May
31
101 in 1001

Totally Rad Actions

When I was starting out in photography, I experimented a lot with actions. Back then it was all a process of finding my style and figuring out what I love. While it was fun to experiment, I always knew the goal was to develop my style and then stick to it. I wanted my photos to be clean, clear and to have a timeless look to them. I wanted them to look consistent and I wanted people to recognize them as mine.

As a result of my early experimentation, I landed on using two Kevin Kubota actions for all my photos - one for black and white and one for color. Since the actions were very strong, I decided to customize them to suit my needs. So for years, I've been using BW GM warm 1 + snappy customized to 18% for my black and white images and KevX-process combo customized to 18% for my color images.

I still love the look of my images to this day. Even though a lot of trends have come and gone in photo-processing, I have tried to resist the temptation to make my photos look like everyone else's - partly because I want to have a differentiated style, but also because I wonder if 10 years from now, some of the trendy stuff will make those photos look out-dated. I know when I started in wedding photography 7 years ago, a really strong cross-processed image with a sloppy border was super-cool. Now, if I see photographers which sloppy borders, selective color images or heavily cross-processed images on their sites, I just think they are out-dated and old-school. I don't want my stuff to create the same reaction 10 years from now. In my opinion, if there is one genre of photography that should strive to be classic and timeless, it's wedding photography.

With all that said, sometimes it's just fun to experiment and try something new. Awhile back I added a goal to my 101 in 1001 goals list:

Purchase & play with Totally Rad Actions

I've heard about and seen these actions used for awhile now and thought it would be fun to play with them a bit. And in the past couple of weeks, I finally found time to do it! You may have noticed that some of my recent shoots have had a bit of a different look to them on the blog. So far, I've used TRActions on these posts:

Heather, Cole & London
Anthony (just the black & whites)
Birthday Month
Chris & Breanne's Engagement Shoot

I played around with various actions that came in the TRA2 - The Revenge Pack but I landed on two favorites and again, customized them a bit:

For color images: Grandma's Tap Shoes at 40%
For b&w images: BAMF at 80%

I processed some photos from these recent shoots as I normally would and then also with the above Totally Rad Actions so you could see a side-by-side comparison.

Here's my normal color processing:


And here is a little Grandma's Tap shoes at 40%:


I love the slight warm antique look that Grandma's Tap Shoes provides. I think it worked really well especially with the bookstore themed shoot.

The difference in the black and whites is even more subtle. Here's my normal processing:


And then here is TRA's BAMF at 80%:


I honestly can't decide which I like better. I like the slightly warmer b&w of my normal processing, but I also love the range of tones in the TRA version.

Here's a couple more examples - each with my normal Kevin Kubota processing first and then the TRA version next:







It's been so much fun to experiment a little and I think I've come to the conclusion that - especially for the color options - I like one or the other action depending on the style of the shoot. Just like I let the images tell me if they're supposed to be black and white or color, it seems that certain images call for one color look or another.

What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear from you in the comments! Which of the above do you prefer for both color and black and white?


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May
28
Engagements

Chris & Breanne's Engagement Shoot


Last night I met up with Chris and Breanne downtown for their engagement shoot. These two have such a great vibe with each other. I love the connection I was able to capture between them.

We started out with just a few shots in Chase Field then headed out and walked around the Heritage Park area. These are some of my favorites:















So fun you two! Can't wait for the wedding in just a few short months!

--------------------------

Equipment used for this shoot:
Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 50mm 1.2 lens
Canon 24mm 1.4 lens


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May
26
For Photographers

Announcing: MJ 2 Day Sponsors!


I'm SO excited to announce that we now have sponsors for the MJ 2 Day workshop!

Pictage, Jared Platt Workshops, Queensberry and Two Bright Lights have all joined in to add value for the attendees of upcoming workshops!

We are still working out the details, but as of right now, each attendee of this summer's workshops, as well as next winter's workshop, will receive the following:

A 90-day free trial for Pictage ($57 value)
$100 credit for Pictage redeemable for standout prints, press-printed books, or press-printed cards
Jared Platt's Lightroom Presets ($35 value)
45% off the annual membership fee for Two Bright Lights ($80 value)

Total savings - $272

In addition, we will be giving away over $1,000 worth of give-aways from these companies at each workshop! Woo-hoo! I can't wait to give away free stuff!!

All of these companies are ones I already partner with and use for my own business. I believe in what they have to offer and already promote them at my workshop and in conversations with other photographers, but I'm excited to make our partnership official through a sponsorship relationship!

The summer MJ 2 Day workshops are quickly approaching and there are still a few spots left in each:

Columbus, Ohio -- June 13-14, 2011
Boulder, Colorado -- July 18-19, 2011

If you're interested in signing up, click here to go to the official MJ 2 Day workshop website for all the details and to register! Hope to see you there!


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May
25
101 in 1001

Reading for business


I have a lot to learn. And reading is for people like me - who have a lot to learn :).

I'm making a solid effort to read business books. Books that will challenge me and help me to make my business the best it can be. Books that will help me work ON my business and not just FOR my business. When I started my list of 101 in 1001 goals, I added a goal to help me stay accountable to this effort: Read 5 books to help my business & do reviews of each on my blog.

Today I'm checking it off!

I'm so glad I made myself write reviews of each book on my blog because it really helped me to think about what my take-aways from each were. And it was fun to get you guys involved in the conversation as well!

Here are links to the 5 book reviews I posted on my blog (in order with my most favorite at the top to my least favorite at the bottom):

Selling the Invisible
One Small Step Can Change Your Life (not technically a business book but one that is definitely relevant to small-business owners)
The E-Myth Revisited
Crush It!
The Big Moo

As you can see - I cheated a bit on the photo. I lent out two of the books I did reviews on - which is what you're supposed to do with good books, right!? - so I had to substitute a couple others for the photo. Just because I reached this goal doesn't mean I plan to stop reading and sharing reviews on my blog. I'm reading Book Yourself Solid right now so stay tuned for a review of it when I'm done!

I read business books because I have a lot to learn. But I LOVE reading for pleasure - mostly fiction with a great story that doesn't require any learning at all :). If you're a reader, check out goodreads.com and look me up to find out what I'm reading and what some of my favorites are!


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MJ's Camera Bag


May
23
Personal

birthday month


May is birthday month in my family. My mom, brother-in-law and nephew all have birthdays one after another this month. Add in Mother's Day and we pretty much party all month long.

The last two weekends we celebrated my mom and this weekend we celebrated my brother-in-law, Josh and my nephew, Noah. Noah turned 11. Which is weird because I was just in the delivery room when he was born like a couple years ago it seems.

He had a pool party that turned into an all-out water war.
There were lots of boys.
It was mass chaos.
At one point one of Noah's classmates rode his muddy bike through the house into a carpeted bedroom. Fun times.

Noah received gift after gift that after opening he held up and declared triumphantly "I LIKE IT!" Then, in between gifts, he gave the giver a hug. It was pretty cute. But all gifts paled in comparison to what he had reminded us hundreds of times over the past months that he wanted: and iPod touch. Really he wanted an iPhone. But we pooled our money and opted for a slightly more age-appropriate version. Once he opened his iPod touch he was over the party. He holed himself up inside with his dad to get it set up and hasn't put it down since.



The birthday boy getting sung to:


So fun. What a sweet family I have.


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