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.  

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!  

Not The Money But The Road To Drive

Small confession: I would shoot for free if I could.

Chuck Berry – Route 66

I would shoot for free if I could find a way to make it work financially.  I’ve never been good at sales, never really wanted to run a business, think about marketing and advertising, networking and promoting.  I don’t like the anxiety that goes along with it, and I imagine the majority of photographers feel the same way.  The ones who don’t, well they excel in financial matters and become the envy of the rest of us, simply because they could make it work.  The majority of us… we just want to capture something beautiful. 

For me, this job has an end-game.  Much like everything else, I use photography with a goal in mind.  I get to express myself sure, and be creative in the only way that I can (I never could sing, play an instrument, act, or draw).  I get to attempt to capture the beauty of the world and precious moments in it, and that’s something I cherish.

But the business side of it, I can’t stand.  I do it because it’s given me a goal to chase after:

In two years, the summer before I turn 35 if I can make it happen, I want to travel the United States.  Not a small plane flight, but an honest-to-God road trip.  Just me, an old ’98 Wrangler with no doors or top, the trunk full of camera gear, camping gear, and food.  Up the Atlantic Coast highway to Maine, over Canada to Chicago, route 66 to LA.  The Pacific Coast Highway all the way to Washington State and cutting back across to Atlanta.  All back highways, no major interstates.  Never going above 60 miles an hour.  Visiting every random detour and awesome view I can find along the way.  Seeing things like the Neon Graveyard outside of Vegas, the Dinosaur Park in California, the Airplane Boneyard in Arizona, the MLK monument in Mississippi where he took his last breath.  I want to listen to the Eagles play “Take It Easy” as I drive through Winslow, Arizona.  I want to reach the edges of the country, dip my feet and the tires into both oceans.  I want to shoot everything along the way.  The landscapes, the monuments, the food, the people, the oddities and the mundane.  Maybe even make it into a book.  Road trip stories have always been my favorite.  I want one of my own.

The Coasters – Young Blood

I have the route mapped out.  It would take me two months, an entire summer.  It’d be over 12,000 miles in a Wrangler that’s almost already at 200,000, only 1,000 of those miles having not been mine.  Gas alone would cost at least $3,000 dollars.  Before I even think of going, the Jeep would need an overhaul, likely new tires and an exhaust manifold at minimum.  But it’s been a dream since I was 15 and I first got the car.  And if I can accomplish it within 20 years, then that’s something huge I can cross off my list. 

So I’m writing this almost two years before I’ll even know if I can do it.  But it’s my goal.  It’s my commitment, my dream.  I figure by leaving this here, and coming back to it periodically, then I can keep focused, and keep the dream alive.  I have a benchmark I have to hit in order to make it possible.  In one year, $2000 in savings from this business.  In the second year, $6000 saved back for the trip.  That’s the stretch, and it’ll mean aggressively expanding my photography business-mindset like I’ve never done before.  I’ll need help, but I believe I have the support network to make it happen. 

Howlin’ Wolf – Sitting On Top Of The World

Don’t get me wrong, I love shooting weddings, events, portraits.  I love creating the art and I’m happy I get to do it.  But like every photographer or artist out there, I’ve got a lot of dreams.  This one, I want to see through.  This is the big one.    

What’s your dream?  Tell me about it in the comments.  What’s your plan to make it happen?

Photography Insurance is for the Photographer, too

This was a bad day. 

The Eagles – New Kid In Town

We’d only been inside twenty minutes, my dad and I.  We’d gotten back from visiting my grandmother out of state, and stopped off 10th street for a quick meal.  I parked in the deck, a lot that seemed safe.  I’m always careful.  Didn’t think twice about it. 

It was a smash and grab.  They must have just seen the backpacks in the trunk and gone for it.  No way to know that they’d scored a good payoff. 

Junip – Don’t Let It Pass

After the police had come and gone with the report and the serial numbers for everything stolen, I had to take stock.  I’d lost my secondary camera, prime portrait lens, a vintage film camera and its prime lens, my laptop and portable hard drive, other electronics and photography related gear.  In all, close to $3,300 gone if depreciation was accounted for.  Not including my dad’s work laptop and the $500+ in damage to my car. 

One of my first blog posts was an explanation of why photography business insurance is good for the client.  This is the story of why it’s good for the photographer.

My policy is through CNA.  By the time this happened, I’d had the policy over two years.  It was a comfort in my back pocket, something I never thought I’d have to use but it made me feel more safe and secure, worry less about my gear and got me out shooting more.  Smart backup policy meant that I didn’t have to worry about loss of data.  I constantly back everything up in triplicate, a complicated process I’d put in place early on in my business that is now as easy as uploading the data to any one of three computers that then quickly send the data to backups at the other two locations along with a private server in my house and an off-site cloud server run by Crashplan.  I was never happier to have those routines in place.  I didn’t lose any data.  There would have been no way to recreate it if I had.  Paranoia in this business is a good thing.

The Black Crowes – Twice As Hard

Within a day, CNA had contacted me back, had been in contact with the police, had copies of all the serial numbers from all my gear lost (because that’s what you have to do when running a photography business, keep records of everything you purchase and rent).  Within a week they’d cut a check to replace my lost materials.  Unlike me, they didn’t count depreciation and I was actually able to upgrade my equipment.  Within two weeks of the theft, I had a new rear windshield and an upgraded camera, lens, and laptop.  Without my insurance, it would have taken me a long time to recover, and I wouldn’t have been able to do weddings for a while until I could afford a new camera body. 

There are a few types of insurance a good photographer, especially if they work events or weddings, needs to have.  The first is multiple cameras.  That’s the most immediate kind of insurance there is.  If one breaks, you have another.  The next is a good contract that protects their client and themselves.  The third is insurance.  If I had lost that gear with a wedding on it… that thought alone would be painful.  But I would have been able to repay the couple for the financial burden lost.  Without the insurance?  The end of my career in photography period. 

The Jimmy Hendrix Experience – All Along The Watchtower

If you’re a potential client looking for a good wedding photographer- whoever you meet with, make sure they have insurance.  If they don’t, don’t hire them.  No matter what they offer you. 

If you’re a photographer even glancing an eye towards weddings or events- buy insurance.  Just do it.  Don’t make excuses.  It’s worth the cost. 

Trust me.

Investment versus Budget

I mentioned in a prior blog post about the balance between budget and desire when looking into the parts that go into a wedding.  I try to work with every prospective wedding client that comes along in order to find a way to accommodate their dream as much as I can within their budget.  Primarily, it’s because I love shooting weddings.  It’s a challenge, it’s a thrill.  It’s completely physically exhausting.  It’s a joy and a privilege.  It’s also a luxury, and it isn’t cheap (check out the list of what I bring to every wedding I shoot if you don’t believe me).  There’s a popular Tumblr page among wedding photographers I love reading.  It gives a great idea of the kind of humor and twisted mindset one needs to attempt a career at this.  It’s quite hilarious.  Check it out at, you’ll see what I mean.

Howlin’ Wolf – Howlin’ For My Darlin’

This service is expensive, it is a luxury.  I’ve always looked at my rates as an investment.  For the service and the product I offer, I could probably charge much more.  But I’d end up working less and the money would balance out.  I charge what I charge because I believe it will bring me more clients, not more income.  I would rather shoot twice as many weddings simply for the sake of getting to practice my skills in an environment I love.  But, even then I have to have a hard bottom line.  I can count on both hands the number of times someone really loved my work but went in another direction due to price. 

Most of the time, the conversation has gone along the lines of people expecting I’d accept their maximum budget of around $500 for a full-day wedding.  I’m not the only photographer who gets this.  And there is a great breakdown of how much wedding photography costs that famously circulated the internet and Reddit a few years back.  I won’t get into that argument, it’s been made ad nauseam. 

The Coasters – Little Red Riding Hood

The ending of those conversations and consultations leaves with me wishing the client well, and hoping they can find someone willing to do their event for that $500 price point.  They usually do, but they don’t end up happy with the results.  A few times, more than I care to admit, I’ve gotten a late phone call the night before the wedding from those same couples in a quandary.  They found someone on Craigslist willing to do their wedding for $500.  They gave them half as a security deposit and haven’t heard from them since.  Phone line disconnected, emails are bouncing back.  Or in one case, the photographer calls the bride the day of the wedding saying his only camera broke and he couldn’t do it.  Is there any way I can show up and shoot their wedding, they’ll be glad to meet my minimum rate for anything that’d be usable. 

Only once have I not been already booked on another event.  I gave them a list of phone numbers for trusted photographers I know and love, and wish them luck finding someone, and even texted two other photographers to see if they were free on the off-chance to pick up the job.  The one time I wasn’t booked that day, I was already a state away enjoying a day off watching Georgia (GO DAWGS) demolish Auburn at home.  I wouldn’t have made it back in time if I had left right then and there.

None of this I enjoyed hearing.  It honestly hurt a bit to hear the anxiety in their voices.  But there was nothing I could do.  They didn’t have a good contract, they hired someone who wasn’t a professional, the choice of letting the price dictate their options.  Not to say that budget sheets should be thrown to the wind, far from it.  I believe there’s a happy medium between budget and desire.  That line in the middle is the investment where the amount of money spent gives back professional, high quality results.  I’ve worked hard to make sure that my service is an investment, and a cost-effective one.  Many of the photographers I know and network with do the same. 

Cage The Elephant – Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked

The truth is, very few of us do this job for the money.  I know I don’t.  The money is nice, but if I wanted to be rich, I wouldn’t be a photographer, I wouldn’t be a teacher.  We do this because we’re passionate about it.  We invest our time, our bodies, our energy, and our heart into every job we get.  We push for the image that will make the wedding party gasp when they see it.  We want them to see the world the way we do, their moments as precious as we recognize them to be.  Those moments are the investment, we’re just the ones vested in making sure you can relive them over and over again.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Criticisms?  I'd love to hear them!

Dancers United Against Cancer

So I'm sure everyone's pretty much gearing up for Dragon*Con, which is great, and I'm excited too.  I have plenty of shoots booked.  But the next weekend, September 12th, if you're free that Saturday I have something you could be doing... 

September 12th from 6 to 10 PM.  If you click through the link, I'm betting the photos look familiar.  I'm excited to be able to say I'm again providing both photography, photo booth, and videography services.  There's also a special I'll be running during the event for anyone who donates to the cause who might also be looking for a wedding photographer.

I've been a part of Dancers Unite for several years now, and have been one of the sponsors for the last three or four years.  I'm both part of the ballroom community in Atlanta, and someone who had their own scare with cancer years back.  So this event is kind of a triple-threat for me.  I get to be a part of an event and community fundraiser I believe in, get to do the photography and the photobooth for the event, and get some ballroom dance time in as well. 

The fundraiser is designed to help one family cover the costs of cancer treatments a loved one is going through.  The event is always emotional and always a great experience.  If you've got nothing going on that night, buy a ticket, put on your best dancing shoes, and meet me there!


Wedding Loadout

Asia – Soul Survivor

There’s a subReddit on wedding photography and often people will post their typical wedding gear they take with them to most weddings.  Mostly it’s for like-minded souls to chat about their gear that they love, that’s an extension of their personality and a source of pride.  I figured why not.  So I arranged my gear on the floor of my studio and attempted to take a picture.  The result is this-


All well and good for a blurry cell-phone picture, until I tell you that I didn’t include the carrying cases, flash batteries, power cords, data cables, duct tape, electrical tape, bag of tools, and in-case-of-emergency bag.  All in all, when loaded up for a wedding, I carry over one hundred pounds of equipment to and from the venue.  Fortunately it all fits inside my workhorse Volkswagen hatchback… barely.  When driving home from a venue in the early hours of the morning with a fully loaded car, often the only music that works audibly over all the gear is techno to keep me awake.

Foreigner – I Want To Know What Love Is

If the venue allows it and the bride wants it, I also have two Interfit SuperS Cool-Lite Constant Softbox lights I bring for the photobooth.   Often for photobooths I also will rent a Canon 70D as the batteries and memory card are interchangeable with my two main cameras, and have the same sensor resolution and megapixel size, so that there’s no change in quality or output between the booth and the images captured by me. 

So let’s go through the list!

Billy Joel – Only The Good Die Young

Four tripods for speedlights (plus two not pictured to go with the Interfit constant lights if I need them)

Roundflash light modifier (great for portraits and that club look)

Canon 16-35 f/2.8 II L

Canon 24-105 f/4 L

Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS II L

MSI Laptop

Color card for white balance

Canon AE-1 with Vivitar 200 mm lens (for that vintage film moment)

Canon 6D with grip

Canon 7D Mark II with grip

Canon XT

Canon Elan 7n

Cactus v6 wireless triggers x 6 (attached to each lead camera and the four speedlights)

3 extra camera batteries

Memory cards

BlackRapid RS dual-wielding camera harness

Canon 600EX-RT speedlight

Yungnuo 600EX-RT speedlight

Canon 430EX II x 2


Business Cards


Gel modifiers for Rogue Flash grids and wraps

RODE microphone input

Rogue Honeycomb Grid x 3

Vello Bounce Dome Diffusers

Extra Eneloop rechargeable batteries & chargers to go with the Pro High Capacity batteries in all the flashes

Most of the time, this all fits into three cases, with the cameras going in a Pelican 1510 and the other gear stowed between a flash bag and a larger rolling cart for the tripods.  Ideally I’ll have three Pelicans one day to carry everything for simplicity and safety sake. 

Do I use all this every wedding?  Nope… but I always bring it all with me.

8.15.15 - Ruth & Chris

I had the pleasure of attending and second shooting Ruth and Chris' wedding over the weekend as Taylor's second shooter.  I just had to share some of the images below!  By the way, August is coming to a close, and with it goes the 20% wedding package booking discount for the month!  Talk to me ASAP if you're looking for a wedding photographer still!


The Big Three Wedding Needs

Daryl Hall & John Oates – Kiss on My List

First, a disclaimer- I have never been married.  Maybe someday I will be, but that’s a whole other saga.  I have been fortunate and honored enough to have been invited as both a guest, a groomsman, and as a photographer for many weddings in my life, but have not yet been the groom myself.  For the most part, I’m a vendor.  So I might have a vested interest.  But, that said, to me there’s a hierarchy of what a bride needs to consider when planning a wedding.  If they keep this idea in mind, hopefully it’ll make the planning less stressful.  Hiring the photographer is not at the top of that list.

The first two are interchangeable, but when I consult with potential clients, these have usually already picked out before I’m ever brought in.  And when I hear the level of excitement in their voices when describing these things, it tells me a lot about the couple.

To me, the most important item is the dress.  A wedding is built around the bride’s dress.  If the lady loves her dress, it makes her feel perfect.  Everything else falls into place.  The wedding is about the bride.  Grooms don’t matter, kind of like in ballroom dance, the guy is the frame, but the lady is the work of art.  And really, us guys are FINE with that.  It takes a lot of the stress off us.  The right dress will instantly let the bride feel the moment, and it’ll be easier for her to be ready for the onslaught of the day.  It’s a psychological warfare tactic really; she’s geared up and ready to face the challenges of an often 10-hour plus event when she’s dressed for the part. 

Eddie Money – Take Me Home Tonight

Once the dress is picked, then it’s the venue that matters next.  These two things I don’t believe the plan should compromise on.  Find the dress and the venue you’ve been dreaming of and everything else will sort itself out.  The right venue is like the right house.  When checking out a house to rent or buy, people check out multiple locations and find the one with the right feel, the right level of comfort, and the aesthetics they want.  It’s so much easier to be at ease, at repose, when you’re in a place that makes you feel at home, and ready to celebrate. 

Meat Loaf – You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)

After those two are found, then go after photographer.  Aside from the dress and whatever gifts you put on your registry (that you don’t return) the pictures are what you’ll be able to hold onto.  The pictures are the only real keepsake you can come back to, as wedding cake in a freezer doesn’t last forever.  I often ask potential clients on the initial consult how many photographers they’ve talked to, how many portfolios they’ve checked out.  If I’m the first or the only one, I suggest they shop around, because if they haven’t ever really looked around they need to for their own sake.  While I want their business, it’s more important to me that they find the photographer that matches their vision for the images they’re wanting after the day is over.  That’ll come in part when they have a photographer they get along with. 

.38 Special – Hold On Loosely

It’s quicker to get in sync and become at ease with a photographer the more you meet with them, the more time you devote to cultivating that relationship prior to the wedding day.  I purposefully try to schedule all initial consultations over a lunch, coffee, or beer.  After that, I usually schedule at least two more times to meet with them to plan and discuss the dynamics of their wedding, and hopefully shoot an engagement session with them to get a dry run of getting in sync for everything.  I want to get to know my clients, what makes them laugh, what they love and enjoy, so we can find that unique character to bring to their images.  You can’t create that on the fly, it takes time. 

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Don’t Do Me Like That

Not all photographers are the same.  Wedding photographers are broken into two categories- photojournalists and traditional.  Within those categories there are millions of different styles, shooters, and editorial combinations.  I tend towards journalism style with sharper colors and a more modern lighting style, with a mix of vintage and modern editing and post-production technique.  It’s important that couples pick a photographer whose style matches their taste and vision more than their budget.  I often recommend other photographers I know whose work I admire.  Like buying a car or a house, a wedding photographer is a serious investment.  It’s important to look around to find the right fit.  More often than not they come back to me because they feel my portfolio matches what they want and they feel comfortable.  Even when they don’t, they thank me for the advice I gave and the leads I gave them on finding the photographer that fits.  As long as you love the result, I’m happy for you, no matter who you choose. 

Boston – Don’t Look Back

When a couple compromises though, putting cost far above their wants and not finding that right balance that makes them happy… then… well… that’s a tougher story.  And a different post for a different day.

Agree, disagree?  Please comment below!  What mattered or will matter to you during your wedding?