Archive for the 'Weddings' Category

Finding a Style – And Why Most Photographers Don’t Have One.

PinExt Finding a Style   And Why Most Photographers Dont Have One.

By Gavin Seim, Updated 10/11

Something one often hears tossed around in this industry is the word ‘style.’ “It’s my style” or “love your style.” Sometime it can get pretty funny: “My style is, uh, everything.” Now, this is not a bash session. We’re all at different levels, and that’s OK. This is just another post to get us thinking, something to get us all to raise the bar. I think the idea of style bears consideration and refinement. So let’s start where I often start, with the word, itself.

Webster’s Dictionary – Style.
1. a distinctive manner of expression (as in writing or speech)
2. a distinctive manner or custom of behaving or conducting oneself
3. a particular manner or technique by which something is done, created, or performed.

Seim Studios 4 600x400 Finding a Style   And Why Most Photographers Dont Have One.

Hunters Bridge - 2009, HDR Portrait.

SO perhaps a photography style is just what you thought it was. But look carefully. “Distinctive, distinctive, particular.” I see photographers (especially new ones) frantically trying to define their style. But they don’t. It may change from week to week and month to month. If you go to their site right now, that high contrast, over saturated look is their style. But really, it’s probably because they know nothing else or saw someone else doing it. Your style is a big part of your brand. But developing it is not quick or easy. It’s a process.

NEXT let’s get one thing out of the way. Just because you do something does not make it your style. The most common “style” I see is “high contrast” or “edgy” or “bold” or “fun”. Now all those things can be a style, but they’re generally non-distinctive and used by people who don’t really know their style. Sometimes these vague styles are used by photographers who are inexperienced and use “art” or “style” as an excuse for their work. (I.e. “The high contrast look is my style” or “The flat light is my style” or “The blown out highlights are part of my style”)

NO. Those are not your style. You just don’t know what you’re doing. The first step in developing your style is to STOP trying to be something you’re not. It takes years and years to become a good craftsman. If you’re a new photographer, stop trying to fake a style that you don’t really have or convince people that that thing you do (because you don’t know any better) is your style. Don’t do it. Using style as an excuse just slows your career because it allows you to make excuses and avoid learning to things properly.

BUT can’t high contrast, blown out, journalistic, be a style? Sure. But often it’s not, because people who are comfortable, experienced, and have really found a style generally know better than to take the cliches and call them a style, because the result tends to appear like a generic copy of everyone else.

SO WHAT makes a style? Sure, it can be somewhat subjective, but let’s go back to the dictionary for the facts. A style is “distinctive.” It’s “particular.” That means it has the ability to stand out on its own. So based on that, if your style looks like 80% of the rest of the world’s photographers, it’s not much of a style. That is, not unless you call your style generic, which does not sound too appealing.

Now, I’m not saying a style can’t be inspired by the work of another photographer. In fact, it’s almost impossible to do something completely new. But there’s inspiration, and there’s outright copying. Most photographers don’t have a style because they have not yet taken enough time to refine their craft and develop that style. This can apply to a newbie as easily as to a 25 year veteran.

A STYLE is not simply taking photos. It takes something more. It requires thought, planning, and skill. But even further, a style is your brand. It can be combined with your personalty, the products you make from your photos, and the way you present them on your website. It does not mean being in a rut or always being the same or applying a particular technique to everything. It’s a process.

WHAT is my style? I’ve been making photos for over 14 years now, and in just the past few, I’ve started feeling I understand my style. It took me that long. I know what I do, and I know how to make it come out nearly every time. I feel I have a style, but I’m still improving on it.

If you were to go to my portrait or wedding site, you might see me describe my work as “A natural cinematic style inspired by the masters and tempered with modern flair.” But the text is merely the beginning. I have an visual in my mind of the kind of image I make, and while every one is different, I have a focus. Also, the way I display my final prints as carefully crafted wall portraits is a very relevant part of my style. It’s taken me about 13 years to pin myself down this much. And I’m still discovering and refining my style.

WHAT does all this this mean? Well, my goal here today is not to say you can’t have a look, or that you can’t describe your work. It’s not to make this style thing abstract and confusing. Maybe you’ve truly found your style, maybe not. But my intent is to get us all thinking. To raise the bar on our style, study, and practice, and become such proficient craftsman that we truly understand our medium and our style. Maybe you’ll be faster than I was, maybe not. But either way, it’s a process. A valuable one.

SO, STYLE is important. But it’s not something you can simply make up. Before you can really define your style, you have to know your craft well enough to understand what you’re doing with it. You have to have worked enough to find that distinctive consistency in your images. Imagine a singer. A singer does not have a style until they learn to sing and perform. It takes time. They have to work it out. Photography is no different.

WHY do most NOT have a style? Because they’ve not refined their craft . It does not mean they’re all bad photographers. But in truth a lot of photography today lacks distinction. Admittedly, it’s hard. Finding your style take more than just doing a wedding every weekend. It takes more than copying the latest trend you see your friends using.

I often see photographers who are really busy with jobs, but it’s all they can do just to keep up and get the jobs out. They’re generic. If you’re paying the bills that way then fair enough. If volume is your business approach, it may work for you. But it’s not usually distinctive. Rushing offers too little time to experiment and define your work. You probably want something more. To define a unique style, you have to take your extra time to study and refine what you’re doing until you draw out something unique about it. Until there’s a pattern. Until it becomes a style, not just the latest fad.

How to Find Your Style. A style is images, personalty, presentation, branding, and more. Really finding it takes enough experience to know what you do and how you make it unique. I think the way to find your style is to stop looking so hard. Stop trying to rush to having it all figured out, and spend more time figuring. Study your craft and be content with the fact that you’re making good images and improving. Forget about your style for a while and learn how to style better. In time, you’ll find your own unique approach. You’ll find your STYLE naturally.

WHAT AM I GETTING AT? Stop having confidence? Stop charging for quality? Heavens, no! I’m not even saying at what point you have a style. I’m just saying slow down and think about it. Take the time to make images just for the joy of it. Explore ideas and techniques, read books, go to workshops. Do that, and your style will blossom, as will the quality of your work. Photography is not a quick journey. It’s a long one. It’s OK to be starting out. Just be honest with yourself. Keep working on your craft and always raise the bar.

Keep styling,

Gav

Seim Studios 1 3 600x347 Finding a Style   And Why Most Photographers Dont Have One.

Midnight Seattle - 2009. 2010 PPA Loan Collection. 2011 PPA Magazine Feature.

 

A bit of Gavin’s work below. You can see more on his website, seimstudios.com

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Pro Photo Podcast #68RT – Raising The Prices

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itunesbadge Pro Photo Podcast #68RT   Raising The Prices

Seim Wedding1 600x374 Pro Photo Podcast #68RT   Raising The Prices

The Panel... Gavin SeimScott & Adina HayneDennis ZerwasBarry Howell
This week the panel discusses the latest news, CS5, LR3, ways to deal with business, Facebook, marketing and more. It’s a nice long episode so some of you may want to break it up into two listens.

Podcast #68 forum discussion:

Notable Time Indexes:

  • 00:00 Intro and tidbits.
  • 02:45 Talking CS5 LR3 and more
  • 21:50 70-200 MK2 and 1D MK4 (see images below).
  • 30:30 Taking about Flash and websites.
  • 38:55 Facebook, pages and business sense.
  • 1:02:38 Barry Senior Portrait market research.
  • 1:19:20 Surviving business, marketing, price talk.

Today’s Show brought to you by Seim Effects photo tools.

CS5 is coming next month.

Free Aperture Presets.

Deals page for promo codes mentioned in the show.

Check out the No Rules Workshop with Scott and Adina.

Gavins HDR workshop is going on the road.

CCS Edit for Mac is how Gavin alter WordPress.

Most if Gavs sites are built with a modded K2 theme.

TTG iPhone gallery is what Gavin used for mobile.

Set your Facebook page user name.

LR 2.7 and cam RAW 5.7 is on the Adobe updates page.

Canon 70-200 MK2 lens comparison and review.

Canon 5D MK2 vs 1D MK4 Noise Test.

Photographer jailed for not fulfilling his obligations.

PICKS:

Due to the length of the show we skipped picks this week. Back next time.

Old School Meets New School. Getting an edge:

PinExt Old School Meets New School. Getting an edge:

SEN1061 b43 Old School Meets New School. Getting an edge:

by Barry Howell: I have been a professional photographer since the early 80’s and am in the throws of embracing change like I never could have imagined. I have photographed hundreds of weddings and thousands of high school seniors. I was honored with the first ever Haga Wedding Album award for the best wedding album in Minnesota, and have entered many competition prints over the years. I began shooting weddings for a couple of studios, worked part time on my own for several years, and bought a very large studio operation in 1995.   My first digital camera was a Fuji S2 and that is where my journey into the digital world really began. A good friend (and former employee) encouraged me to take a look at Lightroom and then Gavin Seim’s presets from Seim Effects.

My years of experience (and significant volume) causes me to very careful how much “post production” we commit to. Having studied with the likes of Monte Zucker, Frank Cricchio  Don Blair, David Ziser and others, I learned to produce near perfect images in the camera. There just wasn’t much editing we could do with our C-41 in-house lab printing from medium format Hasselblad negatives. I am the “techie” guy that loves everything shiny, new and cool, but I didn’t jump into digital until I felt the cameras and output options rivaled film quality.  My journey from film to digital has been a long and at times very frustrating path. If you are just starting out (i.e. have never shot a roll of film-I know you’re out there), appreciate my story and be glad you can develop a workflow without  transitioning from anything else. Take the time to think about ways you can do it right from image capture to customer delivery.

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Photo Couch Podcast, Episodes… 04, 05, 06, 07, 08

PinExt Photo Couch Podcast, Episodes... 04, 05, 06, 07, 08

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by Gavin Seim: Here’s the latest episodes of the new Photo Couch podcast. Short quick bursts of photo ideas and information. If you want to get them as they come out, you can subscribe in iTunes or use the direct feed in any podcatcher.

There’s a bunch of topics in these five episodes, all no more than five minutes long. Give a listen and get some ideas. If you have thoughts you’d like to discuss in depth, visit the Photo Couch board on the forums.

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. 11/11/09 Seeing Your Site with Client Eyes.

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. 09/30/09 Branding Your Prints

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. 09/04/09 Proofs & Sales

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. 08/18/09 Live Shoot Follow Up & Proofing

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. 08/13/09 Senior Session Live Shoot

wedding photography Photo Couch Podcast, Episodes... 04, 05, 06, 07, 08

50+ Twitter Length Photography Tips.

PinExt 50+ Twitter Length Photography Tips.

01 16 12 2210 20 232x300 50+ Twitter Length Photography Tips. by Gavin Seim. Updated 05/2012:
I enjoy quick bursts of information and chat frequently as @gavinseim on twitter.  I’ve made this list of my favorite tips that I plan to update it going forward. You can add your favorite and tips in the comments with your twitter name. I might even RT them myself.

I give credit to the speaker when I can, using names in parenthesis. Many of these are my twitter2 50+ Twitter Length Photography Tips. own musings from Twitter and I’ve indicated myself with an (S). If there’s no name then I probably don’t know the source. These are not always exact quotes, but ideas I’ve re-formed to fit in under 140 characters on Twitter

Random Things:

  • Every image needs a subject. Just one. If it has less or more, than that it’s probably time to reboot. (S)
  • Presentation is as much part of a photo as the image itself. An image on a disk means little to the world. A well presented wall piece does. (S)
  • Don’t wait for the photo establishment to show you how to stand out. Because if you do, you won’t (S)
  • The line between a snapshot and a quality photograph are lost when everyone is a “photographer” but have not actually learned to be one! (S)
  • I’m not afraid to change my opinion, but I am afraid of not having one. (S)
  • Competition. A powerful tool that makes you stronger. Complaints about it are often cop outs from photographers not motivated enough to excel (S)
  • In photography rules mean conformity, and to conform is the opposite of creativity. (Whitmire)
  • Be Positive. It’s not just a blood type. (S)
  • Each time I think I’m really good, I learn that I’m not as great as I thought. Then I actually start getting really good (S)
  • Always do the best you can with what you have, but always push yourself to the next level. (S)
  • As photographers we often overlook the power of just practicing. It’s like giving ourselves our own workshop for free. (S)
  • Photography is painting with light. So if light is paint, why do we spend more time pressing buttons than mixing our paint? (S)
  • It’s not the location you take your photos in. It’s the photos you take in your location. Anything can be a good background. (S)
  • Being edgy is cool until everyone is doing it. Then it’s not edgy. It’s just boring and usually annoying. (S)
  • Every really good photograph I manage to make is a class in making the next one. (S)

Posing n more:

  • Portraits. Guys tilt the head towards the low shoulder = macho. Girls tilt head towards high shoulder = pretty (Celentano)
  • Bridal Portraits, Hold that bouquet on the hip to look thinner. Hands (and bouquets) held in front from make the bride look bigger. (Celentano)
  • Group portrait. Just before the shot have everyone lift up their shoulders and lean towards the center. (Celentano)
  • Portrait Tip: Look for triangles in your group poses. Use bodies, sitting, head position etc to form triangles. (Celentano)
  • If posture pose and light is correct it does not matter where the camera sits. The pose is still set. (Gardener)
  • Posing tip: If it bends, bend it. Play around with joints, elbows, fingers, everything.
  • Posing tip: Leave some open space between those bent elbows and the waist. Helps make your subject slim n trim. (S)
  • Don’t over pose the subjects in your groups. Their not solders, their free people. (Whitmire)

 

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15 Tips for Wedding Photographers:

PinExt 15 Tips for Wedding Photographers:
seim wedding caveb photo 40 650x434 15 Tips for Wedding Photographers:

Get the essentials: Thinking outside the box works, Just remember to get the MUST have's. Walking down the isle, standing at the alter, the first dance and many more. What's important to each couple can vary, so communication is important.

Where to start, how to get there, how to stay there. Secrets for professional and aspiring wedding photographers from Gavin & others.

by Gavin Seim: How do I handle my first wedding? How do I become a pro? I get these type of questions fairly often. Weddings aren’t for everyone but most aspiring and pro photographers will photograph a wedding sometime in their career. There’s much to be learned from what’s demanded of us at a wedding. While this article is aimed at those getting started, seasoned pro’s will get ideas too.

Today I’ll give some I’ll talk the basics of how I see and think when I photograph a wedding. Tips 1-6 will focus on getting great images. Then we’ll talk a bit about a  post production and business (which is every bit as important). As we go thru them I’ll post some favorite images and share some thoughts.

The first wedding is daunting. Let me say that I won’t be talking about extreme photography basics in this article. If you’re at that stage there’s no shame in it, but you should gain some experience before tacking a wedding on your own. It’s a one time event and if you get it wrong you will be, at best, a sore spot in the eyes of your client. That’s not good for getting new clients and both you and your client deserve better.

If you can, second shoot aside an experienced photographer it’s a great way to learn, gain better portfolio and get more confidence. In my case that never happened. Though got serious about photography at age 12, my first wedding was cold turkey. I photographed for fun at a wedding and the couple loved them. That pushed me forward and my first paid wedding came awhile after. The rest is… Well the rest is below.

seim wedding caveb photo 46 650x434 15 Tips for Wedding Photographers:

Try new things: This shot is the result of the first time I used off camera wireless flash (with Radio Poppers) at a wedding. I was just learning them, but made the choice to push myself to get great light in this scene. It paid off and my final image has a neat cinematic feel that fits my style.

Before my first wedding I absorbed the information in at least three wedding photography books. That helped me get a feel for what should happen. Without that study I would have missed a lot of important things. Resources like this are great (I wish I had had them) but a book can help you get perspective and have a reference to review. I’ll list few good books to get you rolling at the bottom of this post.

My first paid gig was back in the film days. I was about eighteen. Armed with my Canon EOS3, a cheap flash, a cheap zoom lens and an old monolight strobe handed down from Doug Miller, a real local pro, I became a wedding photographer. Was I good? No, but I was enthusiastic.

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