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Photo of the Day: Sunlight and Sunshine

documentary photograph of a child at dinner taken with the Leica M

 

I spent a week in Greer photographing collateral images for Hidden Meadow Ranch (one of my favorite places in the West).  I am working on some of them now and came across this fun little shot at the dinner table full of sunlight and sunshine.

I had a number of cameras with me on this job.  Dinner time was the one moment of the day I wasn’t shooting or planning a shot, so it was my time to enjoy and to play with some of the cameras I had at my disposal.  This shot was taken with the Leica M rangefinder camera and adjusted in Lightroom.  More images from this shoot are forth coming.  Lot’s of cool cowboys, horses, etc…

Tim & Samantha’s Wedding in the Grand Canyon

Samantha and Tim were married on Shoshone Point at the Grand Canyon.  The wedding slideshow features the music of Native American flutist Kelvin Mockingbird (available on iTunes).  These are a few of my favorite images.

Wedding photography at the grand canyon. (1)

You may have seen my engagement portrait session with Samantha and Tim on the Dry Tortugas.  Sam and Tim are an adventerous couple and maybe better said, they love life experiences.  So, when they made plans for their wedding, they went beyond planning a wedding and a honeymoon.  They planned a wedding life experience, starting with a four day hike from the north rim to the south rim of the Grand Canyon and ending with a cliff side wedding on the south rim’s Shoshone Point.

Since I am the wedding photographer, their life experience becomes mine as well.  A few days before the wedding, I hiked down the south rim of the grand canyon for four hours with 55 pounds of camping and photo gear on my back (which is apparently more weight that is advisable), so I arrived quite exhausted, but down was easy, up was much harder.

As you can see, the floor of the Grand Canyon is a desert (which at times this week was hitting 120 degrees plus).  The mountains you see in the background are the cliffs that rise up and make the north rim of the Grand Canyon.  We spent the evening on a short  two mile hike, spent the night in our tents and began the long, challenging hike back up the South rim of the canyon the next morning at 5 am (to beat the heat).

Man, I love my job!

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Following the path you see in the photo above, takes you to another impressive drop in the Grand Canyon to the absolute floor, the Colorado River.  This sheer cliff is mind blowing.  Even standing at a safe distance from the edge will give you the absolute creeps.  But the view just cannot be beat.

When most brides and grooms are planning the final details of their wedding, playing a round of golf, or hitting the spa, Samantha and Tim were hefting their packs for 21 miles over four days in 110-122 degree heat, dropping and climbing roughly 6,000 feet on either side, and seeing some of the most breath taking views on the planet.   I’d say that makes this wedding quite unique.

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It’s a long way down.  Even with a guardrail, you question your safety as you look over the edge.  Tim is not too fond of heights…

At 5am we broke and left camp and headed up the south rim of the canyon.  Each hour, the temperature would rise by ten degrees, so the earlier we started, the better.  Tim gave me a hard time about the weight of my pack, but in the end, it could have been a lot heavier.  I couldn’t risk hiking down into the canyon and have a camera fail, so I needed two cameras.  But instead of taking two DSLRs, I took one paired down Canon Mark III with a 24-70mm lens and a Panasonic GH3 with a 35-100 and a 7-14.  The Panasonic GH3 is a light weight, mirror-less, 4/3 camera and it’s lenses weigh almost nothing, but the quality is very high, so while I still used the Canon for many of my shots, the GH3 was a perfectly usable alternative.

Half way up, I realized I could use the monopod from my small tripod as a walking stick.  That helped.  Tim offered to take the rest of the tripod to lighten the load.  Thanks Tim… my legs still thank you for that.  Suffice it to say, when hiking with photographic gear, you might want to leave the camping gear at home!

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Once you are on the trails for four hours, every switch back looks the same.  I thought for sure the top was around the corner at every corner, and since Sam and Tim had not hiked this trail, and I had just come down the day before, when I told them we were almost there, they believed me…  Until we met a ranger who informed us we still had about an hour to the top.  Oops. Well, I was selling hope!

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No, this isn’t us at the top.  This is us close to the top.  Close is a relative term.

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After making it to the top, we had a day to recuperate from the hike and get ready for the wedding.  I was grateful for the rest.  Then, on the following day, at about noon, the getting ready began.  Samantha was in her room getting ready and Tim was preparing with a trip to Shoshone Point for a little meditation and mental preparation for the wedding.  You see, Tim has a fear of heights.  Why then did he choose to get married on the edge of a cliff?  I will tell you in a minute.  Suffice it to say, he needed to spend some time with the cliff, so a little meditation was in order.

Meanwhile, the bride was putting on the dress and getting her hair done and looking like a million bucks!  I got to help steam/iron the dress that had gotten a little wrinkled somewhere between Florida and Arizona.

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Tim is crazy about Samantha!

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It was a beautiful day and the canyon was singing with shadows and highlights.  A cloudless sky is a double edged sword.  It makes for harsh lighting conditions for portraits, but the lack of cloud cover keeps the canyon alive with contrast.  So, a Grand Canyon wedding comes with it’s own special set of prayers: for scattered  Cumulus clouds with a few strategically placed and well timed Cirrus clouds during the portrait session to soften the sun.

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We didn’t get the Cumulus clouds, but we got a few Cirrus clouds.

This next shot is during the wedding.  You don’t see the guests because they chose to sit much higher on the point, and you don’t see the officiant because she is awesome and always stands to the side so the couple is not crowded and so their photos don’t all have an officiant in every shot.  How novel is that?  Almost every wedding ceremony image is cluttered up by an officiant’s head sitting between the bride and groom and even during the kiss.  “You may kiss the bride,” and I’ll just stand right here and and watch and make it look like I am kissing you both as well…  Why don’t more officiants have this figured out?  Samantha and Tim are actually saying their vows and I was able to get a shot with just them and the grandeur of the canyon.  That should be celebrated.  Don’t you think.  So, I have to give many many thanks and compliments to David & Debra Joaquim because they think about the aesthetics of the ceremony and take themselves out of the way.  I suppose it is a show of humility, that the wedding is not about the officiant, or the photographer, or the coordinator, or the mother of the bride, or the best man… it is about the bride and the groom and their commitment to each other.  And with a little humility, we can all make the day more meaningful to them by stepping out of the spot light and serving the couple and fulfilling their needs rather than our own.

Wedding photography at the grand canyon. (8)

Incidentally, some of those clouds even placed themselves where we needed them.  Photo prayers were answered.  While the lighting was a little challenging on the bride and groom, it was magnificent on the canyon, and in the end, it is easier to light the couple with a soft box than it is to light the entire canyon.

I love this series portraits.  The bride and groom look great and the light is so lovely, thanks to Ryan (my assistant), who was battling the winds with a big soft-box that at one point was trying to push him off the cliff.  Good thing he’s a strong guy!  This shot could not have happened without Ryan and his soft box.  (The light was provided by an Einstein Mono Head, a vagabond power pack, a 30×40 White Lightning soft box and two pocket wizard transceivers.)

Wedding photography at the grand canyon. (6)

Wedding photography at the grand canyon. (5)

Now to discuss the fear of heights.

When you share major life experiences like these, you tend to develop a deeper relationship with people.  Tim and I have had many deep conversations ranging a myriad of subjects as we have spent a lot of time together.  When you compare  the amount of time we have been photographing to the amount of time we have spent hiking, kayaking, cooking, eating, searching the sunset for the green flash, and discussing life… you might say, we haven’t been shooting photos at all.  As odd as this may sound, coming from Tim and Sam’s wedding photographer, photographing less may be a good thing.  Because portraits are portraits, but understanding is everything.  I am always drawn to Henri Cartier-Bresson’s statement, “Photography is nothing, it’s life that interests me.”  In fact, I have it branded on my studio wall to remind me that regardless of what I know about f-stops and camera gear and lighting techniques, those skills are worthless without a natural curiosity and love of life and for people.  It’s the observation of life that makes great images, because that’s how we see the story that should be told.

In one of our conversations at the Canyon, Tim told me that the reason he wanted to get married in a place that would cause him fear was that he wanted to feel his bride’s calming influence and support as he said his vows.  He wanted to feel her lifting him up against the will of gravity.  Tim is a confident and successful man, so to hear him talk about this choice of location for the wedding helped me to see a lot about his relationship with Samantha.  Ergo, it is not an accident or a whim that led to the photograph below.  I watched Tim stay clear of  cliff edges completely, or white knuckle their secure guardrails, while we were in the canyon, but on the day of the wedding he stood at the edge of the cliffs on Shoshone Point as calm as a summers morning.  So this next image has become to me, the most telling portrait I made of the couple, but it comes from hours of discussion and a better understanding of Tim and Sam.

So, perhaps the most important thing a photographer and his clients can do is spend a little more time talking and a little less time shooting.

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The last moments of light are always the best, and with the help of a small Canon 600 RT flash off to the left, it’s perfect.

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Once the the sun goes down on Shoshone Point, there no more light.  Fortunately we had a mostly full moon, so seeing was possible, but photography was not, without some additional help.  During the signing of the marriage license, we needed some off camera lighting.  Flash could have worked, but we are outside, so there is nothing off which to bounce the flash, and direct flash in that kind of darkness is blinding at any power.  So the wedding party would have been left to sign the document in darkness.  So we pulled out a constant LED light source called an Ice Light and a pocket LED torch.  I was impressed with the final result.

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You can see the light setup here.  Ryan’s arms got very tired.

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The job of photographing a wedding is a difficult one and requires a lot of problem solving, a lot of energy and a lot of love for the people you serve.  But when you have a job that is this much fun, even when it is challenging, it is hard to call it a job.

Thank you Tim and Samantha for trusting us with the photography of this important year in your life.  I will watch your future with interest and wish you all the best.

Wedding Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Wedding Location: The Grand Canyon, Shoshone Point

Wedding Officiant: David & Debra Joaquim

Wedding Slideshow Music by Kelvin Mockingbird, Courtesy of Kelvin Mockingbird, available on iTunes.

Thank you to Panasonic for the use of their lightweight GH3 4/3 Camera.

Sean & Lexie’s Wedding at the Arizona Biltmore

Sean and Lexie were married at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, Arizona.  I couldn’t help but add a peppy song to their slideshow because they are such a fun couple.  They just didn’t fit with a soft song…  I also considered a bit of hard rock, but ended up selecting this song by Gordon Pagoda (courtesy of Triple Scoop Music).

Here are some of my favorite images from the wedding.

This was a gift from Sean, delivered to the bride’s room.  Lexie was getting her makeup and hair done in front of the window, so the light was perfect already.  I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect moment.  I love the quietness of this shot.  She is so peaceful, it makes me think I should be whispering right now.  If ALL CAPS is yelling when you write… what is a whisper?  lower case italics?

Arizona Biltmore wedding photography by Jared Platt (1)

On this wedding, I was carrying an extra camera with me, the Leica M Monochrome rangefinder camera.  This is a digital M series camera that only shoots Black and White.  This means it is like carrying a film camera with only black and white film.  The advantage to doing this is that your chip is not recording four pixels of separate colors which the computer later must interpret and sharpen, but rather, each pixel is its own pixel, no trickery needed to create the final image.  The result is a sharper file.  This black and white of the dress is from the Leica M Monochrome.  I love this shot.

You will also notice a few other items.  The dress is hanging in the middle of the door.  This is due to a removable 3M hook we placed on the door.  No need to try and hang the dress on a door jam, or a curtain rod.  This was the perfect spot for the dress, so that’s where we hung it.  Oh, and I did remove the door knob from the door.  It was ugly.  I debated on the hinges, but left them for a little asymmetry.  The dress has such a beautiful satin glow and such soft undulating curves to it, that is contrasts well with the right angles of the door and windows, but at the same time, the hard surfaces still have the same soft glow as the dress.  So, while there is a contrast in shapes, there is a comparison in reflective and tonal qualities, so the whole thing works cohesively.

Arizona Biltmore wedding photography by Jared Platt (2)

There is something about a rangefinder camera and the way it forces you to shoot.  You get very different shots than you would with your DSLR and a zoom lens.  With the Leica, I was shooting a 35mm lens the entire day (because that is all Leica had to lend me).  It forced me to shoot a little differently.  In this shot, the little boy is playing his video games, and I forget what excited his face, but it was perfect, whatever it was.

Arizona Biltmore wedding photography by Jared Platt (3)

I definitely do not miss the color in many of these hotel room shots.  Hotels have a way of choosing fabrics that compete with the subject for attention.  By keeping things in black and white for these getting ready shots, it becomes all about the composition and the light, and the close to obnoxious curtains don’t detract for the shot at all.  In fact, the texture and pattern on the curtains are quite nice in B&W.  Had I shot this with my Canon 5D Mark III, I would have turned it to black and white anyway.

Arizona Biltmore wedding photography by Jared Platt (4)

The first look at the bride is always a favorite for me.  The anticipation and the payoff is great, and it is so intimate, as opposed to seeing her for the first time in front of the entire crowd.  I don’t actually have a preference between the traditional and the more modern “first look” concept, I enjoy them both.  But there is a completely different feeling to that moment when the bride first reveals herself to the groom.

Arizona Biltmore wedding photography by Jared Platt (5)

And here is the payoff.  Sean was struck!

Arizona Biltmore wedding photography by Jared Platt (21)

Arizona Biltmore wedding photography by Jared Platt (6)

We were taking portraits of Lexie (in color and tighter) but Sean was hanging out to the side, just watching, which, to me meant a lot more than the portraits we were taking, so I went to the Leica, which is always wide (remember, all I had was a 35mm lens), so I quickly grabbed this shot.

Arizona Biltmore wedding photography by Jared Platt (7)

I think my favorite thing to do with the Leica was to take loose portraits of people with it.  This kind of shot takes me back to shots of ancestors I have at home next to their old Model T cars and on the front steps of their homes and churches.  I really enjoy looking at them.  Keep in mind, I wouldn’t need a Leica to shoot this shot.  I could have put a 35mm lens on my Canon and did the same thing, and in fact, I have to say (in interest of full disclosure) that the Leica M Monochrome presents a set of challenges that are unique to itself because it does not capture color at all, so like B&W film, when a bright blue sky is in the background, the intensity of the light overpowers the sensor and you loose the sky completely, while a Canon 5D Mark III sensor (which is reading the sky’s blue color can capture the information in the sky and then use that information when converting it to black and white.

 I have placed this image in twice so you can see what happens to the sky if you try to burn it in.  There just isn’t any information there because the blue color of the sky is actually very intense energy that is pounding the sensor, and because it is not seeing in color, it can’t deal with the extreme difference between the sky and the open shade.  So as much as I loved the idea that shooting with a Black and White camera forces you to think in black and white when you are shooting and that the black and white sensor yields a bit more sharpness and clarity in the file, a color sensor  has a real advantage over a monochrome sensor where exposure latitude is concerned.

Of course, I could have put an orange or a red filter over the lens and that sky would have become a nice dark grey.  And that method of pre-vissualized filter control does not work on a color sensor.  But I didn’t have a orange or red filter to fit the Leica, so using the red filter method was not going to happen in a fast paced wedding environment.

Arizona Biltmore wedding photography by Jared Platt (8)

Celebrations in Paper did a wonderful job with all the stationary, announcements, programs and other printed material.  Although that aspect of a wedding is not as obvious, it is important enough that it certainly adds to the experience in a subtle, but meaningful way.

Arizona Biltmore wedding photography by Jared Platt (9)

Arizona Biltmore wedding photography by Jared Platt (10)

I love this shot.  That is a great moment.  But here is the other thing I like about this shot: the entire wedding, we fought with the lighting on the audience.  The left side is in shadow and the right side is in highlight.  But here, it works in my favor.  The bride is in white and stands out perfectly when placed in front of the shadow side of the audience.  The groom, in black, wouldn’t stand out against the shadow side of the audience, so fortunately for me, he is on the right side, so he gets placed over the brighter side of the scene, so he stands out nicely too.  I couldn’t have planned a better scenario for something like this.

Arizona Biltmore wedding photography by Jared Platt (11)

I know, I know, details are always in color to show off flowers, etc, and we have plenty of those, but Lexie was going for a bit of a Hollywood Glam style for her wedding, so for me, a rich black and white of the dinner table with the room in the distance was just right!

Arizona Biltmore wedding photography by Jared Platt (12)

In France, there is a bridge, near the Louvre called the Pont des Arts where lovers lock a paddle-lock on the bridge with the name of the person they love on the lock, then they throw the key into the river.  Lexie and Sean had their guests choose a lock, sign it and lock it to a small iron fence which will become decor in their home and presumably they will throw away the keys.  There were new locks and old locks, small and big.  I thought that was a fantastic idea for a signature “book.”

Arizona Biltmore wedding photography by Jared Platt (13)

Here was another great idea.  The seating chart was hand written on a large mirror.  The flower petals and candles were another nice touch.  There were so many nice touches, and I have to give a round of applause to Danielle at Outstanding Occasions for doing such a wonderful job with the event planning and coordination.

Well, when I saw this, I has a few options.  Most of them involved shooting the mirror from an angle so I would not be in the shot itself.  But upon better reflection on the problem, I decided to pull out my Leica and shoot this like a true street photographer and get myself in the reflection.  After all, if Lyonel Feininger or Henri Cartier-Bresson can enjoy their own reflection in a shop window, I can enjoy mine in a mirror at a wedding.

Arizona Biltmore wedding photography by Jared Platt (14)

This was the parting gift for everyone at the wedding.  Except for those under the age, of course…

Arizona Biltmore wedding photography by Jared Platt (15)

The first dance is best shot in black and white anyway.  Add the Hollywood Glamor concept and using the Leica was an imperative.

Arizona Biltmore wedding photography by Jared Platt (16)

And this is my absolute favorite portrait of the day.  Hands down.

Arizona Biltmore wedding photography by Jared Platt (17)

And who wouldn’t like to have some fireworks at their wedding?  Seriously?  This was a nice touch brought to you by the Arizona Biltmore.

Arizona Biltmore wedding photography by Jared Platt (18)

Sean has a iron clad habit of never wearing matching socks.  So his socks are as important as Lexie’s shoes.  Now, normally, Sean’s socks are not even color coordinated, but Lexie bought him a special pair of socks so he could not match and still be color coordinated.  That is love!  Don’t try to change him, just give him the tools to be the best version of himself.

Arizona Biltmore wedding photography by Jared Platt (19)

This party was brought to you by the Arizona Biltmore, JJ’s Band (who rocked the night away), a lot of rowdy guests, this guy’s sexy dancing, Canon Speedlites and a little shutter dragging!  That is one inviting dance floor!

Arizona Biltmore wedding photography by Jared Platt (20)

 

Lexie and Sean also chose to have a photo booth at their wedding, which was provided by ShutterBox Photo Booth.  They also have someone there pasting the photos into a book so you can sign a note to the bride and groom.  Well, Ted (from Ted and Ali’s wedding a few months back), insisted that Sean, Lexie and I do a shot in the Photo Booth together, since I look a bit like Sean (we bald people all look alike).  So we photographed a story of mistaken identity in the photo booth.  I love the look on Sean’s face as he strangles me in the photo booth…

It was a very fun night for everyone.

Arizona Biltmore wedding photography by Jared Platt (25)

It was an honor to be a part of your wedding Sean and Lexie.  What a great event.  And I can’t say enough good things about everyone involved in the event, from the flowers by Petal Pusher to the wedding design and coordination by Danielle at Outstanding Occasions.

Wedding Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Location: The Arizona Biltmore, Phoenix, Arizona

Event Design and Coordination by Outstanding Occasions

Flowers by Petal Pusher

Cake by Classic Cakes and Confections

Stationary by Celebrations in Paper

Music Entertainment by JJ’s Band

Slideshow Music by Gordon Pagoda (courtesy of Triple Scoop Music)

Photo Booth by ShutterBox Photo Booth

 

Adobe Lightroom 5 is Here: My Favorite New Features

 

Adobe Lightroom 5 is here, and it is full of important new features that will increase your post production speed as well as just make you happy while working on your photos!

The most important feature added to Lightroom 5 is the Smart Previews, which makes working on RAW images possible without a connection to the original RAW images.  It also makes working with my post-production house Shoot dot Edit even faster.  There are so many reasons to use smart previews, and you can even print small images or post blog images from the smart previews while your original RAW images are sitting on a drive at home, unconnected…  It is fantastic!

I am going to be sharing my favorite new features for the next few weeks.  Make sure you tune in and follow The Lightroom Podcast to see all of the great new features in Lightroom and how I use them.  Follow me on twitter @jaredplatt to get regular announcements each time I post a new video.  Enjoy.

Need to speed up your post-production?  Spend a week with me in Budapest for the most personalized photography workflow workshop ever.  Learn more at www.budapestmasterclass.com

 

Kevin Burdick at the Grand Canyon

Kevin Burdick portrit at the Grand Canyon

 

For those of you following the Struck by Lightning story, this photo was taken of Kevin Burdick a few minutes before he was struck by Lightning on Shoshone Point at the Grand Canyon.  So far, Kevin is just fine and now has additional super powers that cannot be mentioned here, as sharing that information may be seen as a national security breach and I may have my phones tapped by the US Attorney’s office.    I can tell you that, with his new super powers, Kevin is often seen in tight stretchy pants and a luchador mask, but it is possible he was wearing those before the lightning strike.

In all seriousness, Kevin is fine and a bit more electrifying when he plays his music in front of an audience.

I shot this portrait with my friend Carlos Martín’s Nikon D800.  It’s a nice camera.

An Afternoon Portrait in the Park with the Flamino Family

I photographed the Flamino family at a park in Scottsdale, Arizona.  The afternoon was full of fun and energy and snacks and running and more running.  Getting either of the kids to sit was a rare occasion, so when they did, I took advantage of the moment.

Child portrait by Jared Platt (2)

Child portrait by Jared Platt (3)

 This was my favorite image from the afternoon and not because of the composition or the light… I just know that’s the moment that matters to me as a father.

Child portrait by Jared Platt (4)

Child portrait by Jared Platt (5)

 She has such beautiful curly hair.  She was so much fun to photograph.

Child portrait by Jared Platt (6)

Child portrait by Jared Platt (7)

 The afternoon ended with fun on the swings.

Focusing on a swinging child is impossible because by the time you get focus, they are on their way out of it.  Instead of trying to get the camera to follow them automatically, I simply set a focus distance and waited until the child entered into my area of focus.

Child portrait by Jared Platt (8)

Child portrait by Jared Platt (9)

 Children’s Portraits by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Slideshow Music by Nancy Falkow, courtesy of Triple Scoop Music

Location: Park in Scottsdale, Arizona

Creativity in Action: The Business of Creativity

Mindy Gledhill writing at the piano during her studio sessions in Nashville TN

When the man or woman on the street thinks about the process of making music, they think about a musician and a piano, or a guitar.  Sitting down and playing for hours, perhaps making notes on some blank sheet music, writing some lyrics under a sycamore tree on a funky hand made notebook, and maybe the younger among us add in a snapshot of the musician playing music on their iPad into Garage Band.

But the creative process is goes beyond the romantic and requires organizational skills and business acumen.

Documentary photographs of Mindy Gledhill in the recording studio in Nashville (2)

When I walked into Cason Cooley’s recording studio in Nashville, TN, to photograph Mindy Gledhill, the first thing I noticed was the wall sized blackboard with a production grid on it.  You can see the songs that are being recorded and the series of steps that each song must go through during the production of Mindy’s new album.  There are a lot of boxes to check.  During short recording breaks, Mindy wasn’t relaxing in a chair, shooting the breeze with the studio musicians, she was fielding calls that were clearly about business.

blackboard checklist for album

So, while it is true, that musicians and artists spend a lot of focused time writing lyrics in notebooks and making sketches on napkins, the majority of any successful artist’s time is spent in managing production and business and checking off boxes on an excel spreadsheet or its funky blackboard equivalent.


Mindy Gledhill making notes on her lyrics for her new album

If you want to be part of the creative life, and “live the dream,” you had better be aware that the “dream” includes spreadsheets and task lists and business goals and production schedules.  That’s just part of the creative life.  Anyone who tells you something different is selling something.

Thanks to Mindy Gledhill for allowing me to invade her creative space as she worked.  You can be a part of her creative venture as well by pledging to her album production at Pledge Music.  The beauty of it is that you will also get some very cool things in return.  One of my favorites is a signed lyric sheet.  I think that’s about as cool a memento as you can get.  Of course, I am biased, I was always the lyricist in the band.

If you haven’t heard Mindy’s music, here is a taste of it.  You can get more at MindyGledhill.com.

Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Location: Cason Cooley Studio in Nashville, TN

Slideshow music by Mindy Gledhill, courtesy of Triple Scoop Music

Creativity in Action: Watching the Process with Mindy Gledhill

 

Documentary photographs of Mindy Gledhill in the recording studio in Nashville (6)

Mindy Gledhill is at it again.  Another brilliant record is forthcoming this fall.  I had the opportunity to spend a few days in the recording studio with her in Nashville to watch and record her creative process.  The creative process is such an interesting thing to study.  I am familiar with my own and because I travel so much and meet so many creative people, I am privileged to see other creative peoples’ processes.  Some are more efficient than others.  Some are at the mercy of the muse and others can call up their muse on demand.  But once, the creative process begins, it is surprisingly similar regardless of what art you are practicing.

More on that later.

For now, I wanted to give you a glimpse into the studio as Mindy makes the music come alive.  As a fan of her musical talent, I have to report: the music is very, very good.

This next photo is Mindy writing a line on the Key-tar which was transported directly from the 1980’s to the studio through a time portal in the back corner of Cason Cooley’s studio in Nashville, TN.  The musician and recording engineer in me walked around the studio in reverence, like I was in a vintage musical instruments museum.

This moment of creativity struck me.  Mindy was listening to the music and could tell the song needed something.  She voiced it, saying it needed a little more happiness in it (my words not hers).  A little more listening, a little more thinking, a little wandering and Mindy was back on the couch with headphones and a key-tar playing a happy line on a silly little instrument.  Within 30 minutes, the song had lifted off the ground with that light happy feel she had expressed less than an hour before.

Documentary photographs of Mindy Gledhill in the recording studio in Nashville (1)

Documentary photographs of Mindy Gledhill in the recording studio in Nashville (7)

Creativity has so many components to it.  Focus seem to be one of the most important.

As I watched her work, I could tell when she entered that zone of intensity where all other distractions disappeared.  That, to me, is one of the most incredible things about the human mind, that it can focus in on what needs to be done and forget everything around it, no matter how distracting life may be…  The most creative among us can dive deep into that zone, much to the annoyance of their friends and family.

Documentary photographs of Mindy Gledhill in the recording studio in Nashville (3)

Documentary photographs of Mindy Gledhill in the recording studio in Nashville (4)

Documentary photographs of Mindy Gledhill in the recording studio in Nashville (5)

Mindy’s new album will hit the market in the fall, but you can be a part of it now and even get a pre-released copy, or have Mindy sing you to sleep on the phone by pledging your support for the album at Pledge Music.  Independant artists put their soul AND their money into their albums.  It is an expensive proposition to make an album on your own.  Pledge Music allows the artist to fund their production while allowing you to get some cool swag items that you could never get otherwise.  Some of my favorite items include:

The New Album (you get it one week before the world)

Mindy Sings you to Sleep

Pre-Release Listening Party

VIP Backstage Pass for Two Years

Be in a Mindy Glehill Music Video

Ultimate Artist Mentoring Package

Support the creative production process and become a benefactor to one of the most talented new artists around.  Someday, when she’s too hot to touch, you will be able to say, “Mindy Gledhill once sang me to sleep!”  I say that, but Mindy is a super down to earth, wonderful person, so I think she’ll always be singing someone to sleep.

Documentary photographs of Mindy Gledhill in the recording studio in Nashville (8)

During a few moments of downtime, I interviewed Mindy for a project I am working on.  We did the interview in the back of the studio.  The light was beautiful, so I got a portrait of her as well.

Documentary photographs of Mindy Gledhill in the recording studio in Nashville (9)

Images of Mindy Gledhill by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Location: Cason Cooley Studio, Nashville, TN

Ted & Ali: Married at the Paradise Valley Country Club

Ted and Ali were married at the Paradise Valley Country Club in Paradise Valley, Arizona.  Paradise Valley is a little community nestled between Phoenix and Scottsdale just north of Camelback Mountain.  The wedding was a blast.  Ted and Ali are a lot of fun, and so are their groomsmen and bridesmaids.  Here are my favorite images from the wedding.

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (1)

 

 

I love black and white.  I loved this door, but I wasn’t fond of the colors in the room, but knowing an image will be in black and white, opens up a lot of possibilities for you as a photographer, regardless of the color schemes in a room.

 

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (2)

The locker room for the ladies was a bit of a challenge, since I am not a lady.  So I had my associate photographer and assistant (both ladies) spend most of their time in the locker room, but occasionally I got in there for the important moments and some good shots.

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (3)

Time for some shots with the parents.  This one caught me.  I love the way Ali’s father is looking at her.

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (4)

And both of these photographs of Ali are so beautiful.  The light is perfect, she looks fantastic in her wedding dress, the flowers (by Table Tops, Etc.) look great.

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (5)

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (6)

I love the signs hanging from the chairs.  Everything about the wedding, from the tables, to the flowers, to the chairs, the ribbon, the colors.  All of it looked great.  And of course all of that is thanks to the coordination efforts of Rachel at Outstanding Occasions.  Nothing replaces a great wedding designer and planner.

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (7)

Two ring bearers.  Both looked great in their little tuxes.

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (8)

I caught the flower girl taking a look at herself in the mirror.  So big… and yet, still so small (short).

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (9)

The youngest flower girl was so excited to be a part of the wedding and she was also very aware of the camera, or me… maybe she just liked me.  But I think she was playing it up for the camera.

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (10)

I think the purpose of ring bearers and flower girls is to give us all some comic relief from all the emotions.  They are always so unpredictable and ofter very funny.  Always cute!  They make my day, every time I shoot a wedding.

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (11)

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (12)

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (13)

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (14)

Camelback Mountain makes a beautiful backdrop for a wedding.  I don’t necessarily enjoy golfers finishing their round during the wedding, but they were respectful enough and there was no shouting, cursing or hootin’ and hollerin’ about a long put during the ceremony, so I suppose it worked out well.

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (15)

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (16)

Anytime I have a strong backlight, like the sun, if I can throw it behind a tree, it softens and scatters it just enough to allow a completely natural lighting shot.  No flash, no reflector, just the right exposure.

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (17)

While, starting earlier in the day for a wedding makes the portraiture more challenging, it certainly makes for far better reception photographs, like the father’s toast.  I love this shot.

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (18)

As the sun went down, the outdoor reception was lit by a grid work of twinkle lights, which give off a beautifully soft glow.  One can even get a shot without a flash if you have the right camera with a clean high ISO.

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (19)

When your daughter gets up for a toast, I am sure it is hard to keep it together.

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (20)

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (21)

This has to be the best image of the day.  I know that we typically think of the cool portraits and the artsy images as the best images, but in this case, I can not get over this image.  Ali was dancing with her dad, when half way through the song, Ted took his daughter on the dance floor for a dance.  This is the first time I have been able to see both the Groom and the Bride dancing at the same time in a Father-Daughter dance.  It was a precious as anything could be.  I had to maneuver a great deal to get this shot to happen.  Ali and her dad had to be in the right spot, in the right portion of the turn of their dance, the same is true for Ted and his daughter.  Then I had to be in the right spot to keep them all close enough to fit in one frame.  Then I had to have Ali’s dad in focus… I was stressed out about getting this shot, because I knew at the time how important is would be.

When I look at images like this from a wedding and think about my little daughter, I can’t emphasize this photograph enough.  This is about as perfect a moment as I have ever captured.

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (22)

That’s a lot of twinkle lights and the chandeliers are a great touch.

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (23)

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (24)

The odd little blue puff in the bottom corner of the photo is cotton candy.  Yes, cotton candy.  I love it.

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (25)

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (26)

In spite of being outside with nowhere to bounce a flash to get great light, we made the light happen by putting up a series of Canon 600RT Speedlites that I controlled from my camera.  This kept plenty of light on the subjects but from multiple angles so there is a lot of volume in the shots.

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (27)

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (28)

Ali brought this white frame along to the wedding and asked if we could do something with it.  So we set up a little photo booth situation at the after party.  People had fun doing ridiculous things in in, on and around the frame.

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (29)

Wedding photography in Scottsdale Arizona at the Paradise Valley Country Club by Jared Platt, Platt Photography. (30)

Wedding photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography.

Wedding Planning and Coordination by Outstanding Occasions.

Flowers by Table Tops Etc.

Location: Paradise Valley Country Club, Paradise Valley, Arizona

What Do You Do When Your Friend is Struck by Lightning

Shoshone point Grand Canyon, Arizona, portraits (5)

I have quite a story to tell, although Kevin Burdick lived it, I will tell it because I was there.  This story is true, by the way…

I spent two days driving up to the Grand Canyon with my good friends Kevin Burdick and Carlos Martín. Carlos is from New Jersey and had never seen the Grand Canyon. Kevin and I grew up near the canyon, so we took it upon ourselves to introduce him to the natural wonder. I wanted to show him Shoshone Point, since it is one of my favorite places to experience the canyon.

We arrived a few hours before sundown and went dirrectly to the canyon’s edge. A little hike was required to get there. So, we gathered our cameras and started the hike. Along the way we alternated using Kevin as our subject and photographing the landscape. When we finaly made our way out onto the point, a small storm had moved in, the sun was long since burried behind the clouds, it turned cold and began to snow (in May). But, Carlos and I perserviered with our photographs and Kevin, who was no longer the subject of our images was standing just to my right shivering off the cold. A slight rolling of thunder in the distance foreshadowed the moment to come, but we all stood on the edge of the percipise shivering and photographing.

Shoshone point Grand Canyon, Arizona, portraits (4)

Shoshone point Grand Canyon, Arizona, portraits (1)

(This next shot is Carlos Martín, Carlos is a talented Architectural photographer.)

Shoshone point Grand Canyon, Arizona, portraits (2)

Carlos was adjusting his tripod, I stood behind him with my camera held to my chest looking out into the canyon when I heard the unmistakable sound of electricity pulsing (just like what you might expect in Dr. Frankenstien’s laboritory) and a flash of light just to my right, but the light did not come from the sky and it ddi not come from a mile away.

“Guys,” Kevin said hesitently, “I’ve been struck by lightning.”

That’s right. Struck by Lightning!

(This next photo is my rendition of Kevin holding lightning in his hands.)

Shoshone point Grand Canyon, Arizona, portraits (3)

Kevin then described in full detail how the energy had, in a mere moment, gone through his head, down his arm (burning his skin below his watch) and shot out of his hand to the ground. This was the flash of light I saw to my right below the level of my eye. He felt his muscles clinch and the energy flow through him, but never lost balance or consciousness.

We rushed to him to make sure he was ok and then we decided it would be a good idea to get off the cliff.  Carlos later said he was a bit disappointed that we left.  “I had just gotten my tripod set, and then we’re leaving?  Technically, that was the least likely place lightning would strike,” he complained.

After Kevin took the Lightning on the chin and lived through it, we spent another few minutes photographing the fog in the canyon (the first shot in this post) and then hiked back to the car.  Later that night, we had a nice steak dinner.  Kevin’s still fine!

I remember hiking back to the car, turning to Kevin and saying, “sorry you were struck by lightning Kevin…”

There’s something you don’t get to say every day.