Author: digitalisvitae

media freelancer and writer

Wedding Etiquette for Photographers (Pro and Hobbyist)

It happens to everyone – friends have a life event (wedding, anniversary, milestone, etc.) and you’re invited!  Awesome!


Of course you’re going to bring your camera – it’s like another appendage, and never leaves your side.


There’s a pretty good chance that there might be a hired photographer at the event as well.



It doesn’t matter if you’re a pro – this is not your gig.  You are there as a guest. It doesn’t matter if you think your work is better than the person working the event – they are the one that was hired, and they have a job to do.

As a pro photographer, you should be even more aware of this and step the heck back. Let that person do their job.  So…

  1. Leave your big guns (lights, modifiers, etc) at home.  Including your flash – double flash will screw up your photos as well as theirs, and you’re making life harder.
  2. Don’t distract the wedding party when the photographer is trying to pose them. You’re interfering with that person’s job.
  3. In general – stop taking pictures of the posed formals, especially with flash.  If you really must, get a different angle and stay well behind the hired photographer.  No one wants to deal with that one person who jumps in front to grab the shot that someone else set up, ruining the image.  You’re screwing over both the photographer and the people who paid to have their event documented.
  4. STAY IN YOUR SEAT. The last thing this pro needs is some annoying human jumping into the aisle and ruining their shot.  Maybe you can’t get the angle you dreamed of. Get over it.  This is not your gig.
  5. Focus on other details – enjoy not having the pressure of having to deliver anything, and try some creative shots that you wouldn’t be able to if you had a list of items to get through.  You’ll have cool moments and angles that you’re free to grab that will enhance the memories of the occasion, rather than obstructing a person who’s at work.
  6. It’s a party!  You’re there as a guest to enjoy yourself, not work.  Treat it as the occasion it is, and have some fun!



None of this means you can’t get cool images.  It means be a guest first.  Stay out of the action spots, have some courtesy, and enjoy the event.  Below are some pictures I took from my seat, sitting down, with a small camera and appropriate lens.


Addendum:  This is a fairly new one that’s coming up – a guest wants to talk shop or brag about their gear to the event photographer.  If you really want to get to know them, ask for their card and have coffee at a later date.  While they’re at work, they can’t afford to eat up high pressure time chatting about flashes.  (It amazes me how many people will try this with ANY profession – the dj, florist, you name it.  They have a job to do.  Just let them do it.)


Things I’m weird about editing

boyfaceKids.  I see people obsessing about cleaning up every stray hair, removing every freckle, creating this artificially ‘perfect’ person.

Unless I’m doing a commercial project, I don’t like to change anything on kid portraits.  They’re themselves.  Goofy, messy, sticky, busy little creatures.  And I prefer all of that to come through.  No poses, no makeup, no thousand accessories or preening.  Just themselves.

Confessions of a Gear Addict

I’ve always been a gadget nut – give me something that lights up, winds up, beeps, dances etc.; I’ll get it, play with it, take it apart, use it for something that the creators never imagined. (Microwaves are great for creating lightning storms.)

I had my eye on the A7S from Sony for quite a while.  That ISO 409,000 full frame thing had me tempted as heck.  There were two big ‘eh’s for me – the 12mp sensor (should be fine for most work, but when I’m doing composites, more resolution is helpful) and that to record 4k video, you have to go out and purchase additional add ons, creating bulk and screwing with the whole point of having a nearly pocket sized camera.

Enter the A7RII.  Internal 4k!!!!!  (I dunno why this is such a thing – why on earth would I want to add something like an Atmos Ninja if the whole attraction is a small system?)

109,000 ISO. Not as high as the A7S, which uses larger pixels to capture more light – why the sensor has a relatively low MP count for the current market.  And that high ISO is attached to a 42MP sensor – plenty of resolution for fussy edits.  I fully expect my Mamiya to still kick it’s butt in terms of smoothness and pizzazz, but that’s what MF does best.  (What it does NOT do is let you walk around relatively unencumbered.  The only way I’m taking that beast out of the studio is if I inherit a Sherpa.)

It arrived today, and I’m currently charging the battery, so further thoughts on image coming soon.

First impressions out of the box:

  1. For it’s size, this little bugger is HEAVY.  The body is a mix of brushed aluminum and plastic, and weather sealed.  It’s large enough to feel comfortable in the hand, and still lighter than the MKIII.  It may be similar in weight to the original 7D, albeit in a smaller body.
  2.  DIALS OF AWESOMENESS.  All of the controls are laid out very nicely, and the dials are large, metal, solid feeling. They are also textured on the side, allowing easy and comfortable thumb control.
  3. There’s a dial just for exposure compensation. Way cool.  Sometimes, I just want to drop exposure a little without drastically changing anything else.  I don’t know yet what setting it changes, or if it behaves more like a digital ND filter.
  4. Viewfinder! I usually do a mix of viewfinder and live view shooting, so not having to pay extra to have one is nice.  It also saves on battery.  (My little knockaround, which I’ll highlight some other time, lacks a viewfinder. I bring it on every shoot, as sort of a super light just playing camera.  That’s the one that also goes just about everywhere with me.)
  5. Live view screen does that pop out and tilt thing.  This is neither a plus nor minus for me, as I always forget when a camera does this.
  6. Just a sexy looking little camera.  It reminds me of old school SLRs, both in dimension and form factor.  It’s unobtrusive, while still looking like a serious machine. (This matters more when you’re dealing with clients who don’t do media regularly.)

I can’t wait to get this thing charged up and play with it!

Adding cosmetics after the fact – simpler than you think!

Insomnia is great for a couple of things – video game completion, seeing every post on Facebook ever, and of course, doing horrible, horrible things in Photoshop.

Since I’m not sure what the results will be at the start, I usually use images of myself that I’ve taken for other art portraits to test new ideas.  The results range from useful to hysterically awful.

This particular one might be something to add to your portrait arsenal, so I’ll share.

The image I used is a few months old:


This is the completely unedited file, sporting the fabulous unbrushed and unwashed hair from the ‘I’m home sick’ school of media design. I’m sure you have better ones laying around.

DON’T paint directly on the original image. At least not for something like this. That will result in a series of headaches that just aren’t any fun.

This is a job for layers!

Using the selection tool of your choice (I used lasso, but whatever works for you) select the part of the face that you’d like to change the color of. I copied that selection to a new layer, refining the path with some feathering – feathering is basically adding a vignette of transparency to the chosen selection. The more feathering, the greater the area.

Once you have your new layer, you can adjust the color and transparency to your heart’s content, blending the new color over your original work file.

One thing to keep in mind – your feathering also affects how far the change will go. For the blush, I added a great deal of blending. For the lipstick, be more conservative, or you may change the color outside the line of the mouth.

For lips, adding a little highlight shine doesn’t hurt either.

Final result:


I did a total glamazon makeover to amuse myself, but this technique can be as subtle or intense as you choose to make it.

Have fun!

Everyone’s full of crap, and that’s okay.

Yes, everyone.  (Except when I’m giving unvarnished truth on this blog, because that’s what you come here for.)


Do you find yourself comparing where you are on your photo biz journey to others – maybe more often than you should?  When everyone you read about seems to be endlessly busy, or doing these incredible, crazy travel projects, or living a glam photographer dream, it can be discouraging.  Don’t take it personally.

Better yet, don’t take it for unvarnished truth.

Every single person has lean months, botched gigs, unexciting ‘pay the bills’  jobs,  insecurities, and lousy days.  Everyone.

Thing is, that stuff rarely, if ever, goes onto a public persona, especially if that persona is linked to a business.  Marketing is all about being focused, often upbeat, brilliant, creative.  Even if you’re not feeling it.

So the next time you start feeling down that everyone around you seems to be living the fabulous photo life, realize that it’s not always true all the time – just like you.

It’s okay to have bad days, scared days, ‘wondering when my next job will come and what the hell am I doing’ days.  They’re completely normal.

Why pricing yourself low may drive others nuts – and why it’s bad for you.

The Blogtogs

Time to analyze everyone’s favorite bitch session – the photographer who charges very little for their services and/or goods.  This invariably leads to a lynch mob of photographers claiming that the pittance charger is ruining the industry, and another mob amasses reasoning why low prices are good – or really, making excuses for them.

So, I’m going to break down some reasoning, and why pricing yourself well under market is bad for YOU.  (Because honestly, that’s who really matters in your business.  It doesn’t matter what your neighbor, sister, or some random person on the internet may think.)

1. We all start somewhere!

Well, sorta.  Yes, we all start at the very beginning, and build up tools and skills required to do the job, like any other trade.  What you don’t tend to see are other trades going into business long before they’re ready.  Imagine what kind of mess a…

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