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Gaining Experience

Heather + Billy Wedding by fhfotos
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Heather + Billy Wedding, a photo by fhfotos on Flickr.

 

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Lots of people are getting into photography, and many jump into wedding photography hoping to make some “quick money.” Its easy to get discouraged early on if you are trying to find work and you don’t seem to have brides lining up to have you photograph their wedding. I like to tell my brides that you get what you pay for. If you want to invest into one of the most important decisions of your life do you want to have an inexperienced person holding the camera or someone who has shown time and time again that they can capture great images? Surprisingly you’ll get a 50/50 split on this. People want to have the Hollywood wedding but have a pauper’s budget. There is nothing wrong with saving money, and cutting costs, but when it comes to expenses a great photographer will be able to take consistently great images that can capture the moments you want to be cherished from your day.
Lot’s of people take pictures these days. But just because someone takes 50 images and gets one good one doesn’t make them a great photographer. Some photographers can set up a scene and create a moment for you where other amateur photographers may just keep snapping away hoping they got their shot. I’m a strong advocate for the bride and groom to not just think about the cost (though this is important in choosing at times), but looking for quality, and finding who fits you best. People go for an easy option when they could get something a bit more if they put more effort into their search. Stress will as times cause a bride and a groom to make rash decisions when they could have made better choices that would reduce their stress up to and after their special day! That’s where a great photographer comes in! How do you find great photographers though? Well usually people look for their portfolio.
Having a strong and full portfolio really helps put customers at ease. People want to see consistency, quality, and creativity, just to name a few. These portfolios should showcase your work you are most proud of, as well as be able to show a bride what they can be expecting from your images. Building a portfolio takes time. There are a handful of ways to do that: You can shadow a professional wedding photographer and learn from them, bring your camera to your friends wedding and practice getting “Key Moment” shots, shoot trash the dress sessions with past brides, and one of my favorite you can become a second shooter for a photographer at a wedding.

Being a second shooter has some tasks that you will have to implement that the main photographer will usually ask of you. But the great thing about the second shooter for a wedding is your freedom (for the most part)! The duty of the whole wedding is on the main photographer, you as the second shooter get a lot more leeway (usually) and will usually be compensated for your time as well as it gives you the opportunity to fail getting shots at a wedding (but not always) but be limited in stress because most people will be counting on the main photographer to get the great images. Second shooting can be really fun and be rewarding and if you do get great images you have some more images you can add to your portfolio. It’s great for also experienced photographers that had a slower wedding season. They can assist other great photographers and capture great images sometimes in amazing locations just being the second shooter. I have a friend that makes a great amount of money just being second shooter for weddings. My suggestion would be to get a portfolio that you do have made of your favorite images and then send them to photographers in your area asking if they need second shooters. Sometimes many photographers already have a list of second shooters they pull from, but if your work is solid most photographers will jump on the idea of having more great help there!

Here are just a handful of images that I took as a second shooter for a wedding!

 

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Building A Modeling Portfolio:

Modeling Pics by fhfotos

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Modeling Pics, a photo by fhfotos on Flickr.

If you want to model and get signed with an agency you might want to keep a few things in mind…

First- there are many types of modeling people can do: hand modeling, fitness, lifestyle, high fashion, runway,  beauty, so find out what your look is and work towards that.

Second- Find a great photographer to build your portfolio. Ok I think I need to mention this because sometimes people misconstrue what I’m trying to say. Don’t just find someone that takes great pictures of a cat, or nature, or even weddings, Find someone that has an established portfolio and actually works with models. Sometimes getting a shoot with them can be quite beneficial, if they get you a handful of great shots from them plus feedback and any advice that will help you pursue your dreams can be the right motivation you need!

Third- Submit! Print out 8×10 images of your favorite shots and go to an open call! You won’t know if you will be accepted until you try! Sometimes you need the right look for that specific agency, but don’t get discouraged, just try another agency! There are a handful of modeling and talent agencies in the bay!

Just to name a few (in no particular order):


Look Modeling Agency

Ford Models

City Model Management

Stars The Agency

JE Model

Scout Model & Talent Agency

Here’s a few modeling pictures that I have recently taken this month! Take a look!

Full Slideshow Click Here!!!

-Sidenote: you don’t have to get images from a photographer before you head into an agency. Most agencies will have you “test shoot” with their selected list of photographers, and have you build their portfolio with what they need you to look portray for customers. Also again I want to remind you to look into height and weight requirements for certain modeling types. Some people will be told consistently they don’t fit the “look.”  Know your look so you can fit in the right “type” of modeling.

Pink Awareness

Project Pink '11 by fhfotos

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Project Pink ’11, a photo by fhfotos on Flickr.

It’s that month again… National Breast Cancer Awareness month that is… It was around this time last year when I was first contacted by one of the largest fashion bloggers in the bay area to come and support Project Pink fashion at Westfield Valley Fair hosted by MODE Bay Area. With great food, a great show, and great young talent including a handful of Designers such as Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Betsey Johnson, and Franco Uomo, to name just a few of the many that were introducing the latest fall trends it was an evening to remember! To be able to draw a community, bringing awareness and raising funds to support The American Cancer Society, is no easy task. Laura Kathleen a cast member from Project Runway was there as well being the special guest appearance and over $10,000 was donated that night! It was great to be a part of this moment and hopefully these images can help inspire and raise awareness to this important cause!

Full Slideshow Click Here!

Giving Back (part 1): Macy’s Glamorama Passport Presents ’11

Macy's Glamorama Passport Presents '11 by fhfotos

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Macy’s Glamorama Passport Presents ’11, a photo by fhfotos on Flickr.

There comes a point where it’s not just about the work, but it’s about the work and making money. Eventually many of us want to be part of something bigger than us. This last weekend I was able to contribute my photography to causes that were beyond just myself. I was able to be a part of Macy’s Passport presents Glamorama, which featured Bruno Mars and Far East Movement as well as a great night of art, dance, and fashion. The Orpheum Theatre was packed that night as many joined to support the fight against childhood illness, cancer, and HIV/AIDS. Hands down it was one of the best fashion shows I have ever seen in SF ever! To be able to be a part of this was not only a great honor but to be able to capture great images that hopefully will touch and inspire others to make a mark and do something that goes beyond themselves.

I will be posting my other fashion show that I was able to take a part of this next week as a double-header post I’m releasing this week! Enjoy

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Light Testing: Fitness

Light Testing: Fitness by fhfotos
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Light Testing: Fitness, a photo by fhfotos on Flickr.

Testing Light in studio

I’ve recently been expanding my knowledge in photography, in terms of lighting. Photography, in essence, is understanding the principles of light and being a master of manipulating light. It’s been a long road for me, and I’ve come so far and have such a long way to go but one thing I have learned is that that its one thing to “know” and its another to try it out. I’ve been watching videos, reading books, and slowly my images have been getting a bit more dimension and technical on the side of lighting. There are so many things to learn and “Master” in photography but if I can get this down It will be such a nicer trip in the process.

So lately I’ve been exercising in my room and seeing how this constant light is hitting my skin and as I have been fascinated by how it highlights and shadows my skin and contours my body I’ve been curiously wondering what it would look like to get shots of someone who is in incredible shape and if I could light them similarly. I got my friend who is one of the most dynamic athletes I know in terms of physique and toning and asked him if he’d like to participate in my lighting tests. Needless to say I think he did a solid job modeling, and being patient as I was trying to create and play with different forms of lighting. These might be some of the most replete images I’ve taken in studio to date.

So just a quick bit of detail on the technical aspect: I used two lights, white + silver reflective boards, and a black backdrop. I didn’t want “even” lighting on both sides because I wanted shadows but used reflective boards to not have the light completely drop off. In post-production I brought the images to black and white to emphasize the shadows and highlights as well as carved in the dark and light places further create a deeper saturation and distinction between the two. If you have any questions on the technique just message me! Hope you enjoy them!

 

Full Slideshow Click Here!

Lifestyle Modeling Portaits: Sophia

Child Model: Sophia by fhfotos
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Child Model: Sophia, a photo by fhfotos on Flickr.

I just completed a baby-modeling shoot! It was a bit different than normal portraits because of certain limitations but overall it was a great shoot! If you didn’t know when I’m not capturing images as a photographer I’m usually working with children. Kids are great because they usually feed off the energy that you come with so it’s great for me because I tend to be fairly energetic. The key to capturing great images is patience and timing. I’m not a fan of the spray and pray method; you take tons of images and hope you get a few good ones. If you want to improve your skills keep focusing and waiting for your shot.

Another thing that I notice can be difficult are when you are shooting outside you have to keep an eye on the quality of light. If the light is too harsh you’ll have deep shadows and your subjects can become over exposed which will bleach out your subject. Looking for diffused light, and shaded areas that I can have a better gauge on tones and contrast, while keeping a more even spread of light on the subject. Once you have your lighting down the next part is to focus on the subject.

Working with younger children you will find that posing them can be fairly difficult. I don’t suggest a typical pose where you would try to get them to sit a certain way and adjust their posture, and give them directions. Depending on their competence and age you will most likely want them to hopefully sit still and smile. Some children are more comfortable in front of the camera than others. This shouldn’t alarm you it just means you’ll want to work a bit harder to get them to feel less rigid and more relaxed. Keep the parents nearby and use them to your advantage. Have the parents play peek-a-boo or other games and cutesy things they do with their children so that they can smile naturally. I don’t really like a parent telling their kid to say cheese. Sometimes you can’t tell but for me there’s usually more life and detail in an image where happiness is generated from a subject organically. For me the younger they are the sillier I get to be. Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun!

 

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Working with Designers (featuring Danielle Pettee Shoot)

Danielle Pettee: Catalog by fhfotos
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Danielle Pettee: Catalog, a photo by fhfotos on Flickr.

I always enjoy working with highly talented people who are passionate about what they do. This weekend I collaborated with Danielle Pettee the custom dressmaker from SF. We put both of our minds together and brought to life a great shoot! When working with designers sometimes many of them come up with amazing and creative ideas, sometimes just a simple concept. As a photographer it is up to you to take their aspirations and to not only to bring it to life but to display their work to the best of your ability!

If you know anything about Danielle’s craftsmanship, its nothing out of the ordinary. So to put something together that defined her work as well as displayed it in a way that stood out from the rest you want to take something and bring it to another level. I always find this challenge as one of the best ways for me to grow. I am a photographer that can’t stand seeing the same images in all of my work. I want each shoot to be defined where you know it’s my work and yet separate and different from anything I’ve done before. Shooting in studio is common for many photographers to have in their portfolio. It’s practically the staple of a “professional quality” image in a photographer’s arsenal. But to have images that stand out from any other photographer’s studio work can always be a challenge

The way that I think for situations like this would be: “what can I bring to the table?” “What are some things in her clothes that I see when I look at them?” “What emotions do they evoke in people when they see her work when they look that them?” Asking yourself questions that cause you to think about what you can do and what you want to do. Then sometimes it’s a process of give and take; you find the models perfect for the shoot, or the designer already has a few selected. Just depending how a model looks it can completely change what you want to shoot. If you don’t believe me, what do you think if I put Pamela Anderson in a bathing suit shoot… then if I tried putting her in a long white gown? Not only will she probably not fit the look, (in more than one way) but also she may not fit the part for what would be considered “high fashion.” Finding the right model for the clothes are important, the right concept, and then actually getting everything implemented and ready before the shoot can be a challenge as well.

There is the experimental process that I wanted to talk about really quick. One of the ways that I learn how to light, and how to pose, or whatever that is would be for me to experiment and try things out that I normally wouldn’t do. How that works is once I get the “money shot” I no longer have to keep shooting, but instead I allow the model to try something that I haven’t thought of. Sometimes I see something during the shoot that I want to try out. The tough part can be describing what I see in my mind to a model. I try to be short enough to follow but descriptive enough to let them know what I am trying to convey. Sometimes what you think you see and what you get doesn’t get translated into the image, sometimes it does and its not what you expected either better or worse. It’s Ok! Just keep going! When I can’t seem to explain something, I try a new approach. Communication is one of the most important things in life. The better that we are at communicating to the people the more effective we will be! I hope that gave you some ideas, as well as inspired you to keep shooting and trying new things!

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BlacMéra Trunk Show

BlacMera Trunk Show by fhfotos
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BlacMera Trunk Show, a photo by fhfotos on Flickr.

When I was asked to Cover the Trunk Show for the amazing Couture brand BlacMéra I was not only honored but extremely excited for this opportunity to work with such an amazing brand! Upon arrival I realized the beauty of the atmosphere and the quality of work that accompanied this. The event took place at Donald J. Pliner’s botique in San Jose, and the combination of amazing sushi (provided by Michi in SJ) and a one of a kind brand at a high quality shoe store made for an amazing night! If you missed it the designer told me there would most likely be another event coming soon!

Just to talk about the clothes for a moment… I can’t even begin to describe this truly exquisite brand. BlacMéra is designed by the extremely talent Yuliana Candra who has carefully and constructively interwoven a vision of true femininity and the beauty of cultures of the world to create a modern and bold look catering to the evolving 21st century woman. If you are looking for one of a kind and luxurious craftsmanship you don’t need to go any farther. Each alluring piece is lavished with distinguishing details that have attributed to its international appeal. I can’t say enough great things about the colors and the cuts of each piece of the collection all I can say is that in my opinion images don’t do it justice. What’s great is that BlacMéra also produces many other pieces including jewelry, versatile designs and even a limited Men’s Collection.

What I found was a step above the average in this event was that we used 3 amazing mannequin models. When you have a great product that can be displayed on the beauty of a real woman and the versatility you get with real models really took this event to another level. There were so many people that day that had to stop… stare… and even laugh in disbelief, as there were real people in the windows posing in these garments. I tried capturing a blend of everything including the interaction with the models, as well as the beauty of a live mannequin model. I hope to be a part of this again and can’t wait to see what is in store for this truly amazing brand!

 

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Last Drops Of Summer Editorial W/ Melissa Lewis

I just Purchased a 7D, and had to test this thing out. What better way then to do a video and photography montage with one of my favorite models? I’d personally like to thank Melissa for being able to do this impromptu shoot… Personal shout out to Melissa: I know there are so many great things in store for you and I wish you the best! Thanks for being a trooper! Folks take a look here’s my first “official” Kanoa Utler Photography video featuring the amazing Melissa Lewis!

Click Here To View The Video!!