Photographer: Events, Weddings, Portraits – Austin, Texas

Austin Photographer

What Camera Is Best For Beginners?

It seems like lately I’ve been asked if I could recommend a good “all-around” camera. Now, it’s tough to know exactly what all around means and there are lots of cameras for lots of scenarios, but normally I think I understand what is being said (without being said). What is being asked is if there is a simple camera that takes high quality images for someone who is a photo novice and who doesn’t want to buy a bunch of complicated, expensive equipment? And my answer to that question is “yes!” As a professional photographer, I know a little more than average about cameras and the photo industry. If you visit your local book store or a large store that carries a magazine section you’ll find a whole group of photo magazines that are raving about the latest offerings from Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Kodak, etc. Now I’m not one to criticize technology; I love my digital photography gear, but I can honestly say that there is an unbelievable amount of hype behind the sale of new camera equipment. And the bottom line is that the average “Jane” or “Joe” doesn’t need to run down to Precision Camera and buy the newest, most expensive model of camera available.

So what camera do I recommend to a person who is a beginner photographer? I recommend the Canon G12, available on Amazon.com for around $500. Why? Well first of all, based on what I’ve read and talking to others, it takes great photos, which should be pretty high on the priority list. But what I really like about it is that it’s small and much more simple than a digital SLR. When I prepare to head off to photograph a bride and groom at a wedding, I pack 2 containers full of photo gear, including 2 large cameras, flashes, batteries, 4 lenses and lots of ancillary photo equipment. When I arrive, I unpack the two cameras, and attach 2 of the heaviest medium-sized zoom lenses in the industry and attach them to the cameras. By the end of the day, my hands, wrists, neck, shoulders and back are exhausted from lugging around these two monster. If I could get away with shooting weddings with the Canon G12 I would, but I can’t – but you (the novice) can!

I’m not the only professional photographer here in Austin who makes honest recommendations about cameras. You can also check out Kirk Tuck’s blog for his favorite point and shoot cameras (he likes the Olympus EPL2 better).

Disclaimer: I don’t work for or receive any compensation from Canon.


Teaching A Child Photography

I always wonder if my son will be interested in the things that I love. In one way I hope that he will; but in another way I know that I need to respect whatever path he chooses. Tonight, I came home after a stressful day feeling a little drained, hoping to just watch a movie with my 2-year-old son, Roman. As I sat down at my desk to check my email, he brought me the photo tripod. When I asked him what he was doing he replied, “working”. I unfolded the tripod and showed him how it worked and explained that the camera sits on top of the tripod. He repeated what I said in his own terms (like two-year-olds do) and then he looked me in the eyes and said, “get the camera”. To a photographer, that is a very meaningful thing. For a whole second I became excited and felt weightless, almost like I could fly. So I got out the camera, planted it on top of the tripod and proceeded to show him how to use it. He had a great time snapping photos of Daddy, and I started snapping photos of him. I know it’s a silly story, but he really made my day by becoming interested in my passion. Some day he may completely lose interest in photography, but we had this moment, and to me it was timeless and as long as my memory works, I’ll have it!

Son learning photography


Letting Go of Technology: What Annoys Me About Smart Phones

It seems like everywhere you turn these days people are talking about how great technology is and what smart phone that they are using. What wireless service do you have? Is it a 3G or 4G network? Did you check out those new apps for your wireless device? Well friends, I’m not going to do those things. However, I’ve decided to make my own declaration: I’m going to say good bye to technology and hello to freedom and solitude.

But why? Why give up the amazing gadgets that are hitting the markets right now, like the Android, the iPhone, the iPad and so many other new wireless devices that supposedly make our lives more fun and easy?

Because I don’t need them – that’s why!

The other day I overheard some friends discussing some the latest technology for their smart phones – a phone application that helps you select what clothes you are going to wear. I believe the app is called “Cool Guy”, and it’s for the iPhone. I couldn’t help but laugh.

Bride at Wedding Being Photographed with Cell Phone Camera

Now some of my readers are probably saying, “oh, wow!” “Where can I get this app?”

And if that’s the case for you, then that’s ok I suppose. Just click on the link above. But, I’ve decided that downloading and looking for new apps is not for me. Don’t get me wrong, I like new technology and I’ve been down the smart phone road already. In fact, I’m quite amazed by the iPad and the latest iPhone (for the most part). But my situation is not necessarily one that fits into the young, single, tech-savvy model of American smart phone/device user. I’m married with a 2-year-old boy, I work about 50-60 hours/week, and I stay busy on most days with not much down time to tinker with new tech toys. Much of the time I’m near a computer, which means I’m accessible via email during the day, thus all but negating my need for a wireless device with email capability. And I’m still searching for the smart phone app that I just could not live without.

Another thing I did was to visit my bank and inquire about my checking account balance. The bank teller assured me that I don’t have thousands of dollars just lying around, which means I probably don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to purchase a new smart phone or iPad, and conversely, I won’t be required to purchase a special rate plan with my cell phone carrier that includes a “data package”, which in my opinion is expensive. Phew!! Thank goodness!

Instead, I cut the cord (or cut the wireless “cord”, if you will). I called my cell phone carrier company and told them that I wanted the cheapest cell phone plan that was available. While speaking with the cell carrier representative, I swear I heard a “thud” in the background which I assume was the cell carrier representative falling off of her chair. Ok, so that probably didn’t happen, but the woman on the other end of the phone line definitely seemed bewildered by my request, which made me feel all the more confident that I was doing the right thing.

So what’s your beef with smart phones?

As an aside, I have a few “beefs” with smart phones. I realize that technology is changing fast and what was slow or was poorly made yesterday is not the same today. But as a photographer, I get so tired of seeing these cloudy, murky, fuzzy pictures that are snapped on peoples smart phones. It always irks me when I see people depend so heavily on their cell phone camera to capture moments in time that can never be repeated, only to have an image that is all but worthless in the end. It just seems heartbreaking to me, especially when you are photographing friends and family.

My other beef with new phones is their delicacy. I’ve witnessed so many people with cracked or damaged smart phones. To their credit, the phones continue to work in many cases. But why do they have to be so delicate? Something that is meant to be taken with you and used in a mobile state should also be somewhat rugged and tough.

So to finish my story, I also visited my cell phone carrier store and let them know what I wanted to do (dump the smart phone, get a cheap cell plan). They attempted to talk me out of giving up my smart phone. The service representative reminded me of the great value that I was getting with my unlimited data package attached to my smart phone. But I didn’t give in and proceeded to select a simple, non-smart phone which I could utilize with my basic coverage package and which would cost nothing. The catch was that I had to sign a new contract with my carrier. But what I pay now monthly is a fraction of what I was paying before with my smart phone.

I no longer get emails on my phone which makes me feel more peaceful during the day. It  gives me the power to check email on my computer at my convenience. Sure, I can still be contacted by phone at any time, but these days it seems that no one likes to use their phone unless they are texting and emailing, which is ironic!

But I think the bigger question that we should be asking ourselves is why? Why do I need to make myself available 24 hours a day by phone? And why can’t I live without all these apps and better yet, all this technology? Personally, it is my opinion that too much technology and too much phone means that it is less possible for you to have some peace in your life. We should all be able to just turn things off at the end of the day and just rest in peace (but not in a morbid sense). I mean, do you really need to let all your Facebook friends know what you are doing every hour or to tweet every 20 minutes? (I think the answer should be emphatically, “no”.)

Have an opinion about this blog? Feel free to share your experience or opinion by posting a comment below!


My Favorite Austin Photographers

It seems like I do more than enough self promotion on my blog, specifically about the kinds of photography that Austin Americana does and the kind of clients we work with. But what about other photographers here in Austin, Texas? Austin is full of fantastic and wonderful photographers who specialize in all kinds of photography, from weddings to landscapes. Central Texas has an enormous pool of talented artists who regularly display their work in galleries and on websites for public viewing and enjoyment. So in the spirit of sharing and promoting others work and talent, I’d like to tell my readers about some of the talented photographers I’ve worked with or admired here in Austin. Eight of the nine artists listed below are people I’ve been taught by, worked with and/or consider a good friend.

Peter Tsai, Austin Photographer: http://www.petertsaiphotography.com

I met Peter while taking a photography class through the University of Texas Informal Classes. He is a very talented and soft spoken individual who never ceases to amaze me with his creativity and ideas. A particular favorite of mine is his “b-boy” photography, capturing break dancing in a beautiful way.

Joseph Pettyjohn, Austin Photographer: www.pettyjohnphotography.com/

Joe has to be one of the most relaxed, laid back photographers I know. I learned about landscape photography from him years ago during a UT Class. He specializes in landscape photography and is rarely without one of his trademark hats.

Tim Babiak, Austin Photographer: www.exquisitephotoaustin.com/

Tim is an amazing portrait photographer who is overflowing with knowledge and information about portraiture. His photos are truly exquisite (like his business name) and his enthusiasm for photography is second to none. I have attended several of his Photography MeetUp groups which he graciously hosts and teaches at his home in Austin.

Carlos Austin, Austin Photographer: http://www.austinphotography.com

I probably know more about wedding photography because of Carlos than any other single source. Carlos is a 3rd generation Texas photographer who photographs portraits and weddings. He is a true professional and he is a very experienced photographer and planner.

John Langford, Austin Photographer: http://www.johnlangford.com/

John is a master portrait photographer who tells stories through a single photograph, which is an amazing talent. He has a magnetic personality that provokes brilliant responses from his clients who are photographed in his studio. He also brings a level of eccentricity to his work that is creative and has led him on a world-wide journey recently.

Jason Wang, Austin Photographer: http://jwangphotography.com

Jason is a very good friend of mine who also happens to be a talented and up-and-coming photographer. He is capable of shooting a studio portrait one day, sports action shots the next and then following up with beautiful macro-photos of insects. He photographed my family portrait and has shot next to me on several important photographic assignments.

Jamie Kovach, Austin Photographer: http://jamiekovach.com

Jamie is a true art photographer at heart. She photographed weddings with me and eventually photographed my wedding. She has a knack for capturing images in a surreal, yet simple way. She has now taken on a new challenge, pursuing a master’s degree in fine arts photography – something that I have a sneaking suspicion she’ll be very successful with.

Kirk Tuck, Austin Photographer: http://www.kirktuck.com/

Although I must admit I’ve never met Kirk, I thoroughly enjoy reading his Austin Photography Blog, where he frequently discusses new photographic products, lighting and puts a personal spin on all things photography. He is inspiring and talented and perhaps one day I’ll have the opportunity to meet him.

Heather Wise, Austin Photographer: http://www.heatherwisephotography.com

Heather is a talented up-and-coming wedding photographer. She has worked with me on a number of weddings and bridal sessions. She is devoted to the trade of photography and has wonderful insight into her work and telling a wedding story.


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