Second shooter, Joseph, and I really enjoy shooting our weddings together. We love being apart of our couple’s big day, and getting to know both them and their families. Amanda and Jerry were no exception. During the months and weeks leading up tp the big day, we really got a chance to bond with them, be it over beers or coffee, many laughs were had. Amanda and Jerry were just as excited to have us photograph their wedding, as we were to shoot it. Guys, it was truly an honor and a blessing. I hope you love your images, and we can’t wait to see you again! Congratulations!
We’ve come across many individuals who claim to be “available light photographers,” and we always advise our clients to be on the guard when they hear that. While this may be a bit controversial, I firmly believe there is no such thing.
If we break down the root meaning, photo literally means light. A “photograph” means to make a picture with light, or to paint with light. Therefore, a photographer literally must be the master of light and/or light painting.
If your photographer claims to only use natural light, you should immediately become cautionary. Since a photographer must be the master of light—all light, in all situations—a photographer must know how to manipulate light.
I love natural photography as much as the next—natural light is beautiful and often flattering—but the truth is, you will not have natural light in every situation. As any great photographer will tell you, 75% of photography is trouble-shooting.
Case and point:
We recently had a wedding shoot—we love weddings and were, as always, super excited to get to the venue and scope it out well before start-time. A point of pride for our team is being able to “find the light—“ we love taking amazing portraits and dynamic scenes with natural light shining through windows, skylights, stained glass, etc. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the venue, we were faced with a conundrum—NO WINDOWS—not a single one.
Literally, there were no windows in the entire venue, not even a single skylight in the bridal suite. To make matters worse, there were mirrors—wall to wall, ceiling to floor—everywhere.
We decided that we would shoot our portraits and our bride and groom outside. It was an overcast day in the beautiful Astoria, Queens area of New York and we were sure to get some cool shots with brick walls, or on the water with amazing views of the Triborough (RFK) Bridge in Astoria Park. When we came back upstairs to go outside, there was a downpour. Not your drizzle kind of rain, not the “we can just grab some umbrellas and it’ll still make a cute shot” kind of rain. Nope. Full on monsoon. Our bride made it VERY clear that she was not going out in that – who could blame her
We would have to make our own light.
With 2 cameras, 4 lenses, 4 flashes, and 5 soft boxes for our flashes, we got our game faces on. From bouncing the light off of the mirrored walls and ceilings, to strategically hiding behind our subjects in the mirrors, we were able to really capture some amazing shots. At the end of this work day, we both agreed that this was by far, the MOST challenging shoot EVER.
In the end, photographers must know LIGHT. Period. Available light, natural light, artificial light…. we MUST know it all and know how to work with it, how to manipulate it.
So stay cautionary when you hear “natural light photographer,” because without the knowledge of how to use light, it’s just another person with a really nice camera.
I’m a full time marketer, a full time writer, and Carrie would call me a most-of-the-time critic. I love things that are beautiful, but I really hate cliché, which leads me to this article…sunsets during summer.
Well…I love sunsets and warm weather, especially with a drink on the beach at dusk surrounded by friends and camera in hand. But it’s so cliché! It falls into the category of “everyone is a photographer” because they added a sepia filter to their sunset picture and posted it on Instagram. So to all instagramers—think of something more original! Yes, it’s beautiful, but seriously, google “summer sunset,” is your work really better?
Okay, so you’re capturing your moment. What differentiates that sunset from others? What makes that day stand out? I bet a year from now, you’ll know where you were but not who you were with, what made that day rock or insufferable, and you can’t even remember the date.
To that end, remember that truly great photography doesn’t rest within HDR and editing, it derives from the photographer. Some tips and tricks to help differentiate your landscape shots:
- Solid ND filters and polarizing filters still have their place in landscape shots.
- Solid neutral density filters reduce the amount of light entering the lens, which extends shutter speeds for long-exposure shots.
- Polarizer filters remove reflections from the surface of water and shiny leaves.
- Polarizer filters also help boost the contrast between blue skies and white cloud
Earlier this month, I (Carrie) started pursuing my Master’s in photography. For the past several months I’ve been gathering portfolio pieces, putting together essays, requesting transcripts and letters of recommendations…. all while maintaining and running a business packed with assignments and shoots. It truly has been challenging, yet amazing year. So after months of preparing and finally submitting my work, I have been accepted into an MFA program, with a concentration on Photography.
Most people think its super cool to be perusing an MFA, but I have gotten those that have asked me why? Why go back for your Masters? An artist doesn’t really need a masters degree, why not just work in your field and keep getting “experience.” To that I say this –
What will differentiate us from the next guy, gal, fresh young college student? What will differentiate us from the guy up the road who just bought a $3,000 camera and is super excited to be a “photographer?” Or the girl who takes “good pictures?” Or the family member who will be shooting your daughters wedding because “they have a good camera?”
What will differentiate us from those “self proclaimed” photographers other than our outstanding work and attention to detail? Other than my photographic military training? Other than…. well the list goes one…. but one thing we will be able to say – “Carrie has received her MFA in Photography.” And THAT… says something.
This isn’t a hobby for me, this isn’t something I thought would be cool or easy to do. This isn’t buying expensive cameras and calling ourselves photographers.
This is love of Art, and that is what you will always get from Carrie Weston Studios. This degree, will only make it that much better.
Halloween is a favorite for most people and I don’t think it’s because they enjoy the sugar rush and influx of chocolate (although that is an awesome perk). I think it’s because of everyone’s desire to embrace their alter ego…their darker half…their lighter half…their opposite.
I’ve been Pikachu, Captain Hook, a nerd (that is definitely far from my opposite…Lord of the Rings and Star Wars for life!), a goth, Cleopatra and the list goes on. The best part of dressing up, as a girl at least, is caking on way more make-up than you’d ever wear, doing your hair or sporting a wig that completely alters your look and trying to be as beautiful or bizarre as humanly possible.
I’m thinking…a great idea would be a Halloween Boudoir-Style photo shoot. My rationale is, you get to dress up and look amazing and capture it on film. I personally think I may take Carrie up on this and create a calendar for the man at home (you can obviously tell he doesn’t read this blog) as a Christmas gift. Twelve different “Theresa’s” for every month of the year…just food for thought…which is why I included the unnecessary photo collage of my various costumes below.
Whether it’s a gift for someone or yourself, a boudoir/portraiture shoot is always a win…who doesn’t love dressing up?
Keep your eyes open for our Groupon special, coming out over the next week or so. Also, if you comment on this blog post, come down to the Studio and receive up to 15% off printing.
Many of our clients know that they “should” have an engagement session, but don’t really know what to expect or what to look for. We always recommend starting with a creative brainstorm—and a great place to start is Pinterest. Look at various boards for inspiration and ideas, and don’t be afraid to ask your friends that have gotten married about their experience.
Ultimately, the key to a successful engagement shoot is to be yourself—be comfortable, have fun and don’t be afraid to show your love on camera! Below are the top ten questions our clients ask prior to an engagement shoot:
1. Where should we take our pictures? Choose one or a few locations that are meaningful to you. We recently had a couple select the high school where they first met, and the movie theater where they had their first date. This always effects the session in a positive way, not only were they excited to be reliving these meaningful moments, but their energy and passion was caught on camera.
2. What should we wear? First of all, bring multiple outfits. Depending on the lighting and the creative mood you’re in, you may want to change halfway through the shoot or when you arrive at a different location. Dress to your personality, be fun and creative! If you’re sporty, wear your favorite team shirt, if you have a favorite blouse that just cant stay on the hangar, wear it! Remember to try and color-coordinate, keeping it in the same color family. Some additional tips are:
· For the ladies: Wear bright colors for one of your looks, the bright colors will enhance the photo and landscape. Changing into a darker or more neutral color will help bring the focus and attention to your faces.
· For the gents: Bring a few different shirts to change into to match your partner. A button down shirt will help to frame your face rather than a t-shirt, and also provides more flexibility with your look (sleeves, buttoned up, tucked in, etc.)
3. What shouldn’t we wear? Well…most of our clients don’t ask us this…but we sometimes wish we would! Do not wear baggy or loose shirts or pants. The baggy and loose clothing will make you look wider in photos and hide your figure. Do not over tan or start tanning the week of your engagement session—you will look orange in the photos. And finally, do not wear stripes and plaid patterns, they never look good in the final shots.
4. How long is an engagement session? Depending on travel time to your various locations, an engagement session is typically anywhere between 1-3 hours.
5. What is the best time of day to shoot? We will typically schedule an engagement session in the early morning or about 2-3 hours before sunset. The lighting truly makes all the difference in the quality of the photographs, so it’s imperative to BE ON TIME.
6. Should we use a theme? While you do not have to select a specific “theme,” themes can be fun. We’ve had couples set up scenarios for their engagement sessions that fit their hobbies and interests and were really excited about the unique outcome. Some ideas are: camping, baking, picnic, sailing, staying at home, ice skating, etc.
7. Should we bring accessories or props? Absolutely! Your favorite hats, ties, sunglasses or scarf can really help to compliment/accent your outfit. Don’t be afraid to bring “out of the ordinary” props with you also—we’ve used old furniture, instruments, pets, toys, balloons and even masks and not only was it fun to shoot, but the couples had a great time and laughed the most, using the props they brought. Finally, as seen on most of our social media, we’re big fans of chalkboards or poster-boards that we can Photoshop text onto…which is always a good idea for your thank you or save the date cards!
8. When will we see our photos? Always ask your photographer how long it will take to see the photos. If you saved your shoot for the last minute and need the images for the save the date, make sure you tell your photographer. Depending on the time of year and how booked they are, it typically takes 2-4 weeks for the final photos to be posted to the gallery. We typically get excited and will post our top 10 within a week to our blog or Instagram so that you can share with your family and friends!
9. Should we get our hair/make-up done? The engagement session is a great opportunity to test out your makeup/hair styling by using this as a trial. We typically recommend that the ladies get their makeup done and a manicure—regardless of anything, we will be photographing your ring and the last thing you want is chipped nail polish. For the gents, we recommend getting a haircut prior to the shoot and also making sure their nails are manicured.
10. How do we make the most of our session? Rely on your photographer’s creative input and don’t be afraid to take risks. This may involve some out of the ordinary concepts—but if you want those unique photos that no one else has, trust in your artist. While the photographer is trying to capture the essence of your relationship, remember to act natural, don’t be afraid to play up your relationship by kissing and embracing for the camera.
Engagement sessions are a great way to create long-lasting memories to share with your friends, family and future generations. Do some research before deciding on location and don’t be afraid to ask to meet or Skype with your photographer to come up with some creative ideas! We always enjoy sending our favorite photos from Pinterest and magazines to help spark the creative juices!
Working on the walkway for the studio entrance. Next project – opening the door with the help of JEG Construction!
Cat was back for the summer from her first year at college. Wanting to document this moment in her life, she called up Carrie Weston Studios to book a shoot, to include make up by Art by Betty Lynn. Here are some shots from that day.
To view the rest of the album please visit our facebook page, and remember to “like” 🙂
Largest full moon of 2013 this weekend 🙂
So a few days ago we had a wedding to photograph at a location that was about 2 hours from the studio, in Boonton, New Jersey. That morning we all awoke to the sound of thunder violently clapping. My head popped off of my pillow like I forgot to do my science fair project! “Uh oh…” Needless to say, we totally pulled it off.
This New Jersey wedding was quite the challenge: with massive thunder storms, 2 fully dressed English Bulldogs and tight space; However, Hal and Kristine were an absolute pleasure to shoot. Here are a few pics from that day. To view the album please visit our FaceBook page here; and don’t forget to “LIKE” our page while your visiting 🙂 Thanks!