February 8, 2016

Sony a6300 and New G-Master Lenses Announced and what they mean for portrait and wedding photographers!

Sony created quite a stir in the photographic world last week when they announced the highly anticipated a6300 which will supersede their wildly successful a6000 camera.

This will be a 24 megapixel, aps-c sized sensor that fires 11 fps and 8 fps in continuous live view.

Not only is it a potent still camera, this camera has 4k video as well as the hotshoe/multi-interface shoe that accepts the sony XLR K2M microphone adaptor (as well as a microphone in port). This camera will sell for just under $1000 US.

In addition to the new camera, Sony released three G-Master lenses: a 24-70 f2.8, 70-200 f2.8 and an 85 1.4 lens. These lenses are designed from the ground up and are built for the future of digital imaging.

These lenses are three of the most popular lenses for a variety of photographic genres, including wedding, portrait, fashion and journalism.

February 8, 2016

Mastering Digital Wedding Photography is coming soon!!

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I’m pleased and proud to share the cover design for my new book called “Mastering Digital Wedding Photography”

This book has been months in the making (far too many as my wife would say!) and is an updated guide to Wedding Photography since my first book that I wrote in 2004.

SO much has changed since that time.

That was the beginning of the digital revolution in the wedding and portrait space and now digital is the standard for working professionals around the world.

Now, though, mirrorless cameras are beginning to become a serious alternative for folks that want a change from the world of DSLRs.

I’ve been a Sony mirrorless photographer since mid 2014 and am so excited to write a book about wedding photography that talks about the profession and how to adopt mirrorless cameras to this genre.

Publication is slated to launch on March 1, 2016. Updates will be coming via this website and on Facebook.

Thanks to all who have supported me on this project, especially my wife Nicki who is my sounding board and who believed in me at times more than I believed in myself.

Can’t wait to share this book with the wedding photography world. Wedding photography has given me and my family so much and I want to give back to help the next generation of wedding photographers!

February 8, 2016

WPPI 2016 is coming in March (plus tips for getting the most out of the trade show)

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We’re less than a month away from the premier convention and gathering for wedding photographers in the USA — WPPI 2016 in Las Vegas.

This year’s event starts on March 3-10 and the very popular trade show is held from March 7-9, 2016.

To find out more details about classes, sponsors and to sign up, go to: http://wppionline.com

I will be presenting in the Sony booth again this year and could not be more excited and more proud to be included. Changing to Sony in 2014 has not only impacted (and I would say improved) my photography but it has given me a reason to share about the tools that I feel are the best in the industry. These new style of tools help us make photographs like never before. I feel I can make such a contribution to the industry by being there and sharing what I know about using these tools, configuring them for maximum efficiency and what they have allowed me to do.

Last year was, by all accounts, Sony’s best WPPI ever and this year’s event is sure to be even bigger and better for the company.

The size of the booth is expanded this year and while I have not seen any preliminary designs, it is certain to be a world class presenting and visiting space.

Last year’s WPPI had a palpable buzz of electricity in that space and I’m not the only one who noticed it. People who were already interested in Sony really “got” that buzz and folks that might never have considered Sony before got a real dose of what the future will bring with these mirrorless cameras and fed off that energy. It was so exciting to present and see the faces of photographers in the audience who might be unsure or questioning as they watched as well as watching the reactions of the audience with my fellow speakers.

Once I get the schedule of speakers I will post it, but please be sure and carve out time on your busy conference schedule to hear wedding and portrait professionals in the booth including: Brian Smith, Robert Evans, JeZa, Scott Robert Lim, Mike Colon, Patrick Murphy-Racey and others.

What makes this year’s event even more special is that Sony just announced a new (and highly anticipated a6300 camera superseding the a6000 as their premium small format, aps-c body in E mount) and three new G-Master Series lenses that are certain to appeal to wedding and portrait photographers.

Those lenses are the 24-70 f2.8 G-Master, the 70-200 f2.8 G-Master and the 85mm f1.4 G-Master lenses. These are the lenses that wedding photographers have been waiting for and now they’re here!

I know this will draw a huge gathering because WPPI will be the first place to get a look at them. It’s a good thing Sony expanded the booth size — they’re certain to need it. Last year’s booth had so much energy and it was coming on the heels of the announcement for the 35 1.4 and the 90 macro. These lenses were not available until the summer as was the breakthrough a7R II. Photographers around the world are certainly seeing that Sony is for real and playing for keeps. I can’t remember any photographic company that has made such revolutionary changes and new lens introductions on the scale of Sony since I have been in the industry (going back to the early 80s. Back then 10 year replacement cycles were the norm for pro grade film cameras).

So see you in the Sony booth and let’s catch up!

Tips for Attending

If you’ve never been to a WPPI at the MGM-Grand, be prepared to walk. A lot. Your fit bit will go crazy with all the walking. So be sure and bring comfortable shoes.

I prefer staying at the MGM or the Signature (my favorite because it’s a non smoking hotel) because then I don’t have to build in time to get from one hotel to the next. Even a nearby hotel like could take upwards of 30 minutes to get to the floor. That being said, give yourself plenty of time to get from your MGM room to the floor especially for big events or the opening of the trade show. There tends to be a bottleneck at the doors.

Take advantage of the folks that are there — not only presenting on the big stages for WPPI but also in the trade show booths. It can be crazy, almost a three-ring circus feel to the trade show, but there are some wonderful speakers presenting and be sure and take advantage of those talks. At the trade show booths it can be a smaller setting allow you to ask questions and even have a conversation with your favorite photographer after the talk.

Most companies offer trade show specials so if you’re wondering what bag to buy (Think Tank ;-)!) or if there are any new cool lights to purchase, you might consider holding off those big purchases until the trade show. You might check with the companies, even if you’re not there in person perhaps they will honor a WPPI special. Never hurts to ask.

A backpack is a great friend if you’re carrying a bit of gear and computer and doing a lot of walking around….shoulder bags tend to get really heavy at the end of a week. I’m planning on using the Think Tank Perception 15 for much of that time (https://www.thinktankphoto.com/collections/perception-series-backpacks/products/perception-15-backpack?variant=1235195047 )

Take advantage of Photo Walks that WPPI is presenting along with the manufacturers and presenters. I know I have one scheduled but the times are still being worked out.

Plan your trip through the trade show by seeing who is presenting and see what meshes with your needs. For example, I am going to check out a few different areas that I want to see in person, including: studio management (CRM) software, LED lighting for video and any studio flash units that are battery powered.

Be prepared to be surprised. You never know who you’ll meet and I am pleasantly surprised by the people I randomly meet. For example a few years ago I met a fellow from Indiana at the food court who is a wedding videographer. He was sporting a mirrorless cameras and that caused me to strike up a conversation (I had been beginning my quest into mirrorless about a year before and they were not as prevalent as they are now)

And even though I’m not a wedding videographer as such, I’ve been following him since then on Facebook and we’ve PMed and stayed in touch. I’ve enjoyed watching his business grow and change since then. It’ll be nice to reconnect with him this year. (By the way his name is Garrette Baird and you can find him at: http://www.eyenamics.com/

Be sure too to drink plenty of water, bring your chapstick and try (I know it’s hard, there’s so much to see and do) and get enough sleep.

I hope you found this helpful and look for me at the Sony booth at WPPI!

December 19, 2015

Star Wars, Ripon College, Hollywood and “Harry” Ford

This past Thursday I went up to Hollywood Blvd. to take a look at all the hoopla surrounding the famous street with the impending release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”.

It is probably the most highly anticipated movie in a decade or more and the initial box office reports show that it is well on the way to be the largest opening weekend in the history of cinema.

Hollywood Blvd. is always full of, well, energy (shall we say?) and I figured this would be the perfect time to head up to see what the buzz was like on the street.

I expected to see more Star Wars fans lined up, perhaps some dressed like characters, but that was not the case. There were some, to be sure, but honesty I expected more.

I saw the usual assortment of super hero characters working for tips (the “real” performers, according to Wolverine — not like the ones that photo bomb people and then hound them for money after the fact, he said pointing to two women within earshot), tourists from all over the globe, throngs of people lined up for Kimmel, a few blocks of the Blvd. blocked off and heavily patrolled by LA’s finest and the opening of the Leonard DiCaprio movie “The Revenant” happening later that evening, when the sun went down.

Bathed in the late afternoon winter’s light, there was a buzz on the street as folks gathered to see just who might show up for the premiere, many staking out spots by the steel gates opposite of the entry for the opening. Later there would be dozens more including photographers on ladders hoping to make a photograph of the stars arrivals.

Getting back to Star Wars, I really wanted to see the El Capitan and the area around here because Gruman’s Chinese Theater right across the street was the place that the original Star Wars debuted in 1977.

A Long Time Ago, in a galaxy far, far away….

I remember going to see that movie for the first time in the tiny theater in downtown Beaver Dam, WI, not expecting to like it despite the hype surrounding it. Being a long time Star Trek fan, I went into it convinced that there was obviously NO WAY that any movie could come close to that fine science fiction series from the 60s. Was I in for a surprise.

From the start with John Williams’ epic score, the scrolling titles vanishing into the distance and the opening visual with the Imperial Cruiser chasing the rebels from the top of the screen with Dolby surround sound kicking in, I was hooked. So much so that I went back the next night to see the movie again.

I loved the message, the characters, the tech and the story. Despite everything else, it was a story that was enthralling. The tech served the story, and not the other way around. I instantly became a fan of the movie and have seen all the subsequent movies, though nothing in the series IMHO ever matched the heart of that first movie.

One Degree of Separation

Another reason that I loved the movie was that it starred a relatively (then) unknown actor named Harrison Ford who would — through Star Wars and later through Raiders of the Lost Ark and other films — become probably the most bankable Hollywood leading man over the past 30 years.

Ford had attended tiny Ripon College back in the early 60s — the same college I was attending when those movies were coming into their own in the late 70s.

Ford and I have one degree of separation in the form of the Dean of Men from the College back then — David Harris.

I worked for the Dean as an office aide for my work-study grant and would talk with him about Ford, who was one of the most famous alumni from the school. (Ironically Harrison Ford, Grammy winning Jazz singer Al Jarreau and the late great ABC and CBS world correspondent & anchor Richard Threlkeld all attended Ripon at the same time and all were members of the same fraternity. Pretty astounding when you consider the school had an attendance figure of under 1000 students at the time).

I can still see the professorial Dean Harris with his horn-rimmed glasses, wearing a tweed jacket and leaning back with his high back leather chair, tapping his pipe and the sweet smell of the pipe creating a foggy glow.

Harry Ford wasn’t really acting, said the Dean as he tapped, and inhaled his pipe. That’s the way Harry Ford really is.

Dean Harris proceeded to tell me the legend of Harry Ford and how he found theater at the school and was devastated when Red Barn Theater on campus — the home of the school’s Drama department — was burned down in 1964

As I remember Dean Harris telling me, Ford was so distraught that he just stopped attending classes and failed to graduate that senior year.

He joined another famous Ripon College acting alum, Spencer Tracy, who attended but failed to graduate from the school.

The Dean was obviously proud of Ford for finding his calling while at his school and perhaps a bit for helping draw some attention to Ripon, a fine liberal arts college in a small town in the center of the state. It was inspiring to me that Ford was from Ripon and he excelled at his chosen profession, something that I too wanted.

Back to Hollywood Boulevard

Especially because of this somewhat personal connection I simply had to find Ford’s star on The Walk of Fame.

Before sunset, I had wandered around the Blvd. looking for the stars of any of the Star Wars cast, and didn’t have any luck, but was drawn to the stars on the sidewalk that were hit by interesting light (such as the Shrek star). I thought I read online that the Ford star was closer to Hollywood and Vine but I was wrong. Grabbing a quick bite with my friend Chuck Jones who ventured down to street shoot with me, I then did a better search online and discovered that Harrison Ford’s star was actually located near the corner of Hollywood and Highland — back where I had started. Somehow I had missed it.

By now it was dark and getting chilly and we walked the few blocks along Hollywood Blvd. Past the restaurants, souvenir shops, adult “toy” shops and a curiously high number of wig shops that dot that part of the Blvd.

Getting back to Hollywood and Highland, the area was now jammed with people on both sides of the street, eagerly craning to see which stars would appear for the Revenant premier. Me, I was craning my neck down, looking at the stars on the sidewalk on the hunt for Harry Ford’s star.

And I did find it, ironically (or not) placed directly across the street from the El Capitan Theater — where the new Star Wars premiere will also take place. I loved how his star basked in the glow from the theater’s neon marquee. Mission accomplished. Time to head back to suburban OC.

Now I begin planning when I will go see the movie and bring my two children, ages 10 (almost) and 6 (I think it will be okay). I think they’ll love it — I hope that they do. And I hope it fills them with inspiration and excitement for the future as it did for me when I first saw the movie back in 1977.

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Technical Information: Sony a7R II, 35mm f1.4 FE Zeiss, 85mm f1.8 FE Zeiss Batis, 55mm f1.8 FE Zeiss, available light.

December 1, 2015

An assist from Kate for her Dad

The Palmer Family

The Palmer Family

The day after Thanksgiving was bright and cold and we had just had a nice soaking of rain the night before.

At 10:30 I scheduled a portrait session with the Palmer family and we were able to get the session in despite the heavy rain the
night before.

The location was along the Oso Creek Trail in Mission Viejo — hard to believe you’re in the middle of suburban Orange County along the trail.

I had done a scouting mission the day before to find the perfect spot and the water seemed to be almost double in the Creek from that day before.

Even better — it felt even more like we were in the country or in the mountains.

My daughter Kate gave her Dad an assist on this day. In the photo below she’s holding up a lighting tool to help block the light that was streaking through the trees, highlighting the family.

They were lit from an off-camera strobe but I needed the shade, provided by Kate, to make the light even on their faces, without the harsh streak of sunlight.

Kate’s developed an affinity for photography and I look forward to having her assist me as she gets older and has more experience behind the camera.

We were able to have a great family session and the extra pair of hands — even little ones — made the portrait session MUCH easier.

November 9, 2015

A recent family portrait session

Now is family portrait time and I wanted to share this recent session with Shawn and Keith’s gorgeous family!

Kato Blog Collage 1

Kato Blog Collage 2

Kato Blog Collage 3

Two years ago I was fortunate to have photographed the family for our Kids of OC project (this years’ session was also a Kids of OC session) and I am amazed at how much the kids have grown up in such a short period of time.

As a parent it rips my heart out when I see how fast time is flying as I watch my own kids get older so quickly. Photography and video are our only ways to “stop time” and I am grateful that Keith and Shawn recognize that and have me photograph them.

This is one of the best times of the year to do a family session — especially at the beach because the fall/winter light here in California is simply amazing, the beach is relatively empty (compared to the middle of summer!) and the water has been surprisingly warm!

Contact the studio below to schedule your fall portrait session in time for the holidays!

November 3, 2015

Lindsay + Preston’s OC Wedding | Time Lapse Video | Turnip Rose

This little 44 second time lapse video is from the wedding ceremony of Lindsay and Preston from this past Saturday (Halloween) at
Turnip Rose in Costa Mesa.

What a fun couple and what a great group of guests who dressed in 1920s attire for the wedding.

technical info: Sony a6000, Mefoto tripod, camera fired every 5 seconds, jpegs processed in LR and then assembled in Premiere Pro CC 2015.
#sonyalpha #turniprose #linston1031

October 14, 2015

New Sony RX1 RII full frame compact camera

Sony RX1 R II just announced by Sony!Sony did it again!

They’ve taken their original full frame small form factor camera — the RX 1 — and totally upgraded it with many features that Sony a7R II photographers are sure to love!

Improvements include:

42 mp sensor
Improved AF
Eye AF
Variable Low Pass Filter (the first of it’s kind)
Built in pop up EVF (with Zeiss T* coating)

Though not inexpensive (around $3300 US) it is sure to be an amazing imaging beast in a small, palm sized camera.

To read more, please go here:

October 11, 2015

Tesoro vs El Toro | Friday Night Lights

(This is my second year of documenting Friday Night Lights with the Tesoro H.S. Titans. Last year’s project resulted in a book and movie and I plan to do the same with this year’s team. As a former news photographer this is right up my alley and a project that I have wanted to do ever since Buzz Bissinger’s book “Friday Night Lights” was published in 1990. A huge thanks to Matt Poston, the coaches, players and families from this year’s team for allowing me to photograph this year’s games).

Friday Night Lights recap:
At halftime, it sure seemed dire for Tesoro.

They were down 21-0, seemed to be like a fighter on their heals and without their starting QB Devon Modster, who injured his shoulder during the previous week’s game. Not to mention El Toro was almost flawless in that first half.

But back-up QB Carter Jaenichen has what corner backs coach Sam Reed would call: “Moxie”.

Carter and the team showed incredible resiliency and fight as they came back to win 31-28 in one of the wildest comeback games that I have witnessed.

Next week will surely demand Tesoro’s best as they face nearby rival Mission Viejo on Friday.

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