End of Wedding Season

Its now mid September and as autumn sets in the wedding season slowly comes to an end. May – August are exceptionally busy months for weddings and this year it really has felt that every single available weekend ive been shooting a wedding.  I wanted to touch a little bit on the end of this busy time and talk about the side of things my customers do not see. The post process of the images.

Only photographers who work full day weddings will know just how much hard work go into shooting a wedding day. They are often 8-12 hours of constant back to back action often quite chaotic whilst under a lot of pressure to hit your mark and get the shots. At the end of each wedding we retreat with a bounty of photos on our cameras knowing full well that only half the job has been done.  The next phase is known as the post processing phase, every photographer will have a work flow which they will put their photos through.

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A lovely photo of Paul & Sarah in Market Harborough Rose Gardens

My Post Process

The first step for me when I get home in the evening at a wedding is to make a copy straight off the memory cards, creating an instant backup, (I normally breath out at this point)

Then ill have a quick skim through the photographs and find one that is particularly good and pull it straight into photoshop, tweak it if it needs it, slap on a watermark and upload it straight to Facebook. Why? In todays world everyone have camera phones and from the second the bride walks down the isle awful phone camera photos are being taken and uploaded to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. I like to think that by uploading a high quality photo that day that the couple will then be able to have a decent photograph online they can use that reflects their day.

Once thats done, ill set about creating another backup and then ill go to bed safe in the knowledge the photos are safe and sound.

The next phase is the sorting and culling phase, this is by far the most tedious phase. I will combine my two cameras photographs together and load them into lightroom where I will view them in full screen and flick through them one at a time. I will look for composition, lighting, focus and duplication of the images as well as the subjects expressions and pose. This is a form of quality control and one ive become quite adept at.

Now i will often come back from weddings with anywhere from 2000-3000 photographs and i will have to get that number down to about 800 via this process. This process alone can take 3-4 hours. Once this is done i can then set about fine tuning the remaining images, cropping, and light adjustments etc.

Once I have my final selection i will then ensure they are in the correct order, rename the batch and burn them to a DVD.

From here i will print the DVD top, the DVD cover and a few 5×7 prints to build up the DVD pack.

Once complete its packed up and posted.

I will then go back through the album, select a 30-60 photos I like, watermark them up and make a nice little Facebook album.

From start to finish this entire process probably takes as long as the wedding day itself.

Why do I do this?

I do this to ensure that my customers get the absolute best quality from their day, allowing the cream of the crop to rise whilst still providing quantity.

Lazy photographers might pick out just the nice ones and use them which will result in much less quantity. Some people just burn everything to a disc…even all the fails which results in the good being diluted by the bad.

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A fun photo we setup of Paul & Sarahs Wedding – Streetfighter Hadouken Pose.

So wedding season is nearly over… what next?

The busy period is over yes, but weddings still do occur during autumn and even winter. My last wedding this year is mid November but have had them right through December in previous years. The challenges intensify as the weather, temperature and light worsen, but ill save that for a different post.

As the weddings die down i will lean more on my portrait services (newborn, children & family). My recent push has been in my Newborn portraits so im hoping to get alot more of these over the coming months.

It wont be long before the next season is upon us, my calender is looking very busy for 2014 already and all the challenges that come with it.

Muscle & Fitness Photography

In the last couple of weeks I have found myself out and about shooting a variety of fitness shoots and i wanted to take a second to reflect on them. Im fortunate enough to have a the use of a huge hardcore fitness gym out of hours so can invite people interested in having fitness photography done a place which provides privacy and plenty of opportunity and diversity.

STYLE

Firstly lets discuss style, my style is a simple but effective one, I like to utalise and manipulate light to create mood, drama, and definition to my photos. I also feel context and environment are important to making an image work. I often see shoots of muscular individuals being photographed against a backdrop, all oiled up, hit with loads of light, and airbrushed to perfection. This to me is not fitness photography, its closer to glamour photography and as such isnt my cup of tea.

Coming back to how I like to shoot, light is hugely important, its without a doubt the most important element to this style of work. I generally work in a gym or training environment and prefer to work with as little environmental light as possible so i can control the light to create the mood. This can mean working in almost complete darkness sometimes using model lights to compose the image and acquire focus and then using spot flash to illuminate the subject. This can take a little bit of time to get right at first as the chance of over exposing or under exposing goes up quite high when moving lights around.

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Here you can see iv shot Nikki during a Kick on the bag, the flash was setup at about 10ft high, fired at about 45 degress to her it was great at catching the action whilst casting a flattering light across her abdominal muscles. We did this shot about 10 times until we had perfect leg extension.

CONTEXT

Another key to all of my photos is to create a believable context, by this i mean have them in a realistic environment to what they are doing in the image. Sometimes people are exercising or posed in an exercise for the photo, sometimes they are photographed free standing and in space.

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Here is a great example of Kristian in the gym, weights in hand looking as if hes about to start. Shot with only a little background light and a front light to illuminate him

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Here we have Kristian again not exercising but simply posing, i decided that a little heavy metal on him and the metal shutters doors still fit in theme with the hardcore style shoot he was after.

BLACK & WHITE Vs COLOUR

Fitness lends itself very well to shooting in black and white and in my particular lighting style it really does make a photograph classy and timeless. As much as i love the look of black and white in this style of shoot i have to sometimes stop myself and switch back to colour. This work particularly well with Kristian, pictured above as he had very toned skin and very bright clothes so the pictures were quite vibrant as a result.

I will always shoot a mixture of both for this sort of work, it provides variety in similar looking shots and you can make the call later in post which you prefer.

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This is one of my favourite fitness shots of late. I took this by sitting my tripod on its lowest setting and used a 70-200mm lens to zoom in to provide some foreground background separation. I then used 2 remote flash guns in this photo, one to illuminate the rear shutters as i liked the texture they provided and a high flash off to the right. The light creates a half moon effect on Jacks face and compliments his muscle and definition. He looks like a fighter in this photo about to pounce and being a wrestler that was exactly the type of look we wanted.

Fitness style work although isnt a huge money spinner for me it is a great subject to shoot. The subjects have all worked tremendously hard to get into the state where they are then confident enough to request and implement a photography shoot. I think of the fitness work as my guilty pleasure really… its my ice cream before dinner.

Passion Vs Profit Photography

This is a subject I feel terribly strongly about.

Passion vs Profit references the types of photographers that operate today.

Before i get into it, i am fully aware that there is a finite amount of passionate photographers who operate perfectly good business a professional level (but im not here to talk about them today). I have found that these are in the minority and diluted by the passionless.

Let me explain the difference between the Profiteers and the Passionate’s

Firstly…

The passionate types. 

Ill start with the nice guys. The people who love photography, love the art and the science, love composing and creating. These are the guys who travel far, stay up all night, spend hours, days weeks on projects. The passion for photography comes from the desire to take, and create, the love of the chase and ultimate satisfaction of the results. The pursuit of the passion can often come at great cost in time, money and resources to the photographer but thats what makes us passionate about it.

Alot of amateur photographers will never move into doing chargeable work as they would happily shoot for the love of shooting. The ones that do elevate themselves to practicing it for a business will often maintain a semi pro status (i will cover these more in the next section)

The other side of the coin you have the Profit photographers. The ones who do it more for money more than anything else.

These can be further broken down into 3 subgroups. The professionals, the semi pros and the “have a go” types.

The Professionals. At the professional level you will in every sense be ripped off, there no two ways about it. They have fine tuned their business to make every single element of photography chargeable. Now while I agree, good photography is worth paying for I believe that pro photographers have crossed a line to the point of blatant extortion. They have mastered the art of photographic emotional blackmail. By this i mean you pay someone to take your photo.. however they wont let you have those photos without paying a premium. Imagine youve hired someone to photograph your wedding but you dont get the photos, instead you are left dangling by a hook and your only option is to purchase copies of these photos at a huge premium. Another example is if your swizzed into going into a large multi chained high street studio for £20 only to be offered a print / canvas product at the end for £1000 at the end. You pay for someone to take your photo… they show it you and then demand a huge premium for it otherwise you wont get it. UNBELIEVABLE!!!  I cannot imagine anything worse than being on the customer end of that business model! Professional ultimately will be pretentious and pompous and dismissive of anything but their product and will be full of sales pitch and promise. Be very careful around these types they will clean you out.

Ive heard lots of reports that some of the more veteran professionals often come across as tired slow and jaded when it comes to their attitude toward shooting. Once upon a time they probably were passionate about their work, but many years later and hundreds and hundreds of weddings later it would seem like nothing more than a day at work.  This is one of the more common horror stories people tell me about when im shooting a wedding. Miserable old photographer turning up, doing the bare minimum and leaving. This will only ever reflect in their efforts to capture you on the day. In my opinion if your so fed up of shooting weddings or portraits then retire before you ruin someones magical day.

The Semi Pro At the semi pro level you get a mixed bag of photographers. This is probably the best place to shop for a photographer in my humble opinion. Prices are often competitive, what they offer for the money is often quite good. Watch out though, semi pros come in good and bad flavours. Some Semi pros try to emulate the professional business model, either because of greed or want to be perceived as professional themselves. Though the over charging is the only quality that they share with a professional. In short they will try to inflate the total price as high as they can by itemising ever chargeable part of it.

Not all semi pros are evil soulless money grabbers, oh no. Often when a passionate amateur rises up and decides to build into a business they will rebel slightly against the the standard ’empty your clients pockets’ business model.

Passion to shoot is a powerful incentive to get work and keep prices low and retain customers. At this level the semi pros might not be able to offer the immaculate level of product the professionals can but  you will find the quality of the actual photography can be as good if not better than what professionals can provide.

If i was hiring someone it would be from this category. A perfect mix of passion, skill and price.

This brings me to my last group

The “Have a Go” types. In recent years there has been a boom in these bottom feeders. They will often buy an entry level SLR or worst and with no qualifications, no experience, poor equipment and attempt to charge money for photography. Its simply a quick buck to them. These people produce some of the worst photography I have ever seen.

These people will pop up on a recently created facebook page, filled with children sitting in a bedsheet or an poory lit over exposed medley of photographic fopars. In attempts to rustle up custom they prey on other peoples facebook pages, often messaging people who have shown interest trying to poach customer, lots will stalk facebook groups and forums, often offering wedding or portrait services for unbelievable low prices, under bidding legitimate Pros and semi Pros. Essentially what you will get is a skill less, useless, and more importantly passionless excuse for a human trying to pass of as a legitimate photographer. It is simply because of the misconception that anyone can do it and photography is just clicking a button.

Avoid these people at all cost, they are not worth your time, money or consideration.

To conclude… if your hiring and you dont want to be terribly ripped off or alternatively terribly disappointing aim for enthusiastic semi pro types of photographers. Look for passionate examples of their work, look for frequency of work, ask what equipment they use, then ask if they are available… then and only then ask the price.

New Born Photography

Over the years I have done a fare few new born shoots. But have prioritised these shoots to include the parents. This has created some lovely shots in the past of mother and baby, father and baby etc. Usually opting for a black backdrop diffused light and create quite arty often black and white shots. As wedding season starts to quieten i decided i would reinvent my new born angle and proceeded to do my research and see what was trending out there at the moment. 2 styles popped up immediately.

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The mini set is where you create a little room almost, a fake set where the baby can be posed upon. This will mean either create a scene manually (wood & wallpaper) or buying up expensive printed vinyls. I have done both. You lay everything out so its really nice looking, pose the baby and away you go.

The second trending style was posed baby on faded backdrop

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This is simply some nice material, (quite large material) draped over a large flat beanbag, off into the distance. Secured to a frame out of shot. Using a wide aperture to create shallow DOF and gradually blurring the background out.

Both styles had a few things in common. Often nude baby.. nearly always with an item of headwear, be it a hat or hairband. The cutest of which is retro styled items. The most obvious difference to how i had shot before was that the babies were on their own, away from the parents and nearly always asleep.

So with this in mind, i set about collecting the necessary bits. Buying up collections of clothes, buying and building sets and props to use in conjunction. I also set about creating an environment in which i could shoot in.

Once I had a decent sized collection i organised a test shoot with a lovely baby girl who allowed me to test out my new bits and pieces. I then advertised them heavily on facebook and voila the bookings came flooding in.

First shoot later after that, a 5 day old baby boy.

I asked the parents to bring him over when he was at his sleepiest… he arrived wide awake. The second we got him out his car seat he started to cry…. and he cried for 2 whole hours. This was an eye opener for me, as patience is something all photographers must have when photographing children, but newborns will obviously take it to the next level.

I have booked in for a reshoot with the couple and have rearmed myself with a host of new things to try to keep baby calm. Everything from shooting in an incredibly warm room, to using white noise to sooth the baby. Both Im definitely willing to try

Now i have all the props, all the photography gear, all the preparation elements are done. Ive done a ton of reading on the subject and am now ready to take solo new born shoots to the next level. With lots of expectant mothers getting in touch im keep to learn all the tricks of the trade.

Watch this space… lots of epically cute photos to come.

Welcome to my blog :)

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I will be using this blog to discuss photography matters, brain storm ideas and critique the photography industry from the inside.

I suppose I should start at the beginning, My name is Martin Boyce, im a very active photographer from Leicester in the UK, specialising in but not exclusively photographing people.

I run my own business called Photies.co.uk, which i run at an almost non profit level (on purpose) Just about every penny i earn i use to buy up more equipment (which is super expensive) as well as the endless amounts of props and supplies required to make the shoots work.

Most of my work can be found on my extensive facebook page http://www.facebook.com/photiesuk

I offer my services out to people for weddings, portraits, events and fitness style work as well as conducting my own social and collaborative works from time to time.

Starting a blog is really a way for me to write down my adventures, voice my opinions and concerns about the industry and how I see it,  but also use it as a platform to discuss my shoots as well as things iv learned.

I wont go on anymore just yet, but feel free to book mark this page as i will try to get some more posts up shortly