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Archive for February, 2008

Say Hi to the Studio

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Today I shot some photos of the studio for an upcoming seminar that I’ll be doing. I realized that, though I’ve written about our studio and the build-out we did a while back, I never actually shared any images. So here ya go…

But first, here’s what the studio looked like before we moved in. It was… um… not pretty… but we knew it had potential.

This is the studio as it is today. This shot was taken from the same spot as the one above. We added the walls and the wood flooring. We took out the dropped ceiling and added in a skylight.

This is our viewing room. This is were we meet with clients and present them with photos after the shoot or wedding.

Here’s where a lot of the work gets done. This is our production room where we assemble albums and framed prints. After a print comes out of the printer, I’ll bring out here to take a look at it. I usually have some project going on out here.

I have to say I’m a little spoiled when it comes to working on my portfolios and other art projects. I’ve got plenty of space to lay everything out and all the tools I need at my disposal. Whether it’s framing tools, cutters, tape guns, straight edges, mat board etc, it’s right here. Those are my photos on the wall - I did all the printing and framing.

And here’s my pride and joy. This is our Epson 9800. It’s a 44″ printer with eight inks - including three black inks. I’ve been digital printing for nearly 15 years. It used to be almost impossible to get decent black and white prints from a printer. This guy produces the most amazing black and white prints ever.

So much of printing, especially black and white, is about communicating a feeling. When you talk to photographers who do their own printing, they get very emotional about the subject. It’s because printing is ultimately an emotional expression by the photographer. What this printer does better than any that’s come before it is faithfully reproduce my images with spot-on color and fine detail. Anyhow, this thing may look like a big hunk of metal, but, to me, it’s the final link from image capture to final result.

John

Look Ma, I’m in Rangefinder Magazine!

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

I just wanted to share with everyone an article that I wrote for Rangefinder Magazine that came out in the February issue. Rangefinder is one of the largest circulation photography magazines in the country and is also the sponsor of the WPPI professional photographer’s convention (where I’ll be speaking).

I’ve posted jpg’s of the article below, but you can read a complete PDF of the article here.

This is the issue to look for:

When most photographers have their images published, they pick a bunch of their favorites from different photo shoots. I figured that since I was talking about working with real people, I’d show a variety of shots from one shoot. I’d just done an engagement shoot with Jerry and Sarah so I figured I showcase their images. It’s much easier to put together a strong body of work from multiple shoots than stick with one shoot. My idea was to demonstrate how to create a variety shots from one shoot and come away with (hopefully) great stuff.

We actually started in my studio with a quick series against a painted backdrop. Then we headed into the Gaslamp district in downtown San Diego. The groom was the ham of the two. I hadn’t written the article when I shot this, but the photos seemed to go pretty well along with what I wrote.

I find that most of the magazine articles I read are mostly fluff. I tried to write something that would actually give photographers some new ideas and insight into getting the cool shots. If you read the article, let me know how I did.

This was the first magazine article I’d written in a long time. I had fun with it - I’d like to do more. I just need to find the time!

John

Kim & Chris - Destination Wedding in Maui

Monday, February 18th, 2008

This is was a tough wedding to blog. There were so many great shots that it was tough for me to try and it edit them down. We ended up shooting 6,222 images at the wedding and filling nearly 60 gigabytes of CF cards. I photographed the wedding of Lindsey, Kim’s sister, two years ago so there were a lot of familiar faces. It was also fun hearing from people how much they liked the photos. Everyone was so great to us and we had blast!

One of the bridesmaids brought a stunning Harry Winston diamond and saphire bracelet and diamond earings for Kim’s mom to wear.

I told this bridesmaid that I probably wouldn’t post this shot on my blog. And I probably wouldn’t have except it was too fun a shot to pass up.


Chris, the groom.

And his father.

The ceremony site was high on a bluff above the Wailea Golf Club and with a gorgeous view of the ocean.

This shot kinda sums up the wedding. There was emotion, smiles and outright goofiness all at the same time.

After the wedding, we headed down to Big Beach in Makena just down the road from Wailea. There’s no hotels or condos to muck up the pristine feeling of the long, soft-sand beach.

So we’re leaving the beach after shooting the photos. A cop comes up to me and starts lecturing me about how I need to pay for a permit. I play dumb - which wasn’t hard because I had no idea. I offer to leave but he says no go ahead and finish with your photos. I got this one last shot with him looking over my shoulder. I figured I’d probably be in trouble, but I’d rather be in trouble and get the shot than be in trouble and not.

Afterwards, he wanted to get my info. I tell him I’m from San Diego and so is everyone else. In the end, he let us off with a warning.

The reception was at the Seawatch Restaurant in Wailea. The coordinator was Beth Helmstetter who works in Hawaii and San Diego. Kim’s mom mentioned to me how great a job she did.

One of the groomsmen, Jeff, not only sang and played guitar for the first dance, he wrote the song that morning. It was amazing.

We set up our photo booth and mayhem ensued.

Move over Charlie’s Angels.

John

Kim & Chris’s Boat Trip Extravaganza

Friday, February 15th, 2008

Kim and Chris invited all of their guests for a whale watching and snorkeling trip to a nearby island. This time of year, there’s hundreds of whales and their babies just off the coast of Maui. It’s impossible not to see some even from the coast.

Just hanging around…

Say hi to Matt. I photographed his wedding to Lindsey - Kim’s sister - a year ago. Don’t let the innocent looks fool you, he came out big at the karaoke bar later that night.

They made me take this picture. Honest.

Kim and Chris go into the water.

Maui’s youngest boat captain doing his job.

This my friends is how to properly use a snorkel as a beer bong.

Or you can just drink out of a can…

Next stop, wedding day!

John

Postcard from Maui

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

Greetings from Maui. I’m here to shoot a wedding this weekend. All I can say is that, life is not rough. Anytime you’re just kicking back on a beach in Hawaii, life is pretty darn good.

My love affair with trees continues.

The beach here is amazing.

I just love the light out here. There’s a quality to it that’s a little unreal. It’s so warm and enveloping.

In case you don’t know, I started playing guitar a few months ago. Now, I practice everyday and take it everywhere I go. I suck, but I’m hooked. I spent a good part of the afternoon just sitting on the beach and strumming away. Talk about a little slice of heaven.

(Credit my assistant Scott Draper for the photo. We’re thinking this one would be good for the album cover.)

John

A Little Surprise

Monday, February 11th, 2008

Jen and I were on the long pretty much boring plane ride to New York, when she shows me the magazine she’s been reading. It’s the US Air inflight magazine. She points to an ad and comments, “Isn’t this the company you did a photo shoot for last year?” I check it out and not only was the it the same company, but the ad had my photo. I’d never seen any ads from the shoot so it was kind of cool seeing one of the photos in print.

I did this shoot as part of a week long campaign for the Verrado housing development just outside of Phoenix. This particular shot was a tough one. I knew the shot that I wanted, but the art director saw it a little differently and the little boy wasn’t really cooperating. I think there was one shot from the series where the composition and expression was just right. Anyhow, I liked the shot and I’m glad they ended up going with it.

John

Got Photography Contract?

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

I just wanted to welcome all the new visitors to my blog. For those of you who are professional photographers or are thinking about becoming one, I figured I’d let you know that I have an entire web site dedicated to wedding and portrait photography contracts for photographers. The site is www.PhotographersToolkit.com. My contracts have been referred to as the best in the business by WPPI and they’re in use by world renowned photographers such as Steve and Jen Bebb and Jessica Claire - among hundreds of other photographers from Australia to Israel.

For anyone who wishes to purchase one of the contracts, here’s a 10% discount code that’s good until Feb 20, 2008: P2A9675H. Be sure to check back as I’ll be announcing some new products and seminars in the weeks to come. Finally, feel free to sign up for my Photographer’s Business Coach email newsletter where apply my 18 years of professional experience to coming up with solutions to common issues that photographers face. It’s free so you can’t beat it.

Here’s what Bill Kapinski wrote in response to my last Business Coach:

Thanks again for a great article. It was perfect timing for me. I was in the middle of redoing my prices and racking my brain trying to figure out what makes sense. You gave me the perfect solution.

Thanks again for your wisdom and kindness in sharing.

So again, welcome everyone!

John

A Stroll Through New York City

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

Today, we started off at the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art. We spent most of the morning touring the huge Egyptian wing. Amazing stuff. Afterwards, we took in the Jasper Johns show. I wish I could afford his work - I just love the way he puts paint on canvas. The work on display was all gray - no color. I’d have loved to see his color work, but I guess you can’t have everything. We probably saw less than 1/4 of the Met so we’ll definitely be back. It’s an amazing place.

Oh… I almost forgot to mention all the Rodin sculptures. That’s the guy that I want to do my bust. They even have his famous “The Thinker” statute there.

After taking in the Met, we took the subway to Union Square then walked up to the Flatiron building. Here’s a shot of its less famous side taken just after sunset.

For anyone who’s followed my landscape work, you’ll know that I love photographing trees. It’s kind of like shooting portraits for me. I especially love them when they’re missing their leaves - something that doesn’t happen a whole lot in Southern California. So, shooting in a place like NYC in the winter is a treat for me.

This shot was taken with my back to the Flatiron building. That’s the Empire State Building just to the left of the sign in the foreground.

That’s it for now. I’ve got tired feet so I think that means we’re taking a cab to get dinner.

John

Giants Win!!! - Street Photography from the Bar

Monday, February 4th, 2008

So Jen and I get into New York City just in time for the Super Bowl. I figure what could be better than seeing the Super Bowl in New York with the New York Giants in the game. What a great game - but I wouldn’t be reporting on it if I didn’t have something to show everyone out in blogoland. We ended up at the Brass Monkey bar just down the street from our hotel in the Meatpacking District. In between beers and cheering for the Giants, I did some candid street style photography of the fans watching the game on tv.

New York was the underdog and was behind for most of the game. There were a lot of worried looks for most of the evening.

Then the Giants scored their first touchdown and briefly took the lead. They were back in the game and the bar went wild!

Late in the second half, the Giants were down four points. They missed a pass and things were looking really bad. If they didn’t make a first down on the next play, they were pretty much out of the game. Talk about a nerve-wrecking game. I think everyone in the city gave up on breathing for about five minutes.

And then, the miracle play that will go down in history! The Giants nailed a 30 yard pass after a near sack. The Giants were still in the game!

Seconds later, they scored with barely a minute on the clock. Victory was New York’s!

Great game! Great crowd! Great experience! What can I say? I do love New York.

John

ps: On a technical note, these images were shot with the Canon 5D and a Canon 50mm f1.2 lens at 3200 iso. Due to the near absence of available light, most of the exposures were shot at f1.2 at 1/10th of a second. For comparison, take a look at the shots where the window is in the background - outside it looks like daylight. In reality, it was 9:00 at night and not even much streetlight was out there. Still, it was far more light than what was in the bar and thus it appears much brighter.

To illustrate how dark it actually was outside, here’s a shot I took across the street from the bar as I walked home after the game. It was shot at f 2.0 at 1/20 of a sec at 500 iso. You can see that the person walking in the foreground is about properly exposed. If I used this same exposure in the bar, the scene would have been mostly black.

The blur you see in the bar shots resulted from subject movement during the extremely slow shutter speeds. Also, because I wanted candid reactions from the subjects, I aimed the camera at them without looking through the viewfinder.

Delaware Days

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

Greetings from Delaware! Home of DuPont and many of the country’s biggest banks. It’s also home to a good friend of ours, photographer Laura Novak, who’s getting married this weekend. Jen, my wife, is a bridesmaid in the wedding so we flew out on Thursday.

My first day here, I didn’t leave the hotel room until the wedding rehearsal. I had bunch of work to do plus it was rainy and really cold (by San Diego standards) so there wasn’t much point in me leaving anyhow. Today though I spent a couple of hours cruising around the streets of Wilmington.One thing I love about coming out east is how all the trees lose their leaves in the winter. We just don’t see that in California. There’s something so graphic about it that makes them so visually perfect that I have to photograph them.

I also love all the old buildings. Again, it’s something I don’t get to see very much of.

This old sign was posted by the entrance to what used to be an old auto repair shop.

As I drove around, I came across an old cemetery. That’s just photographic candy so I had to stop and check it out.

I’ll post photos from the wedding tomorrow. After that, it’s on to New York City!

John