The Wedding Photographer Search

So a few weeks ago I wrote about a young couple that were friends of my wife who couldn't afford my rates so I lowered them to ensure they end up with great wedding photos to have forever.

Here is a prime example of why I did that.

Several months ago I shot senior photos for the son of a life long friend of mine. When my friend was showing them to some of his friends they asked him if I shot weddings. He asked me and I said yeah and gave them a basic quote. He passed on that information along with my business card hoping they would contact me to shoot their wedding. I never heard from them and forgot about the whole thing.

Today he texts me and asks me questions about what wedding photos I would sell a customer and what quantity and things like that, pretty specific stuff. So in talking with him I found out the photographer they hired gave them a cd with 250 pictures on it for $500.00. He went on to talk about what photos were on there, saying that all there were was photos of the bride and groom, nothing else. Not the wedding party, not the guests, nothing from the reception not even the wedding cakes.

Several red flags came up as soon as he told me how many images fit onto one cd. I can't imagine that someone shooting raw would be able to fit 250 images of decent size onto one cd. Once I found out the everyone else in the wedding party and all the guests were ignored by the photographer I knew they were ripped off. A basic google search can give a list of important wedding photos. I do not know how "photographers" like this are able to stay in business.

If you are looking for a photographer for your wedding please do some research on your list of potential photographers. Call them all on your list and ask them questions no matter what the price is that you got from them. Educate yourself on them and their abilities and knowledge of photography. If they specialize in digital photography they should be a red flag for you as photography is photography. Nothing changed with the process of taking a photograph when the digital revolution happened.

Please fell free to email or call me if you have any questions about hiring a photographer for your wedding. Even if I am not located in your area or even being considered. You deserve beautiful wedding photos.




During the ever trying summer session of photography school we were tortured by having to watch a home made movie about how to operate a color film processing machine. This movie was unscripted and shot in a POV style that could make stomachs turn. Don't forget it was summer and summers in North Carolina can be sweltering with the humidity.

Imagine thirty or more photography students crammed into a hot class room being tortured by watching this thing. We all accepted this as a right of passage and a requirement to move on to our second year.

I had forgotten about that. The other day I am searching around on Craigslist and what did I find? A Wing-Lynch film processor with nitrogen tank. It says it work and is ready to go. If I had a place to put this and the time to learn it, I would hang up my digital gear and go all film.
It's funny how something you forget about comes back around.

If any of you are wondering where I went to photography school here are the details.
Randolph Community College in Asheboro, NC. There is a rich history of photography in that school and the facility is amazing. Someone who randomly liked one of my photographs on Instagram will be going there starting this fall. She was asking me questions about it and she set up a tour and is now enrolled. I had the opportunity to go there or UC Berkley and I am more than pleased with my choice. Here are the program details.


The Ross family of Udall

Last month I had the chance to take my brother's family portraits. We had scheduled it and postponed it several times but the third time was a charm.
Travis, Lucein, Sam, Lily and Noah all had a good time. We even took a little break and played with a big snapping turtle on the side of the road.

Here are a few images from that session.


Trans American Bike Race rolls right through Kansas.

I enjoy watching documentary films and Netflix is a great source to find them. Little did I know two years ago when my wife and I sat down to watch 10 M.P.H. and Ride The Divide that I would be out photographing a bike race. Well today in the early summer heat and ever blowing Kansas wind that is exactly what I was doing.
On June 7th the Trans Am Bike Race began on the pear in Astoria Oregon. The rides all follow the same route and rely one them selves for everything. No support teams are allowed for this race. Basically a man/woman, a bike and the things they can carry with them are allowed. Sounds really challenging but the riders are moving along quickly.
The race leader, Mike Hall, was in western Kansas a week into the race.
This morning I woke up before the sun and hit to road to intercept him to capture his ride through Kansas. I spoke with him for a few moments while he was taking a break. This is his first time riding across the United States but he has raced across the world. He was looking forward to getting back into some trees for shade and wind blockage.
If you are interested in following the riders on their journey you should go to Track Leaders.
If you want to wait and watch a movie about the adventure you will be able too soon enough as Mike Dion and Hunter Weeks are out in production right now. You can visit their site, follow their Twitter, Instagram, and like Facebook.
I shot this photo of Mike Hall just east of Elbing, KS this morning. The wind was ridiculous for me and my tripod. I can't imagine how the riders feel about it.


What is a Canon created .afg file?

I have been shooting with my current body for a long time. It is 5 generations old now and beyond time for an upgrade. I have shot over 100,000 frames with it. Needless to say I hope it holds out until I can afford the body I want to replace it with.

On May 31st I had a family session and the shoot went as planned and all the images recorded to the card like they always have. There is one exception though. A file type .afg appeared, and only one of them. The camera wrote the file to the card when I was shooting. Of course at the time I knew nothing about it. I noticed it in post.

Here is a screen grab of the files from the card. If anyone has any idea what a .afg and how the camera recorded it to the card that would be great.


Fudging you worth

Call it what you will but when it comes to pricing portraits I always take into account who the client is and their situation with the world before quoting a price.
Just this week a possible client sent me a message about wedding package pricing. I sent them the basic information I send all blind requests. Then later that night I am talking about it with my wife and it is someone she knows. She also knows that they will now continue on shopping other photographers because my price was something they probably couldn't pay for. She tells me a little about the family and struggles they have had. My wife knows that my prices are competitive and that I am worth my prices.
What she told me really pulled on me a little bit and got me thinking I should revisit the inquiry with a different price. So I emailed the inquirer back with a different price and received a response straight away. The new price is something they can afford and they were very excited about it.
Did I devalue myself or did I ensure more work for myself in the future? It could go either way really. It is a scary world out there with wal-marts and best buys selling digital SLR cameras for super low prices. In a situation like this, chances are someone who cannot afford professional quality will setting on low quality for next to nothing in prices. Think about it, everyone has an "aunt" who takes pictures that will volunteer to take your wedding photos for you.
Today would have been my Grandma's 102nd birthday. She grew up in a totally different world than I can even think about. As a child she had to walk to the river to see what trees looked like. TREES. Can you imagine that? Now think about growing up in a place that rural and how far away you were from the rest of the world. Do you think their were many photographers out there, and if so do you think they were priced reasonably or really high? The youngest I have seen my grandma in a photograph would have been in her late 40s. I have no idea what she looked like as a child, or a young woman.
This is a personal example of why I choose to fudge around on my prices some. It might not be the best for business and bottom dollars, but I just want people to be able to show photos of their family members to others 100 years from now. If I took it then that is even better.


Project Planning

I am currently designing in my head and on paper an image for this county wide commission I have been selected to be a part of.
It is coming along at a slow pace but it is coming together. I have been listening to a lot of music that fits my ideas and am processing different ideas from the lyric content of that music. My creative process is random. I have these lightning storms of ideas and I tell myself I will remember them but rarely am I able to. Along with keeping this blog updated more often I am going to start a journal of these ideas so I can reference back in the future when creativity runs dry. Sounds like a good idea and I know a lot of my influences kept them and it was discussed a lot in photo school.
So back to the project. I am to come up with one or two images that explains who I am as an artist and how the local landscape has helped shape me. The word landscape can be literal or interpretive. I have a solid foundation of what I am going to do. That was pretty tricky for me to settle on as I had several ideas. Now the fun part begins, the location scouting. This has started with google map searches and will soon transition over to driving to the possible spots and watching the light. I planned on starting that in the morning, but storms are lined up on the forecast.
So I ask you, how do you go about planning a large scale project? What are your methods?


Location, location, location?

Many times when we schedule a shoot with a client it is at a location around town. Many of us do not own a proper studio so we make due with what we can. Clients always have an idea of what they want their photographs to look like and always give input or have the perfect location in mind. This can be challenging if you have not shot at the location before. What is the sun going to be doing there at the scheduled time? Do I need a permit to photograph there? Even if the place seems abandoned, is it? Who owns the property? These are just a small sample of the questions that go through my head.
I like to scout out the location ahead of time within a few days of the shoot around the time the shoot is scheduled. This will give me an idea of what to expect with lighting and traffic in the area. The location scout is very important and I recommend doing it if you do not.
While I was interning in Las Vegas for Jana Cruder she has a huge shoot booked at Caesars Palace. Her first assistant and I went a week before the shoot to meet their media people and get everything cleared through them. Most of the shoot was in the pool area so all of the equipment was going to be hauled through the casino floor and elevators. While in the elevator I starting wondering how I was going to get a 24 foot roll of paper in there. It looked like it wasn't going to fit. So we got it worked out to use the freight elevators and in the end, the day went flawlessly, on schedule and the photographs looked beautiful. This is a prime example of how a location scout helped the logistics of an all day session.
Commercial work and locations work differently than portrait sessions for me. When shooting a portrait I just want my client to be as comfortable as possible so that comfort comes through in the finished product. Emotions are more involved on their end than with commercial work. So the more comfortable they are the more comfortable I am. That is always evident in the photographs.
As for scenery and landscape images everyone says location is key. I think of Ansel Adams work in the west/southwest when I think of desert landscapes. Galen Rowell running up the side of the mountain as the sun sets to get that beautiful sunset.
I live in Kansas. When you think of the Kansas landscape chances are tornadoes, wheat fields and sunflowers come to mind. While those things are very common in Kansas there is a lot more to the state. You just have to find it.
Which brings me to my point, you have to find the right frame no matter what your locational challenges are. Just look around it will come to you. Leave no road untraveled, no corner unknown or any path unwalked. You never know what you might find.
I started thinking of all of this tonight while sitting at work. Yes, I have a regular job outside of photography like a lot of you do.
I love the sunsets here on the plains. The horizon as wide as it is makes for some beautiful ones and five nights out of the week I am here at work, missing that vastness. So I make it my goal to find someway to take a photo (iphone camera) of it in a new challenging way. It gets hard, but that's the fun of it.
If any of you are interested in seeing my sunset images from work, along with what ever other random images I put up you can follow me on instagram. My user name is @underaglassmoon. Its basically photos of my daily life that are all over the subject matter map. With my sunsets I use the hashtag #holysunset.
I think I just booked a wedding in a town I have never been to. I guess I need to start scouting.


When do you start post processing?

When I photograph something for my self I am always in a hurry to start the processing. But when it comes to clients I want to wait a few days before starting. I have wondered why for a while and through some introspection I have finally figured it out.

I need that time to forget about the specifics and technical information of the shoot so I can focus on making the images beautiful. Beauty always starts before the photograph is taken, but lets face it we all have our own recipe when it comes to post processing. If I don't make myself wait then my brain gets too clogged up with information and my creativity disappears.

I also prefer to do post work in the dark. With it being summer time the sun stay up longer which makes working in the dark a bit more challenging. Working in the dark has several benefits for me. No glares on the monitor to deal with and it gives me that feeling you get in the darkroom developing and printing film.

Now if someone would make a candle scented like Fixer.