Original Work

Family Video with Fuji 16-55mm f/2.8

I posted yesterday about the Fuji 16-55mm f/2.8 and how I haven't used it much for normal production, but from what I had shot with it, it's been fantastic.

I'm not a videographer. Shooting video is not the challenge, it's editing. I think most photographers can frame video pretty well, if not better than some videographers, because they have such extensive experience with compositional techniques. But editing a video together is so much different than editing still images. I say that because I'm fully aware that what's above isn't professional quality, it's just fun.

So the lens is wonderful for both stills and video. The lens is being used on the Fuji X-T1 with the December 2014 firmware update. I mention that because in that update, the added some much needed video capturing capabilities such as 1080p 24 fps and 25 fps. Prior to the update, it was just 30 fps and 60 fps. The cinematic 'look' is achieved at 24 fps, thus the X-T1 wasn't really usable for video in my opinion prior to this firmware update. In fact, if you go online, you're going to see a bunch of people talk smack about the X-TRANS sensor and how it isn't good for video at all due to its unique RGB pixel pattern. I think that's nonsense though. I would challenge someone to look at the short video above, shoot the same thing with a Nikon or Canon DSLR, and blindly tell the difference. Maybe they could, but I have a hard time believing it.

So like I said, this video was shot on the X-T1, 16-55mm f/2.8, all at f/2.8, ISO 800 (I believe) and 1/30 sec (for most of the video). It was cut together in Final Cut Pro X. It's not 'professional', it's just a fun family video.

Self-Assignment: Shooting Reflections in Salamanca

I spent 10 days in Spain last October photographing one of JMU's Study Abroad programs. The trip was fantastic and we got tons of great photos showcasing the students' experiences. So all of that was wonderful, but how about personal/professional development as a photographer, how did that play into this trip?

Voluntarily placing oneself in a position to grow and change takes a little bit of discipline in my opinion. Sure, I could show up, do my job, pack up, and go home. But honestly, there isn't much artistic growth occurring in that particular scenario. Doing my job well requires me to constantly grow and develop as a photographer. In fact, if I look back on my early work, I'm practically disgusted. And that's the indicator that I've grown as a photographer - I want to distance myself from my prior work because I know that I could do it better now.

So while hopping around Spain, I gave myself an assignment. Nobody asked me to do this, I chose to do it to further develop my skills. My self-assignment was the following: 'Reflections of Salamanca'. My job was to shoot anything and everything that fell into that title.

Those are my 4 favorite images from the shoot.

The first image was my top pick, I got super-lucky when that bird landed on the ledge giving it that extra bit of life I was looking for. Yes, there are lots of people in the square, but there are always random people in those types of travel photos. What separates that shots is the composition, the reflection, and that bird swooping in for its landing.

I really liked that second shot too. There was just something about the gated-window reflecting the church. Not really sure how else to describe it, it just seemed like a good shot.

The third shot uses a technique commonly referred to as dragging the shutter. Opening the shutter for 1/15 second isn't challenging by any stretch of the imagination, its as simple as setting it to 1/15 second in manual mode. The challenge is knowing that 1/15 second in bright daylight will let in a lot of light. The way to deal with that is to lower your ISO to ISO 200 or lower if possible. The lower, the better. Handholding at 1/15 second isn't that hard, you just need to stay very, very still as your subjects are moving. This third type of shot is very common with photojournalists trying to show a building or location because motion indicates life and activity. 

The last image is another one of my favorites. We get to see the onlooker on the edge of the glass, plus we get to see what he's looking at. I'm low enough not to be seen in the reflection, but part of that is due to the extreme brightness of the background - it makes it that much harder to see myself in the shot because I'm in the shade.

Good times! I really enjoyed this self assignment, time for another.

Corporate Photography in Harrisonburg

I've written about what it's like to be a wedding photographer in Harrisonburg, but what's it like to be a corporate photographer here as well? Well, let me answer that question with a lengthy blog-post ;)

Just like wedding photography, shooting corporate photography is also incredibly satisfying. I really enjoy telling stories through pictures, so applying that concept to businesses is just as rewarding. Every business offers something unique, and its my goal to figure that out and share that fact in a visual manner. Let's take a look at a few different shots and see what we come up with.

First, here's a photo of a heart surgeon beginning his case. When someone thinks about 'heart surgery', what do they normally think? I'd assume they usually think that their chest is open and someone is poking around inside. Blood. Guts. All sorts of nastiness. Since that's not the type of work this doctor does, we need to tell his story to make his prospective patients feel at-ease. He works with technology, he's serious, its incredibly modern, and he looks calm (and not covered in a mess of organs). That's our story, that's what we need to convey.

Corporate Photography in Harrisonburg Heart Surgeon

How about this lawyer? When someone thinks 'lawyer', they think lots of things, and most of them aren't positive. But what if we show this lawyer not as a stereotype, but rather as a person. Let's show him in his work environment, his degrees, and smiling as if he's greeting you through the screen. If you're looking for a lawyer, and you found this one online, you've already broken the proverbial ice and hopefully you feel comfortable before you meet him in person. 

Corporate Photography in Harrisonburg Lawyer

How about this one? A young architect. 'Young' typically indicates a lack of experience. 'Architect' is a very demanding and detail-oriented profession. By knowing that those are possible thoughts going through our viewers' minds, we need to address them immediately. In these photos, 'young' now means full of life instead of inexperienced. We can see that he's working in an unorthodox area to do his sketches, but that's all that's different about the way he works. The second shot should clear up any misconceptions about his abilities as we can see the attention to detail and the number of drafts he goes through to design something for a client.

Corporate Photography in Harrisonburg Architect
Corporate Photography in Harrisonburg Architect 2

Finally, we have a local coffee shop owner. This one image summarizes almost everything you need to know about his coffee shop. The owner works the register, he serves you with a smile, you can see the brand of beans he stocks, and you can see the equipment he uses for brewing. Images convey information as well as emotional responses. The information part was the first part, the emotional response should be this: warm, welcoming, friendly, nice, enjoyable, etc. The images should leave you with a sense of warmth.

Corporate Photography in Harrisonburg Coffee

I love telling stories, corporate photography is another avenue to do just that. 

Stratford Companies Fall 2014 Portfolio Update

This Fall I had the pleasure of creating an updated portfolio for The Stratford Companies (link).

Here are a few of my favorites from the shoot:

Here's what I like best about the Stratford Companies when it comes to building houses: they do incredible work. I know next to nothing about building houses, except for the part where I come in to photograph the completed project. I've been asked to photograph many finished projects from many different builders and architects, they aren't all as good as The Stratford Companies. Their attention to detail is unparalleled. Not only that, they use super-high-quality materials. Oh, and one more thing - their team is really nice, easy to work with, and is willing to go out of their way to help you whether you're the customer or a vendor.