Kern-Photo http://www.kern-photo.com Minneapolis Wedding Photographer Tue, 05 Apr 2016 01:57:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.2 Sam and Ben {Maui Wedding Vow Renewal} http://www.kern-photo.com/2016/04/sam-and-ben-maui-wedding-vow-renewal/ http://www.kern-photo.com/2016/04/sam-and-ben-maui-wedding-vow-renewal/#comments Mon, 04 Apr 2016 22:47:59 +0000 http://www.kern-photo.com/?p=18926 I am falling in love all over again. With weddings in Hawaii, of course. On this particular special occasion, Sam and Ben invited me to be part of the renewal of their wedding vows in Maui with a few family and friends. It doesn’t get much better than this. If Cinderella planned on renewing her […]

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I am falling in love all over again. With weddings in Hawaii, of course. On this particular special occasion, Sam and Ben invited me to be part of the renewal of their wedding vows in Maui with a few family and friends. It doesn’t get much better than this. If Cinderella planned on renewing her vows in Hawaii, perhaps her Pinterest board may include a few of these images. I bet she would even choose florals by Bella Bloom!

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CLICK HERE to view slideshow.

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Fearless Award, Collection 29 http://www.kern-photo.com/2016/02/fearless-award-collection-29/ http://www.kern-photo.com/2016/02/fearless-award-collection-29/#comments Fri, 12 Feb 2016 19:17:18 +0000 http://www.kern-photo.com/?p=18881 This bridal party fun image from Erin & Eric’s Denver Science Museum wedding won a Fearless Award announced today! This is my fourth award from Fearless Photographers, a group of bold wedding photographers striving to redefine conventional wedding photography. With literally thousands of entries, to land an award makes my Friday! In this blog post, […]

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This bridal party fun image from Erin & Eric’s Denver Science Museum wedding won a Fearless Award announced today! This is my fourth award from Fearless Photographers, a group of bold wedding photographers striving to redefine conventional wedding photography. With literally thousands of entries, to land an award makes my Friday!

In this blog post, I delve into this image and explain what I was thinking when I pressed the shutter and why I think the judges (and my clients) loved it.

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Nikon D700 / 14mm, 1/750 sec at f/4.8, 800 ISO.

A Paleo-Puppeteer?

The bride and groom, Erin & Eric, love science. And a bit of witty humor. They hired “Mr. Bones” to perform during their wedding day. He calls himself a paleo-puppeteer, ‘wears’ a life-sized dinosaur skeleton, moves around with wires. He’s one well-dressed dinosaur, the perfect kind you would want greeting guests to the ceremony at the Denver Science Museum.

During bridal party portraits, OF COURSE I had to use our “prop” in a creative way. I love putting on my creative thinking cap.

A Dino Perspective

To create the dramatic and exaggerated perspective, I used my favorite Nikon 14-24mm lens to offer the viewer an ultra wide perspective. The advantage of the ultra wide is I gain a greater depth of field at any given aperture over, say, my trusty a 85 mm f/1/4. Using an aperture of f/4.8 with my 14mm lens afforded me the luxury of getting from 2 feet in front of me to infinity in focus. Sharp focus. Storytelling focus.

Wide angle lenses are super sexy. They offer an incredible depth of field.

Yet the are often mis-used. You see, there needs to be an interesting foreground, middle ground, and background to make it work. Often, photographers forget about the foreground in focus. What did I do?

I laid down in the grass.

This gave the bridal party something to laugh at and guests to watch as everyone took their positions (the entire event was abut 5 minutes, but guests were equally entertainment watching this unfold).

With a bit of direction, and a count 1- 2 – 3 – GO! .. we were off. On the second take, I was confident I got the shot.

Layers, Peeled

Let’s break it down.

Like an onion, a good photograph should have multiple layers. As you peel back one layer, another visual story reveals itself. I like to think there should be at least 3 interesting things going on in a really good photograph. With this layered approach, the level of difficulty to document the image becomes exponentially challenging. There is no magic to make this happen. Only 100% being focused and present (ample experience and the right tools help, foo).

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  1. T-Rex?
  2. A leg? An arm? A human?
  3. Almost stomped groomsmen… that actually fell (the real moment)
  4. A jumping homage to Henri Cartier Bresson
  5. On-looking couple wondering what the heck is going on??
  6. Crescent moon in the daytime, a detail you might expect around the golden hour.

Choosing the best photo in a sequence isn’t easy, but this is something I think about while making my editing selections.

For tips on choosing your best photos, read this post. Or, tap inside my brain and see my ten things I consider when judging photos (and also when entering photo contests) here.

These six layers make this image shine apart from the others in the sequence that didn’t make the contest (but still made it into the final selections):
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An a personal favorite photo showing Mr. Bones in his puppeteer costume working his T-Rex humor!
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I hope you enjoyed this blog post. I enjoy reading & responding to comments below!
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On Being a Fearless ISPWP Photo Judge http://www.kern-photo.com/2016/02/on-being-a-fearless-ispwp-photo-judge/ http://www.kern-photo.com/2016/02/on-being-a-fearless-ispwp-photo-judge/#comments Fri, 12 Feb 2016 17:02:18 +0000 http://www.kern-photo.com/?p=18233 Being a ring bearer can be stressful. So can entering photo contests. In this post, I share my lessons from being a photo contest judge. The biggest takeaways I had the opportunity to judge for the International Society for Professional Wedding Photographers (ISPWP) contest recently (winning contest gallery here), an honor I took very seriously! I’ve […]

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Being a ring bearer can be stressful. So can entering photo contests. In this post, I share my lessons from being a photo contest judge.

The biggest takeaways

I had the opportunity to judge for the International Society for Professional Wedding Photographers (ISPWP) contest recently (winning contest gallery here), an honor I took very seriously! I’ve been apart of the ISPWP since 2009 and have had 25+ images receive accolades from judges of various contests. Usually, I enter 20 images or so thinking one or none might win. Though every now and again I get surprised, like the year I placed in the top five.

Before becoming a judge, I didn’t have a clear insight into the photo judging process. After ranking 4,000 images in a short period of time:

  • There are a lot of great photographers out there. Wedding photography has come a long way in the last 10 years. This is great for the client in terms of end product, but tricky for the client when it comes to choosing a wedding photographer. This is proof that photographers can’t compete on images alone. Excellent customer service and strong business acumen can’t be seen in images, but they are critical factors for long-term success.
  • I see so many of the same images taken over and over. Why? Sameness is often rewarded by clients. This is one of the biggest problems facing wedding photography.
  • The pursuit of an award-winning image should never trump client expectations. Too often photographers forget client expectations and shoot only what they want and neglect key components to a wedding day (like family portraits, for example). I hear complaints from photographers like, “This isn’t what I want to shoot,” or “It’s not creative, it’s boring.” We should never forget who we work for.

What goes into a winning image?

While contests and the judges are subjective, to me a winning image should show a strong composition with a storytelling component and inspiring lighting that highlights a moment. The challenge here is in capturing the moment. No different than an experienced surfer chooses when to catch the right wave and when to let one go, a photographer’s choices are equally as instinctive on when to press the shutter.

10 things I consider when judging photos (and also when entering photo contests)

10. Humans must rock! If I was an alien that landed on Earth for the first time, a winning image would offer a glimpse into the amazing-ness of our species: the beautiful, emotional, fun-loving humans we can be.

9. Winning images are images I would want on my wedding day. Therein lies the subjectivity factor. It can be cool, different, moody, odd… no problem. However, weddings are deeply personal, sentimental, and tug emotional heart strings. Real moments sing! That’s what I want to see.

8. One moment captured is good. Three is best. The two additional supporting moments make my eye dance inside the photo. In my initial cull, I review images as if they were on a contact sheet, choosing the ones that catch my eye. Then I zoom in to confirm details like focus, storytelling, odd distractions, or subtle details. I want my eye to be controlled through the image by the content in the photograph.

7. Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. This goes for trespassing, prisming, lightpainting, posing, advanced compositing, etc. When shooting, ask yourself one question: Why? If you have a good reason for why and are confident in your choice, you are half-way to convincing me it’s a good idea.

6. Make me laugh, or cry. Or both. My bias: I’m partial to dogs in wedding photos.

5. Inaccurate skin tones bug me. I get creative post-processing. Yet, green skin isn’t real. I like real. Just because we can shoot at ISO 12,000, doesn’t mean the light has quality and dimensionality. Use a flash with a gel to balance with ambient or create interesting shadows.

4. Dodge photogs. If there is another photographer or camera (or three others) in the image, I’m moving on.

3. Show, don’t tell. Please don’t show me “kissy kissy.” There are so many more creative ways to show emotion and love between a couple. There are exceptions to the rule, but they are few.

2. Deliver depth. My eye prefers 24mm and 85mm angle of views (on a full-frame DSLR) with a definitive foreground, middle ground, and background that adds to storytelling. Since these are my two go-to lenses, that is what my eye is trained to see. Wider is fine. Closer is better. Without foreground context, wide-angle lenses create a very flat, boring image. Storytelling with a greater depth of field, like f/8, will yield more context, making it easier to tell a story. Wider apertures yield less context, making it harder to tell a story.

1. Show me something new and different. If I’ve seen it before, show me better.

With all that said, I’m leaving you with one image I just found out TODAY that won me a Fearless Award (Collection 29).

RJKern-255

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Call Me A Shutterbug {Again} http://www.kern-photo.com/2016/01/call-me-a-shutterbug-again/ http://www.kern-photo.com/2016/01/call-me-a-shutterbug-again/#comments Fri, 29 Jan 2016 16:24:34 +0000 http://www.kern-photo.com/?p=18697 5 years ago, I admitted I was a camera geek. I still am. I’m excited to share the Shutterbug in me is still jumping around and can be seen in the March 2016 edition about to hit newsstands! Ever since going pro, I’ve never lost my amateur heart strings when it comes to photography. That’s […]

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5 years ago, I admitted I was a camera geek. I still am.

I’m excited to share the Shutterbug in me is still jumping around and can be seen in the March 2016 edition about to hit newsstands!

Ever since going pro, I’ve never lost my amateur heart strings when it comes to photography. That’s why I still enjoy the FUN of shooting in personal work like Burning Man couples, tomte, badass cars, or pursuing fine-art.
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I share my perspective on how I stay creative and competitive as a wedding photographer. Flip to page 60, to read:

  • My favorite format to present a wedding photography portfolio
  • My advice on those looking at portrait photography as a business – pitfalls to avoid, too
  • What areas of expertise (other than photography) are most important as a wedding photographer and how to gain those skills
  • How the biggest changes in the wedding industry in 5 years have shaped what we do…. and more.

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Thank you to Shutterbug magazine and Maria Piscopo for offering this wonderful exposure! And of course, my wonderful clients who shared their trust in me:

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Meet Mr. Richard Parker http://www.kern-photo.com/2016/01/meet-mr-richard-parker-srt-hellcat/ http://www.kern-photo.com/2016/01/meet-mr-richard-parker-srt-hellcat/#comments Wed, 13 Jan 2016 13:50:33 +0000 http://www.kern-photo.com/?p=18685 Meet Mr. Richard Parker, a 2016 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat: the Fastest, Most Powerful Muscle Car Ever! This blog post showcases a recent personal project photographing my father’s new love on wheels. My gift to him: the creation of inspired images of his new wheels before they left the dealership. We created this custom leather-bound […]

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Meet Mr. Richard Parker, a 2016 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat: the Fastest, Most Powerful Muscle Car Ever! This blog post showcases a recent personal project photographing my father’s new love on wheels. My gift to him: the creation of inspired images of his new wheels before they left the dealership. We created this custom leather-bound album to commemorate this engineering feat and father-and-son project.

Keys to Balance

Ever since I went pro, I’ve had to give a little extra thought each time I pick up the camera. I love the process of creating a photograph: the experience of being 100% focused & present, the technical problem solving, the ability to work with light, and seeing the wonder of the image created. It all takes me to back the whaff of the fixer and learning darkroom photography in 1994. To gift a person a print, really meant something special. I wish I could just shoot for free and not have to charge, but alas I’d have no business. Yet, I’ve never lost that gifting sense. It’s just sometimes I gift away too much at the expense of free time, sleep.

You know: keys to balance.

Controlling those keys is a delicate act, as more photos taken = more time in post-production = more time in front of the computer (I choose not to outsource the heavy lifting of my creativity, BTW).

SRT Hellcat Photographs

Long-time blog readers know my affinity of photographing cars. I don’t market & advertise work, mainly because it’s a strong heartstring tie back to my amateur status. I do enjoy the opportunities photographing cars has created, including personal documentary projects of Chrysler 300 meets, shooting one-of-a-kind collector cars in scenic locales on portrait session along the California US 1 highway, offering an ode to my (retired) PT Cruiser, and documenting wheels of freedom.

Yet, today is a bit of an exception.

Introducing Mr. Richard Parker, a 2016 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat: the Fastest, Most Powerful Muscle Car Ever!

It’s a 200 mph supercar dressed up like a rental car sedan. 707 HP thanks to its supercharged 6.2-liter V-8. I photographed this car for my father, who is a huge car buff and is a proud owner of his dream car.

This Hellcat’s name is inspired by the movie, The Life of Pi. This isn’t the first time movies have inspired my work. Nor the first time I’ve dreamt about a portrait of a Hellcat.

A Hunger for Speed, Quality

“Maybe Richard Parker can’t be trained, but maybe he can be tamed,” says the character, Pi, attempting to get the tiger, Richard Parker, to calm down, be civilized to get food, one chunk of meat at a time.

When you hunger for speed, likely you take all you can get.

Here’s sneak peek of the final images in the form of a 12” 16” custom-leather album with metallic paper and matching leather slipcase. Enjoy!
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My opening concept for the first spread of the album was a “cat lurking in the dark.”
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Lots of details of the designedly features showcased, including the pair of keys (the red ones permit the 707HP to come alive while the black key limits to about 500HP), and the special Red Brembo Calipers:
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I only had about 45-minutes to shoot the entire car, inside and out. I brought along my studio equipment to help me create brochure-quality images.
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Photographing the details inside the engine compartment was an amazing experience. After all, this car will never be cleaner!
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Under-the-hood photos of the Dodge SRT Hellcat:
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I created this series of squares, each showcasing a visual element of the car which took on an abstract sculptural element. While “the whole” is superior to the sum of the parts, those parts do inspire!
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The final page:
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