canon

Rachel

The title says it all.  Rachel.  I know the moment my phone lights up and displays her name, there is a beaming beautiful girl on the other end.  I am honored, truly honored to have met Rachel and her husband Brandon last year.  I was chosen as their wedding photographer, and what a great time we had.  From engagement photos, to Bridals, to their actual wedding in November at Noah's Event Center, to more Bridals... we were all too happy to take pictures.  Their wedding was gorgeous, but also private- however I CAN share Rachel's gorgeous Bridals that we took here in-studio.  We had planned this for awhile, and wanted to photograph her in her traditional dress.  

There are no words to describe how wonderful the shoot went, and how freaking spectacular the photos turned out.  Her makeup was meticulously applied by the wonderful Ciara Amir.

Not only was this bridal shoot a lot of fun, but we are trying to come up with reasons to shoot again!  I can't wait for next time! 

Happy Shooting!

She said "YES!"

It all started January 20, 2016 when I received an email from Austin.  He was planning on proposing to his girlfriend Chelsea on March 5th, and was wondering if I could capture the moment.  I was immediately excited, and quickly replied, "Yes!!"  I could tell by the mood of his emails that he had been thinking about proposing for a long time.  Chelsea means everything to him, and he wants this thing planned out to the T!!  Heck I couldn't wait to meet Chelsea, I felt like we were already good friends, we hadn't even met! He works hard in Texas all week, while she is here finishing school; on weekends they are inseparable.  

We went back and forth a few times, working out a date and time in February where he could sneak away to discuss the details of the shoot.  

Along with his proposal, there are a few things I have to plan for as a photographer.  

  • Where are we doing this?  (What vision do you have for the photos themselves)?
  • What time of day?  
  • Where are you going to stand? 
  • How are you going to ask?
  • What are your plans afterwards?

So on February 20th, we met, and discussed all of the above.  You absolutely have to have a plan for the moment.  The proposal itself goes by so fast, that you really really really have to be on top of your game.  He sent me photos of him and Chelsea together (awwwww!) and a photo of the location itself with a clear vision of what he was aiming for.  Austin was definitely very organized, and knew exactly what he wanted.  This helped me out a great deal.  (When clients tell me exactly what they want complete with pictures, believe me- it's extremely helpful)!  We talked about the direction we wanted him to face, where we thought he should stand, how he was going to start the proposal, and what we were going to do after the surprise had ended.  

The day we met was beautiful.  I had never been to the Skydance Bridge in Oklahoma before, but I plan on visiting a lot more.  At the time of this blog, I've already shot there twice!  It's a magical spot!!  At this point, we are all extremely excited.  Austin is laughing and excitedly talking about the moment, and how happy he'll be when they can just celebrate!  We offered to bring a bottle of their favorite wine to celebrate, and we were off to the races, looking forward to March 5th! 

March 5th arrives, there is less than a 30% chance of rain.  Skies are a bit overcast, but othewise perfect!  Shane and I are in our usual stealth positions, pretending to take photos of the bridge with our 70-200's. (LOL).  Shane signals to me that they have arrived and are walking towards the bridge.  What happened after that, literally had tears running down my face.  I didn't even realize I was crying.  It was one of the happiest proposals I had ever witnessed.  Genuine love? YES.  Genuine surprise and excitement? YES.  Complete and utter shock.  YES. YES. AND MORE YES.  

So there you have it.  The longest secret proposal EVER.  It was TORTURE!  I am so glad that I met them both, and I hope to work with them again when it comes to their wedding.  What a gorgeous couple.  

On a technical side note, I used my Mark III with the 70-200 to capture the proposal from a distance, and after the surprise was finished, I switched to my Fuji X-T1 and 56mm which worked like a dream!  Sharp, LIGHT, and just plain awesome.

Anyone else have any surprises coming up?  Give me a call.  I can keep a secret. :-)

~Leia




Photo Con 2016

I attended Photo Con 2016 right here in Oklahoma City on Friday, and it was awesome!  The vendors were great, ranging from Canon to Nikon, Sigma, Radio Popper, Bedford's (of course), Sony, Lowepro, Westcott, and a number of speakers.  I was able to go in stealth mode with my Fuji, and shoot from the waist.  You see, the X-T1 has a tilt screen, so I can take pictures of what is going on, and people think I'm just fiddling with my camera.  

I finally got to meet Xavier from XP Photogear.  He was great to talk with, and was happy to show me all the latest and greatest.

Radiopopper and their line of triggers.

Sigma had some beautiful new lenses on display!

Met Eric Epperly, and yes, I thought this photo was hilarious.  Didn't catch it at the time, but hey, I was a journalist today. 

There was a lot of folks on-hand to educate.  You could bring your camera, ask questions, test out new lenses, it was awesome!

The Sony rep (pictured right) was awesome.  He showed me the new Sony Alpha a7R II (they are currently running a special price during the expo if you wanted to get one).  Wow, what an amazing system.  I seriously regret not checking them out before I upgraded to the Mark III.  

Need a tripod?  Well... here are a variety that you can try out BEFORE you buy, and here is the one guy that knows them all like the back of his hand.

I did get to see Robert Trawick and Jim Felder in action using that cool Podcast machine.  Being interviewed is a Canon rep, he was talking about the new Canon printer that had come out this year.  If you stop by their booth, they will print out a photo for you! Check out Robert and Jim on their Fotofacts Podcast (available in iTunes).  They are a wonderful bunch, and interview so many great photographers and vendors.

I wish I could have stayed longer, especially since Sue Bryce was there.  I actually saw her when she had first arrived, and I should have approached her then, but didn't.  I was trying to be as much of a photographer today as possible, but at 3 p.m., mom duty calls.  There is dinner to be made, and kids to pick up from school.  My friends are posting photos online of her speaking, and I am totally jealous- but that is ok. :-)  I know when the time is right, we'll meet again.  Was it a great experience?  Sure!  Many vendors on hand to answer questions, and to let you try out the products firsthand.  I had my mind set on a few things, but after playing with them at the Expo, I changed my mind.  Which was awesome, it saved me time and money.  So yes, today was a success because I got a chance to network, try things out, ask questions, and see the new and upcoming toys.  

I did walk away with a couple of things:  The MagMod Basic Kit, I'm interested to see what it can do to change my OCF (off camera flash).  I love being creative with light.  I especially love the selection of gels it comes with, and the cool magnetic feature.  I also got a TetherTools Kit- something I have been wanting to try for YEARS.  They say it will prevent Lightroom from quitting and kicking me out while I'm tethering during a shoot.  This is SOOOOOO annoying- not to mention embarrassing.  Will I be returning next year?  Probably.  I say it was worth the $75 ticket.

Until then, happy shooting!

~Leia

Fuji X-T1 28 days later

Back in early January I wrote about my Fuji's.  Now that some time has passed and I've crossed over into "Fujiland" throwing all inhibitions to the wind- I've got to say- this system is really amazing.  As I have mentioned many times over the years- I follow Zach regularly- and one thing in his last blog really stuck out.  He mentioned how he had shot a print catalog for a clothing company and 90% of it was shot with the 56mm and the X-T1.  That got my attention.  I mean- yes, you can take a photo with any camera and have it printed- but knowing that he had used this on a bigger job, and knowing what the ultimate goal of those photos really was- it was really intriguing that he chose that system.

While I have played and played and played- I had never taken any Fuji out on an 'official' shoot. There is always that stigma.  If I show up with this camera, the client I'm working with isn't going to take me seriously.  If I show up with this, their confidence is going to disappear.  If I show up with this... (and on and on).  Two weeks ago, I took the X-T1 (and my Canon just in case) on an engagement shoot.  Not only did the clients NOT care what camera I was using, but I never pulled my Canon out once.  I switched from the 35mm to the 56- and it was fantastic.  Changing the aperture and seeing how it will affect the image in real time through the EVF is simply amazing.  I can't do this in-studio however- because it won't account for the fact that you are using OCF.

Getting home and pulling the RAW images up in Lightroom, the sharpness, skin tones, and image quality was stunning; zooming in to the images in PS at 200% and the images are finally start to pixelate... the quality is astounding.  The RAW files are roughly 33 mb/each- there is plenty of file to work with.  Another interesting thing to be noted, is that it appears to shoot so much sharper than the Canon.  It focuses dead on everytime, unless I accidentally hit the button.  With my Canon, it's not exactly sharp everytime.  Some images are soft- even after I have carefully focused on the subject- that is something that has always bothered me.  The Fuji has really surprised me.

The following Tuesday, I had a 70's editorial shoot here in the studio.  Not only did it work flawlessly with my triggers and lights, but I was able to make some adjustments to the screen in order to have the best studio experience.  Again- the images came out amazing, and I love having a half-second preview (in the eye piece) of the image I just took.  This saves times, and lets me make any camera adjustments quickly- without having to pull the camera away from my face to 'chimp.'  As usual, using a combination of the 56mm and the 35mm.  I'm learning these are my two favorite lenses.  

This morning- guess what?  Another engagement session downtown and I didn't even think twice when it came time to decide what body to take.  I now have a dedicated camera bag with all my Fuji gear.  I grabbed that- and headed out without a care in the world.  I did add a grip this week to my kit, and it has made a big difference.  It's easier to handle (no pun intended).

I know I was the one with the hangup.  The clients know I'm going to take care of them.  They know they are going to get some amazing keepsakes.  I think the last thing they are worried about is what tool I'm using for the job.  On a shoot, the subject is nervous about how they are going to look- I am nervous about what camera I'm using.  In the end- it works out everytime.  

Happy Shooting!

~Leia

My Editorial Kit

I'm frequently asked what lenses I use for headshots, or fashion work.  This week is the perfect chance to share because I'm putting a small kit together for my trip to Chicago.  It is a bridal shoot, but I love to treat bridals as "fashion" because really- that's what it is.  Beautiful Bride's showing off their dresses- yeah. It's fashion.  

First off, my trusty Mark II is my main body.  I will be using my Fuji more (I talk more about that here!)  My Canon has been with me for 3 years, and I love it.  I send it in once a year for a checkup, it and just keeps shooting.  While there are a few things I would change about it, it continues to be a trusty way to get my shots.  A few close friends jokingly ask when I'm going to upgrade, or get out of Canon completely and embrace that cool new Sony A7- I do plan on upgrading to the Mark III here very soon, but as far as leaving Canon completely- I honestly don't see that happening anytime soon, if ever.  I'm actually wondering when they'll stop fooling around and just come out with a mirrorless already.

As far as lenses, I love using my 50 1.2 for pretty much everything. It's my favorite focal length for weddings, engagements, small groups, fashion- almost anything I can think of, I always use my 50 as a starting point, and change focal lengths from there.  My 100 2.8 is a great lens for portraits and details.  It is completely versatile.  I don't have to worry about camera to subject distance, because it will focus either way.  I can shoot from a distance, get some great compression, OR shoot a little closer to the subject, crop in-camera and get a great tight headshot.  For engagement sessions, I love getting ring shots- the beautiful bride-to-be looking up at her fiancé smiling, her hand showing off that gorgeous ring.... as with any prime, all I have to do is move my feet.  For real versatility I love what my 24-70 does for me.  If I'm in a tight spot, and I know there will be some issues with space, or if I know we'll be outside and my clients will want wide as well as tighter shots, I trust that the 24-70 can handle it.  This was the first piece of L glass I bought, and while it's not 'version 2' it is still a really wonderful sharp piece of glass.  I love prime glass though; I love using my feet to move in and out of a space.  Zooms are great, but primes are greater.  Give me a 50 and an 85- and I'll be shooting all day.  I only use zooms out of convenience.    

I don't upgrade at the drop of a hat either.  I know there are several lenses that have had the second version come out- but my lenses work great for what I am capturing.  They are all very sharp, and they just work.  I'm sure someday if I try the 24-70 II, I'll think myself a fool for not upgrading sooner.  I'm not always on the lookout for the next lens, the next body.  If something works, I stick with it.  

I have my trusty 580EXII, (we have 2 of them), and love them.  We use them off camera, on camera, with a diffuser, without, they've survived falls, drops, mine even came crashing down onto our tile floor from 8 feet up.  I sent it in to CPS and they repaired it- but it came back good as new, and is still firing.  I don't see the need to go to the newer flash- yes I know the 600's do more- but these work just as well for what we use them for.  

This is my Speedbox 65 that I've had for over a year.  I take this thing with me on every single shoot-weddings included!  It is the most perfect speedlite diffuser that I have found.  It collapses perfectly, opens at the drop of a hat, and again- it just works.  I only have one, but would like to get the Speedbox 70 this year sometime.  I love the perfectly diffused light that comes out of this when we are outdoors.  The subjects face is perfectly lit, all shadows disappear, it's as if magic took place... seriously.  For weddings, it works great for the cake cutting, and formals.  

I'm going to have to take it apart completely for my trip- but I'm excited for the shots I'll be getting.  All photographers have certain kits for certain things.  There is no right or wrong here, you use the best tools for the job.  I mentioned my 85 1.2 earlier, that is a great lens- no complaints- but I love it most for studio work.  It is a nice heavy lens- tack sharp but love it most in a controlled setting.  

Let me know if you'd like to see blogs on anything else.

See you on the next shoot!

~Leia

My Second Love.

I'm coming clean this week and letting my friends know that I can't hide anymore.  Time to call it what it is.  I started my marriage with Canon 10 years ago.  It was a handsome silver little point and shoot that lured me in.  I moved forward through the Canon line.  Just over 2 years ago I was introduced to the Fuji x100 online. It made me a better photographer.  It forced me to do things I had never done with Canon.  I took chances, risks, shooting was fun again, it was liberating.  We hung out downtown, in parks, it fit into my hand so nicely- we were a match. We went to weddings together, and the shots of reception details were fantastic.  I couldn't tell what I shot with my Canon vs the Fuji.  Yes, it is THAT good.  Friends wanted to know more about Fuji, I happily shared stories and photos of the moments we shared together.  

I took a serious cross country road trip with it, leaving my trusty Canon behind.  Scary? Yes.  Worth it?  SO MUCH YES.  The photos that came out of that trip were so gorgeous, sharp, and clear that I published a book with them.  In print- wow.  You can't even imagine.  I wanted more.  I moved on to the Fuji X100s, then the Fuji x100t.  My husband and a few close friends were really surprised I didn't move straight to the X-T1.  But I had my reasons.  

Last week I decided to finally try the X-T1 with the 35mm and it is everything I imagined, and more. So. Much. More.  

Fuji X-T1 with 35mm attached, Fuji X100t

Fuji X-T1 with 35mm attached, Fuji X100t

Just in the 2 days I've been shooting exclusively with the X-T1 I can see the appeal.  From the shutter speed, the tilting screen, the fact that you can CHANGE LENSES, the array of options and settings- it's incredible.  This morning I took some amazing headshots with it, and I just love the ease of use.  My triggers connected easily, and I was in business in minutes.  I love the way I can control the light- in my opinion my lights are easier to control with the Fuji line, than they are with my Canons.  It's like they just KNOW what to do with the light.

The tilting screen is going to be excellent for those times when I need to get a nice wide overhead shot- I can tilt the screen so that I can see what I'm shooting!  

The tilting screen is going to be excellent for those times when I need to get a nice wide overhead shot- I can tilt the screen so that I can see what I'm shooting!  

It is a crop, so any lens you get, you've got to remember what it really is after the 1.5 crop factor.  The 35mm that is attached is really a 52.5 and that is perfect.  50mm is really my most used focal length and this was the lens I wanted to start out with.  

Anyone who is curious about anything Fuji really should follow Zach Arias on his blog.  He is an absolutely fantastic Commercial photographer and I've secretly stalked him for years- since his One Light days.  He can tell you what is what when it comes to Fuji.  He shoots with a Phase 1, and I see that he is slowly getting out of Nikon.  He primarily shoots all of his Editorials with either his Phase or his Fuji's.  

Am I breaking up with Canon completely? No.  I believe we can all live in the same house together with minimal disagreements. :-)  You see, I use my Canon for everything, but I'm learning that I can use the Fuji for everything too.  At 8 fps, RAW/jpg, transferring photos wirelessly (oh yeah-it has built in wireless)- that in itself is already more than my Mark II can do.  I'm really excited to be flying to Chicago this week to shoot Bridals for one of my brides with this camera- of course I'm taking my Canon too- but this is going to be a wonderful opportunity to really see what this baby can do!  I can't wait to post the photos from my latest adventure, but that probably won't be until late March- after her wedding.  Hope you all have a fabulous week!

See you on the next shoot!

~Leia 

New Website, New Client Experience!

As you have probably noticed, many many changes have taken place on my website in the last week.  I made a big move.  After hearing Robert of Trawick Images rave about his website, I was interested.  What really gave me the push was a client who was flipping through one of my wedding albums who commented on how sharp my images were in print compared to how they appeared on my website. Ummmmm. WHAT?  This needed to get fixed immediately!

Needless to say, I started my journey to figuring out what I needed to change to give clients the best possible viewing experience.  Unfortunately it didn't come without a learning curve, lots of emails to customer service, 3 or 4 calls to my good friend Robert, and 24 hours of hard work, configuring, sweat, failures- and triumphs.  I built my last website and the sheer amount of work that goes into something like that is an experience that you just don't forget.  Digging through hard drives trying to find images from 2 or 3 years ago, writing a new bio for your 'about me' page- wording it so that you sound sincere, but wanting to be quirky, funny, and relatable at the same time- then realizing that you can't transfer any of your blogs, you will have to completely copy and paste everything over one by one- then...... and the list goes on.  

If you hang around me long enough, you will know that once I put my mind to something- that is IT.  Consider it DONE.  Did I go from not knowing anything about Squarespace at 9:30 a.m. to having nearly a complete website by 9:30 p.m.?  Yes.  Yes I did.  It was totally insane- and while images were loading what was I doing?  Laundry, breakfast, laundry, lunch, folding said laundry, dinner, playing with the girls, I was on fire Wednesday.  The idea that my current and future clients might reach a 404 "page not found" error was horrifying- so I knew I had to get as much done as I could stand.  Now....the logical person, the smart person, would have had this new site set up already BEFORE they let their other site go- but not ME!  I like to keep life exciting- you only live once right?! 

The response has been amazing.  Let me explain how huge the response has been.  New brides are reaching out to me simply because of how amazing the images look on their phones, their ipads, their computer screens.  They are sharp, colorful, brought to LIFE!  My images are being seen the way they were meant to be.  I am extremely glad I switched, and so happy that the client flipping through my albums made that comment.  If anyone is seriously thinking of changing their website over Squarespace really worked for me.  I'm completely happy with the way it looks, check it out: www.leiaphoto.com. There is still work to be done; photos still need to be loaded, settings tweeked here and there but for the most part, I'm up and running.  Clients will still receive their online galleries with print purchase and download options- so nothing has changed on that end.

Now, time to get off of this computer and go shoot!  Hope you all have a great week! 

~Leia