How to shoot great wedding rings details photos

Here's another personal project/self assignment. This is for honing our skills in the aspect of details shots at weddings. Specifically using our macro lens and getting very close up, detailed images of the wedding rings. How can we, as wedding photographers, stylize and make some like the standard wedding ring details shot, stand out? What if, on the day and at the location of the ceremony, there isn't a viable or attractive place to shot the wedding ring details? What if Laura and I, as a stand out photographers want to give our couple something more than just the usual "rings on a birdhouse" or "rings on a fountain" or "rings on the forehead of uncle Merle sleeping"? What if we really wanted to show the dazzle and detail of those rings that the couple spent effort, time, and money on choosing? We were able to get some pretty neat images through inspiration from mentor photographers and looking at other work, and through utilization and practice of skills. These results below were done with a mobile set-up, meaning we could do this whether it was in the corner of a church, outside of the barn at the winery, or in a utility closet of the Embassy Suites where the reception is taking place. It was also time efficient, meaning each shot was produced (pre-Photoshop processing) within 5 minutes of each other.

The goal was to create images and make the best wedding photos that gave as much wow and style in the shortest amount of time with the greatest amount of efficiency while taking the least amount of space. Or, to create a result that tells the story of the couple in imagery, like with the rings set with the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower behind them because the couple are going to Paris for their honeymoon. Or the one with the hundreds of paper lanterns lighting up the night sky because it was at a lighting ceremony just like that when they were on vacation where our groom proposed to his bride. They're not going to get a shot of their rings of that quality while there, or at least maybe not think to do it. Or, they didn't get one on the of his proposal. However, we knew that about them because we find those things out about our couples. And then later, after their wedding is over and when they get back from their honeymoon, and we show them their photo gallery, they'll see that we did for them. Not only will it showcase the symbols of devotion and love on their fingers as part of their Wedding Day, it will hopefully remind them of their honeymoon and the awesome memories that they have. A great wedding photographer not only gets the photos of the couple that they want, or just fulfills the wedding photo shot list. Usually, on their wedding day, a bride and groom are a little preoccupied. They may not see all the moments happening and memories being created all around them. They may not be able to devote the time or focus to fully enjoy the symbols or accruements they meticulously spent so much time choosing and planning. The gauge of a great wedding photographer is that when the couple look at their photos, they are able to enjoy and savor the images of moments, or of their own fruits of their labor, that they may not have seen or had time to truly appreciate at their wedding. And, then they are invoked with emotion because of seeing those photos.      

Capturing the most of their story, in each image we take, even in the symbols of the physically small thing like wedding rings, is one of the little things we strive to accomplish to have as a quality crafted skill in our photographic tool kit. That way, we're able to creatively and skillfully craft a visual chronicle of our couple, their story, and the events of their Big Day. Laura and I strongly believe that in order to be the best wedding photographers here in San Luis Obispo County, is to capture not just the moments of our couple's Big Day, but more than that. We capture their spirit, their love, their personalities, and their story that transcends just that one day, just that one place. Our couple won't have those rings just be placed on each respective ring finger to be remembered being at that one place at that one time. Our couple will walk the earth hand in hand for years to come, with those rings connected to each other for all that time. 

You friendly neighborhood photo duo,

Jason & Laura

Paris. Looking through the Honeymoon Suite window on a romantic, rainy evening with the Eiffel Tower lighting up the night. 

Paris. Looking through the Honeymoon Suite window on a romantic, rainy evening with the Eiffel Tower lighting up the night. 

The symbols of the couple's love with a backdrop of the paper lantern lighting ceremony, where the groom proposed to his bride when they were on vacation.

The symbols of the couple's love with a backdrop of the paper lantern lighting ceremony, where the groom proposed to his bride when they were on vacation.

How do I pick my Senior photographer?

Hey guys,

Happy Summer! It's that time again when next years Seniors will be looking to find someone who will fit with them to take their Senior photo. Laura and I, as photographers and neighbors in your community, wanted to share with you some tips and some of our experiences in order to guide you along this process. Laura, before we had been registered with the schools to do photos, had gone through this very process with her own daughter who graduated two years ago. There's a whole bunch of questions that come up and still seem to never really be fully answered just by looking at somebody's website, or seeing they have great photos. And, it's important that a potential client ask the RIGHT questions of their prospective photographer in order to get the right answers! What questions do you have? Maybe these sound familiar:

Who do we pick? Who's the best? Who's in our budget that we like? What do we get? When do we do it? What do I wear? How much do they charge and for what? 

So, let's break this down a little. You can look at 10 different photographers and your gut will tell you which one you like best, whose photos you really want to have yourself look like. So, your gut and personal taster has a lot to do with the decision. Laura and I like to use the analogy of ourselves and other photographers as kind of the ice cream of photography. We're like pecan praline,  yet another photographer is like rocky road. Or, one being like Ben & Jerry's and one being like Haagen-Daz. They both taste yummy and they're both high quality. But, you don't like rocky road. You look at it and it just isn't your flavor. Lots of photographers can look quite the same, except just a little different. There are those that are really good at what they do and are really talented. There are those that are pretty good. And, there are those that, humbly, look just a little better than photos you take with your phone.

First and foremost, establish what your criteria is in this selection. Quality, price point, and personality is what Laura and I believe are the three most important aspects. 

Go with your gut. It usually leads you straight. Whatever the decision you make for your photographer is right for you. You pick the person whose photos really speak to your heart. Or, you go with someone whose more cost-effective and easier on the budget. Or, last but not least, you find a happy medium. To do that, you need to take the time to speak to each photographer, get a sense of their personality and style. point out which of their photos you like. And, most importantly, ask them the right questions.

So, let's get to the brass tax: Money. What is your budget? Is quality a higher criteria than expense? Is the most expensive mean they're the best? 

They could be the most expensive, and their photos rock, however, you don't mesh with their personality. They could be in your budget, they're funny and cool, but their photos aren't up to you standards. They're more economical that most other photographers, but they don't fit the other important aspects of your criteria.

And, you probably ask yourself; why are photographers SO EXPENSIVE? 

Here's a little peek into our industry; we're not just rolling up to the location, taking some photos and then BOOM! the pictures are downloaded and done in ten minutes. There's a whole bunch of behind the scenes and back-end work that is done in our industry. So, we spend time taking the photo, yet every photographer has to also spend time making the photo.  There's a lot of expense, energy, and time invested in gear, post-processing, insurance, web presence, utilities and supplies, research, honing our crafts, and a myriad of other facets that ALL photographers strive to maintain and utilize in order to get in front of you with their camera to take that one great photo. All legitimate and professional photographers are in the business of photography, not just the photography business. 

Now, back to what you, the client, is probably wondering what this all means and what you're supposed to ask about and what you get. Let's go back to what Laura went through as a client and the questions she wished she asked in her experience:

What's comes with the Portrait Session? Do you have packages or is everything a la carte? So, even though we paid you for the photoshoot, the actual photos are a separate charge and we have to buy the pictures from you? Do we get to choose our own pictures? What if we don't want some of the stuff in your designed packages? 

Some photographers offer packages that include all sorts of stuff!  Prints, a canvas, an image box, or grad cards. They will try to sell you something like "2 8x10's and 20 wallet sizes with a 4 foot canvas and an album for only...." You get the picture.

Get a clear idea of what you want, what you feel is what you want to pay for, and if you'll actually use it. Does your grad want a 4 foot canvas of themselves hanging over the mantle? Do you really want or need 20 wallet size photos? Does anyone even carry a wallet around with photos in it anymore? You want to be able to afford it and want it at the same time. Do you just want digital downloads for Facebook and Instagram, or to send to grandma in Michigan for her to have a screensaver? Does family just want a couple prints for the wall and one for the desk at the office? Aim for what you want and like. Some photographers offer several types of packages, with some things you want and others you may not. Remember, some photographer may charge you for ONLY the photo session, then when they show you the photos, say "now what package do you want to buy?" 

Make sure you know what you're getting, and have it in writing. With your initial payment and investment, is it just for taking the photos? Or, is it for the photos and a package of photo products? Does their studio offer a la carte online catalog of stuff, so you get to pick only what you like? Or, will they compromise and cater a uniquely designed package for you? 

Just because there's an expensive price tag on something, doesn't make it the best. Ever buy an expensive steak at a fancy restaurant and you get a piece of leather? How about a really pricey dress that you put on that doesn't feel good, and you end up never wearing it? Or, the dress that is inexpensive, that looks good, feels good, is your favorite, and you wear all the time. What about the movie with big stars in it, a huge budget, that someone saw and says if the best movie this year, then you see it, and you think it stunk? The "best" is a very subjective thing. You know what you like. 

Here's our last take on what we think you should look for and consider in your decision:

Their Code of Ethics and their resource toolkit.

A professional photographer has a duty to be your guide through the process, your trusted advisor, and to look out for your best interests. A great photographer should and will tell you what colors and outfits will look best for you to wear at the session. They should be excited and stoked to take awesome photos of you, but cover the different scenarios that may arise. For instance, they should tell you that even though you may love the beach and want your session done there, they've checked the weather (yes, they should be checking the weather conditions on the day of your shoot) and it calls for your favorite beach to be cold, foggy or windy. That means wind whipping hair around may be a factor. That means you in your cute summer outfit in the cold means you may be uncomfortable and not really happy about smiling. That means the fog will not let that beautiful "golden hour" or golden light happen at the beach. Yet, a great photographer will know it's happening a few miles away at another location they know about. And, that they have in their resources to be able to adapt, switch it up, and make decisions on the fly in order to provide you with the best and most fun experience they can. They should know light and have the capability to use lighting tools and modifiers if necessary, other than just being at the mercy of natural light all the time. They should know how to create the best photo, even if your shoot is in the middle of the day, or if the natural light conditions isn't ideal. They should know how to pose you in the way that's most complimentary to whether you're a girl or a guy, or whether you're a little shorter or taller. You have the right to ask them if they know these things! Good luck. Congratulations to you for making it through high school! (Or, if you're the parent reading this, good luck surviving getting your kid through high school!) And, BE AWESOME! 

Your friendly neighborhood photo duo,

Jason & Laura

Self Challenges

Do you cultivate and challenge yourself? How? What is it that you do that keeps you spiritually centered and allows you to focus on what you love? What is it that you do that makes the clocks stop? What is it that you love to engage in that has world of delusional materialism and trivial matters fall away? Photography became that vehicle of self-discovery for me has been that manifestation of self challenges for years. However, that didn't mean I wanted to go right into shooting weddings or taking pictures of high school seniors as a hobby. For me, it was the landscapes I wanted to see at sunset and the beauty of the natural world. Ne and my little Rebel sought out mountains, deserts, and wherever I could capture a sunset. Well, fast forward to today. Laura and I love to engage in and plan road trips for ourselves to experience new sights, sounds, and sunsets. We just got back from Oregon, where we caught a couple Shakespeare plays, saw snow falling over Crater Lake, and hiked to some waterfall in the Umpqua Wilderness. That was my self challenge. Waterfalls. I have gotten a new piece of glass, (a lens) a 17mm tilt-shift 4L beauty. It's a technically challenging and more specialized, esoteric piece of glass that's for landscape or architectural photography. It's use to create realistic panoramas, or even those cool "toy" city landscape photos you may have seen. For wedding photography and portrait sessions here in San Luis Obispo, this isn't the type of lens that most photographers would use. However, I've seen my mentors and photo rockstars use this piece of glass for their portraits and weddings. Well, Laura and I want to set precedents and keep growing in our photography. So, what the heck doe this have to do with waterfalls? I do what I love in order to prosper at what I do. I assess where my horizon is in my skill set, where I want to go to learn in order to learn what I want to do, and to learn where my boundary is, so I can then push past that boundary. Long exposure photography of water, with some new processing techniques mixed in, was my challenge. So, while Laura cultivated her learning in yoga instruction by reading yoga books and practicing posing, I slipped around on moss covered rocks, got soaked with freezing snow melt mist, and got that spiritual kickass feeling of self-fulfillment by clicking pictures, honing my craft, and using a piece of class that I am intent on mastering. Here's some of the results - 

Lower half of Watson Falls

Lower half of Watson Falls

Clearwater Falls

Clearwater Falls

Whitehorse Falls

Whitehorse Falls

Did I accomplish my goals? Well, I had fun. I was able to learn something, be able to manifest a concept into reality, and be happy with the results. That's all that matters. And, I now have another tool in my arsenal to utilize our skills in being the best wedding and portrait photography studio here in San Luis Obispo County.

You gotta give to get

Being my own boss and running a professional photography studio can be trying. Maybe you can relate that in our pursuit for prosperity, we can lose our true sense of purpose and become depleted in what our place in the universe. Laura and I took the opportunity to volunteer our studio's photography services to record and capture the moments of the San Luis Obispo County 2015 Special Olympics Games. What an exhilarating and profoundly thrilling experience! We spent the day first taking in the throngs of athletes and volunteers. Then the rising excitement led up to the Opening Ceremonies. After thousands of high fives and a lighting of the torch, there was the beginning of the games. To see athletes strive to achieve their personal best gave Laura and I such a sense of personal humility and courage that we were inspired by them and deeply admired their will. And, the laughter and camaraderie the pervaded and rose up from the track, pool and gym areas truly gave us chills of such appreciation that we are all in this thing together. This day and all the athletes who participated in it reaffirmed that we're all on the same side; even when competing next to others, struggling to stay ahead, or trying to accomplish some sort of goal. Laura and I am so humbly grateful for having had the chance to contribute our modest part to such a wonderful organization and awesome day!    


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One of my biggest photographic passions, other than capturing the spirit of people, is traveling into new adventures and toward new destinations then taking photos of what I see as I see it. Especially with traveling with my love, Laura, we get to fulfill our dreams together hand in hand. As a photographer, I have the privilege to have her as a partner who is a willing model as well as being so understanding to let me venture on my own to capture the images I crave. We spent two weeks this last September roaming around Rome, touring the Tuscany countryside and ambling along the Amalfi Coast. If you ever have the chance to rent a little Fiat and drive the road from Sorrento down or from Salerno up, DO IT! It was the most exciting twists and turns on one of the most famous scenic routes ever. Here's a image portfolio of our adventures.  


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