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!
In the future (which starts now, and now…and now), I’m going to try to make more frequent, less detailed blog posts. I think that the future of business and of photography begins with better communication and connectedness, so I’m going to do my part as a photographer to stay connected with my photo clients and friends.
I’ll still have my standard lengthy, detailed blogs (usually 1-2 per week) that tell a story about a subject, like a wedding venue/couple that I photographed or about a particular topic; but I want to close the gap of going days without blogging, if possible, by making smaller “burst” blogs. My “burst” blogs will be short blogs or long if you compare them to Tweets.
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.
I frequently get requests by my photography clients to “Photoshop” – in or out something related to a photograph. This could be a bad tan, skin blemishes, teethe whitening or any number of other issues that can make people self conscious about their photograph. There are definitely some amazing things that you can do with Adobe’s famous Photoshop software, but my studio doesn’t use it. We use Adobe Lightroom – a powerful photo editor and manager for photographers who take lots of photos, especially for wedding photographers like myself. Although Lightroom doesn’t have the breadth of options provided in Photoshop, it still allows photographers to make amazing edits to photographs. Recently I photographed individuals for portrait sessions where the photograph would be featured in highly circulated publications (read: magazine). That means that my clients not only wanted to look their best, but they wanted to look even better – and that’s where the magic of photo editing comes in.
Originally, when I visualized writing this blog I wanted to talk about the specifics of what I did during the editing process and show the before and after photos of my clients. But there is such a marked, visual improvement when comparing the original photo and the processed photo that I decided against showing the original, mostly to avoid being flogged by my clients – which is a good thing! :) Why? Well, first of all I don’t enjoy getting flogged and not getting flogged is always a good thing. Second, I’ve noticed that such impressive improvements in a persons portrait always brings about smiles and a sense of well being in the client. Everyone wants to look and feel 10 years younger, so when I can provide a little help in that department I’m always glad to do so.
Like I said, these are the “after” photos, subsequent to the editing process. I was very pleased with the outcome and I hope that my clients were too.
In Round Rock, just east of IH-35 on Hairy Man Road there’s a beautiful little estate called Casa Blanca on Brushy Creek. Casa Blanca is a large plantation-style home situated on Brushy Creek within the Round Rock countryside. It can accommodate large groups or small groups for just about any event. It features a large ballroom with floor to ceiling windows overlooking a green pasture and a river, private rooms for bride and groom, a large pavilion for ceremonies/parties, acres of lush, green space for outdoor ceremonies/events, plenty of parking and more.
When I first photographed an event at Casa Blanca I fell in love with the place and had difficulty finding fault with it. My first impression was visiting Casa Blanca and meeting the owners, George and LeAnne, who were very kind and welcoming. They take great pride in the facility and enjoy being a part of every event held there.
Casa Blanca offers lots more than just beauty and majesty. They also offer many conveniences, such as in-house florist, DJ and more. Pricing is reasonable and you’re sure to enjoy all the conveniences offered in the city, available in the countryside.
These are photos from the last wedding I photographed at Casa Blanca: Monica & Eric’s Wedding. It was a joy to be a part of their big day and it was easily one of the more memorable weddings that I’ve photographed.
This week I started writing a blog about a fun location for engagement portraits in Austin but I got distracted while reading some Aldous Huxley. During my read Huxley made lots of references to paintings and art, areas that I’m not very educated in, and which precipitated some research on my part. During my search it occurred to me that it would be fun to bring some attention to paintings this week in my blog. I did some searching online and found what I think are some fun and interesting works of art, painted on canvas, related to brides.
I often wonder how people did things differently in the past. Even 50 years ago customs and habits and styles were very different than today. Yet we derive much of what we do today from our ancestral past. Chances are something we think of as new (even a thought) was probably considered and conceived before we were born. Our styles and customs are constantly evolving, and some might say devolving (consider the recent obsession with 1980s culture).
Without further ado, here are canvas paintings of brides from the past…
I wanted to take a moment to share 7 new, great reviews we received in the past few months with everyone who reads my blog. Recently I asked my clients to tell others on Yelp.com about their experience with myself and Austin Americana Photography. And I’m happy to say that many of our happy clients responded in larger than expected numbers. All of our clients had nothing but fantastic things to say about Austin Americana (we’re now rated 5 Stars!), which makes me feel like I’m doing the difficult job of being a wedding photographer well.
Unfortunately, Yelp.com (or it’s filtering software monster) doesn’t like too many good reviews at one time. Even though all 7 of our Yelp reviews were legitimate past clients of Austin Americana and were not paid or compensated for their reviews, Yelp.com will not allow 6 of the 7 reviews to be posted to the Austin Americana Yelp Page (the reviews were essentially relegated to Yelp’s “filtered” area where almost no one views them, and thus not available for easy viewing by future clients).
I’ve officially complained to Yelp about the problem, but I’m not holding my breath since the Yelp FAQ website states that all filtering is automated and not under the control of one individual (hard to believe, I know!) In the meantime, I’ve taken the liberty of posting these wonderful reviews that I’m so very proud of here on my blog for all past, present and future clients to see.
Again, I’d like to send out a big “Thank You” to all our happy clients who took time out of their busy schedules to tell others about their positive experience working with Austin Americana Photography. Thank you! All of the reviews are below…
You Can View Our YELP.COM Business Page Here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/austin-americana-photography-austin
Filtered and Unfiltered Recent Yelp Reviews For Austin Americana Photography:
1. 9/17/2010 5 Stars *****
The website photos are great! I can’t wait to see the photos from our wedding. Martin was very pleasant to work with and I recommend that you contact him if you are looking for a photographer for your special event!
- Anna K. – Austin, Texas
2. 9/16/2010 5 Stars *****
we are so pleased with our photos. Martin is extremely professional and warm in his demeanor. he arrived early to set up on a saturday morning to take photos of our doctors for our website. we recommend him highly and have already called on him again for another photo session.
- Sylvian U. – Austin, Texas
3. 9/9/2010 5 Stars *****
We would like to thank you for doing such an amazing job in making our Wedding day so special. We also thank you for showing such patience in a very long wedding. We knew that you had not done Indian Weddings before, but we felt relaxed after we had a sitdown with you few days before the wedding. We were confident that we were in safe hands.
Every moment big and small was perfectly captured.
We highly recommend Austin Americana Photography. The wedding pictures posted on http://austinamericanastudio.com truly speak about your work. What more do I have to say.
We are blessed too to have you as our photographer. Thank you for providing your services!!
- Pallavi and Praveen – Osseo, Minnesota
4. 9/2/2010 5 Stars *****
When I started planning my wedding, the only thing that I wanted to make sure was amazing and flawless were my wedding photos. Martin’s photos were just that. Martin went above and beyond my expectations. Every time I look at my photos, I’m sucked right back into that day, because his photos captured the mood and tell the story of my wedding moment by moment. Martin was very professional, showed up on time, and my photos were available to view before the promised date. You can’t go wrong with using Martin to take photos for any occasion.
- Monica O. – Austin, Texas
5. 9/1/2010 5 Stars *****
I met Martin and Michaela when they were traveling through our home town in Monteverde, Costa Rica. Martin used his incredible eye and talent to capture our community coffee house, The Common Cup. His photography has made a difference in our online presence, and I recommend his service if you need to capture the true essence of your business and project it in your marketing. Thanks Martin for what you do, and thanks for helping us here in Costa Rica!
- Kenneth L. – Monroe, Georgia
6. 8/31/2010 5 Stars *****
Martin did both our engagement photos and our wedding. Outstanding! His eye to catch the unscripted moments is priceless. We had to reschedule a couple of times for engagement photos due to weather, and Martin was most accommodating. His prices are reasonable and the extraordinary value received exceeds expectations. Martin goes above and beyond. We will be recommending him to our friends and family.
- Renee H. – Austin, Texas
7. 8/31/2010 5 Stars *****
I hired Martin twice to take photos of my extended family and then again of my immediate family. Both sessions were a success! His pictures were great each time. He is excellent at the formal type pictures as well as the spontaneous ones. He can do large groups and individual pictures without blinking an eye. Additionally, Martin is flexible in his dates and times and accommodated my schedule. He was always on time and I received my discs earlier than expected. His prices are very reasonable and he delivers quality work! I highly recommend him! Nina
- Nina J. – Round Rock, Texas
I recently read the following on the photo.net online discussion forum:
Question: “What makes a photo a fine art work (that is, special or good)?”
Answer: “When you say it is. The better answer is when others say it is.”1
While speaking in simple terms this is correct, surely we can explore the topic a little more deeply to find more significant answers to what makes a photograph great. According to iconic landscape photographer Ansel Adams, “A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.”2
Let’s refine our search a little and ask ourselves some questions. The first question we should be asking is what is the subject of the photograph or image? The most common problem encountered when attempting to create a great image is not establishing an obvious subject. Try to imagine what subject another person might see (if any) while viewing your photograph.
Is the photograph composed in an appealing way? Composition is probably the most elusive concept in photography because it is subjective (what one person likes another person may not) and because the rules of composition are concrete. Here are some important composition concepts to keep in mind:
Framing. Try to fill the image frame and make sure there are no voids within your image. There are exceptions to the rule, but there shouldn’t be open space that distracts from the subject.
Law of thirds. If you imagine your camera viewfinder as a tic-tac-toe-like grid where space is divided into thirds, it is considered more pleasing to the eye to place your subject where third lines intersect (instead of splitting your
image in half).
Photo Courtesy of Microsoft Corporation
Perspective. How your subject appears to the viewer determines perspective. Many times your subject can determine perspective as well. Here are some beautiful Examples of Different Perspectives3 which might better illustrate the concept.
Focus and exposure. Make sure your subject is in focus and exposed correctly. If everything else mentioned here is correct, but focus or exposure is not correct, your photograph’s message will likely be lost.4
There are more compositional ideas that were not discussed, but hopefully these give you some foundation to build upon. Now comes the overarching questions. Does the photo tell a story? Does it elicit emotion? Is there an inherent creativity about the image? Is it appealing to people from all walks of life?
If you’ve followed the compositional rules for photography laid out above, and you can answer the aforementioned questions with a resounding “yes”, then you’ve probably created a great photo. If taking good photographs were easy then you wouldn’t be reading an article about it. Every good photographer takes bad photos; what separates the good from the bad is continuous practice and always maintaining the personal resolve to capture a better photograph. Perhaps that is what defines a passion for photography.
To provide you with some photographic perspective and a starting point I’ll leave you with a quote. As legendary French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson once stated, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”5
So how many photographs have you taken today?
Martin Whitton is a professional wedding photojournalist who lives and works in Austin, Texas. See regular updates on Martin’s work additional wedding photographs, bio and more at http://www.austinamericanastudio.com/
1. Photo.net Forums. http://photo.net/philosophy-of-photography-forum/007Nad
2. PhotoQuotes.com. Ansel Adams. http://www.photoquotes.com/printableshowquotes.aspx?id=10
3. What makes a photo good? A Basic Checklist for Evaluating Photo Quality by Charlotte K. Lowrie. http://wordsandphotos.org/Commentary/WhatMakesAPhotoGood.htm
5. Digital Photography School. 10 Photography Quotes that You Should Know. http://digital-photography-school.com/photography-quotes
I just wanted to post a blog about a nice little award we (Austin Americana Photography – formerly Martin Whitton Photography) won earlier this year. We’re proud recipients and supporters of Wedding Wire!
Austin, Texas – January 19, 2010 -WeddingWire just announced Martin Whitton Photography (now Austin Americana Photography) has been selected to receive the 2010 Bride’s Choice Awards™ for Wedding Photojournalism!
The annual Bride’s Choice Awards™ recognizes and celebrates excellence in quality and service within the wedding industry, as determined by recent reviews and extensive surveys from over 500,000 newlyweds.
Martin Whitton Photography (Austin Americana Photography) is among the top five percent of all vendors in the WeddingWire community, which includes over 100,000 wedding professionals across the US and Canada. Awards were given to winners across 19 different service categories, from wedding venues to wedding photographers.
“We are excited to recognize and honor the success of the top wedding professionals within the WeddingWire Community” said Timothy Chi, WeddingWire’s Chief Executive Officer. “The annual Bride’s Choice Awards™ program has given us the unique opportunity to highlight the best wedding professionals in each region as reviewed by brides and grooms who have utilized their services in the past year.”
We are happy to announce that Martin Whitton Photography (Austin Americana Photography) is among the very best Wedding Photojournalism within the WeddingWire Network, which includes WeddingWire and Martha Stewart Weddings. We would like to thank our past newlyweds for nominating us for the 2010 Bride’s Choice Awards™.
For more information, please visit our home at http://www.austinamericanastudio.com or our WeddingWire Storefront today athttp://www.weddingwire.com/biz/martin-whitton-photography-austin/c8d28d772f4cdf36.html
Over the years I’ve seen lots of different wedding cake toppers. Some have been funny, some have been traditional and others have been unique. The wedding topper is like the flag that a ship flies; it sort of sets the tone and mood for a cake.
The old traditional topper was usually a depiction of a happy, in love bride and groom or of wedding bells. But these days there are a few new ones to choose from that give your cake a little personality and set it apart in some instances. What will your cake have on top?
Check out some of the memorable or favorite toppers that I’ve photographed over the past few years…
A few months back I blogged about how excited I was to announce a new addition to my wedding camera family: the Canon 5D Mark ii. While it probably doesn’t mean much to my wedding and portrait clientele that I’ve upgraded, to a photographer it means a lot. To the photographer it’s the difference in a full frame and partial frame sensor; greater flexibility in low-light situations; the ability to capture high-resolution HD video and more. Ultimately for my brides and grooms it means that they’ll be getting more great shots than ever with an increased quality in images that can be seen in the printing process.
I recently read an article that President Obama’s official portrait was taken with the Canon 5D Mark ii as well, which really surprises me. So now I’m telling my clients that if the Canon 5D Mark ii is good enough for our American President, then it’s definitely good enough for their wedding photographs. It’s definitely an exciting time for photography in America as we watch things change and evolve so quickly. I’m proud to be an American Photographer!
Did you know that there is an outdoor wedding chapel in Austin that is free?! Yes, I said free!
It’s called Chapel Dulcinea and it’s located about 20 miles south of downtown Austin on the way to Wimberley, Texas. It’s a beautiful (but small), open-air wedding chapel that is open to the public for usage. It’s architecture style can be described as southwestern adobe style, like you might see at a 1800s mission church somewhere in the Southwestern United States. It overlooks rolling hill country scrub brush and a wide open skyline. Chapel Dulcinea is a part of the Wizard Academy which describes itself as “a non-profit organization teaching the communication arts.”
One of the first weddings I ever photographed was at Chapel Dulcinea, so it is a place that has some personal significance and meaning in my life. There’s something very spiritual about the open nature and architecture of the chapel itself as soft breezes pass through the columns atop the Texas hill where it sits. Being there makes you feel like you are taking a trip back in time to some old Texas village, where life was slower and simpler.
Chapel Dulcinea at the Wizard Academy also offers a free outdoor pavilion, the ability to rent chairs and tables, indoor reception facilities for rent and a large, wide open campus which is all on private property and secluded. There is ample parking and facility staff are always onsite during business hours.
Is your wedding date available at Chapel Dulcinea? See their website for more details about registration and to determine if your wedding date is available on the Chapel Dulcinea Calendar.
My name is Martin Whitton and I’m an Austin, Texas wedding photojournalist. I’ve lived in Austin (and now in Pflugerville) for about 10 years. I’m a native Texan. My family settled in North Texas in the mid 1800s, where I resided until I went off to college. I recently married the most beautiful and intelligent woman I’ve ever met and we now have a 1 year old son together who is more loving and clever than you could imagine.
I’ve been shooting weddings since 2006 and last year I photographed over 70 different events, including more than 30 weddings. But photographing lots of weddings doesn’t make me a great photojournalist or the right match for a particular bride and groom. I ask each couple that I meet with to look at my work and to get to know me and discover whether I’m the right fit for the most important day of their life: Wedding Day!