Intro by Skip Cohen
Throughout September SCU has been sharing amazing guest posts from NILMDTS photographers. Why? Honestly, it started because they needed help spreading the word. This is recruitment month, but in all honesty, I'm hoping they keep sending them to me, so I can share a new one every week.
Today's guest post is from Jeff Rabidoux, a NILMDTS Affilitated Photographer in Michigan. When Tiffany Kapler at NILMDTS sent it to me she wrote,
"...Jeff is in the boonies of Michigan...the only volunteer for miles and drives up to 2 hours to do sessions. This is his story about his first session ever..."
There are a whole bunch of things I love about his story...first, for everybody who thinks you have to be a portrait photographer, Jeff's passion is in landscape. Second, you'll hear loud and clear his concern, even on the way to his first session, that he might not be prepared. Third, it's wonderful that Courtney, baby Kennedy's mother, shared her feelings about NILMDTS and Jeff's involvement. There is no higher compliment for an artist or an organization...
"You have touched our lives more than we can ever express.
We are forever grateful to you and this amazing organization.”
NILMDTS needs your help. Click on the banner above and you'll be on the recruitment page and starting a journey you'll never regret.
As a professional landscape photographer, I was heading home from a “typically beautiful” sunset over Lake Michigan. My radio was tuned to NPR and when I had turned my vehicle on, Sandy Puc, Co-Founder of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, was being interviewed. It so moved me that when I arrived home, I checked the NILMDTS website and discovered that no one was covering my region of Northwest Lower Michigan.
I created a portfolio of friend’s newborns, submitted it, and was approved. About six weeks passed without a call for a session. On April 21, 2010, the first call came. Lena Hammond, RTS (Resolve Through Sharing) Coordinator with Munson Hospital, called me after offering my services to Aaron and Courtney, who had just lost one of their identical twin girls, Kennedy, earlier that morning. Their other daughter, Karly, was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), but was doing pretty well. The moment I hung up the phone with the hospital, I started to question my talents; perhaps because I just didn’t know what to expect with this first shoot.
On the 45 minute drive to the hospital, I developed a strategy: Go into the room, emotionally separate myself from the situation, take the best photos I can, and leave. Pushing through the patient room door however, I found myself in the midst of a heartbroken family. I introduced myself, as Courtney simultaneously asked, “Before you get started, how long have you been doing this work?” Cautious laughter filled the room as I responded, “Honestly, this is my first session.” I shared the story about how I learned about NILMDTS and reassured them that I would do my best.
Courtney recalled, “I wasn’t sure I wanted someone to come take pictures of my baby. My mind went to a vision of a Sears Portrait Studio. Who is this person that is going to be handling my baby? What kind of person does this work? They will likely be professional, cold, and without emotion. The nurses had taken some photos, but they were harsh and vivid. Lena assured us that the photographer would take “keepsake” photos.”
In those few moments that I was in the room, I was immediately drawn into the love and shared grief of the parents and Courtney’s mom and dad. So much for emotional separation! A nurse led me across the hall and I spent time shooting pictures of Kennedy. I then took images of Kennedy with her parents before moving her bassinet into the NICU, to capture pictures of the twins and the entire family together. I returned to the patient room, packed my gear, and hugged the family I had, in a very special way, just become a part of.
When I arrived home, my wife greeted me at the door. “How are you?” she asked. I responded, “I’m ok.” Spouses know what “I’m ok” means. It means, “I’m not ok.” I told her that I was going to go for a hike and process the day’s emotions.
Finding a nice composition along one of my favorite beaches, I set up my tripod and awaited the sunset. Looking out at the Manitou Islands, I recalled the old Native American fable about the islands and the Sleeping Bear Dunes.
In order to escape a raging Wisconsin forest fire, a mother bear and her two cubs took to the waters of Lake Michigan. Unfortunately, the waves were large, the winds strong, and the distance too great. The cubs fell behind as the mother reached the Michigan shoreline. She climbed the dune, only to spot her two young babies, succumbing to the depths of this Great Lake. The spirit of the Manitou covered the young ones with sand, creating the Manitou Islands, and then covered the heartbroken mother bear, creating the point of the Sleeping Bear Dunes.
A couple days later, I shared the sunset image and the fable with Courtney and Aaron, as well as a few images of Kennedy. The family found healing in the sunset image and it became known as “Kennedy’s Sunset”. Friends showed their love and support to the family in so many thoughtful ways. In fact, one Mackinaw City resident purchased a burial plot for Kennedy, with a view of the majestic Mackinaw Bridge. Courtney’s mom found a company that could create a full color headstone. You can imagine how honored I was to learn that “Kennedy’s Sunset” would be reproduced in breathtaking detail.
Some of Kennedy’s images are in a book that Courtney’s mom had printed, celebrating the early lives of the beautiful twin sisters. Karly, now 4, often shares the book with people who visit. “We think it is important for Karly to know that she and Kennedy were together. We can see the pride that Karly shows over the photos of her sister. We strive to make sure that Kennedy’s death is not a tragedy for Karly”, Courtney emphasized. In fact, Karly finds it strange that her friends don’t have siblings that have passed.
The healing process for Aaron’s parents was even more dependent upon my images. Since Courtney delivered early, they were on a cruise when the twins were born. Despite the Coast Guard’s best efforts, they still were unable to get home until the day before the funeral. They had to “hold” her through the images I had provided to them. Today, many family members have their own collection of Kennedy images.
Typically, cemetery visits are not solemn occasions for their family and friends. In fact, they intentionally created a park-like setting at Kennedy’s grave. A beautiful wood bench, engraved with Kennedy’s full name, provides the perfect vantage point for Mackinaw Bridge views. “We wanted it to be a happy place with a “light” atmosphere; a place where we could have ice cream together”, Aaron shared. And it is perfect.
Courtney was very interested in sharing this story because she “wants to honor the people who do this work”. She told me “having you there at the hospital was so raw, so real, and so intimate. It felt so natural. The person behind the camera is so important to the overall experience. And you were completely opposite of the person I feared would be coming to take pictures of my baby. You have touched our lives more than we can ever express. We are forever grateful to you and this amazing organization.”
I am so grateful to be a part of NILMDTS. Honestly, I am not sure who benefits more from the remembrance sessions…the parents, or me. Using a talent I was given, to provide healing to others, just feels right in my heart. Admittedly, every session is unique and people grieve in different ways, I just feel blessed to have had such a special first experience, and I am thankful to be a part of lives of this family.
A wonderful sidebar...
Intro by Skip Cohen
Every week I've been sharing a guest post from one of the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep photographers. This is a group of artists dedicated to helping families work through the most severe devastating pain any of us can imagine, the loss of a newborn baby.
Most of us react the same way...we can't imagine photographing a "sleeping" child, as Amy Hales so wonderfully put it in today's post, and maintaining our composure. We've been trained to think we need to be objective and focused on one purpose, capturing the images, but here's what I've learned with each guest post.
Objectivity is the last thing these families need and if, as the photographer, you didn't shed a tear, you'd be inhuman. It's obviously not required, but the beauty of NILMDTS's involvement is about confirmation. These families are sharing their most private moment and with the exception of the hospital staff, as their photographer, you're the first person outside their family to see their beautiful child.
Amy Hales is a NILMDTS Affiliated photographer and Area Coordinator in Utah. She's totally dedicated to the task and in fact, this guest post is a little late this week because she was waiting for the "thumbs up" from the military to make sure she was allowed to share the images in uniform.
September is recruitment month at NILMDTS. Getting involved with NILMDTS isn't just about photography. It's about getting involved with families in your community who simply need your help. Click on the banner at the top and learn how you can be a part of this amazing group of talented and compassionate artists and stop thinking you don't have what it takes. All you need is your skill set and your heart. As Amy wrote below:
"I mindlessly rocked this sweet child and patted his chubby thighs as we swayed, relishing every moment I was allowed in the presence of this angel."
As a volunteer photographer with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, we often have the privilege of experiencing the most beautiful life-changing moments – even in the midst of tragedy. Sometimes we feel a connection with a family even before we meet them. For me, one of those occasions happened on May 31, 2014.
On this beautiful Saturday morning at 9:25 A.M., Davin James Richey, a 9 lbs. 3 oz. ball of baby perfection, entered this world sleeping. Davin was the 7th child born to Katey and Chris Richey and my heart hurt thinking of his big brothers and sisters, excitedly awaiting the birth of their little brother.
As much as it hurt to think of his siblings, my heart completely shattered when I learned that Davin’s father, Chris, was overseas serving with the United States Air Force and would not be present to meet his son. My mind raced through the poses that I generally incorporate in my NILMDTS sessions, and I quickly realized we would have to do something different for this family. We just had to find a way to incorporate Chris into the images.
When I arrived at the hospital, I asked Katey if they had one of Chris’s spare uniforms at home. I was so happy to hear that Katey’s brother Brandon was willing to pick up the uniform and pose with Davin in the photos.
This opportunity to give back was so humbling for me. I remember holding baby Davin as we waited for Brandon to arrive, and being completely in love with how wonderful he felt in my arms. I mindlessly rocked this sweet child and patted his chubby thighs as we swayed, relishing every moment I was allowed in the presence of this angel. As I photographed Davin and his uncle, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the sacrifices this family had made for families like mine.
Davin’s photos mean so much to me, and I am so honored to have been able to serve this family. I am grateful that through the gift of NILMDTS services, Davin Richey’s face will mingle with his siblings’ on the family’s wall, and that Katey and Chris Richey will forever know the beauty of their son.
The Richey family will always have a place in my heart; especially their angel, Davin.
Yesterday I shared a post in the new "Tripod Alley" from Jeff McCrum, who talked a lot about the importance of a good solid tripod, especially Benro. Most of the images in the post don't relate to the type of photography many of you do. So, I went off on "safari" hunting for images of Jeff's that better make the point.
The two of the church make the point right out of the gate and would be stunning scene-setter's in a wedding album. To see more of Jeff's work check out his fickr page. You won't be disappointed.
Images copyright Jeff McCrum. All rights reserved.
Intro by Skip Cohen
I've written a lot about Panasonic's LUMIX Luminaries. They're an incredibly talented and diverse group and this guest post expands their skill set as a group to a completely different level.
Michael Grecco is known as one of the industry's leading celebrity photographers. He's also a Luminary and I had a chance to spend some time with him at the annual LUMIX meeting in Austin last month. In fact, he shared a recent guest post in Luminary Corner here at SCU recently.
But, here's another side of his skill set. He's spent a huge part of his career staying on top of technology and he's just launched a new blog to help artists with one of their biggest challenges, effective archival storage. Think about it - are you storing your files in the most effective way? And, as Michael points out in this guest post, what happens to your "system" as you expand to 4K video?
Some of you may be surprised to read a post like this at SCU, when just about everything is about business and marketing, but here's the point. What could be more about business if you can't easily archive your images and video and have them accessible for your clients?
Take the time right now and put Michael's new blog on your radar. In the mean time check out this first post below. To stay tuned to his ability to provide continuous support over a variety of technical challenges, just click on the link below.
by Michael Grecco
The fastest and most cost effective way to store all your images and video files!
For many photographers and videographers the concept of archiving our images is not a top priority. We all work really hard at attaining assignments, producing shoots, creating great images, while schmoozing both talent and clients and delivering finished images. Once delivered and everyone is satisfied, we all take a deep breath and greatly appreciate the job we do. But, how are these shoots archived and preserved?
Do you have a dependable and efficient archiving system? And can you confidently say you are archiving your work in the most optimal way?
As photographers and videographers, when we work all day the last thing we want to do is begin the laborious task of archiving. It’s too easy to take our hard drive with our images on it and throw it in a box or drawer. But what happens when our clients, the new agent, or production company need access to our last shoots, to view our work or to edit our portfolios. That’s when our lack of an efficient archiving method stares us in the face. We cannot either find our work and our images are lost, or the drive will not run and we may not have a backup. The solutions available to photographers and videographers are either to (a) panic or (b) implement an expert way to store our images and video files.
Without a sufficient archiving system, the above scenario or a variation can happen at any moment – it's just a matter of time. It has happened to me and I missed not only a huge licensing opportunity, but also a big job. All because I could not put my hands on the images the Creative Director needed to see, to award me that job! That’s when I realized that I needed a practical system to use, with a solid file naming convention (a future blog piece), based on the file types to be archived. We can maintain our files on a network, an internal server, or on cloud storage, but usually these solutions prove to be very expensive and slow. The fastest way to make a copy of the day’s production stills and videos is actually to burn it to a hard drive. But why?
Beneficial Digital Cold Storage vs. The Hype of Cloud Storage
A considerable amount of technology news, hype and conversation exists solely on the topic of cloud storage. The concept is simple. Our data is stored offsite on a server or multiple servers, providing us with back up on a distant database. Cloud system offers several advantages to photographers; accessibility, unlimited storage and offsite backup to name but a few.
Cloud storage is not without its cons. The time consumed to upload our images, especially if shooting large high-resolution video or stills is significant. Think about it, if we shoot 4K video, video files are 4 times the size of high definition video. The volume of images we capture could then easily outpace our ability to upload large files to the cloud, especially when also depending on Internet speed and the reliability of the technical service. Technical faults could also have the potential to disrupt a productive day, which affects business.
Another disadvantage of the cloud system to scrutinize is cost. Cloud based storage is billed monthly relative to the amount of space we use. Simply stated, every day we store our image data, a fee is due for the privilege. An average fee works out as $30 per terabyte monthly. Monthly charges gradually stack up when calculated as a yearly expense. As photographers and videographers we need to contemplate that with cloud there may be an inherent difficulty to budget the cost of adopting this system. The cost may accumulate dependent on what may be a fluctuating frequency and volume of data storage required.
The cloud system has both pros and cons important to be aware of before investing in this technology. By now, it may be evident there is a place for both hot or online storage (on our network, available and running) and cold or offline storage when debating a system. Personally, as a photographer, evaluating the gross amount of raw footage created by a shoot, I recommended cold (offline) storage to archive. The vast majority of my images are continually stored using bare 3.5 inch SATA hard drives, comparable to those found in an Apple Mac Pro Tower. Here is why it’s suggested we do this:
Additionally, if we speak exclusively about hard drives as an investment, Orange LaCie Ruggeds, in my opinion, are a flawed option. Unfortunately they are not warranted as with a professional quality bare SATA drive and unless we purchase the more expensive drive, they operate at generally half the speed; they spin at 5400 RPM as opposed to 7200 RPM compared with the bare SATA Drives. Unless we splurge on the more expensive choice, as an outcome we will end up transferring files over USB and not SATA. Byte for byte, Orange LaCie Ruggeds in effect are generally more costly than a bare drive. A one terabyte LaCie Rugged drive is currently retailing at $119.00 compared to $99 for the 3 terabyte bare drive.
So you may ask, how do we get cold (offline) storage to work successfully as an archiving tool for us? Here is how:
Another good archiving practice all photographers/videographers can adopt is on each and every occasion on returning from a shoot; add our day’s images, video files and data to both of the two archiving drives along with processed images. This means we can then reconvene the next shoot day, making use of the available capacity of our capture laptop/drives to host new images and files, secure in the knowledge our previous data is safely stored on two separate drives. Once the drives are full it is beneficial to store each copy separately.
Now let’s fully optimize our successful data storage system.
Drives are bare so it is preferable to store the drives safely from damage when not in use. A go-to product for this purpose is called ProStorage™ (www.getprostorage.com). ProStorage™ is closed cell anti-static foam made specifically to protect drives. The unit comes with a foam lid, so in the file cabinet the lid cleverly fits under the unit to raise it up, allowing us easy access to our data drives. For an offsite set, drives can be stored in the ProStorage™ box with the foam lid on top for protection; the box comes in either a version to store 18 bare hard drives or store 24. An inexpensive product that securely protects our data once archived.
A dependable and efficient archiving system is advantageous in our profession. We can now say confidently we will have optimally archived our work!
Alternative tricks and tips for a smooth workflow and better work practice will be offered on www.HowToArchive.com so stay tuned.
This year ProfotoUSA, together with two of my favorite wedding photographers, Justin and Mary Marantz, launched a new series of short educational videos called, "Walk Through a Wedding." Every other week they've shared some great tips on how to raise the bar on the quality of your wedding images. Each new episode has taken us through a very specific aspect of a wedding.
I love the videos, but there's been something missing...
The videos are obviously staged, somewhat scripted and while the technique point made in every episode is a necessity to understand and great for education, the images aren't from the real world. They don't reflect the atmosphere and chaos of a real wedding.
So, welcome to "Walking the Talk" - a new feature every other week where we're going to share real images that show Justin and Mary's technique as it applies to the previous week's video!
The newest episode from "Walk Through a Wedding" was all about images from the first dance. These are all images from real weddings...nothing scripted - just Justin and Mary doing what they do best...showing how
they can walk the talk!
A big thanks to Profoto USA for their non-stop support of education and incredible lighting equipment, especially the new B1 and just this week, the shipping of the new B1 Air Remote TTL-N for Nikon shooters!
Images copyright Justin and Mary Marants. All rights reserved.
Intro by Skip Cohen
Rhonda Gehman, besides being a talented artist, is the Regional Coordinator and Affiliated Photographer in Birmingham, AL for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. In this special guest post she's done an outstanding job of sharing what being involved with NILMDTS has meant to her as a photographer.
I've read so many comments from photographers who worry about controlling all their emotions if they get involved with NILMDTS client. They seem to think getting emotional is a sign of failure or lack of help in the way it's intended for the grieving family.
The truth is, it's just the opposite. These families need the empathy that so many photographers are worried about showing. They need you, if for just these few hours, to become part of their family and help them through the experience.
This is recruitment month for NILMDTS and they need everyone's help. Finding out how you can help is just a click away on the banner at the top!
by Rhonda Gehman
Each family for which I have provided Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (NILMDTS) services has touched me in a different way. Each family is special, and each story is unique. They all affect me in some form, although sometimes I don’t realize how until years later.
Last month, I participated in a 5K to benefit the grief counseling services of our local children’s hospital. When I arrived at the race and saw the signs that were lining the start/finish line, I quickly recognized infant names and knew that my day was going to be emotional.
I went to the race to recruit…not only photographers, but also community volunteers. I left the race, with more than just a few names. I left with a full heart.
As I stood behind the NILMDTS booth, a lady approached, and I asked her if she knew about our services. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “Yes, Now I Lay me Down to Sleep took pictures of my son.” I ask her what her son’s name was. When she spoke his name, “Winter Gilmore”, I was immediately taken back to March 2012. I had been Wint’s photographer.
We stood there hugging with tears streaming down both of our faces. As the memories flooded back, I remembered her so well. She was finally able to thank me in person for the pictures of her precious son. She must have told me 10 times how much the pictures meant and that she had one on the mantel and one in her bedroom. Her next comment blew me away… Wint’s little sister knows who he is because of those pictures.
She quickly rounded up Wint’s dad, her parents and her precious daughter to come over and meet me. Her husband reiterated what the pictures meant to them. He had been cautious and hesitant when the nurse first mentioned having them made, but now he is so thankful. He told me the same sweet stories that mom had just told of how his little sister knows she has a big brother because of the photographs.
Wint’s aunt, his father’s sister, was also at the event, and she told me that she just doesn’t know how I can do it. With tears in my eyes, I looked at her and said, “This is the reason that I do it.”
To know that a few clicks of my camera and an evening behind the computer editing can help to heal a broken heart, to know that for a split second, my work can help that mom see and smell and remember her baby – that is what Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep is all about.
Rhonda H. Gehman
I just ran across this image on Facebook. It was posted by my buddy Brian Marcus. I've no real point to make, except to just share it with everybody, because it made me smile and should do the same for you. It's the perfect definition of storytelling with just one image.
When I called Brian to get his permission to share it here on the blog he said,
"I wish I had the time to retouch it. This was right out of the can."
Here's the point...it doesn't need retouching. It defines the pure joy of Brian being a "Dad" with one of his girls, Alexandra. On his Facebook page he wrote...
"Best birthday present in the world. Spending a day in the studio with my girls. I love you Gabrielle Marcus and Alexandra Marcus. Thanks for making every day so special!"
Intro by Skip Cohen
When my grandson was around six, I put a point and shoot camera in his hands as we went off to a Red Sox game in Boston. I was blown away by his view of the world. As adults we forget about a kid's perspective of things. Zachary's photojournalistic view of the world included images of peanut shells and traditional baseball litter, a couple shots of the mole on the back of the neck of the guy in front of us and only one shot of the ball field. He captured a macro version of the world - his world from forty inches or so off the ground.
This guest post from Tamron photographer, Stephanie Elie, took me right back to that day and looking at Zachary's images, but it also hit on another thought...
There's an old expression about "shoemaker's children needing shoes". I can't help but feel, caught up in the stress of maintaining your business as a photographer, so many of you are in the same boat. You've overlooked the potential for more artists in the family, your children. As you read about Stephanie's PhotoWalk adventures with her daughter and father, think about your own house.
Here's an opportunity that just might give you one of those breaks from business I write about so often. It's bonding at its very best and with Stephanie, she's managed to bring together three generations, who just enjoy the common love of the craft, as well as each other.
A big thanks to Stephanie for planting a seed in my head for the next visit with my grand children and to Tamron for their unique level of support for education. Stephanie, her Dad and her daughter, Myla, took three of Stephanie's favorite lenses on their PhotoWalk, the Tamron 24-70 VC, 90mm VC and 16-300mm.
Check out Stephanie's website for more great ideas at Bizzie Living. You won't be disappointed.
A few years ago as we packed up everything and hiked across country to Maryland. I had big plans to capture all of our adventures in this new city far away from Los Angeles. But, per usual, life got in the way as we struggled to adjust to our new surroundings and these things called “winter” and “summer”. Needless to say we spent the majority of our first year cooped up at home away from the cold in the winter and under the air conditioning in the summer to avoid the humidity and HUGE bugs California did not prepare us for.
After I saw myself drifting further away my plan I decided something needed to be done before we made a mass exit west to neutral weather. That’s when I started taking the kids on photo walks to explore the city.
My daughter’s interest in photography has grown significantly in the past few years, she asks to go on shoots and is always asking to use the camera when we are out on family trips. It’s so frequent that I decided to keep my Canon 50d around for her to use.
Our first photo walk was last year at Brookside Gardens. Our goal was to capture the beginnings of Spring. It was fun watching her capture the different flowers in the garden. She even got down on the ground to get some close up shots. Something I shy away from because it brings me closer to the bugs.
This summer we took it a step further and included my father in the mix. He’s the one that sparked my interest in photography, which I then transferred to my daughter. It's an inherited trait!
We took to the streets of downtown DC and captured what ever caught our eye. At first we all gravitated to the same subjects, but as everyone got familiar with their surroundings we started to venture out. My father the seasoned landscape photographer captured nature and the surrounding architecture. I rarely get a chance to play with my Macro lens so I focused mostly on close up photography of plants and flowers.
My daughter on the other hand had a surprising different perspective. She spent most of the time stalking birds and squirrels and capturing the random trash left behind by pedestrians. I’m telling you she’s on her way to starting a liter photo blog!
Aside from learning that we all have different perspectives of the world around us it was great bonding experience between the three of us. While we all have very different personalities we share one thing in common, the love of photographing our lives and an appreciation of the art.
My daughter has asked to make these photo walks a regular occurrence. So, I have started to incorporate them into our mommy/daughter time. We get to explore more of the DC area and capture our experiences just like I originally planned. Who knows, this year we may actually throw the covers off this winter and see what we can capture of the season.
Even if your children haven’t yet shown an interest in photography, take them out on a photo-walk and just see what they capture. My son doesn’t have a huge interest in photography, but when he does he spends most of the time capturing the family, which is great because I’m actually in some of the photos!
So grab your kids and your cameras and venture out and create some memories.
Intro by Skip Cohen
A few weeks ago I ran a post featuring a stunning bridal image and video by Vanessa Joy. As a spokesperson for my favorite lighting company, Profoto, she packed a lot great content into this short video. But, the fun of social media, for me in this case, was more than just discovering some great content to share...it kicked off the start of a new friendship. Vanessa is back today sharing a challenge that would turn any photographer's hair instantly gray - a wedding party with 19 groomsmen!
As I read the draft Vanessa sent me, I realized what an incredible testimonial it was for having a solid skill set. Vanessa is truly a "professional" and you'll understand more about her as she takes you through each step to creating the final images.
To see more of Vanessa's work check out her site, www.vanessajoy.com. Vanessa is a solid believer in education and supporting the community with content to help you raise the bar on the quality of your work. Check out her new educational site and visit LearnPhotoVideo.com.
This post is part of a "daily double" with a podcast with Vanesssa and more thoughts to help you raise the bar on your work . Here's a chance to pick up more ideas on how to neutralize some of those fears that tend to slow you down.
I recently had the chance to chat with Skip on his podcast about different photographer fears, everything from irrational ones to warranted scary moments. One of my most recent fears was just from a few weeks ago where I had to photograph a bridal party with six bridesmaids….and 19 groomsmen. Yikes!
Have I photographed groups of 27 before? Of course. Have I liked it. Not so much.
The idea of photographing a huge bridal party in a short amount of time after they’ve been drinking on a party bus for a half hour is never at the top of the list for any photographer. But overcoming fear happens when you’re prepared for the occasion. I knew that I was, both in skill and experience, so here’s how I did it – and did it quickly and with results that my clients are more than happy with (though I am a bit of a perfectionist and wouldn’t mind moving some things around!).
I started off with the easy part, photographing the bridesmaids with the bride. Seven beautiful, smiling ladies aren’t scary to photograph at all.
After I posed them and snapped off a few shots, I just asked them all to take five steps away from the bride.
Then, I called to the groomsmen and told them to go stand next to the bridesmaid that they walked down the aisle with. Once they did that, all I needed to do was tweak where they were standing to make sure I could see everyone. To do that, I first asked everyone if they could see me and 80% of those that were blocked by someone moved on their own. Finally, all I had left to do was move three or four groomsmen specifically for height and in three minutes I had posed all 27 of them on flat ground.
From there we had one more casual bridal party shot to photograph, this time with chairs. I applied the same principal: start easy, then add on. I asked all the bridesmaids to come in and placed them in specific spots and then told the groomsmen to just fill it in with taller people standing and shorter people sitting. They all did a pretty good job at that and all I had left to do was the usual tweaking and three minutes later I had my second bridal party group photo, shown above.
Lastly, I wanted a shot of just the groomsmen, so I asked the ladies to leave the area, had all the groomsmen stand and just called them up one-by-one according to height to create this last shot. This image did take about 4-5 minutes to create, but since I had already done the larger shots so quickly, I had the time to spend on this one and I’m glad I did.
Next time you have to photograph a large group, try the start easy and add on concept. It allows you to pose more quickly and effectively then attempting to lump everyone in all at once. While photographing a bridal party this large may still give you butterflies, you’ll be able to move through them confidently, knowing that you have the skill and expertise to do your best work.