My 1st Prom-inent Picture Project. (Pun So Totally Intended.)

(Can I just say, before I begin... me = total slacker! No blog posts for a month! Insert standard apology and promise to be better in the future here. ;) M-kay, moving on...)

So I have this idea that I may want to go into business as a photographer someday.....maybe. Possibly. I'll be honest, the idea both scares me and thrills me at the same time! To take into one's hands the responsibility of documenting someone's life is a big deal. I know how much the pictures I pay for mean to me! The concept of being on the other side of the photographer-client relationship is pretty intimidating to me.

But, whether I ever work my way up to shooting as a professional or not, I love photography and I'm always looking for fun projects and opportunities to improve my skills. So...you can imagine how excited I was a month ago when my little brother Jared asked me to photograph him and his large group of friends before their prom! How much more fun does it get than photographing 8 good-lookin', decked-out prom couples?! I was completely stoked...with a dash of terrified, I can't deny it!

But I had SO much fun!

I was crazy nervous as the photoshoot approached, but I think it went fantastic! The girls and guys were so great and I think they had fun too. Even though I'm a complete amateur, I tried to act professional and confident and...ya know...like I really knew what I was doing. ;) I may be a total novice, but I strongly believe in the saying "Fake it 'til you make it." And after all, every crazy-amazing professional photographer I admire was a beginner at some point, right?

Needless to say, I loved it!!!

The ladies all looked absolutely beautiful!
(and wow, prom dresses are *so* much cuter than when I was in high school!)

And the gents were so dapper in their tuxes and suits!
(Pose -- Totally their idea. Totally cute!)

My handsome little bro Jared and his lovely date Ayrika.

So yeah. It was awesome. :) I think I may really have the bug for doing photoshoots now, and I don't know that I'll ever get rid of it. Which would be ok with me. :)

It also made me really nostalgic for high school. How am I almost 30?

When Jared and I were trying to decide on a good location, our dad suggested the beautiful new walking path on the South campus of my (awesome) alma mater, Brigham Young University. This path existed when I was a student there 10 years ago, but back then it was old, overgrown, and not all that pretty. But over the last few years the area was completely redesigned and relandscaped, and it was completed in the spring of 2011. I had never yet seen the path myself since it was finished, so I decided to head over the evening before the photoshoot and scout it out a bit with my 5-year-old son Thomas.

Now it is absolutely gorgeous! I was so impressed and amazed at the improvements. There's a beautiful new stone walkway with a lovely little stream flowing alongside the whole length of it, and waterfalls! LOTS of waterfalls!

All the original, mature trees frame the path perfectly, isolating it from the busy campus above and street below. As my little guy and I walked from one end to the other, I was having a really hard time deciding where to stage the photos the next day!

I found a hundred lovely spots that would work great for photos of each prom couple, but the major concern I had was where to take a large group shot along a narrow path. When I discovered this circular alcove set off the walkway I couldn't help but think it was totally designed with photographers in mind...it was *perfect* for a large group! The tiered stone landscaping made a gorgeous backdrop!

Gorgeous, loved it, can't wait to go back! 
(But being there makes me miss college like crazy!)

I shoot with a Nikon D90 DSLR. I've owned it for almost 2 years now and I am still very much in the process of learning how to take full advantage of its capabilities. In fact, before this photoshoot, I had never worked in manual modes. Ever. I've always been afraid to get out of automatic, especially when it comes to special occasions and important photos. But I decided to do a little bit of reading and studying up on manual modes, and after experimenting a bit, I'm so bummed that I didn't start 2 years ago!

No editing was done to these two shots...they are exactly as they came off my camera. No flash was used for either shot. The pic on the left was taken in automatic. The pic on the right was taken in Aperture priority, with the ISO and white balance adjusted. The lighting looks SO much better! I know the image is still not perfect, and I still have a lot (a LOT) to learn about both the technical and artistic aspects of photography, but I am so amazed at the improvement just a little bit of knowledge and a few adjustments can make! I will never be hesitant to work in manual modes again!

As I was "studying up" for the photo shoot I got a lot of awesome tips from my friend and neighbor Niki Martins, who is a fabulously talented photographer. She does a series of posts on her website called Tips for Tuesday. Each of her posts focuses on a specific, basic element of photography and breaks it down so it's not so intimidating for a novice like myself! I think picking the brain of a photographer is a great resource for learning...every one of them had to start somewhere too, and they have so much insight to give about what they wish they would have known or done when they were beginners!

Another great resource of learning for any level of photographer is Digital Photography School. This is an excellent free site with *tons* of useful, well-written articles and posts written by photographers on just about every photography-related topic you can think of! Natalie Norton, one of my favorite photographers of all time, writes posts for them often. She has a particular knack for teaching through writing, and particularly for diffusing my anxiety!

So...if you've got a DSLR in your hot little hands and you feel overwhelmed about learning how to use it...like I have been...don't be! It feels intimidating when there is so much to learn about photography, but I've realized more and more that it's ok and *ding ding ding* normal to acquire the knowledge in little bits and pieces....no photographer ever learned it all at once. Small steps and little improvements over time will eventually add up to an arsenal of knowledge!

Me like taking pictures. ;) I'm excited for all that's in store as I (hopefully) continue to improve both my skills with the gear and my understanding of the art.

(Thanks for the opportunity bro!)

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