My Five Favorite Fotogs of 2010

If you see me out I typically have a camera in my hands and if I don’t it’s not very far away.  I keep my Nikon D300 pretty close at all times, even at work since I never know when I might need to photograph some evidence or something like that.  Having a camera nearby usually elicits photography conversation and I usually ask the other photographer who they follow or which blogs they read.  The vast majority of the local photographers that I associate with don’t seem to read or follow anyone else’s stuff.  That’s kind of surprising to me actually.  Matt Baxter is the exception.  He and I follow the same people for the most part.

Over the last few years I have been religiously following a few different professional photographers.  I like these guys because not only are they amazing photographers but they also have the “heart of a teacher” (Dave Ramsey quote) and want to share what they have learned.  So here is my top five list in no particular order.

1. Joe McNally :

Joe has been shooting for well over 20 years and has been coined the Master of Flash.  Every image of his tells a story but to hear Joe actually tell the story makes it even better.  He is not shy in front of a video camera and he explains things very well.  I’ve been able to locate a fair amount of interviews on youtube but the best place to learn about Joe is on his blog at http://www.joemcnally.com/blog/.

2. Zack Arias :

Mr. Zack Arias.  How do I explain why I like him….  I think I like and follow Zack more because of his candid, un-politically correct attitude toward the craft of photography.  Don’t get me wrong, he is an amazing photographer, but his candidness is great too and lends itself well to the community.  I see Zack as being the type of guy that really has to work at being a creative.  Here’s just a little personal story I have about the Arias family.  Zack had a “Black Friday” special on his OneLite DVD back last month.  It was so good that I couldn’t pass it up and was one of the first ones to hit the purchase button.  When I got my DVD and tried to play it there was something messed up with the audio.  I contacted his wife Meghan and was rushed a new DVD with a nice little note inside.  Their customer service is wonderful and the DVD is awesome!  I recommend it.  You too can follow Zack on his blog at http://www.zarias.com/.

3. Chase Jarvis:

I found Chase back a couple of years ago by accident much like I found these other guys.  His images were different and very conceptual.  Chase shoots mainly commercial photography but posts a lot of his personal work too.  He does a lot of behind the scenes videos which adds to his teacher qualities that I like and admire.  Follow Chase at his website over at http://blog.chasejarvis.com/blog/.

4. Mike Colon:

Mike is an internationally known wedding photographer.  He is simply amazing.  There isn’t much else to say about him.  If you’re a wedding photographer or aspire to be then I highly encourage you to start reading his blog over at http://www.mikecolon.com/.

5. Scott Kelby:

Last but certainly not least is Scott Kelby.  Yes, that’s right, Mr. Photoshop made my top 5.  Scott is an amazing teacher and an amazing photographer.  He recently started shooting some NFL and college football games and is nice enough to share those with us.  While I am not a huge football fan, I do enjoy looking over the images and reading how he is able to get such crisp and clean pictures.  Follow Scott at http://www.scottkelby.com/.  I also recommend checking out his online training website where you can learn all about photoshope, wordpress, off camera flash, and a mixture of other photography related subjects from professional photographers such as Joe McNally, David Ziser, Jay Maisel, Jeremy Cowart and many others.

All of the above are also avid twitter users too.  You should be able to find their twitter handle on their blog page.  If you can’t then ask me and I’ll give it to you.

If you are a photograph then I recommend you find and follow a few photographers that shoot things that inspire you and encourage you to get off your butt and shoot more images.  The wheel doesn’t need to be re-invented.  Learn from each other.  That’s what makes this fun.

Who are some of your favorite photographers?

Camera Equipment and Tips

Friends often ask me what kind of camera I use.  Before I answer them I usually ask them why they want to know and 99% of the time, the reason is that they love my images and want to be able to make images like mine.  A lot of the times these same friends have a good, quality DSLR camera similar to the one I shoot with.

The reason for this post is this; the cameras that we have today are 100 times better than most of the film cameras people were using just 10 years ago.  The camera doesn’t make the image, the person behind the camera makes the image.

If you want to learn how to use your DSLR to it’s maximum let me give you a few tips.

1.  Read your manual.  Learn all you can about your camera.  Become one with it and it won’t lead you astray.

2.  Stop using the pre-programmed modes.  Use the “A”, “S”, or “M” modes.  These will give you greater control over how your image looks.

3.  Read and view professional photographer’s blogs such as Joe McNally, Scott Bourne and Chase Jarvis.

4.  Visit my buddy Stephen Zeller’s DSLR Workshop page and watch his tutorials.

5.  Get off your butt and shoot.  The more images you make, the more you will learn and the better you will become.

For those of you who are wondering.  I shoot with a Nikon D300.  I usually have either the kit (18-135mm) kit lens attached to it or my 50mm f/1.8.  You don’t need all that crazy expensive equipment to make beautiful images.

A New Chapter

My daughter Emilie just turned eleven a few weeks ago.  She has entered into the new world of middle school.  She tried out for and made the school soccer team and she is growing faster than I ever thought possible, but this is not the “New Chapter” that I am speaking of.  Sure it is a new chapter, but it’s not the “New Chapter”.  The New Chapter of my life that I am talking about is that of fatherhood.  You see, I am going to be a dad again.  Yes, that’s right, I am going to be a dad again.  I know, I know.  It sounds crazy and I honestly never thought that it would happen.  I was perfectly content raising my little girl, but apparently God didn’t see fit for me to just have one child.

So, here it is.  Annie and I are having a little girl.  We are naming her Eliot Faith Bryant (EFB).  As unplanned as this was I am starting to get excited.  Bryant blood is great blood to have running through your veins and this little girl is going to make me just as happy and proud as my little Emilie has and will continue to do.

Patiently we wait…

_DSC7128

_DSC7071

_DSC7021

Habitat for Humanity – Century Village

I was afforded yet another opportunity to document exactly the kind of things that the Navy Reserve does to help out the local community.  A few months ago I was encouraged by the Reserve Center Commanding Officer to take the lead on setting up some kind of community service event for the unit that I am in.  So I contacted the local Habitat for Humanity in Cleveland, TN to volunteer my group.

I contacted Habitat via email and was greeted by the Volunteer Coordinator Annie Kinworthy.  I briefed Annie on who I was and who we were as a unit.  I provided her with a list of dates that we would be available and she happily “penciled” us in.

A couple of years ago, Habitat acquired some land off of 20th St S.E. in Cleveland and began developing the first Habitat for Humanity neighborhood where every home in the neighborhood would be a Habitat home.  They named this new development “Century Village”.  It was cleverly named this because Habitat would build their 100th home in this neighborhood.  Annie allowed us to be a part of this wonderful endeavor.

The first time we volunteered this year we helped put a roof on one of the homes.  Approximately ten to twelve sailors came to lend a hand.  This weekend however we did much different things.  One group of sailors assisted in installing vinyl siding on a storage building behind one of the houses.  Another group assisted in installing shutters on three of the houses.  One group put down landscaping material on two of the houses.  A couple of the guys put together some lawn mowers and put in a couple of mail boxes.  We were also able to see the nearly finished home that we put the roof on.

The best part about helping with these homes is meeting the owners.  Seeing the smile on their faces as they arrive to help us build their house is a great feeling.  Some people think that these homes are just given away to poor people but that is very far from the truth.  Miss Kinworthy explain to us that the families must put in 500 sweat equity hours before they are given the keys to their home.  Those hours include helping to build another family’s house.  The new owners must also acquire an interest free loan and then Habitat actually sells the house to the new owner at cost.  These homes are certainly not given away.  The families work their tails off.

Next month, on Saturday, September 11th, the Navy Reserves will once again be in Cleveland helping build another home.

Not only do we help the oppressed people of foreign countries from murderous dictators; we also bring smiles to local families, both of which make me very proud to be a United States Sailor.

First Wedding – “An Experience”

It’s been a couple of weeks since I shot my first wedding.  I’ve had quiet a few days to sit back and reflect on the whole experience and I have to say that I enjoyed it a lot.  I won’t lie or make lite of it at all because it was tough.  Knowing that your boss is a customer and that he or she is expecting near perfection in the finished product is a tall order to fill and in the end the only person you have to blame if the results are less than that is yourself.  The fact that my “employeer” was my best friend made the whole thing even more stressful too.  In the end I have to say that I am fairly pleased with the results and I hope the newly-wed couple is also.

I can honestly say that I learned a lot from this but the main thing was that no amount of reading or research can ever truly and fully prepare someone to shoot a wedding alone.  Action is the only thing that can truly teach you.  Experience is the key and you can’t gain that by sitting behind a computer and reading about someone else’s experience.  Sure you can gain a lot of insite, but it’s just not the same.

What are some things that I would do different you might ask?  For starters I think I would certainly communicate with the bride/groom more.  I would find out exactly what look they are looking for even if that look is whatever artistic flair I wan’t to add myself.  Secondly I would scout the area a little better the night before while at the rehearsal dinner.  Thirdly, I would set up a small station where I could take group or family photographs of the attendees as they arrived (if there was time).

One key thing that helped me was that I knew the bride and groom fairly well.  I’ve known the groom for many years and consider him one of my dearest friends.  So knowing his demeanor and attitude sure helped things out and made for a few good laughs during the wedding and reception.  I mean, how many photographers have the garter flipped directly in their direction?  LOL  Classic!

So in the words of Zack Arias, “GOYA” and shoot!  For there is no better way to learn the craft of photography and there is certainly no better way to develop your artistic side then by shooting, except for maybe looking at great photographs.

I will post pictures of the wedding as soon as the couple has their official copy of the images.

more later…

BorrowLenses

My best friend Pete got married this past weekend and he honored me by asking me to be his wedding photographer.  I knew that I would need a good fast lens for those long shots during the ceremony.  My current 18-135mm kit lens just wouldn’t have done the trick.  So after hearing about www.BorrowLenses.com on Scott Bourne’s PhotoFocus podcast I visited their website and was amazed.  Their selection of photographic gear is very nice.  You can rent lenses, bodies, memory cards and even some lighting stuff and the best thing is that their rates are great.

Since I shoot with a Nikon D300 I selected the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR.  After tax, tag and title (LOL) I only paid $125 for a one week rental.  That is much cheaper than buying that same lens.

If you are drooling over a certain lens and just can’t justify paying $2000 for it or if you need a special lens for a one-time event then I highly recommend heading over to www.borrowlenses.com and giving them a try.  You won’t be disappointed.