Funny thing about this business. Work blows hot and cold, unpredictable and unexpected, fun and frustrating. So when the phone rang at 8am with a froggy voice asking if I was available for a shoot TODAY, I said yes of course, but did not know what would be walking through my door. Fortunately, it was a pleasant surprise, four members of a Fleetwood Mac cover band! We had fun and I think it shows! Thanks to Dale, Carl, Kimberly and Shari for the experience. And you can see them perform at Silk's inside Oaklawn August 25th!
I shoot weddings and portraits and headshots. Yes, I do engagements and bridals and surprise proposals. But this month somebody must have appointed me "Family Reunion" dude as I have had four bookings this month with extended families. Tonight was the Rickey family, who were adorable, the setting was a Village lake house on Coronado. The kids bought the session for mom who posed with her EIGHT grandkids!
Goodnight, y'all. I'm tired!
Today saw a surprise proposal in Garvan Gardens with Logan popping the question to Emily. Fortunately, Logan had me discreetly capturing the event for posterity. Oh, and Emily said "Yes!"
These are some portraits of some lovely seniors I was hired to photograph for the These Eyes Have Seen Project. As their website describes it:
These Eyes Have Seen® is a celebration of our elders. It’s a project rooted in the simple idea that by documenting and sharing their stories, we can provide joy, inspiration and guidance to people everywhere. What experiences impacted them most in their long lives? What do they reflect upon with the greatest happiness, or regret? What wisdom can they share with us?The stories are as diverse as the faces of the subjects themselves and, taken together, they offer a unique perspective on what it means to lead a life well-lived.
These Eyes Have Seen® lives on the web and on Facebook. We hope you’ll join our community and help us to share these amazing people and their stories with the world. These Eyes Have Seen® is a passion project of Sunshine Retirement Living and is produced in partnership with Moon Tide Media.
It was truly an honor and a pleasure to be a part of this project, and to meet all of the lovely people involved. Special thanks goes out to Stacy Drennan Whittaker for her assistance.
Here is a set of photos from a recent wedding at Timberlodge Ranch in Amity, Arkansas. The couple, Cameron and Kirsten Wyatt were kind enough to ask me to photograph their sweet wedding in the woods. It was a beautiful, low key event with friends and family.
Italian artist Giuseppe Percivati is in Hot Springs this week doing a commissioned mural for the city. Giuseppe contracted me to create a video for his sponsor of the experience, and of course I'm shooting stills as well.
From the Rotary Club newsletter: Don Gooch, Mary Neilson, and Neal Harrington of the 100thAnniversary Project Team, were pleased to present their gift to Hot Springs commemorating our 100 years as the “downtown” Rotary Club.
Muralist Giuseppe Percivati is an international artist whose work can be viewed at www.pepegaka.com. His design idea was inspired by the history of Hot Springs:
In 1818 the Quapaw Indians CEDED the land around the hot springs to the United States in a treaty after being forced to a reservation south of the site. The mural is a celebration of the Quapaw tribe, a peaceful people, who, along with other tribes, always regarded the hot springs as an area of rest and peace. The tribes would put aside their weapons and benefit from the healing waters while in this valley.
The mural will be painted on the wall located down from the Exchange Parking Garage walkway which now shows rather faded GWG scenes. This wall was not our original location so the design will be modified to conform to the wall’s dimensions. There will be a poem placed in the center that is from the Quapaw Tribe. A plaque commemorating our 100th Anniversary will also be placed on the wall.
Pepe is a soft spoken, gentle spirit and it is a pleasure to work on this project with him. More pictures as they happen!
Tonight was Flavor of the Park in downtown Hot Springs. 25 different vendors from Pizza to Barbecue to cupcakes under one (parking garage) roof! I wandered about the grounds and just photographed the sights around me. Hot Springs has something for everyone every week of the year!
Here are a few shots taken today in downtown Hot Springs at the Running of the Tubs, the annual Bathtub Races. My first time to attend, and at my side is the Sony a9 camera sporting the Sony G 70-200mm lens. And yes, it got wet...
Video available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NZQSFi5RQc
Next year I'll know to wear a wetsuit and bring an underwater housing for the Sony!
When I was a senior in high school, we had a career day featuring members of the community in various professions. I went to the photography lecture, naturally, and the speaker was really down on photography as a profession. He talked about how little money there was in the business, and how it was easier to be an artist with a camera rather than learning how to draw or paint. That talk haunted me for years, and might have kept me from pursuing a fulltime career in photography. So when Jennifer Carlton at Lakeside Middle School asked me to participate in their career fair, I jumped at the chance to speak the truth to the young minds about my career of choice.
I really enjoyed encouraging the class to go beyond photography and get a degree in business, and to take art courses to learn composition and structure.
The student below asked me how to get that blurry background effect, so I took two shots of her, one at f/2.8 aperture and another at f/13:
And thanks to my helpful volunteers who got me signed in at the office and set up in the gym, sorry girls, I forget your names because I'm old and senile... :)
I had dispensed literally tens and tens of dollars worth of valuable advice to these aspiring artists! I look forward to the opportunity to speak again at the next event. I was actually sorry when it was time to pack up and go.
Here are a few highlights from the Fox-Luttrell wedding held May 6 at the 1890s Williams House in Hot Springs. Beautiful weather, beautiful bride, beautiful everything!
Starting today, I'm offering the Hot Springs community top quality headshots for only $99. The only difference between this offer and my usual $249 price is there won't be a print included and we ask that you stick to one outfit change. We'll get through the shoot in about 30-45 minutes instead of 60+ minutes, and you'll get your proofs the same day.
Curtis Rougeau with State Farm came by for a headshot today, and I talked him into letting me take a formal portrait of him. He's a handsome lad, he is...
Contact my studio at 501-538-0810 for an appointment, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Look Sharp!
Last night I had the pleasure of shooting portraits at the Cutter Morning Star High School Senior Prom, which was held in the Hamp Williams builing (where my studio is upstairs) in Hot Springs, Arkansas. When I was a junior in high school, I was assigned to shoot the senior prom because the senior photographer was attending prom, without a camera, of course. Now I've come full circle 43 years on, and I felt like a teen again. I am really proud of these great kids that I have come to know this year, and what a bunch of cuties! Check these out!
Full gallery at http://clients.bgwphoto.com/gallery/4340446/
Friday (4/21) I had the opportunity to shoot a destination wedding in Hot Springs for Randi and Waylon Gibson, from Stigler, Oklahoma. The afternoon started off with a session in my studio, and a quick trip a mile away to the park across from the Arlington hotel and spa. Shooting in the dappled sunlight beneath the trees was an exposure challenge, but the results were pleasing. What a great way to close out a busy week! I must admit I woke up at 4:30 this morning editing the pictures in my head... I got out of bed at 5:00 am and got after it!
I've never understood why some photographers state they'll have the pictures ready in 4-6 weeks... I want them done ASAP! Hopefully, you do too!
As the expression goes, "Good photography is never cheap. Cheap photography is never good."
For the most part, that is true. Lately I find myself being underbid for weddings by cheap photographers (in the $200-1500 range), or by someone with a "friend with a nice camera". Today's marketplace is overpopulated with people who got a "nice" camera for Christmas, and with the help of a Facebook business page and some Instagram filters, boom! They're professional photographers!
I charge about $2500 for an eight hour wedding, including some perks like a canvas wrap print, online gallery, crystal usb in a satin box, etc. So how can some photographers cost $500 and make a living?
Truth is, they can't. Unless they have a day job, live with their parents or have a sugar daddy, they can't make a living on a $500 wedding.
Here's a reality check for anyone considering an inexpensive wedding photographer. Let’s start by looking at a broad number: 35%. According to the Professional Photographers Association of America, that’s the target profit margin for a wedding photographer. The target. Many make less. So, for every $1000 that a photographer charges, figure he’s probably taking home $200-$350 after expenses. Of all the vendors you hire for your wedding, your photographer will have the greatest overhead. I carry $20,000 worth of equipment to a wedding… equipment that gets broken and must be repaired or upgraded. I have a studio, utilities, a website, marketing expenses, a million dollar liability policy, indemnity insurance, a business license, federal, state and local taxes to pay. That’s where 65%-75% of your money goes.
Still, let’s say a photographer charges $2500 to photograph your wedding. With the above formula, that means he makes, say…$875. You might be thinking, “$875 for one day’s work is pretty good!”
But it’s not one day’s work. It’s a week of work. Unlike the other vendors at your wedding, when the wedding is over your photographer is just getting started. First, let’s not forget the 2-3 hours he has spent meeting with you before the wedding. Add another 5-6 hours if you had an engagement session. Then there’s the 7-10 hours of work on the wedding day. Finally, there can be as much as 20 hours of post-production work on a typical wedding.
So, that $875 is now a week’s salary, not a day.
Anyone shooting at $200-$1200 is not making a living as a photographer. They are a student, or they have another job. Sometimes they are building a portfolio towards being a full-time photographer. God bless them, everyone needs to start somewhere, but they would be well served to start as a second shooter for an experienced photographer.
A cheap photographer will often not have the professional equipment needed to do a wedding properly. "You're just being an equipment snob!" you might say. But I can tell you that a prosumer camera bought at Sam's is not going to have the low light capabilities in that dark, candlelit church that my $3500 cameras have. That is why, when you look at the website of a low-end photographer, you will see so many pictures that were taken outdoors, without a flash. Their indoor pictures don’t look good because they don’t have the right gear. Add to all of this the fact that I carry two of everything and you can see where the costs start to mount up. The cost of this level of expert equipment is passed along to the client. So, just because a photographer charges more doesn’t mean he makes more.
Foto Flashback! Flashback Flashback Flashback
When we got married in 1981, we were too poor to pay attention. Fortunately, I had a mother in law who was a wedding cake baker by trade, and the venues, dresses, and flowers were donated to us. Our wedding photographer was a nice gentleman who was friends with my mother. He was a weekend wedding photographer, an advanced hobbyist, to put it kindly. He shot our wedding for $95 for 95 5x7 prints ($253.87 in 2017 dollars). There were a few good pictures. There were even more that weren't. Blurry, awkward, out of focus, underexposed pictures. Some moments were missed entirely like the first kiss. It was such a disaster that we never made a wedding album. That's right, a wedding photographer without his own wedding album.
The bottom line when trying to decide how much money to spend on your photography is to remember that your wedding pictures will be the only thing that is left after the big day. They will last forever and be passed down to future generations. Do you really want to cut corners on your memories? Don’t be the person who looks back in 20 years and says, “I should have hired a better photographer!". Find the photographer whose work you love and who you'll be comfortable having around you all day at your wedding…. and figure out a way to hire them. It doesn’t have to be me… there are plenty of great, professional wedding photographers out there who will do a good job. Just don’t pick according to price. Pick according to quality and professionalism. You’ll be glad you did. (By the way, I offer financing...)
Bonus: Newbie Photographer Red Flag Warnings
If their website says:
"I'm an available light photographer!" ...It means, "I don't own a flash or if I do, I don't know how to use it."
"I'm an on-location photographer!"... This is obvious: " I don't own a studio."
"I am passionate about photography!"....Passion is no substitute for experience.
"I LOVE LOVE LOVE photography!" ....A variation of the above, and love don't pay the rent.
"I love Jesus and photography!" ......I'm not risking Hell by commenting on this one.
"I specialize in Family Portraits, Teens, Weddings, Maternity, Pets, Boudoir, Sports, Commercial, Nature Scenes and everything in between!" ....Please look up "Specialty".
Any "photographer" that also sells Arbonne, Mary Kay, Amway, Shaklee, Beauty Control, or any other MLM on their website.
I'll add to the list as necessary. Good day.
Thursday my friend Tim Metcalf and I were treated to a day of photographing race horses at Oaklawn Race Track in Hot Springs. Most surprising to me was the size and scope of Oaklawn's photography department with up to nine photogs on staff. A very well oiled machine, and quite professional. Thanks to Jennifer Hoyt, their staff, and especially Keely, our guide for the afternoon. Keely took us from the rooftop to the infield to the starting gate, and much more. Interesting note, in each position, you have about 10 seconds to get your shots, and then it's 40 minutes until the next race. Better have your settings right and your focus on AI Servo...
In 2012, I was asked to shoot some publicity shots and event coverage of Melissa Etheridge who was rolling out her new radio show on Cumulus Networks. As often is the case with celebrities, your window to shoot is 2-3 minutes so you have to be ready. Melissa, however, was warm and friendly. Standing before me was a woman who had endured many struggles, including a recent breakup, a battle with cancer and new motherhood. You could see it in her eyes, she still had a fire inside her, she was a survivor, a fighter.
On my first shot, the strobe didn't go off and the image was totally dark. I was mortified! I was afraid she was going to up and leave while I looked stupidly at my flash, but she waited patiently. Once the problem was rectified, we took several pictures until I felt I had "the shot". Afterwards, she went into a reception with a few hundred cell phone selfies waiting for her. I am grateful that I got her first, while she was fresh and in a great mood. Love her.
In recent weeks I have been revisiting some of my earlier works and reimagining them. This was taken with a Canon 5D Mk III w/ 24-70 mm 1/50th @ f 6.3, digitally painted.
- Aug 10, 2017 Dreams Aug 10, 2017
- July 2017
- Jun 14, 2017 Painting in the Park Jun 14, 2017
- Jun 8, 2017 Flavor of the Park Jun 8, 2017
- Jun 3, 2017 12th Annual Stueart Pennington Running of the Tubs Jun 3, 2017
- May 2017
- April 2017
- Mar 8, 2017 Age and Guile Beats Youth, Innocence and a Cheap Point-And-Shoot Mar 8, 2017
- February 2017
- January 2017
- Dec 28, 2016 Mr PhotoShop Know-It-All Dec 28, 2016
- November 2016
- Oct 6, 2016 The Legend of Big Poppa (Fat Louie) Oct 6, 2016
- Aug 26, 2016 Chelsea and Matthew Aug 26, 2016
- Jul 29, 2016 Ars Longa Vita Brevis Jul 29, 2016
- Jul 25, 2016 Kaitlyn & Jordan Jul 25, 2016
- Jul 19, 2016 Gutman-Beckwith Wedding- Does it get any better than this? Jul 19, 2016
- Jun 27, 2016 What's In A Name? Jun 27, 2016
- Apr 25, 2016 Samantha and Bill Hallahan Wedding Apr 25, 2016
- March 2016
- Feb 26, 2016 Kickin' it Old School Nikon F4+Tri-X Feb 26, 2016
- Jan 28, 2016 ..To Touch the Face of God Jan 28, 2016
- Jan 20, 2016 National DJ Day Jan 20, 2016
- Jan 19, 2016 Small Planet (For Synthesizer Geeks Only) Blog FLASHBACK Jan 19, 2016
- Jan 18, 2016 Dark Horse- 21 November 1974 Jan 18, 2016
- Jan 17, 2016 Time Travelling Jan 17, 2016
- Jan 2, 2016 This space for rent Jan 2, 2016
Today we are lighting Jon with a six light array, will cut his image out, composite with a new background, make visual adjustments and then digitally paint the final image.
First, we start with a single 22" beauty dish, upper camera left. The light spills onto the backdrop, which is less than desirable.
When we clip on a grid over the beauty dish, the light is focused on our subject in a narrow beam that does not reach the backdrop.
To give separation from the backdrop a pair of strip lights are added at a 45 degree angle from behind the subject. I used 3' Westcott Flex Kit lights mounted in a Scrim Jim with diffuser to accomplish this.
Next, a 2' Flex Kit light was added in the front, lower camera right to light his shadowed side of face.
Now, to make cutting Jon's image out for a composite background easier, we throw two flashes on the backdrop, one on each side.
Now we back out for a long shot, mask this image and prepare to send Jon to London.
Using a photograph of Notting Hill Station in West London I shot last September...
I placed the train station on the layer under the cutout mask of Jon.
Time to add some dodging and burning...
The final touch is to digitally paint over the image using different textures and brushes, and render this final product.
A closer look~
Finally, it goes to print. Because, it's not a picture until it's a print. That's what we do.
Till next time!
Dear Mr PhotoShop Know-It-All,
Sometimes when I take real estate pictures, the interior is okay, but the view outside is too bright. Can you fix this picture for me?
T. M. in Hot Springs
Yes, I certainly can help you. Remember to shoot two pictures, one exposed for outside, and a second exposed for the interior. Be sure to use a tripod to keep the camera steady and at the same angle. Then, stack the two pictures in Photoshop using layers and the erase tool to blend them together. Unfortunately, the exterior color information is no longer present in the photo you sent me, so I had to improvise.
I hope this helps. Next?
Any day that I get to shoot with Taylor Aulbach is a good day indeed. More tk.