I am going to state something that not a lot of professional photographers would do, photography is not my passion in life. In fact, it never was. My passions involve experiences such as travel, eating, meeting new people, experiencing new things. For me photography started as a means to share those experiences with others, and through a little luck combined with drive, it became a financial means to make that happen.
I didn’t get my start as a wedding or portrait photographer. The first photos that ever earned me money were ones that I took of hiking and camping in college for Northern Illinois University‘s outdoor program. Soon after I was photographing cycling events for Chicago’s Windy City Sports Magazine. After spending our entire lives in Illinois, my wife, Carin, and I moved to southern California. By that time in 2002, I was starting to take photography more seriously and began attending the Brooks Institute of Photography. While studying, I was photographing mainly for a handful of environmental organizations like the Community Environmental Council. During my time in California, I focused on mostly landscape photography, and the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains and Yosemite National Park, in particular.
After a year in California, we relocated to the mountains of Colorado where I visited often as a child. We made our home in Summit County, and I focused heavily on a combination of landscape and adventure travel photography. Within year, my work was being featured in magazines like National Geographic Adventure, Outside, Trail Runner, Freeskier, and several other small publications. In many ways, I was living the dream life of a photographer.
So where does wedding photography come in to play? Here is the funny thing about Colorado; people get married here because they love travel and adventure. Recently, I received a phone call that went a little like, “I have a question about wedding photography: How well can you ski?” The couple who asked was having a wedding at Copper Mountain in which everyone would be skiing. By now, I am used to those kinds of questions, but 10 years ago I was a little surprised at how people who saw my adventure photography were interested in having me photograph their weddings.
After a decade of photographing weddings, I have realized that this notion I had about weddings being boring, was based on my limited experiences growing up in the suburbs of Chicago. The people that hire me to photograph their weddings are different. They are fun and adventurous. In the last decade, I have photographed weddings in the desert, on roofs of buildings, on the tops of mountains, on tropical islands, on boats, and just about anywhere else you can think of. Everything I want out of life (having adventures and meeting new people) I get through wedding photography.
Below is a selection of images of things I have photographed that have nothing to do with weddings. Many of them are from before I photographed my first wedding.
Katie and Kyle’s engagement session in Frisco, Colorado.
I was thinking about some of my favorite and most memorable portraits that I have created over the years, but this image of a woman in Tibet from the spring of 2009 stands out as one of my favorites. We met at the gate of the Dalai Lama’s Potala Palace in Lhasa one morning while I was out walking. She didn’t speak any English, and now that I think of it, I do not recall her speaking at all. However, through gesturing, I asked if I could take her picture, and she posed for me in the sun while holding a traditional prayer wheel.
I have no idea how old she was, but I am guessing she is old enough to have lived through the 1959 Tibetan Uprising, and has witnessed a lot of changes to Tibet during her lifetime.
Where: Sports Authority Field in Denver
When: March 30, 2014
Stop by and meet Timothy, ask questions, and view the latest innovations in prints and albums.
Mark and Kristen had an exciting and intimate ceremony at Sapphire Point near Breckenridge, Colorado. High winds and cold weather did not deter from the beautiful ceremony with many family and friends in attendance. After there ceremony, the three of us went down to Breckenridge for some wedding photos of the two of them which of course included a stop at the Breckenridge Ice Castles.
I had the pleasure of photographing this beautiful model, Maggie, at the Breckenridge Ice Castles a few weeks ago. A pretty heavy snow started falling in the middle of our shoot which resulted in some pretty dramatic photographs and one very cold model.
Natural light is one of best light sources for photography. Most artificial lighting is designed to emulate natural light. So why is it that so many established professionals cringe when hearing the phrase “natural light photographer” like it was nails on a chalkboard?
The answer is pretty simple. The problem is that when we see a photographer marketing themselves as a “natural light photographer,” it typically means that they are exclusively natural lighting in that they do not use any type of flash or other equipment. This in and of itself is not a bad thing. There are certainly valid reasons to use natural lighting. The problem is that the reliance and natural lighting becomes less of an aesthetic choice, and more due to a lack of familiarity with the basic fundamentals of portrait lighting.
There are six main types of portrait lighting; short, broad, butterfly, loop, Rembrandt, and split. Which type of lighting to use is dependent on the subject’s face, and the emotional impact the photographer wants to achieve in the portrait. Going into detail on each lighting type is well beyond the scope of a single blog column, but suffice it to say, experienced photographers are well acquainted with the different types of lighting and when to use them.
I actually love shooting in natural light, and use it whenever I can, as shown in the photos below. Broad lighting is makes a face look wider and more masculine, and short lighting tends to make a face look narrower and more feminine. When shooting a bride and groom near open windows, I turn them towards each other, and position his back to the window. This simple posing automatically puts his face in broad light and hers in short light.
What I learned when studying studio lighting is how to be a better work with natural light. I caution new photographers to really evaluate what they mean when they describe themselves as a “natural light photographer,” because it comes off as so limiting.
Each image below is an example of natural light photography describing the thought put into classical portrait lighting techniques.
I photographed this small elopement ceremony in Breckenridge this December.