Friday, January 28, 2011

Wedding Season Q&A Part 1

(Ruiz Wedding One Of My Favs Circa 2006)

Ladies Who Are Destined to Wear the Dress,

This is your year, this is your moment, this is a time of stressful choices combined with the forces of gravity pulling & twisting your soul into a pretzel. This is the year you get married. Though I can't offer any family counseling nor can I be the secret service agent who shields you from the verbal bullets of friends & family when it seems that their opinion matters more than your own. What I can offer you is a backstage pass into 6 years of shooting weddings in the Treasure Valley more specifically, some of the questions I have been asked over the years along with my own observations. I hope that this gives you something you find valuable from someone other than a person trying to sell you something at a time when you least want it. As transparent as this may come off, to me it is the only way to say it to you and provide any real value because anything less,  means this persistent typing is useless.

Here are some of the questions that have remained embedded in my memory along with the answers as best as I can give them. Keep in mind that what you are about to read is written to hopefully give you some insight into wedding photography so as to help you relate to the other side of the equation. Also noteworthy is that this list should only apply to photographers who have been shooting professionally and not a newbie (They are still learning all of this themselves).Enjoy Part 1 of the Series

1. "Why are some photographers so expensive while others are not?"
Answer: This is a loaded question but what I can tell you is that some photographers offer a much deeper line of products than others. This is neither good nor bad but what you should know is that many of the albums, books, canvass prints, etc. are very spendy for the photographer and to remain viable, count on said items getting marked up. Also, some photographers spend thousands on new gear which if used right, can make your pictures even better! That being said, the equipment isn't free so it has to be made up somewhere. For example, a Nikon 24mm f1.4 lens goes for $2100 and that is just one lens! Factor in insurance, taxes, dues and I haven't even discussed the hours worked on both your wedding day and post processing. Lastly, photographers are very numerous in numbers but, not all are created equal and for the ones that are good at every aspect of the game, they will be highly pursued and the market WILL BEAR IT I assure you.

2. "Do you ever come across clients that you have trouble clicking with"?
Answer: Absolutely! After all, we are human first & foremost thus there are times (Though Very Isolated) where photographers are not able to blend into the entire wedding process with the client(s). When you lack synergy, it makes getting the very best difficult to put it mildly. That it is why it is very important to have those conversations, meet for coffee, shoot those engagements (if possible), and so forth. It is in that bonding period you discover what makes your photographer click while he/she is discovering who you really are in the fastest manner possible. Trust me when I say that a good photographer is also good at reading between the lines when it comes to every exchange he/she has with the subject(s).

3. "How come it takes weeks to deliver pictures and other products"?
Answer: During the height of the summer, wedding service providers are at their peak and the suppliers who provide photographers with books, albums, etc. are equally swamped. Like traffic on Causeway Blvd. (New Orleans) when there is a serious demand for something, the cycle will invariably slow down. I typically deliver NLT 6 weeks from the wedding date but if it takes longer, it could very well be because your photographer is using a much more elaborate or complicated form of album design than others. Also know that for some of us, we go through and edit EVERY image to ensure you look your best as well as the scene around you. Leaving duck crap in an image only goes to show  laziness on the part of a photographer.

4. "If we are running late, can you still get everything we expect for the money we have paid?"
Answer: Time is a very unforgiving concept and all the money in the world cannot bring it back. If you are running super late it changes things and requires a bit of luck and efficiency to keep things on course. When this happens, the time originally planned has now become a shell of it's former self (literally). However, it does happen and it should be something that is discussed during your initial consultation and or documented in the contract you sign. Some photographers will charge you additional time and who can blame them, who works for free? But it can also be said that in the spirit of customer service there should be some leeway to be offered by the photographer IMO. If you miss more than 1/3 of the scheduled time be ready to make a choice that involves a bit of sacrifice.             1. Allocate time during the reception to finish the pics or 2. Forgo that aspect of your pictures altogether. 3. Pay your photographer for another hour of shooting post-wedding and yes, that means you have to get dressed back up.  No photographer wants you to miss any of the pictures you expected but in the absence of a time machine, you are the boss and have to decide though the photog should help you weigh the pro's and cons.

5. "Will a shot list be ok"?
Answer: This is one of those things that while understandable has been known to send a few photographers to the ER with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The reason is simple, the outcome of your wedding pictures is much better left in the hands of a photographers instinct to what looks flattering and worthwhile vs. what isn't. That is what made you hire them right? Fact is, if for some reason a photographer isn't able to get everything on the list they will worry, they will sweat, their work will be affected from that point forward or perhaps before thus, you are not getting what you truly deserve. Hire the photographer for more than being a task master. Hire them for their instinctive abilities and chemistry with you. I once had a bride ask me to shoot pictures of people eating and if you haven't seen pictures of people eating consider yourself lucky. They are simply not something the people on the other end of the lens are EVER happy about regardless of how good the photographer is.

Stay Tuned For Part 2

Sequels For All My Friends,

Justis Photography

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Playing in the Rain


Let me first advise that if you are a photographer, shooting in rain mixed with freezing temperatures is not good for the fingers! I must have soaked my hands in boiling water for an hour to get them back to normal. Ok, perhaps that is a bit of an exaggeration but it no less tested my extremities to the end. Luckily, Matt & Ashleigh joined me with the attitude of someone on a Sunday stroll and without a care in the world. If you're given lemons, make lemonade they or at least that is what I hear. Well, we were given clouds and though we didn't make rain, we made good use of it. All the way from Spokane and a bit of fury and it's "Game, Set, Match"! See ya at the wedding gang....... 

My beloved Saints are done for the year and that signals the start of what I affectionately call "The Shooting Season". It is about this time I am immersed in engagements and Senior pictures alike. Bring it on for this lad has a severe case of Cabin Fever.

Enjoy the bonus shot. my son Devon pulling an Einstein during the holidays.

Thermals For ALL My Friends,


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Yearly Awards for 2010


Life is a series of judgments against the standards of time's past. It is for this very reason that people create a “Year in Review List” or "The Top 100 Events" in (insert year). What in the world am I referring to is probably the question you just said to yourself as you read letters & symbols written by a fool smitten with his own proclamations. It is for the aforementioned question that I must now respond and with that response I continue to use more text than necessary just to keep the suspense lurking while doing revolutions around your patience. Ok Ok I’l stop but this  is just too much fun!  

The time has come for me to take a moment to reflect on the things most reflective in my eyes for 2010. Most of what you’ll find in this list revolve around people whom I have stood in the trenches with, shared a personal moment with, or just simply found common ground with. However, there will also be references to things that have no bearing on a personal relationship with (say it with me), P-E-O-P-L-E!
And now we commence the ceremonies...........

Most Rewarding Moment of 2010 (Non-Human Category): Seeing my beloved New Orleans Saints finally win the Super Bowl. If you are not from or have no ties to this great city than it is physically impossible for you to know just how big this was. 30+ years of loyal following for Mr. Lance and with a Father who attended the first game in 67, it is no wonder the impact of this win was so strong it made quick work of my sensitivities. Thank you Saints past, present, & future! 

Cheapest Beer Drank in 2010: Keystone Beer
Need I say anything more?

Most Dynamic & Creative Photographer of 2010: Greg Sims
Never have I seen somebody unify the world of photography and digital art the way this dude has. From military jets to NCAA & NFL sanctioned sports, this man has had his hand in the game and has forced the world to take notice that the standards of photography are only going higher on his watch.I call him "Jedi Master", you can call him Greg. For more info on this dynamite guy check out

Cosmopolitan Person of 2010 Marc Pagani: Facebook has evolved in a way that allows all of us to participate in other people’s lives without having to physically be around them all the time. For better or worse we can argue that one later. For now, I have enjoyed reading about the travels of Marc Pagani who is based out of New Orleans. From the highest mountains to the sands of the Caribbean his tales of adventure and photography have been nothing short of captivating and insightful. If you are looking for a someone who will tell you what is and isn't as he as personally seen,  Marc is your guy. He also is a pretty dammed amazing photographer who has his hand in just about every type of photography known to the human race.

Person Whose 15 Seconds Are Up Justin Bieber : A child that has polarized the pre-pubescent minds of girls across the globe. Unfortunately, he has no talent and a ridiculous hair do that resembles something between a beehive and a birdhouse. Just wait, in a couple of years we will be reading of how he lit a hotel hallway on fire after going through a gallon of Vodka. 

My personal favorite picture from 2010: Chelsea Cassity in “Lake Waters”
There should always be a series of mountains one climbs when trying to establish excellence. 2010 was kind enough to bestow what I feel is the successful trek up just one of those mountains. It started over a series of conversations lasting 4 months & when the shutter closed on a setting sun in Lake Lowell, I knew I had something I would cherish forever. This is one of the rare moments where tooting your own horn never felt so good.

7. Best Movie of 2010: “Restrepo”
With the over the top computer graphics of today’s movies, it is nice that we still have a desire to see raw & unbridled films about the world around us more importantly, the wars that continue to suck the life out of our own futures. If you’re curious as to what a member of the U.S. military goes through in a place like the Korengal Valley this is the film for you. I saw this film and felt like I was back in Bosnia (circa 96) and the bond these men form with one another is yet another reminder that despite the wave of chaos that surrounds us, standing your ground for the man beside you still matters most. 

8. Biggest Consumer Product for 2010: Apple
This award is for a company who continues to streamline everyday things while making it cool, fun, and flat out reliable.

9. Most Disappointing Aspect of 2010: Our Population of Voters
Not because we are divided by this made for TV thing called “Party Affiliation”, but because we have emptied our loads exhausting precious energy for words instead of getting things done. I often wonder if our success as a country hinges on some sort of controlled chaos instead of harmony. Just a thought.....If you think either party truly represents you make sure you Fed Ex some of the same drugs you're taking to my address please.

Coolest City Visited in 2010: South Padre Island, Texas
Man oh man they love their Tex-Mex and cold beer! From the beaches to the jet skis,  this place is a poor man’s tropical paradise. The fishing is awesome and the accommodations are more than adequate. Seriously, give it a thought if you are looking for something different.

Well there you have it folks. What you just read was my own little collection of notables for 2010. For everyone who has supported "Justis Nation" I really can't thank you enough for it is you that enables the wheels under the bus I have been riding on for 6 years strong. May 2011 be better not just for you, but for the masses of eyes that make up the world we live in. 

Honorable Mentions for 2010
1. Learning to use the word "Seam" in a way I never imagined. 
2. Saying "No" when I absolutely had to
3. Seeing people finally realize there is more to pictures than the push of a button
4. Getting a new mayor in New Orleans
5. Andy Rooney
6. Colin Charland and his continued search for the Taliban in your living rooms
7. Soutwest Airlines
8. Getting up close and personal with the New Orleans Saints at their Metarie training facility
9. The beginnings of the NCAA's demise
10. The human ear! How unappreciated that asset is in our lives and unfortunately, under used. 

Champagne For All My Friends,