xmlns:fb='http://www.facebook.com/2008/fbml' Welcome to the blog of international award winning wedding photojournalist Ian MacMichael: December 2012

wedding photojournalist

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Some images from 2012....

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So, I've been going through some images from this year, weddings, commercial, lifestyle etc and thought I'd share a few as 2012  draws to its close....I'll share a few more over the next couple of days....

Here are a couple to start with from a bridal model shoot...

Friday, 21 December 2012

Latest commercial work...

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Recently, we were on location shooting product and lifestyle images for Tactus.

Tactus supply and distribute high quality Apple accessories, an Ian was shooting their range of iPhone, iPad and iPad mini cases.

The quality and fit of the cases is top notch and they really do feel like they will not only protect your investment, but also have a good working life time.

Their brand new website went live recently with lifestyle and product images all supplied by Ian MacMichael photography. If you head over to the Tactus site, you can see their products and also see some or the images that were shot.....

Here are some of the images they have use so far....

Monday, 17 December 2012

"So, wedding photojournalism..what exactly are you on about?!" Part 1....

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So, I've decided to stop stalling and put down my passion in words, about this subject, so here goes. I'll apologise now for my waffling and if I go off topic on the way........

When we got married, 19 years ago this year, our photographer was great. He got on well with everyone, was really easy to engage with and really felt part of the day. All this was great. However, what we got after the wedding was an album of 26 posed photographs in a nice album and a handful of proofs. Now, don't get me wrong, the photos are lovely and well printed and presented, but really don't convey the feel and atmosphere of the day as I remember it. It would be great now to have a collection of images that told the story of the day and not merely a collection of posed group shots.

As wedding photography began to develop and became a little more adventurous, along with the advent of widely available, high quality DSLR cameras, so a "new" style of wedding photography started to become more mainstream. In fact, it wasn't new at all, just suddenly trendy. It was termed "reportage", and it sounded cool, sexy and exclusive.

Now it seems to me that today, everyone is a photographer. There are countless cameras available now, and even mobile phones that can produce truly stunning results. You only have to walk around any city centre to see lots of people with cameras, and not only tourists, but just about everyone! The rise and rise of the image through media like Instagram means that almost everyone is "image aware".

So when we come to meet with clients to discuss our style of photography, our philosophy and approach, there is sometimes a little explanation needed.

We have heard lots of times things like "oh, our uncle has a nice camera, he is going to take our photographs" or "my brother is really into photography and has just got a new camera, so he is doing our photos" or "we're on a really tight budget so don't want to spend that much".

You then you find out they are using a really exclusive and expensive venue, spending more than £700 on cars, over £1000 on flowers, £2000+ for a dress and hundreds on hiring suits!

A wedding will be one of the most significant and memorable days of a lifetime. Not only that, it will be one of the single largest financial investments, after a house, that many people will make.  Money will be prioritised in all the areas that need to be paid for and, sadly, for a lot of people, photography comes fairly low down the list.

It's amazing to say but we have shot weddings where the couple have spent more on their flowers than on their photography! While I totally understand budget constraints, it seems completely bizarre that folks will spend so much time, often a year or more, planning a wedding, then they will spend several thousands of pounds on a venue, a dress, suits, food, table decorations, favours, disco or band and flowers, yet will want to spend least on the only thing that they will have left for the rest of their lives to remember the day by.

In any other area of life, we would never dream of asking a  friend or family member to undertake responsibility for something with lifelong implications, yet many are prepared to do exactly that with their wedding photography!

Now that so many people imagine themselves as photographers because of their camera, they are willing to take someone's wedding photographs for a very small charge or even for free.

Imagine for a moment if someone said to a bride "I've just got this really amazing sewing machine, it has lots of controls but, do you know what, it works just great on auto. It's the latest model! Tell you what, how about I make your wedding dress for you? I'll just charge you for the material. I'll be working on it in an evening, after I get home from work, so it may take a while. it probably wont be as good as a professionally made one, it will almost fit but that's OK isn't it? I mean, it's good enough and it'll cost you less!"

I wonder how many brides would agree and say "oh yes, that's great, thanks a lot"? Not many!!

Note: (Sorry about the change of direction there, I am getting to the point, honest! I have just changed the title of this blog to part one as I have realised there is a lot to say so I'll spread it over 2 or 3 posts.)

There are many terms for the style of wedding photography we are passionate about and specialise in. It is sometimes called candid, reportage, documentary or photojournalism. These terms have been taken on by amateur or hobby photographers to make themselves appear more appealing and "sexy" to potential brides and grooms.

Sadly, the images that end up being presented to couples by these "photographers" are flat, predictable and lacking any emotional impact. They seem to suggest that reportage photography is standing in a corner with a zoom lens and snapping away at people across the room without any thought for lighting, composition, emotion or story. Unfortunately, this is what we see over and over again being passed off as "reportage" photography. It isn't.

From my experience, it would seem that as long as the subject is looking away from the camera they can just change it to black and white and that constitutes documentary wedding photography.

The terms documentary/ photojournalistic/ reportage wedding photography should be back with highly skilled, both technically and artistically, photographic story tellers. Photographers that consistently produce images that tell the story of a wedding, that are full of emotion and are free from post production gimmicks.

Potential clients also need to be made aware of the marketing ploys and Photoshop tricks that are used to gloss over photography purporting to be documentary.

I love the film Swordfish, with John Travolta. In it, he explains the use of "mis-direction". Do something here that everyone looks at while something else is done over there, that no one notices.

By drawing your attention with lots of talk, buzz-words, sexy leaflets, sample albums, using terms like documentary, reportage, amazing prices, great deals on included album packages and if you book now, you'll get a special 10% early booking discount!

This mis-direction prevents the couple focusing on the quality and emotional impact of the photography. They can end up in a deal they can't get out of. Or worse still, they receive bland and disappointing images to remember their special day with, a real tragedy!

In part 2, I will try, with the help of some images, to explain what I'm going on about........but that will probably be after Christmas, so you have to hang on for the next exciting installment of........

"wedding photojournalism".......(said like opening of "pigs in space" from the Muppets)...!!

Friday, 14 December 2012

New website and blog for the new year......

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We are excited that, from January 2013, Ian MacMichael photography will have a brand new bespoke website and blog!

 We have had the current site for around 3 years now and it was certainly time for an update.

Massive thanks go to Graeme over at Stylographic design for his input, design ideas and most of all patience! As a photographer, I found it REALLY difficult to select only a handful of images for a web gallery...we have so many images we love we wanted to show them all, but, sadly that's just not possible.....

I ended up sending Gra over 150 wedding images and then let him do the selecting from there with a final say so from us....

It's been a fairly long process getting everything exactly how we wanted. Sometimes, it's not so easy to explain in words what is in your head, but Graeme has a really good sense of what I am thinking and is usually pretty close first time.

The new site will bring together our wedding work, our commercial work and blog, making it easier for clients to go to the images they are most interested in seeing.  It will now all be at the same web address; www.ianmacmichael.co.uk.

Hopefully, this will make things feel more "together" and the new look will be easier to navigate and looks fabulous too!

The up shot is that, sadly, this blog, like all good things, will be coming to a close at the end of this year. From January, all our blog posts, awards, news and reviews will be on my new site, rahter than on a third party site like blogger.

It has been great having blogger for this time and with around 50,000 views, it has certainly served its purpose!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Fuji X Pro-1 Review....Part 2....WOW again!!

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In my previous post, I highlighted some of my thoughts about how I got on spending a week with the X Pro-1.

I want to continue now with the rest of my findings,  this is not meant to be an in depth technical review, there are loads of great ones already out there, but a more real world "what it's like" to use the camera and what the images are like type review...if you get me....??

OVF and EVF. 

There is lots of discussion about the merits of the optical viewfinder and how useful it is and how its omission on the XE-1 is somewhat of a disaster. I am old enough to remember nothing but an OVF...!
It did take a bit of getting re-used to as you can see the lens body through it and also your fingers, depending on how you hold the camera.
The quality of the EVF is stunning, as has been well documented. In my opinion, it had little effect on my shooting and I did probably use the OVF more, not becaue it was better, just because it was there and I didn't really think about it. There is some motion blur with the EVF but nothing that should be too much of an issue. I also shot a lot using the display on the back as the 'finder and that was good too.
I'm pretty much neutral about this issue and it certainly wouldn't be deal maker or breaker for me either way. To be honest, It didn't restrict or inhibit my shooting, whichever way I chose to use it.

ISO 800, 18mm lens, f2.0, 1/30 sec.

ISO performance.

Have I mentioned, the image quality is superb?!! I wasn't disappointed with any of the shots I made, apart from ones that were down to me, not the camera! When everything comes together, you will be delighted with the results. But, if you are sloppy with your technique or exposure, then it can be quite unforgiving. But I like this, I have to slow down and make sure I'm making a good image and not just being careless.

ISO 3200, 18mm lens, f2.0, 1/30 sec.

The above image highlights the cameras ISO performance and colour rendition under very low and artificial lighting. The ISO performance really is outstanding.

I really couldn't see a great deal of difference between ISO 200 and 1600, even at 3200 and 6400, images were perfectly useable. The high ISO images really looked great and authentic, if you see what I mean. The noise that is there is handled well and doesn't detract from the image at all, in my opinion, it adds to the "feel" and atmosphere of the images.

ISO 2500, 18mm lens, f2.0, 1/30 sec. -1 ev

The image above is a great example of how good it is at handling low and mixed lighting. This was shot in a restaurant...there were overhead lights, candles and a big heating lamp just outside the window camera right. This is straight out of the camera and given the conditions it was made in, I think the image is great. Noise is well controlled, metering is good and detail is well preserved...couldn't really ask for more.

ISO 800, 18mm lens, f2.0, 1/30. This was processed with my simple B+W preset in LR4.

Off camera flash

Next, let's talk about using it with off camera flash. I used the Elinchrom Skyport triggers for the test and a Nikon SB900. I shot on manual which is what I normally do with off camera flash...once you have your exposure down, you can shoot without worrying about the exposure and concentrate on composition...the following shots were made at ISO 200, 60mm lens, f 5.6 and 1/125 sec.

Thanks to my models, they were cool, and look cool too!!


So, finally, to LR work flow. Surprisingly, the images do take a few seconds to load up into the develop module and when you zoom in...but really, it's only a couple of seconds and it's no big deal. I know there may be some development needed from the guys at Adobe, but it's perfectly useable and all my presets that I used worked well. Again, like the OVF/ EVF issue, the Lightroom issue wouldn't be a deal breaker for me.

Overall conclusions.

So the ultimate question is, not is this a great camera, or even a good camera...because it is an excellent camera with fantastic lenses, brilliant handling, stunning image quality and amazing low light performance.

It is, like everything else, not without weaknesses, but the biggest limitation will be the person using it, not the instrument. A poor paint brush wouldn't make Da Vinci a poor painter any more than the best paint brushes in the world would make me a modern day Da Vinci!

My photography is not defined by my cameras, but by my vision and creativity. The question I am interested in is...will this camera allow me to achieve my vision with more efficiency, will it add value to my images and therefore my business and will it allow me to expand my vision and shooting style.

My answer, after this week is yes, I think it will. I will be ordering one with a couple of lenses to get going. Some photographers are talking about replacing their DSLR set ups and moving completely to X Pro-1 systems. I'm not sure I feel confident enough to do this at the moment, however, I would have no concern using this on a commercial shoot or at a wedding. I would feel completely confident using it and in the results that can be achieved.

I am sure some clients will raise an eyebrow or two when you pull out an X Pro-1 on a shoot rather than a pro DSLR set up. However, when they see the images, the frowns will change to smiles, hopefully!!!

I realise I was fortunate to get a week to use it and make my decision, big thanks to Fuji and Calumet. Not all of you reading this will be able to do so....to you I would say, in my opinion, as long as you are careful and confident with your technique, you will be rewarded with great images you, and your clients, will love.

After all, when we get commissioned for jobs, whether commercial or weddings, we get hired because of our style, vision or creativity and NOT because of the camera systems we use.......

more on this topic from me coming soon.... don't miss the next tthrilling installment!!