May 30, 2012

June 2012 Cover | Las Vegas Photographer Magazine



Making the Best of Travel Photography~ Even When the Travel Isn't for Photography

By Joel Olives

I'm not a travel photographer by trade.  Actually, I’m not even a photographer by trade.  I do, however, love the art of photography and I shoot as much as I can.  I consider photography an extremely advanced hobby.  It’s a wonderful solace in the world of chaotically analytical technology which I call my nine to five.  I love the escape it provides.

That nine to five requires me to travel occasionally, and when I do, I seize every opportunity I can to shoot the area.  A curious caveat to that is while I’m often whisked off to interesting places, the nine to five often becomes fourteen hour work days.  I’m amidst these places unable to do what I love, catching every sunrise and sunset.  I believe in persistence though and make the most out of whatever conditions allow me to shoot. 

I’ve read a lot of professional photographers that have written that it’s all about that special light that occurs so infrequently that it must be sought out, relished and thoroughly documented through the lens.  That isn’t my experience.  I say, “Document that bad light, take multiple exposures, blend them in Photoshop, and recreate the scene you saw in your mind’s eye.”  Perfect light doesn’t happen when you’re on the road working fourteen hour days.

Here are a few tips from what I’ve learned in my travels.
Tip number 1: Do not dismiss a sunset just because there are no clouds in the sky.  A couple months ago, I was in San Diego for two weeks.  The sky was a gorgeous blue and the sun was shimmering nearly every day.  There was scarcely a cloud to be found.  Opportunities presented themselves to shoot two sunsets on two weekend days while I was there. 

The first weekend opportunity featured an all-day powder blue sky.  It was cloudless… perfect weather for non-photographers.  I planned ahead online and knew I wanted to go to the La Jolla Cove to shoot the tide pools. 
When I arrived, there was a curious lack of other photographers.   The forecast let them know that it would be sun, sun, sun and more sun with no chance of interesting color in the sky.  I setup my tripod and settled on multiple compositions anyway.
That’s tip number 2: plan many compositions ahead of time.  There are a myriad of beautiful images to be captured during any sunset with a good preplanned composition.  I’ve seen many photographers pick their spot and leave their tripod anchored there for an entire sunset.  I believe this is an opportunity lost for multiple memorable shots.  I’ll usually plan for a half dozen unique compositions during any single sunset.

I was blessed that the weather forecast was wrong that evening (That never happens, right?).  As soon as golden hour started, a few clouds rolled across the horizon and in to view and created a wonderful orange canvas.  I captured 6 different compositions that night that I was very pleased with.
The other weekend was quite the opposite.  The forecast called for scattered clouds. I was excited, hoping for a beautiful sunset.  I chose Sunset Cliffs this time, but the weather did not cooperate.  It turned a very dull gray overcast.  Don’t be discouraged by bad conditions.  Shoot anyway.  Photographers love overcast days for portraits and macros.  For dramatic landscapes, most would choose a different day.  When your schedule is set and time is limited, that’s simply not an option.

A final tip: It’s really helped me knowing what various lighting conditions do to color tone and contrast.  While the differences are visible, it’s helped me to formulate, in my mind, what those differences are.  Overcast is much warmer than direct sunlight, it has a way of bringing out the natural warmth of objects in a way camera white balance doesn’t.  The lower contrast in those situations allows for you to see fine details that aren’t present on other lighting conditions.

With my analysis on overcast conditions in mind, I focused my compositions around the small details in the tide pools.  The sky added ambiance to the shots, but they were really about what was under the water.  What I came back with from that night are now some of my favorite seascapes.

In the age of digital cameras, your number exposures aren’t limited by the cost of film.  I hope that you’ll embrace every bad lighting condition, shoot frequently, and learn how to use adverse conditions to your advantage.  If you do, I believe you may just have some beautiful photos in your portfolio that would have otherwise been missed.
Joel Olives is a Houston, TX based technologist with a passion for Photography.  His photographic passions include dramatic landscape, cityscape, and nature photography.  His work has been featured in many publications including national publications like Forbes and regional publications like Woodlands Living.   He creates textures for photographers, does interactive web design, enjoys writing classical music and enjoys blogging.   He shoots with Nikon gear. You can learn more about Joel at

DC in Black and White

by Samantha Jane

I was unsure of what to expect from DC, aside from a lot of walking. I feel very privileged to have been visiting and touring during what they call a Veterans Flight. This is when they bring in Vets from all of the wars and take them around to all of the memorials. It is a very humbling experience recognizing those men that fought and died for our freedom, but to share that experience with men who were there, it took it to a whole other level. I was humbled beyond measure.

As I toured DC for the weekend, the one place I wanted to visit was the Holocaust Museum. I knew it would be a difficult and a lot to take in, but the message I would receive while in the museum was one I had not expected. I received word that my best friend had taken his own life. He had served two tours in Iraq, and the pain from those tours had finally won. Here I was in our nations capital, touring and paying respects to our fallen soldiers, and at home I had lost my soldier.

Freedom is not free. We lose our friends, brothers, husbands and children in battle. Sometimes it is in battle, other times it is after the battle they fight once they return home. Whether it is seeing the sadness in a fellow soldiers eyes  at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, or the pain in a mother and fathers eyes as they burry their son, there is one thing that remains - they shall never be forgotten.  They have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.


Keeping it Fresh

by Cindy Larkin

I have found that being a photographer can be one of the most creative things I get to do in my little world.  But sometimes, when I get really busy with it, it becomes just another job on my to-do list, and I'd like to take my camera and shove it where the sun doesn't shine.

On one such stressful weekend, my friend Kim invited me over for a cup of tea, and to pick some fresh veggies from her lovely garden.  After we chatted for a while about kids and life, her doorbell rang and I found myself sitting alone, beneath the umbrella of the patio furniture. 

I don't recall how long I was there, or how long it had been since I'd had a moment to quiet my mind, but slowly I started to notice her garden in a new way.

The sun overhead was lower in the sky, and the heat from the day was held back by the retaining wall. I could hear a lawn mower sputtering away in the distance, and the smell from the lemon tree was faint in the air.

Just then a hummingbird darted in close, as if to say "hello", and then was off again as soon as it had come. As I stood up from my chair and began walking around, I remembered the camera that was draped around my neck (a usual spot for it in those days). Although I had missed the tiny bird, I didn't want to miss anything else. The details of the garden became magical as I gave them some undivided attention.

When the business of photography gets dull, and life gets crazy, carve out some time to just enjoy a new location--{Just you and your camera}--no models, no time constraints, no plan. 
A walk on the beach, a trip to the park, or some alone time in your own backyard, can give you a fresh perspective, and a renewed love for the simple things in life--and maybe even your camera.



Tiffany Burke:  "My approach to keeping my photography fresh is to continually listen to my heart. I try not to compare my work to others and I truly look inside to find what it is that makes my soul sing. I ask myself questions about who I truly want to be as a photographer, not only technically but emotionally as well. And I let that emotion resonate with me as I am shooting. Then I just let my camera capture what my heart guides my eyes to see. It's all about allowing my heart to see the image before it is taken".

Matt & Agnes Hage:  "We do occasionally get pretty fried and take some time off. Last year was absolutely frenetic; we shot over 200 days. And then busted down to NZ with a tight deadline to meet. After we got that job taken care of we settled into this really nice mountain town and took 10 days off. That means minimal email, phone and packing the photo gear away. Depending on how burnt we are, it takes 4-6 days before we get the itch to flex the creative muscles again. Then we usually play around with some low-key personal work; no deadlines, no expectations, no stress. Just having fun. And if we're not feeling it, the camera goes away for another couple days. We've also gotten better at taking vacations in places that don't fit our usual clientele; cities and beaches. That way we're not temped to try to do work".

Leaha Bourgeois: 
1. Read- Blogs, Blogs, Blogs
2. Listen to podcasts on business smarts
3. Community- I joined "Showit" and we meet once a month
4. Mentor- I mentor folks to give back...and I usually get it back in return
5. Don't be afraid to take risks
6. Compare yourself to yourself

7. Focus on being DIFFERENT, not better than someone else

Sally Mk:  I'm actually at tht stage now... So at the moment, I'm just looking at images in flickr to get new ideas on how to improve my images. Also I try to shoot something that I havent tried before. 

Adrienne Griffin:  To keep my photography fresh, if i shoot in the same area alot I will try to get a shot that I have never gotten before.  I also like to try different lighting techniques to make the scene look different. Inspiration comes from other photos I have seen previously either online or in a magazine.

Kevin Hulett: "Shooting for yourself, with absolutely no pressure on deadline or giving the client what they want is huge.  I always make it a point to stop and breathe, or take a break. It's hard to break out of the routine from normal shoots of quick-quick-quick-perform! So when you can, it not only allows you to be more calm and creative, but you tend to leave the shoot excited, re-fueled and ready for more. I've found that reading more and free-writing when you're stuck, really helps too".

Troy Hoskins:  "First is to recognize when I'm not progressing.  Once I see that, I force myself outside my comfort zone, trying things I have no clue about".

Lainee Read:  "Experiment- It's easy to get in a rut with either shooting in the same locations or in your editing- Stylized shoots are a good way to take the time to push your creativity. I also like to experiment with shooting at different times of the day- brave the sun!!!

Wendy Clymore:  "I Shoot for myself occasionally. It gives me a chance to try all the fun stuff I have been wanting to try that I can’t ever seem to work into my normal shoots".

Valerie Hart:  "Taking classes and workshops help bring in new techniques that I can then apply to my personal style. I take inspiration from everything such as books, movies, magazines and then try to create a shoot off of that inspiration. I also go shoot for myself. No pressure, no time line...just go and shoot whatever I want, the way I want".

Sharee Jones:  "Being part of a serious critique photography group, who take the crafting of the final product very seriously can be beneficial. Also, working and putting your work in competitions where you go before a panel of judges, or taking an upper division photography course from a University where your classmates and professors will be your critique group can be rewarding".

Rex Winteron:  "I take workshops, whether it has to do with composition, lighting, flash, or landscapes, every few months, to stay sharp".

Marlie Warren: 
I focus on being different.  Come up with your own personal projects from time to time. 

Trash the Dress: Flourish Photography

by Jessica McAllister of Flourish Photography

Seth and Jennifer met at a local gym one afternoon in Parker, Colorado with the help of Jennifer's brother.  Jennifer had recently moved back to Colorado from North Carolina to begin Medical School in the fall after exiting from service in the US Army.  Seth had also recently moved to Colorado on a whim from Wilmington, North Carolina to Colorado and by chance, rented a house in the same neighborhood as Jennifer's brother.  The couple immediately were drawn to each other that afternoon in the gym when they were introduced by Jennifer's brother and realized they had so much in common both being in the military - Seth was a former Navy SEAL and Jennifer a former US Army officer.  They went out on their first date the following day and never separated since.

Jen wanted to do a trash the dress shoot after her wedding day and wanted to involve water so we found this beautiful river in Morrison Colorado. She was so amazing, she got in a freezing cold river (snow run off water) and cut up her 'Melissa Sweet" dress, all I have to say is, AMAZING. So unique and stunning.













The Importance of Preconsultations

by Rachel Brenke

Business doesn’t rest solely in the shooting and delivery of product for photographers.  Marketing and pre-consultations are a part of the cost of doing the business, as well as a critical aspect of retaining business.  Without these being incorporated consistently into the business workflow there is potential for miscommunication and lost business through failed client expectations.  When approaching a pre-consultation it is important to represent your business faithfully and fully inform the client.

First, let the client know what your policies are, whether by a client guide or contract.  Laying out pricing and contractual policies will prevent future potential issues that could damage a working relationship.  Ensure that you are outlining your own expectations and honestly describing what you can deliver..  Include information about product turn around time, required product purchase deadline, method of delivery, and any other information that is pertinent to maintaining a professional and worry-free photography experience.

Second, ask questions that lend to a complete understanding of what your client expects and envisions for their session.  By explicitly asking the client’s expectations the mystery is gone, placing the responsibility on the client to relay their desire. This will give you an artistic foundation on which you can build the ideal session.   Reiterating the client’s expectations back to them will put them at ease as you take this personable side of the business transaction a step farther.  Photography sessions are already riddled with anxiety as many people are not comfortable in front of the camera. By consistently and adequately portraying your desire to fulfill the client’s wants and needs, it will lessen the anxiety and open the lines of communication.

Third, educate your client.  Now is the time to educate your client on items that fall outside the realm of contractual necessities.  This includes items such as styling tips, special props to bring to the session (if requested), video services, etc. 

Finally, use this pre-consultation time to express your excitement and appreciation for the client. Nothing leaves a bad taste in the client’s mouth more than feeling like another business transaction.  Be personable. Without clients you wouldn’t have a business. You should make them feel more than just a revolving door, so let them get to know you.  Show them you’re a person, too! The most important marketing aspect that you have is yourself.  Let the clients  get to know you outside of being their new photographer.

Pre-Consultation sounds overwhelming, but putting the extra effort on the front end of the business transaction sets the stage and tone for the remainder.  Utilize it to the fullest.  The clients have chosen you for your product and business manner. Don’t give them any reason to doubt your capabilities when you can ward off potential issues with this pre-consultation plan.