Sunday, June 29, 2014

Trials and Tribulations of a Wedding Photographer

Last year, I began photographing weddings for a wedding planner, Connie Mills, owner of "All In One Weddings", based in Brunswick, Maine. It is ideal for me, and I appreciate the work. It is not as lucrative as contracting with my own clients, but it is definitely less stressful. Our weddings are usually "destination" weddings, for folks that come to Maine to get married. So far this year, I have shot two small weddings, and am booked for three more in the coming weeks. Hopefully, it will develop into 8 or 9 before the season is over. This leaves room for my Portrait work and my part time job at L.L.Bean.

The first of this year was a very nice ceremony in Cape Elizabeth at the Inn By The Sea on May 21. It had been stormy and raining all week. Fingers were crossed for a break in the weather, or at least a good back up plan.
As luck would have it, the rain gods were listening to our pleas. The clouds parted, the rain ceased, and the son presented itself in all its glory. A beautiful day ensued, with just enough breeze to keep things mild, but not too much to make a nuisance of itself. This was a delightful couple who had come to Maine from Vermont, bringing the entire wedding party with them for a few days.
This was a great way to start the wedding season. The day after the wedding, the storms and rain returned for several more days.

I am sure you have heard the old adage of bring two of everything, you never know when you will need a backup. My next wedding on 26 June proved this to be no exaggeration. The day started out as a normal rainy day to shoot a wedding. I was to meet Connie Mills, and the wedding couple in East Boothbay, Maine at the Wilson Memorial Chapel. That is a great venue for a small wedding. It is a small stone chapel, with an open beamed wood ceiling. The chapel sits looking out over the North Atlantic ocean and several islands and lighthouses.
Ashley and Thomas were a very personable, and might I add, photogenic, couple that came to Boothbay, Maine from Connecticut to get married. They were accompanied by Ashley's son, Conner and their two dogs. Once again, it has been raining and storming for a couple of days, and I was again appealing to the rain gods for mercy. 30 minutes before the ceremony was to begin the rain stopped. I will not go so far as to say the sun came out, but the rain did stop. Unfortunately, the dogs had to miss the ceremony, and the photo ops. Muddy paws and wedding attire do not mix, so Ashley and Thomas left the dogs at the motel.

Here is where the "Trials and Tribulations" come into play. While photographing the ceremony, I was looking through the shutter, and not where I was stepping. My foot became entangled in an Oak chair that just had no give to it, and I went down hard. Bounced off the chair and landed with my camera and lens smashing to the stone floor. Oh well, I guess the old guy has some bounce left in him, as I did not break any bones, just bruised some tissue, as well as my ego. The camera was just fine, but the lens is now in several pieces. I was so embarrassed for interrupting their ceremony, but they were extremely gracious, as was Connie, while I regrouped. I ran to the car, fitted my spare lens to the camera, and tested it out. All was in working order as I returned to the chapel to finish recording the ceremony, limping as little as I could.
The afternoon proceeded with photographs along the coast road with stops at several locations. I was so glad that my fall had not put a damper on the couples spirits and attitude. They were great to spend time with, and hope they feel my photos do them justice.
The moral of the story is to always be prepared for the unexpected. In all the years I have been photographing, this is the first fall I have taken. Of course it could have been worse. I could have broken a bone, or there could have been a chapel full of people to witness my down fall. But, always be prepared to bounce back as fast, and good as you possibly can.

My thanks to Connie Mills for her patience, and faith in my photographic skills.

Photos of these two weddings can be seen at the following links:

 West and Bresett Wedding at Inn By The Sea in Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Cusson and White wedding at the Wilson Memorial Chapel in East Boothbay, Maine

Thank you and Keep Shooting!!!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The 1st Annual Emerge Film Festival

Arising from the ashes of the former Lewiston/Auburn Film Festival (LAFF) was the new Emerge Film Festival. Limited to two evenings and one full day of films, it was a rousing success. Film Makers, Directors and Actors came from far and wide to show off their creations.
I was asked by some of the organizers if I could be on hand to photograph the event. Of course, I said I would love to. There is just something about event photography that always entices me. It could be the excitement of the event, or rubbing shoulders with the other artists, or maybe, just maybe, I love photographing people at their best, and sometimes their worst.
The Festival began at the Baxter Brewing Company in Lewiston, Maine with a Beer and Fear theme. That evening happened to be Friday the 13th, and a Full Moon. Following the "Meet and Greet" at Baxter Brewing, the first two films were shown at the Franco American Heritage Center. Appropriately enough, they were Horror films to complete the Beer and Fear Theme of the evening.

Films were shown throughout the day Saturday at six venues. There were short films, documentary films, and feature films. I spent the day photographing the artists during their question and answer sessions after their films, as well as the folks attending the shows at the Free Grace Presbyterian Church venue in Lewiston. The quality of films at this years festival were outstanding, and it was a privilege to talk with so many artists. 
Kristin Wheeler, Producer/Director of "The Beginning and The End"
during Question and Answer session

The Emerge Film Festival culminated with the World Premier of "Richard3" (Pronounced Richard Cubed), a comedy based on the William Shakespeare play, Richard III. There was a sold out crowd, many of which had participated in the film as extras.

Molly McGill was the Master of Ceremonies at the Award Presentations, with an after party immediately following.
Molly McGill
And, the winners are....
All in all, a great weekend of films and fun. I hope to be asked to photograph the Festival next year, at the 2nd Annual Emerge Film Festival. Thank you to all the volunteers and Board of Directors that made this great event happen. It was fun being even a small part of it.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Celebration Of The Arts

It has been far too long since I have entered a new blog. But what to write about? A wedding? A Senior Photo Session? Oh wait, what about the "Celebration Of The Arts" that was held at KittyHawk Studio in Lewiston, Maine. The event was organized, and hosted by Professional Photographer Harold Strout.
Harold gathered together 12 Professional Photographers, 3 Painters and Graphic Artists, 1 person working in Pottery, and 4 working in Metal and Wood Sculpture, along with a very talented Silversmith. The evening would not have been complete without a couple of guitarists, a young lady on the Ukulele, and a piper playing the Bag Pipes during the festivities.
It was a great opportunity to meet and greet many of the folks we had been talking to on-line and on FaceBook. There was a great diversity of talent from Landscape Photographers to those specializing in Fine Art Photography. A couple of models, Ivy Ferrelli and Ivet Toth were in attendance which resulted in a couple of impromptu Photo Shoots. It was a true pleasure being able to create Art on a night featuring Art.

The Model Shoot will be a topic for the next Blog. Needless to say, it was a great gathering. Harold says that he would like to do this twice a year. So, maybe we will have a Celebration Of The Arts, Version 2 sometime this fall. Hopefully after the Wedding and Portrait season slows down. Thanks to all that participated, and all that dropped by to browse and visit.
Please Remember To Support Your Local Artists

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Photographers shooting Photographers

What a great idea for an event. Justine Johnson, a wedding photographer from Portland, Maine, organized events on FaceBook for several "Head Shot Days". Ten photographers met up in Augusta, Maine on Tuesday, 22 April. The idea was for everyone to shoot everyone. And, we tried, we really tried. I will admit I did not even realize I had missed individually shooting 2 people until I was processing my photos.

The Group, courtesy of Angi Manter
This photo was shot by Angi Manter with her camera balanced on a stone step, with the timer on. Top row is Alisa Blundon, Lauren DelVecchio, Andria Simmons and her son Zane. Bottom row is Brady Allen, Rebecca Richards, Justine Johnson, Kayte Churchill, Jim Walker, Kyle Burnell, and Angi Manter.

Angi Manter, getting her shot.

It was all about the photography, and I don't mind telling you some of us were very uncomfortable being in front of the camera for a change. Talk about being out of your comfort zone. But, like a lot of us that spend most of our time behind the lens, I really did not have a decent shot of myself.

Jim Walker, courtesy of Angi Manter. Finally got a useable Head Shot.

This is my new "Head Shot" courtesy of the fine photography of Angi Manter. I am now using it on my web site,, my FaceBook page, Google + and Pinterest.

Brady Allen

We had a blast, and it was also nice meeting some of the great photographers that we have been chatting with on-line for quite awhile. Six of us adjourned for drinks and dinner at Joyce's in Hallowell, Maine. A good day was had by all. Thanks to everyone involved, and special thank you to Angi Manter for her photos.

Kayte Churchill and Angi Manter

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Special Event Photography

I was asked to photograph the Androscogin County Republican's Lincoln Day Dinner fundraiser on 5 Apr 2014. That gave me the idea that highlighting Special Event Photography would be a good subject for the blog. Have you ever been asked to photograph a convention or a reception, or maybe a family reunion? And, you were very hesitant because of the challenge of low lighting, or maybe color balance problems were looming their ugly head!!! This is not to say there are not issues with all these things, but they are something that can be overcome and dealt with.

As can be seen in these photos, with a slight tweaking, it can be saved, even if the lighting is less than perfect. I begin the evening with my ISO set to at least 400 or 800. If the lighting is really dim, I might even bump it up to 1600. Modern Digital DSLR's handle ISO settings up to 1600 with little, or no, noise introduced. You may notice slight noise artifacts in the very black areas of the photo, but that can usually be dealt with effectively. These photos were taken with a Canon 60D, a Tamron 28-300mm IS Zoom lens, and a hot shoe mounted Canon 580EX flash. I am shooting the event in Shutter priority, set at 1/250 of a second, which is the sync setting of my flash when using the ETTL setting.

The top photo appears too dark, lacking details. With just a slight levels adjustment I can increase the light, without introducing a lot of noise. And the photo is saved, and more interesting to view.

This photo of Maine Governor Paul LePage was taken during his keynote speech. Close proximity to the stage is key to these types of captures. Depending on the venue, and your association with the organizers, you can put yourself in a good position, or not. I like to arrive early and check out the room arrangements and stage lighting, if I can.

Part of the fun in event photography is grabbing candid shots of the people in attendance. Everyone knows you are there to take photos, but the more you mingle and talk to folks the more at ease they will become. My goal is to be as unobtrusive as possible.

This photo of Bethel Shields, Dr. Tom Shields, and Governor Paul LePage shows how I captured a conversation in progress, without intruding on their space. A good zoom lens can capture a lot of interaction, without intruding on private conversations, and being in their face.

A couple of thoughts, from my perspective, to close this topic. It is all about the photography. I do not care what your political affiliations are, or your personal feelings. If you have agreed to photograph the event, (I will repeat) it is all about the photography. It is my job to take images that show folks in their best moments, and make them look as good as possible. No open mouths, no chewing food, no ugly facial expressions. And people do make the weirdest faces when engaged in conversation and especially eating. And, above all, Have Fun....

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Pageant Photography

Sunday, 16 March, I had the opportunity to photograph the 2014 Maine Sweetheart Pageant at Thornton Academy in Saco, Maine. Shooting Pageants can be fun, and a lot of work, at the same time. The day starts out around 10:00 in the morning, and you don't finish shooting until about 9:00 in the evening.

Lighting can be very tricky during the show. The pageant took place in a darkened auditorium, with limited stage lighting. I used my Canon 60D with a Tamron 28-300mm VC lens and a Canon 580EX Speedlite, and bumped up the ISO to a conservative 400. I was provided a chair next to the judging table that gave me a great view of the stage. It eliminated my popping up and down, and moving around to get a decent shot. The 580EX performed admirably and provided enough light to capture the plethora of colors the ladies were wearing. The only drawback to the speedlite was the amount of "Red Eye" it caused that had to be dealt with in post processing. As you can see in the photo above, the lighting was fairly even, when aided by the stage lights. Luckily, no colored gels were used so I did not have to contend with color cast during post processing.

The actual Pageant photography is done as a sponsor. The only way to cover your expenses, and time, is to sell photos of the stage shoot, and schedule mini-portrait sessions during the morning and afternoon. As this was my first pageant shooting as the lone photographer, my reputation as a Portrait Photographer was only known to a few of the ladies I had previously photographed. I had assisted at two pageants last year when a fellow photographer needed me. Only two of the contestants scheduled mini-portrait sessions that day. I hope to increase those sessions the next pageant I shoot.

During warmer, nicer weather, I would have preferred taking the women outside to make use of the grounds and the architecture surrounding Thornton Academy. However, Maine in still in the grip of a long, cold, snowy winter. So, I brought lighting and a backdrop with me. I used my Paul Buff White Lightning 600 with a shoot through umbrella, and a black background on a portable stand. In addition, I had a 42" reflector to bounce the light back on the subject. I also chose to use the natural brick of the interior for some of the shots.

I shot Sydney on the black background, as well as the brick wall. Both turned out rather well and the reflector helped control shadows. This is one of my favorite shots of this very photogenic young lady. For both of the mini-portrait session, I shot at 1/250 second to sync the flash, and f8 to ensure the entire face was in focus, always concentrating on the eyes primarily.

I chose to bring the black background, as you do not have to contend with the shadows as much in a limited working environment. In the studio, I would have used a variety of backgrounds to get different looks during the session. This is one of my favorite head shots of Crystal taken during her mini-session. She is a very beautiful young lady that is inexperienced in modeling. Her photos do not reflect that. Crystals personality and beauty shine before the camera. She chose a shot with the brick wall as a background for her portfolio.
I hope you enjoyed this brief look into Pageant Photography, and will join me again on my next adventure in photography. Thanks for reading, and you can view all of the pageant photos on my web site at: 2014 Maine Sweetheart Pageant

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Maine Professional Photographers Association Convention and Exhibition

Last weekend found me at the Maine PPA Convention in Brunswick, Maine. It was my first, and I might say, well worth every moment. For those of us unsure of whether we really wanted to spend the money to join, a buddy pass was offered by the members. Through the kindness of fellow photographer, Alana Ranney, I found my way to the Inn at Brunswick Station at 8:00 Friday morning. Now those of you who know me, I am not usually awake at that time of the A.M. An inspirational seminar by Blair Phillips began the day at 9:00  and was followed up, in the evening by Mark Levesque sharing his knowledge of Workflow in LightRoom. Blair showed us his unique Outdoor Lighting setup, and shared his methods with some models, inside and outside in the bitter cold.

Saturday was spent observing the judging of the print, or should I say, image competition. 2014 is the first year that the competition was done by submitting digital images, rather than prints. That was very informative and gave me some great information on preparing my photos for next year. It will be tough to decide what to enter. There are so many really great photographers in the state of Maine.

Tim Cameron shared his techniques in photographing Pets, People and making a Profit in a business you love, on Sunday. Tim's lighting and handling of the dog models was great to watch.  He was followed by Bruce Berg, who spoke on "Building Success". The two young girls that Bruce had modeling for him were fantastic, and some great images were captured.

Thanks goes out to Blair, Tim, and Bruce for sharing their techniques and lighting methods with all of us, while using live models. Jane Conner-Ziser and Nicole Chan finished up the Conference on Monday with some great instruction and insight. All in all, a very busy and productive 4 days.

I took advantage of a Conference special, and am now a member of the Maine Professional Photographers Association, as well at the national organization, the Professional Photographers Association. It was refreshing to be around so many professionals, Novice and Veterans. Everyone was so helpful and forthcoming, and it was great meeting so many people that had previously only been a name on FaceBook or a web site.

A week from Sunday, and I will be in Saco photographing the Maine Sweetheart Pageant. Look for Pageant photos on my next blog entry. Thanks for reading, I hope you didn't mind sharing my enthusiasm.