Friday was July 4, one of the closest things to heaven on Earth for a photographer. You will have a small window to capture a few keepers. Done correctly, you can get some beautiful shots of “the rockets’ red glare” and “the bombs bursting in air.”
For some guides on how to shoot fireworks, click here or here.
When it comes to how to NOT photograph fireworks, I have one simple tip:
Don’t take your camera!
This year, my wife, daughter, and I went to the annual 4th of July celebration at the George Bush Presidential Library on the campus of Texas A&M University. I chose to leave the Nikon at home for one simple reason: I wanted to enjoy the night with my family rather than fiddle with the camera. It turned out to be a great decision. I got to listen to the ooh’s, ah’s, and other commentary from my daughter as she took in the show. It’s one of those memories that doesn’t need a photograph.
The photos included in this blog post are from a vacation to Disney World in July 2012.
A collage of my photos that were included in this year’s edition of Dave Campbell’s magazine (clockwise):
Shaun Nixon (Lake Travis High School, TCU), page 102
Devondrick Dixon (Gilmer High School, Texas State), page 166
Ian Sadler (Argyle High School, Texas Tech), page 107
Dominic De Lira (Lake Travis High School), page 332
Derrion Randle (Navasota High School), page 298
Nick Ralston (Argyle High School), page 292
Ian Sadler (Class 3A 2013 Player of the Year), page 194
Earlier this month I was contacted by a mom about a photo session for her son Gabe who is about to turn 13. Amanda had only a couple of requirements: capture Gabe’s witty attitude and no train track photos!!
Last weekend, Gabe and his family traveled to Bryan-College Station for the photo shoot which was held in historic Downtown Bryan. I offered Amanda the opportunity to be present during the session but she declined, thinking that Gabe would not be very comfortable with her there. (Good point! What 13-year-old boy wants to hang out with him mom?!)
Gabe, however, did want his dad Jon there. This turned out to be important as Jon was able to get Gabe to relax, have fun, and express some genuine smiles and laughter.
On the drive to the location, I asked Gabe how he would describe himself. He said, “weird and hilarious.” We discussed the photos we’d be taking and he talked about he was glad Amanda wasn’t there to make him look “cute and all that crap.”
We took a few silly shots to break the ice…
Does anyone have the time?
Gabe (and if you look closely enough) his Dad.
…and then moved on to some portraits to show how Gabe is growing up.
The blue wall to match the blue shirt was totally coincidental but worked out really well.
Gabe is in the school band so we had to get some shots of him and his saxophone.
At Jon’s suggestion (and I was going to do this anyway), we had to get the cliched train track photos–and actually got a couple of good ones. Amanda even liked them.
We liked the shirt blowing dramatically in the wind.
Gabe’s grandmother may have experienced some anxiety when this photo was being captured.
If you know Gabe and Jon, you know they are both very creative people. As the shoot wrapped up we were able to combine their creativity and wit in a couple of final images.
Gabe pretending to wave to some friends: Hey guys! Over here!
Gabe pretending to be electrocuted by some exposed wiring.
Husband. Father. Grandfather. Soon to be a great-grandfather. Vietnam Veteran.
A snapshot of my Dad in 2005. He’s a little older, a little grayer, and not as physically healthy now. But, he still has the same sense of humor. Anyone who knows me personally, knows I am definitely my father’s son.
If you’re under the age of 40 you may not now what I’m referring to but that’s what I listened to when my dad would play Elvis Presley. As fast as technology changes now, in 20 years, we may not have Facebook or Instagram and all those great #SS and #TBT photos you took in high school may not be available. Don’t believe me? Have you checked your MySpace lately? Print it or lose it!
What better way to decorate your home?
When my wife and I bought our first home we decorated our home with some Texas- or United States-themed photos that we purchased or had given to us as gifts. When we had our daughter, those photos were quickly replaced with family portraits and snapshots that were more meaningful. The best part is they can be replaced as our “baby girl” grows up.
11 X 17 canvas portrait of my daughter hanging in entrance of our home
Make the office a little more comfortable
Nowadays, I work a lot at home but I occasionally have to go into the office. Personally, I don’t like the institutional feel of an office so I have the small framed family photos on my desk. This week I added some of my favorite night photography images that I’ve captured on family vacations. Now, when I’m having a bad day, I can re-center and re-focus by looking at something that reminds of good times.
It’s also a conversation starter when others walk in and see the photos. Maybe you can snag a client or share ideas with someone else who has an interest in photography.
My work office. From left to right: Disney World, New Orleans, Atlanta.
I do all of my photo post-processing at my desk at home. I spend many late, late nights and early, early mornings poring over images from a photo shoot, editing them, and marketing my work on social media. Sometimes I get in a rut and think I’m not doing a good job or I do not like how some photos turned out. It helps me to look at photos which I think are some of my best, bring back memories, or even teach a lesson.
Look at the photos below:
The Navasota Rattlers banner (on the left) was taken at one of the first football games I shot in 2013.
The running back flying into the end zone was my favorite photo of the 2013 football season.
The blackbelt breaking the burning wood was one of my most viewed photos on Facebook.
The blackbelt breaking the wood with her foot is the daughter of one of my best clients. That photo reminds me how important my work is to others and why it’s important to do a good job.
The photo of the players running out of the tunnel before a game taught me a) wider focal lengths can be cool and b) don’t linger too long in front of a football team that’s about to run out of a tunnel.
My home office
People are not going to know who great prints look framed and on a wall unless they see them framed and on a wall. Navasota High School principal Derek Bowman once mentioned how much he liked the photo below. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, Derek was the spark that ignited Artie Guerrero Photography, so I thought the photo would make a nice decorative piece for his office. Just as important, it shows off my work to those who visit him.
A photograph I gifted to the Navasota superintendent, football coach, and high school principal
Comment below and tell me why you do or don’t print your photos.
He’s been called The King of Country Music, The Last of the Great Cowboys, and Pure Country. When you think of Texas, you have to think of George Strait.
It’s the end of an era tonight in Arlington as the cowboy will ride away for the last time after a career that’s lasted over 30 years.
Barbara Mandrell says she was “country when country wasn’t cool.” George Strait is what made country cool. Nowadays, George could sing “I was country when country wasn’t country.”
I may not have gotten to see him play Gruene Hall or other Texas honky tonks and I won’t be there tonight, but over a period of 20 years I was fortunate to see George Strait just stand there and sing at least a dozen times in:
San Antonio at the Alamodome (“The House They Built for George”). He’d close out the day-long music festivals after opening acts whose entire careers were only a fraction of what George put together.
Houston when he closed down the Astrodome.
Arlington when he opened Cowboys Stadium and led thousands and thousands of people in chanting, “Jerry, open the roof! Jerry, open the roof!”
Chicago at Soldier Field where the crowd was just as excited as any in Texas.
So, why am I writing about George Strait in a photography blog?
George is a mostly a vocalist. He doesn’t write many songs but he puts his own touch on someone else’s. He isn’t flashy and his shows have been consistently the same since the beginning. He does what he does and he does it well. Solid and reliable.
As a photographer, you don’t have to come up with your own ideas all the time. There are only so many poses you can have someone do. I don’t think you have to do the kind of photography that is popular at a particular point in time. Keeping it simple can be the best philosophy. That may be how you stand the test of time.
I once heard a long-time photographer say that he makes his images timeless so you can’t tell when the photo was taken. That’s how it is with a George Strait song. It will sound as great in 2014 as it did in 1981.
I’m not saying you can’t step out of your comfort zone. (Even George tried his hand at acting.) But, be who you are. You never know how far that might take you.
My favorite George Strait songs?
The Cowboy Rides Away
I Saw God Today
Somewhere Down in Texas
I’ll Always Remember You
Amarillo by Morning
Just like in photography, songs are all about remembering. Remembering the career and accomplishments of someone who can be mentioned in the same sentence as Elvis, the Beatles, Michael Jackson. Remembering a special time when you heard a song. Remembering when you got close enough to capture a few photos of a living legend.
Comment below with your favorite George Strait memory or song, or any other thoughts you may have.
If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you have received some type of notification about today’s blog entry on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. According to Techcrunch, over 1 billion people use Facebook and 255 million use Twitter. Consider just the number of people in your friends or follow list and imagine the volume of status updates and tweets that are made daily, hourly, by the minute!! Obviously, that’s more than enough to overwhelm most people.
When you think about it, however, you aren’t even seeing every update from every friend. This is especially true in the case of Facebook which uses their own algorithms to determine what gets in your feed. In the case of Twitter with Twitter chats, retweets, personal conversations, etc. you are very likely to miss a single particular chat. It’s like trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack.
This is where the Email List comes into play. Don’t get me wrong, I still want you to like my Facebook Page and follow me on Twitter and all the other social media platforms. But, I know we’re all busy with work and kids and everything else. Keeping this in mind, I want to start including a digest of blog posts and other things in periodic emails to you. That way, you never miss something that you might find interesting.
I’m in the business of capturing special moments and when you know something important is coming up, I want you to consider me as someone who can help you with that, whether it’s your engagement, your son’s football game, or your daughter’s birthday party. Who knows, if things work out, you and I can share several of these special moments together as time goes by. And, to show my gratitude to loyal clients and friends, I will offer exclusive promotions to save you money!!
If you’ve already joined my email list, I thank you again!
If you want to get on the list, complete the box below.