My Take on Wedding Photography

November 14, 2015  •  Leave a Comment


One of the things I dislike most is talking about me or my work.  Oh, I love to answer questions and yes I take pride in my work and always strive to do the very best that I can for a client, but to sing my own praises, to me, just feels self-serving and just plain wrong.

So you won’t find my page on the top of search engines because just about everything it takes get there I just cannot do without feeling like I am being as egocentric as some photographers seem to be.  I have had many marketing people tell me that I must talk myself up in that way, but I just cannot do it and feel good about myself.

So then what can I write about while trying to let people know about my work and the way I love to approach a wedding, portrait or commercial shoot?  I guess I can discuss what I strive for, how I look at the process of photography and what my goals are.  I will not be discussing what I am trying to get across in a particular photograph, as that to me is just as bad.  I believe that if my photographs do not stand on their own and convey a message or emotion or tell a story and give the viewer that little tug of the heart, then I have failed and no amount of supporting text will change that.  I am happy to discuss a certain photograph if asked but to post one somewhere with a long explanation just doesn’t work for me. 

Part of this way of looking at things I get from my talented wife. She is a world-class artist who learned to paint as an apprentice to a Renaissance master in Firenze Italy, where she spent many years learning her art. She too shrinks from written descriptions or explanations of her work. It either stands or falls on its own.  I find that amazing because a painting takes so much more effort than a single photograph does to produce.

So with all that said, here is my approach to my work.  The technical aspects of photography aside, and I believe this can be set aside, because if a photographer has not mastered the technical aspects of his or her craft then they have no business calling themselves a pro and taking people’s money all the while hoping they don’t get into a fix that will take some real skill and knowledge to get out of.

A photographer only has a few tools they can use to make a photograph work. These tools used correctly and creatively are essential to convey the emotion, the feeling, or to tell the story of what is happening at that moment when the shutter clicks.

Beyond the technical aspects and the rules of composition which are fairly easy to learn, it just takes time and experience to be able to see and capture these wonderful moments. There are three main tools once can use or if you will, aspects that make up a good photograph especially in wedding, portrait and advertising photography. These are light, composition and human emotion.

To me, the first in foremost is light. A photographer may have the all the rules of composition down but if they do not understand or cannot see light their photos will look flat and will be lacking in personality.  Light is one of the strongest allies we have in making a great photograph and it must be used wisely to have it work for us in creating a photograph with stunning visual impact.  Wedding photographers, especially those of the photojournalist style, must develop an innate sense of light, where it is coming from and how it will impact the image because they must do everything on the fly. There is no time to pose each shot. 

This is also where camera knowledge comes in; we must be able to change settings instantly to whatever is needed to be able to get the shot.  As the subjects move the light changes and what you can do with it differs, different backgrounds call for different exposures and the wedding photographer must be able to keep up. I have seen way too many wedding photographs where the photographer just set the camera on auto and that was it. If everything stayed the same they might have gotten away with it.  Most don’t.  I think that the new washed out look that has become popular is fine, but I have seen it used as a way to hide bad exposure. I think that the photo must be well exposed and then if you want to go that direction in processing fine, but it never should be relied upon to cover up less that adequate technical skills.

Light tells the story; it sets the mood and conveys the emotion of the moment in time that was captured.  The greatest painters know that, look at Rembrandt’s work, his understanding and use of light is amazing. Lord Leighton is amazing at using light and dark to create fabrics on his women that you can almost feel. There are so many other wonderful painters we can learn from. They, however, and not to take anything away from their brilliance and skill, get to add light where needed, journalistic style wedding photographers, as a rule, do  not have that luxury. When we do add light to an image we need to do so in such a way that we avoid that on camera flash washed out look. Only one of my cameras has a built-in flash and I have never used it. They produce horrid light. 

We need to spend our lives looking at and learning the properties of light and how it reacts with the world around us. This can be done all times all days.

Next is personal emotion. We must be able to capture that instant when the emotion is there, that fleeting moment the emotion passes across the subjects face and then is gone forever. We must be vigilant, ever watching, and give it everything we have to not lose those precious moments.  Sure some will get by us be we need to be able to capture the majority of them.  I still ache inside about a couple shots I missed; I can still see the light hitting the subject and the photo what would have been made. Luckily they were street shots and not a wedding but still.  Street photography is a wonderful way to train yourself to be able to see light and capture emotion as well as anticipate how the elements in a scene will play out and the image that may be created from them. It keeps you hopping and you have to keep that camera up and looking through the viewfinder or you will miss something.

Sometimes that street photography look works very well for a wedding image, another reason to learn and practice street photography.

Cell phone cameras are a part of weddings now so get used to it. They will be there unless the couple asks that they not be taken out, but usually they are all over.  There will be some great shots taken with the phones and they will be posted so your work needs to be good enough that it will, for the most part, stand above those photos as everyone will see both.

These are the elements that I believe go into making a good wedding photograph and I spend my life trying to improve my abilities and bring the very best to the work at hand.  I will never be as good as I desire to be but that keeps me growing and there is always plenty of room for that. 

So this is what I am about and I will do everything possible to get the best photographs of your wedding, portrait, and event, well you name it. Yes as photographers we are told to pick a specialty and don’t venture outside of that, well I have and it is photography, I just love shooting and creating interesting and powerful images that will capture those wonderful moments in time so they can be relived and shared.  Images that will draw one into them and convey the message directly to the heart, these are the things I can talk about because they are what excite me.

I have been a photographer for decades and am currently training my son in the craft. I shoot weddings as well as many other genres of photography. We limit ourselves to six or eight weddings per year this allows us to do the very best work and I do all of the processing myself putting eyes and hands on each and every photograph.  Doing so I can keep wedding photography a passion rather that just a job. Sure a pro will do nice work on any job but a passion, that brings wonderful results.

I live in the quaint little town of Silverton Oregon it is located just outside Salem and less than an hour from Portland and while I love shooting weddings here in the area the majority of my work is all around the pacific northwest and I am available to travel where ever the wedding is held. We love to travel and have the ability to enter a new location sized it up and produce quality photography.


The best way to contact me is either go to contact on this page or email to  email is the best way to get to me as I am out of cell contact much of every day. Thanks.

You are the Artist

August 07, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Over the past few years I have put my photographs out to the public in a number of forums. I was curious how they might be received. Overall I have been happy with the results and I have learned a lot.

Some of my most popular photos that I have shared on Facebook are not my personal favorites. The same goes with 500 PX and Flicr. There have been a few other places as well. I belong to a few photographer groups as well but one, a closed group with maybe a couple hundred photographers in it is my favorite. There are some shooters that are totally amazing in this group. They hail from all over the world and in my mind are tops in their field. There are Fashion, Landscape, Portrait, Travel, Street, Fine Arts, well you name it and they are there and they are very good.

I find this group tends to like same things I do. I can place a photo on Facebook at it will get little attention but the same photo in this group will receive some of the highest praise of any I post. The opposite is true as well. Please don't get me wrong I am very appreciative of the wonderful comments and likes I get for my work in either group. It truly is nice to hear that someone likes my work and maybe they feel something while looking at it as that is what I am trying for.

I can think of nothing better than having someone view some of my work and have it move then in some way. Maybe make their day a bit better, or it could make them think on something that is what a photograph is about and if it happens I am a success.

However what I am writing about here is how one has to approach their art. An artist has to do work they like. Sure we all will create what a client wants but when we shoot for ourselves then we must create images that please us. If we begin changing to get more likes or attention we become kind of like a politician changing his or her views in reaction to polls. We loose our soul.

I am not saying that we don't take advice or attempt to grow in our art. Heck maybe after a number of years we can find ourselves going a totally different direction as our interests change. Also as our style begins to emerge we follow that and it may lead us to something different or more focused. We begin to learn what we like.

One thing I learned from my wonderful and talented wife Darla is to hold onto our completed work lightly.  For those who do not know Darla is an amazing artist. She was trained in Firenze in a style called New Renaissance which combines the old techniques handed down from master to apprentice over generations with the freedom of modern art.  She spent four years studying as an apprentice working twenty four seven.  When working with galleries they would always tell her to be more this or that to fit into American and local culture. She didn't do that and I have always admired her for it. Of course it might help to have one art hanging in the homes of royalty, artists, world class musicians and even one of the most popular restaurants in the world among food critics. I have seen her art in many food magazines and TV shows as they did reviews on this wonderful eatery in Firenze.

I have watched her finish a painting and have people see it and everyone has a comment some are not very nice. She handled it all with grace and equal equanimity.  When she is finished with a piece she is finished and is on to the next one. This is a great way to be. I find that when I finish a photograph that I like, I can look at it for a short while and enjoy it, then I am bored and must go for the next one.

In closing all I am really taking so long to say here, is that you are the one you have to impress, do what you like and push yourself to get closer and closer to your vision. In the end if you don't do that you will become quite disillusioned with yourself and your art.  When people like and comment positively on your work, well that is the frosting on the cake.

Do I think these are my best? Probably not, but right now they are the ones I sort of like best but that will change.  


That probably is the natural way of things.

Happy Shooting!


July 25, 2015  •  Leave a Comment


Sometimes you have evenings that are just special. Last night was one of those. Darla and I went up to Arrivederci Wine and Jazz Bar in Milwaukie Oregon to see Kate and the Crocodiles. Now most of you have figured out by now that Kate, Gavin and Craig are good friends and we have said many times how much we love them as well as their music.  So having need them in so many venues things have to go really right for us to have an exceptional evening at least compared to all the other wonderful time we have had seeing them in concert.

Steve is the gentleman playing sax in the photo below. I need to talk to him again but I think that he runs the place or manages it. It belongs to his son is what I think he said, I will have to check that out to be correct. Anyway he brought his sax out and sat in a few songs and that was a pleasant surprise. It is a really cool atmosphere at Arrivederci and a lot of fun.

It was our first time to go to Arrivederci and I was very impressed. We made a reservation and got a great table right in front.


Our waitress was a beautiful young lady who was just as nice and helpful as she is attractive. That is always a plus.

Over the years I have gotten to be a bit of an Italian food snob, well not really, but I do hesitate to order spaghetti in a restaurant as I seldom find it done correctly. Okay my pseudo snobbery ( I am really not a snob, just like good, well prepared food) has come about because of my wife Darla.


When I met her she has just returned to the U.S. from a four year internship as an apprentice to a master painter and sculptor in Florence Italy. They would eat the majority of their meals at a little trattoria.

 Trattoria del Garga is a world famous restaurant that Rachel Ray has called her favorite restaurant in the world. That is a pretty good recommendation.  Darla learned a lot from her friends who own and operate this little gem and she as passed much on to me.  So when I say I am kind of picky about my Italian food I have good reason.


Last night I steered away from the pasta for the reasons I mentioned above, a new restaurant and all, and went for their pizza. For around twelve bucks you get a generous sized personal pizza made from fresh dough and ingredients.  The pizza I had was called the Shameless Seamus. Seamus is a chief from New York who is hanging here for a couple months and they are getting some new and cool dishes from him.  It has a spicy marinara sauce on perfectly done crust.  Genoa, salami, red onions, mozzarella, parmesan, sliced mushrooms, roasted red peppers & it is topped with fresh basil.  It was amazing. I like big bold taste and this pizza had it to spare. I am now looking forward to going back to try their pasta.


I think I described it to someone as being liked getting punched in the mouth with flavor. Now it really isn’t like that and I meant it in only the best way. But really I love it when I take a first bite of something and get flooded with flavor. It really was that good.


Darla had the Molte Bene. She too liked her food very much. She said it tasted like something she would cook. It is a chopped chicken sautéed in garlic and onion with a mixture of vegetables and topped with shaved parmesan.  I didn’t get to try it but I did insist that she have a bite of my pizza and she loved it.

So I would highly recommend Arrivederci if you are looking for good food and some great music.


Kate and the Crocodiles have never disappointed and last evening was no different. They are always writing new music, which added to songs that have become favorites of mine, always makes for a wonderful experience.


It is hard to pinhole their genre as it is so broad. They do take some well-known songs and mess with them as Kate calls it and none have failed to be truly enjoyable.

You will hear songs ranging from Pat Benatar to Nat King Cole and all are done uniquely and perfectly.


For those of you who do not know them Kate Morrison is an accomplished vocalist. Craig Bidondo is an amazing pianist who plays in so many different venues around Portland and across the country. Gavin Bondy is an amazing trumpet player who also has played with Pink Martini for the last twenty years.  These three amazing musicians come together and produce a truly unique and wonderful experience for those fortunate enough to hear them play.  I would highly recommend that you get out to see them and if they are playing at Arrivederci you will be in for double the enjoyment.


What is the Best Camera? The One you Have!

July 20, 2015  •  Leave a Comment


I am often asked what camera is the best? That is a tough question. In the fast changing world of digital cameras if you are a tech geek who always has to have the latest and most advanced equipment you will go crazy or broke, or both.  


My answer to the question is usually, the camera you have in your hand is the best one.  If you are a pro and depending on what your main subject is, you will find cameras that do the job you want it to. It will need features  that can do what is required.  A sports photographer will need a different camera than a landscape photographer.


If you are looking for a camera that will take nice photos of family, landscapes, or what ever, then your really don't need to go crazy. 


I personally like DSLRs, even if I am just shooting for myself. I came up on film cameras and they just feel right. A mirrorless may be what you are looking for.  Many point and shoots are very good now as well. 


If you are on a budget and want a good camera, maybe look used.  The top cameras of a few years ago are very inexpensive today, well comparatively. 


I have a couple pro cameras. One the Canon 1D MK lV was over seven grand new now you can get it for around three or less. It is a fantastic camera and will do all you could ever need it to. The other a Canon 5Dmk ll  was around twenty five hundred new and now you can get it around eleven hundred. It is still being snapped up by videographers. It was used exclusively to make a number of movies  you may have seen. Still a great camera.


Another camera brand I have that I used until I went pro again was Pentax. They make a great camera and if I had not gone pro and needed some of the add on gear that second party manufacturers only seem to make for Canon and Nikon pro equipment, I probably would have stayed with it alone. I had a K100D, a consumer level camera that takes great photos and you can buy now for around a hundred bucks. My son still uses that one. 


Also a K20D this is an amazing camera that takes great photographs. Also a K5 both Pentax again.  The K5 and K20D are considered pro-sumer cameras. Personally beyond the ancillary equipment problem, much of which has been remedied in the last few years, they are pro level. I would probably have stuck with the K5 forever. I still use it and love it.


So just to give you and idea, the photos below were shot with the K100D, K5, 5D mk ll and the 1D mk lV.   Oh yes and one was shot with an old fujifilm point and shoot. You probably could get that one for around fifty bucks now. I think you can tell that one pretty easily.


If you see quality you would like in every day scenic shots then you can find a camera that will do the job. There are many other great cameras out there these are just the ones I have owned.  


Don't be fooled by megapixels or what ever just find something you like in a camera.  Just for your information.  Fujifilm 3mp, K100D 6.1mp, K20D 14mp 5D mk 2 20mp and the 1D mk 4 18mp. With 6 megapixels you can make a beautiful 20 x 30 print.

See if you can tell which photo was taken with which camera. If you are interested you can ask me either in a message here or below the link on facebook.


So if you are in the market for a camera, first figure out what you are going to shoot primarily and that will help you to decide. Don't waste money on features you will not need. 


If you would like feel free to contact me for any help.



Black and White or Color?

July 12, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Some photos can be processed either way and will look good in both. Others will only look good in one or the other. I guess for me it is more of a feel when I see the photo. Some people go out to shoot one or the other and in the film days we had to. Well there was a way to print black and white from a color neg but I never thought it looked all that great. Of course it could have been my darkroom technique as that is something I only did a few times.

The above photography, I think, works equally well in both. It really is a personal choice. I had to do a bit more burning and dodging on the black and white to make it look as I liked it.

The second I saw the above scene as I drove over a hill in Colorado I knew it would be black and white. It just had all the qualities that I like for a black and white image.

The above image actually looked good in both but I chose the black and white to create more of the mood I thought a bare tree in the fog was showing.

I think the old saying is true that you have to do a better job of composition and the technical aspects of photography for black and white because very often a color image can get by on the color alone.

This image above in color just would not make it. Black and white was the way to convey the feeling I was looking for. This was taken a few years ago on the day, okay one of the days the world was supposed to end. I wanted to portray the solitude and loneliness such a prediction can create in someone who had no family or friends to cling to if it truly was the last day. Of course my wife and I were together and went over to Voodoo Donuts just before snapping this maybe a block away. 

Here is one that works equally well in both color and black and white. It is interesting to not the entirely different mood given by each one again showing the power of each medium. 

If you have not tried shooting black and white go out and try it. It is a wonderful medium for expression. Back in the film days black and white is kind of what I was known mostly for. I loved shooting it especially in medium format. The tones were amazing. I love the tones we can get with digital as well. If I were to have to pick only one processing program I would go with Lightroom you can do it all in there. I do personally use Photoshop and I love NIK Software's Silver Effects Pro I think it is the most powerful black and white program out there, well the last time I looked.


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