Bays Mountain Hiking

Bays Mountain Park

I'm still on vacation as this hits the site and should be relaxing in the sun or something but here I am. I don't relax well, and I never stop working. Whether that's thinking about blog topics, looking for locations, editing, learning new techniques, or approaching new people. Being a small business owner is hard. Very hard, but I still love spending time doing thing's I love and doing that with people I care about so last weekend we decided to take the kids hiking. We love overnight trips, and the kids are showing interest in joining us so we are "training" for a longer hike. We loaded them up with light packs and headed to Bays Mountain Park.  Bays Mountain is special to us, as Natasha and I were married here but love to take the kids to see the animals and hike the trails surrounding the lake.  This is exactly what we did. I'm not writing much, but here are the images from our day.  All images were taken with my Fuji Xpro2 and my Xf16mm lens. #onelensandgo

Correction, the wifi ended up being so slow that I decided to wait until I was back home to upload this post. I just got in a few hours ago from second shooting a wedding with the brilliant Katy Sergent and uploading some pictures from the beach and remembered it was time to post this. So here it is.

 This is not a perfect image, but this is the spot where Natasha and I were married so this means more to me than all the perfect lighting in the world.  Amazing how things have changed Sweetpea.

This is not a perfect image, but this is the spot where Natasha and I were married so this means more to me than all the perfect lighting in the world.  Amazing how things have changed Sweetpea.

In case you notice my tee shirt and new stickers, I thought I would share that I am currently an ambassador for AwakeThe Soul. Their moto is "Stay positive, be happy and live free", and they share passion for the outdoors and adventure as well. Go check them out. 

Behind the Lens

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I find myself constantly thinking and looking for ways to improve like most of us do. in business and in life. I often find that sometimes, I do this to the point of checking out of real life sometimes as well. One of those moments was on my drive down on vacation where I am currently writing this today. 
It's a beautiful Monday morning in June, my feet are up and I hear the waves crashing on the beach below me. The boys are still sleeping as everyone else starts the day. The power and size of the ocean mesmerize me and remind me how small we truly are. As I mentioned above, on my drive to the beach over the weekend, I found myself deep in thought, contemplating new and better ways to serve my clients. I found myself daydreaming about big things coming with Wes and with Throat Punch Productions.  I try not to get ahead of myself in these moments because of some previous business failures, but this feels different. This is different.  This post isn't about that, not yet. This is about the hard stuff and what happens when cameras are put in the bag ( my Ona bag is preferred ) and we aren't editing. I am sure this is different for everyone, and I'm not going to get into my hobbies in this post. I wanna drop all the BS and talk about my family. 
Yesterday was fathers day and I was greeted with Happy Fathers Day from the kids and my wife and the sweetest letters, they each wrote to me.  I loaded the kids up and off to the flea market we went because they wanted popsockets LOL. I immediately regretted this decision. Too many kids, coupled with too many distractions, meant my anxiety was through the roof. After a ridiculously long line to get coffee and driving all over to find crushed ice for Tosh, we were finally back at the resort to play. In an ideal world, I would relax more, maybe with a cold drink all day watching the kids play but that is never what happens. This year in particular as we are now a family of 6, we find ourselves dividing and conquering more every day, but for a few laughter-filled minutes, I was hurling the kids in the air, and was greeted with "Do it again".  Then we were taking turns doing cannonballs, and can openers off the edge of the pool making tons of ruckus. Before long, Jahim was jumping in mimicking everything we did. So I made sure to make conversation with him and introduce myself and the kids. I am very grateful for how easily most of the kids make friends everywhere we go and can talk to anyone just like I do but..
I had a thought this morning when I woke, this isn't the post I had in mind on my drive in, but one I wanted to write anyway. I find myself always looking for interesting people to photograph. I have even handed a business card to a lady at a Mcds drive-thru window once because how compelled I was to work with her. ( still waiting on her, unfortunately) I am not this forward usually, and that's what today is about.  If you have ever met me, I hope I spoke, I hope the encounter was a good one, and if it wasn't then you probably suck. I am just saying. But I have this weird self-conscious feeling when approaching someone asking to photograph them.  I don't get it. I can speak to anyone I pass hiking with a smile and good wishes. I have no problem striking up a conversation with strangers on the elevator every day I'm here but this is different. WTH
I actually fell asleep thinking about this last night because yesterday there was a moment on the beach that I wish I had my camera, any camera to capture but a moment was missed. Several were actually. As I was laying on the air mattress waiting for sleep carry me away, something clicked.  To me making your photograph isn't just about capturing an image. It is not just about freezing a moment in time. Photography for me is personal. It is an intimate moment between myself and the other person or people involved. It's important to me to have meaningful relationships with clients. I have wanted to create a Thru-Hiker book for myself but I think the thought of simply stopping someone for only a moment to take an image is selfish, and that the craft deserves more. Images deserve a damn story, people. They deserve our attention. They deserve our focus. Social media makes everyone want it now, and they are moving on. No more.  I want to know who I'm taking photos of, what makes them happy, and what makes them hurt. Only in a true conversation, a true experience, can I capture what I have been chasing since picking my camera up the very first time. Realness. Brokenness. Laughter. Pain. Acceptance. Loss. Love. Respect

Don't get me wrong, I love all things street photography and candid moments, but I want more planned real emotion in imagery too.

So I'm challenging myself, maybe while I am still here at the Beach or when I get home to approach more people. Be real with them so they can be real with me. Capture images that captivate, but tell a story and believe it or not, all stories aren't fairytales with happy endings. I believe those stories long to be told just as much and maybe even more deservingly so. This isn't a normal post for me but I'm going to try and be more open and honest in at least one post a week to help myself grow as well. I also want to write once a week about something that sucks for me or that is hard for me because I think it is only fair.  I want to capture you in all stages of life, so why can't I bring you into a little of my life weekly?  I will also VLOG again soon as well.
J
#throatpunchproductions 

 

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Leonard and Sarah's Wedding

Dramatic portraits make me happy

So a few weeks ago I had the extreme pleasure of capturing moments like the one above for this happy couple. You may recall the image of them we captured during the engagement session at Hungry Mother State Park on the bridge over the lake. Meeting them that day for the first time, I quickly knew we would have a great time working together. They are so in love, and they share that love for Leonard's son Jake that I also had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with. Those moments led up to the big day, and that's what I am writing about now. Before I get much further here is a short video I shot, that my good friend Wes and partner at Throat Punch Productions put together for me on the fly. Take a sec to check it out then I will meet you on the other side.

 

I hope you watched it and left some feedback. I would love to do more of them and I learned a lot from the first attempt. Stay tuned for more of that and Wes wrote more about our new venture HERE. He is a much better writer than I am. Ok, back to the newlyweds. Sarah and Leonard were married at her church in Marion, VA. It is a small church established in 1859 with a stunning wooden door and high ceilings. The church also sets at the base of several mountain ranges so it was a perfect backdrop for such an incredible day. 

The weather was moody to say the least but we were blessed to miss almost all of the rain and had the opportunity to be out side for shots like this.

I love how engaged they are with one another here.

The ceremony was lovely and the church quickly filled with friends and family of the couple. Immediately following the service, even though the pastor almost forgot to have them kiss LOL, we had a few minutes for portraits just of the new Husband and Wife before packing up and heading to the reception several miles away, also at Hungry Mother State Park. This was amazing because we wanted to remake the photo I mentioned above, and thought the weather would refuse us the opportunity but once again, fate was on our side.

 From the wedding day :)

From the wedding day :)

Ok I know  I am rambling so I will leave the rest of the story to be told visually through the images from the day. Let's go!

I usually keep my blog post's to a few images but wanted to incorporate moments from the entire day for a change. This couple was so much fun to be around and so was their entire family. I had multiple people stop and speak about the engagement pictures or to express their gratitude for being there. Often it's the small things that make a day special, and together I think we truly told the story of Sarah + Leonard Gardner!

All of the last images below were shot on 35mm film, and developed by The Darkroom Lab. I want to really shoot more and more on film, so be watching for those soon.

Shot on film

 The couples stamp

The couples stamp

 The Grandparents of the Bride

The Grandparents of the Bride

 Beautiful Church for the wedding.

Beautiful Church for the wedding.

First experience shooting 35 mm and I'M SOLD!

Today as I was working and hanging with the kids, my inbox alerted me that one of my best friends, Wes had written a new blog post. This is cool for several reasons. To see what I mean you will simply have to go check it out for yourself, HERE. He is much better at writing regularly and at writing in general. It reminded me, I haven't written all week. While I love sharing my work with you, I also love expressing my thought's and such just as much. I have said it in the past, but for me, writing is also a release and therapeutic in nature. I have been rambling about my new fascination with shooting film, and this week when I received my scans from The DarkRoom Lab that took on a whole new meaning for me. I was so damn excited to see if my cameras were actually working, but to see those images that I cant flip through on the back of my camera. They were all brand new to me once more, and man that is a lot of fun. They are also tangible, as my negatives are being mailed back to me now. They also required little, if any work in post-processing after getting them. Are they perfect? Only in the way they make me feel, and how they let me relive those small moments in our life together. Because isn't that what we as photographers are supposed to be doing? We provide this for everyone else, so it was refreshing to be on the receiving end of an online gallery. Even though I took every shot, it was still amazing to get. I felt like I had finally found a meaning and purpose. So I am going to run with it. I'm going to shoot lots more film. I am also offering prints of past work and specific prints of my film work. It needs to be held, admired and displayed. Ok so in keeping this short, all images below were shot on 35mm film, with my Minolta Dynax 5 ( thank you Robin Collins ) and processed at The DarkRoom. The black and white is either Kodak tri-x 400 or Ilford HP5, and the color shots are Fujifilm Superia 400.  If you are interested in prints, there is a new tab located on the top of my home page.

 

As always, I am grateful you stopped by. I always appreciate comments and suggestions. So until the next one, #filmsnotdead 

Alex

Carvers Gap, where more often than not, fantasy becomes reality! I write about this location often and passionately for several reasons. I grew up in Roan Mountain, went to school there and until I was 18 it was my home. The sad part about this is, while living here I never visited Carvers Gap. Like never. I'm very glad that I have found the amazement that it offers at this point in my life, as far too often I think we live our entire lives and miss the magic around us daily. Growing up and attending school here led me to meet Sundae. I think we may have even rode the bus together after my parents moved closer to my grandparents. I say that because today's post is about Alex, Sundae's daughter. I had never met or spoken to Alex prior to our session but that was not an issue because she is awesome. Sundae and I went back and forth on a few dates as the weather was insane this year and ever-changing and at this point, I also believe its because we were supposed to be on the Roan on this particular day. You can never truly predict the weather on the top of the Roan, and today was one of those days where every few minutes, it changed. This was a bit of a challenge as a photographer, but one I gladly welcome anytime. Let me start in the parking lot.

Once we finally found a suitable day and the time was set, we were good to go. We agreed to meet at the trailhead parking lot for introductions and to strategize. This never takes more than a few minutes, so we donned our rain jackets, umbrellas, and were afoot. Luckily the rain never really set in and never developed into something unusable. We were greeted with dramatic racing clouds over us and the mountain tops, misting rain, and even had a brief appearance of a rainbow. I mean minus a unicorn or bigfoot running out of the neighboring woods, what else could I ask for? As an adventure photographer, an avid fan of anything AT, I was enchanted. I'm not great with words and will not try to be, but will simply let the imagery speak for me. I hope you find the joy, the excitement, the wonder in these that I do. Alex was incredibly patient with my direction, open to any and everything I threw at her and with a lovely smile the entire time. I truly couldn't ask for more. I would love to know if you have a similar place that you love to frequent and I'm always open to more unique experiences like this one was. Now to the meat and potatoes, because what post by a photographer is complete without pictures?

As always, all images shot with my Fuji Xpro2 and combination of my xf16mm and xf90mm lenses. 

“We clutch that picture to our hearts because we expect each other to always be the people in that picture. But people change. People aren’t pictures. And you can either take a new picture or throw the old one away.”
— https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/18278582-i-wrote-this-for-you

Different Approach

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I just finished up prom season here in East Tennesee and moved right into wedding season. I'm writing this as a part confession, part growth.  I will start with the confessing. I hate prom season.  I did in the past is a better way to word that. I found myself feeling that prom season was something I was expected to do but often found myself feeling constrained by it.  Young adults dressing up in clothing they would usually not wear,  wearing flowers that make their movement cumbersome, and some of them are together but others are not. The latter also present's it's own issues in posing and making them comfortable. I don't feel that I charge enough for the service I offer but I also know these prom photos may turn into senior portrait session's and I can't get enough of those! So this year I made a point to myself. I made it a goal to find a better way to shoot prom. I promised myself, that I would provide something different for my clients, and I'm glad to say I crushed that goal like a boss. What did I do differently you may ask?
 
Ok so if you have ever read any of my blogs, or any of my Instagram post's ( come on are you still not following me? Really? Go on then. www.instagram.com/jeremy.gouge )  you may know that I love portraiture. I love all lighting and finding the light in every situation.  So I took some time to myself and decided that prom pictures are simply high fashion portraits. Then it clicked! Approach these sessions like I would a fashion session. I didn't concentrate on the clothing the same way but I wanted to shoot every couple as I would a model. I took this approach to every prom session I booked, and hope every gallery expressed my new method. I hope this new technique was evident in the final products. I hope that we made Prom memorable and unique. I had the extreme pleasure of working with new people, returning clients, and made future clients as well. One client was eager to book again, the moment she saw the first sneak peak. This is what makes what I do worth every second.  I'm not flooding this post with images, flip back to my Prom Season is bringing heat blog or my IG ( because you actually went and followed me right? ) to get a glimpse at those. I'm simply writing this to remind anyone else that reads it, there is always another way, a different approach, but always stay true to who you are. I hope everyone has an amazing Holiday Weekend.
J

Frame the Feels!

pappaw's things

 

 

I often work with couples and families that have never met me, and while this is exciting and a little scary, it can provide some challenges. I've been told that my appearance is somewhat intimidating to those who don't know me on a personal level. The funny thing about this is despite my outward appearance, I am very easy to get along with. I am also very comfortable taking charge of the session when the need arises. Some of these points I'm sure I've made in the past, but I'm also a very determined person, so let's move on. What I want to speak about today is something that is a little uncomfortable for me at times. Ready to hear what that is? What makes me take a deep breath before speaking? Ok, so what could possibly make a grown man, who is heavily tattooed and weathered by life uncomfortable? A specific conversation is what. Doesn't make sense? Well now you will know how I feel starting this talk every time. Let me paint a different picture quickly before diving in with both feet. Take a moment, think of anyone in your life, either past or present that has influenced you in a monumental way. Got it? Come on, we don't have all day here......... Ok, times up. Now picture this person that you’re thinking of. I'll use my grandfather for my example here. I only knew one of my grandfathers in this life, and he was enough on his own. He was funny, aggravating, a hard worker and loved me and all of us grandchildren immensely. I was the first grandson, and he was a father of 5 girls ( my mom and aunts in case you’re not paying attention ) so I was also the first boy period for my grandfather. This is a title, I hold very dear but often know I wasn't the grandson he always wanted. I didn't want to hunt, work the farm, stomp out the cow shit patties, or watch Nascar on Sundays. I was an athlete early on and that was my jam, heck still is. #crossfit

This didn't mean he didn't love me and spoil me rotten. We still had our truck rides, which is something I love to do now with my boys. We had 8 track tapes, Ray Stevens, and Jerry Clower joking along the way. I did go hunting with him on a few occasions and those usually ended badly, with me stomping through the woods, falling in the creeks and never shooting anything but the breeze, but I was glad to be there because he was there. I am honestly pretty emotional even thinking back on these details, as I haven't thought of them for many years. I told my story to say this- When he passed away, he allowed me to choose one of his rifles to keep as my own. Being the first and oldest boy, I chose first. I didn't choose the 30/30 or other high caliber options, I went with the nicest looking one, the .22 bolt action. So anytime to this day I hear or see anything related to a .22 caliber, I think of his gift to me and the time we had. I don't think about how sick he was in the end, but just how excited he was to scare me every Halloween, the candy he snuck me anytime I was sick that he called medicine, and how he would act so mad as I pressed his knee down as hard as I could to make the truck go faster. He was the best.

Ok, so you have your person in mind, yes? Ok, what do you think of when you think of them? Is it a material possession, a special place, a moment, or one of their favorite things? ( my papaw ate circus peanuts, orange foam, gross candies ) Ok -so if you were having a photoshoot with me, or anyone else and somehow we can incorporate those memories into your story, how much more are you connected to the process and the final product? Would you not want a photo of that on your wall to remember in every passing? Maybe you’re engaged and you have a special thing that only you share with one another. My wife will squeeze my hand 3 times to non-verbally say she loves me. So if I see a photo of our hands, or hands in general, I think of her. It may seem silly, but having that conversation often times makes my couples feel bad. They feel bad if they don't have something like this and those aren't my intentions. I am your biggest fan, especially when my camera is on you, so the last thing I want to do is sow doubt or make anyone feel bad. So when you're planning your session with me, (because come on, you didn't read all of this to choose to hang out with anyone else) think about it, take this into consideration. Consider how you can make the session even more memorable for your special person. Maybe they are a sports fan and you can sneak their favorite hat away to incorporate. Maybe its butterfly kisses, or Eskimo kisses. Maybe it's simply a tee shirt you picked out together for the first camping trip you took together ( we had those too right Sweetpea? #hotspringsNC ) or the first concert you went to. Maybe it's only a reference to a specific time that we can work in together. Basically, you are required to participate to produce the best possible outcome. Can I direct you? Yes, until I am blue in the face if needed. Can the images be stunning with none of the above ever happening? Every single time yes! Guess what- an image isn't special because its technically perfect, or sharp as a tact. It gains its power over us and our emotions for HOW IT MAKES US FEEL. Let's make something that means more than a glimpse in time on your facebook wall. Go on back to my homepage, scroll to the bottom and contact me today to start planning something unique.

Weekend thoughts

coffee and blackberry

I'm writing this today, on a rainy dreary Sunday. I want to say it's a lazy day, relaxing with my family and enjoying the rhythm of the rain dancing on the roof of our home, as the droplets race one another to the bottom of the window glass, but I can not. Home from church, and to the laptop I retreat. I had a busy week of photo shoots, edit sessions, and endless errands for the family. I am happy to say that I have completed all session's from last weekend and delivered those galleries as a result of long hours editing away. As soon as I was delivering gallery after gallery, I was blessed to follow those up with session after session. I love being busy, and capturing the little moments that others will overlook, and that is easily forgotten if not for my being present. I'm currently sitting at Jaryn's school as he prepares for his band performance, and wouldn't you know it, laptop in tow. I'm writing this as other families walk in, socialize with one another, and enjoy the day together. The rest of my family is in NC celebrating Brynn's second birthday and I can't wait to see the photos from her party. As I was driving us here, I stopped for more coffee and a thought hit me. When do we stop? I'm very aware that from the outside looking in, it probably seems like being self-employed and working from home is a dream job, and in ways, you would be absolutely correct.  I am forever grateful that I'm available when my boy's need me. I'm grateful to my wife for providing a life that allows me to live my dream. I'm grateful to cook, pick up groceries, clean toilets, and take care of our fur baby Cinder. But what happens when we are not on location for your photo shoot? Some people simply believe we show up, take some images, deliver those images and sit back counting the riches. Well, you're wrong. 

What often goes unnoticed are the small details that go into creating your session and making it the experience it should be. We don't wake up, find a random camera and decide we need x amount of dollars to show up and be present. We don't run on the automatic setting's hoping for the best. There is time involved that is never mentioned in quotes and bids for jobs. I love what I do, and every day I'm reminded how blessed I am to do something I adore as often as I do. I'm blessed that 99% of my clients and friends always come back to me for every life event they would like memorialized. I'm grateful for that, and I'm grateful for getting to meet new people from referrals of my past clients. I am also grateful for my family who support me without question ( mostly lol ) and who see my value on the days I am far from seeing it myself.  I say all of this to remind anyone who is reading this, that there are so many things to consider when hiring a photographer, but there are also many, many things to take into consideration that you receive when hiring the correct person. You gain a relationship, a friendship, and contact. You get to work with someone who will sacrifice their sleep on your behalf. They will work in between sets to write a blog post to hopefully remind someone that you are getting more than just a final product. We run multiple social media accounts, and they are ever changing so we are also studying new algorithms on the constant. We host and update websites to try and get our vision to the masses, we spend hours editing those images we captured for you. We spend hours learning our equipment so there are no hiccups during your time with us. We have to constantly change, evolve, upgrade equipment ( this stuffs not cheap people ) all to probably compete with someone much much cheaper, and much less experienced because far too often value is associated with cost. I hope you consider these few of many points I've made when shopping next. Shop local, shop small business and reward the people who want to bring you the small victories day in and day out. Reward yourself with a truly unique experience that box stores cant provide and that you deserve. When anyone works with me, I strive to be present. My phones away unless needed, I'm the runner if things are forgotten, I'm the pep talk every step of the way, and I'm the guy with a throat tattoo that will move crowds when needed. I was pleasantly surprised to walk into one of my newest, but not forever clients store this past week, where she met me with applause. This wasn't needed but the simple fact that she was glad I was there and was excited to see her gallery in person. It's the small things like this as silly as it may sound that makes what I do truly special.  Long story short, THANK YOU to anyone I have ever worked with and for everyone that is to come. I'm not finished yet!!
I have 2 more sessions to finish from yesterday so they are coming soon, very soon. 
Jeremy

Prom season is bringing heat

Prom season is bringing heat

“Never apologize for how you feel. No one can control how they feel. The sun doesn’t apologize for being the sun. The rain doesn’t say sorry for falling. Feelings just are” 
― Iain S. ThomasIntentional Dissonance

Hungry Mother State Park and Love!

Love and canoes

I have had the pleasure of speaking to Sarah for months, planning her wedding to Leonard and getting to know them along the way. I was actually blessed to be referred to them by my friend Jeremy, who was unavailable on the big day. They live over an hour away from me and we had never met, that is until Sunday before last! We tried several times to plan the engagement session, and with the crazy weather we have had here in the South, it was harder than it should have been to put into works. We finally found a day that worked for us both and in the books, it went. I started the day at Church, followed by a meeting also at the church by our media director to plan some volunteer opportunities.  My family went their separate ways, so I headed on toward Virginia, en route to my session. I had a little time on my hands, so I swung by one of my favorite places and took a few photos for myself. Those can be seen here.

After a short relaxing walk in the woods, off to Chilhowie, I went.  This is exciting for several reasons for me.  I was meeting them both for the first time, and hoping to visit Hungry Mother State Park for the first time as well. All the first's! I was pleased to drive up to Sarah's parent's house and there were jeep's everywhere. My kind of people. Leonard even had an axe mounted on his roof rack, and I took this as a good sign.  A good sign it was as we talked music and the park and they really are like minded people and enjoyed being outdoors as much as I do. At one point during the shoot, Leonard's son ran his hand across the bridge and ended up with a nasty splinter. Leonard was quick to pull out his trusty pocket knife and free the debris caught in his son's hand. This may seem like a silly detail to include but, if you know me at all you know I have a passion for knives myself and have done this same thing for my own children ( and clumsy self ) multiple times, so the moment resonated with me on a deep level. 


We easily got lost in our journey and our mission to capture the love between them while exploring the beautiful park that it is. We overlooked the lake, waited patiently for the wind to work with us and not against us, and then ducked in behind a wall of kayaks and canoes. I truly enjoyed meeting and working with them both and look forward to capturing their wedding in a few short weeks. 

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Yes you want a professional! EVERYTIME

Self Reflection for this lovely lady

I am still new to vlogging and hope that each shows improvement along the way. If I'm honest I don't particularly enjoy doing them, but if only one person finds them helpful, entertaining or insightful then its worth the effort. I am still very uncomfortable in front of my camera and I can see the benefits of that. I hope it helps me relate to those who do it so much better than myself but also help me relate to my clients who I ask to be themselves in front of my camera. I say that to announce that going forward I am going to try a few things different, one of which is to be more genuine regardless of whose feathers I ruffle. Heck, maybe that will even help my views LOL. This video touches on how I have learned the value of what I do for a living, to other. How my capturing your moments is so much more than a few pictures to look back on some time. I strive to record your life with those you adore, and of yourself. I do not have near enough people shooting for themselves in my opinion. I had an engagement session this past weekend in Chilhowie, Va and it was the first time we ever met. This is always exciting to meet new people, and hear how they met and the try and capture the love story which is so genuinely there own. We were talking about whether the groom to be should tuck his shirt in or not and when they asked my advice I was quick to say " I want you to be yourself and the as comfortable as possible." He decided that untucked was the way, and when I explained that I was there to tell their story not to write it for them, that I had a moment of clarity. At that moment I realized that is exactly what my goal is in every situation, at every session, and for every wedding, I'm blessed to record. This is a reason you should hire a professional. Anyone can show up and push the button when asked. A professional will be early to learn the location, it's lighting, the best options for your time together and work with you to create something special. This is not a stab at the newcomer or what has quickly been dubbed the "soccer moms with cameras" and for the record, this means soccer dads too but the men are far outnumbered in my opinion. We all start somewhere but the proper way to do that is to assist and second shoot for others, not just hope for the best and as the client, you shouldn't be ok with that either. You should KNOW going in that there is nothing left to chance, this doesn't mean that "shit doesn't hit the fan" and things go wrong. Cameras can malfunction and memory cards can fail but hopefully, this will be something your photographer is prepared for as much as one can be. Life is so short, trust your memories to someone who cares about them as much as yourself. I care about my clients, their thoughts, opinions, emotions, and expectations. If you are reading this and have never worked with me, I guarantee it will be a positive experience. I'm going to lead you when you needed, encourage your face off, and cut up every chance I get! So without further delay, here's my latest video. I apologize if the audio is off. I shot this one on my phone instead of mv Fuji Xpro2. Please like, comment and let me know how you agree, disagree and I would be open to some hard feedback as well. I'm tough enough to take it.

Creativity and why you should bring yours to your session!In

In this VLOG I discuss how bringing your own version of creativity to your session and how that is beneficial. Since I'm trying this new format I would love to hear thoughts about what you like or dislike about this VLOG vs my old blog. Lets go-

I truly appreciate you stopping by here and listening to me even when I couldn't find my thoughts lol. I am not above laughing at myself obviously. Here is the link to Katy's Blog as promised for you adventurous people, HERE

J

Where do you find inspiration?

 I love candid black and white street photography

I love candid black and white street photography

As photographer's we can easily lose our inspiration if we are shooting all the time, and if those moment's are solely for clients. What? Did I just admit that I struggle with inspiration, ABSOLUTELY. Its scary to admit and I do not feel that this hinders my work, but I am painfully aware that it has kept me from pushing myself to my fullest potential at times. I think if we all could be completely honest with ourselves we could admit that in an ideal world we would create something unique, all the time, and only accept the jobs that truly moved us. I know this is a reality for me some days. Being conscious of this, keeps me checked, and allows me to focus on whats most important, and that its not me or my desire all the time. It reminds me how important what we as photographers do. Do I strive to shoot the jobs that move me most, of course and will continue to push and develop my craft toward that prize but will also put all of myself into every client along the way. I will try to make connections stronger, build more lasting relationships than ever before.  Below I have several images, all taken with my beloved Fuji Xpro 2 and either my xf16mm, or xf90mm lens. These were for myself and even a few of myself. Looking to express how this world is such an incredible place to live if we can only look up from our phones once in awhile and take it all in!

“It is the the photographer’s movements, perspective and experience that are being depicted in any given picture.”

-Antonio d' Agata

What does our work say about our experiences? Our perspectives and movements? One of the quotes, I have become very attached to in an interview with Antonio d'Agata. His work is not for the faint of heart nor is it pretty and pleasant but it is RAW and REAL and EMOTIONAL.

 

parking lots, abandoned , cracks

"X"

Crossing into nothingness 

self portrait, me, xpro2, shutter drag

Self

In the everyday world, a world which affords comforts, encourages fear and supports silence, lies, hypocrisy, cynicism and laziness, people protect themselves to the point of numbness,ending up lifeless.- Antonio d’Agata
— https://www.americansuburbx.com/2014/03/asx-interviews-antoine-dagata-simple-desire-exist-2014.html

All of the above images were taken in Downtown Johnson City, Tennessee and the self portraits in our home. I find inspiration for my work in many places, mostly nature and my family, but also by other artists. I've said many times Ryan Muirhead is currently at the top of my list, followed by countless others. I have an Instagram problem. LOL

Before and After Portraiture

F1.8, 1/100th, 55mm, ISO 50

So I have been considering topics to blog for 2 days and actually set the matter aside as I was busy with other things, then I decided to re-edit some of my favorite images and upon doing so came up with this brilliant plan. Don't mind my sarcasm here lol. I think its easy to see photography or images we like and hit the like button, or slam that heart if your on Instagram. ( everyone should be on IG, its my favorite ) I think often times, that as photographers some members of society think we charge our rates to simply show up and push the button. Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows, I kid around about just pushing the button but when it comes down to it I do much more than that.  The details of how I work on a shoot are ( cue dramatic action film intro music please) coming to this blog in the near future so I won't waste anytime on that today. So what I'm doing is posting a few images below and that will start with the RAW or SOOC image and then the edited image along side it. I hope this achieves several things. I hope to express how much time and effort is put into my work when no one is watching, and honestly I hope to prove that "having a friend with a camera" doesn't mean that you should actually trust them to capture moments in this life that you want to pass down and remember for years to come but also appreciate for what they are as a whole. I spent all day today re working these images and most of them have never been seen as they are images I never released from the initial shoot.
Ok, about the shoot to start. My friend and fellow photographer Nathan Mays, in the off seasons invites groups of fellow creatives to his studio in Bristol to hang out, network and sometimes we shoot.. these images came from that night. All images where shot with my previous camera, the Sony A7ii and the Zeiss 55mm lens. Lighting was provided by Nathan ( thank you ) and we used his Alien Bee Einstein Strobe heads. If I ever find myself in the place where I need a studio again. Einstein's will be my lighting of choice in case anyone wonders how I feel about them.
Haley, and Lilly were invited to model for the group and I remember Nathan whispering to me that someone needs to start shooting, the models where ready and no one was taking advantage of them being there for us.. So here I went! Not sure his trigger would even work on my camera body, but luckily it did. The images below are the results.  Ill list camera exif below each set for any photographers who might be curious.

BEFORE

F1.8, 1/125th, ISO 50

  AFTER

AFTER

  BEFORE   F1.8, 1/125th, ISO 50

BEFORE

F1.8, 1/125th, ISO 50

 AFTER

AFTER

 BEFORE  F 1.8, 1/100th, ISO 50

BEFORE

F 1.8, 1/100th, ISO 50

 AFTER

AFTER

 BEFORE  F 2.5, 1/160th, ISO 50

BEFORE

F 2.5, 1/160th, ISO 50

 AFTER

AFTER

 BEFORE  F 2.5, 1/1250th, ISO 50

BEFORE

F 2.5, 1/1250th, ISO 50

 AFTER

AFTER

 BEFORE  F 2.5, 1/200th, ISO 50

BEFORE

F 2.5, 1/200th, ISO 50

 AFTER

AFTER

 BEFORE  F 2.5, 1/200th, ISO 50

BEFORE

F 2.5, 1/200th, ISO 50

 AFTER

AFTER

 BEFORE  F2.5 1/200th, ISO 50

BEFORE

F2.5 1/200th, ISO 50

 AFTER

AFTER

 BEFORE  F 2.5. 1/160th, ISO 50

BEFORE

F 2.5. 1/160th, ISO 50

 AFTER

AFTER

I appreciate that you came by my site and hope you enjoyed the intimate look at my before and after images. The last 2 shots are double exposures and where just something different to play with and as you see, I had to adjust for the ceiling and the other photographer in my shot, but was able to make a very dramatic image still. Please leave me your thoughts below in the comments! -J

She said YES!

DSCF7047.jpg

Its not often than I get the privilege to capture a proposal, but I am beyond grateful that I was able to capture a new one this past weekend! Funny story actually--as Brittany's mother had a different photographer hired to capture this special day, but due to the flu she was left looking for someone to procure the milestone. I was referred to her by a past client/friend and was happy to be available so the planning ensued. We discussed the location, and the plan, but even feeling prepared, I found myself nervous. I rarely get nervous but I always feel out of place, almost stalking my clients as they do not know me  ( yet ) and I don't know them either.Their families came together to create a wall to hide Jacob as he was prepared with his own special way to ask for her hand.  I prefer to let the images tell the rest of the story for me as its the best way I know how. So congratulations to Jacob and Brittany, and here is how the story goes!

 

Jacob and Brittany Proposal
Lifestyle photographer. Proposal, engaged
 She said YES!! I told you earlier lol

She said YES!! I told you earlier lol

 The emotion is so genuine here.

The emotion is so genuine here.

Diamond Ring, Gshock, Wedding photographer
#marryme, #globe #mr&mrs
 "Let The Adventure Begin",,,,,,,

"Let The Adventure Begin",,,,,,,

 Surrounded by Family is the perfect end to a beautiful day in downtown Kingsport, Tennessee,

Surrounded by Family is the perfect end to a beautiful day in downtown Kingsport, Tennessee,

To all of my photographer friends: Should we ever shoot for free?

This topic is widely discussed in the photography community and although my ideas may not be earth shattering - I still feel they are worth sharing - so here we go.

As a photographer, we ultimately want to create something we are genuinely proud of. This reaches from our images captured, the business we create, to the brand we cultivate. We dream of working in bigger cities, larger platforms, or maybe just in a larger capacity, meaning booking more in our current market. While none of these are lacking their own unique qualities, the end goal is the same: to be successful. So I would challenge you to first describe what that is for you? What do you see when you think SUCCESS?  Write it down.

Once you have jotted your definition of that, please comment your notes below so we can all share in your goal. Then - how does shooting for free, or not, play into that success? It may not. It may not help book that corporate contract you're chasing or that wedding that you've been marketing to for weeks, but it may benefit in ways that are more meaningful in the big picture.

Ok, so shooting for free clearly won't put Benjamins in your savings account and there is zero guarantee that it will lead to those elusive Benjamins ever, but what if I told you that's ok?! Its ok if something you're truly dedicated to doesn't afford you the new equipment you're drooling over (on Amazon, B&H, or Adorama). Because what if the rewards are so much more than a tangible objective?

I know what you're thinking- "I need to make money to succeed as a business" and yes, that is true, but what if you dove into something you are truly passionate about and saw it to completion? The feeling of doing something for someone else is a wonderful experience to have. If anyone has ever bought your coffee in the drive thru before you got to the window, I bet you smiled. I bet that feeling was a pleasant feeling. We as photographers have the opportunity, responsibility even, to capture moments in time. Moments to record of joy, sadness, surprise, love, etc. No one makes us passionate about our craft, we are drawn to it for our own personal reasons. So in the end, you can do whatever you want.  You can donate your time and skill anyway you prefer. I love volunteering at our Church anytime they need another photographer to capture events, or just the typical Sunday morning service. I dream of taking a missions trip with my Church and doing just that. Capturing the need of others in a way that someone else would be lead to do more, be more than they are.  I also love having my camera with me when out in public and strive to capture moments and objects I see that catch my eye or that make up the world around us -- you never know when those images are going to change in meaning or value.  Imagine after 9/11 having been able to log into your computer and see images that you'd captured of the city in years past while you were just enjoying your world around you while walking the city...we, as photographers, have the privilege of snapping and archiving the wonderful things around us, but if you only wait to do so once you've been hired or told what to do, you miss this opportunity.

Now, am I talking about hired pro bono work here too?  Maybe, sometimes yes.  You don't have to simply give your time away to some event if you choose not to, however. There are lots of benefits to choosing to do free work for yourself (so much creative freedom!) -- You could also start a photo project that means something - a project that speaks directly to you. By doing so, you may challenge others to do the same, or share a story that helps someone who really needed to hear that particular story. One of my absolute favorite photographers is Ryan Muirhead. His work is hauntingly captivating, but his approach is as well. I'll never forget the video he posted where he is sitting in the floor with his subject and so engaged that when he realized he had the shot he couldn't pass up, he couldn't take his eyes off of her long enough to even reach for his camera and found himself blindly reaching for it. He wanted to capture exactly what he was seeing, that moment, that expression, that emotion and I want that almost-hypnotized-experience.

I'm challenging myself to create for myself as well as others. I challenge you to do the same. Life is far too fragile and far too fleeting to not make today different than yesterday was. Maybe for yourself, your clients, or someone that stumbles upon your work some day.

Working for free may pay more than we are capable of calculating when we open our eyes to the possibilities of it. 
JG

Planning and timing your Wedding Exit

#meadowviewconventioncenter #militarywedding #sparklerexit #wedding #kingsporttn #magmod

In this blog I'm going to share how and why I approach your exit on your wedding day a little different than some other photographers and how it works wonderfully for me. If your reading this your most likely in one of two categories: Your either engaged and planning your special day, or maybe your a fellow photographer curious to create more dramatic exits for your happy couples. I hope this helps and lets get into it!

I'm not going to discuss lighting, or posing here but I will say that its important to trust the photographer you hired to create something from their vision, hopefully combined with your own. So your probably wondering what I could possibly be referring to when I say planning  and timing for your exit. The normal response if asked when this will happen, is the end of the night so what am I talking about? Let me take a second to explain why and how I like to do this differently. 

 

So if your planning the wedding, then you are fully aware how hard this process can be. You are also aware how much time and effort you have spent over the guest list among the other details. So you clearly invited those your surrounded by and are glad they are celebrating with you so why wouldn't we utilize them to maximize the effect of your exit? It never fails, the weddings that decide to keep with traditions and have the exit at the end of the night are missing a large number of guests at this point. Maybe they brought the kids, or maybe they are older and not wanting to dance the night away so they have said their goodbyes, hugged necks, and wished love and blessings over you. So the list of people available to send you off in style is diminished by the end of the party. While this is not the end of the world by any means, I like to suggest a different option to have a dramatic send off. 

How do I do this? WE FAKE IT!! Yes you read that correctly. With a little planning, and 10 to 15 minutes of your time, you can have a much grander tunnel of loved ones to send you on your way.  So we line up everyone we can get our hands on and create a line as big as space allows. This can be achieved inside or out, and with whatever method you choose to use. Sparklers, bubbles. etc. PSA- order your sparklers in advance if this is your preference and make sure to get the correct ones.. Regular sparklers will not work. They wont last long enough or put off enough sparkle for lack of a better term.

So in short, we take a few minutes, fake the exit, then let everyone return to the after party! This way everyone can relax knowing its taken care of and the night can end organically rather than orchestrated. This is simply my opinion but a method that has worked well for me for years. I would love to know your thoughts on this and how you may prefer the exit differently!

Next up "Working with your photographer and making time for wedding portraits"

 

JG

#boonenc #ido #northcarolinawedding #ocf #weddingportraits #lightingiskey

My favorite locations for adventurous couples!

My favorite locations for adventurous couples!

Sunset over Sams Gap after a day of fly fishing #sunset #easttennessee #blueridgemountains #samsgap #wolfpackoverland #jgp