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Just a short quick post before the year really starts. Things get busy fast and it’s easy to get behind on the blogging. We had a great New Year’s Eve with friends and we’re really excited about 2010. It’s going to be awesome, and as wild as 2009 was – (getting married, graduating college (finally?), moving (again), and really taking photography seriously) – 2010 is set to be insanely great.

So make your list of goals/wants/intentions for 2010 and stick it someplace you’ll see it everyday so they’re always there in front of you. Remember, your brain doesn’t know the difference between reality and make-believe, so why not choose to make your brain believe a better reality of your choosing. It works, trust me. You are a mind with a body – not the other way around – and they work in that order.


Lets. Go. All. Out.

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Yelp @ Ambient + Studio


We (“we” being both LeahAndMark of shot the Yelp Event last night at Ambient + Studio. Yeah! Even Leah grabbed the camera and flashes and went around knocking out some shots.

Click HERE to see the UPDATED Small Gallery. (more at the bottom of this post)

This was the largest event space we’ve shot at so far. Add the part where it was really dark and it could’ve been really difficult – except I’ve already lit really dark (see the last post and the wedding at the Highland Ballroom) – and now I’m even better. For example – the photo below – there are 4 flashes lighting up the space. You can see the light on the people. On the left side of the photo there is a shine coming off of the left side (our view) of the um, bald man’s face (flash 1) – there’s the obvious lens flare (flash 2) there’s a flash off camera to the right helping out (flash 3), and then I’m holding a flash in my left hand high above (flash 4).

With so much flash – it helped a lot that the space was so large – otherwise the flashes really would’ve been overkill. (I suppose I would’ve just used less)

Still. With events there’s always a balance you’re trying to achieve between general ‘coverage’ and then candid action shots – believe me – I’ve studied A LOT of event photos from nearly 100 photographers in the Atlanta area. Seriously. And after having seen way too many photos – a simple thing that we always try to do is have… interesting lighting. I know I’ve said it way too many times on here – but aside from composition, our photos are all about Light.

In a space like this it’s too easy to just light the 5 feet in front of the camera – but to be able to light past that and not just flatten everything… is more fun. Always trying to give the photos some depth to them.


Right now for us, light is probably the biggest thing that makes us different from any other event photographer. Imagine any of these photos if they were taken with a single on camera or bracket flash. They’d essentially be really clear photos that you could get with a point-and-shoot. Not only that – but we (I) try something new at EVERY event that I shoot. Of course I’m only able to do that because I know I can always fall back on the ‘safe’ photos – whether using available light or on-camera flash. Everyone’s so used to those that they think they’re ‘decent’.

Atlanta has SO MANY photographers – and so many REALLY good ones – the market here is almost saturated. I realize how fortunate I’ve been to be working and getting so many paying gigs (especially with so many hobbyists photogs out there.) So any edge, or difference we have over them really, really helps.


I know. It sounds like I’m giving up all my secrets and I should just shut up about all this stuff. I mean – if my photos look different and it helps me get jobs, then why would I want to let everyone know about what I’m doing? (ha – they’re not really secrets – and as we all should know by now – it’s not the gear – the photographer still has to not suck, and hopefully have a good eye or two.)

The reason I have to be so open with my technique, and everything I know (ha… the LITTLE BIT that I do know) – is because I learned from other people who freely posted their own tips online. If you go through this blog – you’ll notice that I started taking photography seriously around the end of August. I’ve only been doing this for less than two months! I started getting paid gigs consistently 3 weeks ago. There is no way I could’ve made that transition in such a short time period without reading everything that’s out there, but more importantly – studying other people’s photographs. Writers read books and photographers study photos.


Granted – I’ve also got a fair amount of gear now – but it’s all cheap stuff. I have about 7 flashes that I got for around $100 off of ebay. Cheap light. They’re not smart flashes and most of the time I just set them on full manual or a few levels down. There’s no TTL or ‘smart’ connection with my camera telling the flashes to adjust. They’re set and then I have to make adjustments on my end. I have six $10 light stands – I can’t be spending $40 on a super sturdy light stand when I can get four for that same price. My remote triggers are the ebay kind and I have 7 of them.

There is A LOT of discussion online about how all of these cheap items don’t really work or aren’t reliable. They make it sound like you MUST buy the $150 set of pocket wizards (I think that’s 1 trigger and 1 receiver) and then the $300 flash (each!) – yeah… for the price of one flash I essentially bought my whole kit.


This isn’t to really brag about how thrifty I am – but I got A LOT of questions and compliments last night on both my photography and the lighting in my photos. So it’s always a cool thing to be able to tell people that it doesn’t cost that much and they can do it too.

Of course sometimes I think all of the effort doesn’t make much of a difference – or if anyone even likes them this way instead of the normal way – but the difference is all I’ve got for now…

Hey. It’s Friday. Finally.


Click HERE for the Yelp FLICKR Set and see All of the Photos from Last Night.

Click HERE to see the UPDATED Small Gallery.

Back in the ATL

I’m back in Atlanta after a whirlwind trip to Phoenix, which for the most part was great.  It was wonderful to reconnect with so many of my Phoenix friends, even though I still didn’t get to see everyone I wanted to!  But lots of excitement indeed at seeing Brandy’s new house, feeling Skye’s first contractions, seeing the new and improved HomeBase (where I used to work), and marveling at Melanie’s adorable, entertaining genius of a daughter.  Oh!  And dinner and Wii with Mark’s familia was awesome.  Great food, thanks to Myra and Mark’s mom.  Ryan is a rockstar at the Wii games.  And Mark’s BFF Amy always cracks me up.  I love all y’all!!  Can’t wait to see you in December, this time with Mark in tow.

I had the video camera, not the digital one, so you’ll have to wait for a Video Spectacular later!

Last night we went to a party!  Cuz we are fancy party people.  That pic up there is the view of the city from our new friends’, Ramit and Madhura’s, balcony.  Pretty cool, huh?  It was a little scary at first, but then we got used to it.  Well, sort of.  Mark didn’t really get totally used to being up on the 28th Floor…

Wheee.  We’re high in the sky.  We got to spy on all the pretentious folks at the W strutting around and trying to feel cool.  Oh, if you were at the W Midtown last night, that doesn’t apply to you.  Just everyone else.

It was a fun night.  Lots of good food, too!  Homemade hummus, delicious Indian nibbles that made me miss wandering around Delhi and Varanasi, and lots of nice new people to converse with.  I even found another White American Person that can speak Chinese!  Really well!  We like how people think we’re all cool for speaking Chinese when in actuality it’s a way easier language than French or Spanish.  Hah.  But go ahead and think we’re totally awesome.  We don’t mind.

Alright- time to get ready for a day at the lake.  Ciao!