KEH Blog


Being a Wedding Photographer

Today we have a special guest contributor, Melissa Prosser, sharing some tips for those of you who may be thinking about getting into wedding photography.

Wedding photographers, it seems that there are a million out there. Each claiming to be a photojournalist, artist, capture real moments, etc, etc.... In this age of the digital revolution it takes much more than a decent camera and catch phrases to set yourself apart in the industry. It takes a lot of training, practice, patience, time, and EFFORT to stand out.
How I got here: I started out as an intern with other photographers in the Atlanta area. While interning, I formed my own website, and started charging what my peers were charging. This was a mistake. Charging too much for my experience level granted me only four weddings that first year that I had my website up. I continued working with other photographers while trying to get my own clients for the first 3 years. I’m glad I worked with others for a while, because I learned SO much from watching and observing these talented professionals that would help mold me into who I am today. When it was really time to fly solo, I chopped my prices in half, shot 14 weddings in one year, and gained a client and vendor base. The following year, I was able to raise my prices and shoot thirty-one weddings! I feel that I have seen a lot going into my sixth year in this industry, and with that being said, I’d like to give a little advice to those wanting to photograph the most important event in a couple’s lives.

Be an intern. It is the best advice I can give anyone wanting to get into this industry. This is what taught me what I needed to know. Sure, having my art marketing degree is great, but the real world experience, and real WEDDING experience, under other professionals is fantastic. You get to shoot, and shoot a lot without the pressure of being the primary shooter. Learning the ‘ropes’ on someone’s wedding day as a primary photographer is just not a good idea. Being a second shooter or an intern allows you to hang out in the background a little bit more, be creative, observe, and shoot until your hearts content.

Save on equipment. You can go completely broke trying to get all of your equipment at once. If you have the money, by all means, go for brand new, top of the line camera gear. But in reality, most of us don’t have that luxury. It took me many years to outright own all of my professional equipment, but I did it with no business loans and I’m proud of that fact! If you buy a decent camera body, then you can buy used lenses to test out the waters. It’s more affordable, and later on you can always purchase the more expensive ones. Another idea is to rent equipment and figure out which lenses and accessories you really want to have in your collection and spend the money on.

Don't be afraid to drag your shutter speed. This is a classic amateur mistake. So what if your photo is a bit shaky at times? It can be a cool intended effect, or it can bring in ambient lighting into your photo and make it way more dramatic and effectual. I have held my breath many more times than I can count to drag that shutter and make the world look dreamy and romantic. (The image above was taken at night, with a barely lit venue. I dragged my shutter to a 15th of a second, put a little off-camera flash on the couple, and voila! Magic dance shot!)

Use off-camera flash. Sure, bouncing a flash on a white wall is great… if you have one. In a lot of venues, this is not the case. Sometimes you may even be outside, with no light at all. This is why learning off-camera flash is so important. At all of my weddings, I have an assistant shadow me and give me some supplemental lighting when I need it. I dial in for the ambient, then give a little kiss of flash when needed. Using Canon’s awesome glass, this makes for wow images! (The image above was exposed completely for the sky, and the little peak of sun at twilight. My assistant was hiding in the corner with a flash aimed on the subject. Pretty dramatic!)

Shallow depth of filed, use it! Shallow depth of field is your friend. I am constantly shooting below F2, and the results speak for themselves. Using a shallow depth of field really allows the subject to be the primary focus of the photo, and just lets everything else go into never never land. (The above image was shot at F2 outside as the sun was setting and we were losing light. The fast lens allowed all available light to come in, feature the couple, and just barely let us see the fabulous old car on the street.)

My (secret) lighting tip: I adore shooting with a hot light/video light. Essentially, this is just a battery-operated light that videographers use with their own cameras. This lighting technique is great to use at twilight to expose for the sky, yet not overpower the subject. The light I use has a warm glow to it, which is so beautiful. It's also easy to use because you turn it on just like a flash light, and can then dial in for the ambient around you. Magic! (Shown above)

The wedding photography industry really is an awesome one to be in. It’s not for everyone, and every wedding photographer does things a little different. In order to make it in this industry though, it's really important to have passion, patience, skills, and a clear vision and style. I love what I do and wouldn’t trade my job for the world!

-->About Melissa: Melissa Prosser is an award winning member of and . She is based out of Atlanta, GA, and has been in the wedding industry for about six years. Prosser approaches each wedding with an artistic eye, unobtrusive approach, and sense of fun while documenting some of the most meaningful moments in a family’s life. She shoots with a Canon 5D Mark II and Canon lenses. Her favorite lens is the Canon 85 F1.2 L lens.

all photos © Melissa Prosser

Redesigning Plastic Cameras

Getting crafty with plastic cameras can be fun, and the possibilities for customization are endless. The Diana World Tour is a traveling exhibition running 2010-2011 with stops in many countries around the world. Each tour includes an exhibition of customized Diana cameras by different artists and designers. Of course, people have been redesigning their Holgas and other cameras for awhile, but the Diana tour has really brought a whole new level of inspiration and fun to the practice.

diana world tour

Custom Diana (for the Diana World Tour), designed by: Cat Rabbit

Pimp my camera
DIY wood pattern Holga, designed by: Hildegunn

timrobot X LOMO - Custom Diana F+
timrobot X LOMO- Custom Diana F+
(for the Diana World Tour), Designed by: timrobot

There are many different types and brands of plastic cameras (both new and vintage), in addition to Dianas and Holgas. Why plastic cameras? Because they are inexpensive, toy like, low-tech, and fun.

Find a plastic camera at KEH to design and customize as your own...
I definitely want to go get crafty now, how about you?

* Customized Holga pics
* Holga Mods (other Holga modifications)
* Books: Plastic Cameras: Toying with Creativity, Fantastic Plastic Cameras: Tips and Tricks for 40 Toy Cameras
* Flickr groups: Fun with plastic, Toy cameras, + more
* Even Elsie Flannigan (artist and boutique owner) is getting on the plastic camera customization train by introducing limited edition hand painted Holgas in her shop.

From a Model's Perspective

Sometimes it's a good idea to take a look from the opposite perspective to yours. So today we have a guest contributor, model Miss Voodoo Valentine, sharing her thoughts on collaboration photo shoots between a photographer and a model. (The types of shoots she's mainly referring to today are fine art, pin-up, portfolio builders, TFP, and small scale commercial and/or fashion. The following tips and information may not necessarily apply to large production shoots for editorial, commercial, or fashion where both the photographer and model are hired by another person, agency, or company.)

My first impression of a photographer comes from their portfolio. The things I notice the most are versatility, lighting, and polish or clarity. They matter because they are the seed of inspiration. I am a firm believer that to get the best product from a shoot, both parties need to be inspired. I really enjoy when a concept is given to me to be played with and tweaked into a personal best. When a model feels that the photographers skill is higher or equal to theirs, they will put forth more effort to go the extra mile.
A collaboration is always an exciting opportunity, but again, inspiration is the key. To ensure we all give our best, we each need to bring something extra to the table. These things may include having a designer, make up artist, hair stylist, or props on hand. Another incentive (in addition to either pay or trade) is also nice, and may include things such as promotion, images for submission, or something new and special to add to a portfolio. Keep in mind that extra intellectual or financial investment cements a bond of purpose between photographer and model.

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A few tips to keep in mind...
  • Listen to comfort zones, and pay attention to what the model is interested in, so that the shots do not turn out flat.
  • Communicate on shooting.
  • Offer basic amenities, to show some sort of genuine care at working with us.
  • Talk yourself up. We know your abilities are amazing and world renowned, please stop telling us. A photographer’s work does speak for itself, and where there is no harm in talking about method and inspiration, it is a huge turn-off to listen to you sing your own accolades.
  • Make it so rigid that when the time to shoot comes, the project is stifled by guidelines.

Models should also meet or exceed the photographers standards as well. There is no harm in inexperience, but you may need to spend some time to help them in their weak areas. Good models should know their angles, and how to best optimize their features. The photographer should also search the models book to learn their best angles. When the photographers job is composition, the models is position. Key things for you both to keep in mind are: marks, angles, body position, eye and facial expression, and hand posing. If you find that your model isn’t quite acing the shoot, don’t just let it ride, communicate ways to make it better.

  • Suggest channeling a favorite model, not to recreate, but to inspire them to reach the next level.
  • Let them peek at the camera, so as to self-critique.
  • Keep a mirror handy, so they can be assured that they look their best.
  • Ignore your intuition if they are falling flat (they want a good image as much as you do).

When seeking a model for your collaborative shoot, choose potential. Even if a candidate doesn’t have the greatest work in her portfolio, how does she interact in her shots? Is she interested in your subject matter, size appropriate, and willing to put forth effort?

I admire skill, creativity, and investment equally. To me, the thing that discerns a great photographer from a good one is not only the visual clarity of their work, but also their dedication to it.

Model bio: Miss Voodoo Valentine is a pinup and alternative model out of Nashville, Tennessee. She frequently works with national photographers and has represented such designers as Liberator Latex. She can be seen most recently in the pages of Retro Lovely 4 and Pin Up Magazine. (Above photos are from the modeling portfolio of Miss Voodoo Valentine, used with permission. Photographers noted under each image.)

Camera Cars

Some of you may have seen these before, but some of you probably have not. These cars were both made years ago, but are too good not to post about!

The Camera Van
Made by Harrod Blank, the van is covered with working cameras on the outside, and all sorts of other photography items inside. The van is also set up to actually take photos of onlookers.
The details about the van are pretty amazing, so I suggest reading more about the van here.
(PS- Blank also created a working "flash suit")
Camera Van
photo by: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid, used under the creative commons license
maker faire 21
photo by: Dan Machold, used under the creative commons license

Camera Van
photo by: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid, used under the creative commons license
Canon Camera Car
(we linked to this one before, but thought it deserved to be included here)

the original, custom built by Jay Ohrberg

Super Dave modified

Photos of the Week

To get things started with our first "photo of the week" post (although the title may be a little misleading since we won't be posting every week), I've chosen multiple images to post, and decided to throw in a black and white portrait theme. (If you missed our "photo of the week"/Flickr group announcement, read it here.)

The Bargain Hunter
(and obvious choice) The Bargain Hunter, by: HamWithCam

day 144: shadows, tone, and curves.
Day 144, by: Cara Rose Photos

Old 620 film girl 1
Old 620 film girl 1, by: Cha Cha

A little windy (week 7 roll)
A little windy, by: LostNClueless

Voyeur, by: Jason/ shotgun1a

Thanks to everyone who has been uploading photos to the group pool- Keep it up and invite your friends to the group! If you haven't yet joined, you can do so here.


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