Last night, I attended a meeting, or maybe it was a seminar, or a workshop…let’s call it an event. For photography, I use SmugMug to host my event photos. I have pointed my domain (ccImage) to them and they do a great job of hosting my images and allowing people to order prints online. I highly recommend SmugMug.
Not too long ago, SmugMug created SMUGs (SmugMug User Groups). This event was the first official meeting of the Orange County SMUG. I was really amazed by the number of people…at least 200…all interested in photography. Some were professionals, some students, and some with just a passion. Regardless, it was great to geek out on photography with like minded individuals. Our local event was coordinated by Jasmine Star, she did a wonderful job and selected a fantasitic venue for the meeting, the Mesa Verde County Club.
After the meeting got started, we heard from Jeff Jocham of SmugMug. He talked about things going on at SmugMug, partnerships they’re working on, and some of the directions they’re headed. For example, adding support for video and partnering with Animoto.
The guest speaker was Jessica Claire, a well-respected local wedding photographer. She is also the inventor of the ShootSac, a great messenger-style bag to carry just the stuff you need during a shoot. She’s broken from tradition and provided a level of customization that other bag manufactures don’t. The ShootSac allows the owner to select from a series of decorative covers (patterns and colors), you can even change the covers to suit your mood. Well done Jessica.
In her talk, Jessica discussed how her style has changed in the ten years she’s been a photographer. Some is the result of learning new techniques, some is a result of increased confidence. She showed us pictures from early in her career and some more recent, in an effort to contrast the two. This created a very vivid image of the posibility within each of us. She also talked about some of the mistakes she’s made over the years…like wearing a new pair of shoes to a wedding (and the blisters they caused).
I found it interesting that she does most of her shooting with prime lenses…and she likes them fast (f/1.2, f/1.4), not so much for the brightness in the finder, but for the shallow depth of focus. She likes to shoot “wide open” and in natural light. Her favorites are the 50mm/1.2 and the 35mm/1.4.
She made some subtle points that resonated with me. First, she approaches each wedding with a personal project…not just to give the wedding couple a great set of photos, but a personal project like getting a picture of the best pair of shoes at the wedding. I think this is something that makes the shoot about herself, something to make every wedding as important to her as to the bride. I can see this concept being used in not only the photographic part of my life, but in other areas as well.
Another tidbit I came away with was “it’s a stuggle to remain relevant.” She made this comment when asked about developing a style. A photographer’s style isn’t so much a destination as it is a journey. Every bride wants to have a unique, totally great album. As photographers learn from each other, they start to mimic each other’s work. All of the albums start to look the same. Each photographer has to work to differentiate themselves in order to “remain relevant.” For me, this applies equally to photography as it does with programming, life coaching, or anything. We no longer live in a world where you can do the same thing you did five years ago and be rewarded for it. This is a struggle for everyone, how you embrace this change will affect your success in any field. For me, in the software development world, the change is amazingly fast. Just to keep up with technology is a lot of work. To know the current technology and be able to use it creatively can be a real challenge. The people that can do this are incredibly valuable (in any field).
Jessica, in one small comment, “it’s a struggle to remain relevant,” you made my entire evening. Thank you.
Here are a couple of images from the night. One showing the large group and the other with Jessica sporting a flower-covered ShootSac.