#ModesofFlight #DocumentaryPhotography | I

Hamilton Ontario Canada documentary photography addiction paint huffing mental health

Frightened, the girl began squealing, crying and protesting as the cops stormed the bus shelter and struggled to get handcuffs on her.

Hamilton Ontario Canada documentary photography addiction paint huffing mental health

While sitting in there just before the officers seized upon her, the girl only saw the ambulance that pulled up alongside the street in front of the shelter with its emergency lights on. No siren. The two-man crew exited their vehicle and casually stood on the sidewalk outside the shelter.

Hamilton Ontario Canada documentary photography addiction paint huffing mental health

The girl was transfixed on the vehicle lights; probably puzzled why the ambulance was even there. It wasn’t the kind of bus she was waiting for. There were other citizens around waiting for public transit but it was obvious that none of them needed medical help. The woman also didn’t see that three police cruisers had quietly pulled up behind the shelter through the shopping mall parking lot to her back. They had the element of surprise.

Hamilton Ontario Canada documentary photography addiction paint huffing mental health

The officers got out and sneaked up to the shelter opening. The girl was cornered. The struggle was lively but brief. The cops had her in manacles and sitting on the shelter bench without an increase in the risk of danger.

Hamilton Ontario Canada documentary photography addiction paint huffing mental health

It all started when the young lady had entered a store in a big box shopping centre to purchase several cans of spray paint. Even before leaving the store with them, she began huffing. That is, inhaling the toxic paint fumes in order to get high or euphoric. Someone dialed 911, and a concerned and curious patron followed the woman out of the store and into the mall.

Hamilton Ontario Canada documentary photography addiction paint huffing mental health

The girl made her way to the western mall entrance, and sat between the double-glass doors for a while. There, she continued to anesthetize herself against whatever she didn’t like experiencing about her life. A short while later, in a daze, she left that position for the nearby bus shelter; completely abandoning all of the cans of paint that she had purchased there in a plastic bag.

Hamilton Ontario Canada documentary photography addiction paint huffing mental health

This is a middleclass suburb. In this city, many people associate this sort of thing with the poorer and older inner city. Every now and then; however, something happens to remind folks that substance addictions are pervasive in modern society. It impacts all demographics, and always adversely so.

Hamilton Ontario Canada documentary photography addiction paint huffing mental health

Hamilton Ontario Canada documentary photography addiction paint huffing mental health

Cuffed and in tears, the girl now knew why the ambulance was there on this soggy, foggy, heart aching evening. She understood that the paramedics had actually come for her.

Hamilton Ontario Canada documentary photography addiction paint huffing mental health

#StreetPhotography | I

Black and white BW B&W Hamilton Ontario Canada contemporary street photography

Incident Ray Dream

This one’s from the ongoing Hammer Home Street Photography Project. I was very much attracted to the way the narrow ray of sunlight offered a sneak-peek at whatever moment of life crossed it.

Arboretum Virtualis | XIX

Black and white tree forest landscape photography

Quercus Virginiana

12 pictures to make this portrait of the southern live oak in the front yard of the First United Methodist Church on North Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach, SC.

So, You’re Looking for a #WeddingPhotographer ? | Part 6

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The Hodkins


This is a big post. I hope that you have a strong stomach for the following opening.

I think everybody gets it that wedding photography is a great way to preserve and re-experience memories of one of the greatest occasions in peoples’ lives. I do see it as a bit more than that though. I don’t spend all day everyday looking at wedding photos – far from it, but once in a while I look at them just for the thrill of thinking out something romantic. Even though I’ve already been happily married to Kim for many years.

Did I make you throw up just now? Sorry. I don’t know how else to share these thoughts and feelings without sounding sappy or corny.

Years ago, I left my car at home and rode public transit to spend a few hours peoplewatching and doing street photography. I eavesdropped on a short conversation between two girls sitting in the back of a city bus who were probably around the ages of 18 or 19.

Seemingly completely out of the blue, one girl opened up to the other, “I’ve never actually been in love, have you?” The question came out of her like she was having a eureka moment about her life.

The other girl never definitively said yes or no but her reaction to her friend’s question seemed to be that of puzzlement. Like she had never even thought about it at all. I guess that reaction could be an indication that she too had never been in love, whether she in fact had a boyfriend or girlfriend in her life or not.

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Marriage means no more pickup lines!

Given their apparent age, I thought about what my mother would have said if she caught my sister and I talking about falling in love or being in love at any point in our adolescence. In fact, there were times when she did express her opinion, even without provocation from us. “What the hell do you think you know about love! You’re too young to know what love is! You just keep your head in your studies!”

When mum spoke, you did what she said or you died. So, that’s largely what I did. The line-towing of a son of a mother whose heart had been terribly broken by his father’s infidelity.

It’s true that mama didn’t raise no lovesick fool but being careful of what I said and when, and focusing on being logical, practical, pious, solitary and stoic however, did not completely stop me from thinking about girls, sex, love and romance from time-to-time.

Probably like most, I like to believe that everyone instinctively knows what love is but I have to be realistic and concede that that’s not true. There are people who truly have no clue. They’ve never had anyone to love, and don’t really know what it is to feel love from anybody. Not even a parental love or platonic love like that from a highly-trusted friend or fellow soldier who endured the same conflicts.

Even worse, is that there are many who know precisely what love is but simply don’t value it. That’s very sad to me. We live in an era in which the world’s hardhearted cynics enjoy pointing out that being in love is a form of insanity, that “love makes you stupid”. It seems like, gradually, societies are being pushed or bullied into thinking and acting like emotionally suppressed Star Trek Vulcans.

Too bad for the cynics. I’m careful enough to not allow myself to be ruled by emotion but I do embrace the feelings that I have. I’ve always enjoyed thinking about love, and I intend to go on thinking about that primitive impulse called love.

Hearing these two girls in the back of a bus made me wonder what it must be like to have never even optimistically thought about the full prospects of meeting someone who was worthy to share life with in the most intimate way people could. Someone you can count on to always, always, always have your back. Like my wife. Someone that you always, always, always want to reciprocate that loyalty and affection with.

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From my perspective, even long after you’ve found someone you should keep thinking about love. Especially after your heart has been broken; as difficult as that is to do. Keep dreaming about it. Find things, like wedding photography, books, movies and ways to inspire such thoughts. Why, because everything about love are important aspects of being the human beings that we are meant to be. Connecting with someone that way, even just fantasizing about it, is truly one of the things that makes life worth living.  This whole wide world would be much better off if more people thought about love more often.

When a couple consults with me on wedding photography, creating cherished memories becomes a collaborative process of high importance. This is “the big day”. Love has to be on your mind.

I take the couple through all of the different parts of a typical wedding day that’s in their planning, in the typical order (yes, there are weddings in which events aren’t carried out in an usual way). You need to know how your chosen photographer will be able to successfully record such an eventful day about your union of love on a hectic schedule without creating or contributing to any wedding day letdowns.

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I don’t want to give my daughter away.

Behind the Scenes

This is the term we use for any photography or video work of the production and coordination work behind any event or creation.

A unit still photographer is usually someone hired to shoot the production of a feature film or play. Concert or music photographers don’t just record operas, rock, pop, country, rap and dance concerts. They also cover the cool and sometimes seamy things that go on backstage, in tour busses, in hotel rooms and in recording studios.

The resultant images of behind the scenes photography are meant to be candid and documentary. There is nothing phony to be recorded. The only limits are what subjects are allowed to be photographed, and some have more liberal thresholds than others.

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The Best

It’s interesting that for many, the experience of laughter, anxiety, anger, pride, confusion, joy and other emotions and reactions – all repeating each other within a few hours before walking down the aisle, can wind up comprising some of the most cherished moments of a wedding day. It is a popular storybook romance kind of thing to have your memories of what it took to get you ready for your “big day” chronicled.

Lone shooters like me can only photograph the behind the scenes moments of brides, which is most common in wedding photography, or grooms. We can’t be in two places at the same time.

If a couple is determined to have both the bride and groom, and their respective entourages photographed, I will subcontract a photographer whose work I deeply respect. That’s an added cost to the couple hiring me.

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The Lewis Cake

Wedding Theme/Colours

In your consultation, it’s a good idea to let your prospective photographer know what the theme and colours of your wedding will be. This information could be important for aesthetic composition while shooting the wedding, and even during post-production work.

If your weeding is going to resemble the backroom speakeasy look and feel of the 1920’s and 30’s – with flappers, Prohibition era gangsters, gun molls and FBI agents you should get your photographer thinking about how to help you create a one-of-a-kind wedding portrait within that colourful theme.

Maybe red is an important colour that you want enhanced in almost any picture that will be taken in which something red is visible.

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The Pratts


Sure, it sounds like it could be the same thing as behind the scenes but it’s different. There’s less documentary style photography involved. By tradition, the 30 minutes to a few hours – approximately, before the wedding ceremony is the interval in which family, group and solo portraiture of the bride, groom, bridesmaids, groomsmen and so on are taken.

Especially in consideration of brides, this is the time when hair and makeup are at their best, especially on hot humid days.

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Jump for Joy

Many photographers agree that some of the best times to shoot nearly anything outdoors are just after sunrise, and just before sundown on clear or nearly clear days. We call these “the golden hours”. The long red light wavelengths bathe surfaces in reds and golds that inspire warmth and contentment in the minds of many. The angle of the sun so close to the horizon at these times, can create long dark shadows that, when exploited right, can enhance viewers’ perceptions of three-dimensionality of objects and faces, and dimensional depth of distances.

Natural outdoor lighting during the peak daytime hours before most ceremonies – when the shorter blue wavelengths are dominant in the atmosphere; however, is usually best for wedding portraiture, even when your wedding happens to be on a rainy day.

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Model Groomsmen

Obviously, your photographer needs to know the wedding location so that the pictures can be taken on “the big day”. It’s also important to identify location during consultation so that you and/or the photographer might be able to make arrangements to see the location days or even months in advance. This is beneficial to planning compositions.

Related to compositions, you’ll want to establish your photo want list for this period with your photographer. You don’t want your photographer to miss photographing someone that you really want a shot of. That is really easy to do because the wedding day is the first time that your photographer is likely to meet most, in not all, of your relatives and friends. Your photographer is unlikely to memorize the names of all of your invites, plus what varying ways each of them mean to you.

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From there, everyone gets in their proper places, and on que. The ceremony begins. Your photographer starts working super hard here. Not just to get the best and most intimate shots of the ceremony but in doing so with etiquette – like minimizing the inevitable standing in others way to get those shots.

Please, work out the details of the ceremony with your photographer. There’s the detail of ceremony length, especially if your photographer won’t be present at your rehearsal. There will be times during the ceremony that the servos of a camera shouldn’t be heard above the officiant. The photographer needs to have some understanding of when to not waste time or energy getting useless shots.

With this, there’s the detail of how you will leave the alter at the close of the ceremony and where you will go to next. This is usually but not necessarily to start the receiving line custom, and your photographer is likely to follow you and the wedding party to that spot.

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I Thee Wed

Whether or not photography is permitted during the ceremony needs to be covered openly during a wedding photography consultation. I know, that’s a head scratcher for some but there are some weddings in which it is the call of the officiant or observation of religious rites to not allow anyone to photograph parts or even all of a ceremony.

Let me share an experience regarding the detail of lighting. I shot one indoor wedding in which I had the opportunity to see the venue long before the wedding day. The interior lighting wasn’t great but I could work with it. Or so I thought. No one told me that the pastor was going to insist that the interior lights be turned off so that the ceremony would only be performed under candlelight, and ambient light that was to be filtered through some mighty thick window blinds. FORTUNATELY for me and the wedding couple, I carried a backup lens that would open up to a sufficiently wide enough aperture to make really good shots under those conditions.

This brings me to the matter of strobing or simply the use of flash. I’ve shot a couple weddings in which flash was not permitted during the ceremonies. That candle and low ambient light was one of those. There were guests who got away with using flash that was built-in to their camera phones but I’m the professional. There’s no way that I was going to breech etiquette and fire up the Speedlite that I had ready to turn night into day.

Don’t let there be unpleasant surprises. For your sake, inform your photographer well.

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Postnup Tee Off

Receiving Line

Getting this part right is more important than many realize. It’s about timing. Weddings always have time-sensitive schedules. You can hold up a church, mosque, synagogue, temple or hall for only so long.

At any given point on a wedding day, you want to get all of the right shots in before there is a quick switch to the next event. This is certainly true when a bride and broom prefer to do post-ceremony portraiture instead of pre-ceremony work. When that happens, there’s this traditional thing called the receiving line in which pretty much everyone who showed up for the wedding slowly passes by the bride, groom and their wedding party to say congratulations and chat. This can eat up a lot of precious time needed for the post-ceremony shoot, and pictures of hugs, kisses and laughter are also expected to be made during the receiving line, so the line can’t exactly be skipped.

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Warm Hug

Advise your photographer how many invites are expected to attend your wedding. The average number of guests in a North American wedding is approximately 150. It is habit that each guest with take up an average of 30 seconds of time saying hello to the newlyweds and their entourage. That calculates to 1 hour and 15 minutes for an average sized guest list. Hey, some folks invite 400 or more guests! That’s a lot of receiving line work for a wedding photographer, even if you have more than one professionally covering the occasion, and it is terribly time consuming for newlyweds or wedding planners who need to keep things on schedule.

If your receiving line becomes too long, you may have many guests peel off from the tail of it if they get fed up with waiting to see you. This may actually be to your benefit as far as keeping a schedule

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Strong advice; no matter how big your guest list is, avoid asking your photographer to photograph you greeting absolutely all of your invites. Apart from time consumption, you really don’t want to end up with an album or collection of way too many monotonous candid photos of greetings that all basically look the same after a while. Submit a photo want list or have someone stand by to signal your photographer which guests are essential to be photographed engaging the wedding party.

Seriously consider curtailing your receiving line time for the sake of maintaining your schedule. It may be necessary to pull it off like shift work. For example; the newlyweds breakaway long enough to have their portraits done, and then when they return to the line, the parents go for their portraits, then the maids, then the groomsmen, then the combinations of all of the above. Whatever it takes to stay on track and keep stress at bay.

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Top That!


Many newlyweds feel less stressed after the ceremony, and prefer to have all of the portraiture that traditionally would have been completed pre-ceremony done at this time.

If by this time, the sun is on the verge of going down, you can certainly take advantage of that golden light that outdoor photographers crave.

I find that post-ceremony photography is preferred over pre-ceremony shoots by most of my clients. It works best with the overall planning of their wedding day, including guaranteeing that invites will be there to be photographed. They might not be on time for a pre-ceremony shoot.

Another important reason why people like post-ceremony portraiture more is so that they don’t violate the age-old tradition of not letting the groom see his bride before the ceremony. You have to jump through a few hoops in a pre-ceremony shoot to ensure that a groom and bride can pose for a portrait together without the groom actually seeing the bride. This choreography can actually add unnecessary stress during pre-ceremony if there is already enough to go around at that time.

Timewise, post-ceremony can take between 20 minutes to a full hour depending on how many people there are to shoot, and what compositions are to go into each shot. It is entirely possible that post-ceremony work, as with a pre-ceremony shoot, can far exceed that hour. Keep your schedule in mind.

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The J&T Reception


Alright. You’re almost through “the big day” now, and this is just the wedding photography consultation aspect. Are you beginning to see both your possibilities as well as the details that are worth paying attention to? Your reception party is the last event of your wedding day.

Even if I had an opportunity to see the location ahead of time, I always hope for an opportunity after shooting the receiving line or post-ceremony portraits to steal away and check out where the party is going to be. If there’s any outside lighting able to get in, I’m able to check the lighting conditions at a time of the evening that may stay fairly consistent for the rest of the occasion.

That’s also a great time for me to concentrate on nailing shots of the hall, tables, refinements and the wedding cake before anyone can cut into it or scoop some of the icing with their fingers.

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The Moses’

There’s not much else to say except that photography should be winding down. The usual shots will be of the DJ, introductions and entrances of the newlyweds and wedding party, everyone seated at the head table, the emcee and speakers, a few toasts, first dances, the celebration and any traditional customs like the bouquet toss, etc.

I don’t photograph dinners unless there’s a special request. It’s generally not a good idea to capture people filling their mouths and chewing. It just never looks proper. It’s common for brides and grooms to make their way around tables during dinner, nevertheless, to say hello, hug and kiss invites that they may not have had a good chance to connect with in the receiving line. I will capture some of those moments.

Typically, we photographers cease shooting after the cake cutting. It will likely be stipulated in your wedding photography agreement. The specific time depends on when the newlyweds want to do it. Most are smart to cut the cake soon after dinner which are usually held anytime from 5:00 PM-ish to 8:00 PM-ish, or after a few dances.

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The A&A Wedding Party

I shot one wedding in which the couple opted to party until way after midnight and then cut the cake after some of their guests started to leave. Some of the older and experienced folks even whispered to me about how “f____d” the newlyweds were for having me continue to photograph the festivities for so long. I don’t know who they were but I like them.

I just got tons of shots of people dancing, and dancing, and dancing some more. Guess what, so did everyone else who had a camera phone. After a while looking at too many of those images, long after your wedding, gets tiring. That’s the risk you take though when you drag out a cake cutting after your photographer promises to pack up and hit the road after that tradition is captured.

Yes, I too thought that the couple procrastinated that custom for too long but I ultimately didn’t care. I was getting paid for my services, and they were getting pictures of their reception. Even if many of those images were redundant and beyond my control as far as visual creativity. It’s only people who can be patient with others that become fulltime or part time professional wedding photographers.

It’s also like I said before; have wedding photography done with the intention of reminding yourself of the blessing of falling in love.

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Off We Go

Arboretum Virtualis | XVIII

Black and white tree forest landscape photography


When I think of big trees, oaks like this one with sprawling elastic branches usually come to my mind before the tall spruce, redwoods and baobabs. Sure, I’m fascinated by those and many more but there’s something about a big old oak that makes me feel like I’m in the presence of wisdom. As though the tree harbors an intelligent soul that can impart grand knowledge of many years of experience to me, if I just be quiet and listen.

It took a merge of 41 pictures to make this composition of being sheltered beneath the crown if this southern live oak. This massive beautiful tree grows in the front yard of the First Presbyterian Church on North Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach, SC. Hardly wizened and enchanted but probably as close as anyone could truthfully get.

#ModesofFlight #PortraitPhotography | Part 1

portrait photography individual family children senior business sports theatrical pets

Bertotti Summer 2017

The Bertotti Family

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Bertotti’s; Stacey, Jim and their daughters Grace and Megan for the recent opportunity to get to know and photograph them in hot and sunny Myrtle Beach, SC. Yes, before hurricane season. You are a tremendously beautiful family.

portrait photography individual family children senior business sports theatrical pets

The Bertotti Sisters

portrait photography individual family children senior business sports theatrical pets

Jim & Stacey

This family portrait session was originally planned for the evening as the sun sets; weather permitting, but as the forecast called for thunderstorms, we rescheduled for the following morning between 6:30 and 7:30 AM.

portrait photography individual family children senior business sports theatrical pets

Grace Jim & Meg

portrait photography individual family children senior business sports theatrical pets

Grace Stacey & Meg

The dawn was beautiful on the beach with contrasting golden light, a gentle light diffusing mist to the north, and large Cumulus castellanus clouds over the Atlantic that I really wanted to take advantage of. To tone down the contrast, I used a single off camera strobe reflected off of a single brolly for fill flash.

portrait photography individual family children senior business sports theatrical pets

Family of Love

We spent approximately an hour and a half working through posed and candid shots, and the rest was post-prod in Lightroom once I returned to home base here in Hamilton.

portrait photography individual family children senior business sports theatrical pets

House Bertotti

On another note; and as I have no other post to logically say this in; to all of the Texans and Floridians who have endured Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, respectively, hello from Canada. We hear you. More help is on the way.

#Illustration Explorer | Part 4

illustration fine art marketing career guide tutorial tips course

Panels on page 9 of my old action-adventure comic.


This is why I started this blog series. To rediscover this 2D aspect of figurative illustration, and share the process of rediscovery with anyone interested. This is me getting back to my artistic roots.

Everyone on the planet has seen many examples of figurative illustration whether they are familiar with the term or not. Figurative illustrations (FI’s) have likely been created since ancient civilizations have been trying to comprehend, construct and mimic the physical shape of things. FI has been steadily refining ever since.

Just to thwart a common misconception. FI is technically not the same thing as figure drawing or figure painting. The latter two are recognized as fine art as opposed to commercial art, and exclusively involve depictions of the human form in all realistically possible postures and making all realistically possible gestures. The commonality between the latter two and the commercial art of FI is that they all frequently feature the human form. FI; however, is not limited to the human form. It includes representations of animals and inanimate objects of all shapes and sizes.

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Concept drawing.

That word representation is important in the description of FI because it indicates that the free expression of human imagination can play a critical role in the creation of artwork. Through FI, I can illustrate something fictitious. A fictitious world full of fictitious landscapes and fictitious cities inhabited by fictitious creatures that utilize fictitious technologies.

Obviously from this realization, it is representation in the visual arts that give way to the development of narrative art that I love so much. Narrative art is artwork that tells a story either through a single piece of artwork or a series of pieces — either an entire story, more than one story or part of one story. Anyone who has enjoyed reading a comic book, the work of Beatrix Potter or looking at paintings by Peter Paul Rubens (fine art) or Jacek Malczewski (fine art again) has an appreciation for narrative art and FI. Anyone who has made a comic book, comic strip, fine or commercial art drawing, painting, photograph or sculpture that tells a story about anything representational has created narrative art and FI.

I have always relished this genre of illustration the most. FI is my specialty as a 2D visual artist. This is the avenue in which illustration becomes most imaginative, expressive and liberating. As you can probably tell by now, FI also has the highest potential of producing either commercial art or fine art.

So, You’re Looking for a #WeddingPhotographer ? | Part 5

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Leanne Anticipating


When selecting a wedding photographer and a package, you have options. Those options are largely contingent on your wedding photography budget and time. Below, I’m going to briefly talk about some important pre-wedding day events that you may want a photographer to be included in for either recording or observing for planning purposes.

Bridal Salon

Talk about a big occasion; when a bride gets to hunt down the wedding dress of her dreams while bonding with her approving family members.

If you like to watch television shows like Say Yes to the Dress, right away you can see the benefit of having a photographer follow you around to one or two stores while dress shopping – preferably one, just one!

Be very careful when booking this with your photographer. Some bridal boutiques absolutely forbid photography in their places of business for copyright reasons, even with an assurance that you’ll be purchasing a dress and/or bridesmaid gowns from that store. The strict measure of security isn’t just for their business but also for the designers who supply them with garments. If you have one or two salons in mind for shopping, call ahead and ask about their photography policy before booking with a photographer.

If having a photographer accompany your entourage is permitted during your salon appointment, keep in mind that the majority of your shots will be candid. Not too many can be posed and taking up the valuable time of sales staff.

Depending on laws in your region, you may or may not have to obtain model releases or unpaid model releases from salon consultants who may or may not wind up in your shots. Some regions stipulate that because a person or location is not a focal point of photography, it isn’t necessary to obtain written permission. So, ask the store if any staff members may object to being photographed even by happenstance.


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A Kiss from Mum

Bridal Shower

Bridal showers today are changing like the experience of looking for a wedding dress. Traditionally, we Y-chromos shouldn’t dare show our faces at a bridal shower but as times are changing, the brief presence of a very close father, brother, son, nephew or male friend has become almost commonplace. Even the groom can be invited or expected to briefly appear just before the bride opens her gifts. If a bridal shower has to be recorded, this door has to remain open if a bride’s photographer is male. The fix to that, of course, is to hire a female photographer. The matter will be completely taken out of your hands; however, if you don’t plan on having a shower but your friends and family throw a surprise shower for you anyway.

If you want your photographer to be at your bridal shower, you need to nail down the date, location, time of the party and how long you want the photographer to shoot for during consultation. As usual, the number of hours your photographer will spend will directly impact your costs.

It’s either during consultation or – even better, after you’ve hired your photographer, that you should discuss or provide your photography want list. This is a list of memorable moments that you definitely want captured at the event provided the situations arise to either shoot them candidly or if you want them staged. Like when your mother had fun wrapping you up in toilet paper. Well . . . maybe not that unforgettable moment.

Similarly, either during consultation with a photographer or sometime after hiring, but well before the wedding day, are good times to introduce a wedding photographer to the best man, maid of honour, wedding planner or anyone who will be instrumental in helping you identify people and moments to photograph.

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Andrene & Abdul Wedding Rehearsal

Stag and Doe

Also known as the buck and doe, stag and drag, hen and stag, and Jack and Jill. I know that you get it; I just like to say those names. I like the way they roll off the tongue. A stag and doe party is what you might have instead of bachelor and bachelorette parties. In the latter, you get sloshed. In the former, you get sloshed but people pay you good tax-free money and gifts for it. Hey, if you’re thinking of making this a new career move, never mind!

Really, there are good reasons to not have neither a pro nor amateur photographer shoot at a stag and doe. For one, these events are usually held on evenings and in places where the lights are dim. This means that an exorbitant amount of flash will likely to have to be used, even if your photographer is willing to shoot with a fixed focal length lens in hopes of not having to strobe. The frequent flashes can become annoying to you and your guests.

The resulting pictures are often likely to come out with people looking pasty-faced. Preventing or overcoming poor exposures requires a lot of technological slight-of-hand while shooting, and a lot of post-production work in the studio. That post-prod will drive up your costs.

For another reason, many of these parties are known to involve the wedding couple, certain family members and friends getting themselves plastered. Trust me, no matter how nice and fun people may try to be when well under the influence, nobody looks good in any photograph when they’re bombed. If a drunken fight breaks out, pff! Never mind!

If the lighting of your party venue is unlikely to stress out your photographer, guests will be on good behavior and you’re determined to have him or her shoot your buck and doe (that sounds bad, I know; like I’m talking about game hunting or something), then as with a bridal shower, you should get your want-lists in early.

If you hold bachelor and bachelorette parties on the same day, I or any other solo wedding photographer can only shoot one or the other. If you are determined to have both events photographed, then we will subcontract another photographer or photographer’s apprentice. Keep in mind that, that will also increase your costs.

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Tammy & Jeremy Wedding Rehearsal

Wedding Rehearsal and Rehearsal Dinner Party

Rehearsals for the wedding ceremony and the reception are important. While there are many who like to have behind-the-scenes candid shots made from their rehearsals, many don’t. Even when they don’t want pictures taken, it is a very good idea to have your photographer attend your rehearsals for picture planning purposes.

I attended one wedding rehearsal in which I was even helpful with the planning aspects beyond the photography. For my benefit, I kept track of how many minutes it was to take the bride to exit her limousine and walk to the alter. I kept track of how long it took to complete the ceremony. I tracked the time it took for the bride and groom to leave the alter, walk to where the receiving line was to start, and how long it took for guests to follow.

What was originally thought to be semantics was actually seen as extremely important details of time when I shared my POV with the bride and her planner. The reverend even commented how I was on the ball. The necessary adjustments were made to ensure that event on the actual day went smoothly.

That’s what rehearsals are for. Everyone who has a critical stake in making the wedding day beautiful, fluid and memorable should attend the rehearsal.

If I don’t have to shoot at a rehearsal, I don’t have to travel too far and there aren’t any conflicts with my other responsibilities, I will attend rehearsals free of charge.

#ModesofFlight #PortraitPhotography | Introduction

portrait photography individual family children senior business sports theatrical pets

Carioca Girl

This is my quirky intro to a new unlimited blog series on portrait photography. Every now and then, I’ll share my thoughts on this genre, reveal some tricks of the trade, answer some questions and even learn some things that I didn’t know before. Hopefully, I’ll inspire others who love portraiture beyond the selfie.

Although I had been doing both illustration and photography since various stages of my childhood and adolescence, I entered the professional art world mainly as an illustrator. My professional photography career didn’t start until much later.

My wife has told others that my getting back into photography many years ago, especially street photography and portraiture, socially “brought me out of my shell.” Yes, I’ll explain . . .

It’s common for most of us to throw certain words around too freely without a satisfactory understanding on their definitions. Antisocial and introverted are two such words that various others have used to describe me. Which is quite interesting because I’m quite sure that an antisocial personality cannot also be an introvert, and vice-versa. It is because of this fairly frequent labeling why I have actually spent years studying and re-studying the differences.

In psychology, antisocial personalities and introverts are far more complex than their most simplified, laymen descriptions. It’s my understanding that the most accurate difference between the two personalities in laymen’s terms, however, are that antisocial personalities harbor unreasonable and unprovoked absolute hatred for others or a profound lack of care for others wellbeing. Introverts, on the other hand, possess and unreasonable fear of others draining them of their personal sense of security and strength.

I’ve never been a hate monger, and at times have allowed myself to become too concerned with others wellbeing. That takes the antisocial factor right out of the picture.

Although I don’t like crowds, I haven’t had much of a fear of any singular person or group of people since early childhood and have often sought out groups to either study people from a distance or interact with them. I’m somewhat one of those annoying freaks who want to see the whole wide world become loving, happy and sharing together. Actually, I learned the hard way early in life that my boldness and sense of gaining strength from engaging others had to be reined in through religion, martial arts training and reading psychology and sociology. I can remember my mother repeatedly telling me when I was a kid, “Son, in this world, if you keep trying too hard to be liked you’ll see that people will get tired of you.” So, I’m not introverted either.

Part naturally, and partly because of many personal experiences — very good ones and very bad ones, I happen to be another misunderstood animal known as a loner.

Like the antisocial personality I do not embarrass easily. I will proudly take on responsibilities and practices that are regarded by most others as unpopular but are neither criminal nor clearly offensive in any way. Like singing in public even though I’m not a recognized professional singer or willing to be a police officer arresting someone for committing a misdemeanor in order to ensure social order. I’m also not easily bullied or peer pressured, and I require restraint when it comes to opposing real predatory and menacing personalities who enjoy hurting others in any way.

Like the true introvert, I have definitely always been energized by solitary and creative pursuits. Hey, if you didn’t already know it, I’m a visual artist. I’m also highly selective as to who I allow to get close to me.

So, there it is. I’m a loner. I enjoy others but I don’t have to have a lot of friends, be adored, be the center of attention or the life of the party to feel a sense of security or importance. I function extremely well on my own. In being a loner, I am a quiet, reserved individual who is constantly scrutinizing and filtering every aspect of the social universe.

It’s because I refrain from engaging in small talk and gossip, and it’s likely very obvious that my BS-detector is frequently going off, why I get labeled as antisocial or introverted by those who want me to behave as they do.

All of this is what my wife means when she tells people that photography has “brought me out of my shell.” Photography, especially the genres of street photography and portraiture, is a discipline in which she sees me interact with people much more than usual.

Speaking of interaction and portraiture, if you’re interested in having me photograph you, don’t be antisocial and curtail your introversion. Contact me, and let’s see if we can get creative together.

This introductory post will be used as a links page to all subsequent related entries:

  • Introduction (you’re already there)
  • Part 1 The Bertotti Family

Arboretum Virtualis | XVII

Black and white tree forest landscape photography

Spanish Moss in Sunlight


When my wife and I drove from Canada to South Carolina, we ran into an arborist in Myrtle Beach.  I told him that Spanish moss was on my list of things to photograph.  He responded by telling me to take as much as I needed with me.  Well, South Carolinians may be tired of the moss hanging off of their trees but it doesn’t get old for me.

I didn’t physically take any moss home.  I wouldn’t dare try to get that past customs officials.  I, nevertheless, did succeed in making this HDR composition out of 19 photos shot in Myrtle Beach State Park.  The evening was setting in, and I was really drawn to how the fiery sunlight filtered through the scant amounts of moss that hung on what I believe was a very tall oak that I am not familiar with.  Plus, other elemental conditions of the natural environment, like the humidity bleached sky, provided me with an opportunity to create an image out of part of the forest canopy that is just slightly abstract and expressionist.

Focussing on these visual elements allowed me to experimentally direct attention away from the good earth, which is rare for a landscape.

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