wedding photography

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

New Year, New Me.

Everyone has that one candle that they've never burned.  It's ok to admit it- I know because I have them all over the place.  This one is from Mom from 3 years ago, it smells great, I want to save it forever.  This one is a pretty color and I may not find it again anywhere- so I'm saving it. This one over here has a really good smell that is sold out, I'm saving it.  I started really thinking about all of the things I'm saving.  Saving for what?  After I had my accident last year, I started thinking about the house, and the way I left it.  Unburned candles, an unopened bottle of wine, a few shirts that I want to wear someday but haven't found the right occasion.  I don't care what anyone thinks of that, but I care.  What am I doing? What am I waiting for? You never know when your number is up.  I guess the point of this blog is some sort of written affirmation that I plan on living.  Although last year ended a little rough, this is a new beginning.  A rebirth of sorts. I'm letting go of the bad of 2015 and starting fresh.

After the accident, I had some pretty bad internal injuries that needed to be urgently addressed; it was a miracle I was able to work like this and it wasn't even until this month I actually started feeling like myself again.  You have no idea how important your health and wellbeing are until you temporarily lose them.  Your health is everything.  EVERYTHING.  Don't ever look at someone and think that just because they look fine on the outside, that the inside matches.  I'm proud to say that I have one more month of medication and I'll officially be 100%.  I never let my injuries affect my job.  Six days after the accident, I was shooting another wedding, then another.  

I'm going to say this: I'm burning every candle in my house.  Yes, even the beautiful candle picture above from my mom.  It smells amazing, and I'm enjoying it.  I went on a photoshoot this week, and wore a bright red blouse that I love.  I picked it out because it was daring, beautiful, the material felt good, it made me feel alive in the dressing room- but I've never had the guts to wear it anywhere.  Why?  I don't know- so much of my job is 'blending in.'  This week I put that blouse on and felt good about it.   2016 is going to be different- I'm going to live more this year than I did last year.  I'm making every moment count.  

I have some personal goals this year with my photography as well- and I can't wait to put them into action.  I have implemented new software this year that is really going to streamline my studio- quotes, invoices, workflows, contracts, EVERYTHING is going to be online.  So far the response from clients has been wonderful.  The studio has really jumped ahead by leaps and bounds- not only has it made the first week of the new year so much easier, but it will really keep everything organized and in one spot- not only for me, but for clients as well.  You will be able to access your invoices and contracts all online- so if you happen to lose anything- there will always be a copy online.  All existing clients should have received an email last week introducing the new system.

So my friends, don't be afraid to live this year.  Don't be afraid to burn that special candle, and bask in the ambiance.  Don't be afraid to let your hair down and enjoy life!

See you on the next shoot!

~Leia