Afterexposure Photography

Image Hotness
For Brides

2010 Album Page Styles

I’ve really wanted 2010 to be the year that I refined exactly what I do and what I offer. One of the first things I set out to do was simplify my album offerings; this means I can’t be all things to all people, but I can do a really darn good job at what I choose to do. It makes the business side a LOT simpler too, which keeps prices low and accurate, because I don’t have to over-estimate (er, wildly guess) at what my costs are.


I wanted as few choices as possible that span the range of cover materials. For me that means Leather, Linen, and Handmade Paper (all in a variety of colors). The other thing I did was choose only square format albums, in 8″x8″, 10″x10″ and 12″x12″, which are fairly common sizes.

Next, I looked at what I was doing for page layouts, and how that worked with page sizes. I decided to narrow my layout choice down to two styles; classic and contemporary. Within these two styles is enough wiggle room to create something unique for each couple, but not stray so far in terms of design that it becomes cumbersome to produce.

The Classic layout has a black background, a thin white border to each image, and fairly structured image layouts. I like it because it’s going to stand the test of time and it’s not gimmicky.

The Contemporary layout is generally a white background, with a main image over a full-spread background image strip. It’s clean, and it’s me. It’s so simple that it not gimmicky either. And I’ve never seen anything like it.

To test the page styles out I ordered an inexpensive book from with some of my favourite images in these new layouts. I don’t use photobookcanada as my main album supplier, but the quality for the price is amazing, so it lets me be experimental without sweating the cost. The slideshow below contains selected spreads of a 12″x12″ 40 page Imagewrap hardcover book.

If you were asking yourself “Hey, if they are so great, why not use them for albums and pass the savings to your customers?”… there are two BIG reasons: they don’t have lie-flat pages, and it’s a press-print, not a photo print, which means they are just a bit softer looking, and I’m not sure of the long term image quality. As gift albums I think they’d be great; but not for the couples or parents albums. Have a look; I hope you like them!

Jim Carrey and Guitars

One of my summer brides is having a guitarist play, and I’m really looking forward to that, photographically.

For a little inspiration I went on a Google-hunt for some music… often I see things I hear and hear things I see. It’s not like synethesia, where it’s an involuntary perceptual mis-wiring in the brain; I just get inspired by other media.

I’m often at my goofiest when I’m making sound effect-accompaniment to something I’ve seen – which my wife Sylvia just loves, but I have trouble re-creating the sounds ‘on command’ (“Oooh do that again! Hee hee”). Without seeing what inspired the sound, I don’t know how I made the sound the first time! It’s torture when she looks up at me and I can’t for the life of me remember how I did something. That’s her, below. She hates being in front of the camera, so nobody tell her she’s been blogged, m’kay?


Same deal with sounds triggering images… I often hear sounds that trigger images. Not a really special or rare gift, I think we all do, but it comes in handy if I want something interesting to shoot. Usually the sound has nothing to do with the image it creates, although the sound texture and image texture are usually in sync. So a rough sound makes a rough image, and a smooth sound makes a smooth image. Simple.

I this morning I was up early, and thought of guitars. First stop: Google, and to check out what’s up.

Like this. I has nothing to do with the images in my head, but it does pretty much cover all the bases of guitar sound.

(Oh, what does Jim Carrey have to do with this? Not much. He just reminds me of a big, walking, goofy sound effect, and Sylvia just loves that.)

Virtual Reality

There is a tempest-in-a-teacup brewing in photography, and the new version of Photoshop, CS5, isn’t going to help much. The main gist of the debate is if over-processing an image with ‘actions’ in Photoshop violates some sort of acceptability for wedding photography, and if it’s being used as a substitute for ‘real photography’. The concern is that by over-processing images clients will be delivered something trendy, that won’t stand the test of time as a classic image should, and isn’t true to the photojournalistic style. There is a pretty good sub-plot brewing too, with a lot of name-calling and wasted energy, accusing some folks of selling things to new photographers instead of helping them actually take better pictures… but I don’t waste time on petty sub-plots, so lets stick to the main argument. Does using (or over-using) things like Photoshop make for tacky images? Is it for lazy photographers?

I call what I do ‘artistic photojournalism’. See that? How I slid the word ‘artistic’ in there? The truth is that most wedding photographers are in this ‘artistic’ group; the only thing the clients need to know is if they like the style or not. I’m not saying most wedding photographers over-process their images; I’m saying they create images that are true to their vision. If your photographer thinks it’s important for an image to have a certain look, and you like that look, then that’s about as far as the discussion should go.

But how well will shots with different levels of ‘trendy’ hold up over time? Decide for yourself; the internet can also be window backward in time.

I’m lucky – I can see into a past that my younger clients can’t. I was a kid in the 70’s, and I’ve seen a lot of bad wedding images since then. My wife was a bridesmaid when weddings were still shot with film and soft focus filters, and she loves that picture of herself and her friends; captured in their youth and all dressed up. What stands out to me more about the images are the trendy pink bow-ties and matching accessories the guys were wearing. And the freshly shampoo’d mullets. A bad hairstyle dates an image faster than any photographic technique! So if you want classic images, start with some classic ingredients, and avoid the trendy impulses. Or go with them; just be sure you’re doing your own thing.

So, back to photography. I don’t own Adobe Photoshop; but I do use Adobe Lightroom. For wedding photography I keep the processing to a minimum… but for general photography I like to explore the boundaries of what works and what doesn’t work a bit more. You should know that in the images below most of these processes make people pretty funky-colored. If you want your wedding to look like it was shot on cross-processed film from a plastic camera, no problem (no, really, no problem! I own a bunch and do shoot film occasionally!)  But less extreme processing than what I’m about to show works better for classic wedding images.

I use Adobe Lightroom presets, which are akin to simple actions in Photoshop, to quickly apply certain effects. Some effects are as subtle as bringing out a little more detail in the shadows; some convert images to black & white, some are completely extreme and mimic old film and camera combinations.

If you look back 20 or 30 years you’ll notice that photographers might have used optical filters to provide some of the same effects; when I was a photography student back in the mid-80’s I had a small set of Cokin filters. I didn’t use them all the time, but for helping balance a bright landscape they were pretty cool. They made the whole world look like Miami Vice (or, not so coincidentally, CSI: Miami), with tobacco colored clouds and the bluest of waters. Sadly, I didn’t have a soft focus filter, or might have met my wife a LOT sooner!

This scene below is a pretty typical Calgary evening from a few days ago. Sunset; afternoon cloud, and enough haze to obscure the mountains. The clouds weren’t really this pink, nor the grass as green, of course. That’s Lightroom.



But this is how I remember it. One of our first warm days, lots of people on the paths around my house, and light streaming down through the clouds, too bright to look at. The browns of winter are finally overtaken by the vigorous greens of spring. This is how this image should look.

And neither of these images below are really true to the trees that finally bloomed this week; the first is quite a bit more punchy, the second is softened a bit more than I like, but it’s a good opposite for the first image. It really illustrates that depending on the mood of the moment you might remember either of these images as being correct.



I also dug through a folder of images from a past trip to California, and noticed that without treatment in Lightroom the images wouldn’t even be close to my vision of what they should be. So while none of these shots is exactly what the camera saw, it’s what I saw.

Kinda important.


A ‘N’ew Beginning

I blogged a while back about a bunch of things. Going all-in for your clients, and for yourself. Actually taking more than a passing interest in things; the whole ‘stop and smell the roses’ bit. And even about silly little notebooks. Like these:



Notice anything? Look closer. Really close. ‘N’eed a hint?

One of things that I wasn’t going to post about the Vancouver trip was a really cool little gadget; a little handheld embosser. It puts those ‘N’s on the covers of the little ‘Bamboo’ notebooks from Writersblok that I use for the album predesign notes. But I like it sooo much I can’t keep a lid on it, I just have to share. This thing is too cool!

And I won’t give it away, but I also found the free font that matches the embosser font… so that little scripty ‘N’ is going everywhere now. I already sign my emails with just ‘N.’, so this actually fits quite well with who I am. And I joked at one point about shortening my name to just ‘N’. No first name/last name. Just ‘N’. Ok, that’s a bit much…

But putting a little of yourself – even just a single letter – in every little detail really brings home what doing this means – to those around you – and to yourself. It really puts into perspective how important that little book is going to be on the wedding day.

First, a BIG shout out to John Michael Cooper – or alt-f if you prefer – about this. I saw him speak at WPPI this year and his method really fit with what I was already doing, it just took all the steps and bound them together.

It starts by listening to what’s important to the bride (and groom, if you are lucky to have one handy…) and writing it down. Ask what the flow of the day is going to be. Ask questions about the answers you get… engage yourself and imagine it, visualize it, and verbalize it to check that it fits with what the bride hopes for.

I carry these little books around with me before the wedding, and when I have a moment, over coffee or when I’m not distracted by ‘life’ I like to pull them out and go through every page. As I imagine the events I see the images that I want to make and that I know will be important to everyone. A bit of Grandmas jewellery? I wonder what moms face will look like as she pins it on… A pig roast? I wonder what those sparks will look like as they rise from the fire…better set shutter priority to 1″ for that one…

Also, today saw some clarity on another front… in getting some pricing ready I had to cut out all the non-square sizes… it was just getting too cRAzY with all the options.

Now to get some sample albums ordered…

Shooting for fun

I had an idea while I was in Vancouver to shoot an entire book in a day. Not the 4 pound ‘War and Peace’ books that Taschen puts together (although I admit to owning more than a couple of them), but a little 40-50 page something-or-other.

But here is the pinch: It would be designed, shot, and published in a day.


As it turned out last Sunday wasn’t the day. But the challenge still stands.

Here is my game plan:

7:00am Go for a big breakfast. The energy output of the day will be epic.

8:00am Go for a coffee, or three. This is where the pre-design part happens. I use these notebooks and am really happy with how tough they are; one has been commuting with me for months and it looks practically new, even though it’s just paper. I picked up this four pack on the weekend, and will be giving them a try starting tomorrow.

9:00am Start shooting for the pre-designed shots. Note that the timing might need shifting if you need early / late light.

Noon-ish Finish shooting; first edit, and a bite to eat. If I had an iPad I’d probably shoot jpeg and use the camera kit to upload and edit while I was still in the field, so I could shoot more if I liked how something was going.

2:00pm Final edit; pull all the shots into Lightroom and use the new custom layouts to throw the pages together. Print as big 2 page jpeg spreads for uploading to your favourite photobook printer.

4:00pm Finished edit; start getting the album pages sorted out.

6:00pm Upload the pages as draft and go for dinner. Possibly print a proofbook.

8:00pm Finish any second guessing of the prior work and release the draft uploads to the printer.

I’m picturing this as a square format book, maybe a small softcover. If it rocks then reprint it as a large hardcover. I’ll keep you posted!

Widescreen / B&W / Tint – Oui ou Non?

I selected a few shots from last month and processed them as 16:9 (like a widescreen TV) with a dark black & white conversion with a bit of color cast. I think it suits the style… what do you think?

(and a big shout to Richard and Valeriya … these two ROCK!)

Style and Excellence

I think one of the challenges to being a new wedding photographer, like me, is the absence of a large enough body of work that allows new clients to form an opinion of  what their images might look like. Yes, I could spend ten years second-shooting, after all I love doing this, but I’m also just a tiny bit impatient to get myself out there.

One of the great things about photography, as compared to a more physical visual art like sculpture, is that it really doesn’t take as much to produce some examples that represent a range finished works in various styles.

So here are three examples; a  fresh modern, a more classic black & white, and something from the old-school; and a kitschy vintage look for fun.

The backstory to these shots is kind of interesting; this is a model from a group shoot at WPPI in Las Vegas. The group was orgainzed into an ‘indoor group’ and ‘outdoor group’, and she was supposed to be outside – except the weather turned so she came back. So while everyone inside was busy shooting the pinup model, I decided it would be way more interesting to shoot some candids and not let the moment pass me by. I only got a few minutes before the other photographers realized what was going on and descended like locusts, but I already got my shots and was a happy camper.

If you’re wondering about the name in the banner,… I’ve switched the banner before I’ve gone live with my new site. Once you put your name on something – not in the background – but right up front – you really have to be comfortable that the quality of the work is something you can be proud of. That’s my new yardstick, in fact. I’ve replaced ‘perfect’, which is a darn near impossible, time-sucking goal – with ‘excellence’.

If I’m proud of it, if it’s excellent, then I’m good.

Going All-In


This is a long-ish post; if you just came to see the the photo of the beautiful blonde, scroll down. It’s ok, I’ll wait here.

But if you want to know how my life was changed, at a wedding photography convention, in of all places, Las Vegas, I’d like to share that story with you.

I’d also like to hear what you have to say about this. Maybe your experience was different. Maybe you’re not a photographer, or didn’t go to WPPI, and wonder why all this matters, or how this might affect your choice of wedding photographer.

So I’m going to make you a deal – the same deal that someone made with me a week ago. I’m going to go All-In for you; this was a hard post to write, but this only works if you go All-In too – and read the whole thing. It won’t take that long, and you just might have an experience like mine. I hope you do. ]

It’ll be a week tomorrow morning since WPPI wrapped up, and I’ve been letting a few ideas roll around in my head since I got back from Vegas. Is just ‘Vegas’ ok with you? ‘Las Vegas’ seems so formal, and formal… Vegas is not.


I like to let several ideas percolate at the same time, see what sticks and what doesn’t, see what makes sense, and what combines into new ideas. I don’t know if you do that – I don’t know if anyone else does that; but it works for me.

I think my subconscious is probably smarter than I am, so I give it a little more elbow room; some time, some quiet (or music; right now I’m listening to Digitally Imported ‘Classic Trance’… yeah it’s dated, but I dig the flow…), and generally I try to not interfere with my grey matter doing it’s job.

But I also have to put a time limit on it, or I’d be just another auto-pilot slacker, and that’s how I feel looking back at so much of my life. First I was a ‘computer guy’, then I was a ‘server guy’, and then a ‘firewall guy’, and even a ‘network guy’. If it beeps or blinks I can probably build it, configure it, and fix it. But I did all that on auto-pilot. I bought a car, a house, and essentially, I bought a life.

Sort of.

It’s not a real life that I bought. It’s one of those auto-pilot lives, where you just get swept up in the 9-to-5-and-beer-on-Thursdays. It’s a life you can buy at big-box stores and the mega-mall, and it was shiny and new and exciting. It’s hard to examine your life when you are on auto-pilot, asleep.

Then I woke up.

It didn’t happen all at once. I didn’t go off the deep end and turn my life upside-down. I finally got off my butt and started hiking and snowshoeing in the mountains here. I decided that digital photography had come of age, in both quality and cost, and I started photographing my hikes.  I rediscovered what it felt like to be creative, to use an SLR again, to not be on auto-pilot, and to start seeing the world around me.

Fast forward to WPPI 2010, and I knew I couldn’t miss a couple of speakers; Jasmine Star; her success story, like her advice, is pretty awesome, yet down to earth, and Dane Sanders, because I knew that he knew ‘something’, and I had to know what the ‘something’ was.

The first concept that stuck in my head was from J*, I had a light bulb moment when she simplified the solution to a really common problem creative types often face: “How do you differentiate yourself in a market like photography?”. The temptation is to be ‘creative’ with packages or pricing – but that misses the essential differentiator – the photographer! You are different, so by just being yourself you will be different. Don’t be anyone but the best you you can be. Really simple, but I’ve never seen it put so front-and-center before; usually the best we get is “Be Different!”. This answers the natural follow-on “How to be different?”

I knew that I’d fully absorbed this idea, and extended it’s meaning, when I was reviewing images I took during WPPI while chatting with a guy on the same flight home about photography:

“Y’know, there were five other photographers there, but I got this shot.”

So not only am I different, but my images are different if only because I’m unique.



The second set of ideas that have been rattling around my head were inspired by Dane Sanders, in his ‘Anatomy of a Creative’. He opened with a couple of notions that I was already receptive to – getting out of auto-pilot for the session, and getting engaged with the discussion.

It was Dane that made the “Going All-In” promise a week ago, which for everyone made it more interactive, and not just a presentation. But he was also asking us to invest a little bit of trust in his message; even if only for two hours. Dane led the discussion, asking questions of the audience,  and really got us to think, instead of just sitting and absorbing content.

As part of the ‘Anatomy of a Creative’ we talked a bit about what it meant to be who we are, and I realized I had a disconnect between myself, my wife, my clients, and all my various photographic styles. In his terms, I wasn’t operating at the intersection of who I am, and what I do, so I’ve been in this weird zone of tension for years.

Why? Partially because I don’t do photography full-time yet; so I live in two very different work worlds, but that’s just a minor disconnect, and one that a lot of photographers face.

I’ve also been keeping my wedding photography mostly separate from my glamour and beauty photography, when I should be embracing the two as one style. After all, what bride wouldn’t want a photographer that knows a thing or two about making women look their best?

But here is the big cause of the tension:

The crappy part about waking up from auto-pilot is when you realize that you haven’t been All-In, and can’t be All-In, for the ones closest to you when you aren’t fully engaged in your own life, when you aren’t even All-In for you.

And that’s what happened about half-way through Dane’s session; I realized what the effect of being on auto-pilot all those years was. I was asking so much of those around me to reach my goals, but I wasn’t returning the gift, nor was I even giving that gift to myself.

Wow. Heavy.

I pulled out my iPhone and text’d my wife: “Miss you”. I almost had to leave the auditorium it hit me so hard.

The effect of this on the client-photographer relationship is profound. Just showing up on time, having fun with the clients, and getting some cool images isn’t enough for wedding photography. You need to be All-In, and by that I mean you need to actually give a rip.

And then you are going to take entirely different images than you might have taken before, because you just don’t want to connect with your clients – you need that connection with your clients, to share that feeling, and communicate that gift as their images.

What does that feel like? A little like the last five minutes of the movie ‘Scrooged’, when Bill Murray, as Scrooge, realizes he’s been on the wrong path and talks about the feeling of giving, and getting hungry for it. Getting greedy for that feeling of giving, not just at Christmas, but every day and all the time.

Near the end of Dane’s session was a very short movie – it’s only about 45 seconds long – and if this doesn’t snap you out of auto-pilot, maybe nothing will.

(Apologies to Dane, I’m going to repost some of the clips, and interpret them as I experienced them)

Last Day Dream [HD] from Chris Milk on Vimeo.

Ask yourself: “If this were me, have I been paying enough attention to remember much more?”.

I think this next clip really brings home what it takes to go All-In; you have to answer a lot of questions about who to trust, what your fears are, and what you have to leave behind to get where you’re going.


This ran again at the end of the session as still images combined with open-ended questions like “What if you only had five years to live?”.  By this time the discussion was over, and the audience was really soaking in the message.

I left out the Mad Men clip, if you want to see it, hit up YouTube. All of the sudden the value of photography to capture memories becomes pretty clear, doesn’t it?

For you Fast Trackers out there, there was also a pretty cool clip on leadership, in the form of ‘Lone Dancing Guy’.

For everyone else, this will take the edge off this post:

If you’ve read this far, you went All-In, so thank you, I hope I delivered. Please leave a comment or send me an email.

At the very least I hope you saw a little sliver of the material and discussion that goes on within the industry… doesn’t seem very industrial, does it?

If you’re a photographer and this reached you, and you want to know more, check out Dane Sanders and Fast Track Photographer.


p.s. Dane – you asked us to go All-In;  I think I did – and then some. The trip was worth it, thank you.


WPPI – Sleepless in Las Vegas

First, what the heck is WPPI? WPPI is ‘Wedding & Portrait Photographers International’, and they have their annual convention in Las Vegas every spring. It’s a big deal, and there are plenty of speakers and events to keep you busy. Not to mention the whole  ‘Las Vegas’ part; the town is still a big playground for grownups.

Now, shouldn’t that title read ‘Sleepless in Seattle’? Or ‘Leaving Las Vegas’?

Well, yes and no…  my flight to Seattle was delayed, so I missed the connecting flight to Vegas. Darn, shucks, whatever. Horizon Air did the right thing and put us up in Seattle, and comp’d two of us to First Class for the Vegas flight the next day. Nice.

But I didn’t get to see either Jesh de Rox or Jerry Ghionis speak on Monday morning, because the plane didn’t even get there until 9am. Of the four speakers I really wanted to see at WPPI, these were TWO. Double dang!

And just for a little extra salt with that wound, I found out that Jesh really really rocked his gig, to the point of bringing half the audience to tears.

But I caught Jerry doing his shtick on the trade show floor later, and almost bought into the ICE Society on the spot, he is that good a presenter & educator. And his photos don’t suck, either. Me? I don’t do too shabby; WPPI also affords photographers a chance to practice shooting while traveling (important if you’re a ‘Destination Photographer’), and it’s also a chance to shoot our favorite subjects during the winter slow season:

So todays lesson: Direct flights rock. I knew this from the last 30 years of travel I’ve done, but for some reason I thought I’d save $200 this time. Dumb, dumb and dumb.

[b]ecker’s Headshots

I decided to have a little fun with this one. Becker is such a good sport I knew he’d just roll with it. For starters, if you’ve never seen Becker do his rapid fire headshots thang, check this out. First, Professor Becker gives us all some pointers on how he shoots, and how he interacts with his clients. He never says ‘Smile!’, but everyone does:

The simple thing about his style is that it works anywhere; the ground behind the person becomes the background of the image, and focusing on the eyes is simpler to do this close.

But let’s transport ourselvels into the world of the Becker client for a moment… What would it be like? It was my turn for a headshot next, so hold on… here we go…


Ok, ok, a cheap shot. Literally and figuratively. But what the heck? He got a chuckle out of it too. I took a few frames like this, but I’ll spare you the animated GIF version. For now.

Needless to say, I think I figured out why he makes all the girls giggle… 😛

The Fast Track Shootout

Right after Becker, and right down the strip, was the meeting place for the Fast Trackers Shootout.

In keeping with the mantra of ‘small, quick, easy to apply bites of info‘ that FastTrackers  / Dane Sanders are know for, lets get right to todays lesson: Fast Trackers are a friendly, helpful, motivated bunch of supportive folks who are ‘For Each Other‘. So if you are a photographer that think you might benefit from a stronger sense of community, and tired of going it alone, reach out to them.

First, Dane gives us the lowdown, then we set out to shoot…

Every scavenger hunt in Vegas needs an Elvis:

And a Pirate…

And a… a… whatever this is:

And of course this is WPPI, so a bride on the strip, surrounded by photographers is commonplace:

Then it was time to hoof it back to the MGM and get in line for Jasmine Star. The room just before she started was a real zoo. David Jay did the intro just after this:

And that’s when Jasmin said a few pretty profound things:

Vegas, if you are at WPPI alone, SUCKS. Yep, she said it, and I agree with it. The only thing worse than not being at WPPI and getting Twitter and facebook updates from other people having fun at WPPI? Actually BEING at WPPI, but not with anyone else. Major downer.

Don’t try and be anyone but yourself. The smartest thing I heard the entire week was the answer to common conundrum. We are often told to “Be Different” or “Be Unique”. So everyone tries to be creative and invent something – when all along they missed the mark because just being themselves would have been unique enough.

Don’t go broke with advertising. Her deal is ‘Keep it real’, and she has grown her client base by just being herself, being honest, and talking about things in her life that matter to her. Too easy.

J* was great because she is fairly new, and has already faced all the same challenges I am facing right now.

Then it was off to the Garden Arena for the opening night party and beer. If you skimmed the last bit of text and missed the part about Vegas being a lonely place if you’re alone, then you’ll understand why I only had one drink and left. I didn’t recognize anyone from earlier in the day, and I was pretty pooped, so I grabbed a burger and hit the sack. I think it was 11pm.

Day Two

I was supposed to meet Patrick and the Calgary gang for an early breakfast, but for the life of me I couldn’t find the Cafe. It was just a little further into the casino – which is HUGE – so I never got a chance to say hi.

I did get a seat in the John Michael Cooper Platform Class. The basic message was to be really engaged during the consultation – don’t just ask the basics – but really dig, and you are pretty much guaranteed to create far more meaningful images for your clients. Having created my share of what I call ‘passport photos’ I know exactly what he meant.

And for all the folks that left his presentation early: You missed the big reveal at the end: All those crazy poses he had the audience doing? He had already sketched those out – and for anyone pressured to come up with something super-creative on the wedding day – you’ll know how smart this is, and how much his clients appreciate the results he gets.

I had time to check out the trade show floor; nothing really grabbed me in terms of product, but the integrated services from shootdotedit, albumexposure, and kiss is pretty cool. Right now I use zenfolio for hosting album page previews, and while it works well, the client feedback part of albumexposure is pretty sweet. And it would fit with my workflow, too.

By the time I got to Dane Sanders in the afternoon I was wiped. I knew that Dane would be an impactful speaker, so I actually went in somewhat guarded – I actually thought about the fact that when people are very tired they can become suggestable, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to drink the Kool-Aid or not.

Guess what the first thing he asked us to do? Drop the guard, don’t sit passively, and participate. Ok, ok, Dane. You want me ‘All-in’? You got it, babe.

And for the next two hours I found out what’s been bugging me for a long time – and how to fix it… but that’s a topic for another post. I had to get down to Centerfuge for the DS Afterparty, and I learned what a great bunch the FastTrackers are. Dane is coming to Calgary in May, so if you’d like to come along, drop me a note. It’s not free, but it will be worth it.

I drank the Kool-Aid, and took his advice to the audience that some of us could use a nap. I dropped like a rock when I got to my room, and woke up an hour after the [b]party started. Rather than wait for a cab I walked to Mandalay Bay and it woke me up, so I was pretty chipper when I finally found the party. And yes, the party was good :)

Lorrie – next year we seriously need to set up a styled shoot in the desert. Just because. And if any brides want to change their wedding date to February 20 or 21 of 2011, and want to get married in Vegas, you’d be in for a treat…

Day Three (I think…)

The morning was supposed to be a big indoor/outdoor shootout, with models and studio space supplied, but the weather was pretty bad, so we ended up all crowded in Eric Guideng’s studio, but it still made for some pretty good shooting.

I have to give a special shout out to Chantel Tull, she completely blew everyone away with her pinup style. And this is only her second shoot. O-M-G!


I had some really good intentions of doing more WPPI stuff that day, but it was time to sort through some of the days shots, and have a nap prior to the evenings big event,  the WPPI Print competition awards.

One thing I wasn’t ready for: Print Judging is SO SERIOUS!

And even better: A local photographer, Brandy Anderson, won the Fresh Faces award:

Day Four (Thursday? I lost count…)

In the a.m. the photoignite presentations were HILARIOUS! Uncle Bob, Jerry G singing, it was all pretty good fun:

The Trip Home

And my parting gift from WPPI? I got to fly from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, then to Seattle, then home to Calgary, and the airlines didn’t lose my luggage! Whoo hoo!

Along the way I thought a lot about what I’d learned, about myself, about my relationships, about how I live my life, and even a little about wedding photography. It’s amazing that we spend most of our lives being busy instead of doing the things that really matter.

Oh, and I learned that Vegas isn’t a scary place, that I want to go back for next years WPPI, and that I don’t want to go alone. I guess I’ll see you there!

WPPI – the best laid plans…

… well, you know the rest. I’ve been planning my butt off. What to attend. What gear to bring. Which Hawaiian shirt to pack…. This will be my first WPPI, and hopefully not my last, so I want to do it right. I started with a million little things, and tried to string them all together:

a bowl of beads, like going to WPPI, is like a million little things...

So what does the image have to do with WPPI? Not much, but without a lead image these blog posts look goofy on the main page. But maybe it does have something to do with WPPI. Maybe going with a common thread would be a good idea. Or not. Maybe diving into the ‘bowl’ and sampling a little of everything is the better way to do your first WPPI.

Personally I have only one main goal; Go for the experience. Next year I might be more focused; but this year I just want to go make some friends, see some folks from past events, and generally hang out. And attend as many platform classes as possible. And do as many workshop shoots as possible. And ferret out as many good parties as I can. Hmmm…. I need a calendar….

Sunday, March 7

Fly. All damn day. I went with Expedia, which was a big mistake. So I get to visit Seattle on my way to Vegas, and the total trip time is 12 hours. Although the price they quote is the price you pay (unlike Air Canada or Westjet respective Vacations packages), they have HUGE change fees.  After I realized my booking error (Sunday, instead of Saturday) I found out that it would cost more to change one flight than my whole airfare+hotel cost originally. Yikes! So I get to miss some events. Ah well.

Monday, January 8

8:00 – 10:00 Jerry Ghionis or Jesh de Rox? Why do such big decisions have to happen so early in the a.m.? If you have an opinion, let me know!!!

10:30 – 11:30 Model Shoot

2:00 – 4:00 Knuth Workshop

3:00 : Hit up the [b]’s headshot shoot, if I can tear myself away from the platform classes.

3:30 – 5:30 Judy Herman? Maybe. But…

4:00 – 5:30 FastTrack Shootout. I AM SO GOING! I got my confirmation last week. Jazzed.

6:30 – 8:30 Jasmine Star. And why not? I found her story pretty inspirational since she is so new to the industry (like moi).

8:30 + WPPI Pool Party. A chance to mingle and get an end-of-day beer. Oh wait… end of day… I don’t think so…!

10:00 Joe Photo Night Shoot. This was announced thru the [b]school, and again I’m about the trillionth person on the ‘me too’ list, so I’m probably not actually going to get to go. [edit: but I did make the wait list!] Why am I bringing my camera gear again?

Tuesday, March 9

7:30 – Breakfast with the Calgary Gang!

8:00 – 10:00 John Michael Cooper <- can someone take notes?

10:00 – 3:30 I HAVE NO IDEA. Maybe some platform talks. Maybe the tradeshow.

3:30 – 5:30 Dane Sanders – should be pretty cool; I like Dane’s approach and he comes across well in his videos and chats.

6:00 – 7:30 FastTrack Afterparty – I know absolutely ZERO people, so I hope to meet a few there.

8:00 – 10:00 Kodak Party – Meh. Don’t know much about this, so probably I’ll check out the first few minutes.

9:00 – 11:00 Mike Colon – again, a person who comes across as genuine, helpful and real.

10:00 (or right after Mike….) The [b] Party! Whoo hoo!

Wednesday, March 10

8:00 – 10:00 – SLEEPING IN! Then getting a really restorative breakfast of eggs, bacon, and coffee…

11:00 – 1:30pm – Emma Jane Shoot

2:30 – 4:30 Finding the ‘filmisnotdead’ preso because a) I actually DO shoot film. and b) they are giving away cool T-shirts! :)

5:00 – 6:00 Friday Photo School – I have NO idea what this is about. Must know!

7:00 – 10:00 Award Reception and Ceremony. If I can find Brandy, I’ll cheer her on!

Thursday, March 11

9:00 – 11:00 Photographers Ignite Presentations. I hear [b]ecker is doing ‘How to pick up bridesmaids’…. LOL.

1:00 – 4:00 Possible workshop shoot time

6:00 – 10:00 Possible workshop shoot time

Friday, March 12

9:00 – Eat, Pack, Check out, and fly home. Via Los Angeles. And Seattle. I think I take off at noon, and finally land at midnight. Yikes!!!

Saturday, March 13

Edit, edit, edit…. and then edit some more….

Well, that’s it. We’ll see how well the plan stands up to Vegas, WPPI, and what looks like not having time to eat for a week.

Akeela & Kelsey Photoshoot

Just a few days before Christmas I got a chance to shoot Akeela and Kelsey … outdoors … without the benefit warm chinook winds. Brrr!!!

But they were troopers, and we got some really nice shots. I liked ’em so much I use a bunch of their images as title banners!

A chilly start...

Ooohhh.... serious looking .... :)

And I couldn’t resist trying animoto … a video creation service that does a *stellar* job of creating slideshows from still images… everything from web quality all the way up to DVD resolution. Pretty impressive… here is a short clip: