The Other Side of the Tracks

        Last night I had a wedding to go to. But this wedding was different… I was not the photographer and my wife was with me to enjoy it. After going to so many weddings as one of the vendors, my perception of a wedding as a guest is completely changed. What I see and what I do is not the same as when I went to a wedding before I was a photographer. I do remember the last wedding I went to before becoming a photographer (my cousin Lisa’s with my wife who at that point was just my girlfriend) and it was a completely different experience.
        The absolute first thing I noticed as we walked into the wonderful country barn wedding site five minutes before the ceremony (not three hours before the ceremony), was the photo and video equipment that was set up. This wedding actually had quite extensive setups for preserving the memories of the day; boom stands with remote operated cameras, light modifiers on stands in different positions blocking or reflecting sunlight, and a four person staff. It was much more that I bring or setup for my wedding jobs, not better or worse just different work styles. However, the whole evening I couldn’t help notice the photographers working. Because of the extensive amount of equipment staged around the ceremony, I don’t know if it was that or me being a photographer that had my attention on them so much, but before photographing wedding I never noticed the photographer at the wedding.
        A rustic barn, an old Ford truck, handmade programs, family keepsakes… All things that I notice when photographing a wedding, however, I enjoy them in a much different way without my camera at my hip. This wedding had a wonderful theme and many Pinterest worthy ideas. The way everything came together was spectacular. Old bottles and jars for flowers on the table as well as down the aisle, burlap table runners, handmade programs and napkins, lots of old furniture, and an Arnold Palmer bar served with sugar rimmed mason jars all pulled together in this rustically contemporary cowboy theme. Yes I would SEE these things when photographing, but I was able to experience them as a guest.
        When I went to my last wedding as a non-photographer, I was able to spend time socializing. And though I didn’t know very many people at the wedding last night, I was with my wonderful wife and the kids were at the babysitters. As much as I love my job taking pictures for so many different people, it was great to experience the other side of it… and with the one person I wouldn’t want to be there without!

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The Calm Before The Storm

It’s not like I do not like being busy with photography, but I’ve had two weeks off to enjoy with my wife, newborn son, and 2.5 yo boy and now have one of the busiest week(-and-a-half)’s ahead of me.  I love photography and anything photography related but I don’t enjoy the calm before the storm.

Today is the day that I get to pack everything I need for a week of leadership conferences for a quite large company , and a wedding the Saturday directly after.  Tomorrow is the day I get to drive for four hours thinking about what I have forgotten to pack!  I always second guess what I may or may not need for these multiple day photography jobs, and nine times out of ten it turns out fine.  However, I don’t enjoy the preparation (and transportation and setup of equipment) as much as I enjoy the work.

That being said…  Bring it!

What’s to come…

So it has been a couple months since my last post, and I always say I am going to try to post more often so I won’t say it this time. However, in an effort to try to post more often, I am every so often going to try something new.

In addition to what I normally write about, I am going to try to throw in the occasional posting of one of my favorite images that I have shot. This could be a wedding shot, or some random street shot… Just whatever I’m feeling that day. What I want to do, though, is give a little background story of how the photo came to be. Whether that be as a “how I did it” post or just a little story of my thoughts or feelings the day the shoot took place, will probably change depending on the chosen image.

Some of the photos might come from my website (and if you have yet to view my website, please do so at http://www.ksj-photography.com) but some might very well be work that I never have posted in the digital world. I might even dust off the old negative scanner and throw a film shot in there if your lucky! Either way, stay tuned for future posts and maybe you’ll see something that inspires you…

The Evolution of Social Media

Social media is constantly changing. The most recent trend is going from home computer to mobile apps. This post is less of a commentary on the changes and effects, and more so my thoughts and where I’m going.

Facebook / Google+:
I am currently on both of these. Personally more on Facebook, but I have a business page for my photography as well. Google+ for me never grabbed me. I like it, and I do post to it occasionally (more for my photography business), but for some reason it never pulled me away from Facebook. Facebook has its growing progressions and its growing faults. I’m not going to go into detail on those because they are more of personal preferences to everyone. For now, I’m on Facebook more.

Instagram / Starmatic / EyeEm:
Everyone has heard the news, I’m sure, of Instagrams changes in their Terms of Service; it has caused quite an uproar. Also, many users have looked for other apps that work in a similar way to show their creative mobile photography. I am a user of Instagram and I do like it, however, the Facebook invasion is a little disheartening and I have started to explore the others. If you care to follow me, my user name on all of them is @ksjphotography. Instagram is still my favorite. Bothe Starmatic and EyeEm have their problems that they need to address; more so big fixes rather than innovation. EyeEm is my least favorite and will probably be gone from my phone the soonest. It’s slow, I don’t care for the interface, and it doesn’t use hashtag tagging. It does have a sort of categorizing that works like hashtag tagging, but you can only use one. Starmatic so far looks like the best Instagram alternative. I love the interface, it does use hashtag tagging, and the camera in the app is better than expected. This one I will keep for a little while.

Twitter:
I don’t use Twitter, and the only reason I haven’t already deleted my account is only so I can check it every so often and see if I can get into it.

Pheed:
Pheed is interesting. A lot of Instagram users have been fleeing to this, I’ve noticed, but its not really an Instagram alternative (though you can use it that way) as much as it is a Facebook / Twitter alternative. It has some really cool features. You can use it on your computer (at http://www.pheed.com) or on its iPhone app. The reason it is more like the standard social media outlet is because it is not just for photos. You can post photos, videos, text, and even straight audio clips. The most unique feature is that you can rate you feed (which they call channels) like movies are rated; G, PG, PG13, or R. There is no censorship, which is the reason for the rating, and I find it to be edgier than other social media sites. I don’t know if I will remain a Pheeder or not, but I am giving it a shot.

So those are my thoughts. Come find me on all of these if you like my work, whether its my professional work or my creative mobile photography. My username on most of these is @ksjphotography or just Kevin Jones. If you do follow me on Instagram, you might notice some reposting of some of my photos to the other apps. I guess that can be good or bad, but some of my older favorites might be new to you.

Enjoy!

How to Learn Photoshop?

So it has been a while since my last post; I have been a little busy. In addition to my photography, I also substitute teach High School. It is part of a process to obtain teaching credentials in hopes to teach photography at some point. Over the past six weeks, I have had a long term sub job in a photography class and it has been quite eye opening in regards to how people understand photoshop from a beginners point of view. Not only was I (hopefully) teaching the students, but I was learning as well.

It has been close to 15 years since I was starting to work with photoshop, and not only has there been major improvements in the program itself but in my ability as well. A lot of what I do has become second nature while I am working; keyboard commands, color correction, workflow, etc. These are things that I take for granted when I hear about someone just getting started with the program. I like to think that I am a good "teacher" of photoshop when I'm helping a friend dig a little deeper with the program and their photos, but how well can I teach someone who isn't doing it for fun, rather, as a requirement? What if they have absolutely no interest in photography at all? This was my mountain over the last few weeks.

In the nearly 80 students that I was teaching photography to (it was a photography class but while the regular teacher was out, the cameras were not to be checked out so most of the assignments were PS based), there were a handful maybe that we're interested in learning the subject and had fun doing it. This made for some disheartening moments since this is something I love and have a passion for. To see them treat this as if they were studying ancient civilizations or algebra was like a dagger in my heart. However, I kept my passion and tried to convey that passion through every project.

After all was said and done, the students for the most part enjoyed me being there and most completed the projects given to them. I didn't have any real discipline complications aside from one student cussing at me, not in a threatening way, just frustrated with me. That stuff I can handle fine. The hardest part was figuring out why they couldn't see this class as being a fun elective to participate in.

The most touching part was seeing the students I did connect with, seeing those that overcame the complications of a difficult challenge and fight through it, and accepting those that were set in their ways of this being just a requirement to graduate.

After my last day there I ran into one of my students at the fairgrounds. He came up to me and shook my hand and showed me the bracelet he just bought. It was a rubber New Orleans Saints bracelet. I had not hide the fact that I was a San Diego Chargers fan and actually talked football with a couple of the students on Fridays. This was two days after the Saints had just beat the Chargers! I laughed with him about it and he went on his way. I won't forget this moment!

Happy Birthday America

Since we have the holiday upon us and everyone will be out watching fireworks and barbecuing, I am going to spend this post talking about the best way (and all around tips) for photographing fireworks.  Since it can be tricky to capture that perfect shot of each light burst trail falling to the ground there are a few things you have to know…

 

…I’m actually joking.  In all my time photographing, I am sad to say I have never brought out my professional equipment and seriously tried to get great fireworks shots!  I have always wanted to, the opportunity was just never presented to me.  So, tomorrow (today actually) if you have always wanted to take pictures of fireworks, then go do it!  Make a point to get the best shot you have ever thought of getting.  I will be doing the same.

 

Happy Birthday America!

Do You Have Backup Equipment?

I know it may be common sense for a professional photographer to have backup equipment be a high priority on their must have list, but you would be surprised how many shoot events with only one camera…  Even if they have more than one in their arsenal.  All photographers will always say backups are a must.  Not just for cameras but for memory cards, lenses, batteries, etc.  Not one will say “you don’t really NEED a backup” even if they never have backups.  However, even a casual shooter should have some kind of backup unless they are not worried about missing the photo opportunity due to broken / malfunctioning equipment.

Now, I am not just writing about this topic to have something to write about.  I have been photographing weddings, events, portraits, and more for about six years and not once have I had a major camera malfunction…  Until a couple weeks ago.  Not only did I have a camera failure, but it wasn’t at a lesser important job like a family portrait shoot, it was at a wedding!  Talk about needing to remain calm and composed; this was the epitome of needing to stay calm.

While at a wedding, right at the end of the ceremony (after the kiss thank god), my Canon 5D locked up and would not continue to shoot.  No error message, no reasoning, just gave up.  I always use two cameras simultaneously at weddings so I continued with the other until I had a chance to check out the issue.  When I had a minute (and you rarely have that much time to stop at a wedding), I looked over my 5D and found that the mirror had detached itself and lodged into the lens track.  I managed to get the lens off, get the mirror out, and secure all the pieces.  Then finished the wedding with one camera.

Everything the rest of the day went smooth, but my main concern was that I was leaving for an out of town job a day and a half later and kind of needed two cameras; that was what was nagging at me the rest of the day.  I was racking my brain of what to do.  Risk shooting with only one camera body, rent another body and cut into my profits, find a fellow photographer to borrow a body from?  Luckily, my answer was simple.

I had just upgraded my old Canon 20D to the newer 50D and sold the 20D to my parents who had wanted something better than a point and shoot.  The wedding I was at was 3 hours from my house, but partially on the way to my parents house who lived 6 hours from me.  I called them up and explained the situation, and they drove to meet me half way to deliver the old 20D.  That camera body has been through a lot with me being my first professional camera so it was only fitting that it was the camera to save me.  Now with sufficient backup, I felt a little more at ease leaving town for the job.

Now, this situation played out and resulted in no major business repercussions.  But needless to say, it could have been a lot worse.  I have great parents, I have great colleagues, and I have a great camera system in Canon (who reattached the mirror at no charge).  But not everyone has the same at their disposal.  Which brings me back to the topic of saying ALWAYS HAVE BACKUP EQUIPMENT!  No excuses…  Always!

The final verdict on the 5D camera body (which hasn’t come back from Canon yet) was not only the detached mirror but the shutter was way over it’s maximum shot count and had to be replaced.  That could have been the reason for the mirror detaching.  Until then, my old, trusty 20D is getting me through the jobs I have lined up currently.  So, do I need to say it again?  ALWAYS HAVE BACKUP EQUIPMENT!  No excuses…  Always!

Smooth Weddings Are Not A Result Of Extensive Planning

       Now before anyone jumps on me, I’m not saying wedding planning is obsolete or wedding planners are pointless.  Planning does help, but it does not directly relate to a wedding running smoothly.  I have been to plenty of weddings, both as a photographer and as a guest, and two things are certain…  They always run late, and some one is always worried that the schedule is off.

       What is more important is having vendors that can roll with last minute changes and not freak out when something varies from the written schedule of the day.  Anyone that is calm and collected when planning the events of the day will be more valuable than the schedule of the day itself.

       I recently traveled out of state to photograph my cousins wedding and was very comfortable with the flow of the whole wedding, but most impressed with the setup and organization of the reception.  All of the typical activities took place one after another (entrance, toasts, cake cutting, dances) all while a room of catered stations was available for guests to access at their leisure for their meal.  I had never seen this before, and while at first I was a little thrown off, I came to realize how this setup enhanced the entire flow of the reception.

       I don’t know if this was the work of the wedding planner hired for the day or the parents of the bride & groom, but I am going to credit them with it.  I have a love hate relationship with wedding planners and sometimes dread hearing that a couple has hired one.  A good wedding planner is hard to come by and a bad wedding planner can ruin the wedding from a behind the scenes point of view; not to mention drives me insane as a photographer.  My job consists of thousands of split second decisions and can not always fall into a time schedule by the second.  I don’t care if they are to be introduced at 7:00 sharp, if the setting sunlight is reflecting off of the lake to create a perfect light falling on the meadow while I am photographing the bride and groom then they are going to be introduced a minute or two late.  No one will mind and it’s not worth being pushy or stressing out about.

       But back to the people who planned this wedding…  They did a wonderful job of keeping me updated without forcing me to stop doing my job, and all of this not because they planned the entire day perfectly, but because they were calm, collected, and able to roll with the flow that is created by each individually unique wedding day!  If you are ever planning a wedding in the greater Owensboro, KY area, hopefully you are blessed to have parents as great as Ellen & Matt’s, however, I suggest you look up Lesley Cart with Welborn’s Events to be your wedding planner.

A Game Of Chess: Canon vs Nikon style

A new twist on a classic (or THE classic) game of chess.  Posted by www.lensrentals.com, I couldn’t pass up the re-post!  It reminds me of those giant chess boards you see in some parks or pavillions with the big plastic pieces but with a photo-nerd twist for all of us photo-nerds.