Finding the light on a cloudy fall day

I recently had the pleasure of shooting at a seminar by Nashville wedding photographer Arline Beets at Maple Grove Inn in Knoxville, TN.  We had 5 beautiful models, lovely wedding gowns on loan, flowers by a local florist, acres of gardens and fields, and clouds--lots of them.  At least the rain stopped and we found comfort in that.  When you photograph outdoors you have to take the conditions you're given and make the most of it.  We had a great day despite the dampness and here's the proof : )  

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Pigeon Forge vacation rental-Before & After photos

Who doesn't like to check out before and after photographs?  I don't care what it is:  a remodeling job on a bathroom, a fashion remake on some unsuspecting soul or someone who's lost 50 pounds and showing off their new look...we love before-and-afters.  In this case, owners Marcie and Ed Schabell hired me to photograph their Pigeon Forge rental cabin after they had painted walls, installed new flat screen TVs and done a little sprucing up.  I am so glad they did because the screen shots of their previous photos tell a story of just how far Timeless Moments has come.  

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A wedding moment in the mountains

Fog had settled in quite comfortably overnight and jeopardized the beautiful morning wedding I had hoped to capture in the Great Smoky mountains.  Thankfully, the sun made headway by 10:30 a.m. and Mike and Cindy's hopes for a one-of-a-kind ceremony came true.  What a down-to-earth, lovely couple.  Congratulations Mr. & Mrs. McCormack! 

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Bag o' clamps

Cheap tools of the trade for food photography.  Watching Andrew Scrivani on CreativeLive today and between a bunch of clamps, some parchment paper, Eikos blue bulbs for creating daylight, gaffers tape and some small foam core pieces, you can take some pretty cool images of food!  I'll have to post some test shots in the coming days.

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Cutest photo session yet

I haven't had a lick of infant photography training so when Ann asked me to help her with some photographs of her 5-week-old daughter Sage, I new this was going to be interesting.  All I had in my prop bag was a white faux fur throw, an antique wooden bowl and a bunch of scarves.  Plus a hot pink Gerbera daisy.  Our venue: a living room sofa with a chaise extension.  Fortunately, everyone's expectations were down to earth and we just hoped for the best.  Ann was an excellent baby wrangler, changing outfits and keeping Sage happy when she needed a bottle or diaper change.  My daughter Kristiann was a huge help with the reflector.  And Sage's older sister Kayden kept herself busy with scarves from the prop pile.  Her good behavior earned her several M&Ms from Mom. Not sure I can even hold a candle to baby photographers, but it was fun to try!

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Wheel in the Sky

A lot of opportunities in photography kind of present themselves on the spur of the moment.  I was tired from a long day of shooting and when driving past the new Great Smoky Mountain Wheel in Pigeon Forge, TN, I noticed how ominous storm clouds were moving overhead.  At first I thought I'd better get home to beat the rain.  But then I realized that with sunset coming soon, I might be able to get some dramatic twilight shots.  So I pulled in to The Island where the ferris wheel is located and grabbed my camera.  It was fun photographing such a huge structure and when they turned on the lights, I was mesmerized by the changing color display.  I bumped my ISO to 400 and did everything handheld as best I could.  Surprisingly, even with the wind and dark clouds, the rain never materialized.  A lucky night, indeed, considering all the storms we've had this year.  

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Family fun in Pigeon Forge

Angelle Lyman of Louisiana contacted me earlier this year about photographing her family while on vacation in the Smokies.  Well I am so glad she did because it was a fun session and the hour we spent at Patriot Park flew by.  The photographs were to be a gift to their mom for her 70th birthday--and I hope these images will bring a smile to her face for many years to come! 

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Before and After bedroom photographs

Bedrooms can be a challenge to photograph.  Light isn't always plentiful and light sources are usually mixed--daylight from windows, incandescent bulbs in lamps and more frequently CFLs.  I prefer to make a room appear as natural as it can, without adding flash to fill in unless there's no way around it.  This Pigeon Forge, TN rental cabin I photographed from the left and right sides of the room since it is long and narrow.  I cleared decorative items off the dresser, centered the bedside table and lamp  in front of the window and pulled the recliner closer toward the bed and angled it slightly.  The homeowners had already done the heavy lifting by painting and redecorating so I can't take all the credit for the "after" shots.  Once they have their new photos uploaded, this link will take you to their Smoky Mountain Memories cabin on VRBO.com.  It's an adorable cabin with plenty of woods and privacy if you're in need of a vacation.  Besides, Tom and Lois are some of the nicest owners I know!

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A thief at the photo shoot

Sometimes I like to use props and food like cookies, popcorn or lemonade and coffee in my outdoor living shots.  A couple of weeks ago I was at Val and Renee Morel's Mt LeConte Vista cabin in Gatlinburg TN and right after the sunrise shot at 6 in the morning, I set up the deck chairs and tables with some coffee mugs and a plate of 5 very stale cookies.  

After taking a few test shots I decided I'd just come back in an hour or two and wait until the direct morning shadows weren't so severe.  So I went inside and starting working on the lower bedrooms which were getting perfect morning light.  All of sudden I saw a big shadow of a bird go past the window.  It startled me but I just kept going with my work.  

Flash forward to time to get out and re-shoot the deck.  I go outside and the light is much better.  But the cookies--all 4 of them--are gone.  Just fine crumbs left on the plate.  The bird stole my props!  But he was a clean operator, I'll give him that. Next time I'll bring the food in.  I don't want to meet a bear munching on my props.

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Homework

As part of a photography class I'm taking, our homework assignment was to go outside (in this case downtown Knoxville, TN) and in 30 minutes shoot enough to produce 8-10 images that all share a specific theme.  I started shooting reflections but soon realized I was running out of buildings with good reflections...and time.  So about 10 minutes in, I adjusted my theme to "Up."  It was fun, though my neck and knees took a bit of a beating.  

An unexpected honor

I just joined the East Tennessee Professional Photographers Association a couple of weeks ago and they were having their annual photography salon (contest) so I hurriedly entered 4 pictures before leaving town to visit my family.  I had no expectations so receiving a Best of Show award for Commercial Photography blew me away!

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Riding High

I went to Pigeon Forge last week to photograph two cabins for Jimmy and Ginger Cooper.  They were fantastic cabin owners to work with and Ginger helped me stage and set up shots, which was truly appreciated.  But when I saw Jimmy's bucket truck from his previous tree-trimming days, he offered it's use for a better perspective of the exterior.  What an unexpected bonus!  Ginger used a cell phone to take a few pictures of me in the bucket.  Definitely had to hold on tight to the camera...those buckets are not smooth moving.  I now have a newfound respect for electricians and cable guys who use those trucks!  BTW, Private Affair is a beautiful cabin and you can see more photos or rent it directly from Ginger and Jimmy.

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A peek at the studio space

It's not pretty.  It's not big.  But it's a good start.  The new studio is now up and running, though a bit messy in this picture.  We'll have it looking better and more organized shortly.  Though most of my work is outdoors, a studio space is important for taking headshots, portrait work or product photography.  It's nice to have a home base finally!

My first studio space

I am so excited to share with you that I now have a real place to shoot portraits and small groups in west Knoxville.  It even has a beautiful conference room to meet clients.  The location is only a mile south of I-40 on Northshore Drive so it's really convenient.  I'll have more details and photos in a future post but I thought I'd let the cat out of the bag today!

New year...new classes

Winter is a wonderful time of year, free from the distractions of fair weather and all its outdoor activities.  So I'm doubling up this session and taking two classes:  Fundamentals of Photography II and Video and Stop Motion Photography.  After week one, I'm already inspired by my instructors to get back at it.  The battery is charged, the memory card formatted and the camera bag is by the door.  Time for homework.