In The Raw Video Series | Smoke Shot part 1 (Video)

What up everyone! We are excited to bring you a brand new series of lighting videos all about studio lighting. One of  my passions and something that I (Zach) have undertaken during our year sabbatical from shooting weddings, is finally getting to do more personal work. I love shooting controlled portraits and am excited to share more of how I have shot some of the images I have been doing lately.   Now, many wedding and portrait photographers have moved away from studio shooting due to the high costs of renting spaces and the complexity of the gear. Well, this video series is going to show you how to shoot in a simple space and create some dramatic lighting with some really cool techniques. If you shoot bridal shoots, senior shoots, family or other portrait sessions, then adding some studio style shots could be a great creative outlet for you and give your clients something really unique that many photographers are not doing.  The shots you will see were photographed right inside our house (garage or other spaces) and even though we are using some Elinchrom gear, you could do this with equipment that costs much less. To download our entire gear list, go HERE to get it for free!   Now, on to today’s video and final image:   (Video Part 1 of 2) Thanks for checking out the video and come back next week to see how I composite the smoke and final image into the completed shot! If you like this video, share it by using one of the sharing links below and leave a comment letting... Read More

Belieb It Or Not…

  Before you even start to hate, if you have never seen the documentary on Justin Bieber Never Say Never, then we don’t want to hear one negative peep out of your mouth :)   he he he… Don’t be jealous y’all, but Justin Beiber came through Nashville on his BELIEVE tour and we got tickets and went! The concert was pretty impressive and that little dude can sing really well live. Below is how Justin made his entrance… it was pretty …shall we dare say… EPIC. (above image compliments of The stage was really impressive and it was such a great show.   We had a fun time, though we did forget to bring earplugs.  I think we both had dreams that night of girls screaming in our ears ;))  This is Zach trying to protect his eardrums… And a little iphone video for you… :)   [iframe: width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>] It had been awhile since we had been to a concert so it was something that was definitely fun to go out and do! What concerts have you been to that you love and would... Read More

Nashville IN-CAMERA: Shooting & Post Recap | October 2012

We just finished up Nashville’s final IN-CAMERA workshops here at our home and we had an absolute blast with our attendees! Many pics were taken, lots of laughs were had and some great friends were made. We have loved doing this particular series of workshops and always enjoy opening our home to photographers. So now that this series of workshops is coming to an end, you may be asking, “what’s next?” We have a few things up our sleeves that are sure to be way different and really exciting! Stay tuned! In the meantime, check out the first day of our workshop Shooting and Post! We started off like we always do doing a Keynote teaching the how’s of what we do, then heading out for 3.5 hours to get the hands-on shooting time that really solidifies what we talked about. We both learn by doing, so we know how critical it is to shoot and sit with someone guiding you through as you encounter problems and work through different scenarios. That is the real benefit of a hands-on workshop that you don’t get by watching a You-Tube video or reading a book shooting. When I (Zach) first started out, I read loads of books and watched tons of videos online about shooting and lighting, but it wasn’t until I met Evan Baines and we shot together, shared and critiqued each others work, that I really started to become a good photographer. Those times of working one on one with Evan were invaluable to my career and that is a big reason why we do small, more personalized workshops... Read More

Cows Never Win

80% of what we do day in and day out to become successful is business – and with 20% of our time we get to create art (shooting, editing etc). So this week, and a few time a month our business posts are dedicated to this all important area of our photog biz!   Today’s tip is entitled, “Don’t be a cow.” Cows love the status quo, they love chewing their cud and keeping their heads down. They have no idea when they walk into the slaughter house what’s about to happen to them. That is the opposite of what you need to do to be a success in anything in life, including your photography business. The alternative is to become a Rhino. Scott Alexander, in his book Rhinoceros Success, calls Rhino’s “large, focused, 6,000 pound charging machines that stop at nothing to get what they want!” They don’t stand for the status quo, they live in the wild and live free unlike their cow counterparts. So why do Rhino’s succeed and cows just get by? Because they are driven.   The Challenge So our challenge today is, where is your drive? What is your focus? Where are you going? Do you even know? If you don’t feel driven, don’t have direction and don’t know where you are going, here are three areas you can work on that could change that for you starting right now!   We become the product of three things: the people we associate with, the books we read, and the media we listen to. (Tweet this out HERE!)    Want to become a Rhino (someone... Read More

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

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 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

This Marketing Tool Will Change Your Wedding Business!

There are some marketing ideas out there that work for some people, some that don’t work for others, and some that simply aren’t great ideas. However, what we are about to share with you today on the latest installment of our Tuesday Tips and Tricks post WILL benefit your business and is a sure way to amp things up and get your momentum going (or keep it going) and the return is invaluable! This has worked awesomely for us and is in part one of the reasons that we do not spend any $$$ on advertising. Today we are going to be talking about Wedding Slideshows! Some of you may have heard of doing sideshows at weddings and for some of you, this may be a brand new idea, so we’re gonna break it down! We first heard of this idea from a photographer and entrepreneur who we respect and admire, David Jay, and since we began doing this back in January 2008 it has brought us tons of amazing clients and got our name out to many more! What are wedding slideshows? – This is when you set up your laptop/iPad/small viewing screen, and display in slideshow form pictures taken earlier that day at the wedding Why does this work? We cannot stress enough how amazing doing these slideshows can be for your business. How many times have you gone and shot a wedding and people come up to you saying, “Man, you are AWESOME – you did such a great job,” but you’re thinking to yourself, “You haven’t even seen the pictures yet. They could stink for... Read More

Shoot em’ Straight!

Today’s post is a very simple technique that I learned back in the early part of 2008 when I (Zach) had been shooting for just under a year professionally. Back then, me and another great Nashville photographer Evan Baines used to send our favorite few images from our recent shoots back and forth for critique from each other. It was cool how he would see things in my shots that I did not and vice-versa. I highly recommend this between photographers because it will help you grow tons faster if you have someone you respect looking at your images from an outside perspective! So after one particular shoot that I had done, I sent over a few shots and got some amazing advice from Evan. I showed him this image and was sure he was going to love it (because I was sooo excited about it myself). Evan did love the shot, but he noticed one major flaw in the image that I did not. He told me to either, “Shoot it straight, or shoot it purposely crooked. Never shoot it a little bit crooked like you did.” So, I went in, cropped the shot slightly, and re-sent it over. And I was like “Whoa! I never noticed that!” Images that are purposely straight as an arrow or purposely crooked leave your audience feeling a certain way about the shot. If your shot is straight, it looks like it is balanced and even and makes you feel that way. If a shot is purposely crooked it gives you a sense of movement, or can even make you feel like you... 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

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

Behind the Scenes on a Bridal Shoot

We know a lot of you out there have questions about how we do our lighting and set up so we wanted to give you a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes of one of the set-ups of a bridal session that we shot a few weeks ago. The fab bride that you see below is Mallory, and she and her man, Aaron just got married this past weekend, so we are excited we can start putting up some of her bridal images! We shot this setup with a Westcott 24×32 Softbox, two Photogenic Powerlights (600 watts & 1,000 watts), Pocket Wizards Plus IIs, the Sekonic L-358 light meter, and of course 2 Alien Bee Vagabond II‘s for our power source. I put the main light about 35 degrees off to the side and as close in as possible to give the “painted on” light look. Putting it off to the side creates a “loop” lighting pattern where the light loops off to one side of the brides face and body and helps create more depth and dimension. Then, to help “pop” her out from the background even more, I set our second light to the side of her, hitting the rocks and her back. We shot this BARE BULB with a small 7 inch reflector so the light was a little more harsh and defining. The front light was metered at F/9 which was about 2 stops brighter than the background (to give us a very flash heavy dramatic look) and the back light was metered at F/11 to make it really obvious. This is what the set up looked... 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