The importance of ongoing education for the professional photographer
How ongoing education affects your photography and what you offer your clients
Chances are when you decided to become a professional photographer it was because you loved the idea of creating images. You may have started because images you took of your friends, family or children were viewed by your friends with appreciation and with the mantra “You should do that for a living”. At that point the idea of ongoing education for a professional photographer likely had never entered your head.
There is certainly is nothing wrong with that. Many of us started that way. I myself started when my Grandfather who worked for Eastman Kodak would bring home film and cameras(or filim as he pronounced it. Keep in mind this was Rochester, North Chili to be exact) and I was exposed early to some wonderful, photojournalistic work that still shaped what I do today.
And no matter who you are that work you produce, especially when you step into the professional realm, it is going to change.
One of the most intimate characteristics of being a professional photographer is the pride but sensitivity your work generates within you.
So how do you go about getting better while handling criticism of your work that is hopefully constructive?
How do you get better without becoming nothing but an imitator?
The answer is, in my opinion, ongoing education.
I am writing this in a timely fashion right after Imaging USA, the convention and expo hosted by The Professional Photographers of America.
You can check the folks out from the PPA HERE:
And you can see and learn more about Imaging USA specifically by checking them out HERE:
It is the longest running expo and convention for professional photographers dating back to 1880. Since its inception it has never stopped growing, changing and adapting.
So why attend?
Why take classes?
Why learn, change and adapt?
Because I believe it is impossible to develop in a vacuum. I believe separating ourselves out retards the constructive, critical eyes we need to continue to develop.
That willingness, if you can develop it opens you up to people and places (and images) that can change the way you shoot…
If you let it.
Because we all develop differently and at different speeds one of the best platforms to accomplish this is by imaging competition.
You will here some photographers say “well the PPA cost too much and it is only about the money”. The PPA is a non-profit organization and while there are costs associated with it when you compare the many, many included benefits it really becomes an incredible value.
Then there is the discussion of degrees. Again, and I have heard this numerous times “it costs too much to take the CPP exam and maintain your status”. The truth is it is very reasonable and all funds are used to develop and further the program and education for CPP’s and professional photographers.
Lasty you will hear “clients don’t care about degrees and memberships”.
I would concede there is truth to that statement….however just as with a Doctor, who isn’t required to be board certified but does so anyway. It sends the message that this professional meets a certain standard. That the photographer understands photographic concepts and is reproducing those for his clients.
Finally, this all starts to have an impact on your own work, on your expectations, and on your pushing and developing yourself. This can and does show up as the work clients seek you out for, hire you for and become a referral base for you.
Ongoing education for the professional photographer is not only important, it is critical for success.
In the end Ongoing education for you, the professional photographers helps you be who you want to be.
It helps you BE MORE.
Blue Ridge Wedding Photography Jamie & Amber
A Blue Ridge Georgia Intimate Wedding
Jamie & Amber’s wonderful wedding included some rain and some fast incoming cold. We encourage ALL our couples to think seriously about a 2nd shoot. Sometimes that is due to weather, sometimes just to expand the amount of images that are JUST about them! With a nod to personal choice, here is why we always suggest a “shoot 2”.
The pressure is off. You are not worried about timelines or feeding your guest or whether Uncle Charley is happy. It’s just you two, your photographers and some grand fun!
Personally I am a huge fan of the getting ready portion. So much happens that, in my opinion, is spiritual in nature due to the enormity of the day.
The ceremony was held at Salem #2 Baptist Church with Pastor Randy Hooper Presiding. The Reception immediately followed.
You can check out those wonderful folks HERE:
Shoot 2 was held at a new venue in Mineral Bluff Ga. As of yet I have not been notified of the name. (Yes, it’s THAT new!)
When shooting the couple, you can direct them insofar as locations etc. but try to leave enough of a “hands-off” approach where they can be themselves…shooting with a slightly longer lens can get you out of the immediate vicinity yet pull you close enough for those all important moments of chemistry that often occurs BETWEEN the poses. Be ready for them!
Jamie & Amber are a quiet couple. But, given some directions, time and some trust and you get wonderful emotion between them!
We love to balance our approach with our award winning photojournalism, true intimate, emotional moments and distinctive “WeddingScapes” that become cherished one-of-a-kind wall art.
As previously mentioned, we do some light directing then we move as far away as possible and let the chemistry and the moment take over between the couple. Watch closely. Have your antennae up and a quick finger on the shutter.
Blue Ridge Wedding Photography, the importance of the Reception cannot be overstated.
At the all important reception you can see some photographers start to dial back and slow down. I would challenge you that the reception is one of the most constant moving areas of shooting you will have at the wedding.
Remember that when shooting the wedding reception it is a time to stay fully in tune with the emotions and timing. Some beautiful expressions can pass very quickly. It is your job to have excellent timing and to shoot with a heart that is in tune with your clients.
As cameras and equipment continue to evolve it is easier than ever to get wonderfully exposed, pin sharp images. The question is that what is always called for? Personally we, and our clients, see the beauty in allowing and even encouraging movement that shows the kinetic energy of the wedding reception.
The above images were shot at The beautiful Marlow House.
You can check them out HERE:
Keep in mind once the first dance is done that other special dances can follow, and those should never be treated with any lessening of importance. Fathers, Mothers and even family reactions in the background can frame a wedding reception image and show its enormous importance.
The above images were taken at Gorgeous Indigo Falls.
You can check out these fine folks HERE:
and at The Historic and Magnificent Tate House
You can find them HERE:
I personally like to pack and keep battery operated fairy lights available. Shooting through these can give a different look and texture. You can see by the above images in some motion was accentuated by dragging the shutter and rotating the camera.
The speeches portion along with any celebration that is not something that is scheduled on the timeline i.e. think of everyone surrounding the couple….in cases like that do not shy away from motion and step up and shoot overhead. Celebrations where the groom bride or both are hoisted above may pass quickly. Keep yourself involved and shoot as quickly as possible.
You will notice in many of our images that we really utilize the family and friends as the background. After all, that is the best background of all.
In closing, the reception is NOT a time to lean against the bar, eat peanuts and congratulate yourself on a job well done. Stay in touch. Stay in Tune and look for peak emotions that usually pass very quickly but leave an undeniable impression.
We are John & Tamera Webb.
We are A Day in The Life Photography.
We are Storytellers.
We shoot with our hearts on the shutter and it looks like this.
Rockmart Georgia has some wonderful spots for wedding photography. But there is a location called “In The Woods”that is truly unique and special. This wedding venue is an absolute must see gem. Owner Catherine Castleberry has created something so special it really must be seen and experienced to fully appreciate it. Kathie Schramm is the Wedding Coordinator and day of magician that keeps everything on-track with a gentle firmness and a beaming, genuine smile. These images are from the Rockmart Wedding Photography at In The Woods for Remington & Kara Anne, a very special couple whose model beauty is only matched by their huge and sincere hearts which were on full display on this day like no other.
We hope you enjoy the wedding photography album for Remington & Kara Anne at In The Woods Wedding and Event Venue
You can check out more about our friends at In The Woods Weddings & Events HERE:
The Mother of the bride, Ms Rhonda Hilliard was the drive, heart and focus behind all the planning and a beautifully carried out wedding.
The getting ready is always, to us, a very special and spiritual time. You can feel it in the atmosphere, the anticipation of something special and of enormous importance about to happen.
First Looks are always special, memorable and different. In this the Brides Grandparents and brother and Nephew see her fully adorned as a bride to be, and for the last time as a single young woman. Emotion and true moments trump poses, we believe, every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Minutes before the ceremony offers the precious, small moments that help show the story.
It is difficult to find a more picturesque location for the ceremony and the vows than In The Woods offers. What makes this venue so unique is the obvious thought Catherine Castleberry put into the layout. Spread out, yet somehow all connected with plenty of room for people to feel relaxed.
If you are fortunate enough to have a couple who trust you and “let’s you in” then you get a rare glimpse of who they really are. That is so very apparent with Remington & Kara Anne. From the palpable love you could feel they have for one another, to the overwhelming joy from their family and friends. This was a magical night.
Not every love story at a wedding is about the new couple. Some are 20-30-40 or even 50 years or more in the making. If you’re lucky you to get to see those celebrated as was the case here!
If you are in the market for a gorgeous, unique, well thought out event venue, check out In The Woods Wedding and Event Venue. You’ll be very happy you did!
Blue Ridge Wedding Photography. Photographing the bride, groom, family and friends.
Over the past few blog post, we have been going through the wedding day in order. We have covered the getting ready portion and the actual ceremony. The norm is that after those portions you will have an opportunity to photograph the new couple as well as friends, family and the wedding party (provided there were no plans to photograph everyone earlier prior to ceremony).
For the images above, you see a mix of pre ceremony and post ceremony images. When working with either, the truth is you are working on very tight timelines. You are hired to create beautiful imagery for your clients so being aware that not every beautiful portrait or moment will be “standard”. In fact, LOOK for ways to show the beauty of the day in non-conventional ways.
The Images above were captured at The Historic Tate House. You can check them out HERE:
Above we see examples of a bit more traditional images done. Do not be afraid to to setup an action-reaction setup for your shoot. As an example telling the bridesmaids to tell the best joke they know to one another or to just have fun can often result in them really enjoying themselves and having real fun..and when that occurs and is captured you clients and couples will LOVE it. Nothing is more prized than seeing the real essence of people you love. It makes it unique. It makes it priceless.
Images above were taken at both The Historic Tate House or at Cedars Plantation. You can check them out HERE:
Keep in mind that while you are planning and preparing for the “pre” or”post” time before or after the ceremony, time will be limited. Do not be surprised if timelines get off and you are forced to work under high pressure. One key we have found and used again and again is to ensure there is some true relationship with the couple. Having them put their trust in you means you are much more likely to have the be themselves while you shoot and keep them calm. Planning is required, but so is keeping your heart, senses and awareness open. Your job is to tell a story that reflects your clients and who they are, and who they are especially with each other…
Weddings above were shot at Antique Acres. You can check them out HERE:
Also at The beautiful Whitlock Inn. You can see them HERE:
And finally in Piney River Ranch in Vail Colorado. You can see this stunning venue HERE:
For us during the “post” portion of imaging, we like to go for a “Weddingscape”….position the bride and groom in a location that shows as much of the story in one shot as possible…
In closing we are still big believers that shooting with your heart on the shutter is what, in the end, allows you to capture the essence of your clients, have exquisite timing for moments of peak emotion and bring a relaxed fun feel to your wedding photography
We tell stories of the heart…and it looks like this.
In virtually every type of wedding photography there is a ceremony. How to photograph that ceremony so emotions and the story are told is an important part of our craft. Whether it is a wedding ceremony in Blue Ridge Georgia or Vail Colorado photographing the ceremony is critical
In Blue Ridge Wedding Photography The ceremony in wedding photography can offer varied and unique requirements as church’s, officiants, cultures and expectations can alter what is available, how it is approached and what to photograph.
When viewing many examples of wedding photography the ceremony is often given the single image or two representation. If however you are attuned to your clients and their emotional reactions to each other and moments the ceremony can be a veritable treasure trove of emotional content. In the above examples it would be easy to believe the processional, ceremony and recessional would be limited to a few obligatory images. As you can see above, each can make a powerful and emotional statement. Here is where we tell our students in our Super 1 Day Classes to stay on point, stay alert and shoot for those key moments that are unique to your client.
Remember to give your self time to work the angles. If allowed by the venue or church, getting close with a long lens at the corners can show a great deal of emotion going on, from tears of joy to an overwhelmingly beautiful contentment.
Once The ceremony is underway, keep your eyes and heart peeled for key moments. One thing to be aware of is those key moments, especially during the ceremony are usually incredibly brief. Keep focused in and on your toes and try to anticipate the moments before they happen. I cannot stress enough how tightly the success of that is woven into the relationship you build with your clients.
The landscape image, known as the weddingscapes, are also a great place to show emotion and feeling, even with a wide shot. Look for moments of prayer or impact by weather to show not just what the moments looked like but what they FEEL like.
In closing shooting the ceremony is not a time to relax and rattle off a few images, but a perfect place to mine for emotional content.
Finding a photographer who is a consummate professional is, in our opinion, key to getting the wedding story told as it should be.
An excellent place to start is at the Professional Photographers of America Website that houses the ability to search Photographers who are members and/or certified professional photographers.
You can check them out HERE:
Often in Blue Ridge Ga, and perhaps everywhere, brides looks for a way to reduce cost in wedding photography. One of those we have noticed is where brides will decline coverage of the getting ready portion of their day in an effort to save cost. We think that is a huge mistake. Hopefully these images will help change that mindset.
Why getting ready images are so important to the story.
In wedding photography there exist so many different couples with different expectations. Money, and in saying money we mean budget, is also different for everyone. Many couples today look to reduce cost wherever they can. In some examples, we have encountered couples who may opt to hire us to document their day, but to reduce cost by reducing hours and eliminating the getting ready portion of their coverage.
We think that is a HUGE mistake.
We hope you will agree after viewing and reading some of these pieces of stories from a a day like no other.
The above images were to be an emotional wedding day, but I believe the above images highlight the bride seeing her fairy-tale come true. This bride was also a dance teacher so the images of the student children helping lift her dress and her image as if surrounded by a cloud remains a favorite of ours.
Wedding at Indigo Falls. Check them out HERE:
In the above example the getting ready portion for the groom was full of much laughter and a few genuine tears when the enormity of the day was realized.
A Stanley House Wedding. You can check them out HERE:
After dressing, the first look between mother and daughter brought on immediate tears.
Wedding at The Historic Tate House. See these wonderful folks HERE:
If you look you will see tender moments and poetry in motion during the getting ready.
Wedding at Rocky’s Lake Estate. See more of that beautiful venue HERE:
Portraits are not limited to after everything is done. Keep your eyes open for opportunities to capture portraits in non-traditional settings.
In closing, when speaking with couples encourage them that your job is to tell a story. Every story, when complete, has a beginning, a middle and an end. Skipping the getting ready images misses out on, in our opinion, spiritual and emotional moments that like the day, are unlike anything else and thereby deserves to be documented.
We shoot with our hearts on the shutter and it looks like this.
John & Tamera
Wedding photography telling the story with moments between posing
Posing in wedding photography can help tell the story, but it is between the poses where the most powerful images often are.
How many times have you as a wedding photographer been shooting a wedding and when it comes time to work with the bride and groom you suddenly are out of ideas on how to pose them? This can be overcome by having a sound relationship with your couple and by learning to look for special expressions and reactions between the couple during the posing. This requires having excellent timing, a strong connection and a willingness to “pull back” a bit. When that happens you can have wedding photography that tells the story in posing.
In the images above from a beautiful wedding in Savannah, Georgia,we had just returned from the ceremony and these images were made outside overlooking the river. The couple just wanted to “escape” a bit after all the rush and high emotions of getting ready and the ceremony. While I am sure they were aware of our presence as we followed them outside, we were not their main focus. That was on each other and in our opinion that shows wonderfully here and that is what makes these images.
For the above images, we had positioned the bride near the window for a few images. Once we told her we were done she was genuinely looking out the window when a burst of sunlight came through. With her head tilting just so this became a beautiful mostly silhouette image. For the image in the church we had been shooting a few formals when the brides little sister just happened to lean into the pew. With the bride facing away and the angled lines of the pew the image was made. For the last image during the getting ready portion and bridesmaid formals everyone was crowding around trying to assist in earrings etc. . A quick shift of position and the image was made with that beautiful expression on her face.
The above image is an all time favorite of mine. Immediately following the ceremony the couple had been put into an area while people were filtered out of the church and were getting ready for the formals and reception. During that time with a dear friend looking on the couple leaned in, touched noses and smiled at each other with a joy that is there for all to see.
For the above images the couple was having such a great time with each other as we moved from one area to another for images that this playful image was created. For the other image we were intentionally working close, waiting for a reaction and we sure got it!
In the images above while we were posing the couple behind the veil we had backed off as if to change a lens. That was our ploy and their queue and you can see the results here. For the next image while we are not posing you do want to be aware for special moments in between even in the ceremony. For the hands image watch for repeated gestures between your couple. Images such as this are unique for the coupe and can be very special to them.
For this Image we were working in North Georgia for this wedding. During the posing session I had told the groom that if he had anything funny or sexy to say, whisper it to his bride. On a pre-arranged signal he did and the results were gorgeous.
In closing, posing in wedding photography is a wonderful tool to tell the story of the day. Keep in mind it is often the moments BETWEEN the poses when perfect moments can happen. Capturing those is what our job is all about.
We shoot with our hearts on the shutter, and it looks like this.
The most personal wedding images you can give your clients are the most powerful Images.
Why making more personal images leads to the most powerful images.
In the competitive landscape that is wedding photography it is an incredible challenge to stand out. To stand out offering unique artwork and or services is a must. Handing clients their wedding album with the most personal images you can get allows you to reach them in the most powerful way. For wedding photography the most personal images are the most powerful images.
Spending your time and efforts to get to know your clients will allow you to open doors to the insights you will need to capture personal and powerful images. This does not necessarily mean that those personal images have to be iconic or “hero” shots, but they do need to be personally tailored to your clients and to what is strong in their hearts, minds and spirits.
In the images above the getting ready portion was critical for the couple. While we did not have the most elaborate venue, finding personal, powerful imagery is your job as the wedding photographer. The image with the hands on the bible was among the most powerful and treasured images of the wedding.
This wedding took place at McIntosh Reserve. You can check them out HERE:
In the images above the church, the family, especially the children, traditions and the joy and emotion of the celebration were really what their day was all about.
For this couple, two artists, the 1st look was something they wanted to capitalize on. Their couple portrait was fashioned to imbue a sense of classic timelessness.
This Wedding took place at the Historic Tate House. One of our favorite places to work. You can check them out HERE:
For this fabulous couple above…it was all about the beach….the beach yes, but also a celebration of their wonderful intimacy with each other….in cases such as that timing for their movement and expressions with each other is paramount.
You can check out some details about Clearwater Beach Florida HERE:
In this story the image of the lone chair decorated with photographs would get overlooked by most people…however getting to know the couple and family we discovered that the day picked for the wedding was the birthday of a sister who had passed away years earlier. Did your perspective shift when you look at the image now? This is the central truth of personal images for your clients. The more personal the imagery, the more powerful the imagery.
In closing , if your choosing to offer the most personal images you can for your clients, I guarantee they will be the most powerful.
It DOES require you to be involved with your clients. To spend time with them. To learn what you can about their own personal love stories…and it is an investment.
Your clients will love you for it.
You will love yourself for doing it.
The Impact and Importance of Wedding Photography Equipment on the Industry
A Discussion of the importance of wedding photography equipment on the wedding photography industry
If you poke around a bit you can find a good deal of discussion on wedding photography and the impact of equipment in the industry. Specifically the notion or idea that the equipment really does not matter. That a talented photographer could grab an iphone or any cell phone with a camera and produce amazing stuff. There is truth to that..just not complete truth…Let me preface this discussion with the caveat; I am a commercial success that sees himself as sill learning. It’s my intention to make the reader I am stating all this as my opinion, and as the opinion of one who is not at a final destination but has a journey ahead.
Guess what? The equipment DOES matter!!!!
Let me draw an analogy….how often do you see a craftsman building a fine home with antiquated or outdated tools?
How often do you see a competent auto technician work on your car with anything other than the latest and greatest in the way of tools and diagnostics?
Answer…you don’t, at least not often. The tools DO make a difference. For us it can mean much faster auto-focus and the ability to shoot in varying lighting and still obtain a quality image.
So if we are accepting of the fact that the latest and greatest tools WILL allow the amateur to capture better images, what do we do?
How do we, as the professional photographer move forward? Do we accept the canon call that professional photography is dead?
I refuse to believe that is the future. I believe what we should be doing is concentrating on ourselves and our professional development. Looking at what we can do to get better, to produce results that would be very difficult to reproduce for the person who has the latest and greatest tool but who does not totally understand the tool and the ability to operate it.
We should be working to have better timing, to understand and control lighting, composition and finally to deliver to our clients an heirloom album that is so different than something they could produce from a friend with a great camera via common and easily produced books from any number of non-professionally dedicated producers.
So if we can accept the fact that the equipment will continue to evolve, and that evolution will undoubtedly allow for better images, made easier with less ability to understand the principles of photography required for everyone, then we realize we ourselves must change
Ill close by stating again, I am nowhere near where I should be or want to be, but it’s a journey I believe all professionals should commit themselves to. If we want to be successful ourselves. If we wish to grow personally and professionally. If we want our industry to flourish we need to continue to develop ourselves and what we can deliver to our clients. Like almost any industry you can think of, the best of the best always rise to the top. They do not just continue to survive, they flourish Maybe it’s time we committed ourselves to be more.
I would recommend an excellent opportunity to learn at the PPA’s Super 1-Day Classes. You can read and sign up for those HERE:
I would also recommend going to PPA’s Imaging USA. It is a bucket full of learning with classes by industry experts and a dynamite expos. You can find it IMAGING USA:
I’ll be there.
I hope you will to.
We owe it to our craft.
We owe it to our clients.
We owe it to ourselves.