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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.

Ymail? El Myr.

I signed up for a Ymail account (Yahoo’s new email system that’s supposed to be cool? awesome?) – I don’t really know what I’ll use it for since ummmm… since I have like 10 email addresses, all signed-up for various things that I no longer care for. But still. The chance to have another ‘’ email address is always too much for me to ignore.

For dinner we walked ourselves down the street to El Myr. Good stuff. And again – much better than The Albert. (I am still really annoyed by that place…) We’re definitely going to get our bikes all ready to go – just for these trips down the road because it always starts out as ‘not hot’ and then we end up dying from the humidity by the time we get there. And then the walk back? After we’re full of food and beer? Yeah. It’s even worse. So. Bikes!

In case you haven’t noticed – we have a donation counter over there at the top of the sidebar. Actually, the reason it’s there is because I’m using it as an example of an online donation meter that we can use for this fundraiser we’re doing with StandUp for Kids. But – I thought it would be kind of funny to have a fund raiser for our lunch. So we’ll see right? Eh.

For some reason, I can’t take good pictures of beer. Bottles? Nope. No matter how cool a label they have, I just haven’t figured it out yet. This one? Blurry. I’ll have to practice more. (which obviously entails more beer drinking!)

Burritos are trouble for me too – I think mainly because I can’t hold still. In one had I’m holding the thing and in the other I’m pressing the camera button. 99% of the time it’s blurrrrrry. Still. This one was good. Probably the best grilled fish burrito I’ve ever had… but I haven’t really had too many if any. Still. Good. Awesome. Filling. Worth the $7. That’s another thing – El Myr isn’t over priced at all. AND, you can get a $6 pitcher of PBR. Sure it’s not super great beer… but there are times when PBR is the right choice.

This week… was pretty consistent and it didn’t fly by, but it didn’t exactly drag on either. I’m not worn out, I just see a lot of work ahead. I am happy that I’m learning quite a bit and it’s all going to payoff soon. Mostly computer junk and software that I should already know but for some reason don’t yet. Still. I’m brilliant and I can do anything because I wear glasses – and they help to maximize my knowledge intake.

If you aren’t on – you should get on there – and then you should stop by the Yelp event on the 17th so you can hangout with us for a while this Thursday. That’d be awesome.

Yelp Event @ Java Vino + Friday

Yelp Atlanta

After a grueling day of work (more preparation in general for the telecommuting from China, and then also just general stuff that I had to get done that… is actual work but it’s the type of thing that no one knows you do even though it saves everyone a lot of extra work if you do it) and then it was time for the Yelpy Office Hours Event @ Java Vino.

This event was run/submitted by the regional Yelp boss, Deanna J. and she rocks – because when it’s an official yelp event (or somewhat) you get free stuff, like free drinks and then of course… there’s always free yelp junk like um, yelp stick, stickers, buttons, and all this other stuff that I never really take. But it’s still cool cause again, we get to hangout with people that we can have great conversations with and who actually have lives and goals. It’s just so different from other online social groups – AND it doesn’t have that whole ‘networking’ feel that most ‘events’ have for people in our age group.

Deanna is the one in red wearing the I *heart* Yelp – of course.

Java Vino was a nice spot for this, especially since it was a small group of around 7 people and we had a good time talking to each other about stuff – even though as far as guys, it was just me and one other guy. But our friend Yuna was there and it was really great to get a chance to talk to her for a bit about Korea and just getting to know her in general. (She’s the one the first picture with the blurry hands.)

We also got to talk to Laura D. – the person there sitting on the table. Here’s the thing about Yelp events, you never really have to worry about not getting around to talking to people because eventually, you’ll get a chance to actually talk to them beyond the ‘hello I’m Mark T.’ introduction. You initially want to have some sort of conversation with these people who you’ve known ‘online’ but then if you’re awkward like me, you freak out when you actually have to meet them in person the first time… so usually I don’t actually talk to these people until at least the 2nd time I meet them at a yelp event. 🙂

I know. This may have been a totally boring entry. But still. I can’t keep talking about China – it’ll get better when we actually fly out on Tuesday morning.

Oh yeah. I got a haircut – by my favorite Cambodian lady who cuts my hair at the GreatClips on Windward Parkway.

Oh, and one more – This is Three-Four, I’ve been giving him reiki everyday since I got my chakras attuned. He’s really come around. Whereas when I first started, he really wouldn’t sit still for it, and he didn’t really absorb any at all. But now he totally relaxes and stretches out – more than he’s ever done before in his life – and these last few days he’s been absorbing A LOT of energy. It’s an interesting feeling and when I reiki either of our cats I feel them pulling much more energy than any of the actual humans I’ve given reiki to… anyways… it’s just cool.

I’m Yelp Elite – B*tches!

I’m Yelp Elite. Although kind of silly, I’ll add it to my list of distinctions that I have *earned* (earned? After writing a certain amount of reviews and generally being slightly active in your regional yelp online community, you write an email saying why you should be given Elite status!… I should dig mine up. It rocked.)

Yelp Elite!

Anyways. There are regular yelp events and then there are elite yelp events – the elite ones seem to have more/better food/drinks. Oh. So at a recent one which ocurred on a top secret date at a top secret location (nah, just kidding, but it did occur at Food Studio.) Leah and I went down and met up with some of the elite-ers.

Leah and Wallce

Leah and Wallace! – he’s a college professor at ummm… Moorehouse? Somewhere, but genius!

Leah & Tulie

Leah and Tulie – she’s awesomely the living life of the party. Always. I’m very happy that she moved to Atlanta to go to med-school ’cause now we know her!

Leah Mark Tulie Dio

Leah! Mark! Tulie! Dio! (not his real name apparently – but we’ll keep up the charade!)

Omg. Look. It’s me… standing next to two other asian people in the same picture! Having lived in Phoenix for so long, I’ve never had that happen! (and not even with my family – because my brother and sister are half black and so it would only be me and my mom who look really asian in our family photos – everyone else is still in the Philippines.)

– Mark