My first iPhone Wedding


Ok, before you get all excited here’s the “rest of the story” for you to ponder.

We attended a wedding this summer, where I was not doing the photography (I believe this is only the third time that has ever happened) of a daughter of close friends.  A wedding photographer makes for a stir crazy guest (as I watched the 2 photographers roam about during the ceremony, watching what they were doing, wondering why, hearing every shutter trip…).
From our front row seats, I took a few shots as a random act of kindness for the parents of the bride.  My images are now being requested to “supplement” the work of the hired shooters, and I’ll of course gladly give them what I have from my iPhone.


What is interesting is that in this day and age where so many photographers now shoot thousands of images at weddings, how often brides and or their parents find themselves wanting more.  Wait a minute, “wanting more”, how is this possible with the thousands and thousands of digital pictures being shot at most weddings?  Sadly, the disappointment level is running pretty high resulting from a lack of the right shots.  The 350 pictures of the wedding party jumping in the field are fun, but how did we miss getting a picture with Grandma?


When asked to critique work of young, new wedding photographers, the body of my critique is almost always the same.  I typically see some nice images, very relaxed and natural, great expressions and fun.  What I rarely see is a cohesive story and well planned, organized group shots, and relationship combinations that are so vital to tell the complete story of the day, AND capturing images with the important people in a couples life.

It’s great that so many photographers have such a great time at weddings.  It’s great that technology has allowed creativity to soar in some cases, without any real knowledge of proper exposure.  It’s great that DSLR gear, and now mirrorless cameras have gotten so affordable.

What’s not great is that far too many brides and grooms experience disappointment in the final results of their wedding photography.  Photojournalism is great, but I will always use it in balance with striking portraits, touching family groupings, balanced, comfortable group portraits that befit the formal occasion of a wedding, and a few images from every wedding that leave everyone saying, “wow”.  I am blessed with an internal wedding day meter that allows me to adjust my plan on the fly to fit what needs to be done, in the time allowed, every time.  When a bride is an hour late, something has to give and the plan needs to be adjusted.  It is never an excuse that you ran out of time, and that’s why you missed the shot with the bride’s 94 year old grandmother.

As I was thinking about this blog content, I had another conversation with the mother of the groom (while I was photographing her last senior of 5 kids in recent years) this weekend.  I was asked to do engagement pictures for this couple last fall.  We got some awesome images, and they loved them.  But, as is so often the case, “a friend” of theirs started doing weddings, so they went with this creative new shooter.  The mother shared with me the frustration, and sad (bordering on angry) feelings about horrible group shots, poorly posed, shadows, dark backgrounds… and no pictures with parents, siblings and grandparents.  They were told by the photographer the church was too dark to get good ceremony pictures (which were all blurry), and were surprised that this photographer charged only about $500 less than I would have, and didn’t even use a tripod, or any external lighting of any kind.  As the mom put it “when spending this kind of money, I thought we were hiring a pro”.  Photographers are often stereotyped as gearheads with far too much gear with them at any time.  Guilty as charged, but I can’t imagine shooting a wedding will less than 2 or 3 cameras and 7-10 lenses.  On the upside, I don’t need a gym membership lugging all this stuff around…

I’ve been told by some wedding planners that brides are starting to figure it out, and are doing a better job vetting their photographers.  I hope this is the case.  It is damaging to the entire profession to have these kinds of experiences occurring so frequently.  We all had to start somewhere, and all I ask is that new photographers be a little more patient before labeling themselves an expert, and that established photographers listen to what the clients want and deliver a great experience.

I was awarded the top wedding album in the state of Minnesota for a reason.  I know what I’m talking about.

Can’t wait for my next wedding in December.

Barry 651-426-0232


Neither snow, nor rain, nor wind, nor gloom of night…

Please accept my apologies for the “test” blog with no link (WordPress and I were at odds this morning).

November 10, 2012 was the annual lighting of Split Rock Lighthouse on Lake Superior along Minnesota’s North Shore.

I joined 5 other photographers for a “Retreat on the Rocks”, which was a group of photographers with 147 years of combined experience, 23 cameras (not counting phones) and gear which included high end point and shoot cameras, dslr bodies and lenses, medium format and 3 4×5 cameras.

We awoke Saturday morning to driving winds, rain and what promised to be a tussle with an angry Lake Superior.


After a short photo shoot along the shoreline (and getting nailed be a few waves) we retreated to the cabin to get ready for the big event.  It was time to decide what gear to pack, and start planning the shoot.  The conditions foiled a couple of epic ideas we had, but there’s always next year, stay tuned…  They read the names of the victims of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald (I still can’t believe they didn’t pipe in a little Gordon Lightfoot) and lighted it for 1.5 hours, once a year, on November 10, period.

We encountered conditions that clearly separated the men from the boys as they say.  Temps in the low thirties, winds estimated at 30-50mph off the lake and a driving rain that was mostly horizontal, right in our faces (and lenses).  Autofocus was useless, the dark overcast fog limited visibility and the light levels dropped quickly.  Anyone attempting to shoot on program auto, with slow zoom lenses was likely very disappointed with their results.

Full command of your gear was required as exposure adjustments, ISO adjustments and critical manual focus execution was paramount, all while you could barely see what you were doing, while not being able to feel your fingers most of the time. The humidity was so high, that wiping the water off your lenses was pointless.  Our gear was wrapped in plastic bags, and we were dressed for the conditions.  I packed a bit heavy and while determined to squeeze off a roll on my Hasselblad, the roll of ISO 100 film wasn’t ideal.

The rest of the group stayed on the shore and I headed up to see what I could get next to and inside the light house. I knew my lenses would likely fog the second I went from really cold, to inside a humid, human filled building and I was right.  My trusty iPhone saved me and I was able to capture a few great shots fog free (hand dryers in restrooms are a great way to de-fog your lenses in a pinch).

The next image (shot on the iPhone) is a rare glimpse of the lamp lit and rotating.  It was very cool to see.

I have blogged before about the advantages of hiring an experienced pro to photograph the special occasions. I can assure you that anyone that can manage what the 6 of us managed, in these conditions, pass every test when it comes to command of gear, and knowing how to use it.  Those of us in the group that shoot weddings took it in stride, not really all that different…

This was a challenging, and very rewarding experience.  The gear seems to have survived (ok, a few lenses spent a night in a bag of rice to dry out), and it was a great time for all.  Please contact me if you are interested in purchasing any images from this collection.

Gales of November Special Customer Bonus

For the month of November, any Picture Place customer who reserves any session, wedding or event (which can of course be at a later date) will receive a choice of any image from this signature collection (ranging in size from 8×8 to 12×18).  Call 651-426-0232 for details.

It was fascinating to huddle around our screens and compare images to see how we all captured and treated the event differently.  I’ll never forget the majestic sound of the crashing waves, and the sick feeling of removing lens caps with what seemed to be a cup full of water trapped on the lens.  Tripods on slippery rocks added to the fun (you don’t want to get swept off the rocks into this thirty something degree water) and hand holding (as I did for all of my shots near and in the light house) is an added challenge when you are freezing.

Technical Info (for your photo geeks):

Nikon D700 and D200 cameras.  10.5 fisheye, 70-210 2.8,  300 2.8, iPhone 4s, Hasselblad ELX with an 80 2.8.  ISO range used from 800-3200.  Camera RAW

I get asked frequently “Barry, do you ever go out and take pictures outside the studio for fun?”, the answer is yes.

Barry   651-426-0232   Twitter @fstop95