Photographing History - The Steam Plant

The steam plant in Conway has been a part of the landscape since before I was born, but it is now coming to an end. Due to a clean air act, the EPA had to shut down this facility due to too much cost in converting the plant. My dad and I took a scary highway hike to get to the island in the cooling lake across from the plant for some sunset photos. Enjoy the video!

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DLSR + Rain = A Very Bad Day at The Zoo

If there is one thing that everyone knows, it is that electronics and water(for the most part) don't mix. All it takes is a little water in the wrong place to completely destroy a phone. I remember back in the day, I used my blackberry after washing my hands and because my hands were slightly wet, the trackball and and keyboard went haywire. Granted, I know that is the extreme of this type of situation, but still. Water is kryptonite to most things with a battery. Well besides the camera itself, lenses can also gather moisture which can lead to fungus, aperture blade malfunctions and focusing issues. All of which make it unusable and useless to sell (make it a coffee mug!)

So there you have it, your camera hates water. So what do you do when you are traveling and are unsure if you will hit water or not? Get a bag with a rain cover.

My bag is a Ruggard Outrigger 45 Backpack and I could not be more happy with it. The thing is snug on my back and can carry plenty:

Ruggard Outrigger 45 Backpack

My wife and I recently visited the Denver Zoo and had a wonderful time. Definitely the nicest zoo I have had the opportunity to visit. We had just driven 2 and a half hours through cloudy, snow storm occupied mountains and arrived in Denver assuming it was just going to snow. Well us beach kids didn't know the difference between snow and rain weather so we went to the zoo anyway.

To tell you the truth, I am so glad we did though. We almost had the place to ourselves and that was just so worth the price of admission alone. After the rain started, I had to put up all the gear and just wait it out. It was a little disappointing walking around all these wonderful animals with all my gear in a bag, but it was worth it knowing that I had it protected. The rain sleeve is hidden away in a bottom compartment and when needed, you just pull it out and stretch it over the bag. Even though the bag was packed to the gills( 2 DSLR's and 5 lenses, the sleeve still fit like a glove.

Ruggard Outrigger 45 Backpack

Ruggard Outrigger 45 Backpack

All in all, I still left with a wonderful group of photos which I will be sharing on some future blog posts! Thank you for reading and remember to protect your gear!

Rant - The Photos That I Don't Take

So, there have been some real problems with photographers (one photographer in particular. Many male photographers have a hard time making a good reputation because of all the scary people out there with cameras. It's like the "car broken down on the side of the road at night complex" (yes, I made that up): When you are driving down the road and you see someone broken down, most people think of helping them, but there is still that disgustingly vivid part of your imagination that tells you that this could be a trap for some kind of thief or kidnapper. Now I know that is a harsh example, but I am sure that the feeling is the same for many female models working with male photographers. Being a photographer and knowing where my heart is, I walk a very fine path to make sure I am never thought of as the creepy photographer. The photographer I am speaking of that has made such a big splash is Terry Richardson. He has had in quite a few different places people go public with haunting things that I can't believe still go on in the day of easy to reach media outfits. It only takes a matter of minutes to have an open letter to the world, and they exist against this guy, but people still hire him. If everything that is said about this guy is true, he is for sure one of the grossest human beings alive in my lifetime. Another photographer I have a problem with is Matt Grainger. Otherwise known as "ThatNikonGuy" on Youtube, he has a large following of people who watch his videos which were originally marketed as help and review videos to other photographers. Now it seems that the reasoning behind his work is to show off as much of the model he paid for as possible. Though I doubt he is having sex with her, I really have a problem with photographers who hire models and have them strip down and be photographed in a sexual way. That's prostitution in a way. Just my opinion, but still. He has all these views but it is primarily because of the girls he is photographing like this. I have nothing against Matt on a personal level but his business tactics have become quite sleazy over the last couple of years. I started out really liking his videos because I shoot Nikon, but have since unsubscribed and avoid all that he does. I have very strong opinions when it comes to my business and with that comes a strict set of rules that shape my business with female clients.

Here are the rules I live by:

-Never Shoot Bathing suits or lingerie = There are photographers in the Myrtle Beach area that will gladly spend their whole day photographing young women in skimpy outfits but for most people, this seems really creepy. I have heard a few first hand accounts of pushy photographers trying to get girls to strip down to less and take them to less than comfortable conditions for their photo sessions.

-Never go anywhere with a female client without someone of her choosing there with her This is a big thing for me. No matter who it is, if she is not a close personal friend or relative, I always will have a female client bring a friend. This makes her more relaxed, it makes me more relaxed and for the most part, the friend will help out. For instance, on one of my more recent bridal portrait sessions, the bride brought her friend along who helped out tremendously with setting the dress and everything.

-No provocative posing= Even if the subject is fully dressed, posing them in provocative ways can be just as effective to this type of photography. The easiest thing for me is to just not ever use anything in this realm. I am not saying that I don't pose people to make them look their most attractive, but there is a HUGE difference between, attractive and sexual.

-If I wouldn't show the photo proudly to my wife, I should not be taking it. = This is my Biggest rule. By the time you are reading this, I am on my honeymoon! I have a wonderful wife and she is the best critique I have because she truly likes my work and can tell me when it needs work. Annie and I are not very jealous people, but we both have moral standards that we uphold. If there is ever a time where I may have to shoot something for a client that I know she may feel uncomfortable with, I always check with her. If she agrees, I know I am ok. This is for two reasons. Number 1 is that she knows and spends more time with me than anyone so of course my wife wants to help me stay as close to my business model as possible and Number 2 is that I don't ever once want her to doubt my intentions and because there is plenty of work out there for everyone in all the different genres, I am more than happy to stay as far away from anything that ever would.

Thank you for reading!

Recording History: The Pastor's Pen

I am getting married very soon! It's finally becoming very real! See, Annie and I are the last of three couple in my church getting married within a 6 week period and I had the pleasure of photographing one of them. While shooting this wedding for a long time friend Kim, and, her now husband, Kevin, I was able to practice a little for how we would like to set up the church for our ceremony. Bonus Points! With all jokes aside, it was a beautiful ceremony and an absolute joy to shoot. Everyone was relaxed and able to have fun and enjoy the day. Here is a little taste from the photos afterward.

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More photos after the jump!

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My pastor married Kim and Kevin, who happens to be Kim's uncle, and after the ceremony and the formal photos were done, it was time for the marriage license to be signed.

Pastor Buddy pulled his pen out of the breast pocket of his suit jacket. Many forget that a pen is similar to a watch;  a piece of functional jewelry for a man. A piece of his own personal history that holds genuine and amazing history that signifies what he has been through in his life. Well Pastor Buddy's pen is absolutely one of those types of constants throughout his life. After joining the ministry, he was given this pen. a beautiful, slender work of art that he has always kept. A pastor has many jobs; he brings us all together for sermons, marriages, funerals and more than I could tell you. But this pen has a special story because after having it for over 30 years, it has only ever been used for one thing: signing marriage licenses.

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This pen has only ever graced the hands of people on the most important day of their lives as they spiritually, emotionally and, with the pen, legally bind themselves to one another. This pen has one job, and that is to permanently mark a contract of two people's love for each other.

Call me a romantic but I think this pen has an awesome story!

Did you have an item used in your wedding that has a significant meaning? How about something you keep with you every day? Let me know in the comments below!

Mobile Phone Photography

So, everyone and their brother have smartphones now and Instagram is flooded every day with square cropped images featuring anything from someone's beautiful hipster lunch to the most beautiful cliche sunset you have ever seen. But pro photographers have also jumped on board and started doing some amazing work with their phones. Some of my favorite work with phones are the numerous big name street photographers who like spending time away from their DSLRs and sometimes even find a small rangefinder bulky and in the way. There are so many beautiful images to be seen so I figured I would share some of mine! Enjoy!

Turn to clear vision

Sleepy kitty

Cortana chip

Baseball on the iPhone

Bird attack

Relaxing on the wal

Boat

Untitled

Double exposure

Barber shop

So do you take photos with your phone? Do you have something you would like to share? Well post it on my Facebook wall, on twitter or in the comments below!

Photo Of The Day: Surprise Engagement

So, this is the first blog post of it's kind. I just recently had the wonderful opportunity to share one of the largest moments in a couple's life: their engagement. After a few brief coded phone calls, I was enlisted to help Justin surprise his girlfriend on the beach with a special not in a bottle on the beach and a beautiful proposal. They were such a treat to work with and I am very excited to present their photos to them. Hope you enjoy the photos and the video! [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kP5lfu4DeP4&w=640&h=360] Engagement-24

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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.

 Gentry Family-29

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!

Senioritis

So, the wrapping up of another school year has already come and gone. This means that many young people out there are about to star their senior year itching to slip on the cap and gown and count down the seconds until they get to toss that square scholarly hat up in the air as triumph of their standard education careers. Many will be off to college in the fall and starting on a journey to adulthood. They, for the first time will have a taste of independence and freedom; the ability to stand on their own to an extent. All that is well and great, believe me, I enjoyed graduating; but at the same time, they shouldn't forget that where they are right now is a very important time especially for their parents. This is the last inkling of their little boy or girl getting ready for school in the morning, the last time they will get to see them play baseball or soccer for their high school team. The last prom they will get to take funny photos of their kids in the lawn with their dates posing awkwardly. Alright, enough with the cheesy "I Will Remember You" style reminiscence.

Because of this, I send out a message to all seniors: Get your photo taken as many times as possible!

With today's society, photos are integrated in to every piece of communication: phones, computers, music devices, social media. This overexposure (excuse the pun) to photography makes it very difficult to find the value in getting your photo taken professionally and therefore you should take advantage of every opportunity you get to do so! Many high schools are offering fun alternative shoots that allow you to be creative and fun with your photos instead of the plain jane Olan Mills style photography. Get a group, go on location, make it fun!

CCS Seniors Group-1

The photos below are of friends of my sister who are all graduating this year. I was commissioned to do the casual spring portraits for the seniors this year and I am quite pleased with the way they turned out. Just a good example of how changing up scenery can make the most difference.

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CCS Seniors-2

Another tip: Talk to your photographer! I had everyone's photos taken and these girls stuck around and wanted a photo taken somewhere else; they decided on a bench near the river and that's where that sat down for these great poses. Light was a little harsh so the girls took turns hold diffusers for each other!

Thanks for reading!

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!

Photo of The Day: Blur The Lines

I am not landscape photographer but I do enjoy fun shots and working on little projects and learning more about the art of photography. I am a big big fan of Youtube and how much I have learned just by being able to watch the video set apart for use. The newest thing I have enjoyed learning about is Long Exposure photography and using ND Filters to have longer exposures in good light. An ND filter is short for Neutral Density filter which is basically sunglasses for your camera. This photo was taken in a slightly unorthodox way by using an 85mm lens which is telephoto and normally saved for portraits. These types of shots are normally done with wide angles to capture as much of a scene as possible.

Let me know what you think!

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Photo of The Day: Revisiting The Wrestler

So, after going to the wrestling match a few weekends ago, my friend was impressed by the images I had of him. It was a ton of fun shooting the wrestler in action but I thought that for his promotional prints and posters, he needed to have a portrait or two. Meeting him down at the training facility, I was able to snap a few portraits using some new techniques and equipment. Let me know what you think!  

Big Country-1

For those interested, I used a reflective silver umbrella and a speedlight being triggered by the on camera pop up flash. I am glad to have learned this strategy from The Strobist, David Hobby. Thanks for looking!

Photo of The Day: Catching the Moment

*Warning! Photography Rant Incoming!* I don't have to tell you how cliche certain phrases in photography are. Here is a list of the worst in my opinion:

  • "Sharing Precious Memories"
  • "Capturing Life"
  • "Painting With Light"
  • "Preserving the Essence of the moment" (whatever that means)

Anyway, it's not that these terms are incorrect, those are the job of a photographer, it is just the goofy ways we try to put what we do into words. You can describe a meal with all these amazing adjectives that will have my mouth watering by the time you are done, but by the standard I see today through newer photographers marketing themselves, you cannot do the same thing for your photography. Photography is art, its subjective and no one will like every image you take; that is a fact. Be proud of your work, and only show the photos that are your best. If your picture tells a story, you HAVE to tell that story WITH your portfolio. If one image you absolutely love because you know the story behind it, doesn't stand on it's own, I personally don't think it should be in your portfolio for people to see without a conversation; story telling with a photograph is what blogs are for. If I have a pile of candid shots of kids from family shoots, and that's what the family wants then of course that is what I will show them (that is the subjective nature of the art we produce).

Righty-O, on to the photo: Sam-1

This is a perfect example of a subjective photo. This is my nephew on Easter Sunday. He was all dressed up and was just the cutest little dude, but he was getting a little tired of all the clothes. He pulled at his collar and tie, ran his hands through his hair and insisted that we play some basketball with him. well as I was walking with him back inside, I just turned my camera on, slung it out in front of him and took a photo, He was so intrigued by something on the ground, deep in thought as he was pondering the existence of something splayed across the lawn on such a beautiful day. Is this the sharpest photo I have ever taken? Not even close. Is the composition the best it could be? No way, but what this photo represents is a memory to his family of him running around being the sweet little genius boy that he is. This is not a photo for my portfolio, but a photo that will mean something to his mother. That's what we do with photography, we use our elements: light, timing, emotion, and just a little luck to find and capture what will mean something to our client. Always practice, try to think differently and for the love of God find a new way to describe what you do if you are using any of the above or something similar.

Thanks!

Photo(s) of The Day: My night in Black and White

So, for my sister's last Spring Break as a high school student, we decided to stay down at my family's beach house. It's a nice change of pace considering it's about the same distance to my office but a very different bit of scenery. Anyway, because our beach house is inside a gated community, they have a limit on how many cars can be at each house at a given time and that usually means I end parking in the overflow site and walking in. This gives me the opportunity to breath in the funny little streets while I walk in. These photos are walking around, meeting up with some friends and taking advantage of the eery light provided by laptops, in the wifi area. Enjoy!

Street Photos-1

 

Now keep in mind, these images are all shot hand held with a standard 50mm 1.8 lens with no flash. The ISO had to stay a little high but considering that I think the camera handled it very well! It was fun to be challenge by the available light and take photos unaware to some and quite obvious for others! Street photography is a very different style where you have to have a lot of nerve to not care what anyone thinks about you and your camera. Though I am no street photographer, these do have a little street flavor to them

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Photo of The Day: The Wrestler

When I was a kid, I LOVED professional wrestling. I just thought it was the coolest thing. Why, I'm not sure but that's not the point. As someone who understands the complexities of dance, I have a new appreciation for the work many of these guys do. It takes a ton of dedication to your art to do it correctly with all the difficult choreography that is being shared by two men they weigh more than I knew could be lifted so easily. Well, just like many other types of sports, wrestling starts with farm leagues where up and coming wrestlers learn how to hone their showmanship and acrobatics until they are ready to audition for the larger companies such as WWE or ECW. I know all of this because, a good friend and bandmate of mine is an athlete in a local company. It is really fun to watch him do his thing; interacting with the crowd and watching these fans cheer for him. Anyway, here is my portrait of Blake.

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Comment below and let me know what you think!

Learning how to Learn: 3 Steps to Educating Yourself

I am not ashamed to say that I am nowhere near as good as I wish I was. I fail constantly and maybe that's not such a bad thing. I learn new things every day and some times those things that I discover may be something that everyone else with a camera already knows, or something I learned in college but didn't appreciate until the moment I stumbled across it myself. Messing up is part of the artistic process. Many wonderful things we hold (or have held) in high esteem were invented on accident such as: Silly Putty, Play Dough, The Slinky, Potato Chips and even Fireworks. What all these things have in common is they bring joy to those who enjoy or have enjoyed them and that's what you have to bring to the table with your photography. I am not saying that I stumble upon the newest trends in photography or that I have found the perfect formula because I know that I haven't. But what I have found is a way to create images that my clients are fond of. It's a real joy to see posts from them on Facebook using one of my images as their profile photo.

I am not a professor; I am not the Strobist, nor do I have a fro; But if there is anything I can pass along to other photographers, it is to create a product your client is fond of. Know how to use your camera, and how to manipulate your images to create what you want but make sure what you are creating is of value. Anyone can pick up a camera and take a picture, never forget that. Photographers do more than battle other professionals for jobs, they have to fight back excitable parents and the high school kid with ambition who will do it for free. This happens all the time. Know your market and make them happy with your work. Doing this requires research, public relations, advertising but most of all, you have to educate yourself in your craft. I am a musician who spent a long time learning my instruments but I learned them my own way. When I started learning photography, I adapted the same process:

Here are my 3 Steps for educating yourself in photography:

1: Read and Watch A LOT:

Reading is fueling your brain with information. If you are reading credible sources on almost any topic you are expanding your horizons and therefor allowing yourself to grow. I love reading the DSLR magazines from the UK. Also, I enjoy thumbing through old film instructional books that go in to depth with traditional composition and lighting. As far as online sources, I enjoy watching videos online from FroKnowsPhoto, DigitalRev, Dombowerphoto, and FilmRiot on YouTube. I also enjoy reading The Strobist and the Improve Photography blogs. Do I put all of what they do in to practice? No, of course not but just as I would take one trick from one guitarist and make it my own, we also have to do that with our photography by choosing which styles work for us and make it our own.

2: Be An Assistant

Being an assistant, really made me learn how to become a photographer. Working under someone who has being doing this longer than you have is a good experience builder. Also, the beautiful part about being a second shooter, it opening yourself up to more creative shots, where the main photographer gets all the shots that he or she has envisioned themselves needing.

3:  Be social!

Use your Facebook for something other than Farmville and chain photos. Find other photographers around the world that you admire and like their pages. Keep up with them and send them messages. Start with someone that doesn't have a million followers and gets hounded every day. Find a photographer who you like and send them a message with a link to some of your photos and ask them what they think. Many are honored by the opportunity and love to share their opinion. This will help you understand what you could have done better and what you are already doing well.