Nov 2013

Wedding Portraits:Amy & Dave

I am so honored when I get to photograph a wedding. I don’t do it often because, as a solo shooter, sometimes it is a hard to find the right fit of style and size.

It was an extra perfect fit to photograph my friends Amy and Dave last month, during the last gasp of Denver summer. They are friends, and very special people.

AmyDave_PreWedding_16 AmyDave_Portraits_29BW
AmyPortrait AmyDave_Ceremony_30
AmyDave_Reception_11 AmyDave_Reception_72

Amy, Dave and family –
Thank you for letting me share your special day!

Jul 2013

How To Tag Photos In Instagram

Something that is alternatively great but also irritating in Instagram are hashtags. They are a wonderful way to find like-minded and local photographers. But it is also full of spamming these days.

Here is how I handle tagging my photos, which is by no means the only way!

1. Do not tag much in the the upload.
I hardly ever tag the comment that goes along with the photo. This is the comment that most people see as they scroll through their stream, and if it is full of hashtags, honestly… it’s annoying.

2. Do add tags as the second comment or in later comments.
When you put the tags later, they either get buried in comments or the photo has already passed through your friend’s stream and it does not bother them. I like to go back and tag photos in batches later, from way back in my stream. Unless…

3. If something is timely, tag it right away.
Obviously you want a holiday, an event, a concert, etc to hit a stream in a timely fashion, so don’t wait to tag them.

4. Tag appropriately.
Nothing drives me more nuts than seeing photos of NYC on the Denver hashtag. Yes, the technique of spamming a hashtag has hit Instagram, and it is dumb. That doesn’t mean we should not tag things. Think through what the photo really is about and tag that!

5. Tag for communities.
There are some great photo communities and memes on Instagram, where you can find some great photographers and participate in cool contests. Probably the most awesome is JJ’s Forums.

6. Tag for you.
I have very specific tags for me, my kid, my favorite photos – so I can find them at any time on Instagram. This is probably my FAVORITE reason to tag photos!

How about you?
How to you use hashtags on Instagram?

Jun 2013

Intro to Photography for Kids (and Adults!)

Note: This is not a sponsored post in any way.

At the end of Dex’s school year, they asked parents to come in and give workshops on topics they were comfortable with. Since I didn’t think the kids were ready for Blogging 101, I did a basic photography class.

I ran through some slides and then we did a photo walk around the school. I was so proud of the photos they took, and how they changed their perspective in one quick session!

Check out my slides + notes below and I would love to see some of your recent photos in the comments!

Introduction to Basic Photography
(for DSLR, Point & Shoot & iPhone)

1. What is Photography?
Came from Greek words:

  • “Photos” for light
  • “Graphos” for drawing
  • It is not what the eye sees
  • It is what you paint with a camera!

Why do I mention this? Many people think the camera will catch exactly what they see and honestly, nothing could be further from the truth. First, we should accept that the camera will catch the scene based on the combination of factors in front of it, plus its own settings – and then we learn to manipulate those factors!

    2. How Do We Hold The Camera?

    • Standing people or headshot = Vertical
    • Group of people or cropped in on people = Horizontal
    • Crop people on natural body lines (chest, waist, knees)
    • Hold the camera straight (unless you are getting funky)
    • Look for the horizon or buildings to help you line-up
    • Hold the camera still as possible, especially in dark light
    • Use a tripod or place the camera on a table
    • Lean on something steady (a person, a wall, etc)
    • Spread your legs slightly and lock elbows in (become a human tripod)

    The take-away from this, however, should not be to just always hold your camera horizontally or vertically. Think about moving it around, taking photos from above, below, and from all sorts of interesting angles.

      3. Get the Three Types of Shots.
      If you want to “cover” a scene really well, the following are the three types of photos to get. I tend to move back and forth between them to really get everything within the moment.

      • Close-up
      • Medium
      • Way Back

        4. Go for Depth of Field.
        Depth of Field or “DOF” is when one area of the photo is in focus and the rest is out of focus. Technically, it refers to the area that is in focus, meaning a photo like below has a “small” depth of field. But in common language, small depth of field makes the photo attractive (especially for portraits where the person is in focus and the background is blurry), so many people just refer to the effect as “depth of field” in general.

        The way to achieve this on a DSLR is to shoot with a low f-stop like 2.8, 1.8 or 1.4. This setting is completely dependent on the type of lens you have, not your camera body. On a point and shoot, the “portrait” mode best mimics this. On an iPhone, or other smartphones, you can touch where you want the phone to focus and then force the background to be blurry.

        5. Look for “Framing.”
        Framing is a way to make your photo interesting by using the surroundings to lead the eye into the photo. You can do this with Depth of Field as mentioned above, cropping, composition, and just generally looking for interesting angles for your photos. I am a big fan of shooting “through” things, as you can see below, where I took a photo of the wedding couple between the strings of their wedding balloons.

        6. Use the Rule of Thirds.
        Most cameras these days have a grid system you can turn on. There is a reason for that. Designwise, if you move the focal point of a photo to line up along the cross-section of the lines, it is more visually appealing than always placing your subject in the center. Of course, you will develop your own style, but using the rule of thirds is a great way to experiment with composition.

        7. Shoot A Lot – But Stay Safe!
        The great thing about digital photography (especially for kids) is you can just photograph and photograph and not spend any more money unless you print the photos. Of course, you need to take the time to edit or delete the photos – which can be laborious if you need to find something specific and it is buried in millions of photos.

        The other thing kids should remember is that safety is more important than “getting the shot.” They should not go into the street, they should stay out of a thunderstorm, they should not climb a tree with a camera, or otherwise compromise their safety or the safety of others.

        8. Play With Modes
        There are a lot of pre-made settings that can help you take great photos! Check out the following, especially portrait (people), macros (close-ups), landscape (far away), night (dark), and sports (fast-action). The other modes like Beach, Snow, Foliage can really help with color correction when shooting in those types of situations. Also, with 4th of July coming up – definitely try the Fireworks mode if you have it. It holds the camera lens open longer to catch the whole stream of the fireworks! On your DSLR, take baby steps towards manual mode with P, AV, TV. Aperture Priority is great because you can set the f-stop and your camera will do the rest for you.

        9. Play with iPhone Apps

        We all have our favorite apps, and below are some of mine. Which ones do you like to use the most?

        One thing the kids noticed was missing was Instagram. I told them all (10-11 years old) that I felt they were a bit too young for it yet, which was met with a round of groans. Much like the groans I got for my teen cell phone contract, but oh well. This subject is fodder for another post, but I have seen a ton of questionable judgement with kids this age in terms of what they are posting, what they are saying to each other and who they are following – not to mention the vast amount of copyright infringement. I would just caution parents to make younger kids private and tightly monitor their accounts.

        Sidenote: We have found an app called Squarehub that allows us to have a private family social network. It is a great place for us to teach Dex social media etiquette while he still gets some freedom.

        10. HAVE FUN!
        OK. For reals. I don’t want to end on a down note. Photography is way fun and I love that digital photography makes it accessible for kids to express themselves so quickly and easily. It is really about fun and experimentation and I hope they have a blast!

        Note: This is not a sponsored post in any way.

        Mar 2013

        Goal For Spring: More Nature Photography

        I have been taking almost as many photos as I normally do, just more music photography and less of my surroundings – especially less flowers and nature.

        I told Bryan last week I need to carve time out for myself this Spring and Summer to get out, especially to the botanic gardens, and just breathe.

        When I shoot nature photos, I tend to sit very still and listen to my heartbeat.

        Crocus Buds

        MockOrange_03 Spiking At You

        Berry Flavor

        In The Evening Light GloomySaturday_07


        I need to do more of that.

        Mar 2013

        303 Day

        Yesterday was 303 Day.

        Our area code in Denver is 303, so every March 3rd we Coloradans get a little local-centric, especially our indie music station, KTCL Channel 93.3, which plays bands from all over the state all day long.

        Another cool thing that KTCL does is hold a contest every December called Hometown for the Holidays, where bands compete for free studio time and the opportunity to open for next year’s Not So Silent Night concert. Last year’s winners were Churchill, who then opened for Of Monsters and Men and Fun. Seriously.

        The three finalists in the 2012 HTFTH were Monroe Monroe, My Body Sings Electric and Rachel & The Kings. Two of which have played my fundraiser, Tellerpalooza, in the past; one of which is playing this year. My Body Sings won, but, damn. All of them killed it.

        My photos from the 2012 KTCL Hometown For The Holidays show:

        HTFTH2012_18 HTFTH2012_11


        HTFTH2012_22 HTFTH2012_14


        HTFTH2012_19 HTFTH2012_04


        I am so lucky to live in a town full of music.

        I am so lucky to photograph music.

        Long live 303 Day.