Capturing Real Emotion in Engagement Sessions

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Now I have to be honest. Some of these photos were extremely easy to capture genuine surprise....because she was genuinely surprised! I had the honor to help out with my second surprise engagement session this year. I love these!

Meet Dominique and Stephanie: they are a wonderful couple who were celebrating their anniversary together with photos, but little did she know that he had contacted me without her knowing to request that I help him with this momentous occasion! They are so great together and a ton of fun to watch interact with each other. I love watching couples who so obviously enjoy each others company. Anyway, on to the photos!

When trying to capture real moments I have always found that it is most easy to start with a real one. See, most people are not very good at posing themselves (I include myself in that category). I like to pose a couple and then take a few shots so I have a posed photo for the set but then go fiddle in my bag or on the back of my camera so they are no longer paying attention to me. Now I am catching the couple in their natural state of reacting with each other. Another thing I like to do, it say I am just testing my light so these don't count and the couple forgets about me for a minute.

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Engagement Photos are the perfect story telling medium. You have a great romance to share with the viewer and you only have a certain amount of images to do it in. Sure you could take 5,000 photos but the amazing emotional content will be lost just because of sheer size. Like a high end restaurant, there are less things on the menu because after purging all the bad and mediocre, you are left with the best they have to offer. Thats why I wanted to tell this story in just 4 images:

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These types of photos are just invaluable because I, as a photographer am prepared to create images that are more natural and personal. If all I ever do are posed portraits, they could probably save money by just going to Olan Mills or Walmart. The reason clients choose more creative photography is for the CREATIVITY. I feel I have a romantic photojournalistic style to my engagement shoots and this definitely falls in the category. What is your style? What do you like? Comment Below!

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Remember that if you would like to book me for a photo session or you have something special in mind to surprise your loved one, please contact me at jarrett@jarretthucks.com or by phone: 843.446.4929

Thank you for reading!

Change your Perspective: Using a fisheye lens

060_Blackwattle Bay Rokinon 8mm Tests

First, let me say that the lens in discussion today is the Rokinon 8mm f/3.5 fisheye. This a fully manual lens that allows you to fine tune every little detail but does not include the comforts of automatic modes of any kind (Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Program, etc etc) or even autofocus. But what it offers are crisp beautiful images with plenty of contrast and clarity.

Fisheye lenses are nothing new. They were first invented to be used for weather instruments and astrophotographers, so the entire sky could be captured from horizon to horizon. I am not an astrophotographer.

They have since, been adapted to many different types of photography. The largest is definitely skateboarding and other extreme sports and the exaggeration of lines can turn a difficult trick and to something legendary on film. I am not a skateboard photographer or videographer.

So... why the heck do I have a fisheye lens?

Funny you should ask...

Street Photography

This is a given. Street photos can be taken with anything, if you go out looking for something in particular and that is exactly what I did with this particular outing. It was July 3rd and I was out at Barefoot Landing to capture some of the nightlife for my blog and the blogs for my day job. I think all in all, they turned out pretty well; either way, it was the perfect opportunity for me to realize how awesome this lens really is.

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Real Estate Photography

This is something I do a lot of at my day job. The neat thing about this lens is that excites you about using it. I don't know how to explain it, but even using it in real estate photography makes that type of work fun again ( keep checking back for my upcoming full length post on real estate/resort photography!) It takes a little more work is post, to get the distortion to an acceptable level, but I think it is worth for the type of shots I have been able to get with it.

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Family and Beach Photography

This is by far my favorite application so far. With this lens, I am able to get family of 10 in to creative poses and have fun with needing a ladder or something crazy. In this particular shot, they decided they wanted a shot of everyone with their heads close together, so I slipped on the fisheye and was able to oblige with no resistance or time to figure out how to make it happen. But then I decided to keep it on for a few more shots including this jumping of all the grandkids.

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Wedding Receptions

This is probably one of the most fun applications for this thing. Walking around, I was able to really get some great shots of people enjoying themselves on the dance floor and hanging out. Even a fun shot or two of the bride and groom.

Mitchell and Kaitlyn
Mitchell and Kaitlyn

What do you think would be a fun use for a fisheye lens? Maybe you have one, and use it for something in particular? Leave your opinions in a comment below! Be sure to subscribe to see some of the fun things we have coming up!

-Jarrett

Room to grow: Using my Nikon 105mm Micro Lens

So, many people have their favorite lenses that they own or have owned and many drool over certain pieces of glass that they feel will boost their photography to the next level. That piece for me was the 85mm 1.8. I had such of love affair with this lens and after getting it, I haven't really used it much. But still I was determined to continue my photographic journey to professional status so I started to use it and have really fallen in love with what I can produce with it, but I figured I needed to continue investing in to my equipment to take better photos. Well one day cruising around craigslist, I found a Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 for sale just an hour away from me. I couldn't pass up the opportunity of at least inquiring about it. Well after a few emails, the seller informed me that she was parting with a bunch of her equipment. She knew what she had but was willing to make a deal. I ended up walking away with the 70-200mm Sigma. She also had a few other things that sparked my interest, like a 17-55mm 2.8 which I passed on but she did talk me in to coming home with the handy dandy Nikon 105mm 2.8g Micro. Both were in pristine condition but I still only paid around 60% less than retail which for such a big purchase is impressive.

Anyway, I used the 70-200 constantly on photo shoots, weddings, pretty much anything outdoors just because there is something commanding about a lens that size. I know that sounds ridiculous and a bit narcissistic, but every photographer starting out has issues with being taken seriously. This lens was my ticket to the "not to be taken lightly" glances by those around who thought of me as a just another kid who thinks he knows what he's doing.

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Well all this time goes by, probably six months, and I haven't even touched the 105 macro. This is ridiculous because it is by far the most impressive lens I own but I can never make anything work right with it. It always produced blurry and soft images. Most would get annoyed, blame the equipment and sell it off; but I keep it. Why do I keep it?

Maybe it's because I suck at letting things go. I'm great at finding deals but I am awful at selling off things that I can't or don't use. I usually hold on to them for way to long and then it bites me in the butt when I finally decide to sell something and its three generations behind and.worth half of what I think it is. I have been burned like this plenty of times.

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But.... this is not one of those times. See, I realized shortly after I bought it, that this lens was too much for me, I couldn't make it work because I didn't know how to yet. I was still stuck in the "I must shoot wide open all the time" phase and didn't understand how to use it to its potential.

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To tell you the truth, I still don't yet, but I'm learning and I am shooting with it at my level now. I am gaining an eye for it and I can see where this lens could be a permanent fixture in my lineup to come. More than just a few nice shots of engagement rings, this lens is great for all types of shots. One use I have found, is babies. Having my first encounter with baby portraits just recently, I learned how to make the distance and depth of field and all the magic inside this lens work for me.

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Hope you enjoyed the photos. Please subscribe!

-Jarrett

Phot of The Day: Grumpy Baby

Today, I thought I would share a shot from a recent photo session I did for a family here on vacation. The family was wonderful and so easy to work with, but the baby of the family was ready for sleep for sure. She was not in the mood to be directed but she would cheer up long enough to get her photo taken in most cases.

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This is something completely normal on vacation shoots. People are here all week and their sleep schedule get interrupted. Even for most adults, we usually get tired quicker by the end of a vacation because of the random sleep schedule we normally keep. Well this little sweetheart is no exception. She was not having it, in some cases and we had to wait her out but that's all part of the job! I loved hanging out with this family and because we took our time and kept everything smooth, we were able to get some very fun shots like this:

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As an alternative, if you have a baby who is a little less than happy and getting their photo taken, give them something to do. When they are concentrating on something else they are much less likely to be upset. For some children, give them a physical activity while others prefer something to hold and tinker with. Either way, be prepared to inspire the parents to get the child active!

One thing I have found that keeps a child's attention is my Holga 35mm plastic toy camera. The more beat and banged up it becomes, the different leaks it produces. Very cool little camera, in most cases I even leave film in it and tell them to take photos. I am hoping for some cool shots when I develop the roll!

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Thanks for reading!

5 Tips for Beach Family Photos

Excited about your upcoming vacation to the shore? How about some professional photos taken while you are there to commemorate the occasion! Now there are a few things you need to know before booking your family photos with a local photographer. Here are a few tips to help you along the way:

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1: Dont just pick anyone
- Picking your photographer is the largest hurdle for you to face. Not every professional in the area you are visiting is right for you. If you check for someone on Craigslist and that is their only way of showing you your work, don't be surprised if they seem inexperienced or unprofessional( I am not talking down on this type of marketing, Lord knows I received some very good jobs through Craigslist starting out. We all have to start somewhere). On the other hand, if you decide to use a company that is highly commercialized, be prepared to be up-sold with high pressure sales tactics. Many that work at these types of establishments know you came to spend money and want you to spend as much as possible of it with them. Find someone who seems easy going with you, personable and willing to immerse themselves in the family.
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2: Be relaxed and dress accordingly
- As a vacation/resort town native, I know how many people have their photos taken in matching outfits: Blue and Khaki, White and Khaki, White and denim. There is nothing wrong with this, in fact I kind of like it. You may be very comfortable in a white shirt and khakis, but maybe someone in your family isn't. An alternative would be to use complimentary patterns and colors, or different shades of the same color family. Uncomfortable dress is a dead giveaway when in front of the camera.
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3: Be understanding about lighting, timing and location
- A perfectly sunny day on the beach is great for splashing around in the surf, but in most cases, bright sunlight is a photography killer. The best time of the day for photos on the beach is in the evening in the hour before sunset. Especially on the east coast where the sun sets opposite of the beach which is easier to control than water over the beach. So, even though your photo time may hog a little more time before dinner than you would have hoped, it is totally worth it with the quality of light you are allowing your photographer to use for your photos.
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4: Let your kids be themselves - I know everyone has a different style of discipline and I am not Doctor Phil, I will not even try to tell you how to raise your kids because I have no idea myself! But what I can say from experience is that kids have a hard time sitting still and parents normally lose their cool at least once during a session because their kids are doing something crazy. That's ok! As long as they are just being kids and enjoying themselves the way they know how, most photographers are perfectly content with sitting and waiting until a toddler is happy to smile and look at the camera. If you force them, they will looked forced and Mr./Ms. Grumpy Gills will be forever captured in the 8x10 on the mantle.
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5: Plan your photos for early on in your stay - I know it may sound like a great idea to wait until you have a tan, but the risk is tremendous when dealing with the sun. When you want to spend your time on the beach soaking it in, the chances are you will have tan lines and your skin will look red when photographed
Hope this helps you understand and prepare for your beach photo session! Remember when in the Myrtle Beach area to contact me for your vacation/wedding photography needs!

Photo of the day: Playful beach portraits

A really short but sweet photo of the day today. This little fella was hilarious to watch; I love photo shoots where I get entertainment out of watching the kids react to me and to themselves. I know that parents love their hyperactive children and though I know they want their kids to behave but that is not always going to happen. Kids are kids! They love to run and play and laugh and jump. Don't get me wrong, I am not a parent myself and I know there is much more stress involved in raising a child than I know. Don't think of the photographer as a guest but more as part of the family. The reason why is, the kids will be more relaxed around someone who you treat like a friend and less like a business associate. Forrester Family-37

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As a side note, I am starting to notice that anyone under the age of 6 likes the look of a 70-200 2.8. It is a huge lens and either they are made uncomfortable by it. What I have started doing instead is using either 50mm or 85mm. The 50mm is great because the front element is so small that the kids don't focus on the camera but stay on the idea of getting the picture taken. The 85mm is great too because it puts enough distance between me and the subject but not so much that the kids forget they are getting their picture taken.

Enjoy!

Street Photography: Barefoot on a Breezy Night

So the Barefoot Landing is in full swing this year with their 25th Anniversary celebration. Because I work in the resort industry, I have learned to stay out of the populated areas but last night I was drawn to go get some photos down there, I am very glad I did too. I love street performers but Myrtle Beach has very few of them because of the zoning laws and permits needed that are not easily accessible. But the loophole is the privately owned shopping and entertainment centers where the companies hire performers to come entertain the crowds. Well walking around I jacked up the ISO with my new Rokinon fisheye and gave it a whirl. Comment below with your favorite images!

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This little guy was really digging the magician there. But he was pretty amazed by the crazy looking lens I had on the front of my camera too!

Thanks for looking!

-Jarrett

A Photographer's Worst Nightmare

A Photographer's Worst Nightmare: So I recently had the worst week I have experienced thus far in my photographic career.

My camera crapped out on me. It didn't completely die but it was effective for not much more than a paperweight without some serious work. The shutter curtain snapped and needed to be replaced. the mirror moved perfectly and all the electronics were fine, but the sensor was not being exposed to anything because the shutter curtain was not raising. Luckily I have access to other cameras while my workhorse is in the shop getting some TLC.

This was not the worst part of my week.

Most feel that a photographer's worst nightmare might be damaging their gear or getting something stolen; I agree this leaves much to be desired on the fun scale but I have other things much more frightening in the works. One of my clients, did not like my work. It took a lot of wrestling with my pride to write this out but I think of it as a chance to share my growth and maybe help someone else. She called and was very nasty about how much she disliked the work I had done for them. Because they had been traveling, I could not even offer a re-shoot. I am aware that many people complain on vacation in hopes to get things for free. I have worked in the resort industry for over 4 years now and I run in to this all the time. But the problem was that looking back at what I sent her, I realized something: I didn't like my work either. I had never sent out work I didn't like before, but these I truly would never show and that was the problem. I at once offered her a refund. I would never make someone pay for photos I didn't even like myself. But the hardest part was realizing, for the first time, I had not worked hard enough to make these photos what they should have been. I understand that everyone has these types of things happen and I try my best to make sure my clients are as happy with my service as possible. That is why, I buckled down and made sure my next photo shoot would be the best experience I have ever offered.

I scouted longer, I searched for open shade, I timed the golden hour perfectly, I remembered everyone's names and used them frequently and most of all, I provided some of the best photos that I think I have ever taken. Being a former professional ballroom dancer, I have learned (and have tried to overcome some of it) how to be confident, over confident even and I use this to my advantage in some cases; but I now feel like I don't have to put on a show as photographer. I am comfortable in my style, I learn more every day, and I know at the end of the day that people are happy with my work. Hope you enjoy some of the photos from the shoot:

-Jarrett

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P.S.: For the camera geeks out there who are interested, I shot all of the photos for this particular shoot with a Nikon D3200 I had on loan and a Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 Thanks for reading!