looking for it, if you want to enhance your images in a way that few do, then this is the workshop for you. This class will focus on advanced off-camera lighting using ONE high-powered studio strobe to create a unique look for your on-location portrait work. This one day workshop includes class time and group shoot. Value: $549 You can win a... Read More

Daniel & Stacia are Engaged!

You know how there are those couples who you instantly connect with? Well, we feel that way about Daniel & Stacia FOR SURE! These two are down-to-earth, fun to be around, and guess what, they even have a cat named Stinky for reasons that parallel why we named our newer kitty, Beans… Ah good times, great fun! We had the pleasure of shooting these two and let us tell you, these guys made our job so easy! Talk about being comfortable in front of the camera and making it so easy to shoot the cuteness of them together. We had a really fun time with them hanging around in the Franklin area and we are excited to share these images with you!!! These are their Varsity jackets… so cool.. :) We can’t wait for your wedding, you two!!! …. Remember, we have a Maniac’s chicken eating double-date to put on the... 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

Where to See us this Month | Our Upcoming Speaking Gigs

We have a few speaking gigs coming up this month that we wanted to let you guys know about, so if you’re in the area, we’d love to see you! We will be doing some free lighting demos and talking about business strategies and how to make your business do more of what YOU want it to do. We also have multiple full-day workshop dates with seats available. Come hang with us because it is going to be tons of fun!! Link for PPSV meeting information. Click for Smug Mug specific info. For information on our IN-CAMERA workshops in Sacramento & Maui, visit our workshop website. Can’t wait to see you... Read More

Friday Fun | LipSyncing At Its Finest

Looking for a laugh for your Friday? Look no further. We were a part of a video project that launched at WPPI 2011! This video was led by the Bui Brothers and a slew of photographers were also apart of it. Those who couldn’t make the shoot down in LA, recorded their own videos and submitted them. We pulled in Eugene & Heather from 2Duce2 to partake in our video and we had oh so much fun!!!!!!!!! We decided to not only show you the final video, but yes, share with you the one we created on the homefront…. He he he.. Enjoy! Katy Perry Firework LipDub And the fab photographers who were a part of the above video! Kerry Garrison Robert Evans Christine Bentley Roberto Valenzuela Leeann Marie Kevin Kubota Dawn Davis Bob Davis Jim Garner Sara France Khara Plicanic Erin Youngren Jeff Youngren Jody Gray Zach Gray Heather Brown Eugene Brown Kevin Swan Justine Ungaro Jay Goldman Joy Bianchi Jules Bianchi Lauren Hillary David Esquire Corey Hage And now, we introduce to you the unabridged video we created…. He he he he.. (for the record, seeing we knew this video was going to be a part of a grander video and overdubbed with audio, you get to hear the goodness of us chatting with each other behind-the-scenes… aw yeah). Fun times :) :) Thanks to Westcott for the use of their Spiderlite Pro TD5 and... Read More

Matthew and Stephanie’s are Hitched! | A Gray Photography Team Wedding

Team photographer, Kristine, shot the Nashville, TN wedding of Matthew and Stephanie at the Pinnacle venue in Nashville! Below are her thoughts on the wedding! The best word to describe this wedding is classic – through and through. From Stephanie’s simply stunning gown, to Matthew’s dapper tux, these two looked elegant and timeless in every way possible. With their ceremony set within a gorgeous church and their reception in the a breath-taking venue with floor to ceiling windows overlooking downtown Nashville, I’m pretty certain my jaw was hanging to the floor most of the evening. No detail was spared, and I loved that about these two. Well them, and their family and friends who made the whole experience even more enjoyable for me. I’m grateful to have been a part of documenting such a special time in your lives, Stephanie and Matthew, and wish you the best in your new life together! – Kristine Neeley To view Images from Matthew & Stephanie’s wedding CLICK HERE to sign their virtual online gallery. Congratulations you... Read More