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BlackTie BBQ | Low Country Boil

This past Saturday we photographed another one of BlackTie BBQ’s Secret Suppers. This time it was a low-country boil. In case you missed the first few – we photographed their Cinco de Mayo event, and then also the last Secret Supper that was held on stage at Theatrical Outfit. The food was Out.Standing.

The low-country boil was at the Atlanta Goat Farm. Yes. The Atlanta Goat Farm.

We photograph events that interest us. Not necessarily the event itself, but the conditions – specifically the challenges. Above everything else, photography is light. Aside from composition – we focus on handling light no matter what situation is thrown at us. That includes the middle of the day with no cloud cover, a black box, or a rainy day wedding – ‘bad light’ is never an excuse. No matter what any photographer tells you – there is no bad light – there is only light that they don’t know how to control or manage.

I started out planning on setting up a few light stands, cross lighting the space and shooting it like any other event – except I had four interns with me and not enough gear to go around. So I decided to make it a challenge for all of us. Attach a flash to our hotshoes and see what we get.

Now – you might be new to us here at so you probably don’t know how we feel about ‘on-camera’ flash. Basically – we don’t do it. We see many event photographers using big white tupperware diffusers on their $400 flashes, turning them into… soft light bulbs. From the start we decided that we were never going to make photos that way. I know – other photographers swear by them and generally we’re the only ones not using them… hey, that alone makes sure our photos will be different from everyone else’s – even if we have to work harder.

In the shot above you can see a good 15 feet back into the space – all lit with our on camera flashes with no tupperware diffuser. What some people don’t realize is that those diffusers cut the light so much that you’re rarely ever able to throw it past 4 feet and then you get complete darkness, and a flat looking photo where the people are bright bright bright and then it’s just black behind them – they look like they’re floating in space. We don’t like that look.

The interns are sometimes more comfortable starting off shooting details shots – the ‘stuff” – so lately I’ve been giving them that job completely and you’ll see shots from earlier in the evening in the intern posts.

I didn’t really start shooting until the last hour and a half and that’s when me and all of the interns were technically stuck with the same restrictions (on camera flash, low light conditions, small space with a finite number of shots) – so I told them we were all ‘competing’ because it’s too easy to just ‘check out’ and accept boring photos when given a difficult shooting situation.

If anything – I did not want us to give up and resort to a gallery of posed ‘get together and look at the camera’ type photos. So we all worked the entire time of the event, looking for shots that were less standard and more up to par with how I’ve photographed events in the past. Click. Click. Click.

Because there are few things that separate a good event photographer from everyone else on Facebook with a ‘photography fan page’ – and one of those things is the determination to work an entire event, looking for the best shots even if they don’t come until the last 10 minutes. Because we don’t wait for inspiration, or the perfect conditions, or even luck – but we do work the entire time, and even if we don’t succeed, we aim for beautiful photography, not just ‘good coverage’ of the event.

Below are the blog entries and photos by the interns who helped photograph this event with me:

Deborah | Christy | Robby | Maigh

Atlanta. Event. Photographer. Wedding. Low. Country. Boil.

BlackTie BBQ | Secret Supper

Check out the Photo Gallery Here.

Last Wednesday I was hired to photograph Black Tie BBQ’s Cinco de Mayo Secret Supper. Secret Location, Secret Menu, and Secret Guest List – basically you purchase a ticket and then you receive an email 24-48 hours before the event with all of the information. I’ve worked with Black Tie BBQ before on two previous occasions and they’ve never disappointed – in fact, as you’ll see from the photos, they do an excellent job of hosting a party, AND providing some really great food.

As with all of our event photography – no matter what – we try to get more than the basic ‘get together and smile’ shots of the attendees. Of course I’ll get those required shots just to make sure I get enough ‘coverage’ – but one of the things that I’m trying to get across to our interns is that they should focus on capturing the atmosphere. Not just the people. Sure they play a central role, but you don’t get atmosphere by photographing people squeezing together, trying to pose for a photo. You get it by photographing people doing things. You get it by putting yourself in a position to get the best shot – not just a good one.

Hey Look – Intern Jenna came along with me to work the event.

One of the noticeable qualities of our photographs has always been the light – or rather, how we handle light. Honestly, part of this is understanding our cameras and a little bit about editing – but the most important part of how we handle light is simply – we’re not afraid to take it on. Granted – this was initially due to the fact that I just didn’t know enough to realize that I shouldn’t be shooting a certain way in certain conditions. So I ended up trying a lot of things and eventually I learned how much leeway I had when it came to certain light conditions.

Speaking about the photo below – it took about 2 exposures and some chimping (looking at the display screen on the back of your camera) before I got to this one – and the subject did her part by looking cool for me. It’s probably one of my favorite among many from that day – because of the light.

Now. We have 9 interns – but obviously they’re more than that to us. Leah and I have really made ourselves accountable and taken on a fair amount of responsibility to teach them a few things. Along with all of the technical stuff ( ha, like using off camera flashes that have two settings – on and off), I especially like bringing them with me on photo shoots. Even better are the shoots where there isn’t much space. Because restrictions force you to be creative, and for us – the more restrictions, the easier it is to be creative – because you have to make up cool stuff OR ELSE. At least that’s how it is in my head.

Of course – sometimes you just need to stop thinking and start shooting. Other times, you need to talk to people so that they feel more comfortable with you and the big camera you’re sticking their face. Other times, you just need to hold your ground and get your shot, even when other people are about to yell at you. Yeah. All of those things.

In the end though – all of this event photography we do is really just practice for the weddings we photograph. It helps to keep our shots fresh from wedding to wedding. Photographers should be photographing – and we photograph everything. Because we’re trying to discover new things with our photos and our own skills – and you don’t discover things by photographing just weddings, or just family portraits, or just models.

Check Out The Photo Gallery HERE.