Personal Photography: Digital Meets Analog

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been making some changes in the logistics of my business.  This has included changing up the blog post schedule for weddings & portraits, so that’s why the blog seems a tad less organized than usual, and you’re seeing not only a full blog post for each wedding, but a sneak peek as well.  In the midst of all this business-minded change and administrative growth, I have a lighthearted and personal post to share today.

I recently returned from a really great trip to San Francisco.  I headed out to the Bay area last week for an extended weekend of photography, friendship, and awesome Asian food. 

  My friends Jeremy & Zabrina from JEZA Photography were my gracious hosts for my visit and I had a fantastic time.  I’ve traveled with these guys before, including last year’s trip to New York City and this spring’s European excursion.  They are a constant source of thought-provoking conversation and I find their imagery inspiring.  Their attitude about the art of photography is contagious, and I am amazed at how meticulously they craft each image- both during the shoot and afterwards in post-production.  It’s entirely obvious why these two are taking the industry by storm- just check out their recent WPPI accolades!  They even won a first-place award for an amazing engagement photo they took in Paris.  When I saw that award announced on their Facebook page, my heart was so full of joy for them.  In fact, it was in their very home that I entered my first WPPI contest last year and won MY first accolade.  It was their encouragement (along with other good friends Scott & Tauran) that got me to enter in the first place.

What really makes Jeremy & Zabrina’s beautiful imagery and award-winning style so amazing is how they do it.  In today’s culture of “bigger and better” everything, we photographers are OBSESSED with having the perfect gear.  Top of the line lenses, full frame cameras, expensive TTL flashes, fancy wireless remote systems that promise to do all the work for us, and so on…  I know I am definitely prone to the money pit that is Amazon, or B&H, or Adorama.  We compare the contents of our camera bags with other pro’s and hobbyists.  We think, “perhaps I’d get the image I want if I had THIS lens, or THAT body.”  Or alternatively, we think “that person can’t possibly be getting a good image- they don’t even have a flash bracket!!”  (OK, just kidding, I’ve never used a flash bracket in my life, but I’ve actually HEARD this!)  Do we really believe that the images we create are that dependent on what we use to create them?  I think sometimes we do.  And yes, to a point, there is truth there.  But only to a point, or if you ask me- AFTER a point.

You see, my dear friends at JEZA didn’t have the luxury of purchasing top-of-the-line gear when they began their business.  They made a ton of sacrifices to live the “glamorous” lifestyle of award-winning photographers, and they continue to do so.  One of the things they’ve learned to do is really maximize the equipment they have.  They skip the very expensive stuff in favor of more affordable equipment, which they have mastered.  They can take gorgeous, eye-catching, story-telling images with half the gear I normally carry to a wedding.  To watch them in action is REFRESHING.  Inspiring.  Humbling.

Last April, in Paris, I watched these two run around creating great imagery with a little camera called the Sony NEX.  It’s a digital four-thirds-style camera, a fraction of the size of my 5D Mark II.  It got me thinking, and after hanging out with them for a couple days, I ordered one for myself as I sat in the backseat of their car, zooming across the Bay Bridge.  I got it in the mail yesterday, and immediately realized I had ordered the wrong lens adapter for my Canon EOS lenses.  However, I found that I did in fact have a lens laying around that would work with what I had: my father-in-law’s old 50mm 1.4 that has sat idly attached to the Canon AE-1 he gave me as a gift.  I snapped that puppy into place and went to play.

While I’m in no way prepared to leave all my precious gear behind when I take off for tomorrow’s wedding, I am inspired to shoot more for fun over the next few months.  I’m excited to take a smaller camera with a 35-year-old lens out for a spin.  Slow down.  Think more.  Push myself.  Let go of the gear.  Make myself work with less.

And hopefully, create some stunning imagery in the process.

I want to extend a sincere “thank you” to Jeremy & Zabrina for welcoming me to their home once again, and having me along on a couple shoots.  Thank you for showing me what can be possible when we step back from the gear acquisition race and return to the basics.  Here are just a few of my “test shots” from the past 24 hours.  Nothing special, for sure, but the beginnings of something more, perhaps?  Something more out of something less…  Sounds like a great challenge if you ask me!

It’s probably a combination of high ISO and this beautiful lens, but I love how this shot looks like a film photo.


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