photography

Giving Thanks

Life has kept from updating this blog for way too long, so here is a quick post from Big Bear, CA where I will be enjoying family time and giving thanks for the weekend. 

I am thankful for 3 things this year...

1) A job that I love

There are a lot days where the stress gets to me, but I am so grateful and thankful that I get to do what I love for a living. 

2) A beautiful new home to raise my family 

This isn't the best photo of the place but its what I have with me. We are so lucky and thankful to be in this beautiful home, and look forward to years of raising our children here

3) This amazing woman, and these incredible children

This is the most amazing woman in the world, no one even holds a candle to her. And these children are nothing short of miracles. I am so lucky to have them. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! If you want to share, comment on what you're thankful for this year. 

Do You Make Lighting Diagrams? You Should.

I am not going to pretend like I am in-tune enough with the physics of light to draw up lighting diagrams BEFORE a shoot. However, with almost every single image I create I draw a lighting diagram, usually after the fact. It's one of the most important things you can do as a photographer who works with off camera flash. 

The process of lighting a shoot is fluid for me. It generally begins with a concept and a rough idea of how it will be lit. This is almost always just a jumping off point. The quality of light may not be how I imagined it, or there might be other factors influencing the light in a way that I didn't think of. So I adapt to the result that I am getting and make adjustments until I get what I want. 

Once I have an image that works with what my initial vision was, I take a few minutes to sketch a light diagram. 

A page out of one of my books of lighting diagrams and notes from projects past. 


I consider this a very important part of my process. It helps me analyze what worked, and frankly helps me remember how a shoot progressed. I often include notes about how the shoot went, where my light power levels were, what the sun position was (even if it didn't figure into my image). I also sometimes include stuff that should be included in the EXIF data, such as lens, camera body, etc. I do this because sometimes meta data gets stripped, or other bad things can happen and it takes only a second to write it down. 

I think most importantly I do it because I like having a visual record of my work (aside from the actual images) that has some technical behind the scenes information, and also I find it therapeutic to write them in a notebook. Like with a pen. Low-tech to be sure, but oh so satisfying. 

This is a practice that I recommend to any photographers, amateur or otherwise, who aren't in the habit of doing it. My notebook of choice is the Field Notes Brand 48 page Graph Paper Memo Book. I don't try to hide that I am obsessed with this brand. Mainly because they're wonderful, but also because they are small, so they fit in any bag. They are durable, and I adore the design sensibility and philosophy behind the brand. 

Field Notes. The best memo books around. 

So do you make lighting diagrams? If you don't, I think you should. It will help your creativity, critical thinking and possibly be a source of inspiration for future work. 

Relevant Links

Field Notes Brand - The best memo books around

Strobox - A really interesting online diagram/photo sharing tool for photographers

Also read This Article on taking notes


Photo Studio Challenge - Portrait of a Loved One

A couple of weeks ago the team of photographers, stylists and support staff that I work with kicked off a bi-weekly studio-wide photo challenge (images were posted here). Every two weeks we pick a theme and each person can shoot an image that relates to that theme. 

This week our theme was: A portrait of a loved one, without showing them in the image. So in other words, an object, person (other than the "subject" of course) or place that reminds you of that person. 

Here are the results!

Ashley Paulus

Product Stylist Ashley Paulus photographs her parents wedding rings with her iPhone and natural light. 


Bonnie Warrington - BonnieWarrington.com

Photographer Bonnie Warrington shot this still life with her DSLR ann Natural Light. These items represent her boyfriend Scott. 


Dani Alvarez

Product Stylist Dani Alvarez shot this still life of items representing her beloved dog Schmoopie


Daniel T Jester 

A Glenfield Model 60 just like the one my Grandpa took me to shoot when I was a child. 


Dave Uzzardi - DavidUzzardi.com

Dave Uzzardi's submission to the challenge, a subtle and somewhat abstract image where the subject slowly reveals itself to the viewer after some time. 


Emily Wilkerson

Product Stylist Emily Wilkerson shot this antique rocking chair that has been in her family for years. t's a reminder of her grandparents. 


Karen Utley - KarenUtley.com

Photographer Karen Utley shot this still life in remembrance of her mother


Karyl Alvarado

Studio Coordinator Karyl snapped this shot of a song her and her grandmother played together during their short meeting before her grandmother had to head back to the Philippines.


Kimmy Ann Snow

Product Stylist Kimmy Snow set up this shot of her Father In Law's dog tags and ashes. She never met the man, but he is an important part of her husband life, and feels a connection. 


Lindsay Barker

Product Stylist Lindsay Barker shot this still life installation that represents friend from across the country that she has made in her life. 


Vanessa Celotto - StyleeGrace.com

Stylist Supervisor Van Celotto snapped this to represent the staff of the studio as her loved ones. Awwwwwww. 


Vivian Nguyen

Product Stylist Vivian Nguyen styled and shot this still life that represents her mother who lives in Seattle. 


As you can see, the turn out for this weeks challenge was BIG. It was so exciting to see how everyone interpreted the theme and what they submitted. Stay tuned for the next Studio Photo Challenge, where the theme is Food.

Photo Studio Challenge - Round 1

As some readers of this blog may know, I am a full time staff photographer in a product studio for Nordstrom. I work with several other very talented photographers and stylists who all love their jobs. We decided collectively to start a bi-weekly photo challenge, we could be creative and share with each other some work outside of product photography. Every two weeks we will identify a theme, shoot an image or series of images, and then get together and share our images and process. 

Our first round theme was "Street Photography" which we defined as a natural candid moment, shot without posing or any interference from the photographer. Here are the submissions:

 

Karen Utley - www.karenutley.com


Bonnie Warrington - www.bonniewarrington.com


Jenni Wilson - www.jenniwilson.com


Kimmy Ann Snow


Daniel T Jester