Monday, January 29, 2007

I've Got An Easy Job

"Wedding Photography is the easiest job!"


Many people think that my job is relatively easy. After all, I go to a party every Saturday and get to eat all that great banquet food. I only spend about 8 hours of time really working (photographing the wedding) and then I don’t do any photography work during the week. I get to stay home all day long and watch TV or go on the internet. I get paid a lot of money for the time I really spend working.

Want to read what I REALLY do all week long?

1. Answer emails and phone calls from brides and grooms inquiring about my services
2. Consultations with potential clients to line up business for next year (2 hours per potential client on average plus up to 1.5 hours for drive time and prep time)
3. Spend 1-2 hours with the bride & groom photographing their engagement session
4. Photoshop the images from the engagement session, have images printed and then delivered
5. Spend about 10-12 hours with the bride & groom at the wedding
6. Drive an average of 1.5 to 2 hours to and from each wedding
7. Stand on my feet all day at the wedding only getting to sit down on average for 30 minutes to eat dinner
8. Dinner is often very similar at every wedding and sometimes I am provided only with a sandwich and a glass of water for dinner to last me all day long.
9. Carry up to three cameras and a belt system of lenses all day long
10. Work under pressure knowing you have only one chance to capture each moment with your camera.
11. After the wedding, safeguard the images from the wedding by backing up the data on the computer and on DVD media before going to bed
12. Spend up to 30 hours on average Photoshopping 1000 or more images individually on the computer
13. Create a DVD slideshow for those clients who have paid for one
14. Deliver the prints and image files to the client
15. Work with clients on album design and layouts or design an album on Photoshop for a flushmount album
16. Assemble actual photos in albums if it is a matted album
17. Deliver albums to clients
18. Do weekly maintenance check on all equipment before going on the next wedding
19. Maintain continuing education on wedding photography by reading industry journals and consulting with other wedding photographers on wedding forums
20. Do standard office duties to maintain a healthy business

So you see, easily, I can spend many hours on each wedding I photograph. Still think it’s an easy job?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Roundtable Discussions A Success

Last night eight other photographers and I met at my office to discuss our wedding photography businesses.

For over three hours we talked about everything from how to design albums, what equipment to use, how to market our services and how to service our clients. It was an informative evening and I think everyone left feeling like they had learned something new from the others.

It is refreshing to see such enthusiasm among those who work in this industry. Not only do we want to succeed in business, but we genuinely have an interest to do it better each and every time we go out to photograph a wedding.

So if you are a new bride or groom, take comfort knowing that there are vendors out there that really care to do a good job for you.

My thanks to everyone who participated last night. Hopefully we can do it again soon!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Flush-Mount "Photoshopped" Albums

This is a page from one of my sample albums.

Flush-mount albums are becoming really popular. Rather than the standard "matted" albums where typical 4x6 photos are mounted inside the album page under a mat, these albums have 10"x10" prints mounted directly to the page. The prints can have several images "Photoshopped" in various positions as you see above. This type of album gives a lot of artistic freedom for the designer.

Each album I make in this style is unique. No two albums are ever exactly alike.

If you are interested in this style of album, be sure to let me know!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Black Lungs

Image courtesy of

I forgot to mention on yesterday's posting about Body Worlds 2 that there was a display of a healthy lung, a smoker's lung and a coal miner's lung. The worst of them all in my opinion was the coal miner's lung. It was literally BLACK. The smoker's lung was almost just as black. The healthy lung (from a non-smoker, non-coal miner) was totally clear of black tar and had a normal fleshtone-like color to it.

I had seen lungs from smoker's before at autopsies. But I have not had a chance to see coal miner's lungs before. These workers have such a hazardous job! In just several months of working in a coal mine, their lungs can look as black as a smoker's lung who had been smoking for years! So the next time you use any products that are based on coal products, think about what the workers had to go through to get that product in your hands. Did you know that toothpaste has coal in it? Why do you think the brand Colgate is named that?

I think everyone knows smoking is hazardous to a person's health. What surprises me is that many people continue to smoke even after seeing what a smoker's lung looks like. If you think you would like to start smoking, please go to the Body Worlds 2 exhibit first. If you see what your lungs can look like after years of smoking, perhaps you would think twice before doing it. The scary thing is that second-hand smoke can cause just as much damage to lungs.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Body Worlds 2

Soccer Player
Image "borrowed" from The Museum of Science and Industry's website

When the original Body Worlds exhibit was at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago a couple of years ago, I didn't go see it. I've regretted missing it, but I had the chance to see the new Body Worlds 2 exhibit today. (Photography was prohibited at the exhibit so I have borrowed an image from the MSI website for you to see instead.)

WOW! You MUST go see this exhibit!

20 "Plastinates" are on exhibit along with hundreds of "body parts." A plastinate is a preserved "real" human body. Yes, these are not plastic molds of human bodies, but rather they are the actual human bodies themselves. Through a process which replaces bodily fluids and fats with plastic, the human body is preserved in a way I have never seen before!

Now I have been to numerous autopsies in the past while working in law enforcement, so I was not expecting to be "grossed out" by these exhibits. But what surprised me was that nobody attending the exhibits seemed grossed out either! Rather, everyone I saw at the exhibit was totally fascinated by what they were seeing!

You will learn a lot about the human body by going to this exhibit. I took the audio tour (an extra four dollars, but well worth it) which gave more information than just reading the little cards placed next to each exhibit.

The plastinates are posed in many unique ways which really makes the exhibits look like a work of art. The inventor of the plastinates process has been criticized in the past for turning a medical exhibit into an art exhibit, but so what?! It is really impressive.

Go see Body Worlds 2 at the Museum of Science and Industry. I promise it will amaze you! If you can't go to the Museum, then go see the new James Bond film, "Casino Royale" because in one scene, you'll see some plastinates there as well.

Selective Focus

I like this image of a sign on the window of the door of a "old time" dentist's office because it says so much with just one word in focus and nothing else in focus.

The dentist's chair which is out of focus helps set the mood, but it's not the main focal point.

The use of selective focus or shallow depth of field can be very powerful. Just goes to show you that choosing the right place to focus can make or break a photo.

I photographed this image at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Wedding Business - Roundtable Discussions

Next Thursday at my office, I am hosting a "Roundtable Discussion" session with nine other wedding photographers from the Chicago area. We will be discussing the top questions that each of them have about the wedding industry, cameras, photography techniques, etc.

It's important to us to keep abreast of not only the latest trends in photography equipment and photography techniques, but to also keep on top of the game when it comes to running a successful wedding photography business.

Quarterly, many of us meet for a social get-together, but we don't often get a chance to get in some serious discussions on issues that we face while working in the wedding industry. So next week will be the beginning of a series of discussions we will have to do that.

It is exciting to see that many other professional photographers besides myself, take their businesses so seriously. Even though you could say that we are all competitors, we still work with each other and help each other to succeed in our businesses. How many industries do you know do that?! Often competitors don't even talk to one another, let alone share information with each other that can help the other person. Not so in this industry. Many of us know each other and help each other too! It's a great feeling to know you can count on other photographers to help out if you need the help.

Many of my potential clients ask me what would happen if I were ever to be sick enough so that I could not photograph their wedding. Well, I can tell you, that any of these other photographers would jump at the chance to help me out if I needed it and they were available. And I'd do the same for them too. Networking is the key to success in this business and I'm proud to say I network with some of the best photographers out there.


This little guy belongs to the daughter of one of my friends from church. She's had him for a while now and lets him fly around the house if he wants. But surprisingly, he usually stays around his cage even if you let him out. Take him too far away from his cage and he'll fly back to it! Here you see him getting ready for a drive...

I don't own any birds, but it's fun to see other people's pets. I've always thought it would be cool to have an iguana though...

Over the years, I've had the following pets while growing up:

cats (only for a few days)
chickens (yes, you read that right...)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Celebrity Look-A-Likes At Weddings

Recently, one of my new clients showed me a photograph of her future brother-in-law. After looking more closely at the photo, I said, "He looks like Bernie Mac!" Apparently everyone who has seen him has said the same thing!

At a wedding I photographed in 2006, I had a guest who looked just like Eddie Murphy! Several guests made the connection as well.

I've seen so many different "look-a-likes" over the years. But the one guy who I'd say takes the cake is the guy who looked just like Santa Claus! Yes, he had a white moustache and beard and was wearing red too! I'd post a picture, but I don't want to offend in case he didn't think it was funny...

I plan to keep my eyes open for other look-a-likes this wedding season. If I can get their permission, I'll post some in the future!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Bridal Apples

Take a closer look at the image above.

The mother of the bride told me not to miss photographing the Taffy Apples above. She had purchased them just for the occassion. I don't think I've ever seen a "Bride and Groom" taffy apple before. As this was from a fall wedding, it was appropriate. All the guests had regular Taffy Apples.

I see something new at every wedding it seems!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

One Year Ago Today...

I've been asked at many of my meetings with potential clients how I got involved in CSI work. Well, check out my post from a year ago by going through my archived section. Check out January 4, 2006 to see how I got interested in working in forensic science.

I was reading some of the past entries on my blog and thought to myself that many of my newest clients may not have read some of the information contained in the archived posts. Please check these posts as well as the new posts. Many of the topics over the past year apply to your weddings today! Of course the posts about forensic science and music have nothing to do with your wedding, but I guarantee it's still interesting reading!


Folding Kodak Brownie Camera

This is the oldest camera I own. It's a Kodak Vest Pocket Autographic Number 2 folding Brownie camera and it was manufactured between 1915 and 1926. The manual shutter and aperture still works. Of course, try to find some Kodak A-127 film for it! Impossible! The lens is in great shape as well.

It's fun collecting these old cameras. Can't really use them, but it's nice to own a little bit of camera history. To see more of these cameras, see my post from December 22, 2005.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Do You Shoot It Or Not?

When is it appropriate to photograph something and when is it not?

At weddings, I encounter many strange things... people fainting, falling on the dance floor, potential fights breaking out, you name it.

Is it appropriate to photograph these events?

As a photojournalist, everything gets photographed. It doesn't matter if it's frowned upon or not. But do you want that at your wedding?

My training in documentary photography has taught me to shoot first and ask questions later. Often you only have one chance to photograph something and if you don't do it, it's no longer available to be done. That's great for crime scenes. But what about weddings? There are times when it may not be appropriate.

For instance, I was at a wedding where the father of the bride had a little too much to drink and he took a nasty spill on the dance floor and hit his head on the floor. The impact was so loud that even with the DJ's music blaring and with my earplugs in place, I could hear his head "pop" as it hit the floor. Everyone rushed to his aid and he was in MAJOR pain. I opted not to photograph the fall. Why? I had a flash on my camera and I thought that flashing away while he was in pain was not appropriate. It was a judgement call.

At another wedding, I photographed a bridesmaid fainting during the ceremony. As this was an outside wedding, I did not use a flash and felt that my continued coverage did not detract from the event as it was unfolding. I still got a few concerned looks from the guests though. Later, the bride and groom told me that they were hoping I had captured that in photographs as it was part of the day. Again, a judgement call.

During one wedding reception, while getting ready to take off the garter on the bride, a chair was brought out for the bride to sit on while the groom took off the garter from her leg. After it was done, the bride got up and the DJ moved the chair. Well, the bride didn't know that and proceeded to sit down again. Well, down she went. I caught it all with my camera. Everyone had a good laugh about it and again, it was appropriate to photograph it.

The decision as to when to shoot or not to shoot is an individual one. I will shoot unless inappropriate. But you can let me know if you want everything shot whether inappropriate or not. It's your decision. Many of my clients know my background in forensic photography and tell me to shoot away. Some others tell me to make my own decision on what to shoot and what not to shoot.

Some people think wedding photography should only show the joy of the event. Others think it should show the event as it is... even if some events spoil the joy. What do you think is right? Be sure to let me know your choice before your wedding day!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

Better late than never!

Totally forgot to say "Happy New Year" to all my blog viewers!!

I'll post more things tomorrow!