Monday, February 25, 2013

Eric and Sheila - Wedding Engagement In San Antonio

Eric is a very careful, deliberate man.  I like that, because I'm much the same way.  When he is around his fiancee', I see a different side of Eric, he has the ability to make Sheila giggle hysterically any time he wants.  As a photographer, that's like working a real magic wand.  Sheila is very quiet (except when Eric gets her giggling) and shy.  

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Planning Your Engagement Session

When it comes to your engagement photos, I have only one rule:

The session should reflect you and your love together.

I want people to see your engagement photos and say, "Wow... they look like they have fun, and they are so in love" That's it. Done. The rest of these paragraphs are just guidelines, some suggestions.

San Antonio Wedding Zombie Attack 1. Location: Think about locations that are special to you. First date, where you met, your favorite date spot or activity, etc. The location can reflect your hobbies (golf, motorcycles) or even your job. In the San Antonio/Hill Country area we are fortunate that we have a wide variety of locations within short driving distance. Do you consider yourselves to be more country or more of an urban couple? If you have no preference for locations, the ones that I usually suggest are downtown along the riverwalk (hey, San Antonio is considered to be one of the most romantic cities in the country because of our Riverwalk!) or Hemisfair Park. The Japanese Tea Gardens have spectular views. I also enjoy shooting in Gruene and along the Guadalupe River.

2. Time: I prefer to use natural light during Engagement sessions. We will get the best natural light at either sunrise or sunset. I don't mind getting up before dawn to meet you for a sunrise shoot, so either time works for the photographer. Let me know which you prefer.

3. Clothes: This is a big one, just because there are so many different opinions on the matter. When in doubt, see my only rule at the very beginning of this page. All of these clothing suggestions are just what I feel looks best in general, and should not restrict you in any way.
Here are some things to generally AVOID:
  • Logos/graphics/text on clothing. It is mainly a distraction.
  • Ill-fitting clothes. Make sure the clothing fits you properly. Dress for your body type. If it's too tight, it will not be comfortable, and may not be flattering. The same goes for baggy clothes - Guys, please make sure your dress shirt fits you and does not swallow you. If it's too baggy, it can look sloppy or messy. Try to avoid sleeveless tops. If you have a favorite top that is sleeveless, then bring a cute sweater to wear over it.
  • White shirts/pants/dresses and black shirts/pants/dresses.
  • Running shoes. Sneakers generally don't photograph well. Stick to loafers or dress shoes, or Converse shoes if you want to wear sneakers that look nice on camera.
  • Ladies, avoid overdoing your makeup. Don't use a light liquid or pancake base. Too often the base is not applied evenly or to all your exposed skin, and it makes your face look ghostly pale compared to your neck and hands. I highly recommend getting your hair and makeup professionally done for your shoot, so that you look the most fabulous! It doesn't have to cost a lot. I have a list of makeup professionals that I use, and they are very experienced in doing makeup for photo shoots. They guarantee that it will look fabulous all day and all evening.
Try to make sure your outfits coordinate. This doesn't mean that they have to match. Pick a style of clothing and dress similarly with coordinating color palettes. Vintage? Dressy? Casual? Dress in the same style. Choose a color palette, such as bold colors, fall colors, pastels, etc. and make sure you're coordinating.
Don't forget about accessories! It doesn't have to be overpowering (after all, the most important accessory besides your smiles is the ring!), but add some personalized touches with your sunglasses, earrings or scarves, and necklaces, etc. Cute shoes add a great touch to any image!
Hats: Photographers have a love/hate relationship with hats. Hats can sometimes make a photograph look interesting and unique, but too often, it hides the face and causes the eyes to be in shadows. I understand this is Texas, and some guys are as much a part of their hats as their truck. If the hat is part of his personality, then please wear it, and I'll work around it. Just be understanding when I have to put a reflector at waist level to put a little light on his face.
Jeans. For whatever reason, jeans tend to photograph really really well. I personally prefer the look of jeans in photos over khaki chinos, but that is really more of a personal preference. They both look great.Cute dresses. Another great thing for you girls to keep in mind is dresses! If you’re comfortable in dresses and have a few that you love (or want an excuse to go out and shop!), brightly colored dresses are a great option. Bright, solid colors. Rich colors can really help separate you from the background.
DO look like the most dressed up version of yourselves. Wear what you would normally wear to a really fun party (this is open to your interpretation of course). This is partly because it dresses up your photos and partly because party outfits put people in a mood to have fun.
4. To DO This is part of that whole "your personality" theme. Anyone can have engagement pictures in their album of the couple walking hand in hand down a sidewalk. Meh... I like to be a little more creative. One couple that I know, loves to ride roller coasters! For their engagement shoot, we're taking pictures at Six Flags on the coasters! Are you both motorcycle riders? I'll get some pictures of you going 70mph on Hwy 281 headed to the Shadetree Saloon!
Not to be repetitive or anything, but

The session should reflect you and your love together.

If you are adventurous and out of ideas, ask me. I might have some really cool ideas that I've been wanting to shoot. If you see something fun on Pinterest, send it to me! I love to share ideas with couples. Bring your dog(s) for part of the shoot!

Monday, February 18, 2013

New Braunfels Wedding Spectacular

Very cool show.  I just finished doing my 2nd ever Bridal Show.  The first one that I went to was so bad, I told myself that I probably would never do another one....  The one I went to yesterday was worth every penny.  I talked with more brides in the first 15 minutes than I did all day at the first one.  

Yesterday's show was at the New Braunfels Civic Center.  It was called the Hill Country Bridal Spectacular... and it was.  I met probably a hundred or so brides, and got two bookings at the show, and looking forward to hearing from others.  There were two other wedding photographers there.  One company, Dos Kiwis has always blown me away.  They are known for fine art photography, and I got to meet the owner, Dane Miller.  Probably the most friendly, down to earth photographer I've ever met.  He's also one of the most talented photographers in this area.  Just a few days before the show, I was looking at their 3 page spread in San Antonio Weddings Magazine... and thought it was the most beautiful images I'd ever seen.  That's the kind of artwork I aspire to.  

It was a little intimidating to have my little booth across the isle from theirs.  They had a 10 ft. tall gorgeous image advertising their Boudoir Studio.  Wow.  After I got to thinking about it though, I wasn't quite so intimidated.  His customers aren't my potential clients, and the customers that I get, haven't been taken from him.  He sells Lexus luxury cars.  I sell Kia cars.  He's one of the top tier photographers in San Antonio... I'm not even in the same league.  Once I looked at it like that, I felt a lot better.  That is, until I walked over and looked at some of this wedding albums.  He orders his albums from a company in Italy.  Oh my god.  I suck.  I wish I could learn from him.  I'd carry his camera bag for him.  He's that good.  If you don't believe me, go check out his website, Amazing.

Here's my little booth.  I'm pretty proud of the way it turned out.  I made the fake walls myself (a DIY project from Home Depot supplies) and hung some of my better canvas wrap prints on the walls.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

New Braunfels Photography

This is what I do when I get bored.  I create composites with Photoshop.

This is made up of several individual pictures that I combined in Photoshop.  Here are the pieces I used to make the composite:

The text at the bottom of the movie poster has a few inside jokes that probably won't seem funny to anyone except me and the guy in the picture.  People used to tell him that he looked like the comedian George Lopez... LOL.  I like doing movie posters. Let me know if you'd like me to do a movie poster with a picture of you.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

New Braunfels Photo Session

Although I consider my specialty to be wedding photography, I do like taking pictures for commercial work, and portraits.  I was truly honored when my friend JJ called me and said he needed some pictures for his commercial website to advertise his wrecker service.  

It was a good shoot, even though the sun was a little harsh, I think I got some good ones.  JJ said he liked my HDR work, so I took some multiple exposures of his truck (I do 5 exposure HDR brackets).  My favorite one of the day, was when I posed JJ and his wife back to back in front of the wrecker.  It reminded me of some of those "reality" shows on TV where a camera crew follows the wrecker companies around, and they try to pose like tough guys.

It wasn't all business...I caught the two of them cuddling (they're newlyweds) and snapped a picture off.  They are a really cute couple together:
I'm anxious to see the pictures on his website.  When they are posted, I'll post a link here.  If anyone in the New Braunfels/San Marcos/Schertz area ever needs a wrecker, give them a call.  His wife Alex is a makeup artist, and she may do some work with me on weddings.  

Friday, February 8, 2013

New Braunfels Wedding Photographer

Coming up next week I'm very jazzed about having a booth at the Hill Country Bridal Extravaganza in New Braunfels!  I've shot weddings in New Braunfels, and it's one of my favorite towns.  There is very much a relaxed German atmosphere in the entire town, and since my background is German, it's my kind of town.  If you know anyone who is getting married in the New Braunfels area, please have them come to the wedding fair and talk to me.  

I'm also looking forward to networking with some of the other wedding vendors and venues in the area.  My favorite venue of all time, Castle Avalon will be there, as well as many others.  

Friday, February 1, 2013

Review - USB Memory Direct - Branded Flash Drives

This review will be of some interest to photographers. It's a follow-up to a blog I wrote a few weeks ago, where I was excited that my photography business would be delivering images to clients on a USB flash drive with my new logo on it.

If you do a Google Search on "branded flash drive" you'll get a quick idea of how many companies provide these.  I requested price quotes from about 5 of them, and of those five, three were pretty quick about giving me a really nice proposal, all using the artwork for my logo, with a digital mock-up of what they could do with my logo on their products.

I made my decision by violating one of my own rules... I picked the one with the lowest price. Hey, some days you're the windshield, some days you're the bug.  Today, I was the bug.  The company that I chose was USB Memory Direct.  Once I made my decision, I worked with my sales rep, and she gave me a final artwork approval email.  The pictures showed my logo on the flash drives, and the packaging that I chose was a small rectangular tin, which would also have my logo on it.  I approved the artwork, she sent the invoice, and I paid it.  

I have a bridal show in two weeks, so I was anxious to show prospective brides my cool little USB drive that would have their wedding pictures on it.  When the package arrived (about two weeks for production, which wasn't bad) I was very excited.

My excitement dimmed a little when I opened up the box, and unwrapped the first little tin.  My logo wasn't on the tin box.  Inside the tin box, was the flash drive that I ordered, and the logo artwork was fine on that. I opened another, and another, and all the tin boxes were blank.  

For a moment, I wondered if I was losing my mind.  I know I placed the order for the tin boxes to have the same logo.  I checked the emails I'd exchanged with the sales rep Jessica, and sure enough, I found the pictures of the tin boxes with my logo that I approved.

Maybe my expectations are overly high at times.  I contacted the USB Memory Direct by email, and a phone call to my rep's voicemail.  I explained that my order had a problem.  No artwork on the package boxes.  I expected to receive a phone call or email saying "Oops... we'll correct that right away"

I received an email from my sales rep which reads, "I am sorry for inconvenience, was miscommunication on our side. Please note we did not change extra for printing, however we would like to offer you a discount and refund $15 back on your card."
Huh?  'We're sorry you didn't get what you ordered, Here's $15"? WTF?  After thinking about it for some time, I get it.  I'm a small business.  My first order was only for 25 flash drives.  If I had been a big corporation that had just ordered a thousand flash drives, and the order got messed up, would I have been treated differently?  Sure.  

I've spent most of my life in law enforcement.  I'm not a business-savvy Donald Trump type.  I believe, however, that you should treat your small customers the same way you treat your large customers.  There are going to be mistakes,... but it's how you recover from a mistake that defines you, and your company.

There might be a few small business photographers out there, who are thinking about branded flash drives.  I may not be a big customer, but I have a big mouth when it comes to writing reviews.  Feel free to copy this article.

UPDATE March 2013:  I had someone from USB Memory Direct contact me, and he said he felt bad that my order got messed up, and the rep did not make an effort to correct it.  He shipped me another order of Flash Drives, and this time everything had the logo printed correctly.  Well played, USB memory direct... well played.  Companies will make mistakes.  That is a given.  Some recover well, and some do not.  This was a good recovery.