Glenn & Nicole's video – a little background

How did this video come to be?

I ran into Glenn during my photography workshop extravaganza over the summer, which I’ve made quite a few posts on. Although I was looking into photography, I had been itching to get into videography too. So as a way to dive in, I offered to make a short music video of their wedding. That was literally the day before I received advice to focus on photography instead. Talk about strange timing.

It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but I don’t like retracting an offer I already made. Plus, I really like Nicole & Glenn. Add on the fact that I’m really, really stubborn (just ask Cassie).. and from what you see today, I’m sure you can guess what my final decision was.

I’m really pleased with how the video came out and I hope you guys like it too! (Otherwise, I will personally apologize to the bride and groom for sticking a camera in front of their face the entire day) If you like it, I can’t claim credit for all of it, though. Huge thanks goes to Jon (Taft) and Min Soo who helped out at various times of the day. Both are really talented and I was impressed with the footage they shot. Taft also put up with me as I went into OCD overdrive mode the night before the wedding despite being past 2AM in the morning.

Late night OCD

Late night OCD

I also received excellent feedback from Taft & Cassie to help me refine the video to what you see now. I also shot along side with talented photographer, Kenny Nakai. I can tell Kenny gets into it and his energy is contagious! Much of the footage you see was the result of his coordination. And logistically it would not have been possible without the proper equipment.  A big thanks to Dan for lending me his camera. It might sound trivial, but as the owner of these VERY expensive cameras, I’m thankful he entrusted me with it.  Thanks also to Connie, who let me borrow a macro lens!

And lastly, the biggest support came behind the scenes from Cassie and my family who continue to support me as I venture precariously into an unknown future and possible profession in the wedding industry!

Taste of New Yawk: Peter and Rachel

Last weekend, I had a chance to shoot for Cassie’s friend Rachel and her boyfriend Peter.  Cassie and I have gone on a double date with them before so I was really excited to have another pseudo one with them -this time behind a camera!  Cassie came to help with watching our gear and doing what she does best by being my emotional support =)

During the shoot, Peter turned to me and asked, “So how many of these have you done so far?”  My mind raced to visualize the pictures I’ve done before.  I rattled off a number, “you guys are probably the third time.”  It’s hard to put a number to it, but that’s probably about right.  But now that I think about it, Peter and Rachel are probably my first couple where it’s just me and them.

Unless, you want to count the gag shoot I did with the cute Suggey & Mikey

No dumping

So it’s a landmark shoot for me and I couldn’t have asked for a better couple!  We worked Central Park, some random side streets, alleys, and the New York Palace.  It’s amazing how ordinary environments can make for some pretty pictures!  (With the right lighting and models in place ;))

Peter tickling the ivories with some romantic tunes

I had asked Cassie to help me scout out some possible locations and she turned to Gossip Girl, a TV show that she loves, for reference.  I make fun of her for watching it, but I can’t complain because it came through!  The Palace was a nice, upscale environment and I think it worked out quite well.  It was a bit crazy due to a wedding that was taking place there so I had to ditch one or two of the shots I had in mind, but we grabbed a lot of great unexpected ones which more than made up for it =)

Later that night, Peter had a crazy encounter with getting his iPod stolen right from his hands and chasing him down at a subway! It’s an amazing story.. head over to Facebook and read his note about it!

Our first double date together last winter

Thanks Peter & Rachel!

Joe McNally, God of Flashery

When I heard that Joe was having a one day lighting workshop in New York, I was sold.  Actually, when I found out he had a 5 day workshop in the tropical paradise known as St. Lucia I was sold then too.  I just didn’t have any money…  But a one day workshop that’s an hour’s drive from where I live?  I’m there!

Who’s Joe?  You know, Joe McNally! God of Flashery (at least that’s what I’m calling him), author of  The Moment it Clicks and The Hotshoe Diaries.  “Okay,” you say, “there are plenty of really talented photographers out there.  What’s so special about Joe?”  You mean besides his amazing portfolio working with National Geographic, LIFE, Sports Illustrated, and on and on?  Hmmm okay, fair question..  Maybe it’s his likeable New Yorker personality (you definitely can’t say that about all New Yorkers..)  Or it could be his knack for telling great stories.  Or perhaps it’s his openness to share his years of accumulated knowledge and wisdom.  But what took me aback was that for someone so accomplished, Joe is hilariously self-effacing.  And through all the stories he tells, it’s just clear he’s made of the same skin and bones as the rest of us.  That’s strangely reassuring..

Well anyways, when I walked in that glorious morning to see a warehouse full jam packed with lighting equipment, I knew I was in for a treat..

And that’s not even all of them.  There were these monstrous umbrella-like diffusers 4 or so meters in diameter in an adjacent hallway.

Attendee: “Joe, what ya need those for??”
Joe: “Outta everyone here, I got the biggest umbrellas.  *pause* Excuse me while I have a manly moment…”

I love it!

Anyways, Joe and crew had some beautiful models come in and a few talented (serious understatement) makeup artists.  Combine that with a dingy warehouse setting and we’ve got the makings of something incredible.  Now all we need is a dash of good light (or a truck full -your choice) and a photographer to masterfully simmer the ingredients together into a blended work of art.  Oh yes.  You better believe Joe delivered on all counts in spades, baby.

I was amazed at the efficiency of it all.  Big compliments to the crew that made the day flow like water!  Joe will be in one corner directing a model while simultaneously teaching to us what he’s doing and why. And then once he’s nailed the shot, he’s off to another corner of the room starting all over again.  Meanwhile, whoever wanted to hang back can take full advantage of the previous lighting setup.  Many of the pictures here show case the stations that he’s concocted on the fly, and a few of them are from when we were given freedom to work with the models.  Takin’ the wheels for a spin so to speak.  The flashes, not the models!  Okay, horrible analogy.

Overall, I’m really impressed that Joe really pushed himself to keep moving.  If we didn’t get through everything, none of us would’ve known the difference.  But throughout the day I would overhear Joe talking to members on his team about how they had to move faster to bring to us everything he had in mind to share with us.  Wow.  What’s not to love about this guy?

I’ll eventually get around to writing a blog post about the technical aspects that I learned.  I figure it’s just too much to write about it here, so for fellow photographers interested, consider the pictures here a sneak peek!  None of these pictures touched Photoshop.  Only minor tweaks in Lightroom.

Thanks for visiting!  More to come…

Pedal to the Metal on the Fast Track

Exactly one day after my workshop with Bob Davis, I had another workshop. This time it was with Dane Sanders, author of Fast Track Photographer. I first heard about his book from an old note Kenny Kim wrote some years ago. The Amazon rating speaks for itself; I highly recommend it for all wedding photogs.

Although I enjoyed and learned a great deal from the book, I was afraid the workshop might be just a rehash of the stuff in there. Man was I wrong!

This is unlike any workshop I’ve ever been to. By a long shot. Life transforming even. So much so that I’d recommend it to non-photographers if the idea didn’t sound so off the wall.  To all wedding photographers: get in on this workshop, you owe it to yourself. I guarantee you’ll learn so much about your business, making your vision into a reality, and ultimately about yourself.  The workshop (and the man behind it) is legit.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Kenny Kim there helping take care of the logistics. And Kenny Nakai came too on the second day!

But enough of that, let’s get on to the pictures! (Many of the pictures of me in them were stolen shamelessly without compensation from Kenny Kim’s blog post. Thanks Kenny.)

Feelin the love

This is me getting a group hug from the other photogs.  This is not your everyday workshop.

On the afternoon of the first day, Cory and Erika (former clients of Kenny Kim) came down to model for us.  I don’t know what it’s like to get harrassed by a crazy paparazzi gang for 2 hours but they did an awesome job putting up with us!

No privacy

The first shoot was in this alleyway. It’s tight but apparently not tight enough to keep the swarm away.

Personal space?

Dane’s barely managing to cope with the horde =)

With the weather so nice, what's there not to smile about?


Our “amazing” attempt to imitate Mike Colon’s famous image


Out of nowhere, Cory and Erika busted this out.  They’re so fun to work with!


The people in this park must be wondering who these famous people are


We’re playing the game of “How close can we get to their faces before Cory snaps and punches one of us?”

Hanging out with some of the great guys I met there.


I thought we were supposed to pose like a model.. I feel duped! ..and slightly stupid

That’s all for now.  Thanks for tuning in!

Can you seeee the light!?

Nope. But I guess that’s why they call it “flash”. But I understand how to use it a lot better now =)

Roughly a month ago I had a chance to go to Canon’s EOS Speedlite Workshop with Bob Davis. First of all, I have to say Bob is really a great teacher. I fired off a bunch of questions that day and he very graciously answered all of them. He’s got a workshop coming up and from my single day experience with him at the Canon workshop, I can only imagine what a blast his own two day workshop will be!

I’m a bit surprised that I actually don’t have too many photos to share, but here they are!

Bob giving us a quick demo of flash limitations in noon day light

It’s a weird feeling being surrounded by others who also understand all the technical jargon and equipment.. This is one of the first photography workshops I’ve been to so I’m not used to that yet.

The next two photos I snapped with a single Speedlite through a softbox. Nice, soft, even light even in indoor lighting conditions.

The next two are macro ring shots:

One light camera left with a spot grid

The side light really brings out the texture in the flat scene.

Speedlite shot through a water bottle to give the light some character

To the photogs out there

Going in, I think I had a pretty solid technical grasp of the Canon Speedlite system, but I definitely picked up a lot of hard won tips and a lot of confirmed hunches. I’ll rattle off a few:

  • Canon’s Custom WB (where you set the WB to a white wall) seems to go too cool for flesh tones
  • Adobe’s default handling of Canon’s RAW color profiles seems to mess up the yellow/orange colors
  • Usually dial in a Flash EC of +1/3 to +2/3. Otherwise the scene tends to come out underexposed

Probably the biggest thing walking out is getting a solid knowledge and experience on how to use my Canon 580EX I & II’s. I just wish they had a better interface than that darned LCD and convoluted sequence of buttons!! The ST-E2 is a big step up but c’mon Canon, no ‘C’ group? No manual control? Seriously?

That’s all! A quickie post -thanks for visiting!

Related Links

  • Find Canon Workshops here. (Click on the calendar after the page has loaded)
  • Visit Bob Davis’ blog