Liz & Mark's New Year New Orleans Wedding

I couldn't think of a better way to end 2016.  I got to watch a good friend get married in the French Quarter, rang in the first moments of 2017 strolling through Bourbon Street finding the best dancing with a great second shooter, and I got to cross something off my bucket list: photographing a Second Line march in the rain.  

The link to Liz and Mark's big wedding PASS album is below, but here are some awesome samples of what's in the album.  

Thank you two for letting me be a part of it.  

Jon & Arielle's December Wedding @ Summerour Studio

Everyone's wedding is pretty.  This one was beautiful.  I had the hardest time picking through Jon and Arielle's wedding images to find the ones I wanted to include in the preview.  I decided to include a link to the whole album.  

Seriously, an amazing couple.  Beautiful, fun, chill... best mix of wedding music ever.  I was singing along to everything from my late 80s and early 90s childhood and high school years.  Much appreciated.  I was thrilled to be a part of their wedding, and I am thrilled to share their album with you now.

Check out this link for the whole album.

 

Here's a quick glimpse for those of you too busy to see the whole album...

2017 Advanced Booking Promotion!

Actually having a weekend to get caught up on all my backlog of shoots was refreshing.  This weekend I have time to look forwards to the 2017 shooting season.  Next weekend the basketball game season begins, so I’ll be coaching when I’m not shooting and vice versa.  Life moves on and on, right?

I’ve been very fortunate in that every year, my client list and calendar doubles with engagements and contracts.  I’m absolutely thrilled with that.  I’ve loved all the clients I’ve gotten to work with and I keep getting new references from old clients to new clients coming in.  It’s really awesome when word of mouth can spread out my business exponentially and I appreciate everyone that has helped me get this far.  I hit my goal of wedding bookings in 2016 already, and looking to 2017 I would like to stay with that same number.  Instead of continuing to expand and book more, I think I’d rather stay at my current level and focus on delivering the best experience and quality to my clients whether I’m shooting a wedding, engagement, portrait, event, or artistic session. 

So what it boils down to: I’m opening up my 2017 wedding calendar to booking now.  For any wedding booked, I’ll include a second shooter at no cost to the client.  It’s over a $500 value on most wedding packages I offer, and only available for the first 5 weddings I book for 2017.  After I’ve booked those five weddings, I’ll be looking at the calendar and logistics and decide where I have availability after that, and offer a discounted rate for those periods of time.  This way I’m not working every weekend in June and July, or every weekend in October, and have time to enjoy life as well as deliver results as expediently and as high quality as possible.  So if you know of someone looking for a wedding photographer who isn’t focused on how many weddings they book but are interested in delivering a fun, enthusiastic, and amazing experience, send them my way!

Any questions?  Post them below and I’ll get them answered ASAP!

Amanda & Chris October Wedding and looking ahead!

I've finally put the finishing touches on my last fall wedding.  Amanda and Chris were a blast to work with, and I loved every image we got.  You can check out their wedding album at the link below!

In the meantime, I get to start looking ahead to the two awesome December weddings I close my calendar out with, and it's time to start planning for 2017.  I have select availability for 2017 and am now taking on new clients for that year, so if you are someone you know is interested in a fun wedding photographer who will do their best to make your day as awesome as possible, talk to me today!  Have a great week!

Amanda & Chris

Amanda & Chris

DUAC 2016 & a Dark Waters post

Dancers Unite has come and gone this year, I look forward to more of it next year.  Check out the fun we had here, and make sure next time you join us!

I can't believe I never got around to posting my prior shoot with the lovely and stunning Voxy Shaw.  I've been swamped to say the least.  Make sure you're keeping up with the Dark Waters series because I usually post there.  I neglect the blog, I'm a horrible person.  But Voxy isn't!  The images speak for themselves, enjoy some dark waters!

Lance & Heather's Wedding Preview & a Dark Waters update

I have other updates underneath the gallery, but pretty images first!

Here's a preview from the wonderful wedding of Lance and Heather, shot in Cumberland Ohio.  Great weekend trip!  I got to spend a weekend with one of my oldest friends, watch him get married, and photograph the whole thing.  With a safari during the reception and a beautiful VW bus Lance restored to drive them around, this had to be one of the most unique and wonderful wedding experiences I had the pleasure to be part of.

So I've been busy, between going back to work at the day job, a fun few months of Dark Waters shoots, and the wedding of one of my best friends from college, I haven't had much time to post.  I'm hoping to get back to it more this fall.  I do have an October, two December weddings, and the annual Dancers United Against Cancer benefit to look forward to, and possibly Dragon*Con this coming weekend.  

Make sure to check out Dark Waters when you have a chance, they're PG-13 so mind the heat!

7.6.16 - Sydney in the pool - PG-13

I've been busy.  That's an understatement.  Moving into a new house has kept me busy.  I've gotten a shoot or two in though, and a wedding coming up I'm excited about.  I've also got more of Jacklyn & Dave's amazing wedding.  I have some amazing shoots planned as well and some collaborations with people I adore.  But first, some great images of one of my fave faves: Sydney.  These images are hot, thankfully we had the pool to keep us cool.

Jacklyn & Dave (.com) Sneak Peek - 5.22.16

It's rare that in one year, two of your best friends get married.  This is gonna be the best summer ever, y'all.  It started off right, with the marriage of two of the people I would bury a body for, no questions asked.  That they let me take pictures was even better.  There's way more to come, but these moments were just too fun to contain.  Jacklyn and Dave, love y'all!  #kissmygrits

Sydney @ Atlanta Photoworks Boudoir 3.6.16 - possibly NSFW

First, a disclaimer:  This post has some slightly racy imagery at the end.  Boudoir or implied photography can border on PG-13 to R.  I think we're somewhere in the middle here, but to be on the safe side I'm considering this shoot NSFW.  But I'm extremely proud of this work, which is outside my normal vision.  Maybe that's why I like it, it's fun to stretch yourself.

I don't typically shoot boudoir or implied anything.  I turn down more paid boudoir work than about anything else (sometimes to interesting and crazy results, but that's another story), simply because it's on the outside edge of my wheelhouse.  Don't get me wrong, I love those styles of photography and follow many great artists that create it.  Their work is amazing and I'll constantly refer people to them.  But it doesn't mean I'm not gonna try!

I love a challenge that's creative, and I typically will do that when I have a partner in crime that I can gel with.  If I'm going to do boudoir photography or implied photography, it's about creating art.  The process is as important as the product when you're dealing with something vulnerable, sometimes controversial.  If the product, the process, or the partner isn't worth the time and effort, then there isn't a point.  Sydney is one of those partners that makes the point.

Sydney is attempting to build a career as an alternative model in an industry and time that are remarkably still very detrimental to women.  That she would be able to bare her soul, be vulnerable, and take that risk is incredibly brave.  She's gotten a bit of flack online because people on social media tend to push towards their worst versions of themselves.  People hate or denigrate what they often can't do.  That online lack of fundamental kindness is creeping into how we treat each other offline.  Maybe one day as a society we'll have a more mature sensibility towards art and the human form.  Maybe we'll even treat each other like human beings, complicated, brilliant, beautiful, flawed, brave.  I hope so, because this to me is a thing of beauty.

Vintage dresses and sunsets - 1.30.16

Brett is what you might call a queen of thrift store finds.  It’s an underrated skill which often yields amazing results when it comes to finding things that scream the need for a camera.  This particular find was a vintage dress that when matched with the setting sun in Athens, yielded wonderful results.  She also found a Polaroid camera.  I couldn’t convince her to part with it… but not for lack of trying!

Model/Wardrobe/Makeup/Overall Amazing - Brett Finlay

Valentine's Day preview

I had an amazing time a little while back with a few of my lovely friends shooting boudoir.  Happy Valentine's Day!  Make sure you keep up-to-date with my facebook page and instagram for behind the scenes pictures that didn't make it here!

MUA - Cheyann Boyer
Studio - Atlanta Photoworks
Models - Tess, Brett, Rachael

And a few more because these women are amazing to work with!

Back to school

If I could, I would be a professional student.  I loved my undergraduate years at UGA and my masters program at Piedmont College.  I wasn't always the top student, but I loved the atmosphere on a campus.  I love classrooms and I love learning new things.  

Maybe that's why it's been such an easy transition into teaching and photography.  Both careers involve constantly learning new things in an environment that is dynamic and evolving.  Both jobs involve large amounts of self-teaching, individual investigation, and self-propelled learning.  And I've done pretty well on both counts.  I feel like I've come very far as both a teacher and photographer, and my portfolios have shown that.  But every year I've had a gnawing hunger to take a class or get another degree.  I'm already doing it as a teacher, taking classes in English Language Learner certification to become a better academic teacher for students who are learning both English and curriculum content.  I know that in a few years, once my student loans are paid off (woot!) I will be finally making the decision on whether or not to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology.  

I also want to study photography as both art and a profession.  I love this career and I love what it gives me.  I've always had the mentality of seeing what I can do better, and where that leads me is wanting to go back to school for this as well.  I've been looking at various degrees and programs, from the Professional Photographers of America certification to Art Institute of Atlanta to bachelors and masters programs at SCAD and UGA.  But I'm not sure where to go from here.  

I want to go back to school.  I want hands-on instruction in core art topics, art history, design.  I want real-time instruction on both advanced photography and post-process technique.  I want to learn the full depth of advanced Photoshop.  I want to learn how to work in a real darkroom, and not from the small dark space I've put together to develop films when I have the time.  I want to learn the business practice systems crucial to making all of it come together.  And I want a real program, not a BS 'certification' or a for-profit 'degree' from a degree mill.  I want real education, real challenge, real experience.  

But I don't know what's appropriate for me.  I don't need basics on how to work a camera.  I don't need to waste my time.  And I don't know if already having both a bachelors and a masters degree affects my options.  

What I'd love is to hear comments, suggestions, thoughts about the options.  What should I do?  And what do you want to accomplish this year?  

Best of 2015

It might be cliched, but I always go over my shoots from a prior year and reflect on them, pick out the images that have stayed with me.  Great stories behind them all...

I got to do a lot of portraits this year, some of them with dear friends for years and some with new contacts that became friends.  I look forward to what happens with all these wonderful people!

I got to shoot a few weddings and engagements.  One engagement in particular is for my oldest and dearest friends, and I get to be at their wedding next year too!  So excited!

Dragon*Con was a blast this year, and I was able to work with a few friends there and other great cosplayers.  I also got to do a few other strong thematic shoots and really want to expand on this next year.  Ideas upon ideas...

One of my favorite events is Dancers Unite Against Cancer.  I have been a part of that charity for several years now, and I love every chance I get to be there.  I also shot a few other events, and one spectacular day of celebration.

But the most powerful image of the year, the one that struck me the most, I took in the right place and the right time.  The equalization of marriage for all was a big deal, and far overdue.  I was down near 10th street and Piedmont Park that day taking pictures of the celebration.  In the midst of it, I caught this image.  It stoked some controversy online, which I hadn't expected.  To me, it is a reminder of progress: both in how far we've come, and how far we still have to go.  It's not that one issue is more important than the other.  We just have to keep doing more, keep going forward.

I hope you keep moving forward next year.  I hope to do the same.  This year I let myself be defined by other people's expectations.  Sometimes, my work, my expectations, and my overall self-satisfaction suffered for it.  This year, I hope to regain that sense of self that I've misplaced.  If I focus on images like these, ones that made me feel instead of ones that I do based solely on superficial expectations, then 2016 will be a good year to look back on.  

We learn, we reflect, we apply, we grow.  I hope to grow in 2016 as I did this year.  I hope the same for you!  

Five Questions To Ask A Wedding Photographer - 12.16.15

The Five Questions to Ask a Wedding Photographer

Full disclosure: I’ve never been married, so I’ve never experienced the process from the view of a couple trying to plan out one.  I imagine, in those shoes, the whole process would make me anxious and irritated enough that I’d attempt to convince my fiancée that she’d have a much better time eloping to Vegas.  That in mind, I figure the best way to approach a couple planning a wedding is coming from a place of sympathy and encouragement.  The day I know will end up great, but the planning going into it has got to be rough.

I fell into shooting weddings on accident.  I started photography shooting portraits, landscapes, sports… pretty much anything that I found to be ‘pretty.’  I didn’t plan to be a wedding photographer.  It wasn’t what I had my sights on when I started shooting.  My first two weddings were favors to family friends, small affairs that were more an excuse to have me there as a ‘working guest’ than anything.  I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the whole event.  Helping manage the background anxiety and logistics so that my friends could focus on enjoying their day was a surprisingly natural task that I was adept at, along with capturing pictures.  I had been looking for a way to become a ‘legitimate professional photographer’ (whatever that is, another post on creativity for another day), and weddings seemed to me to be the simplest way to make my creativity work hand in hand with my people management and de-escalation skills.  That I might actually be able to bring in an income from it was a bonus.  Photography has never been about the money for me.  It’s always been about the people.  But being able to finally have a way to financially support myself with a camera?  Dream come true. 

I’m not a marketer or a salesman.  It’s not what I’m about.  When I meet with potential clients, I’m not thinking about closing a sale.  I’m looking forward to hearing their story, answering any questions they have, and hopefully making them feel a little bit easier during what I imagine is a stress-inducing period of time.  I tell potential clients to always check out several photographers, and ask to see a full album they’ve given prior clients.  Often, I hear, “What should we be asking?”

After asking yourself if you like the photographer as a person and do you love the feeling you get from their pictures, these are the top five things I think anyone should ask their wedding photographer.

Do you have insurance and a contract? – This is the first thing I’d ask anyone before working with them in any capacity.  It protects them and you.  I’ve written separate posts on why photography insurance is good for a photographer and a client.  A contract does the same.  Find out who their insurance provider is and what it covers.  Ask for a sample contract.  Any photographer who takes their job seriously will be more than happy to share this with you, it should be a point of professional pride in having their ‘ish’ together.

Do you have references? – I usually give names and email addresses for references from prior clients, or Facebook info depending on the client.  I have a standard list.  I don’t give phone numbers because that’s an inconvenience to my past clients.  But hopefully, whoever you’re speaking to, they have someone that can tell you about how they did.

Why do you shoot weddings? – There isn’t a right answer here, but there should be an answer that you as a person shopping for a photographer that you’re looking for.  Me?  I’m honest.  I’ve written about ‘why’ prior.  Short version (TL;DR): Wasn’t my first plan, but I love the challenge, the people, and the privilege of being there. 

How long until we see our pictures? – This varies depending on a photographer’s workflow.  But whoever the photographer is, they better have an answer that falls in line with whatever the references they give say.  I like to do several things for clients.  Typically, as soon as I get the images uploaded to my computer and backed up, I then upload a preview album with the images I’ve taken.  They are small (I wouldn’t print them), but it gives you something you can see right away.  Typically the final album with everything finished, comes back within a month for me (depending on the printing choices a couple has made that can be pushed back a few weeks).

How many cameras do you bring to a wedding (not what kind)? – Unless you’re a photographer yourself, what kind of camera they’re shooting doesn’t really matter, and the name won’t help you.  But any photographer worth their salt can recite their list of gear on command.  Write it down, google it later.  As long as it is a professional series camera and not a little point and shoot, they all work the same.  Canon, Nikon, Leica, Sony… they all can deliver amazing images if the photographer knows what they’re doing.  And as long as a photographer doesn’t bring just one camera to your wedding, you’re good.  If a photographer only has one camera, they have nothing they can do if that camera stops functioning during a wedding.  It doesn’t often happen, but much like business insurance, you don’t realize it’s important until you don’t have it.  Me?  I bring at minimum two Canon DSLRs and four lenses with me, and likely a car full of other gear because of that simple paranoid principle: better to have and not need…

What do you think?  I’d love to hear back with your own experience, questions, comments.  I hope it helps, and if you ever need any advice on wedding photography, even if I’m not your photographer for whatever reason, drop me a line!