Photography Challenge

More than once, I've heard photographers say that you should challenge yourself to shoot outside of what you do normally. After watching David DuChemin's class on Creative Live last month, I've begun to pay more attention to what attracts me, photographically speaking. I've found that I'm drawn to close-up shots of flowers, leaves, and plants (and sometimes other things). It's fascinating to see the little curlicues in the middle of a dandelion or the translucency of a clematis petal up nice and close. I also love patterns, lines, and angles.


You'll notice that there are no people in the list of what I like to shoot. Over the past couple of years, I've been asked if I would do some type of portrait shoot. I typically tell these people that I shoot things, not people. Nice diversion tactic, don't you think? The reality is that I have NO idea if I'd be any good at portraiture, because I just don't do it that often.

181-mrs bd

The one exception to this is my niece. I have a blast with her, because she's a total ham, as cute as could be, and has no issues with me having a camera in her face.

mrs pinwheel

Sometimes life has a way of throwing you a curve ball. While I've deftly dodged those in the past, I caught one this summer. Some dear friends of ours, whom we have known for a long time, have a daughter who recently became engaged. She asked if I would shoot her engagement and wedding photos. My own, not-so-quiet response to myself was something along the lines of, "Thanks for asking, but I'm SO not your gal," after I picked myself up off the floor. Of course, I couldn't respond to HER that way. So I messaged her back something a little more tactful, basically saying I'd get back to her.

After some time passed and a couple more messages, I decided that I could probably do the engagement photos. After all, if I botched them, I could just invite them out to shoot again, right?

A wedding? Not so much.

So I kindly told her that I didn't believe I was the best choice for wedding photos. I made it quite clear that I've NEVER SHOT A WEDDING. EVER. IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. Of all things, they STILL want me to take their wedding photos.

Holy moly, Batman.

So I did a very scary and risky thing.

I said I would.

Yep, there it is - in writing for all the blogosphere to see. I, the woman who doesn't shoot people, is shooting a wedding. Maybe someone should just shoot me now.

I KNOW they're totally okay that I've never done this

I KNOW they're working with a budget and don't want to spend a ton of money

I KNOW they're very laid back and casual about the whole deal

I even KNOW they like their engagement photos (bonus!)

But it still FREAKS. ME. OUT.

And if you're reading this, Amy, I'll be fine by May. Really, I will.

So, as you can imagine, I have an enormous learning curve to crawl over during the next nine months.

Maybe this was providential, but I had already signed up for Jasmine Star's rocking cool Wedding Photography class at Creative Live, which is currently under way (I figured there'd be some good tips and info, even though I don't shoot people or weddings). It's FIVE WHOLE DAYS, and it's FREE, with Jasmine telling us a TON of information (she talks very fast, so it really is a LOT) about shooting a wedding. On Day One, she covered her own background and path into photography, along with a slew of tips, what's in her bag, and the wedding day walk-through. Today, we got to see her at the venue, explaining how to shoot in a small area, look for good lighting, how to help your clients relax, and Q&As. She and JD (her husband & second shooter) also shot the bride & groom's First Look today. It was stellar.

Tomorrow will be the actual wedding. Saturday, there will be a vendor panel, presentation of Jasmine's photos, her process, and loads of Q&A. Sunday will be a wrap-up along with more Q&A.

Anywho. I think I just hopped off down one of those notorious bunny trails.

My point (I know, you thought I didn't have one any more, didn't you?) was that I'd signed up for this FREE class (you still have time to check it out, btw) before I was asked to do this engagement/wedding shoot. Coincidence? I don't think so. But it has now become a part of my very focused learning curve. Along with all the studying and practice I can get shooting portraits, shooting in a variety of lighting, and shooting outside of my comfort zone.

Which, btw, was something that Jasmine mentioned today as well; always be challenging yourself.

When it comes to portraits, I have a husband who is quite busy with his job and such things. And I have two teenage boys. ClayGuy is a little more willing to accommodate my camera madness. The Comedian? Well, let's just say that he'd probably almost rather go clean up stinky, rotting apples in our back yard more than pose for me. But somehow, I talked him into just a few shots. Here's one that I liked, with some variation in processing.

The basic shot, slightly edited.

I really enjoy B&W.

While I'm not often a fan of blown-out photos, sometimes you can achieve a funky, fresh effect. I love his eyes in this one.

Look out, ClayGuy, you're next. And both of my nieces. And probably any other willing subject I can wrangle long enough to hold still while I shoot photograph them.

And if you don't know who Jasmine Star is, I highly encourage you to check out her site. She's a very gifted wedding photographer


Anonymous said...

I'm working on shooting people too (That sounds so wicked!) I am okay with everything else, but people. Ugh. It's tough and my models (my four kids) aren't very cooperative. I think they are the best to practice on, but I "think" I am wrong.

Beth said...

That is so great! The photo of your son is beautiful (may not want to use that word with a teen boy, huh?). I'm partial to b/w as well. Congrats on doing something new and exciting. You will be wonderful, I just know it!!

Lorraine said...


You can do this. I did. I shot both of my sisters' weddings. It was stressful and nerveracking, but I did it.

I highly recommend making a list of "Must Have" shots ahead of time.

Be there for the rehearsal so you can get an idea for where you will need to be.

Wear comfy shoes!!

Also, check with the minister. Often they don't allow flash. By going to the rehearsal, you can get a feel for the lighting, and maybe discuss options with the lighting guy.

Also.... Breathe. You can do this.

Maddy said...

Hopefully I'm not in too many of your practice pictures, weren't there enough of me growing up!? (JK- I would let you take the pictures when IM READY).

Dianne - Bunny Trails said...

Thanks, Lorraine, for the encouragement!

Well, you just never know, Susan. Muwahahahaha!!!!!!

Valerie said...

So good to step out of your comfort zone - and improve your skills!

I am also a flower - bird, landscape - but I do shoot lots of action baseball shots )as long as the kids don't know I am shooting them they come out great -
Posed shots - not so much.

Loved your dandelion shot. I remember the first time I saw the pollen on top of a dandelion I was in shock! i didn't know dandelions had pollen - but I guess that is why I love photography so much - it captures what I can't see with just my eyes!

Anonymous said...

You still need to learn how to spell the expression in most of your sisters' teen year pictures! ha ha! Do you suppose Amy can do the mouth thing Susan did in her wedding picture?
Shooting people sounds almost as bad as spending the day dyeing!
Who knows...you may find you have a new vocation! Dianne - the wedding photographer!

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