Sunday, May 31, 2009

Amanda & Brad

Saturday I was honored and blessed to photograph Amanda and Brad as they became man and wife at a beautiful, love filled ceremony at North Way Christian Community in Wexford.  I cannot fully express the joy and emotion in this service.  I was moved, quite literally, to tears.

Amanda started her day early at Spa Vivace in Gibsonia where she and her bridesmaids received awesome hair styles.

After the service, and a few traditional family pictures, we went off for some fun photos of the wedding party before retreating to Bella Sera for the reception.  Nick, chef Adam and their staff always go over the top for events but this time they outdid themselves.  Every detail was handled to perfection.

Also at the reception was Flashbox, the portable video kiosk that's becoming the new craze on the Pittsburgh wedding scene.  If you haven't experienced it yet, you undoubtedly will very soon.  It's a blast!

Accompanying me as my second shooter for the day was the incomparable Mike Purvis.  One of the things I love about Pittsburgh is the incredible community of professional wedding photographers.  Most of us are friends as well as colleagues and hence, help each other as we can.  Mike was gracious enough to come out for the day to provide different angles to my shooting and lend a helping hand with some tricky lighting situations. 

To Amanda and Brad, thank you again for putting your trust with me to document your most special day.  Hope you have a wonderful honeymoon and I can't wait to see you again.

Many blessings,


PS.  If you would like to see the photos larger jump over to my commercial blog and have a peek.  Big things blog wise will be happening soon, but for now, it takes a jump : )

A wall of windows bathed the wedding in light.  Photo by Mike

First dance
A hug after the toast.  Photo by Mike

Father - daughter dance

Checking out the ring...
Groomsmen making a Flashbox greeting

Friday, May 29, 2009

Getting ready!

I'm packing today for tomorrow's wedding and I thought it might be interesting to describe how I go about it since the question has come up now and again.

First off, I admit, I'm a bit of an equipment junkie.  I like to be prepared for EVERYTHING.  I back up my back ups and pack enough gear to make a pack mule cringe.  It basically breaks down to four bags.  And yes, I know that's a ton of stuff, especially since most of the time I cover weddings all by myself.

My first bag, a Tamarac 622 rolling case, is my primary.  In there I have my 5D 2 body and a 5D body.  For lenses I have a 15 fisheye; 16-35mm 2.8 zoom; 24-70mnm 2.8 zoom (my workhorse); 70-200 2.8 zoom; 50 mm 1.2; 85 mm 1.2; two Canon 580 flash units with external battery packs; compact flash cards (16 and 8 gig cards, about 100 gigs worth); an LED flash light I use as a spot for portraits; various filters and other small accessories.

The second bag, a Think Tank International, holds a Canon 300 mm f/2.8; 100 mm macro, another 5D body; a Nikon SB-25 with pocket wizard attached; another pocket wizard for remote camera work (with cables); and a pocket wizard transmitter.  

The third bag, another Tamarac 622 rolling case, is my back-up case and stays in the car.  In there I pack the following gear:  Two Canon 1D MK2 with 4 spare batteries; Canon 20D; 24-105 mm f/4; 24 mm 1.4; 85 mm 1.8; 135 mm f/2; 200 mm f/2.8; 24 mm and 90 mm tilt shift lenses and spare AA batteries (lots).

The fourth bag, a Think Tank Disguise 50, is my working shoulder bag.  This one I keep empty in transit and fill it as needed for the salon coverage and dressing shots.  

A fifth bag is a utility bag that holds a couple of light stands, some clamps and other things I rarely use or need, but keep dragging along, just in case.  

If I know the church is big and dark and we need to make photos inside after the ceremony I also pack a set of Dynalite Uni-400 mono-lights with Jackrabbit batter packs and white shoot thru umbrellas.  

OK, I said four and told you about six bags.  I guess I do pack a lot ; o)  But a lot of it falls into either the "just in case" or "single use" category.  Some pieces I'll use for a specific shot then not touch again, like the 300 2.8 -- ceremony and maybe some of the after wedding portraits; the 100 macro is almost exclusively for a ring shot.  Sometimes in lieu of the macro I'll pocket an short extension ring to use on the 24-70.  Since that lens already focuses close the extension brings it perfectly into the zone for a great tight "rock shot."

So there you have it, my wedding kit.  It's not unlike my corporate kit, or my commercial kit or my advertising kit.  Basically this is my "I can shoot anything, anywhere at any time kit."   

Monday, May 25, 2009

Michigan: flatlands, barns and guys wearing kilts

Traveling home is always interesting.  Things you took for granted as a kid all of a sudden make you go hummmm.  For me that is a lack of hills.  Growing up in a county where 85% of the land is involved in farming you just don't take notice.  At least I didn't.  But going home it really stands out.  Here's a typical landscape from central Michigan...

But one thing we do have an abundance of is barns.  Red ones, white ones and a few iconic Mail Pouch barns.  The later are getting fewer and fewer since they stopped painting them in 1992.  If you see one make a snap, soon they'll be gone.

For me the opportunity to go home over Memorial Day holds special meaning.  The Alma Highland Festival and Games was the first "big event" I covered as a young cub photographer for the Daily Record Leader more than 30 years ago.  Since that time I've covered the festival for two wire services (AP and UPI) as well as four other newspapers.  This year I did it for me.  Here are some favorites...

For a larger view of the images please go to my commercial photography blog

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Weekend away!

Where will you be this Memorial Day Weekend?  I'm heading of to see family and photograph men in plaid skirts at the annual Alma Highland Festival and Games in Alma, Michigan.  Just a quick trip as next week is booked solid with more fun commercial shoots and a great wedding capping the week.  Stay tuned for a whole lotta plaid pics coming soon!  Follow me on Twitter for updates from the festival, too.

Enjoy the holiday everyone!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Crazy busy time

Sorry for the lack of blog postings lately, there just hasn't been enough hours in the day!  May is always a busy month for me with lots and lots of educational work plus a few sweet weddings thrown into the mix.  This year I knew would be a very heavy month for edu work so I limited the number of weddings I accepted.  My one May wedding is coming up on the 30th and it's going to be a blast!

All last week I was in Minnesota photographing at an incredible college.  The students were so engaged in the learning process in many cases the professors only had to guide them as they bounced ideas off each other in the class.  Active learning.  It made for some cool shots, too.  Here are a few of my favs from the week...

That's it for me today folks, it's time to get ready for another two day school shoot followed by a trip to Michigan to photograph guys in plaid skirts, yes it's North America's largest Scottish Highland Festival!  Five hundred pipers all blaring at once during the massed bands at the opening ceremony.  SWEET music!  I'll be back after Memorial Day with photos.

Monday, May 04, 2009

More to see

Want to see more of what I'm up to?  Check out my commercial blog!  Newest entry is about my portrait of world renown Pulitzer Prize winning author David McCullough.  Click on the link to read more!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Email is back!

I love technology... when it works!!  All is now well and I am receiving emails as I should.  Sorry for any inconvenience it caused.