Browsing Tag


Studying Other Photographers

It’s not that you shouldn’t study other photographers. You should definitely know what’s been made before you – and what’s currently being made. But if you’re working on your stuff – if you’re REALLY working on it, then you’re too busy to read and keep up with 20 other photographers blogs.

You’re too busy to talk on photographers forums and argue about the quality of a lens, or the latest version of Photoshop.

You’re too busy making. | Atlanta Fashion Photographer


Weddings | Portraits | Photobooths

Interns | Weekly Vol. One

We operate the largest Photography Internship in the country. Currently we have 11 Interns and every Friday at 9am they must post a blog entry. This is the weekly summary.

Intern Heather: “The river shoot, for me, was definitely my first threshold. I had to break away from old patterns of thinking.  I had to actually stop thinking at all, well, the critical thinking on my craft.”

Intern Joshua: “When presented with challenges and when you are placed in unfamiliar circumstances you either act or you do not. All of your experience, knowledge, and expertise mean absolutely nothing if you do not act.”

Intern Karley: “I really struggle with being comfortable having my picture taken.”

Intern Tanisha: “At first, I held back quite a bit. I was nervous, I did not know intern Stephanie at the time and I did not want to get in her way. I missed a ton of shots and I just sucked for a while.”

Intern Bonnie: “On the drive home I began to process everything and only then did I realize what an adventure I was truly going to have over the next 3 months and beyond.  I want to become a rockstar photographer.”

Intern Alexander: “This is my first internship with anybody.  I’ve never interned before in my life.”

Intern Delilah: “At first, I stayed comfortably along the edge of the river.  Shooting from the sidelines  – thinking I wouldn’t have to get in.  Or, get wet.  I was wrong.”

Intern Chad: “I had been looking at the blog posts from other interns in previous seasons about their various experiences and what to expect. It was so much more than what I expected”

Intern Stephanie: “I was  pretty much telling myself  too much sun, I’m not going to get any good pictures – what am I even doing here?

Intern Patricia: “I purchased a 50mm lens a few years ago because I heard it would be great for portrait shots.”


Connecting | by +Krista

A few years ago, I came across this really awesome (and very poignant) quote- I found it (or it found me) at a time when my life was essentially flipped upside down. I was questioning things a lot: where I was, where I was going, and who I’d chosen to surround myself with. And then, I found it. I’d like to say it was scrawled someplace significant but it was probably doodled on the inside of a college textbook or something… but it basically slapped me in the face: “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.” And wow. It was exactly the lightbulb moment I needed. And while I’ve stumbled and backslid a few times since, that saying is now always in the back of my mind, like the good advice I don’t always follow but do always remember- eventually. Because life is about connections. Like photography.

It’s easy to snap a picture of something pretty. There’s pretty stuff all around us- a sunset, a bunch of flowers, whatever. But the challenge of creating lies in making something a little bit (okay, a LOT) better than something that’d hang on the wall in a hotel room- and the best challenge of all is connecting. With a face: eyes locked, betraying the mind. With a moment: head thrown back in mid-laugh, shoes kicking up in the air. Or with a place: connecting so well that you’d swear you could pull a Mary Poppins and be inside that place in an instant. The connection is what I love most about photography- connecting with the camera, with another person, anything.

I find myself, especially at weddings, dropping my camera down from my face for just a moment during the first dance- because I love watching that connection between people in love. I sometimes hide around the corner of my living room hallway, watching my daughters and their own little connection: sisterly, fiery, loyal and loving- I stifle my laughter when my Little One fights back against her big sister’s bossiness with a bite. The connections in life- no matter how meaningful or superficial- are what make us.

And I’ve had lots of connections. I still wonder about some- as in, what the HELL was I thinking?- and I miss some. Regret some. Hold onto some. Let go of others. (Sometimes multiple times.) Every single connection really can be divided neatly into a category: season, reason, lifetime. I literally have a photographic memory- a blessing and a curse- and forever have those connections, no matter who they were or why they were, ingrained into my mind. And into my photography too. And that. is. awesome.

To Live

I have a confession. I’m not really an outdoorsy girl. And yet, you’re looking at photos I made last weekend- made while I waded neck-deep into the Chattahoochee River, dodging fish and snakes and maybe a flesh-eating bacterium or two. Huh. How do you like that?

My photography pushes me like nothing else I’ve ever known. Clearly, because under normal circumstances, I’d be much more content back on shore, book in one hand and something fruity and frozen and topped with a little umbrella in the other. But Sunday was the River Shoot. It was like Christmas for me. (Which, ahem, is saying a lot, because I also happen to be head-over-heels in love with Christmas. Just so you know.) Also, in case you were wondering how best to pull off your OWN model-in-the-river look and where to buy some of the jewelry that one of my lovely models are wearing, check out Dazzle Me Designs. You’re welcome.

There’s something about going outside your comfort zone, not only as an artist but as a human being, that’s just really good for your soul. I donned raggedy yoga pants, hoisted my camera above my head, and just walked into a frigging river like I owned the joint.

Leaving your comfort zone is scary. And it’s scary no matter where your comfort zone is. The day of this shoot, mine was obviously on dry land, but beyond that, it’s staying behind. It takes a lot to take a deep breath and leave what you know, diving into the unknown with fear or trepidation or butterflies or anything or everything.

You can stay where it’s comfortable. A lot of us do. But you’re not really living. You’re just existing. But then the day or hour or moment will come along where you’ll read something or hear something or do something that wakes you up from this cozy little hibernation that you hadn’t even realized you’d fallen into. Something jolts you- maybe it’s a something, maybe it’s a someone- and suddenly you’re awake and the restlessness is gone. And you know what you have to do to stay alive. You live.

And you will get scared. If you’re lucky, it’s just a fish that gets a little too friendly in the Chattahoochee. But worse can- and will- happen. The trick is actually really easy: so ridiculously simple, in fact, that most of us forget it altogether. Live. Don’t just exist. Live.  



Old Car City by +Debra

Atlanta Wedding Photographer Vintage Retro Junkyard +Debra

– Posted by +Debra

My lovely sister moved to South Korea last year, to teach English, explore SE Asia, and eat Korean BBQ till she couldn’t stand it. She also went to evolve, grow, learn, and become a fuller happier person. Now she didn’t need to move all the way to Korea to do that…well maybe for her she did. Maybe for me, my steps to evolving, growing, learning, and becoming a fuller happier person involved having a baby and staying put. A baby will certainly make you change. In a lot of ways. It’s not like overnight you become responsible. It doesn’t mean you morph into a happy person, nah, it means you morph into a sleep deprived hormone ridden parental figure, but maybe happier is in there somewhere. Just kidding. I love my child, and the changes he has brought to me, my boyfriend, and our home. A new baby has invoked an evolution that is at once harmonious and choatic. There have been a lot of changes in me and my photography since I was an intern last summer.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer Vintage Retro Junkyard +Debra

Nobody ever stays exactly the same, because we all have to adapt to our constantly changing lives. So my sister now lives in a town where she is literally the ONLY ENGLISH SPEAKER. Like really, nobody else is a native English speaker. She had to say good bye to in depth debates about philosophy and detailed cooking instructions on your cereal box. Now she communicates with hand gestures, body language, and broken run on sentences with Korean and English dancing playfully and resulting in ideas and good intentions that are readily misunderstood instead. Now that she is living in Korea, I realize that it is better she is there and not me. I would be so lonely without a lot of people to speak with. As an introvert, I need people. As an extrovert, she can handle the loneliness. I know, sounds backwards, but just wait we will get there. You will understand soon.

See years ago, I obtained a degree in Linguistics with the intention of living all over the world teaching English to kids and exploring places with my camera. The Universe decided differently the day I met my boyfriend. The irony was that I wouldn’t date him until I finished my final year in college, maximum course load will do that to you. So when I did finish, then I started dating him, still with ideas of traveling everywhere, but we clicked. I was hooked, and now several years later we have a beautiful son. I live in America, collecting memories, creating images, and caring for a 7 week old baby. My sister, she lives in Korea teaching English, exploring new countries, and learning about philosophy and holistic health.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer Vintage Retro Junkyard +Debra

She is learning, growing, and evolving. So am I. So are you. Part of her learning comes from her Chinese medicine doctor, her closest friend in her town, and also the influence of Bhuddism on Korean culture. She is learning completely new coping strategies for her past, present, and future. I am learning how to direct wedding parties, juggle 4 lenses during a ceremony, change batteries with one hand and no eyes..and of course how to burp babies, change diapers, and rock a fussing child as a sleep walker. I used to be the one who tore apart philosophy books, ranging from Quinne and modern materialism to Bhudda and the fact that everything changes. While I was a bookworm, she was a nanny and hanging out with little people singing songs.

Our lives have flip flopped in a way so that we may learn and grow. We both needed to evolve, and our lives evolved within each others sphere, so that we could be there to guide and support one another during these growth spurts. That’s exactly why we are sisters, and exactly why our lives are the way they are. Now you see why we need life long relationships and opposites in our lives. They force us to change, to grow, and to be different and to be better.

So what does this have to do with photography?

A lot.

At least with my photography.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer Vintage Retro Junkyard +Debra

It is a preface to understanding why the pictures from this junkyard shoot are SO DIFFERENT from my junkyard shoot last year. It is because I have evolved as a photographer. One of the concepts my sister explained to me recently was that the mind, the deepest part of the mind doesn’t accept negation. The psyche knows, and it knows not. If I say to you, “don’t think about the red elephant in the corner” what are you going to do? You are going to envision a red elephant in the corner. To make a deep and meaningful change in your way of thinking, you have to remove the concept and replace it with a new one.

So if I decide, “I want to be a powerful storyteller, a creative photographer, I want people to feel from my images. I want to stay with them long after they have turned the page.”

That is a big statement, and a big decision. I have to remove concepts from my psyche that would hinder these truths from being a reality. I have to remove concepts that are just as big and demanding as that statement. Fear of failure, an inability to try new things, following the rules other people have established…these are concepts that would hinder creative story telling with an emotional and lasting reaction. These are the concept that I am working on removing from my thought process.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer Vintage Retro Junkyard +Debra

This means that “fear” and “failure” can no longer a part of my vocabulary. There is only “try” ,“keep changing” , and “do something different”. These recent junkyard photographs from Old Car City show that there is a change to me, and a new maturity to my photography. It shows that I am an evolving creative person.

The biggest irony of these shots is that I had convinced myself that my natural light photos would never be as good as my strobe focused shots from last year. I tried to set myself up for less success, I hemmed and hawed because my batteries weren’t charged. I pouted in the 95 degree weather, and sweat in the 100% humidity under the trees and amongst the rusted cars. My superficial mind didn’t want to accept that my image making success could be possible without the fancy tools. My psyche knew differently, and thankfully must have been controlling the camera while my outer self was throwing a (mostly silent) tantrum. The few strobe shots I got are not my favourite, while they look nice, they don’t speak to me as intensely as my natural light shots.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer Vintage Retro Junkyard +Debra

It makes me think what I can do and accomplish if I accept and focus on positive change. What can be accomplished when rules of composition are bent, when new styles are tried on for size. How diverse can I be as an image maker, memory collector, and story teller? For once I didn’t center the subject, I didn’t take the same picture over and over and over again until it felt just right…instead I moved a lot, I worked at it, and worked at changing…until it started to manifest art. It’s good to know the ground rules, to be able to guarantee the safe delivery, but it is the ability to deliver the unique and amazing that will make my statement become a reality.

– Posted by +Debra

River Session | Intern Experience

This past weekend was really, really busy for me and the Interns. On Friday we spent 10 hours at Anime Weekend Atlanta (AWA) and then went down to Kai Lin art gallery to photograph the opening of the Zenith exhibition. Saturday morning, we were down at the river by 6:45 am and ready to photograph Intern Blake’s wife in a wedding dress – not hers, one she bought from ebay specifically for this.

One of the many perks and advantages that our internship provides are the many different types of photoshoots. We cover almost anything with people except concerts. While some photographers have gone into their niche markets and stay within narrowly defined marketing plans – we stretch our skills because we know that skills translate – and we don’t ever want to run the risk of making the same photos over and over again. This is especially true for wedding photography where many photographers tend to repeat shots/poses much more often than they should.

Up above you can see everyone walking out into the middle of the river. I lucked out and wore flip flops down to my car since my shoes were in the trunk – and that turned out great because yeah, there was no way I was going to just stand on the shore. Standing on the shore would’ve been lame. Blake had his crocs, Debra decided that her shoes would just get soaked – and Nick and Christian went barefoot. The sun was coming up and we had an anime convention to go to directly after this shoot – so we started shooting and pretty much kept up the pace the whole time.

This was technically Blake’s shoot since he set it up completely by finding the location and the model. So everyone else was 2nd shooter and not in the lead. We were all barely awake when we started shooting so we just had Blake directing his wife most of the time while the rest of us sniped shots from the various side angles. Usually that sucks. This was different because it was a wide open space, and we had about 130 degree radius area around the model where each of us could shoot without crossing each other and getting in our shots. It’s different when you’re in a room, or the model’s up against a wall. There are usually far fewer (if more than one) spots for the best shot.

I’m always looking for wide, epic photos that make use of the setting and try to appropriately convey the openness of the space. Yes, details are great and it’s always a good idea to get up close and get a variety of shots – but since I was waking up for most of this shoot, I hung back, set my lens to 18mm and held my camera just above the water as I kept taking pictures.

So what you see here are shots taken as the 2nd shooter. You can see everyone else’s photos when they post them to their Intern blogs – and then Blake’s specifically here (since he was main shooter on this one). I’ll admit that while Blake was off setting up the next set or just thinking, I’d ask his wife to look at my camera just for a second – which is why I got a few shots with her eyes actually in my direction.

Still. I’m hoping that the Interns realize that everything we do translates to other types of shooting. Because you’re not going to always be the main photographer – especially at events where there’s a group of competing photographers. So you’d better get used to finding new shots – the ones that are less obvious but somehow just as compelling.

Not only that – but you need to see photos before they happen. You need to anticipate a person walking across a field or across the street – and almost immediately know what shot you need to make. Where you need to be. Because you won’t have a lot of time, and you won’t have a 2nd chance.

I’ve covered this before in our newsletter. You need to pre-visualize your shots before you ever put the camera up to your face. Getting lucky won’t cut it. You don’t get lucky 20 times during a session. You get lucky once during a set – if that – and honestly, that’s a very risky way to make a photography career. Sure luck is often involved – but who wants to depend on luck? Make your own by actually being good.

Leah and I work very hard on every job we do. Whether it’s a paid gig or a ‘practice’ shoot with the Interns – all sessions must produce deliverable photos, if not usable shots in our portfolios. I use the term portfolio loosely – but the idea is that we’re not wasting anyone’s time. Why go to all the trouble of setting up a photoshoot if you’re not expecting amazing photos?

I’m not saying we always succeed. I’m saying that we always aim for deliverable photos. I’m saying that we always aim for epic shots. Whether it’s a wedding, a Steampunk fashion show, or Bhutanese refugees.

Intern Blake and his wife.

Right after the river shoot we went directly over to Anime Weekend Atlanta for the 2nd day of shooting the convention.

If you saw our Dragon*Con photos, or read the entry, then you know how I feel about standard ‘con photography. Our primary goal was simply to make different photos. Not only that – but I told the Interns that we weren’t going to take the easy way out. We weren’t going to photograph people in empty spaces. No – we were going to make different photos right alongside everyone else – and that means in the halls. That means with people walking in and out of your shot, and security telling you to move along.

But then also when we do decide to use a secluded spot – it can’t just be a blank wall as the backdrop. Blank wall = boring.

We need a commercial kitchen. We need to get kicked out of the commercial kitchen. Then we need to convince someone to grant us permission to shoot in the commercial kitchen. Yes. That’s what we need to do.

Of course – fandom conventions are overwhelming. It’s very easy to get caught up and want to photograph EVERYTHING. That would be a mistake. You really need to be selective and slow down. I decided that I would make a series of headshot type portraits. Because it’s not just about the full body costumes.

We had full access during the convention with our staff badges and with eight of us running all over the place – we made a lot of photos. You can check out the Intern posts as they make them – and check back here in the next few days for my photos of the hall cosplay, the headshot series, and the Lolita Fashion Show.

See you tomorrow, and thanks.

Atlanta. Chattahoochee. River. Trash. The. Dress. Photo. Shoot. Locations. Wedding. Photographer.