The Engagement Shoot Lessons

I have obviously not been writing very much of anything these days and my only defense is that I haven't been playing too much of anything (as this is a gaming blog). Really the only thing that I play on a semi-consistent basis is Mechwarrior Online. After about 3 months of play, i've only spent 15$, mostly for some red and gold paint for my mech (although you can unlock basic paints via in-game currency). My partner in crime, Hunter, hasn't spent anything at all and does equally as well in the game. That may be the biggest advantage of MO, as success comes from skill (not buying things) and teamwork; while i'm quite deadly (per prior screenshots) in my decked out Raven-3L, when Hunter is in his Spider, we can easily take down Heavy and Assault mechs. 

I'd normally recommend a game of this calibre to anyone and everyone, but its honestly an acquired taste; the biggest hurdle will be movement. If you can figure it out, then you're good to go, but if you can't wrap your head around it, you'll hate the game and quit. Its free though, so its worth a download.

By the way, big props to Piranha Games (developer), and their charity fundraiser that tries to tackle cancer on behalf of a young mechwarrior that passed away. I honestly can't remember what game company last had a charity fundraiser like this. Basically, by donating 10$ you help find a cure for cancer and PGI sends you a customized mech for the game. Last I checked in Twitter, they had collected $70,000 in donations from the community! Congrats! 
I had my first engagement photoshoot two weekends ago.. which is part of the reason why I haven't been writing much as i've been editing photos instead.

Unlike my other photoshoots, I think I came better prepared physically.. and because of that, I think there were less hiccups. All this experience means that i've learnt from my past errors and there are less learning experiences now. I'll list some randoms things that comes to mind still:

- a flash was heavily used in this photoshoot; nearly every single photo except for one where a flash was too harsh and it was just easier using a fast (50mm 1.8f) lens instead. A flash makes a big difference in the way photos will appear, whether its when there is a strong light to the back (resulting in heavy shadows on your subject) or just low light situations

- there is something about using my kit lens (18-105mm 3.5-5.6) that makes me feel amateurish and made me keep it at home and instead bring specialized lens (fast lens, wide angle, macro). I would argue: never feel like that. I missed that kit lens, for its flexible; if you're comfortable, you'll take better photos. Also, I didn't bring my second camera, and was changing lens very frequently and that was annoying and slowed the process.

- a polarizing filter is a great investment, especially on a wide angle lens or one that you will use for landscape photography; it basically darkens your sky and gives a very pleasing blue sky and green grass (but the sky is what is important imho)

- I bought a battery tester, and it has already paid off; I checked my batteries this time before the shoot and found that 2 of 12 batteries were completely dead. Removed and replaced and didn't even need to change the batteries in the flash.
- we had a few props this time: umbrella, large circular (vs the normal oval shape) balloons, a frame, bubble formula. Props are helpful, but whats more important is having pose AND location ideas coupled together. I'm (hard on myself; phrasing!) still weak in this aspect as I need to do extra research/studying on various poses so I can guide the models to reach a certain photo. While knowing poses in your head, you'll still need to couple it with the background (b/c you won't necessarily have the same background as a photo you're looking at, and thus may not look the same) and the model (certain poses don't work for all models)

- having a stylist is very important; it cuts down prep time and increases the quality of the appearance of the models. A wardrobist (sp?)would have been good in one of my photoshoots as the model was wearing bland baggy clothes and although he may have been comfortable, it didn't flatter him. So if you don't have one, make sure you ask to see what clothes they intend on wearing, so you're not disappointed with the photos later.

- communication is critical; I was honestly pretty intimidated in this photoshoot b/c the client had done an engagement shoot prior, but was doing it with me b/c she wasn't happy with the other photographer's photos. It was intimidating b/c I personally haven't done a (engagement) shoot before and thought the other photographer's photos were pretty good (although heavy post-processing). While I may not have been as creative or possess the Photoshop skills of that photographer, I had the edge of communication. I was constantly seeking what the client wanted, made them feel comfortable and was able to communicate what I wanted in my shots. Some people (photographers) don't like being told what kind of photo they should take and I think that's a mistake; take the type of photo and with your keen eye, try to make it better/appealing.

Thats all the time we have today; enjoy the week!

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