My Fashion Photography Challenge!

A few months ago, I had a fun but unusual writing assignment for a photography blog. They gave me the challenge of creating a fashion shoot on a $200 budget, the goal being to emphasize the ability to produce quality imagery on any price point. While it was definitely a tricky assignment, it also proved to be both engaging and entertaining in unexpected ways, and was a nice way to shake up my typical photographic approach. 

Selecting all the equipment you would need (including lighting) with only $200 to spend is a near impossible task, but I eventually elected on a metal backdrop setup, a muslin backdrop, and a continuous light source. While not ideal, it fit the parameters of the assignment well, especially given the high price tags associated with strobes or speedlights. The continuous light was not as bright as I'd hoped, but given the brand I had to use and the price point I was restrained by, I could only set expectation so high. 

Several of my wonderful actor friends were more than happy to be my test models, and I am pretty impressed with what a solid job all of them did; it certainly made my job easier! While it was supposed to be a challenge, it certainly allowed me to focus on making the setup work rather than purely focusing on posing, which was a welcome change of pace. We of course treated the shoot with the utmost level of professionalism, but that doesn't mean somem fun outtakes with stuffed animals and balloons weren't to be had as well. A big thank you to all of my friends who helped me out with their fantastic modeling skills (Lauren A. Kennedy, Rob Ceriello, Shannon Terrel, and Neil Brown) and can't wait to see what the next assignment brings!

Seeing Double: An Adorama Article

About a month ago, I was asked to write an article on the concept and process of working with double exposures, both in camera and digitally through Photoshop. It was quite a challenge to determine how best to articulate what my process was, since double exposures by their nature are so experimental and versatile. But I think given the abstract nature of the subject matter, I wrote an article that could help emerging and new photographers begin to explore the concept of multiple exposure images. It was a little tricky to write, as most of my Natura work is a little too provocative to use in an article so targeted towards a general audience (alas, the fine art nudity was the unfortunate blow), but in the end, I'm very happy with the images I created to accompany the article. Below is one of my favorites, from a senior portraits session with my wonderful firecracker of a friend, Mina, who I have no doubt will take the world by storm one day.

© Alyssa Meadows

© Alyssa Meadows

If you want to see the article on the Adorama site itself, feel free to check it out here! There may or may not be a few friendly and familiar faces featured on there, as I had to create more digital examples of the photoshopped technique. Overall, I'm happy that I was able to write an article that may help others within the photography community, as it never hurts to lend a helping hand to fellow peers; if there's one thing I've learned after 2 years here in New York City, it's that everything seems to fall in place when you work together to create something special. 

Michelle Jones; Experimenting with Light

A few weeks ago, Adorama asked me to do a review on a light kit they were launching, and so I jumped at the chance to do a light test with my good friend and fabulous actress Michelle Jones. We really wanted to play and experiment with the versatility of the light, and spent a good portion of the afternoon into the evening shooting a variety of different looks and aesthetics, and I could not be more thrilled with the results. As someone who started on traditional natural light techniques, working predominantly with studio lighting that day was a welcome change and happy exploration of how dramatically imagery can change with simple lighting adjustments. While it was a lot of firsts, I enjoyed the process of experimenting with the possibilities and discovering what would make the photograph.

Here are some of my favorites from our photo play-day, hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

The VelociPastor!

If you read my blog with any regularity, it's no secret that I work on film sets often, and that it's one of my favorite places to work. I love my film-family, it's such a large and supportive community that I am unbelievably blessed to be a part of, and so I try to return the favor as often as possible. That's why I'm so excited to share with you news on the newest project some of my best friends are working on, The VelociPastor

Illustration by  Wyeth Yates

Illustration by Wyeth Yates

The film is written and (to-be) directed by my fabulous friend Brendan Steere, whose previous feature, Animosity, not only received global distribution, but was also well-received enough to show at many film festivals in the last year, including Fantasia, where it screened alongside Guardians of the Galaxy and Boyhood. It also won Best Picture and Best Actress at the Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival in 2013; As you can clearly see, he definitely knows how to make a good movie.

Originally a spoof trailer of epic comedic proportions, Brendan's finally ready to develop VelociPastor into a full-length feature of dark humor, and I for one could not be more excited about it. If you want to see the concept's origin, you can check it out below.

Not only is it retaining Matt Ziegel from the original short as the lead and VelociPastor, but it also will star Alyssa Kempinski as his college educated and provocative love interest. I've also had the pleasure of working with her several times, most recently on the set of Six Windows! They were also both cast in Animosity, and I'm so excited to see them work together again. Not only are they both immensely talented, but they are both joys to work with on set, which I can personally attest to.

Along with Steere, two of my closest friends, Brandon Taylor and Gabryal Rabinowitz, have joined the teams as respectively Producer and Associate Producer. Not only have I known them for years, but had the pleasure of working with them on many previous projects including Six Windows, The Remembrance, and They Hunger. With a killer crew such as this one, I have no doubts this film will go above and beyond in the realms of creativity and craftsmanship, with a touch of insanity-bordering brilliance.

If you believe in this project like I do (which, in all seriousness, you really should) please check it out on Facebook, Like/Share, and Donate to help make this project a reality!

PDN's Photo of the Day!

I am so thrilled to share with you all that last week I was fortunate enough to be featured on PDN's Photo of the Day along with my fellow YPA mentees, which you can see here. It was truly amazing to not only have my work shown on such a prominent and reputable news source for photography, but to also have such a positive response to the work I submitted. While it may seem a small thing, this has always been a goal and dream of mine since I began pursuing photography professionally. I can't believe how far this organization has helped me come, and I have so much gratitude and respect for our mentors Andrew Hetherington and Steve Giralt, as well as the photo editor of PDN, Amy Wolff, for all of their encouragement, support, and enthusiasm about our work.

I got a wonderful little reminder of this step forward by seeing it in a weekly PDN newsletter email I received today. It's so surreal to see my photo on such a mainstream news source, but I am forever grateful for it, and couldn't help myself but instagram it. It's so validating to see how hard work pays off.

FAQ #1: Wedding Photography!

©2013 A. Meadows Photography

Lately, as more and more of my friends have been getting those beautiful engagement rings, I've found myself answering one of the most frequent questions I encounter: "Why is wedding photography so expensive!?" I'm sure I'm not the first to try and tackle the subject, but as it seems to be a consistent question, I thought I would give some insights into what drives photography prices so high when it comes to a wedding. 

One of the most pressing aspects of pricing comes from the basic essential; the cost of equipment. To be a good photographer (as in, well-prepared with a backup body should something dreadful happen to your primary camera), the minimum amount of equipment ranges between $3,000-$10,000, depending on the level of quality you want to achieve. And that isn't a one-time fixed cost; a photographer has to continually upgrade their camera body every few years to keep up with the competition of other wedding photographers, as well as replace damaged/broken equipment (because trust me, accidents happen, batteries corrode metal contact plates, and lenses get dropped). Then there's the cost of bags, batteries, memory cards; you know, all the "inexpensive" stuff! 

© 2013 A. Meadows Photography

When you couple this base cost with the expenses associated with running a business, the high cost of wedding photography (as well as photography in general) becomes much more transparent to those outside of the photographic business bubble. Photographers (again, people who don't just buy a DSLR camera and think that makes them a photographer) have to invest in photo editing programs (such as Photoshop, $500; Lightroom, $100;  CaptureOne, $150; and/or Aperture, $80), which also have to be upgraded every few years to accommodate new file formats on new camera bodies. This also is not including the cost of storage, both in terms of additional hard drives and cloud storage, which range in costs depending on brand/provider, but are also not easy on a budget. And this is all in addition to the cost of an actual computer with which to use all of this equipment on. But this is only one portion of the business expenses.

Unfortunately, hosting a professional-grade website also costs a fair bit of money, both for the domain as well as the hosting, and can range from $50-$300, depending on how professional you choose to go. Add to this business cards, advertising, a studio or workspace, transportation, equipment insurance, and liability insurance, and it becomes quite apparent why there is such a price tag when it comes to running a photography business. And we still haven't gotten to actually paying the photographer for both their time and expertise!

© 2012 A. Meadows Photography

On average, a wedding is a 10-14 hr day, and an additional 1-2 weeks of editing time (because let me tell you, editing the images is 80% of the work when it comes to producing the beautiful images you want at the end of the day), and most photographers have a second shooter or an assistant that they also need to pay for the day of (which typically is anywhere from $100-400, depending on their experience/rate). Wedding photography is also seasonal, where the bulk of work occurs from Apr.-Oct., so a photographer needs to be sure they will make enough in those months to sustain themselves for the whole year. Even if a wedding photographer is booked for every single weekend, all year round, that only totals 104 days of the 365-day year, and typically there are very few, if any wedding bookings from Nov.-Mar., so pricing appropriately is essential to survive the slow season of winter.

So, if you're looking at a photographer that is charging what seems to be a fantastic deal, chances are they don't run a professional business, or have the proper equipment to deliver the quality of imagery you deserve to have on your big day. While you may save some money in the short run, chances are if you're booking something for $500-$1000 on craigslist, you're going to have sub-par pictures. In this particular industry, you really get what you pay for, and unfortunately, once your wedding day is over, the photos will be all you have left. So, my personal bias aside, if ever there was an aspect of your wedding to skimp on, the photography should not be it. And hopefully after reading this, you'll understand the high price tag of wedding photography, and perhaps even respect it!

© 2013 A. Meadows Photography